Brecon Mountain Railway – Brilliant for Train Fans

So, you’ve got a train-mad little boy, a nice sunny day in South Wales and nothing planned of a Saturday morning. What do you do? You visit the Brecon Mountain Railway of course.

brecon mountain railway

The Brecon Mountain Railway is situated just a few minutes from Merthyr Tydfil and is a railway with a steam engine to thrill the hearts of any train fan. It is also located just 15 minutes from our South Wales home and was somewhere we had been meaning to visit but hadn’t until last year.

Running from Pant to Torpantau, the Brecon Mountain railway follows part of the original route of the Brecon and Merthyr Railway which closed in 1964. It takes you into the Brecon Beacons, through Pontsticill and along the full length of the Taf Fechan Reservoir before climbing up to Torpantau high in the Brecon Beacons.

On the day we visited the Brecon Mountain Railway, we drove to the Pant Station, parked up and bought our tickets in the office before making our way to the platform. We passed the locomotive running shed and workshop on the way to the platform and the smell was lovely. Grease, oil and engine smells. There is also a model railway as you approached the platform which BattleKid loved.brecon mountain railway - photo collage

brecon mountain railway - photo collage

We waited patiently for our train, boarded and handed the conductor our tickets. The train left Pant Station and started its journey through the stunning Brecon Beacons towards Torpantau. We saw the peaks of Pen-y-Fan and the Pontsticill Reservoir.

brecon mountain railway - BattleKid holding his train ticket ready for the inspector
BattleKid holding his train ticket ready for the inspector

Although it had been sunny when we left Pant, the clouds got thicker as we ascended towards Torpantau. We alighted the steam train and a certain little boy wasn’t too sure about the steam coming from the engine.brecon mountain railway - photo collage

The engine spends a few minutes changing around before everyone gets back on for the journey back to Pontsticill. There, you have 25 or 30 minutes to enjoy the views, have a refreshment in the small café or spend some at the playground, as we did. You can even spend longer there if you want to, and get a different train back. We chose not to.

brecon mountain railway - BattleKid enjoying the views of the Welsh Valleys

BattleKid enjoying the views of the Welsh Valleys

brecon mountain railway - photo collage

Back at Pant Station, we visited the traditional sweet shop and bought some rhubarb and custards for BattleDad, his favourites, before heading home. Although we had only been at the Brecon Mountain Railway for less than 2 hours, it was a fun filled 2 hours. BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed his ride on the steam engine and his time at the playground.

Things to note if visiting the Brecon Mountain Railway

  • There are 3 or 4 train journeys a day, depending on the time of year. There were three the day we visited.
  • Adult tickets cost £14, children cost £7 (up to 15 years of age), and seniors cost £12.50 return. Under 3’s are free.
  • There is ample parking at the Pant Station and it is free.
  • The Brecon Mountain Railway is mostly wheelchair and buggy friendly, although wheelchairs are limited to manual ones and cannot leave the train at Torpantau Station.
  • There are toilets at both Pant and Pontsticill Station and baby changing facilities.
  • There is a tea room at both Pant and Pontsticill Stations.
  • There is a gift shop at Pant, while the Steam Museum (which is free) is located at Pontsticill Station.
  • A children’s playground is located at Pontsticill Station, which we can highly recommend for young children.
  • The Brecon Mountain Railway also holds special days throughout the year such as for Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day. They also hold Santa Special Trains throughout the month of December.
  • Trains run non-stop to Torpantau and return to Pontsticill for 25 or 30 minutes. Passengers are allowed to stay longer at Pontsticill and get a different train back to Pant station.
  • For timetables and up-to-date news, it is best to check the Brecon Mountain Railway website.

brecon mountain railway- BattleKid enjoying the playground of the BRM

We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours on the Brecon Mountain Railway and would highly recommend it for families as a day out in South Wales. It would particularly appeal to Thomas fans and fans of trains in general.

Cath x

*I was not asked to write this review.

brecon mountain railway brecon mountain railway

 

 

Our Visit to OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Those of you who have read our USA Road Trip Holiday Diaries will know that we visited the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, or OMSI as it is known, while we were in Portland. This had been recommended to us and was on our Portland Bucket List. In this post I’ms haring with you our visit to OMSI as well as some useful information should you plan a visit there yourself.Our Visit to OMSI

The day after we arrived in Portland we decided to head there. I was quite excited as I had found out they had a Pompeii Exhibition on at the time of our visit to OMSI. BattleDad is a huge fan of Roman History and we’d love to visit Pompeii at some stage so to see the exhibition was an unexpected bonus. Our only reservation for our visit to OMSI was whether BattleKid would enjoy it. We need not have worried.

