Holiday Diaries 2017

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 and I need to get my skates on and book my flight home for that. St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year and that doesn’t happen very often so with this in mind it makes sense to pop home on the Wednesday or Thursday for the weekend. So watch this space!

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!portugal day2

In June we are off 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. BattleDad and I have never been to a festival, can you believe that, and so we are really looking forward to it. Even better I went all out and booked a pre-pitched tent so we don’t even have to bring our own. I can’t wait!

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 during that time as well as 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.

Multnomah Falls

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 next 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?

Cath x

Chester Day 4: 29/08/2016

After a slightly better night with BattleKid, I took BattleKid out into the living area when he woke and left BattleDad to get some more sleep. We had tea and toast together with CBeebies on in the background. I gave BattleDad tea and toast once he got out of bed and I started to pack us up, ready for our trip home. I’d done a bit the night before so only really had the kitchen and food to sort before we were ready to hit the road by 9am.

I was pleasantly surprised at the small number of cars on the road. We didn’t have much to complain until we turned off the A5 towards Welshpool and got stuck behind a lorry. We didn’t actually mind as we weren’t in a hurry. We had decided that we would take a different route home than we had taken going up to Chester so that we could visit Powys Castle, a place we’d never been to before, but one that was on our to-do list.Chester Day 4

We arrived by 10.15 and parked in the third row back from the castle. We got our tickets and were informed that the castle would open at 11am. So we decided to have a very civilised tea and cakes in the courtyard of the castle as it was such a lovely morning. The sun was shining and the surroundings were very pleasant. BattleDad went inside while BattleKid and I found a seat and watched a small plane circling above our heads.Chester Day 4

Chester Day 4

Chester Day 4

After our tea and cakes we entered the castle and started in a drawing-type room just inside the main entrance. We wandered around the castle, which to be honest is more like a stately home than a castle. Unfortunately there were no hiding places for dragons inside this castle so we decided to move outside to hunt one down.

Before making our way towards the lake in the gardens we had ice cream at the castle entrance as we had been promising BattleKid all weekend but had forgotten each morning. By the time we remembered each day it got too late to chance him with the sugar. So we enjoyed some ice cream in the sunshine and then made our way towards the lake, checking for dragons along the way.Chester Day 4

We eventually found one hiding beside a tree on the edge of the lake. A little boy who was passing us asked his mum where his dragon was. Oops, we caused a bit of trouble! (Truth: we bring a dragon teddy bear of BattleKid’s with us to whichever castle we visit and one of us walks ahead and plants him for BattleKid to find. It makes for great adventures I can tell you).Chester Day 4

Chester Day 4

Chester Day 4

Chester Day 4

Chester Day 4

We left Powys Castle just after 1pm and headed down the A470, a road we know very well, towards home. BattleKid fell asleep almost as soon as we left the castle and got an hour and a half before waking up. Even I managed 20 minutes in the back with him.

We arrived home at 3pm, despite a dawdling driver as we came into Builth Wells, and unpacked the car. The usual post-weekend washing commenced. We had a lovely weekend together as a family, despite a few mammoth tantrums from BattleKid. We packed as much into it to ensure we made the most of having four days together, away from the house and the dogs. We’ll definitely be going back to Chester Zoo, although we’re not too sure about the Blue Planet Aquarium if I’m honest.

After that impromptu weekend away, next up on the holiday agenda is New York. Pop back in a couple of weeks for those holiday diaries.

Thanks for reading,

Cath x

Chester Day 4

Chester Day 3: 28/08/2016

After yet another awful night’s sleep with BattleKid, we got up at 8am and I made us scrambled egg, beans and toast for breakfast which BattleKid enjoyed. We got ourselves dressed, repacked the change bag and headed off just before 10am. Destination: The Blue Planet Aquarium.Chester Day 3

BattleDad and I had visited this many years ago with my nephew when he was visiting us in Telford and we really enjoyed it then. And as BattleKid is getting more into fish after having watched part of Finding Nemo (we had to switch it off at the sharks part as he didn’t like them), we thought he might enjoy the Blue Planet Aquarium. Again, this was less than 15 minutes from our AirBnB accommodation, which was really handy.

We parked the car and made our way to the entrance, paid up and in we went. We started on the upper level, visiting the Northern Rivers and Tropical sections before going down stairs to see the big fish tank and the underwater walkway. BattleKid hadn’t actually been too interested in the fish until we got to the sharks tanks and the underwater walkway. This certainly got his attention, so much so he didn’t want to leave. We finished off our visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium by visiting the otters outside.Chester Day 3

Chester Day 3

Chester Day 3

Chester Day 3

Chester Day 3

Chester Day 3

Chester Day 3

As we were done by 11.30am, we decided to make our way around to the Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet and parked with the hundreds of other shoppers in the multi-storey car park. This is where we saw the most people over the course of the bank holiday weekend. It was heaving!

