Category: family life

Blowing the cobwebs away in Ladram Bay

We decided to take a little break prior to the October half term holidays.  When I say ‘we’ I actually mean me and the littlies.  I asked Mom if she’d like to come with me and then Dad and my brother Steve gatecrashed too (along with Abi in the end due to other issues)!  Mom and Dad have visited Ladram Bay many times before in their touring caravan.  I loved the thought of a week of no responsibilities with plenty of onsite facilities for Eliza and Freddie so we decided to book a static caravan.

Photo courtesy of www.ladrambay.co.uk/Ladram Bay Holiday Park

The Ladram Bay Holiday Park is in Otterton, near Budleigh Salterton, Devon.  A great location to get to, there’s just a 20 minutes drive after leaving the M5 at Exeter.  We arrived on Monday afternoon around 2pm and although our caravan wasn’t due to be ready till 3 we were allowed to enter.  First impressions of the caravan were good although we did find some things during our stay that were less than impressive.  We opted for a Budleigh Premier 3 (ours was B41) which was allegedly suitable for 6 – 8 occupants.  Sorry, Ladram Bay, I beg to differ.  Although the caravan had the correct number of sleeping facilities for this number, the overall space in the caravan told a different story.  The lounge area was tiny and the dining table only seated 4 with a couple of wooden folding chairs left in the corner.

Accommodation = Disappointing

After hearing such fab things about Ladram I was a little disappointed to find soapy marks left on our bathroom sink unit along with an overflow that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in a loooooong time.  The children’s socks and in Freddie’s case, knees were filthy after travelling around the floor.  The main bathroom blind was completely covered in mould and the dining chairs were replacements from the club onsite.  They didn’t fit under the table correctly which meant it was impossible to seat 4 people at the table at once.  Not great when we were actually a party of 7!

Holiday Park = Fabulous!

However………..taking all this into account I must now move onto the park itself which was, I have to say, wonderful!  Reception staff were extremely friendly upon our arrival and this turned out to be an indication of our experience on the site throughout the week.  We visited Pebbles Restaurant just after arriving and had a lovely meal.  I felt the overall meal prices were rather expensive for a holiday park but there was no denying that the food tasted delicious.  We strolled down to the shingle beach around 6pm and caught some lovely large waves that had arrived with Storm Ophelia.  Eliza wasn’t too keen on the sound on this as the sound of the waves crashing over the shingle was rather deafening.

Waves Bar

We headed to Waves Bar to catch the kids entertainment.  Eliza was a little wary at first.  The little kids were all up dancing and then Pickles the Parrot arrived to entertain the kids along with Ryan and Abi from the entertainments team.  In the end she was up on the dance floor jumping around like a kangaroo and even managed to win a prize (a light up toy) in the ‘Musical Opposites’ game.  During our holiday we visited Waves Bar every night and each night she enjoyed it even more, making lots of friends and winning more prizes.  We won a bottle of fizz for both coming top in the quiz on Tuesday night and also Guess the Year.  Wednesday night we won again for Guess the Board Game.  We thought we’d best give up at this point as we might be banned :).

Entertainment

The entertainments team were superb.  Their rapport with the kids (and adults) was fantastic and the talent during their cabaret shows was exceptional and extremely high energy.  Bar and restaurant staff were also extremely friendly and helpful in particular Sam, who served us in Pebbles on a couple of occasions.

Good weather isn’t everything

Weather during the week was dire to say the least.  The sun shone upon our arrival and once again upon our departure but in between we had a murky mix of rain, strong winds, mist and general bleurgghh.  We had Storm Ophelia at the beginning of our week and Storm Brian at the end!  None of it bothered us though.  We either wrapped up warm and headed to the onsite facilities or we grabbed the crossword and a hot cuppa.  Freddie spent his time using his newly acquired crawling skills to investigate the caravan.

The swimming complex

We made a visit to Budleigh Salterton for a stroll up and down the high street but other than this we filled our days with swimming, the adventure playground and the amusement arcade.  The swimming complex was outstanding!  The toddler pool was a great size with water just 30cm in depth and an array of sprays and slides for the little ones.  There was also one larger slide that ran alongside.  The big pool was just perfect.  It had a non-slip rubberised floor and the whole pool was just one depth which was great for nervous swimmers like me.  We took Eliza in with her armbands on and Freddie in his sit in ring and they loved every minute (well after a slight early meltdown from the terrible two year old).  Abi and I popped into the sauna and steam room which I have to say were two of the best I’ve been in, the steam room in particular.  Changing rooms were unisex with plenty of space for everyone.  Lots of cubicles and a couple with baby changing tables.  Lockers were available to hire for £1.  There was a modern cafe area alongside the pool where spectators can watch through a window.  Mom and Steve came to visit and take photo’s of the littlies.