OMSI was founded in 1944 and was originally located in Washington Park at the site of the Portland Children’s Museum. However, as visitor number grew, and exhibitions got bigger, a new location was found for it on the east bank of the Willamette River.

The OMSI building is huge and houses no less than 3 auditoriums, a planetarium and numerous exhibition halls. They also have a submarine exhibit in the form of USS Blueback which was used for the film The Hunt for Red October before being towed to its current location at the pier adjacent to the main OMSI building.

Exhibition halls include the Featured Hall for special touring exhibits and the Turbine hall with exhibits for engineering, physics, chemistry and space travel. There is also the Life Sciences Hall which is all about biology, and includes talks and demonstrations with live animals. The Earth Science Hall features geology-oriented exhibits with two specialised laboratories. The Planetarium holds astronomy and laser light shows. And there is the Science Playground which we spent the most time in.

We arrived shortly after 9.30am after driving from our hotel and once we’d bought our tickets for the Pompeii Exhibition (including museum admission) and planetarium tickets, we made our way to the café for a quick cuppa and bite to eat. There I had my very first peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which was quite nice.

After we had eaten, we made our way upstairs to explore the exhibitions halls. As soon as we entered this area, BattleKid made a beeline for some giant cubes and dived right in. He and I had great fun at a giant pinball machine which was designed to educate children about food groups. Although he was too young to understand these, he still had fun trying to whack the balls!

Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid falling into soft bricks
Giants soft cubes!
Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid playing with the food pinball machine
Fun with the pinball machine

There were exhibits about recycling and garbage, exhibits about animals where we saw a Dire Wolf skeleton and saw live animals, and my personal favourite, an exhibit about fluorescent materials. This brought me back to my science background.

Our Visit to OMSI - Fluorescent Minerals at OMSI
Fluorescent Minerals
Our Visit to OMSI - A Dire Wolf skeleton
A Dire Wolf Skeleton

Next, we moved onto the Science Playground. And BattleKid had a whale of a time in the Science Playground. This area has been designed for families with newborn to children of six years of age. Fully enclosed and designed so that children are visible and secure at all times, it encourages children to discover through play and imagination. It has various experimental stations including

  • a stimulating infant area
  • a giant sandbox
  • a water area
  • a reading area and
  • a physical sciences area.

First stop was the water area of course. Only, we hadn’t quite planned for the wet floor. We had to take BattleKid’s shoes off as we entered but forgot to take his socks off. Wet feet were the result for spending so much time having splashy fun in the water area. It also meant he couldn’t really go into the giant sandbox as his feet were still wet and I didn’t fancy trying to get sand off his feet!

Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid having fun with the water area at omsi
Fun in the water area

Next BattleKid had fun at the physical sciences area and was playing with other children, putting balls through holes and down ramps.

Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid playing at the physical sciences area
Fun at the ball wall

We moved into one of the rooms off the main one and he and I did a fun game with magnetic balls in a maze. I ended finishing it when he got bored!Our Visit to OMSI - BattleMum helping BattleKid with a magnetic game

As were we getting close to our 12pm time for the astronomy show in the planetarium, we had to drag BattleKid away from the Science Playground. This was the first time BattleDad had been in a planetarium and he and I enjoyed it. It was great being shown some of the star constellations we can see above our house in Portugal, although I couldn’t tell you their names, apart from the Plough now. BattleKid got a bit restless before the end but stuck it out thankfully.Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid pretending to be an astronaut at omsi

After the stars show we made our way to the Pompeii Exhibition. They allowed entry at timed intervals, which was to allow them to show the short video at the start of the exhibition. This gave some background about Vesuvius and Pompeii and the build up to that fateful night in 79AD.

Once you had watched the video, you were let into one of the main exhibition halls which featured artefacts from Pompeii including urns, gladiator clothing and weapons, mosaics and frescoes. Between this hall and a second one, there were over 200 artefacts on loan from the Naples National Archaeological Museum.Our Visit to OMSI - One of the Pompeii displays at omsi Our Visit to OMSI - Roman vases from Pompeii at omsi

It was amazing to see how well preserved some of the items were and the level of detail in them, particularly metalworks such as jewellery and coins. After the main hall, we were led upstairs where there was another short video. However, it was advised that it was unsuitable for young children and we were allowed to skip this video and were let into the next exhibition hall by a member of staff. #

The video we didn’t see was a 4D one in which you could experience the fury of Vesuvius in an immersive theatre with vivid sights, sounds and shaking ground. I think it was very helpful of OMSI to allow families with younger children to skip this part.

