Blog post sharing six family day out essentials

Days out with children require a crazy amount of thought and advance planning, if you don’t plan for every possible extreme scenario (and one more just in case) you can pretty much guarantee that you will need something that you don’t have, usually when you are in the middle of no where. In a bid to ensure that both me and you never end up facing the regret of not bringing exactly what we need to deal with our tantrum-ing/messy/ill toddlers I’m sharing this handy family day out essentials guide.

Spare clothing

On days out we can pretty much guarantee that Aria is going to do something to get dirty, whether it be mud, food, or something else, a spare pair of clothing is almost always required. Going out without a spare pair of clothes is almost as silly as going out without a supply of nappies.

A picnic

As much as I love popping into cafe’s for a coffee and a cake you really can’t beat a home-made picnic, especially when you are on a budget! Make a picnic fun (and take the pressure off yourself!) and get the whole family involved in choosing the picnic items, making the sandwiches, and packing everything up. If, like Aria, your children are fussy eaters, packing a picnic that’s full of their favourite foods can make the day a lot easier and less stressful.

Waterproofs

It doesn’t matter how clear the sky is or how warm and sunny it is when you set off, there is always a chance of rain, especially living in Wales. A decent waterproof jacket is essential when out on family adventures. Top tip, buy lightweight fold up jackets like the ones from Target Dry as there is a huge chance that you are going to be lugging them around all day!

A spare toy

Whenever you go anywhere with a small child, you can guarantee you’ll have an additional guest; Peppa Pig in our case. Despite kicking off at the sheer thought of leaving Peppa at home Aria soon gets bored of her when we are out, usually distracted by muddy puddles or food, and will quite happily drop her anywhere without even realising. This often results in us losing said Peppa Pig which is why we stock up on the small (cheap) ones for when we are out and about.

A camera

Obviously being a budding photographer, blogger and Instagram-er I absolutely cannot go out without the camera. No one should, there are so many amazing memories to capture and treasure on family day trips. Keep a camera (or even your phone) at hand so that you can capture some perfect memories. You never know when the perfect photo op will arise.

Emergency supplies

Keep your handbag well-stocked with first-aid essentials such as plasters, bandages, antibacterial wipes, and Calpol just in case there’s an accident.

And whatever you do – DON’T FORGET THE WET WIPES (yes, I have done that, yes it was a disaster).

*Disclosure – Collaborative Post*

Review of Peppa Pig world with a two year old

For Aria’s second birthday I decided that we absolutely needed to visit Peppa Pig World in Paulton’s Park and I am so glad that we did! She absolutely loved it, seeing her so happy and confident was just amazing. Even Spencer wants to go back and that is high praise indeed!

Aria is a very quiet and shy girl, she doesn’t like crowds and she doesn’t venture far from me, always looking to me for encouragement before proceeding with anything. Peppa Pig World changed all of this, as we walked in and we heard the music her excitement peeked, and then it happened, she saw the yellow ducks swimming and heard them quacking; and she ran, she let go of her daddy’s hand and she ran. We Were amazed, emotional and surprised. We instantly knew that we were going to have an amazing day.

Yellow quacking ducks at Peppa Pig World - Blog review of Peppa Pig World with a two year old

Aria’s birthday is in February and we specifically wanted to go around her Birthday, which resulted in us going along on a wet and miserable day. At first we moaned about this, until we realised that it was complete and utter genius. We didn’t have to queue for any rides, unless you count waiting for the two families in front to get belted up as a queue, and Aria could happily run around without us worrying about losing her.

Peppa Pig World is perfect for little human’s, Aria is a very petite two year old, currently wearing size 12-18 month clothing, and she was tall enough for all rides bar George’s Dinosaur Adventure, which I was selfishly disappointed about as I had been looking forward to that ride, but I wasn’t brave/stupid enough to go on there without Aria, I’m pretty sure a melt down would have commenced if I had!

All of the rides were very tame which was perfect for Aria. They also had a little park and an indoor soft play area.

The Peppa Pig theme is continued perfectly throughout the park, with theme music playing everywhere and no detail is forgotten, even the construction work is being carried out by Mr Bull (they are in the middle of extending the park, currently due to be completed in 2018).

We had an amazing day and made some fantastic memories. Two weeks on and Aria still loves to watch the vlog from the day which gets her super excited! Take a peek at the vlog to see Peppa Pig World through the eyes of a two year old…

Find out more and book your tickets here.

*Disclosure – We received complimentary tickets to Paulton’s Park in exchange for coverage*

top tips for holidaying in bluestone on a budget

I’ve published several posts on this blog about our holidays to Bluestone and how much we love it there. I am often met with responses along the lines of “oh it looks lovely, I wish we could afford to go”. Well my friends, the beauty is, you CAN afford to go, it is very easy to go to Bluestone on a budget.