Other site facilities

Other facilities onsite include a soft play area, jurassic golf, children’s play area, launderette, shop and takeaway.  The shop had a great supply of goods with pretty much everything you might need whilst away.  Abi even managed to get a swimming costume as she’d forgotten hers.  The children’s playgrounds were in good condition with a zip wire for the older kids and big wooden pirate ship.  There was a smaller area for little children although the absence of baby swings was slightly disappointing so Freddie and I had a swing together on the big people swings :).  The amusement arcade was not terribly overpriced like some.  Lots of coin tip games, 30p per play for the grabbers and plenty of others around the 30-50p mark.

There are lovely scenic walks that can be taken from the site but due to our rather unfortunate weather we gave these a miss.  If you’re feeling energetic you could even do the 30 minute walk down to The Mill in Otterton which I’m told is well worth a visit.

All in all I would definitely visit Ladram again but would definitely opt for different accommodation!

 

Thanks for stopping by! x

10 months and trying mommy’s patience

baby hand in adult handOk so I need to vent. Dearest little Freddie is 10 months now, in fact he’s almost 11. But there’s a serious possibility that Mommy will lose her shit very soon. You see, he’s always been a fairly clingy baby, clingy to Mommy anyway. But all of sudden anything other than him being permanently within 3 inches of me he finds completely unacceptable.  Some days I think he’d rather starve than have me out of his sight for 2 minutes while I make lunch or a bottle.

Is his development behind?

I personally think his physical development and mobility is a little behind. I know I shouldn’t compare but clearly I’ve been there 3 times already and the others were just doing a lot more by this age. Although Eliza didn’t walk unaided till just after her 1st birthday, she was a super fast crawler and very mobile in pulling herself up furniture and cruising around the room. Sam and Abi even walked around the 10 month mark. But Freddie, well he can sit unaided and if you put him in his tummy he kind if slithers around, mostly backward I must add. He likes to stand but only holding onto Mommy and grasping at my clothing and skin! I’ve put him by his walker and stood him by the sofas, being careful to be within catching distance but no, he immediately reaches for me.

Frustrated! Him and me!

Personally, I think his lack of physical ability is causing a lot of frustration and this is possibly part of the problem. I sit him on the floor, play with him for a while but then the second I get up he cries. Show him his toys and then he cries because he can’t reach something and is unable to get himself into a crawling position from sitting. Help him into a crawling position and he ends up going backwards further and further away from his toys which just ends in even more frustration and screaming. He tries his hardest to get on his hands and knees but it lasts a few seconds and then he collapses back down again.

Groundhog day

He finally gets tired, rubs his eyes and I put him to bed. Trouble is he gets up a while later and the whole process starts again. Oh and this morning his nap routine consists of him screaming his head off upstairs while I pretend not to notice the baby monitor and get some washing in and work done before Eliza needs collecting from nursery.

Arrrggghhh tell me you’ve been there? Please tell me it gets better!!

Thanks for stopping by! X

September remembered

There’s something about September I’ve always loved.  I think Tom Hanks sums it up perfectly in the film ‘You’ve Got Mail’. “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies.” Maybe I long for the carefree school days when picking my new pencil case, binder and pens for school start in September was my greatest stress in life. 

 

I think it’s also the anticipation that Summer is over and we’re moving onto new things.  New school classes, new weather, new clothes. Then right around the corner comes the turning back of the clocks, dark cosy nights, Halloween and before you know it (dare I say it?)….Christmas!  Sorry, shoot me now. I mentioned the big ‘C’ word.

So September for us is not quite the hectic time it is for some.  We don’t have school age kids that need a multitude of school uniform items or stationery.  However, this September saw Sam our 20 year old back at college part time doing a teaching qualification, Abi back at college continuing her Music Tech course and little Eliza, well she joined the educational ranks and started nursery 2 mornings a week.  Which I must add she is totally loving!  Not a single tear has been shed and most mornings she can’t wait to get rid of me and run off to the nearest appealing toy.  Must admit I think I prefer it this way though rather than a clingy, crying toddler that won’t leave my side.

So here’s my picture round up as we reach the end of September and move on to October and all things pumpkin and Halloween.

Toddler friendly day trips in the Heart of England – Part 2

Ludlow & Arley Arboretum

So further to my last post, onward to part two of our summer holiday day trips.