The last room of the exhibition had more artefacts and also body casts of people from Pompeii. It was a sobering place, especially seeing the body casts of children. We didn’t stay long in this room with BattleKid.Our Visit to OMSI - The Pompeii Exhibition was at omsi during our visit

Before we finished our visit to OMSI we visited the gift shop which is well stocked, and BattleKid got a little space ship souvenir with his name on it for his room. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to OMSI and highly recommend it. Had we known how good the Science Playground was going to be we might have booked a later showing in the planetarium and let BattleKid enjoy it even more. I am so glad it was recommended to us and made it onto our Portland Bucket List.

Visitor information for OMSI

  • There is a large car park adjacent to the OMSI building with a charge of $5. WE were there early on a Wednesday morning in September and there was plenty of parking.
  • OMSI is served by public transport. The OMSI/SE Water Ave Station connects to the MAX, bus and Portland Streetcar lines.
  • The museum is open from 9.30 to 5.30 Tuesday to Sunday. It is closed on Mondays.
  • The café is open from 8.30 to 5.30 Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday and from 8.30 to 8.00 on Friday and Saturdays.
  • Submarine tours are from 9.50 to 4.30 and you can even do sleep overs!
  • Entry to the museum costs $14.50 for an adult and $9.75 for a child (3-13 years).
  • Entry to the submarine costs $6.75. For the Empirical Theatre, which we didn’t go to, an adult costs $7-8.50 and a child is $6-6.50. Entry to the Planetarium costs between $5.75 and $7.50.
  • The Pompeii Exhibition ended in October. To see up-and-coming events, please visit the Events page of the OMSI website.

Our Visit to OMSI

We can highly recommend visiting OMSI if you are ever in Portland, Oregon. There is plenty to see and do for children and adults alike. Children will particularly like the Science Playground, so give yourself plenty of time in there.

Cath x

*Prices are correct at the time of writing.

**We were not asked to write this review.Our Visit to OMSI

Our Visit to OMSI

The Ultimate Cabin Bag from CabinZero – Review

As a wanderlust family, we love to travel and do so as often as our finances and BattleDad’s work allows. We average about three holidays a year that involve flying, with weekends away thrown in for good measure. Packing a family for a holiday is no mean feat, as I’m sure most parents will agree, but one thing that is always a bug-bear of mine is getting our carry-on luggage sorted. I have been on the hunt for a carry-on bag that will fit all our needs. And I might just have found the ultimate cabin bag from CabinZero. Imagine my delight when they recently got in touch and offered me the chance to review one of their bags.  They also have a special offer for you, so read on.

ultimate cabin bag from cabinzero

CabinZero bags first came to my attention earlier in the year but for some reason their name escaped me when I started trying to find the ultimate cabin bag. As a mum of a pre-schooler I have travelled with a baby change bag for a few years. This always had everything I needed for him but we had to travel with at least a second bag for anything my husband and I needed for flights. Even worse, I had to travel lightly myself if I was flying solo with our son.

However, after our son was toilet trained I no longer had the need for a cumbersome change bag. And so, my search for the ultimate cabin bag commenced. We considered normal backpacks but nothing quite suited our needs. Large weekend bags were just awkward to use with an energetic pre-schooler in tow.

What I believe is the ultimate cabin bag from CabinZero has been designed by a British company and is the brainchild of Neil Varden, the founder of CabinZero. In his own eternal quest to find a lightweight, lockable, trackable, durable travel and cabin bag, he designed his own and CabinZero was born. Hailed as an urban carry-on, these lightweight cabin and travel bags are not only practical but very stylish. All the CabinZero range are cabin sized and fits 55 x 40 x 20cm. They can be carried in a variety of ways including by hand or as a backpack. This alone was a huge advantage for me. Having both options when travelling with a pre-schooler is a must.

CabinZero bags come in a range of capacity from 28L to 44L, they have global tracking built in with Okaban, have lockable YKK zips, are made from lightweight, yet durable materials and come with a minimum 10 years warranty. And there are loads of colours to choose from. All of this, in my eyes, makes them the ultimate cabin bag.

I received the Classic 44L Cabin Zero bag in white for review and was absolutely thrilled to receive it prior to our recent visit to Bluestone in Wales. And believe me, choosing one colour is not as easy as it sounds as the range available is large. We have visited Bluestone many times before, but this time we were going as part of their Bloggers Programme and we were also flying into the UK from Portugal. So, this gave me the perfect opportunity to road test our CabinZero bag.

ultimate cabin bag from cabinzero
Arriving into Bristol with our CabinZero bag

When I received my bag from CabinZero I knew instantly what it was that first piqued my interest in them. It’s how stylish they are! They don’t resemble your typical hiking backpacks and yet still maintain a look of versatility, durability and most importantly, style. On closer inspection it’s a great bag made of high-quality materials. The outer shell is a waterproof polyester, with the inner being made from polyester. The zips are YKK zips and are strong and have loops to allow them to be locked for safety and security. The seams and stitching are well constructed too.