Top Tips for Holidaying in Bluestone on a Budget

Timing is key

rainbow and blue skies over Bluestone Wales

As with all holidays timing is everything. You’re holidaying in Wales; do you really need to book it for the middle of the Summer? Chances are it will be raining then, as it will be in January, but you will pay a premium for that Summer rain. If your children aren’t in school yet you can make even more savings by going during term time. Our mid-week stay in a four bedroom lodge commencing on 31st Jan 2017 came to a grand total of £249. If you split this with another couple you are looking at less than £125 each. You may even get to see a rainbow and blue skies – who needs Summer?!

Eating in/out

coffee and cake in the coffee shop in bluestone

Bluestone lodges are self catering and they provide absolutely everything that you need to cook three decent meals a day in your lodge (and more if you want!). The nearest supermarket is quite a while away but the village store is well packed and could easily provide you with the ingredients for healthy meals for a week. Yes, the store is a little more expensive than your average supermarket, but it isn’t ridiculously so.

You will also be pleased to know that eating out isn’t as expensive as you may think. For example, you can grab an adult’s pizza for £7.95 in the Oak Tree restaurant.

I know we’re talking budget, but if your children fall asleep in the pushchair it’s rude not to treat yourself to a coffee and a cake at Tŷ Coffi, right?

Free entertainment

free entertainment at bluestone buzbee character

While there is plenty of fantastic, bookable entertainment at Bluestone for the little ones there is also plenty of free entertainment. During our stay we met and danced with several characters, watched the light show and spent many a night relaxing in the lodge with the TV and free wifi. Evening entertainment includes pub quizzes, bingo and live music.

Free activities

circus zone free soft play at bluestone

Activities is one thing that Bluestone is not short of, both paid and free activities are aplenty. Swimming in the Blue Lagoon is quite possibly the most popular and is free throughout your whole stay. There is also a fab soft play area for the little ones, an outdoor park, the adventure centre which has crazy golf, slides, a bouncy castle and so much more! If you are fancying something a little more chilled out you could join one of the free guided walks and take in the beautiful surroundings.

Yes, Bluestone can be expensive, but Bluestone on a budget is definitely possible too!

happy toddler with big smile bluestone on a budget blog post

Aria loved Bluestone on a budget and I’m sure that you will too!

*Disclosure – we received a complimentary midweek stay at Bluestone in exchange for blog coverage* 

Following our first ever family holiday to Bluestone Wales in 2015 we decided to take not one, but two holidays there throughout 2016, and I am going again on Monday – I think it is safe to say that Bluestone is fast becoming our favourite family friendly UK holiday resort.

Our favourite UK family holiday resort Bluestone Wales blog post photo with header text over - Ramsey Lodge with father and daughter walking away

The first visit to Bluestone in 2016 was a real family affair, we went along with Spencer’s parents and brother. We stayed in a Grassholm Lodge which was really quite lovely, and what we already knew from staying in one the previous year with my parents and sister. Our second visit came just before Christmas, as it was a complimentary stay for this blog review the offer came quite late, which meant that no one else was available to come with us, so off we went, just Spencer, Aria and I.

It was lovely to go away as a threesome and meant that we experienced a different style lodge, this time we stayed in a Ramsey Lodge, the home of upside down living. The Ramsey Lodge looks quite similar to the Grassholm Lodge from the outside, but appearances can certainly be deceiving! With this lodge you walk in through the front door to be greeted with two en-suite bedrooms, then you head upstairs to the kitchen/dining/living area. It took a little while to get used to, especially as we were bringing the pushchair in and out and little room in the porch area meant pushing it into the bedroom at times.

Anyway, I digress. Why is Bluestone my favourite UK family holiday destination I hear you ask. For one it holds a lot of special memories for us. Aria’s first ever holiday was at Bluestone, we celebrated my father-in-law’s seventieth birthday at Bluestone and Aria took some of her first steps at Bluestone (she actually took her first ever steps as we were about to leave the house to head to Bluestone, meaning that we arrived at Bluestone a lot later than planned, but she perfected her walking right there in Bluestone).

scenic mountain views at Bluestone Wales


Why do I think that Bluestone would be the perfect destination for your family holiday? Because they have everything there (well, not quite but almost!). They offer a wide range of activities suitable from babies right up to the older generation. They have a free swimming pool, an on-site spa, an on-site pub, golf buggy hire, soft play, an adventure centre and so much more.

We have stayed at Bluestone in April, October and December so have seen a wide range of seasonal activities. During the warmer months there are plenty of outdoor activities such as hunting for bugs, when it gets a little colder children can come indoors and enjoy messy play (very messy in Aria’s case) and crafts. At Christmas time the whole family can transform into elves and take part in a secret mission, and even go to visit Santa in his lodge, if you manage to wake him up of course.

Kingdom of the elves Christmas time at bluestone toddler sat on floor with red painted elf cheeks

Food wise there are plenty of choices on site. They have several eateries serving a wide variety of food, from pub grub right up to Italian/Wales fusion dining. One of my favourite places to eat has to be the Wildwood Cafe, purely because it is magically stunning. There is also a coffee shop on site serving the most delicious coffee and cakes, along with snacks and a village shop where you can pick up your own food and cook it yourself in the impressive kitchen in the lodge.

wildwood cafe in bluestone tree in middle of cafe with fairy lights - mother and daughter kissing

If that isn’t enough for you there is plenty to do off site. Just a short drive away from Bluestone you have several large attractions including Oakwood Theme Park, the stunning Tenby town and beach and Folly Farm.