BattleDad made a beeline for Hugo Boss and spent ages inside. BattleKid and I got bored outside waiting for him so took to taking selfies and messing while we waited. He finally appeared at the door about 20 minutes after he went in with arm loads of stuff, saying “Help, I don’t know what to get” to which I told him get it all, just to get him out of the damn shop. It still took him another 10 minutes to come out, this time with bags!Chester Day 3

We walked halfway around Cheshire Oaks before deciding to stop at Carluccio’s for lunch. We had a really nice meal, BattleKid ate well, and most of mine I’ll add, and all for under £50 which was great. We decided to walk back to the car and I popped into Paperchase and Warehouse. I would have liked to pop into a few more shops but BattleKid was starting to get cranky and tired so the car beckoned. BattleDad ran into Starbucks for drinks for us to take with us and, as I waited for him outside, I ended rocking BattleKid to sleep in my arms as he was exhausted. He had been quite good up till then and one man waiting outside the Mulberry shop for his wife asked if I’d rock him to sleep too! Ha!

We managed to get the boy into the car and he stayed asleep. We dropped by the Tesco again and I waited in the car for BattleDad to get what we needed. BattleKid woke 5 minutes from our accommodation, ratty as hell even though he’d had a 40 minute sleep! When we arrived back BattleKid watched the end of Rio while BattleDad napped, he too was exhausted from the bad night with the boy. We had dinner at 5.30 and decided to take a walk around the lake and nature trail of the area we were staying in rather than stay indoors on such a nice evening. We figured it would also distract BattleKid, possibly wear him out, and maybe, just maybe, help to avoid any more tantrums, of which there had been many!

We ended up out for over an hour but had fun, checking holes for dragons and seeing if we could spot any cats along the way. Getting out of the apartment was a good idea and we had fun as a family. Once we got back it was well past milk, pj’s and story time, and thankfully BattleKid went down without too much of a fight.Chester Day 3

Chester Day 3

Chester Day 3

Chester Day 3

BattleDad and I read the papers he had picked up until we knew the boy was asleep before getting some tea and watching the weekend’s second episode of X-Factor. We turned in after this, exhausted from our day out and with the journey back to South Wales just ahead of us.

Pop by tomorrow to see if we managed to go dragon hunting on our last day of the bank holiday weekend.

Cath x

Chester Day 2: 27/08/2016

After a very bad night’s sleep with BattleKid we woke before 7am. I got pancakes, bacon and strawberries prepared for breakfast while the boys watched CBeebies. BattleKid has never watched anything on CBeebies so that was a treat for him and kept him quiet and happy until breakfast was ready.

After breakfast BattleDad and I watched the news over a cup of tea, a rarity these days before we got ourselves dressed and ready to hit the zoo. We left our accommodation at 9.20am and it took us less than 15 minutes to drive to Chester Zoo. There were lots of cars there already but we were lucky and found a space right beside the entrance which was handy.

We checked with the staff at the entrance as to how we used our Bristol Zoo passes and we went straight through the entrance, without needing to get any tickets or queue which was great. We decided to head left and start by the elephants and had to wait by their enclosure for the zoo gates to actually open at 10am, the official opening time of the zoo. Unfortunately we didn’t see the elephants as they weren’t out then.

From the entrance we headed to the left of the zoo to see the butterflies. Their house was very like that of the one at Bristol Zoo but with more vegetation and so more butterflies. BattleKid enjoyed it and loved seeing them flying around.Chester Day 2

We visited the jaguar enclosure, the Realm of the Red Ape, the penguins, flamingos and otters before going into the aquarium and passing by the aviary where we were very surprised at the size of the vultures in there. I’ve never seen flying birds as big as these ones.Chester Day 2

We decided to have a pit stop at 11.30 and had tea and cake before going to see the lions. However, their enclosure was being cleaned by their keeper so we only got to see the Daddy lion through the window of his indoor enclosure.

We headed over the wooden walkway on our way to the new section of Chester Zoo and during our walk BattleDad and I spotted the cheetah and some deer, albeit in separate enclosures.

The new section of Chester Zoo is a series of Islands based around areas of Indonesia. This new area is amazing and filled with all sorts of animals including Sumtran tigers which BattleKid loved. I plan to do a more in-depth review of Chester Zoo at some stage but for now I can highly recommend you make time to visit the Islands of Chester Zoo if you ever go.Chester Day 2

Chester Day 2

Chester Day 2

Chester Day 2

We moved on to see the painted dogs, black rhino, monkeys and a few more animals before we decided to get a late lunch back where we had tea and cake earlier. We also got a lovely momento of the day for BattleKid before enjoying fish and chips. Just before we finished our meal the heavens opened which was great timing for us as we were getting ready to head back to the car. We saw the elephants on our way to the gift shop where we picked up a few bits. All in all, we had a great day at Chester Zoo and will definitely be going again in the future. It was well worth the trek up from South Wales.Chester Day 2

Chester Day 2

We left the zoo and headed to a Tesco near our accommodation for some supplies. BattleKid had fallen asleep as soon as we left the zoo but it was only a short nap. We got back at 5pm and BattleKid had a snack while he and BattleDad watched the end of a film together while I pottered around.

BattleKid was into bed by 7pm and asleep soon after. It had been a busy day for all of us. BattleDad and I enjoyed a tapas supper with a cuppa and X-Factor which was starting on TV that night. With it returning to its original format and with judges we enjoy, we rather enjoyed this bit of Saturday night TV before going to bed early ourselves.

Unfortunately it was another disturbed night, the first half being as a result of the wedding music. Even with my earplugs in I could still hear the music. I have no idea why the second half was a bad as it was with BattleKid as the music had stopped when he started waking again. The next day’s agenda was the aquarium and I desperately needed sleep but didn’t get it.

Stop by tomorrow for the low-down on the aquarium.

Thanks for reading,

Cath x