lodge at bluestone

If you read my post last year, about our holiday to Bluestone, you will know how much the whole family loved it there. You can imagine how excited I was when we booked to go again this year, and I was then contacted by the Bluestone Bloggers programme, to see if I wanted to stay for a week as part of the programme-the week they offered, happened to be the week after we had already booked. So with a massive ‘yes,’ we decided that we’d stay for two weeks. We have never been away for two weeks with the children yet. We were worried. We thought it might be too much. We thought that two weeks worth of entertaining the children may have pushed us over the edge. None of that happened, because even after two weeks, we didn’t want to come home…

So what is Bluestone A selection of gorgeous lodges, in beautiful Pembrokeshire forest land. A tranquil, back to nature holiday camp, appealing heavily to the outdoorsy. It has everything you need on it’s car free site-a shop, restaurants, and a shed load of activities. For me personally, it’s a pretty unbeatable holiday destination…

Check in: This is easy-drive up to a check in booth, and do it all from the car. You can get early check in, meaning you can enter your lodge at 3pm, otherwise it’s 4.30pm. However, you can be on site from 11am, so we arrived around lunchtime, and I had a bag with me, full of stuff we might need, to last us until we could get in, and we had all the keys/info with us already.

outdoors at bluestone

 

Golf buggies/bikes: Get a golf buggy! Ok, if you’re into fitness, and enjoy cycling, you can hire bikes and cycle around, but our children just loved being driven around in the golf buggy-it’s a fun and handy way to get around, and it became an evening post dinner ritual that we’d go ‘out for a drive’ and find somewhere to stop/play for a while, before bedtime.

The lodges: We had a 3 bedroom lodge last year, which was HUGE, and the third bedroom (which is downstairs,) was a waste of time and money, when the children decided they were going to share a room! So this time we had a 2 bedroom Skomer lodge, which has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms downstairs, and a large open plan living area upstairs. I won’t lie, it took a while to get used to the upside down living, and I prefer to sleep upstairs, but that is completely personal preference! The lodge was really spacious, decorated in lovely muted greens/taupes/beiges, which matched the lovely forest surroundings. My only criticism is that the fridge and freezer were tiny-we took a weeks worth of shopping with us, and couldn’t fit it all in, we had to decide what we were going to leave out/use quickly, and even throw away. Again, that’s personal preference, because I presume most people would only use it for essentials, and eat out a lot. But as I was trying to be a killjoy stick to my PCOS diet, I wanted to make my own food most nights.

The food on site: There’s several places to choose from to eat, on site. There’s the Wildwood Cafe in the Adventure Centre, which we didn’t try, but heard really good things about! There is also the Knight’s Tafarn-made to look like a traditional pub, serving traditional pub food. I expected it to be just ok here (I had a salad,) but the food was amazing, and everyone with us, said that they were also equally impressed.

Oak Tree restaurant was our favourite place-I allowed myself one evening of carbing it up, and I have to say, it was probably the best pizza I’ve ever eaten-and I don’t say that lightly!! My brother, who is a very snobby foodie (he’d hate me for that, but it’s true,) said that his pasta dish was the best one he’s ever eaten too. This place is awesome!

There’s also The Farmhouse Grill, which we didn’t try, and Ty Coffi, which sold brilliant coffee, cakes, and my children would definitely vouch for the quality of the ice cream!

The best place to eat, for me, by far, was Camp Smokey. Right in the depths of the forest, this beautiful rustic area serves pretty basic BBQ food, while playing country music, and has the bonus of an outdoor fire pit for toasting your smores! It was an every afternoon occurrence for us, where we’d arrive back from wherever we’d been, and head straight to Camp Smokey for beer and wine for me and Mr W, and smores for the littles. A brilliant atmosphere, and something that makes Bluestone really special! There’s also a nightly shindig held there-sing for your dinner, and dance away!!

outdoors at bluestone

The activities: There’s a very handy play area/parks in the middle of the pub/restaurants, where you can quite easily see the children playing from the outdoor eating areas, or are welcome to take drinks in a plastic cup, in with you (bonus.)

The activitiy centre has a massive indoor climbing area, slides, ball pits, bouncy castle, soft play-everything you need for entertaining on a rainy day. There are loads of structured group activities, both indoor and out (some payable,) if that’s something of interest to you!

The Blue Lagoon swimming pool is loads of fun, with 3 different pools, to span all age/ability levels! The waves in the main pool are loads of fun! The slides look awesome, but we didn’t get to try them because we couldn’t leave our little non swimmers with just one adult.

Bluestone is an amazing base to explore the local area from-it really has some of the best beaches I’ve ever seen (I defy anyone not to be blown away by Barafundle Bay!) Here is a list of the things and days out that we (all!!) genuinely loved, while we were there:

Barafundle Bay: Not buggy accessible-you park in the nearby car park, then walk a steep flight of steps, across a cliff edge, and down more steps to the beach-be prepared to carry your things/children. Also no toilets/life guards, but it’s… just… stunning!!

Tenby/Castle beach: Tenby is a gorgeous town, one of the prettiest I know! And the beach is also gorgeous.

outdoors at bluestone

 

Folly Farm: A brilliant animal/vintage fun fair/park adventure, and currently the number one attraction in Pembrokeshire according to trip advisor!

Pembroke Castle: I thought mine (3and 4) were going to be too young for this, but they marched around every room, and loved it! Great grounds for a rest/picnic too!

