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Best holiday ever! England and Wales, 2016.
Do you have to board a plane and travel to far-a-way destinations to experience a great family holiday? No! For our family holiday 2016 we never left the United Kingdom. A few weeks of careful planning and ‘investigating’ and I had the ultimate family road-trip planned. Armed with nothing but an iPhone and Google Maps we set off on what became both an adventure and the trip of a lifetime!
We travelled 1600 miles beginning in Northern Ireland, passing through England and Wales experiencing the food, activities, culture and sights the various cities and villages had to offer. Our 10 days went in way too fast but we managed to experience the best each area had to offer and we had lots of fun. Our trip really did have something for everyone in the family, read on and you will see how this was the best holiday ever!
Saturday 10th July – travel from Dublin to Holyhead and on to Ironbridge and the Gorge Museums.
This was a really great place to stop, and certainly one of the most scenic areas I have visited.
The iron bridge was magnificent and we walked along the river to a few of the museums. These were quite close to each other and we managed to see and do a lot in only a few hours.
Hubby found the stories of the work that took place in Ironbridge long ago fascinating and the kids loved looking at the various displays and artefacts. My eldest daughter has an interest in art so she was fascinated with the various tiles on display.
You can purchase a pass which is valid for the ten museums and I would recommend this as after visiting one, you will want to see them all – each one as interesting as the next. The walk itself is beautiful and the kids loved the old buildings and ‘climbing walls’!
To compliment the scenery, opposite the river we found rows of traditional shops including a few adorable little gift shops where we picked up some postcards and gifts to bring home. The girls found a shop named after their cousin Hannah!
Ironbridge is definitely worth a visit if you like traditional English scenery as I do. There were so many beautiful quaint buildings with an abundance of gardens overflowing with flowers, they were simply stunning!
For further information on Ironbridge Gorge Museums visit www.ironbridge.org.uk
Saturday evening – travel to Stratford-upon-Avon.
Stratford-upon-Avon is a really beautiful place to visit.
Le Bistrot Pierre – Swan’s Nest, Stratford-upon-Avon is one of the most child-friendly yet very enjoyable restaurant experience’s we have had. Its inÂ a perfect location, set on the banks of the river Avon and at the front of the luxury MacDonald Hotel, The Swan’s Nest.
We had booked a table for 5 and the kids were rather excited as we had read on Trip Advisor that this restaurant had one of the best childrens’ menus and activity packs – this turned out to be very true! My kids are 7yrs, 10yrs and 12yrs and there was something for each of them in this fab booklet. From dot-to-dot and colouring to a page where they were able to write their own story by filling in the missing words, they were entertained throughout dinner.
Aside from the childrens’ activity booklet, the food was very good. I had steak, my favourite food by far. It surpassed my expectations. Perfectly cooked to my liking – medium to well – and served with crispy chips and garlic butter, this was a meal I enjoyed thoroughly! Hubby opted for the fish stew – a dish I would not have chosen myself, however, when it arrived it looked and smelled very tasty and he really enjoyed it.
The kids meals were quite substantial and for a reasonable price – sometimes when they order burgers from the childrens’ menu they are ‘tiny’ but these were almost adult portions – but just perfect for kids.
Dessert was scrummy. They have a delicious creme brule on the menu which simply cannot be passed over. This was the ‘perfect pud’ and I had to fight off the rest of the family. My daughter couldn’t decide between the different options so the waitress suggested the trio of mini puddings – these looked and tasted delicious and she was delighted to have an elegantly placed macaroon on the side – her favourite!
For further information please visit www.bistrotpierre.co.uk
Aside from the excellent dining, just look at this wonderful location:
With its various monuments to the great Shakespeare, the beautiful gardens next to the river Avon and the longboats, both parents and children would enjoy it here.
The walk along the river and through the town gardens was beautiful with lots of architectural plants and stone/iron work.
The various works were pretty amazing and they each had a little piece in-scripted on a plaque next to them so we could read about and understand the significance.
I was intrigued with the riverside gift shop on a barge!
An evening is not enough to spend here but that was our allocated time so we plan to return in the near future.
Sunday 11th – travel from Stratford-upon-Avon to Windsor.
I could have spent a week here, never mind a few days! The castle is a ‘must see’ and you simply have to go ‘all out’ and take the tour.
The audio guides were in various formats and they had a specific guide for kids.
I opted for this one as well. I wanted to know what the kids were learning about the castle and, as it turned out, I found the stories fascinating myself so this was a good choice.
