The last day of a Bluestone weekend is always home day and a bit of a mad scramble to get everything packed, tidied and sorted by 10am. We were up by 7am and as I had packed most of our stuff the night before we only had a few things to sort out as well as the kitchen, the last place to get tidied.
I made a last breakfast of tea/coffee and toast for everyone after which we got dressed and the boys went to get the cars. It’s handy that they let you bring your cars back down as it means you can kill two birds with one stone and drop your buggy, if you have one, while you are up there. Very handy for that crisp, cold winters morning!
We were packed just gone 10am and set off in convoy, 3 cars in total as BattleDad and I both had our cars. We agreed to meet at the Cwm Cerrig Farm shop that we frequent whenever we are visiting Bluestone to get some supplies and have a full breakfast. Traffic wasn’t too heavy and before we knew it we were tucking into a full English. We grabbed the makings of dinner before we said goodbye to W&S and headed for home, after a wonderful weekend at Bluestone.
This weekend, although short lived for BattleDad, had been a rather special one as they certainly know how to do Christmas at Bluestone. I’ll be writing a separate post about it but suffice to say it’s an amazing time of year to visit Bluestone.
When will we next be visiting Bluestone? I’m not too sure to be honest. We’d love to be booking another break with them soon but with things about to drastically change in terms of our home life I’m unsure when we will get the opportunity to book a break there but I do hope it’s not too long. It’s definitely our home-away-from-home in the UK.
BattleKid did his usual and came into bed with me at 4.20am. It was becoming a habit. Why do kids do that? I didn’t mind too much as I had two single beds pushed together so there was plenty of room but broken sleep man! We woke after 8am, got dressed and had some toast and tea before heading to the Blue Lagoon which had been turned into the Frosty Lagoon for a swim.
There were icebergs in the water and ice decorations in the Blue Lagoon, all tying in with the Winter and Christmas theme for the time of year that was in it. BattleKid and L really enjoyed the iceberg floats and both had a whale of a time jumping into the waves when they were set off. Their Waterbabies classes have stood them in good stead and neither are afraid of the water and have a lot of confidence around it. I can see them being really good swimmers in a few years’ time.
At 10.35am S, who had decided not to join us in the pool, let us know that BattleDad, who had landed at Heathrow airport that morning from Singapore, wasn’t too far away. We got the boys out under protest and I decided to shower BattleKid and I at the pool rather than wait to do it back in the lodge so that we could have that time with BattleDad once he arrived. Once we were done we joined the others outside and got the buggy and, as BattleDad was only 5 mintues away, W kindly drove us up to the car park so we could be a welcoming party, haha.
It was great timing as it meant we could pick him and up bring him straight down to the lodge without him having to walk down or wait for someone to come back up for him. BattleKid was delighted to see his Daddy, as was I.
We all had brunch together and BattleDad showered us all with gifts, giving the boys a set of cars each, macaroons for S and Tiffany earrings from Raffles Hotel no less for me! I was very surprised as I hadn’t been expecting anything at all. Afterwards he joked he should have kept them hidden for Christmas. He missed a trick there. BattleDad headed for a snooze after giving us our gifts as he had only managed 4 hours sleep on the plane.
I kept BattleKid downstairs with more Gruffalos Child and Room on the Broom on my phone to keep him quiet and occupied. L joined BattleKid on the couch and they sat together watching the phone. It was very cute. S, W and I had tea and coffee and chatted until BattleDad surfaced.
Once everyone was up and about and showered we went to the village marquee to the children’s Christmas Party which was a paid-for event. It cost £5 per child and the Elves did a show in which everyone played musical parent-and-child statues. BattleKid didn’t want to play at all and we had to leave the dancefloor early on as he wouldn’t sit on my lap. Party pooper.
