Year: 2017

Bank Top Cottage, Embleton, Northumberland

We had a fabulous week at Bank Top Cottage in Embleton. From the moment we arrived, we felt relaxed and away from it all. 

The cottage was a lovely combination of modern yet cosy. The open plan living area included a kitchen area, dining room table and two couches facing the fire and television. The views form the cottage were absolutely stunning. We could look out to the sea and Dunstanburgh Castle. We had our own hot tub in front of the cottage. I wasn’t sure we would be bothered about this in November, however once we’d tried it we loved it, especially looking across to Dunstanburgh Castle and up at the stars.   

Embleton Beach, Northumberland

This is us on holiday on the beach in Embleton in Northumberland.

The beach was amazingly peaceful and surprisingly sheltered. We were there in November and we managed to play around for hours before feeling the cold. There were some rock pools, which we managed to explore, but only managed to spot a couple of crabs. We did build lots of sandcastles and a moat and we decorated the sandcastles with shells from the beach. We also dug out a couple of boats for the kids to sit in.

After a play around on the beach, we went to the Ship Inn pub, which was just off the beach at Embleton Bay. I had read about their crab sandwiches, which we sampled along with other food and drinks. All were delicious and we liked the friendly atmosphere in there. It gets really busy and you can struggle to get a table so you need to get there for opening time to guarantee a seat.

 

 

Where to Eat Fish and Chips in Seahouses

When we stayed in Northumberland last year (click to read post about Embleton, Northumberland) my Mum suggested we get fish and chips in Seahouses. She said she there was a lovely chippy and we should check it out. We all love fish and chips and one miserable, grey day we decided to head out for our lunch. So I Googled “fish and chips seahouses” and was surprised to see that there are at least three fish and chips restaurants in Seahouses. It is quite a small town so you wouldn’t expect to stumble across three of them there, but it is right by the sea and a fishing harbour.

I do like to research before making a decision about food or fun so I decided to check out the Trip Advisor reviews to see which one was rated best with the general public.

According to the Trip Advisor reviews all three were generally pretty good, with mainly positive reviews from customers. However there were some slightly negative comments (as you would expect) on each of them. What amused me was the responses to the comments from one of the restaurants. A quick check on Trip Advisor turned into a long session of me laughing out loud at the comments made on behalf of the restaurant. The restaurant is Pinnacles in Seahouses and I had spotted that the Hairy Bikers had endorsed this one, which made me think it must be pretty good.

Click on the link below to read reviews of restaurants in Seahouses:

Trip Advisor – Seahouses Restaurants

After much reading of reviews – and responses, I decided we had to go and see Pinnacles for ourselves.

Unfortunately Pinnacles was closed that day. So we went to the Neptune restaurant opposite. It is a cafe style fish and chips restaurant. We all enjoyed our fish and chips. We sat inside and the staff were really friendly and it was a really good meal. I can certainly recommend Neptune Fish restaurant for a good hearty fish and chips meal for the family.

We went on a boat tour that left from Seahouses and you can read about that by clicking on the link to Farne Islands Boat Tour.

Farne Islands Boat Trip from Seahouses, Northumberland

During our stay in Northumberland we went on a lovely boat trip over to the Farne Islands. We sailed from Seahouses with Billy Shiel’s Boat Tours and we travelled out to the Farne Islands. There were a few trips to choose from and we felt that a couple of hours would be about right with two young kids. If you have a child that struggles to sit still, then this might not be the best trip for you, but ours were pretty good.

We saw lots of seabirds, including Guillemots and Razorbills and we saw hundreds of Grey Seals. The guide was friendly and enthusiastic. He pointed out many different types of birds and he told some interesting stories along the way. Some of the seal pups had been born within the last day or two. Despite the poor photograph (apologies), we were incredibly close to hundreds of Grey Seals during the boat trip, however with a rocky boat and trying to keep hold of a couple of young kids, it was really tricky to get a decent photo. If you look closely, you will see some black animals in the water and these are the Grey Seals. Our two year old could see them clearly. She insisted they were doggies, but they are definitely Grey Seals.

The boat trips run all year round, but it is best to check the website before going to be sure. We were there in Autumn, which is the best time to see the seals, but if you would like to see the huge numbers of puffins then May, June and July is the best time to see them.

Our kids were 6 and 2. Our six year old daughter enjoyed the trip and loved seeing the wildlife, particularly the seal pups. We would like to return to see the puffins if we are there in Summer.