We had a wonder around at our own pace listening to the commentary about the various castle features, interesting historical stories and details about Queens Anne’s dolls house – wow – this has to be seen to be believed! With working toilets, sinks and lights, she was a very lucky little girl to have such an exquisite dolls house to play with.
The audio guide was very well ‘designed’ – each area had a ‘number’ and the kids were able to walk around and when they spied a number they selected it on their audio guides – my 7yr old could manage this easily.
The various rooms all had their own fascinating stories and history. My kids were wondering around in silence absorbing the culture and listening intently to every word!
In the main building they looked at the ceiling for the ‘blank’ knights coats of arms in wonder and came rushing to tell me those belonged to the knights who didn’t behave!
I loved the gardens with their statues and abundant fabulous flowers and architectural plants and I have some amazing photos to show off at home.
My mum has now added Windsor Castle to her ‘bucket list’ and I would jump at the chance to return!
The guards deserve a mention as well and they turned out to be as fascinating to the kids as the castle itself! My 7yr old son was intrigued with one in particular and he insisted to his sisters he was not a ‘real’ person! He quickly changed his mind when the guard in question turned, mounted his rifle on his shoulder and marched straight towards us!
Our family ticket was excellent value. We were on the grounds for over three hours and were completely entertained the entire time. The gift shop was also very reasonably priced – surprisingly! We have quite a few souvenirs as a reminder of our visit which was thoroughly enjoyed by all the family.
For further information visit www.theroyalcollection.org.uk
Bel and the Dragon Windsor.
I would return to England just to visit this restaurant again! Wow, its almost indescribable – I cannot do it justice.
To begin, imagine a 17th century building restored to fully function as a restaurant and imagine the most delicious food served by friendly and informative staff – that’s Bel and the Dragon Windsor!
The old windows with the original shutters were present along with iconic low ceilings, narrow corridors and authentically themed tables and chairs.
I LOVE this place! The kids were excited when the waitress arrived with chalk – not an activity book in sight! The table was ‘chalk board’ so they could write on it! They played nougats and crosses and join the dots until the food arrived.
The menu was luxurious and, in turn, we took quite a while deciding on our food selection! We had scallops to start which were mouth watering and cooked perfectly. The kids opted for home made chicken goujons and these were delicious.
They were served with crispy chips and tomato ketchup of course!
For my mains I choose the salmon – an excellent choice! This was cooked perfectly with a delicious crispy skin.
Hubby had the steak for a main course and he was impressed as well. Served with thick cut and crisp chips, roasted vegetables and a tangy dressing this was a really delicious meal both in appearance and to taste, plus, you simply cannot beat eating your steak from a wooden board!
The kids followed their meals with nothing other than Eton Mess, the local pud – apparently!
The waitress informed us that we were a short walk from Eton and after our meal we wondered through the streets to the college, window shopping as we strolled along.
If you every visit Windsor, a meal at Bel and the Dragon is a ‘must’. I cannot recommend it enough. Hubby still talks about the food and the old original building – this could be the highlight of our entire trip!
For further information visit www.belandthedragon-windsor.co.uk
Macdonald Windsor Hotel.
Our accommodation during our stay in Windsor was the Macdonald Windsor Hotel. This could not be better situated as it is literally opposite the castle and right in the centre of the town. I have to mention that it is next to a TK Maxx and both the kids and myself were delighted.
The hotel has on site parking under ground which was secure and convenient and we were offered assistance to the reception with our bags.
The interior was superb, simply stunning.
Décor was modern and luxurious and the Macdonald team had attended to all the little extras that mean so much – chocolates, bottled water and a welcome pack was waiting in our room on our arrival.
The welcome pack contained key-rings, personalised biscuits, postcards and other souvenir items that delighted the kids.
On arrival I investigated the mini bar and settled down with a refreshing beer and a luxury jar of cashews – heaven! The kids were more than happy with the selection of TV channels and when we asked for an extra bed it arrived in minutes.
Breakfast was, shall I say, extensive! The selection of fruit, nuts, seeds and other healthy goodies went on for ‘miles’! The kids really enjoyed the food.
I have a child who loves fruit – she is one of the most healthy people I know – and she was delighted with the selection.
My second daughter loves a traditional English breakfast like myself. We were able to choose from a selection of hot food cooked to our liking – crispy bacon and not so crispy eggs!
My son and hubby opted for the cereal selection – as per usual. This was also excellent with all the traditional choices along with a few other favourites.