The main compartment is large, mine with a 44L capacity. There is an internal zipped compartment and a netted one too. In the front is a side-zipped compartment which is large enough to store my 15” laptop with room to spare. The sides are secured with strong side release luggage straps too. The bag has two carry handles, one on top and one on the side and has strong, padded shoulder straps to convert it from a carry bag to a backpack. The back is also padded.ultimate cabin bag from cabinzero

Do I really think this is the ultimate cabin bag from CabinZero?

Simply put, yes. On our recent trip back to the UK this bag ticked all the boxes for us. BattleKid had his own little bag with his tablet and a few small toys in it for the plane, while our CabinZero bag contained everything else we needed for the plane journey and more. I packed the following items into it, with room to spare:

  • A bag of spare clothes for BattleKid.
  • A bag of spare t-shirts for BattleDad and I.
  • A set of Bose QC15 headphones for BattleKid (not small in their case!).
  • Toiletries bag containing essential just-in-case items for the plane.
  • Spare tablet for BattleKid.
  • My blogging notebooks and pens.
  • Wallets, sunglasses and light jackets for all three of us.
  • Portable chargers and cables for our phones and tablets.
  • All our travel documents and papers.
  • Snack boxes for BattleKid and his drinks bottle.
  • Additional bottles of water bought at the airport.
  • BattleKid’s Adventure Belt.

On the way back from the UK I fitted even more into the bag. And again, had room to spare. The 44L CabinZero Classic bag really is big.

ultimate cabin bag from cabinzero
Getting ready to depart the UK once more with CabinZero

And while we were visiting Bluestone, it doubled up as a day-out bag. I hadn’t brought a spare bag with me, so for our trips out to discover some of Pembrokeshire, it worked well to carry spare clothes and snacks for BattleKid.

ultimate cabin bag from cabinzero
CabinZero bags can double up as day-bags for busy wanderlust families

Within Bluestone, it came into its own when we visited the Blue Lagoon, their swimming pool. I managed to fit all our swimming gear, towels and toiletries inside. And it fit neatly into the changing lockers too. It was truly an all-round perfect bag for our trip to Bluestone from Portugal.

What I loved about the ultimate cabin bag from CabinZero

  • Ultra-lightweight, weighs only 760g so doesn’t impact your weight allowance like some bags.
  • Airline approved (50 x 40 x 20cm) so will fit even the meanest of airlines’ carry-on limits.
  • Made from strong, durable materials and has a waterproof outer lining.
  • Made with YKK zips which are lockable for safety and security.
  • Thick padded shoulder straps to use as a backpack. Has two carry handles on top and at the side.
  • Comes in a range of capacities from 28 to 44L and a large range of colours are available.
  • Fitted everything we needed into it, with lots of room to spare.
  • Doubled-up as a day-out bag while out and about in Bluestone and wider afield in Pembrokeshire.
  • Very comfortable to wear and easy to fit into overhead lockers on the plane.
  • Having a backpack type bag is always handy when travelling with a pre-schooler as it leaves both hands free to keep hold of them in busy airports.

What I didn’t like about the ultimate cabin bag from CabinZero

  • Nothing at all, although a chest or waist belt could make it just that little bit more secure when travelling. But this is not essential

Our overall verdict is this bag is absolutely brilliant, as not only a cabin bag, but as a day-out bag too. For families it is by far an extremely versatile bag, that is not only stylish but comfortable to wear, and with lots of room for both kids and adults’ essentials.

ultimate cabin bag from cabinzero
Very comfortable to wear

I cannot express how thrilled I am to have had the opportunity to receive a CabinZero bag for review, and have already gotten rid of one of my other backpacks that I’d been using as a travel bag. This fits everything we, as a family, need for a comfortable plane journey (and more), and will get a lot more use from here on in, starting with an overnight stay in Northern Portugal tonight and also our forthcoming trip to Disneyland Paris in December.

So, if you are sick of struggling with cabin bags and are on the hunt for one that ticks all the boxes, I highly recommend you check out what I believe is the ultimate cabin bag from CabinZero. There are bound to be a few that will fit all your needs. Not only will you have a cool and stylish cabin bag, but also something that easily and comfortably doubles up for days out, wherever your wanderlust takes you. BattleDad has already hijacked it for a business trip back to London this week!ultimate cabin bag from cabinzero

And that’s not all. The lovely people at CabinZero are offering my readers a 10% discount off their entire order on the CabinZero website for the next 30 days (expires 27th November 2017). Just use the following code at the checkout:

CZBATTLEMUM

If you’d like to get your hands on a great cabin bag from CabinZero, check out the full range on their website.