Pembrokeshire Falconry: We booked an owl experience here, where the children got to fly the owls by themselves-they were completely entranced/in awe!! It was just us, and the handler, who was really knowledgable and great with the children.

Picton Castle and gardens: This is where the falconry experience was held, but another lovely castle and garden to look at.

The Dinosaur Park: This was my children’s FAVOURITE! A brilliant dinosaur ‘safari,’ and dinosaur trails through the woods, and there’s also loads of rides-which are all free once you’ve paid to get in. The children asked to go every day, once we’d been!

Bluestone, you were epic. We were sad to leave, but will absolutely be back.

view from a caravan balcony, showing views of rolling fields, and blue sky

In an unbelievable record, our household have scored a hat trick on the successful holidays front this year! First Cornwall in May, then Wales in June, and now Cornwall again, this time the amazing Piran Meadows Resort and Spa, in the countryside that surrounds Newquay. My husband, whose job has the added bonus of being a lot less busy in the summer, found himself with a few days off in a row, and stumbled across the Piran Meadows website while looking for somewhere we could escape to for a few days.

It was a little further away than we were hoping to drive (2 hours 45 minutes for us,) but armed with snacks and drinks, and headrests adorned with TVs for the boys, playing Minions on repeat (I can now quote that film word for word, although I do have to admit to having an actual little soft spot for it…) we set off. It was worth every second of the drive!

Piran Meadows is a caravan park. Since having the children, and leaning entirely now on the staycation as we are far too terrified to fly with children (and if you get the weather, this country has soooooo much to offer anyway,) we have tried camping a few times, and have recently ventured more into caravan breaks. For me, caravans used to drum up pictures of dated mouldy smelling accommodation, with terrible organised entertainment in the club house, with an ageing DJ trying to keep a holiday vibe going. However, this stigma of the caravan holiday is definitely becoming a thing of the past, and Piran Meadows shows this on every level.

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Pictures courtesy of the Piran Meadows website

The staff who checked us in were really super friendly. Plus they offered us a glass of something sparkly and alcoholic, which after a long journey was tantamount to being offered a million pounds, and made me like the place instantly! The site is quite small, so it was then only a small drive to our caravan. The caravans are a standard size (with varying numbers of bedrooms depending on the size of your party,) and really nicely furnished. There are also lodges with hot tubs available too, but these are a fair bit more expensive. Probably the only problem we had the whole time we were there, was that as I was unloading the car, a train came past, really  quite close to our caravan, (I hadn’t realised there was a railway line there!) I was worried that if the trains were frequent, they might disturb the children as they were sleeping, so we phoned reception. They assured us that the trains started at 9am, and the last one was 8pm, that they were hourly only, and wouldn’t pass through at more than 20mph. To be honest, I didn’t actually notice them after that, but if you are really adverse to staying in a caravan in this area, it may be worth mentioning on booking. Only a handful of caravans are affected. All caravans have lovely balconies, and most have beautiful views.

The main reception building housed the spa and swimming pool, a small shop for essentials (which they opened up for us when we realised we needed something, despite it being shut,) a large softplay, and a large bar and bistro. Our favourite part of the whole place was the fabulous outdoor area, at the back of the main bar and bistro. The view of the surrounding countryside was just stunning. This area had a fabulous splash pad  on one side, and a lovely park on the other, all contained. Soooooo parents can sit and have a drink while the children enjoy themselves (not that I’m all for getting sloshed while taking care of your children, but a few Rattlers were going down very nicely! And if you haven’t tried Rattler cider, I suggest you put it top of your list of priorities NOW!!) Down a few steps and out of side of this lovely balcony area, was a grassy area where children were also playing, and then some tennis courts. There are loads of bookable activities on offer too, which you can check out here.

pictures of pizza, and rattler cider

There was an outdoor pizza oven too, where chefs were making pizzas to order, and they were AWESOME! My children rarely eat anything (even the slightly-less-than-healthy stuff,) but they devoured the pizza with enthusiasm I don’t think I’ve ever seen from them before! We didn’t try anything else from the bistro, but the menu looked good, and some of the food passing our table looked amazing!

piran meadows outdoor balcony, park, and tennis courts

While we were there, we solely went to the beach, as the weather was amazing, and the children will just play for hours there. Porth beach is lovely-quite small and not hugely busy. The Mermaid pub is really nice there too-don’t be fooled, it doesn’t look particularly enticing from the outside, but the décor is surprising New England kind of cute, the food really good, plus it has a lovely terrace going right out onto the beach-brilliant for watching the sunset while the children play next to you in the sand (it’s not all about the drinks, honest…!) Watergate Bay is possibly our favourite beach-a lot bigger than Porth, always with loads of things going on, music playing, surf festivals, and a really great atmosphere.

We didn’t try any of the other attractions in the area, but places such as The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Newquay Zoo, Newquay itself, The Eden Project, and Crealy Adventure Park, as well known attractions, are all going to be good, and provide families with loads of entertainment! I’d like to go again, and spend a whole week there-it was THAT good. Two nights at Piran Meadows cost £270, but prices are seasonal. We wouldn’t normally go away during the school holidays, but the facilities were in no way overcrowded, which was what I had been expecting! The children even had a little cry about leaving…!

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I was not given anything in exchange for this review, I wrote it purely because we had such a good time, and were so impressed! And anywhere that you find that is so awesome deserves sharing!