Those who left got sweets for their bags and there were minced pies and mulled cider for the adults to enjoy in between the games. Musical parent-and-child was followed by more games but I have to admit we left before the end as we felt the party was better suited to children aged 4 and above. Our nearly 2 and 3 year old toddlers didn’t quite get into the swing of things. We did feel that it might have been better to have a kids party for 0-4 years old and one for older children but I can see how that might cause some trouble for parents with children of various ages.
We headed to the Tavern to see if we could have food before our visit to Santa but they weren’t serving food until 5pm and our booking for Santa was for 5.15pm. We decided just to have some drinks and get food from the Chippy afterwards. After round 1 of drinks BattleDad and W took the boys to the playground and S and I enjoyed some more drinks which relaxing and chatting. It was nice to get some quiet time with her without the boys running around shouting “mama” at us.
At 5pm we headed over to Santa’s Grotto. The lights on it were amazing, especially in the dark and as we walked down to the house we walked through a tunnel decorated with fairy lights.
We checked in and were lead into a living room that was decorated so beautifully for Christmas with a big tree, presents and lots of rugs and furs laid out in front of what clearly was Santa’s chair. An Elf brought us, invited us to get comfortable and get ready for Santa to read us a Christmas story. However, he was asleep in his bed so we had to wake him up.
Santa came out, said hello and read us a story before we were split into two groups. One group was meeting Santa, telling him our wish list for Christmas and receiving a present from him before getting some photos taken with him. The other group went into the kitchen to help Mrs Claus decorate some chocolate Christmas trees, which we got to keep. We met Santa and BattleKid certainly didn’t hold back, telling him about wanting a motorbike and telling him what noise bikes do. L, on the other hand, wasn’t fussed with Santa. We had our picture taken and then went into the kitchen to help Mrs Claus. Before we left the kitchen we checked out photos and none were very good. However, much to our surprise the Elves and Santa agreed to let us have a few more taken to try and get a good one, which we did in the end.
Overall the Santa experience was great, BattleKid enjoyed it and we got some lovely pictures as memories. That said I must admit this Santa wasn’t the best Santa we’ve ever met, coming across as a bit grumpy if I’m honest. But it wouldn’t stop me doing it all again in the future. We spent approximately 40 minutes in Santa’s Grotto and it was worth the £15 per child and £5 per adult. Each child got a teddy present and their chocolate tree to keep. The photograph with Santa is extra at around £8.
We headed back to the lodge with two tired boys and while S and I got them settled, BattleDad and W went to the Chippy to get us some dinner. We enjoyed our fish and chips before getting the boys to bed so we could sit and catch up properly over some tea and coffee. It wasn’t a late one as we were all tired from a jam-packed day. Santa done!
BattleKid ended up in bed with me at 4am and I certainly wasn’t in the humour to argue at that hour. He went back to sleep quite quickly which was good. We woke at 7.30 am, had some morning cuddles and then got dressed and headed downstairs to get breakfast ready for everyone. We only had tea and toast as we had to be out of the door by 9am for a very exciting surprise for the boys! The boys were dressed in matching Christmas jumpers for a very good reason and before we headed off took great pleasure in spotting rabbits outside our lodge.
We got into the buggy at 9am to head to the Adventure Centre to visit….. The Kingdom of the Elves! This is the annual Christmas event that Bluestone do in the run up to Christmas. From what I can tell, each year there is a different story behind the Kingdom of the Elves. You check in at a reception before heading through the Adventure Centre to the starting point. You are greeted by your Elf who takes you through a series of rooms, all brilliantly decorated, to complete a Christmas-themed task. It is very much children-orientated but adults are encouraged to join in. And I did!
Our mission was to find Ruldolph for Santa as he had gone missing. All the children became reindeer hunters with hero capes and wrist trackers to wear during the mission and to take away as a keepsake. As mentioned we went through a series of rooms, meeting various Elves and Fairies along the way who helped us find clues as to Ruldolph’s whereabouts.