Cath x

*I received the Classic 44L white CabinZero bag for the purpose of this review. However, as always, these are my own honest thought and opinions of the bag.

**To remain fully transparent, please be aware that this post contains affiliate links. That means that I receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking the link – this doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps support my blog. Thank you.

ultimate cabin bag from cabinzero

ultimate cabin bag from cabinzero

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The ladybirds' adventures

The Grassholm Lodge at Bluestone – A Lodge for 8

As you’ll know, we were kindly invited to have a mid-week stay at Bluestone and we stayed in a Grassholm Lodge. This lodge sleeps eight and is very comfortable. All lodges at Bluestone have the look of a log cabin and never fail to impress me. We’ve stayed in a variety of lodges but this was our first time staying in a Grassholm lodge at Bluestone.Grassholm lodge at bluestone

What’s in a Grassholm Lodge at Bluestone?

The Grassholm Lodge has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, an open-plan living room, diner and kitchen. It has everything a large family or group of friends might need for a home-away-from-home stay at Bluestone.

Grassholm lodge at bluestone
Our buggy parked outside our Grassholm Lodge of 24 Knight’s Rest, Bluestone

As you enter the lodge, you enter into a large entrance hall which leads into a small hallway. Off this is a double or twin bedroom (whichever you need) and a large family wet room which has both a bath and shower in it. This short hallway then leads you to the open plan living room, dining room and kitchen. There were two two-seaters and one large three-seater leather sofas, a coffee table and TV unit with TV in the living room area. The dining area had a large wooden table with eight chairs, and a baby’s highchair as we had an infant with us.

Grassholm lodge at bluestone - living room
The living room of the Grassholm Lodge

The open plan kitchen aside the dining area is large, with plenty of space in it. There is everything you need for a comfortable stay in the kitchen from a kettle and toaster, to microwave, dishwasher and full cooking facilities. Included is  cutlery and crockery for eight and enough pots, pans and serving dishes to feed a large family or group of friends. There is also a fridge and freezer for those planning on bringing their own food to eat/cook.

Grassholm lodge at bluestone - kitchen and dining areas
The dining area and kitchen of the Grassholm Lodge

Upstairs there are three additional large bedrooms, one double with an ensuite bathroom and two bedrooms which can either be twin or double bedrooms. There is also a family bathroom with bath and shower upstairs.

Grassholm lodge at bluestone - bedrooms
The four bedrooms of the Grassholm Lodge
Grassholm lodge at bluestone - bathrooms
The bathrooms of the Grassholm Lodge

Outside there is a patio area with picnic benches for times you might want to enjoy the fresh, Pembrokeshire air.

Grassholm lodge at bluestone - outside space
The outside of a Grassholm Lodge at Bluestone

My thoughts on the Grassholm Lodge at Bluestone

This lodge is quite similar in layout to the St. David’s Lodge, which we’ve stayed in once before, minus the playroom. It is large and extremely comfortable. It has everything you need for a comfortable stay. To be perfectly honest, we didn’t miss the playroom as the living room is big enough for two boys to build a train track across. In the living room, the sofas are comfortable and the TV was used once to entertain the boys while us mums visited the spa.

Entertaining and eating-wise, the dining table has eight chairs and has plenty of room for eating at. The kitchen is well equipped and has everything you need for cooking and feeding a large group.

In the bedrooms, there is ample room with chest of drawers and wardrobes for clothes, and all had plenty of room for a travel cot. The beds are comfortable. Two single beds pushed together make a large double bed. I did this in the room BattleKid and I were sharing and we had loads of room to sleep on. That didn’t stop a stray arm or leg making its way across the divide though.

The bathrooms were large too and never felt cramped. My only gripe with the bathrooms is the wet room. I used the shower in it once and despite the underfloor heating being on, it was still soaked hours after I had finished my shower. This wasn’t ideal as the floor remained slippery. With two young boys, one of whom is newly toilet trained, this bathroom, located on the ground floor, is the easiest to access with two toddlers. Needless to say, it was the only shower taken in that bathroom. I contacted Bluestone about this and they have reassured me it is something they are aware of and will be addressing in such lodges before the end of the year.

Also, on our last morning we ran out of hot water. We did stagger our showers during our stay but on the last day, all four adults wanted a shower before travelling home, particularly BattleDad and I as we were travelling by car and plane.

However, after one member of our party had a very long shower, there was no hot water left for the rest of us. BattleDad had a lukewarm shower, while myself and another member of the party had to have cold showers. I mentioned this to Bluestone and they have let me know that the immersion heater holds 200 litres of hot water and if it runs out, it shouldn’t take longer than one hour to regain a hot temperature. I didn’t realise 200 litres of water could be used in 40 minutes, but you learn something new every day. So just be aware that if there are many adults wanting showers one after the other, you need to have quick showers.

