A Family Staycation at The Vale Resort, South Wales

We’ve enjoyed staycations for quite a while now, usually travelling around 1-3 hours from home to enjoy a beautiful destination without enduring the stresses and hassles of flying. More recently I have decided to incorporate a few short stay staycations into our family trips, we live in such a beautiful part of the country it seems silly to travel too far away for a break, let’s be real, who really wants to be stuck in the car for hours on end with a two year old? Not me that’s for sure!

toddler pulling along peppa pig suitcase

For our most recent staycation we teamed up with The Vale Resort*, near Cardiff, South Wales for dinner, bed and breakfast. The Vale Resort is only half an hour away from us and is host to many a celeb, so I figured if it’s good enough for them then it is good enough for us, and so we went along on my birthday.

birthday celebrations at the vale resort near cardiff

We headed to The Vale Resort for our check in time of 3pm, upon checking in I was delighted to see that they left out birthday gifts and a card for me, this, along with several other little touches throughout our family room really made us feel special. They even left out an activity pack for Aria. The Vale Resort sure thought of everything.

review of the vale resort near cardiff south wales

With plenty to keep us entertained we decided to make the most of our comfortable surroundings and relax in our room before heading for dinner in the Vale Grill Restaurant. We had a wander around the beautiful grounds, which are home to a golf course and a castle. We decided that we wouldn’t take advantage of the spa and creche facilities as we were only there for a short while.

the vale resort grounds

The dinner was included in our package, and for this we could order three courses from a set menu, we also had the option to order from the full menu for an additional charge, but we were more than happy with the choices on the set menu so stuck to that. The food was delicious and the staff were superb and very friendly.

Following the meal we retired to our room to make the most of our lovely comfy bed, we had a brilliant night sleep and loved the thick black out blinds, although we did almost sleep through and miss breakfast because they make the room so dark! Breakfast was your standard buffet breakfast, busy buffets always make me anxious so Spencer picked mine for me while I sat at the table with Aria. Breakfast was served until 10am, and we were slightly disappointed that the pancake machine had been switched off when we went to use it at around two minutes to ten, that will teach us for sleeping in so late!

Watch my video to see our stay in more detail and for a tour of our lovely family room.

Find out more about The Vale Resort and book your break here.

*Disclosure -We received dinner, bed and breakfast at The Vale Resort in exchange for promotion*

Five Reasons Why It’s Great To Be From Wales!

Chances are if you’re on this blog you know that I am Welsh and proud, I love Wales, I love living in Wales and I love all things Welsh!

Whether you are interested in its history, stunning landscapes, world famous musical talents, or its gorgeous inhabitants (ok I may be a bit bias here…), Wales has so much to offer, and sometimes doesn’t quite get the recognition it deserves. The people of Wales are known to be fiercely proud of their home country, and with good reason! So here are just five of the many reasons why it’s great to call Wales your home.

Sporting History

We are quite proud of our sporting ability. While you have probably heard of Manchester United (even if you are less than knowledgeable on the subject of football), Cardiff is one of the most impressive sporting cities. The Millennium Stadium hosted football matches during the Olympics, and is home to football, rugby, and Moto X. As if that wasn’t enough, Cardiff has a cricket pavilion in the centre of town along with individual rugby and football stadiums.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in the Welsh capital of Cardiff is an incredible amount less than living in London. In fact, in 2014, Cardiff was ranked number one out of the UK’s 10 largest cities with the highest quality of life. Working in Wales’ capital provides a fantastic opportunity for all prospective employees. There are a lot of jobs in Cardiff available for any would-be job seeker. This makes it a pretty competitive place in the breadth of the entire country, and an ideal location for the many British youths, recently graduated, and looking to start their life in a new and beautiful spot.

Stunning Beaches

Because it is not widely regarded as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, you may not have heard about the beautiful beaches Wales has to offer. However, the coastline around the Gower has some of the most stunning beaches in the world. In particular, Swansea Bay is an amazing destination for all, and can be enjoyed alongside some world class hiking nearby.

Festivals

The Welsh are proud of their Celtic heritage, which includes hosting plenty of festivals. In fact, Wales is widely regarded as a cultural hub of festivals. Enjoy the Hay Festival if you are interested in culture, enjoy music, arts and performances at Green Man, and even underground electronica at Gottwood. There is so much diversity in Welshe festivals, it can go up against the entire world of culture. It even is home to a jazz festival, Brecon Jazz.

The list of benefits to living your life in the beautiful country of Wales could go on and on, with each resident of Wales having their own personal reason for loving this amazing country. You should come and see for yourself!

*Written In collaboration with Mary J*

Exploring the Wetlands with Bax and Bay

We were recently sent a few items from Bax and Bay for review, items included their waxed cotton changing rucksack, The Zack, a Mama Fox sweater and the cutest little Fox Cub sweater. With new items to try out and photos that needed taking we decided to head to Newport Wetlands for a family day out / photo shoot.