As you would expect, we had to sample the croissants and danishes – why, to decline would have been rude! Croissants are one of Caits’ favourite foods and she found the croissants from the Macdonald Windsor hotel to be the ‘best ever’.
As you can see, for a family, we all have different tastes and food choices so the breakfast selection was well and truly ‘tested’!
If its luxury, convience, excellent service and a comfortable bed you are looking for then the Macdonald Windsor Hotel is your best option by far.
I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this fabulous hotel to anyone and would return on my next visit to Windsor – hopefully sooner rather than later!
For further information visit www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk
Tuesday 12th – travel from Windsor to Bournemouth.
I have had a visit to Bournemouth on my wish list for a couple of years so I could hardly contain my excitement when we were driving to this stunning location.
The pier was breathtaking and the sand stretched for miles – perfect!
You cannot visit Bournemouth without walking the pier. This is a very beautiful walk with an activity centre at the end.
My daughter turned 13yrs while we were here and she was on a mission to do something exciting on her birthday – the Bournemouth Pier zip line surpassed her expectations.
Claiming to be the longest pier to shore zip line, she found it was both intimidating and exciting. She executed her mission without fail and flew through the air to the shore above our heads while we took photos from the pier.
After her exhilarating ride, her younger brother and sister investigated the other activities on offer and they channelled their energy into 25 different climbing walls!! Yes, 25!
The Rockreef Activity Centre at the end of the pier was fantastic. The kids were fitted in a harness and we were identified as ‘clippers’ – so when they moved from wall to wall we had the job of clipping them on and off from their safety ropes.
The walls themselves were varied with some ranging from fairly easy to rather difficult, others had timers and the kids had a previous score to beat which they loved!
The favourite was definitely these green ‘tubes’ or ‘Stairway to Heaven’, as they was known, the kids had a lot of fun trying to reach the highest one without falling off.
Prices were reasonable and it was definitely worth the visit. The Rockreef has many other activities to offer including a visit to the caves – this is now on my wish list! Click HERE for further information.
Koh Thai – Bournemouth.
My 7yr old son has declared the Koh Thai restaurant as the ‘best ever’!
We visited many different places to dine over our ten day trip and I was delighted the kids loved Thai food so much. Located just a short distance up from the pier, the Koh Thai restaurant is well placed to have either lunch or dinner.
Décor was in the authentic Thai style which added to the experience.
The waitress knew the menu ‘inside-out’. She was very helpful with the kids, explaining the ‘hot’ ratings on the curry’s and the difference in the various rice dishes. This was the first time they had coconut rice and they have requested it almost every evening for dinner since we returned home!
The menu was extensive so we ordered the tapas to start – we simply couldn’t decide and we wanted to try everything!
The meal was fabulous and every plate was cleared! The prawn toast deserves a mention – how do they get this so crispy without being greasy??
This is my daughters favourite food and she wanted to eat here again the following night just to have more prawn toast!
As there were five of us we had the opportunity to sample quite a few of the dishes and they were all delicious.
I had the satay chicken and noodles, hubby opted for the thai green curry.
We were both delighted with our meals and the restaurant in general and I think it would be hard to find somewhere more enjoyable to eat while in Bournemouth.
For further information visit www.koh-thai.co.uk
One cannot visit the sea-side without stepping into the sea and we did even better then this, we went windsurfing and sea kayaking! The activities were varied enough that there was something for all the family from some requiring quite an agile participant, like windsurfing, to simple sea kayaking which is fairly gentile and would suit those less able – or old like me!
Rockley Watersports is located at Poole a short drive from Bournemouth. We arrived bright and early for our ‘taster session’ and the kids could hardly contain their excitement. The kids had kayaked before on our local lough but never in the sea.
The activity centre is quite the set up – the range of activities and resources are vast and you will be sure to find something you want to try here. We were assigned to a ‘leader’ who fitted us with wet suits, protective shoes and life jackets.
We set off on our kayaks to begin with and played some ‘football’ with another leader in a boat. The kids had to throw the ball into his boat before anyone could touch their kayak with the paddle. It wasn’t long before they were paddling like crazy and flailing the ball at the poor lad in the boat! 10 out of 10 for this activity!
Windsurfing was their next activity.
I am amazed how people can sail along on a windsurf board, I tried it many years ago and never quite got the hang of it. The leader was very efficient. They were only there for the morning and he didn’t go into too much detail – he simply instructed them what to do and how to do it.