Our 2 year old was a little restless at times, but we could sit inside with her and we had plenty of snacks to keep her occupied. The boat did sway about a bit, at times, so we had to keep hold of the little one. There was a small toilet on board at the back of the boat, which was fine for our 6 year old.

Billy Shiel’s Boat Tours Website

Eurocamp – St. Avis Loisirs Campsite, le Bugue, Dordogne, France

We booked a Eurocamp mobile home for two weeks during the Summer holidays. We stayed at Saint Avit Loisirs Campsite in Le Bugue in the Dordogne.

We decided to fly into Bergerac and hire a car, which saved us a load of travel time as we didn’t fancy the car journey with two little ones in the back. It took about 45 minutes to drive to the campsite so we arrived at about lunchtime feeling fresh and ready to explore. We couldn’t get into our mobile home at first so we went to the pool and had a bite to eat at the restaurant.

My parents booked into the same site and we requested to be close to each other and were pleased that we were next door to each other. They travelled by car and crossed the channel on the ferry then had two overnight stops on the way down to break up the journey. My brother and his girlfriend and his son joined us for a week and they also drove and stopped at Futuroscope in Poitiers on the way down. They booked directly with the campsite and stayed in one of their chalets, which was nice and spacious.

ACCOMMODATION
We booked a two bedroom Esprit mobile home which has a double bedroom, a twin bedroom, a kitchen and living area with dining table and a bathroom. We were happy with our pitch as we were close enough to the pool and main facilities and far enough away that we didn’t feel too close. We had a lovely large space in front of the mobile home and the kids loved to play here and we were happy to sit on the decking whilst they played.

SWIMMING POOLS 
We thought that the pool facilities were great with three outdoor pools, one indoor pool and a large splash area, which our kids loved. There were also four slides, including one for rubber ring users.

​There was a little bit of sun-bed hogging with towels, but there were always lots of spare sun-beds on the hillside area just beyond the pool.

KIDS CLUBS
Our eldest loved the kids club for 4-6 year olds, which was run most days from 10-12 and 2-4. The Eurocamp couriers were friendly and encouraging. We had to get there early as places were limited as we discovered on our first attempt. Our daughter went along a few times and played games, made crafts and made some friends. There was an animal themed day where all the children had their face painted as their favourite animals and they made papier mache fish, which we managed to safely return home and is still proudly on display in our daughter’s bedroom.

She also went to the Pizza Party, which was held once each week. This involved party games and eating pizza and again, she had a great time.  Our youngest was allowed to play at the junior tent with us and she did some painting one day and played with the toys another.

RESTAURANT
We went to the onsite restaurant one night and the food was really good. It was a lovely outdoor setting and we managed to get a table without booking but it soon filled up. The staff were really friendly and they were clearly proud to work there. I tried the menu of the day including three courses of local specialities. I was a bit unsure about the Duck Gizzards, but it was absolutely delicious and the kids were really pleased with their pasta and ice cream desserts. ​​

Center Parcs, Whinfell

We love Center Parcs and we thought a sunny long  weekend at Whinfell Forest would be the perfect start to the summer holidays.

We invited my parents along too so there were 6 of us staying in a woodland lodge with 3 bedrooms.

We opted for a long weekend and stayed from Friday to Monday as David was limited for holidays. We have previously done a four night break from Monday to Friday. We find that the time flies either way, which I guess means we always enjoy yourselves while we’re there and we try to make the most of our stay.

Anyone that has been to Center Parcs will immediately recognise the chalk board in the picture. I love this little touch and we usually find a nice welcome message when we arrive. We always draw and write on ours throughout the stay with happy messages.

Arrival

You can access your lodge from 3:30pm (or 2pm if you pay extra).

I love the driveway into Center Parcs. Once you enter the narrow winding road, there are wooden animal sculptures to spot and if you go during the Christmas period, there are lovely Christmas lights and decorations.

Once you have parked the car there is a walkway up to the village, which takes about ten minutes with small legs. There is a bike hire centre alongside the car park and you can pre-book these or collect them on arrival. We chose to bring our own bikes for the girls, but if they were a bit older, we’d probably all hire bikes for our stay.

We arrived around lunch time and headed to Starbucks for lunch then we went to the swimming pool complex.

We swam and played and had a drink before making our way to our lodge. Daddy walked to the car park and fetched the car while we made our way to the lodge on foot. It was not too busy and he actually made it there before us.

We brought some bolognese with us from home so we had an easy meal in on the first night with a bottle of wine. There is a takeaway and a well stocked supermarket on site as well as several restaurants so you have plenty of options.