One thing we spotted that wasn’t in any of the lodges previously, was a new eco-thermostat for the heating. This clever technology keeps the lodge at your desired temperature, meaning you don’t need to adjust the setting on any of the radiators. You can turn them off if you desire, but it is recommended you don’t. It also detects when there is no one in the lodge and turns the heating off in order to conserve energy. How clever is that!

The Grassholm lodge at Bluestone is the perfect place for a large family or group of friends to enjoy a stay in this brilliant resort. While it has enough beds for up to eight people, there is room in each of the rooms to hold a travel cot. So, if a large group of friends with babies wanted to share a lodge, the Grassholm has enough room for eight adults and four babies! It is large, comfortable and has everything you need. We had plenty of towels for everyone and didn’t want for anything. Well, apart from more blue skies but you can’t do anything about the weather.Grassholm lodge at bluestone

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the Grassholm Lodge and will definitely look into booking it for future breaks at Bluestone with friends or family. Unfortunately it was late when we arrived, so all my pictures are from that evening before our full party descended on the lodge. If you’d like to see inside in greater detail, hit play on the video below!

Have you stayed at Bluestone before? If so, what lodge style was your accommodation?

Cath x

*We received a complimentary mid-week stay in a Grassholm Lodge at Bluestone in return for this review. However, as always, these are my own honest opinions and thoughts about the lodge.

Grassholm lodge at bluestone

Grassholm lodge at bluestone

A Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone – Our Visit and Review

Regular readers of the blog will know that we have been to Bluestone several times in the past. But last week, we were kindly invited to experience a mid-week stay at Bluestone. We have always had a weekend break at Bluestone but since giving up my job to move to Portugal, a mid-week stay at Bluestone suddenly became a very real option.

So, with our new stylish cabin bag in tow, and plenty of warm clothes, off we headed to Faro airport for our return flight to Bristol Airport to experience our first ever mid-week stay at Bluestone.

A weekend break at Bluestone lasts 3 nights and 4 days but was really only the two weekend days for us, as we have always been travelling on the Friday and Monday. This time we were treated to a 4-night stay and enjoyed 3 full days at Bluestone. That said you can arrive early and use the facilities from 11am on the day of your arrival, and on your checkout day you can enjoy them until 3pm. You cannot check into your lodge early though so do be aware of your arrival time and plan accordingly. Check in time for accommodation is generally 4.30pm.a mid-week stay at bluestone

Day 1 of Our Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone

Due to our flight being delayed we didn’t arrive until 5.20pm and we headed straight for the Farmhouse Grill for dinner with our friends who were joining us for this stay.

mid-week stay at bluestone - tasty burger in the farmhouse grill restaurant at bluestone
A tasty burger in the Farmhouse Grill

I had booked this restaurant so that we didn’t have to think about cooking and could start to relax and enjoy ourselves. We had two sharing platters to start and they were enormous! Plenty of food that tasted delicious. Most of us ordered a burger while BattleKid enjoyed the chicken strips from the kids’ menu and L enjoyed a kids’ burger. The main courses were generous and tasty. However, as I’d eaten quite a lot of the sharing platter, I couldn’t finish my burger. In truth, the sharing platter could easily have covered us four adults.

While everyone else enjoyed some amazing looking desserts, I walked (in the rain!) to our lodge to grab some pictures and a walk-around video for my YouTube channel. The sacrifices we bloggers make in the name of our work hey! Shortly after I’d finished, the others arrived back in our buggy for the week, which I had pre-booked, so that we could all get unpacked and get the kids ready for bed. Following a catch up over a cuppa we all headed to bed suitably tired but happy to be back in Bluestone once again.

Day 2 of Our Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone

mid-week stay at bluestone - our buggy outside our Grassholm Lodge
Our buggy for the week helped us practice our Portuguese as Mai is the Portuguese word for Mum!

After a breakfast cooked from our Family Welcome Hamper, we got ourselves ready to head out of Bluestone to explore some of Pembrokeshire.

The Family Welcome Hamper has everything in it to start you off food-wise in your lodge. It can be really helpful if, like us, you are travelling from afar and either won’t get a chance to visit a supermarket, or don’t want to carry fresh food in the car. Including everything you need for a hearty breakfast, a cuppa and a few snacks too, it can work out as a great time saver.

mid-week stay at bluestone - Tiny streets in Tenby
Lovely little streets in Tenby
mid-week stay at bluestone - beautiful Tenby in Pembrokeshire
The gorgeous Pembrokeshire coastline

We decided to visit Tenby as the Battle Family had never been before. It had always been on our radar but somehow, we never got the chance. We were very lucky that the rain and grey skies we had that morning cleared by the time we headed out in the cars.