Both of them managed to sail quite a distance before falling off and I was delighted to have caught it on camera!
The Rockley team are a fab team of helpful skilled people who all share a love of the ocean and water sports. Its an excellent place to visit if you want to try something new and the kids had a fantastic time.
Visit HERE for further information on Rockley Watersports.
Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel.
Dinner on our second night in Bournemouth was at the Highcliff Marriott Hotel.
When we were at the pier we could see a fabulous building on the cliff side which required investigation and what better way to investigate then dining there!
The Hotel was luxurious yet friendly and comfortable. The reception area was quite ‘swanky’ and we couldn’t resist a lounge on the velour sofa’s while we were en-route to our table. Don’t the girls look ‘at home’?
This is a hotel I am intent on returning to for an overnight stay – I would have loved to check out the bedrooms.
The dining room was beautiful with its stunning view of the sea and the pier. The weather was lovely during our visit so we had quite the view. Our waitress was polite and friendly and she was very interested in hearing all about our trip so far from three enthusiastic kids who were delighted they had someone to tell their adventures to. The menu was that little bit extra special and I was delighted with the cheese soufflé to start with.
Hubby opted for the Caesar Salad and it looked so good!
The younger kids has cheesy garlic bread and soup.
Both looked very appetising and they were delighted with their selection.
The kids menu had some excellent healthy choices and my eldest daughter was thrilled with her burger, chips and crunchy colourful salad – yummy!
The meals were presented with such care it was a pleasure to eat here. My husband and I both opted for steak, mine well done and his medium to well done. They arrived exactly as ordered with delicious sides and every bite was delicious.
Dessert was as perfectly presented and just as tasty as the mains. Who wouldn’t enjoy vanilla panna cotta with walled garden rhubarb??
Hubby opted for the fruit crumble and ice-cream and the kids obviously had the chocolate brownies – and there were certainly no complaints!
The Highcliff Marriott Hotel would be the perfect place to stay for an anniversary or for valentine’s day either – I can think of no-where I have visited that is quite as luxurious and perfectly situated along such a beautiful coastline.
For further information on this wonderful hotel visit www.marriott.co.uk
The Riveria Hotel.
During our visit to Bournemouth we stayed at the Riveria Hotel in an apartment. This was a much debated choice, I was looking forward to visiting Bournemouth for years so I wanted the accommodation to be just what suited – I made the right choice!
The Riveria Hotel is situated close to the centre of the city and the pier yet away from the hustle and bustle and associated noise. We were delighted with the outdoor pool and didn’t visit the indoor one at all. The kids said it was ‘just like Spain’! I have to agree. The weather was wonderful and waking up in the morning and going outside to lounge on a deckchair next to a pool was heaven and the kids really enjoyed themselves.
I am certain the apartments and pool area was a lot quieter when we left!
The apartment suited us as we had lots of washing to do by this stage on our trip and it was so spacious. We had the option to have breakfast and meals in the hotel but we declined as we were enjoying having our own cooking space and it was just like ‘home from home’. We were able to park at the door and this allowed for easy access with all the luggage and washing we had accumulated.
I discovered the Rivera Hotel on Trip Advisor and I would agree with every review I had read. This is a prime location for families that want to stay somewhere close to the city centre with lots of space yet not pay a fortune for it. The apartments are very reasonable priced for the amount of space and ‘home comforts’ you actually get for your money.
You can find further information on the hotel website HERE.
Thursday 14th – travel to Plymouth.
Plymouth is quite the city and completely different from Bournemouth, despite previously thinking they would be rather similar. Our time in Plymouth was very busy as there was so much to do and see. I had, once again, used various tourist info and trip advisor to best plan our time and had came to the conclusion that Plymouth Boat Trips was a ‘must’.
Plymouth Boat Trips.
Plymouth Boat Trips is a family run company that run excursions from the harbour to various scenic destinations.
When hubby had a look online he was very keen to take the ‘Naval Harbour Cruise’ and spot some nuclear submarine and war ships. This was an hour long cruise very reasonably priced at £22 for a family. Both the adults and kids enjoyed this cruise.
I was impressed that the commentary was ‘live’ and not a pre-recorded tape – this was fun as the captain talked about the scenery as we were passing it and he seemed to know everything about anything!
He threw in a few jokes for good measure and even invited a few of the kids up to the bridge for a sailing lesson! I am not sure who enjoyed this trip more – the kids or my hubby!