Swimming Pool

The Subtropical Swimming Paradise is great fun for the kids. The changing rooms are cleverly designed for families so you can have a good sized changing room and there is plenty of room for everyone to get ready.

Our kids loved the pools, in particular the waves and the slides. I think the waves come on every half hour and the Tarzan alert gives you plenty of time to get a good spot or get out of the way if you want to avoid them. There is an outdoor pool and a plunge pool for the brave.

There is a splash area for younger ones which includes two slides. Our two year old loved both of these and we positioned ourselves one at the top and one at the bottom to make sure she was ok. It was handy to have extra hands (grandparents) in the pool to play with both our children.

Lodge/Chalet

The kids loved exploring our surroundings and it was not long before they were running about in the forest going on an adventure.

They had a great time playing around outside the chalet. They were running about playing hide and seek, searching for bears and a gruffalo.

It was fun to join in and also nice to sit outside with a glass of wine while watching them play. Our eldest was using the binoculars to spot birds.

Abigail also enjoyed riding her bike and she managed to get around well most of the time. There are few cars about on site and there are sensible speed limits that people obey so we can relax in a way we couldn’t do at home.

Aqua Sana Spa

Bringing the grandparents along meant that we could have a session in the Aqua Sana spa. It was brilliant – lovely and clean, very relaxing and we really enjoyed our three hours of chill out time.

There were various different heat experiences including warm relaxing rooms and hot steam and saunas. There were different themes for each room and an explanation outside each.

We ate out at Bella Pasta, which was really nice. The staff said it had been busy early on and you’d need to book for an early sitting, but we went after our spa session, just the two of us, so it was nice and quiet. The staff were friendly and the food was delicious. It was a nice warm evening and it was lovely to walk around the site back to our chalet, holding hands, which is a luxury for us as we’re normally running after a child each or pushing the buggy.

Pedalo on the Lake

We hired a pedalo one day,  which was a fun session with the girls. We ended up doing most of the pedalling while the girls told us where we needed to go.

The lake is central to the site next to the swimming complex and there are some small waterfalls around the edge so it is a pretty site.

There is a Lakeside restaurant which serves nice roast dinners and hearty food for good appetites.

Roller Skating

We booked roller skating one afternoon, which was great fun for our six year old. She needed a lot of help, but she did improve through the session and just about managed to skate independently by the end. I had booked skates for her and me, but realistically, I should have just booked them for her as it was easier to help her when not on skates.

My two year old also had a go and enjoyed skating while holding onto her Daddy and Grandad’s hands.

It was a fabulous weekend and I would definitely recommend Center Parcs to anyone that fancies a relaxing break with the kids. I love the fact that you can park up and leave the car for the entire stay and the freedom for the kids is perfect.

Bank Top Cottage, Longnor, Peak District

We had a fabulous week at Bank Top Cottage in the Peak District.

We travelled down straight from school and arrived in glorious sunshine at the immaculate cottage on this working farm. The kids were immediately drawn to the play area, which was a fabulous unexpected bonus. We were able to enjoy a glass of wine while watching them play, which was perfect.

COTTAGE
​​The cottage looked brand new and was filled with modern, high quality furnishings throughout. The bedrooms and living room had lovely deep luxurious carpets and the bathrooms were modern and spotless. There was lots of storage space with a great big wardrobe in our bedroom and additional drawers around the room. We had a cot in our bedroom and this didn’t take away from the large space that we had.

We loved the homely feel of the cottage and we were happy to eat in most evenings although we did go to a lovely pub down the road, just a few minutes away.

We watched films and played games and just enjoyed spending time somewhere new.

The owners were really welcoming and we were delighted to have tour of the farm during our stay. We were all fascinated and enjoyed getting so close to the milking cows.

ALTON TOWERS
We discovered the cottage when looking for accommodation near to Alton Towers and we went to the theme park on our first day. It was about 40 minutes away in the car and it was strange to go from the pretty cottage in the middle of nowhere to the crowded attraction that is Alton Towers. The kids had a great time and there was plenty to keep them both entertained throughout the day.

LOCAL AREA
​The farm is pretty remote but the small village of Longnor is just a few minutes down the road in the car. We were just a few miles from Buxton and there was lots to see and do close by.

There is a fantastic fish and chip shop in Longnor and it is popular so be prepared to queue. We ended up going twice during the week as it was really handy to call in on the way home after a day out.  ​

Costa Adeje, Tenerife

We had a great week in Costa Adeje with a couple of friends and their kids – no dads, eek!