Tenby is a lovely little seaside town in Pembrokeshire and we had a lovely time wandering around the walled town and around the coastal head. We visited the RNLI boathouse and I visited a Boots for some supplies before we enjoyed fish and chips. Afterwards, we then drove to Barafundle Bay but I had to wait in the car while a certain little boy caught up on his beauty sleep.  

mid-week stay at bluestone - saying hi to the bwbach scarecrows
On our way to dinner at the Oak Tree Restaurant and we stopped to say hi to a scarecrow

Back at Bluestone, we visited the Oak Tree Restaurant for dinner. Unfortunately, we were a little bit disappointed to find it had changed from the last time we had visited.

The Oak Tree Restaurant had always felt a little more grown up than other eateries in Bluestone, one adults could enjoy even with the kids in tow. With an Italian inspired menu comprising fantastic dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, it felt like the ‘treat’ restaurant. This time around it was more of a set Italian menu with just pizza and pasta dishes, geared very much for families. Gone were the starters and variety of main dishes. That said, the food was still really delicious and was enjoyed by one and all. Even my main of olives and a salad (still full from my seaside fish and chips) was lovely. BattleKid certainly enjoyed his spaghetti and tomato sauce, even wearing some of it on his eyebrow. After dinner, and once the kids were in bed, we enjoyed our first board game for ages. And I won!

mid-week stay at bluestone - a salad at the oak tree restaurant at bluestone
My salad was really delicious!

Day 3 of Our Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone

I had been looking forward to this day at Bluestone. Why you may ask? Because as it was her birthday the following week, I had booked myself and S into the Well Spa at Bluestone. I had never visited before and it had been a long time since I’d had a spa day and both us mums were really looking forward to it.

We wandered down at 9am and enjoyed some of the facilities until it was time for our Celtic Combo. This 50-minute treatment involved a back massage and facial and boy was it enjoyable. My therapist Katy found knots in my back I didn’t know existed and the facial felt and smelled lovely.

mid-week stay at bluestone - The Well Spa of Bluestone
The Well Spa of Bluestone, a perfect place for mums to enjoy a few hours of relaxation.

After our treatments, we continued enjoying the facilities, even braving the rain to get into the plunge pool, before having afternoon tea at midday in the café. Once we were suitably relaxed and refreshed we visited the spa shop before going back to reality and our respective children. I cannot recommend the spa enough for mums, dads, couples and grandparents alike. And yes, we saw a few of them in there!

mid-week stay at bluestone - well spa plunge pool
The plunge pool of the Well Spa at Bluestone

After lunch we all went to the Blue Lagoon for some splashy fun. This is by far one of the best places to visit at Bluestone with kids. The boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves in the waves, the lazy river and the toddler pool. It was a struggle to get them out.

mid-week stay at bluestone - the blue lagoon pool
The Blue Lagoon of Bluestone

Back at the lodge we got the Dads to collect a Chinese from a takeaway in Narberth. Despite it only getting a 3.5* rating on Google, the food was hot, delicious and enjoyed by everyone. I really cannot understand why it has a low rating. Again, once the boys were in bed we enjoyed some board games but alas, it wasn’t my lucky night.

Day 4 of Our Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone

I was up at 7.15am to call Disneyland Paris to make our restaurant bookings for our forthcoming visit in December. Yes, you must book certain restaurants that far in advance! Then, once BattleKid and I were dressed and fed, I took him for a walk while BattleDad worked and the others got themselves up and sorted.

We started by having a walk around the lake and although it was cold, it was a dry morning. Around the lake we spotted the ducks, waved to the tractors and the men working on them. We also saw mushrooms, spotted a bug hotel and a scarecrow fishing in the lake.

living arrows - BattleKid looking out across the lake at Bluestone
Strolling around the lake at Bluestone

Then, we went on a Gruffalo hunt in the deep, dark, wood and found him hiding in a tree. We also spent some time watching a squirrel jumping from branch to branch high in a tree. BattleKid wanted him to come down to the ground and he did, albeit a bit away from us.

living arrows - a gruffalo hunt at Bluestone
Result! We found the Gruffalo hiding in the deep dark woods of Bluestone

To finish off our morning together, I took him to the new playground where he enjoyed time on the slide (getting a wet bum in the process!) and the swings. This is a new addition to the Village since our last visit and it is really good, a great place for little ones to run off some steam.

living arrows - BattleKid on the playground boat at bluestone
Fun in the new playground of Bluestone

After our morning together, we returned to everyone in lodge and got ready to head out of Bluestone again. Our destination for this morning was Pembroke Castle for a spot of dragon hunting.