Further information can be found online at www.plymouthboattrips.co.uk
Now, after a sail on the sea what are you?? Yes, hungry! Plymouth Boat Trips have that covered as well with their very own restaurant on the shore – The Boathouse Cafe. I noticed most of the passengers heading for a bite to eat after the cruise so it must the ‘thing to do’!
I must say, it was lovely coming from the boat and eating on the pier next to the sea and the boats.
The menu was excellent for a quick satisfying lunch with various sandwiches on the menu served with several types of breads so both the kids and parents were happy.
Sutton Harbour really was a fab place to visit with the various sea-side related gift shops stretching through little cobbled streets.
We enjoyed a walk around picking up a few souvenirs and a snapping a few more holiday photos!
The ‘Hoe’ seamed to be mentioned in quite a lot of information in the tourist office so we heading up this hill – not on foot though – but in a little train!
You could take the train to the top of the hill to the lighthouse and depart then, or stay on for a full tour.
The staff were lovely and very informative not to mention entertaining to the kids. This trip cost us about £1.50 and the view at the top was breathtaking!
The lighthouse itself was fab – red and white and very popular indeed.
We met so many friendly people with their dogs and everyone was eager to give us information on the area and the ‘must see’ places to visit next. One of the highly recommended places to visit in Sutton Harbour was the Rockfish Cafe so we headed their for tea after our sight-seeing trip. The girls insisted on taking the easy route down the hill – they ‘rolled’ all the way to the bottom!
The Rockfish Cafe.
Wow, best cafe ever! I know we have visited a lot of places and restaurants on this trip but I adored the Rockfish. For starters the waiter managed to convince me that he really did know all there was to know about fish! I was smitten by their logo – ‘Tomorrows fish are still in the sea’ – how cool is that?? or should I say ‘fresh’!!
The menu was the ‘tablecloth’ and our waiter explained our choices and made notes for us – we had such a great selection to choose from. I now know that Cod is a large ‘flakey’ fish and Place has more of a fine texture – even hubby said he learned things he didn’t know about the various fish we eat.
For starters I choose crab and this was served in the shell. It was a lovely full flavoured dish and I was very impressed with the presentation also.
Hubby had the prawns – his favourite dish and he said he had never ate prawns so good. They were so ‘authentic’ served on paper.
Naturally, for mains we all had cod and chips! The plates were completely cleaned so its accurate to say we all enjoyed our meals!
I cannot complete this feature without mentioning the fab kids packs the Rockfish have.
These were one of the best kids packs I have seen. So much is included and all with a fish theme.
Crayons, playing cards, colouring pages, stickers, interesting fish facts and more – plenty to keep the kids occupied.
Check out the Rockfish website HERE and watch the videos – they are fun and informative, especially the one that advertises the Rockfish as a fun place to work.
Moorland Garden Hotel.
Accommodation in Plymouth was difficult to choose. We had so many choices and in the end we opted for a hotel on the edge of the Moors – we had no idea it was also a pony sanctuary until we arrived so the kids were delighted.
The Moorland Garden Hotel is only a few minutes drive from the City centre yet its quite secluded and set in beautiful gardens. The decor was marvelous, with ornate pink flamingo’s, lots and lots of mirrors and various pony ornaments dotted around the interior to the delight of the kids.
Our room was just as impressive. The staff had kindly placed two little folding beds in the room for the kids and this was greatly appreciated. We had arrived late at night and it was thoughtful to have this set up for us.
Dinner was a real treat. The kids selected healthy starters – melon and strawberry and they loved the presentation.
Hubby was taken with my cheese souffle previously so he had the Moorland Garden Hotel version – very good he said!
Mains had to be steak. The description on the menu was too good to pass by, with words like mature, dry aged and tender appealing to both of us. It was quite the steak and arrived just as we had ordered, perfectly cooked.
My eldest daughter had a cheese burger and sweet potato fries. These were thrice cooked and so crispy. A salad selection was the accompaniment and this went down well. Jen loves salad and she enjoyed her meal immensely.
The kids had ice-cream for pudding. They had a good selection of luxury ice-creams with little home made marshmallows around the plate.
The Sunday was served as it should be, in a tall glass and with chocolate!
Continuing on this food theme, breakfast was fresh and delicious.
Both the cold foods and hot foods were served buffet style and the tea and coffee was ordered at the table and brought to us freshly made.
All too soon it was time to leave the Moorland Garden Hotel and we took time to explored the grounds before checkout.
The gardens were fab with large ornate wildlife dotted around and lovely secluded seating areas.