It was the first time I had taken the girls abroad without Daddy. I was concerned about travelling alone with them, but it was so much easier than expected. Once I had offloaded our luggage at the airport, we were able to relax a bit. I had brought loads to do on the plane so the girls were really good and the four and a half hour flight passed fairly quickly. I have written a separate post about travelling alone with kids.

We were staying directly opposite the beach and we spent a lot of time playing in the sand. The sand is black and the kids were covered, but it was great fun and really nice for paddling around the edge and jumping over the waves.

We bought some buckets and spades and the kids played about for hours at a time. There are taps at the edge of the beach for washing off the sand but it does get everywhere.

Mummy drinking beer from a boot in Tenerife

Restaurants

There were loads of restaurants in and around Costa Adeje and they were really reasonably priced. There were a few places selling a pint of beer for 1 euro. Lots of the restaurants serve beer in a boot which is bizarre, but I liked it. I found that the staff were generally family friendly and made a fuss of the kids. We were there over Easter, but I was surprised how few kids and families there were. Maybe if it had been busier with more kids they would have been less patient.

We discovered an amazing ice cream shop, featured in the background of the photo with me drinking beer from a boot. There were over 100 flavours of ice cream to choose from and we all agreed that the banana ice cream was the best.

There was lots of seafood and pasta, both of which I love, so I enjoyed the food and we also had a tapas meal which was lovely, washed down with some Sangria.


Things to do

There were quite a lot of family friendly things to do in Tenerife. I was hoping we could go back to Loro Park, where I have been before. This is a great wildlife park, including the most amazing Penguinarium – home for penguins featuring ice caves and tunnels, but we didn’t do any major days out.

We spent some time in the hotel at the kids club doing craft activities and we did the aqua classes in the pool – me doing aqua aerobics with a child in each arm. We spent loads of time on the beach, we played crazy golf, the girls bounced on a trampoline and we wandered about to parks, restaurants and beaches including some fishing about in rock pools, which we all loved.

The girls were happy to jump over waves and roll about in the black sand. On the first day we arrived, we wandered down to the beach, just for a look, without our swimming costumes and the girls couldn’t resist getting covered. My youngest was rolling about in her vest and loving every minute.

Coniston Hotel and Spa – Overnight Break Without The Kids

We had a lovely overnight break at the Coniston Hotel in North Yorkshire. We have driven past this hotel many times on our way to North Yorkshire and the Lake District and it was a real treat to finally stay here. The hotel is in (or near) Coniston Cold. Many people assume it is in Coniston in the North of the Lake District, but the address is actually Skipton.

The hotel is set within beautiful grounds including a large lake and fields and forests. The hotel offers various packages including hunting breaks and 4×4 breaks. You may have seen a Land Rover parked in a seemingly precarious position if passing on the road outside.

Coniston Hotel and Spa overnight

We booked an overnight stay and spa break, including a deluxe double room and full use of the spa facilities on both days of our stay. It was our first night away together since having our youngest daughter so it was a real treat to get away somewhere, especially somewhere so pretty. It was a very relaxing break. The other guests looked to be mainly couples like us or older guests. Despite being a nicely furnished hotel, there was a relaxed feel, which we liked. The staff were friendly and offered to lend us wellies and umbrellas when we asked about the walk around the lake.

We made use of the spa facilities, including the pool, sauna and jacuzzi and outdoor infinity pool. This was lovely and very relaxing, although I think I stayed a bit too long and had to chill out on a comfy lounge chair for a while.

There are three restaurants including a posh one called McLeod’s, a more informal restaurant called the Huntsman’s Lodge and a small Brasserie attached to the spa serving light bites.

We ate in the Huntsman’s Lodge restaurant for our evening meal, as we liked the options on the menu and fancied a less formal dinner. I had post-spa hair! There was a lovely roaring fire in the restaurant. We both had a good hearty meal (fish pie and sausage and mash for mains) and a bottle of red wine. It was lovely and the waitress was polite and friendly.

In the morning we went for a walk around the lake within the grounds of the hotel. It was beautiful and there was a hazy mist over the lake, which was very pretty. We took some photos, which captured the mood nicely. There was hardly anyone about. I think we saw one or two dog walkers and it was lovely and peaceful.

We enjoyed our Yorkshire breakfast, which included black pudding (always a bonus for us) and we made use of the spa facilities again before heading home.

It was a great relaxing break and I hope we get to return some day. Click on the link below if you would like to find out more about the hotel or book a stay: Coniston Hotel and Spa website