Ludlow

Ludlow is a picturesque market town in Shropshire.  Situated on the River Teme it is filled with quaint timber framed buildings and has a castle that dates back to 1085.  We started off our day by managing to nab a parking space on the roadside in the Linney.  It was extremely busy due to the Summer holidays so our luck was really in.  It turned out to be the most ideal spot, a lovely grassed area by the river and alongside the Green Cafe.  The sun was shining so we settled down for a picnic lunch on the grass and mom popped to the cafe to get a cuppa for us both.  Eliza had a great time running around and we popped down by the riverside to see the ducks.

 We’d been to Ludlow many times before but never visited the castle so I thought this might be something a little different for Eliza.  We walked up the steep path from the Linney along Dinham and Ludlow Castle was directly at the top of the hill.  Only £5 each for adults to enter and children under 6 were free.  I have to say at this stage that at no point could I have envisaged quite how much fun Eliza would have.  With her little ladybird backpack she wandered around the castle grounds, in and out the castle ruins, up and down staircases (with Mommy’s help) and even the darkest, spookiest looking crevices without a hint of fear.  She had a permanent smile on her face and couldn’t wait to see the next surprise the castle had in store.  Who would have thought a 2 year old could get so much from a castle of all things?!

Eliza’s little legs were feeling a little worse for wear after her tour of the castle so we found a lovely little cafe directly opposite called the Castle Lodge Buttery and stopped in for tea and cake (are you noticing a theme here?).  We had a slow walk back down the car, or so we thought, as upon arriving Eliza decided she wanted to run around again so we spent another half an hour on the little green where we’d eaten lunch.  Wonderful day out and definitely our first castle of many!

Arley Arboretum

This is one I kept hearing about from other visitors and their upcoming events also kept popping up on my facebook timeline so one day my friend and I decided to give it a go with the kids in tow.  First off I have to say that I stuck the postcode in my SatNav as although I’d visited Arley many times before I didn’t know exactly where the Arboretum was.  Well, it turns out neither did the SatNav as it took us around the back of the park which had no vehicular access.  One conversation with a local later and we were once again on our merry way, in the right direction this time.

Arley Arboretum is situated in Worcestershire near the town of Bewdley and is home to one of the Severn Valley Railway stations.  You can actually see the steam trains from several locations as you walk around the arboretum.  What attracted me to Arley Arboretum was their child friendly outdoor activities.  Aside from the usual play areas (yes, there was one of these too) they offer a range of different ‘hunting’ trails.  We chose to do the Fairy trail on our visit but there were others too such as the Dinosaur Trail and Woodland Animal Trail for the little ankle biters to take part in.  We picked up a sheet on our way in and then followed the directions to hunt for fairies and answer questions on our way around the arboretum.  Both Eliza and her friend loved hunting for the next fairy and looking up into the trees to see who could spot it first.  The cost again is only £5 per adult to enter and children under 3 are free.  Just a note thought, that the arboretum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

In addition to the various trails there was a small maze which was ideal for younger children, a play area, several picnic areas and a sensory garden.  The sensory garden was still under development but there were a few bits and pieces for the girls to play with including some hanging chime bars.  We stopped for a quick picnic lunch by the play area and we could see the trains whooshing along down in the valley.

We were a little short on time on the day we visited so I’m sure there were other areas that we missed.  Eliza was quite intrigued by the fountain as she’d never seen anything like this before.  A bit apprehensive too though as I think she thought she was due a shower and was not very keen on the idea!

The arboretum has a lovely cafe which also doubles as the ticket office on your way in.  We had a super lunch and the rainbow cake was to die for! There are other activities on offer for kids including a Forestry Mini-Adventure Club.  This is at an additional cost to the normal entry fee but definitely worth considering if you have the time.  If you look on the Facebook page too there’s always information on upcoming seasonal events such as Halloween or Easter.  Download the full information leaflet here.

Thanks for stopping by! x

Toddler friendly day trips in the Heart of England – Part 1

Bidford-on-avon & Tenbury Wells

After a stressful start to the Summer holidays I made it my mission to have a few decent day trips, well, at least once a week with the littlies.  I don’t know about you but I’m certainly not a fan of soft play areas and most town play areas are generally heaving given the first glimpse of sunshine.  So my challenge was to find a few fun places to visit.  Fun for them AND for me!

Tenbury Wells

Tenbury Wells is a small ancient market town with a multitude of quaint black and white buildings and history galore.  It’s a place I’d only ever driven through until this Summer when Mom suggested a day out there.  Very scenic location, Tenbury Wells is situated alongside the River Teme that separates Worcestershire and Shropshire.  The drive there alone was worthwhile.