As per usual, hubby pondered the various large steel architectures and said ‘ I could make one of these’. However, after 17 years I know not to hold my breath!
Isn’t it really lovely? There was a cattle grid at the entrance to these gardens so the pony’s were ‘contained’ in the area as you drive in, although they were just as pretty to look at as the garden decor at the hotel.
For further information on booking a stay or how the sanctuary helps the pony’s visit the Moorland Garden Hotel Website HERE.
Saturday 16th – Drive to The Eden Project, Cornwall.
I have wanted to visit the Eden Project since it opened in 2001.
‘The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work towards a better future’ (The Eden Project)
As the day to visit drew near I had the kids as excited as myself. I have to admit that there were tears in my eyes when we were walking from our Plum car park to the entrance. All the car parks were called different fruit names!
The entrance was simply with no queue. A lady advised we buy a childs’ guide book and this turned out to be a great idea. My daughter used this throughout the day and kept us on the right track and we didn’t miss anything we really wanted to see.
We made our way through the different gardens to the Biomes and this is where the fun began. We were transported to another world!
The heat and humidity in the domes was the perfect accompaniment to the exotic plants and every so often there were signs explaining facts about the plants and their use in our world. The rubber tree story was fascinating – even to the kids, as was the display of how the rubber was collected and processed.
The kids were amazed that this was where our wellington boots originated from.
Eden had thoughtfully included a ‘cool room’ in the Biomes and this was a very clever (and necessary) idea.
The props along the way were fantastic. Look at this van among the sugar plantation! Everyone wanted a picture taken here.
WE learned about the importance of sustainable farming and fair trade goods and the huge difference out food choices made to the farmers. After purchasing a Baobab smoothie we were hooked on this amazing fruit and bought some to take home from the gift shop.
The rainforest Biome has so much to offer, its really worth a visit. The plants were the most fabulous, and enormous, I have ever seen and the kids enjoyed all the scientific displays explaining various nature themed facts along the route.
There were several recreated ‘houses’ in the different areas showing how the local people lived and these were open to ‘explorers’ so the kids could play and ‘make-believe’.
This has got to be one of the best places to visit with your family! They had such fun and still talk about it!
As we passed from one Biome to the other we had lunch in the massive restaurant in the centre. My friends who had been to The Eden Project had told me that the food was fab and they were right.
We enjoyed a selection of foods from all over the world accompanied with salads and refreshing drinks.
In the ‘Core’ building, the kids played with magnets on a wall made of old fridges for an hour or more.
The entire wall was made from fridges and there were lots and lots of magnetic letters. The girls made their names, wrote messages and played with other children for ages and loved trying to make pictures and get them as high up on a fridge as they could reach.
Meanwhile, I explored this learning area looking at the rows of glass jars lining the upstairs coffee shop with plastic food models inside. Each jar was labelled with a particular vitamin or mineral and the food inside was where this nutrient could be found – what a fabulous idea. At a glance I could see where our necessary nutrients could be found and what foods were good to eat more so than others. I also learned that the man who first said ‘An apple a day keeps the Doctor away’ lived till he was 92 yrs old!
On route back to the beginning and the visitor centre we wandered through banana plantations and the many wonderful displays.
This was the one that captivated both kids and adults the most! – Mr WEEEman!
We spend ages playing ‘Eye Spy’ – who can spot the laptop, the hoover, the food processor, the electric knife and more!! Its just tragic, we throw so many items away and so few are recycled. Perhaps when people visit The Eden Project and see this model made from the average amount of electrical and electronic waste a person throws away in a lifetime it will make us think about how we can help preserve our planet, reduce waste and recycle with gusto!
So, after some serious ‘food for thought’ we continued along our path, although slowly, as we just didn’t want to leave!!
The gift shop at the entrance was our last stop on the way out and we managed to spend over an hour here! The kids were completely taken with the different musical instruments made from wood and they selected one each to take home. They picked up some gifts for friends and I bought some of the hand made and natural skincare products. The theme throughout was the shop was one which was thoughtful to nature, I loved these huge bug houses – wonder if hubby could make me one!?!
Hubby and I thought the vases on display which were made from green bottles were ingenious. These were recycled drinks bottles from The Eden Project itself which were simply ‘squashed’ flat and they fixed to the wall to hold flowers, they looked beautiful and came gift boxed so the ideal Eden souvenir.
I cannot emphasize enough the fun our family had at The Eden project. I would return every year!