Each room was decorated so well and each Elf and Fairy were enchanting and engaging. BattleKid was a little shy but L was happy to get in the middle of things, nearly ruining the illusion in one of the rooms. I won’t elaborate but we found it absolutely hilarious. The Elves not so much!
At the end of our mission we found Ruldolph and sent him back to Santa before ending with getting our picture taken, which you can buy in the gift shop on the way out. It was a brilliant experience and such a nice thing for the boys to share. I couldn’t resist getting a few snaps of my little reindeer hunter in front of one of the Christmas trees. Kingdom of the Elves is free for all children staying in the run up to Christmas, usually from the end of November to Christmas itself. I’d highly recommend you book your free tickets if you are planning a Christmas visit to Bluestone. Kids will love it! And I’ll let you in on a secret, we adults loved it too.
We got back to our lodge after 10am, had a cuppa before I got brunch sorted for everyone as breakfast had been light. S, who is a teacher, had kindly brought some crafts with her for us to do with the boys and W took advantage of the peace and quiet by having a much needed nap. We made Christmas paper chains, did a Christmas tree cards and made Christmas Holly cards using the boy’s feet and paint. BattleKid wasn’t sure about it at first but had fun with me tickling his feet while I tried to clean them afterwards!
Once we had done some crafts, S took L for a nap and BattleKid and I watched The Gruffalo’s Child and Room on the Broom on my phone with some snacks. L snoozed for an hour and a half which gave S some time to snooze herself. Once everyone was up, we got wrapped up warm and it was rather chilly outside and we headed to the Oak Tree Restaurant for dinner. I had a very nice salmon special starter, a tasty chicken main and the special mousse dessert for dinner and I thoroughly enjoyed it. BattleKid had chicken and he wolfed it down.
It was a lovely, relaxing meal, as it always is in the Oak Tree and when we finished we caught the last 10 minutes of the kids Christmas party which was run every night at 6pm in the village marquee and was free of charge. We headed back to the lodge and got into our pj’s and got the boys to bed. BattleKid went down very quickly, tired out from a very exciting day and us adults chatted again, I caught up on these diaries and we enjoyed just chilling in each other’s company before heading to bed. On the agenda the next day was a very special visit to see a certain man in a red suit. Stop by tomorrow to see how we got on.
BattleDad was away with work so for the start of this visit to Bluestone I was flying solo with BattleKid. I had work on the Friday but finished at 12pm which was great. I had managed to get BattleDog off to kennels the previous night, as well as hit Asda for supplies and I also packed the car the night before. Go me! I popped by the post office on the way home before collecting our fresh and fridge food, and BattleKid’s blow-up bed. I packed the final bits into the car, collected BattleKid from nursery and set off for West Wales around 2pm.
We weren’t long left nursery before a certain little person fell asleep in the back. I had great plans to stop along the way for a cup of tea and some cake with my boy at the farm shop we always visit on our Bluestone trips but those plans went well out of the window. I was quite hungry as I hadn’t had lunch so I did what most people do when they’re caught short food-wise, I visited a McDonalds drive-thru and stuffed my face with a quarter pounder and chips before setting off again. And the boy stayed asleep until we were almost at Bluestone.
When we arrived around 3.20pm there was quite a lengthy queue. We checked in and BattleKid and I went to collect our buggy, which we very nearly didn’t have. I had left it until the last minute, as I always have, to book the buggy and found they had none left. Now our friends who always come with us were eight and a half months pregnant and there was no way she was going to manage to get around without transport. She rang the office and they made a compromise with us which would work. However, shortly after I had left the house Bluestone rang to say they had one for us. Thank the Lord for that!
So BattleKid and I picked it up and brought it back to the car park. We joined the queue to head for our lodge shortly before opening time and made our way to our Skomer Lodge on Augustus Way. BattleKid and I went in to investigate and I got a little video of the lodge to show you all (video below). We started unpacking the car after this and once we were all unpacked we settled in and waited for W & S to arrive with L. They were delayed and arrived after 6pm. They unpacked and we quickly had a dinner of pizza before getting the boys to bed at a very late 8.30pm.