Family photo at Newport Wetlands - Mother and Daughter are wearing matching mama fox and fox cub sweaters from Bax and Bay - a review

The Wetlands, based in Nash Road, Newport is an RSPB site, and with a visitor centre, cafe, play area, lots of walks and wildlife it is a the perfect family day out. It ticks all the boxes for us as we got to go for a nice walk, Aria got to spot some birds and I got a pretty backdrop for my photos. Winning.

Mama Fox and Fox cub sweaters from Bax and Bay - a review

Aria and I love our matching Mama Fox and Fox Cub sweaters. They are great quality and a lovely fit. Aria’s is a hoody style sweater which she loves, this girl is a huge fan of walking around with her hands in pockets and also stashing items in said pockets. We did think it was a shame that they don’t stock a matching men’s jumper, well I did, Spencer was actually relieved as, unlike me, he finds the whole matching clothing thing a little cringe!

fox cub hooded sweater for two year old from Bax and Bay review

We’ve been looking for a practical rucksack changing bag for a little while, now that Aria is walking and we don’t always have the pushchair with us we wanted a more practical bag that didn’t fall off our shoulders and hit Aria in the face when we bent to pick her up mid strop. Not that that ever happened of course…

a review of the zack rucksack unisex changing bag from Bax and Bay

The Zack bag from Bax and Bay suits our needs perfectly. It is functional and unisex but doesn’t compromise on style. The inside of the bag is bright orange and it comes with a thick changing mat and a bottle insulator. There are two stretchy inside pockets which are perfect for storing the nappies and other changing essentials like cream and nappy bags and another smaller pocket on the outside of the bag which is the perfect size for a mobile phone. I would prefer an easier to release clasp but that really is just a matter of personal preference.

the Zach unisex changing bag from Bax and Bay comes with a bright orange portable changing mat and a bottle insulator

The portable changing mat that comes with the bag is nicely padded which makes it ideal for impromptu outdoor changes!

Bax and Bay are a relatively new Scottish based company specialising in multi-functional changing bags and clothing.

*Disclosure – the Bax and Bay items were sent to us in exchange for a feature*

Our Favourite UK Family Holiday Resort – Bluestone Wales

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*

Review : Escape Reality, Cardiff
*Disclosure : We were invited to Escape Reality free of charge in exchange for an honest review*

I’ve heard a few people talking about Escape Reality in Cardiff but have never visited myself, so when they invited me and five friends along for a review I jumped at the chance. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, all I knew was that you get locked into a room and have to solve clues in order to escape! Sounds exciting right?

A review of Escape Reality in Cardiff.


Everything was against us arriving in time for our pre-booked slot and we ended up arriving about twenty minutes late. We went for food beforehand and the waiters were in no rush at all, when we eventually finished our food and whizzed across Cardiff we ended up at a rival company who informed us that we weren’t booked in and were probably in the wrong place. All six of us took to Google and we managed to find the correct place, and realised that we had walked straight past it to get to the wrong place!

We were originally booked in to try the Jungala room, the easiest of the four rooms and apparently not too dis-similar to the popular film Jumangi. You have up to an hour in the room and as a result Escape Reality take bookings once an hour, and unfortunately someone was booked in to the Jungala room after us. The staff were very helpful and gave us the option of still going into the Jungala room but we would only get forty minutes instead of the full hour, or we could go into the Alcatraz room which had no other bookings and get the full hour. We decided to take the challenge and enter Alcatraz, the most difficult of all the rooms and not recommended for your first Escape experience.

review of the Alcatraz room at Escape Reality Cardiff

I’m not going to go into a great amount of detail about the room as I don’t want to give too much away as I don’t want to spoil it, or make it easy for people! All I’m going to say about the room is that it is very well done out and there are a series of different clues, most of which get you thinking in a different way. Out of the six of us we all excelled at one particular clue each, while finding others incredibly difficult, but there was always one of us who knew the answer, and if we didn’t the helpful staff were on hand.

a review of the escape reality rooms in cardiff a series of challenges to escape Alcatraz

The staff are very helpful and are always happy to aid you into finding the answer. They keep an eye on the cameras in the room and if you look a bit stuck they will regularly pop in to offer advice, if you don’t want them to help you can tell them beforehand. You are also given iPads at the start which you can use to generate clues, although you are given a time penalty if you resort to using a clue – which is why we stuck to looking clueless and being helped out by the staff as you don’t get penalised for that!

We failed to complete Alcatraz in our one hour time slot, but as there were no other bookings and we were so close to cracking it the staff gave us the option to stay until we completed it, so of course we said yes. I can’t remember exactly how long it took us to complete, I think it was about one and a half hours.

We had a fantastic time, it was so nice to do something that little bit different with our friends and work together, it would be great for a team bonding exercise! I highly recommend a visit, although I would suggest doing the easiest room first rather than heading straight in at Alcatraz!

Things to bear in mind if visiting Escape Reality :

  • Arrive early (or at least not late!) there is a bar on site so you could meet for a drink before you start
  • It isn’t the easiest to find as it is just a doorway in between shops – you may want to research the location beforehand
  • When you first enter Alcatraz you are split into two separate groups, as a result if there are only two of you attending you may want to book a different room

For more information or to make a booking visit Escape Reality Cardiff