Keep an eye on the website as they run special workshops and events for both kids and adults. For further information visit www.edenproject.com
Saturday 16th – Overnight at YHA Eden Project.
After our trip to The Eden Project we completed the experience by staying the night at YHA Eden Project in a Snoozebox. These were recycled shipping containers all lined up in rows and ready for eager travellers!
Yes, that’s us with the large orange canoe on the roof! Hubby disappeared one morning – said he was ‘just popping out to pick something up’ – and came back with a kayak.
The snoozebox was quite the experience and surprisingly very pleasant. I had expected something rather small and stuffy but it was very modern and almost luxurious!
Decorated in green and white with every inch of space used extremely efficiently we really enjoyed the stay – especially the kids.
The communal living area was so cool – at risk of sounding like one of the kids! The seats were recycled car seats and the centrepiece was a large globe.
We were able to chill after our day and the kids recharged their tablets so they were all set to take more photos the next day.
There were a few games for kids and the girls played Jenga until bedtime – you can imagine the clatter when these toppled over!
Breakfast was nothing other than cereal and croissants which was more than enough. This could be purchased daily or ordered the night before. The shop was open from 8am and they had a good selection of essentials. This was a very cosy place to chill and I could have sat and ‘people watched’ all day.
Seeing the fridge with all the food labelled brought back memories from when I travelled around Australia.
For further information on the YHA at Eden visit:
Sunday 17th – Travelled to Bath.
The Fudge Kitchen Bath.
Do not EVER walk past one of these shops! Yes, the staff are a little ‘nuts’ but go in – we had an absolute ball!
The kids were very very excited about their trip to Bath – they were booked into The Fudge Kitchen to make some fudge from scratch. Yes, they had tasted Auntie Ann’s fudge before and it was certainly home-made and tasty but they were dying to try their hand at making their very own fudge.
On arrival we were greeted by the team who were a little ‘different’, in a good way, and very very nice – they were really good at their jobs and they obviously loved working at The Fudge Kitchen. The kids were presented with hats and an apron and we were given lots and lots of fudge to eat throughout the visit.
The huge pot in the shop window was where the fudge was ‘cooked’. The kids all had turns stirring and we were given a running commentary from the staff throughout.
When it started to bubble, a large thermometer was used to ensure the fudge was at the correct temperature and the kids were encouraged to take these readings themselves and let them know when it was ready to be poured. This was a really good participatory workshop as they were able to literally do everything required, under instruction.
The pouring was rather scary and we declined this part and left this to the very skilled instructors!
Now the fun bit – we had to wait until the fudge cooled just enough to allow a 7 second gap to be maintained when the fudge was parted – the kids each had turns parting the fudge and counting 7 seconds. They also were shown how they could ‘slap’ it and not make a dint – they had a lot of fun at this part – maybe too much fun… they were slapping like crazy and had attracted quite the crowd. People were gathering around the window and in the shop with all the laughter!
Next we were shown how to bring the fudge in from the edges and fold it onto itself. This required a bit of effort and concentration by the looks on the kids faces!
Even the youngest little monster managed this part and he loved being given the ‘responsibility’.
As the fudge cooled it was brought closer to the middle of the table and it slowly became more of a solid.
Ta da !! All ready to be cut and served – except I wasn’t sure they were serving this particular batch! We got to take rather a lot of it home.
We finished with a little friendly competition. We were told the ideal weight of a slice of fudge and had a turn at cutting a slice and seeing whose slice was the closest to the correct weight!
I would recommend this experience for both the young and the old. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely book this again in the future.
For further information and to book a workshop visit www.fudgekitchen.co.uk
The Roman Baths.
After our Fudge Kitchen experience we were able walk across the square to the Roman Baths for some more thrilling experiences!
We opted for the guided tour which was, as usual, a good choice as we missed nothing. Our guide was full of fun as well as all the information you would find on Wikipedia!! He told us stories and fun facts comparing live then to life now and he managed to keep the children interested right to the end.
The Baths had been buried underneath another building and were discovered in Victorian times and they really were breath taking.
They had ‘pulled out all the stops’ with various traditional figures from Roman times in the authentic Roman dress to entertain and educate us. This lady showed my son how she would spend her day weaving and mending garments of the rich by the baths.
Best of all was this Roman soldier. The kids were speechless, hanging onto his every word and managing to look somewhat ‘afraid’!!
His sword, shield and uniform details were explained with the kids listening to his tales of how strong he had to be to serve as a Roman soldier.