We adults just chilled and caught up over tea and coffee before heading to bed around 10.30, pooped after a long day. We were also very excited about the day ahead of us so the quicker we got to bed, the quicker the morning would come!
Pop by tomorrow for Day 2 of this visit to Bluestone.
By now all my readers know that we are a wanderlust family and 2017 is shaping up nicely in terms of holidays. 2016 was a good year for time away as a family and with friends and this year is going to be no different.
This year I would like to take BattleKid home to Ireland for his first ever Saint Patrick’s Day. However, that’s not going to happen as I didn’t realise it’s Ireland’s game of the Six Nations against England and it just happens to be in Dublin. So as you can imagine the price of flights for that weekend has sky-rocketed. Instead, I have decided to take BattleKid home the weekend before to visit family and maybe visit somewhere nice (and maybe scenic) while we’re there. Plus Mum needs to get a shopping trip in tsome point too!
Soon after that it will be Easter and we have a trip to Portugal to visit my Mum and Dad’s new home near Tavira, where BattleKid and I went to last Easter and which I blogged about in the Portugal Diaries. I’m so happy my folks have finally found a place for their retirement and we are more than happy to have it as a place for some holidays. Even better that BattleKid gets to see his grandparents in the process too!
In June we were supposed to be heading to our first ever festival, the Wychwood Festival. I read about this when Kerry of All About A Mini Norris was lucky enough to attend last year. Her post set me thinking and very soon after reading her review I booked our tickets. However, due to personal circumstances we have had to postpone it until next year. Luckily the operator allowed us to defer our tickets rather than lose them as they are non-refundable which I thought was very kind of them. So June 2018 it’ll be! BattleDad and I have never been to a festival, can you believe that, and so we are really looking forward to it.
After a long wait during the summer our trip of a lifetime will soon be looming. We are doing a two week road trip in America next September, starting and ending in Portland, Oregon. We will be spending five days exploring Yellowstone National Park. Soon after we will be visiting Lolo National Forest. As soon as I found out there was a forest with the same name as my Dad, albeit a nickname of his, I knew I had to visit it. And to find it so close to Yellowstone and en-route to and from Portland was a bonus. I’ve blogged about wanting to visit Yellowstone before and we had considered waiting until BattleKid was old enough to remember it but we just bit the bullet last October and booked it. Sometimes you just need to be spontaneous!
BattleDad wants to take a drive down part of the Pacific Coast Highway from Portland so that will be a day trip for us. There is also an amazing waterfall 30 minutes drive from Portland, the Multnomah Falls, that I definitely want to photograph. So it’s easy to see why this is going to be the trip of a lifetime for us. It’ll be a busy two weeks but I’m hoping we come away with great memories alongside some awesome pictures. I’m just not looking forward to the 11 hour plane journey to and from Portland with a three and a half year old.
In October we have another trip to Bluestone planned with our friends who we go there with. It’s a mid-week visit this time and I cannot wait. October seems like such a long time away though! We will most likely visit Folly Farm while there and perhaps a few castles in West Wales we don’t get to visit due to the distance.
Then sometime before Christmas we are intending to visit Euro Disney with W and S (of the Bluestone Diaries) with their 2 children who will be just turning one and just turned three. BattleKid won’t be far off his fourth birthday so we felt that this year in November or December it would be the right time to bring him to Euro Disney for the first time. We invited W and S and they jumped at the chance. Both families are looking forward to it and we will also take a day or two to go into Paris as it’s been a few years since BattleDad and I last visited Paris and I need my fix, haha.
So 2017 isn’t looking too shabby when it comes to holidays for the Battle Family. It’s always nice to start the new year with something to look forward to and I think we can safely say we’ve got things to look forward to. What are your holiday plans for 2017?
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