As you can probably tell we love Bluestone – and I think that you would too!

*We received a complimentary stay at Bluestone in exchange for an honest review*

Following a lovely, relaxing Christmas we were itching to get out and about and take in some fresh air. I’d seen blog posts by both Cardiff Mummy Says and Teddy Bears and Cardigan about the Twelve Days of Christmas Days at Dyffryn Gardens, a National Trust property based in the Vale of Glamorgan, and quite fancied taking a look myself.

12 days of Christmas Trail at Dyffryn Gardens - a family Christmas activity at a national trust property in the vale of glamorgan, South Wales - a review

 

With it being the Christmas holidays and us being super lazy we didn’t get to Dyffryn Gardens until about 2pm, we hit up the cafe as soon as we got there and then tackled the trail. This was our first visit and we would have liked to have explored the house and gardens thoroughly, but due to our lazy morning we simply didn’t have the time for this – I guess we will just have to visit again another day soon, which is no great shame.
A Partridge in A Pear Tree

a partridge in a pear tree - 12 days of christmas trail at dyffryn gardens

First on the trail and very easily spotted is a Partridge in a Pear Tree, I’m sure by now you’ve gathered that the trail follows a popular Christmas song all about gifts received from a true love. Upon paying your entry fee you are handed a map setting out the trail, it is easy to follow although the items are zig zagged around the place, if, like me you are pedantic and want to do the trail in numerical order you will end up passing some of the ‘gifts’ on later days to get to the ones that you want to see first.
Two Turtle Doves

review of dyffryn gardens twelve days of christmas trail two turtle doves

Some of the gifts are high up and out of reach, but the further you get into the trail the more interactive it seems to get. I’m not sure if this is intentional but it seemed to me to be a great way to cure any boredom that may creep in from the children as you get towards the end of the trail.
 
Three French Hens

12 days of christmas trail at dyffryn gardens three french hens

Four Calling Birds

twelve days of christmas trail at dyffryn park four calling birds

The four calling birds was the first of the interactive ‘gifts’ that we came across. It was really well done with four birds ‘flying’ above four birds houses, all of which you could wind up to play a tune, 12 Days of Christmas of course.Five Golden Rings
twelve days of christmas at dyffryn gardens five golden rings

You could be forgiven for not spotting the five golden rings, cleverly hidden away out of reach on the house itself.

Six Geese-a-Laying
twelve days of christmas at dyffryn gardens six geese-a-laying

The geese were Aria’s favourite, and I’m pretty sure they were her daddy’s too. These geese all came with their own baskets and rubber eggs, Aria loved throwing the eggs around and watching them bounce. Hopefully she doesn’t attempt this with my eggs at home.

Seven Swans-a-Swimming
7 swans a swimming partridge in a pear tree 12 days of christmas children's trail

I actually thought that these were real swans on first glance. They looked so pretty on the frozen water with the stunning house in the background.

Eight Maids-a-Milking

dyffryn gardens christmas trail eight maids a milking twelve days of christmas

Number eight was one of the more interactive clues, challenging children to fill up the jugs with ‘milk’ (but actually water thankfully, can you imagine if they used actual milk!?)
Nine Ladies Dancing

Christmas Trail at Dyffryn Gardens National Trust Property in Wales - Clue nine- nine ladies dancing - twelve days of christmas song lyrics

 
The nine dancing ladies were super pretty, they went right around the corner so it was impossible to get them all in one photo, but I assure you there were nine! The silver silhouettes had tempting ribbons and bells attached to them to wow the children.
Ten Lords-a-Leaping

10 lords a leaping dyffryn gardens trail

This interactive clue was one of the hardest to find as it was inside, somewhere that we hadn’t considered going! This was quite a cool one as you span the wheel and then looked at the reflection in the mirror to watch the ten lords leap. Aria loved spinning the wheel.
Eleven Pipers Piping

interactive 12 days of christmas trail 11 pipers piping

 
I loved this ‘gift’! We found a cute little basket of sticks, unfortunately we were there at the end of the day and there were only two sticks left, but one was all we needed so it didn’t spoil our fun. Aria loves making noise so this was absolutely perfect for her.
Twelve Drummers Drumming

12 days of Christmas trail at Dyffryn Gardens Cardiff twelve drummers drumming

 
The twelfth and final clue was by far the easiest to spot, it was near enough impossible to miss to be honest, twelve big bright red drums across the lawn stuck out quite a bit!
We thoroughly enjoyed the Twelve Days of Christmas trail at Dyffryn Gardens, and generally exploring the grounds there. We will definitely go back, I’m looking forward to visiting in the Spring/Summer and seeing the place in bloom, I can imagine that it looks beautiful.
The Twelve Days of Christmas Trail is running until 15 January 2017.