We had never visited Pembroke Castle, and it’s quite a lovely one. The boys enjoyed running around the big map of Wales that sits in the centre of the courtyard, before we enjoyed some cake and tea. Afterwards, we hunted the dragon and found him hiding in a hole in the wall. It’s a big castle, with many rooms and buildings to explore and is a great place to let two little boys burn off some of that never-ending energy.

living arrows - BattleKid having fun at Pembroke Castle
Fun in the sun at Pembroke Castle

On our return to Bluestone we spent a few hours relaxing in our lodge before heading to the Wildwood Café in the Adventure Centre for the Scarecrow Dinner Show.

mid-week stay at bluestone - the room decorated at the wildwood cafe for the scarecrow show at bluestone
The decorated Wildwood Cafe room

There are shows on twice a week in the Wildwood Café and during certain times of the year they have a theme, such as for Easter, Halloween and Christmas. This show is an interactive one that includes a two-course meal and was enjoyed by us all. The room was decorated perfectly for Halloween and the show involved a scarecrow and crow singing and telling stories and the kids really enjoyed it.

mid-week stay at bluestone - the scarecrow show
The Scarecrow Show

Afterwards we joined the Bwbach Parade down to the village before the Bwbach Festival started in the centre of the Village with games and music.

mid-week stay at bluestone - joining the bwbach parade at bluestone
The start of the Bwbach Parade

The boys also enjoyed some time playing in the playground before we hopped onto our buggy back to our lodge in the rain. It was a great way to end our first ever mid-week stay in Bluestone and I think our whole party enjoyed themselves.

mid-week stay at bluestone - meeting the scarecrow
BattleKid wasn’t too sure about getting up close and personal with a live scarecrow

Day 5 of Our Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone

As is normal, check out on your last day is 10am. We were all up early and as BattleDad and I had some errands to run before we headed back to Bristol for our return flight to Faro so we left just after 9am.

mid-week stay at bluestone - a wet departure morning at Bluestone
Time to say goodbye to Bluestone

As mentioned above you are welcome to stay and use the facilities at Bluestone until 3pm, handy if you aren’t in a rush. BattleDad and I visited our old stomping grounds in Wales before stocking up on sausages and rashers in Asda. We also visited Abergavenny for a last cuppa after getting the boys’ feet measured in Clarks.

mid-week stay at bluestone - ~BattleKid taking pictures out the airplane window
Taking pictures of clouds as we return to Portugal after a great week at Bluestone

A Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone versus a Weekend Break

I thought it might be useful to sum up how a mid-week stay at Bluestone compares to a weekend break. We’ve actually stayed at Bluestone for a weekend at the same time in October before, so it’s easy for me to compare the two.

While we’ve always enjoyed our weekend visits to Bluestone, they have always felt a bit rushed. Spending most of Friday and Monday travelling, you only really get two full days at Bluestone. A mid-week break gives you at least one extra full day and it felt more relaxed for us. The restaurants also didn’t feel as full or rushed compared to weekends and the Blue Lagoon wasn’t as busy.

The playground only got busy after the Bwbach Parade but didn’t feel full at other times. When BattleKid and I took a stroll around the lake and into the woods we hardly saw anyone.

Having that extra day meant we could also explore areas of Pembrokeshire for two days while still having a day to enjoy ourselves in Bluestone. Our mid-week stay at Bluestone felt more relaxed and less busy than weekends and given the choice I’d do a mid-week again. That said, Bluestone is enjoyable, no matter whether you chose a weekend, mid-week or 7-day stay.a mid-week stay at bluestone

I cannot recommend Bluestone National Park Resort enough as THE place to go for a relaxed family holiday in Wales. Whether you only have a weekend break, or longer, it is a great family-orientated place to stay. Ideally located for exploring Pembrokeshire and more of West Wales, you can be as outdoorsy as you like, or not. There are plenty of things to do for the whole family at Bluestone and in the surrounding areas, so you won’t be bored. Each lodge really is family orientated and with everything a family would need for a home-away-from-home holiday. I’ll be talking about our Grassholm Lodge in greater detail in a forthcoming post next, but suffice to stay, like all the lodges we’ve stayed in, it was comfortable, homely and had everything we needed for our mid-week stay at Bluestone.

Have you visited Bluestone before? If not, why not check out their website and see the range of lodges they have and availability! And if you are still not convinced Bluestone is THE best holiday destination, then please take a look at this great review from Are We Nearly There Yet, who I think might have also stayed in a Grassholm Lodge!

Cath x

*We were kindly invited to enjoy a mid-week break at Bluestone, receiving complimentary accommodation for the duration of our stay. However, as always, these are my own honest thoughts and opinions about our stay at Bluestone. Please note, we paid for all activities, restaurant visits and the buggy hire for the duration of our stay.

a mid-week stay at bluestone

a mid-week stay at bluestone

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