Finally, he finished his demonstration with an official Roman salute and the kids were taught as well!
We spent almost two hours at the baths so allow plenty of time as there is lots to see and do.
For further information visit the website HERE.
Las Iguanas, Bath.
The restaurant of choice in Bath has to be none other than Las Iguanas. The kids were delighted with the exterior, the interior and the food, it looked so exciting and fun!
We opted to have our meal inside but there was outside seating available as well. The atmosphere was fab and the service couldn’t have been better. Look at the unusual design theme – I have been on ebay since trying to find a ceiling light like this!!
If you are looking for somewhere lively, very modern and colourful and right in the centre of the city, Las Iguanas is the restaurant for you.
Jenny, now 13yrs, demanded a cocktail from the extensive menu and I managed to talk her into this ‘mocktail’ which she enjoyed while waiting on her food- getting well and truly into the Latin spirit wearing her dad’s hat!
The younger children made the most of the children’s packs and they were also well entertained until food arrived.
Now, onto the food! These were, without a doubt, the best ribs I have ever eaten!
The BBQ sauce was delish and the coleslaw a cool creamy contrast – yummy!
The younger kids had the macaroni cheese and Jenny, the fajitas. This arrived with the usual array of dips and she loved her meal. The portions were ample and the price reasonable for such a central and lively restaurant.
Happy smiling faces all round!
For further information and to check out locations near you visit the website HERE.
Sunday 17th and Monday 18th – Travelled from Bath up through the Cotswolds.
The Fox Inn – Barrington.
If you have ever wondered what people mean when they talk of a ‘Great British Pub’ you really must visit The Fox Inn – Barrington to experience the original definition of what this really is.
My husband and I both agreed that this place was truly superb and oh so special – I want everyone I know and care about to visit as we enjoyed it so much. The Fox Inn is a little piece of pure magic!
To begin, what’s a pub without a pub dog??? Meet Chester:
Chester turned out to be a massive hit with the kids and they followed him around everywhere.
Thankfully Chester didn’t seam to mind this attention at all, in fact, I think he liked it!
When we arrived the landlady showed us to our rooms and we were delighted – and that’s an understatement – wow – the building was kept to its original shape and form where possible yet immaculately ‘modernised’ in keeping with the old style design.
The ‘fox’ theme was evident throughout in the form of various fixtures and decorations.
Each room was individually named and this name appeared on the doors and on the keys – a lovely touch.
Yes, the original fox put in an appearance during our stay as well!
Inside the pub my hubby felt like he had ‘came home’ or so he said! He settled in at the bar nicely and had a pint.
The kids joined him for some tea.
It wasn’t long before we had some company – in the form of a circus cast – seriously. The cast come every year and stay at The Fox Inn – what an advertisement! I can see how they would return here year after year.
Breakfast was taken the next morning sitting in a bright dining room next to a river and, with the sun pouring in on us, it was the perfect setting.
Chester was there to greet the kids!
What a spread – lots of fruits and gorgeous jams were served simply on a rustic table along with freshly squeezed fruit juices – delicious!
We were all sad to leave The Fox Inn and I have been recommending it to lots of friends and family since our return. It was an absolutely wonderful place to stay, set in the most beautiful surroundings in England.
For further information visit www.thefoxinnbarrington.com
The Cotswold Motor Museum.
This little gem of a museum is located in one of the most beautiful English villages I have ever visited – Bourton on the Water.
Here, not only will you find old and ‘antique’ motors of all descriptions, you will also re-discover the toys of your youth and a few other interesting objects as well!
My family spent about two hours here and the kids enjoyed every minute of it – as well as the adults.
The kids were given a question sheet to follow which lead to a collection of clues which they had to pt together to make a word and the reward – sweets!
Jenny and I loved this 1970’s caravan. It was full to the brim with the original items you would have had inside from the old sleeping bags, the picnic hamper and the crockery etc. It was a trip down memory lane for both my hubby and myself.
The kids were delighted to discover Brum! This little car was the highlight of the trip as the older children could remember watching the TV show which was actually filmed here at the Motor Museum!
Aside from cars and other motoring machines, I really enjoyed the other various old items on display. Look at this fab collection of shoes and boots from Victorian times!
Look at this ‘car seat’!! I can imagine what the Police would say if I put the youngest into one of these now!!
Do not pass through the Cotswolds without stopping off here. Its well worth a visit and one of the most fascinating places we visited during our holiday.
For further information visit www.cotswoldmotoringmuseum.co.uk
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