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*

*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

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.

I am a born and bred Welsh girl and I have to admit that out of all the places in Wales, Tenby is my favourite place to go. Whether it’s for a day trip or a weekend away, it is a must!

I’ve been visiting Tenby since I was a little girl, so it’s only natural that I take my daughter there now.

It usually takes me around 40 to 50 minutes to get to Tenby, but the drive is worth it! When you are there the parking is cheap and there is plenty to do.

My favourite place for food is The Lifeboat Tavern, but if you don’t fancy pub grub there are plenty of other places around.

The beaches are by far my favourite ones in Wales. Tenby Harbour Beach is breathtakingly beautiful, but I wouldn’t say it was the most popular for families. It’s hard to say why as it has in recent years been voted the most beautiful beach in Europe.

Tenby Harbour Beach most beautiful beach in Europe

North Beach however is definitely more popular with families and tends to be the busier of the two.

This was the beach where a seven year old me was told that if I went into a certain cave I would come out as a mermaid. I then cried for the rest of the day as despite me wanting to be a mermaid when I grew up, the reality of it scared me just a little bit.

North beach tenby

We  had a fantastic time on North Beach and it was the first proper time my daughter had experienced the sand and the sea. Needless to say, she loved it!


baby at tenby beach in splash swim suit

From this beach you can also get a boat over to Caldey Island which is inhabited by monks. On the island there are churches, small homes, gift shops, a chocolate factory, a lighthouse and more. It’s my favourite thing to do when I am in Tenby as the sense of calm there is unreal.


Caldey Island which is inhabited by monks Tenby

Also, the view of Tenby from Caldey Island is also breathtaking. I love just wandering the island and enjoying the quiet. It is definitely somewhere I could move to – I’m not a hustle and bustle city girl that’s for sure!


Caldey Island Tenby views

If you ever visit Wales make sure that Tenby is on the top of your priority list. Whether you are young or old there will be something for you to love and I am sure you will keep going back like I do!


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Thank you Jenna for this lovely guest post, Tenby sure if beautiful and I’m going to have to look into visiting soon! If you enjoyed this post then check out Jenna’s blog, Then There Were Three, Jenna blogs about parenting, lifestyle and general randomness!

If you would like to contribute to the ‘family fun in..’ series please email me.

*In Collaboration with Advanced Diesel Engineering*

The Street Food scene in Cardiff is huge right now, and I can see why, when you see those trailers and diesel generators rolling into town you know that you are in for a delicious and entertaining treat.

colourful corkboard sign at street food circus reading eat till you pop

I know a lot of people who avoid street food pop ups because they are ‘full of hipsters’, seriously, why? Yes, there are a lot of bearded men at these things but so what? Every single time I have attended a food festival the people there have been lovely and the atmosphere has been amazing. It is all very chilled out and relaxed, everyone is there to eat good food, drink good beer and chill out.

Street food is no longer a greasy burger with onions and cheese from a smelly van, it is now about trying new, exciting foods with so much choice that you will come away full to the brim, and that is before you discover the pudding vans.

multi coloured bulb string lights on trailor at street food festival

Street Food festivals aren’t a cheap day out, especially, if like me, you want to sample ALL THE FOOD and all the beer! The festivals that I have attended have cost an average of £8 for food and £4 a pint. Some vendors will offer samples which tend to cost around the £5 mark.

Street Food Cardiff is currently running in Sophia Gardens, other foodie recommendations include Abergavenny Food Festival, Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival and Cardiff Food & Drink Festival.

Are you a fan of street food? What is your street food grub?