Tenbury Wells bridge
Bridge at Tenbury Wells – Photo from www.tenburywells.info
Black and white buildings in Tenbury Wells
Tenbury Wells – Photo from www.geograph.org.uk

So, our day out with a toddler and baby started with a trip to the play area at the Burgage.  This is a fab little park and although it was Summer holiday time it was not busy at all.  Eliza had a fab time playing on the slide and running in amongst the coloured ‘pencils’ before we all sat down to a picnic at one of the tables within the play area.

a slide in the childrens play area at Tenbury Wells

Childrens play area at Tenbury Wells

Time for a cake break

After lunch we popped to the nearby loos (yes toilets, essential with kids) and then headed into the high street just a few yards away.  We walked the length of the town and popped into a few gift and charity shops.  The whole walk only took us about 45 mins.  On our way through the town we looked for a suitable place for a quick cuppa and slice of cake but a lot seemed a little tight on space for 2 buggies.  We struck lucky though when we found The Spotty Dog Tearoom.  We had a lovely cream scone and Eliza had a delicious slice of Victoria sponge cake that the lady was happy to serve as smaller slice suitable for a little belly :).  Again, great facilities for a family and plenty of room for us to manoeuvre buggies with ease.

Inside the Spotty Dog Tearoom in Tenbury Wells
The Spotty Dog Tearoom

The Burgage Recreation Area

After our snack we headed towards the bridge and turned right along the riverside path that leads past Tesco and onto the Burgage Recreation Area.  We followed the path and Eliza stopped to give us a little impromptu ‘Frozen’ performance in the small shelter overlooking the river. We carried on in the direction of the play area stopping along the way to sing songs and look for fairies in the trees.  This is a fantastic tree lined space and again not at all busy.  We discovered that there was a second play area right next to the one we stopped at originally.  This one was simply fab for Eliza, it was aimed at the under 8’s so everything was just the right size for the littlies with a super wooden climbing frame with bridges and puzzles to solve.

The younger children's play area at Tenbury Wells
Young play area at Tenbury Wells – Photo from www.tenburytown.org.uk

We sat on the grass and played games and had lots of fun taking photo’s and trying to get Freddie to keep his hat on!  All in all a super little place for a fun day / afternoon out when the sun is shining.

Bidford-on-avon

The bridge at Bidford-on-avon
Bridge at Bidford-on-avon

One of our favourites is Bidford-on-Avon, as we visit here at least 2 or 3 times every year.  You can park right on the riverside with plenty of space to run around with a ball, kite or just the dog!  There are a few picnic benches and an absolutely super play area (along with an outdoor gym area that many parks have nowadays).  There’s a small toilet block and we often take a stroll over the bridge for fish and chips from Seafoods chippy.  If the mood takes you, you can walk right along the riverside away from the main parking area and watch the wildlife and boats pass by.

Playing Frisbee at Bidford-on-avon
Riverside park at Bidford-on-avon
Toddler running with ball at Bidford-on-avon
Plenty of room to run around

Thanks for stopping by! x

October update and a change of scenery

First of all, sorry!  Long time no post!

Things have been a bit busy recently.  Work has picked up, which of course is good but just means things are a bit more hectic.  Have been spending a lot of time over the last couple of weeks making updates to the website and looking at marketing strategies for the business.  We have a couple of meetings lined up this week too which should help things along.  Our lease now looks like it will be extended into 2012 which is good news as it means not having to start hunting for appropriate business premises again, which is just impossible!

‘A’ is still loving high school and has now been set for some of her subjects, really pleased that she’s been placed in the top band for English and Maths.  She’s joined the school orchestra and after a shaky start is now enjoying the sessions each week.  Her rehearsals are also well under way for Youth Onstage’s production of Hairspray that will run at the end of November.  ‘S’ finally decided to stick with his GCSE music option after much deliberation but has changed from Woodwork to Food Tech which we are enjoying as much as him as we get to sample his culinary delights :).

Finally decided last week that the grubby cream walls in the lounge just had to go!  We’d actually bought some green floral wallpaper samples back from B&Q some time ago with the intention of revamping the bedroom, but after buying the new sofa’s we decided to go for this scheme in the lounge.  I trekked off to B&Q on Thursday to stock up on the supplies (Dulux Malt Chocolate and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen wallpaper) and we spent the weekend filling, painting, glossing and wallpapering.  Poor Arnold has spent the majority of this time behind his gate watching the proceedings.  I don’t think he could quite work out why he’d been shut out but I think after last night’s stressful wallpapering events and profanities he was quite glad to be as far away from me as possible!  All in all though I think we did well to get it all done in one weekend and we’re both really pleased with the results.  Just curtains to buy now once we find some we like.