Category Archives: Travel

Bluestone National Park Resort Pembrokeshire Wales – #bluestoneblogger Review 

Bluestone National Park Resort is set in the beautiful Pembrokeshire National Park countryside. I was asked as part of their Bluestone Blogger programme whether I would like to experience a mid-week 4 day break with my family, and I jumped at the chance! 

  
Bluestone is a 2 hour car journey from my house, and so was a perfect destination for us to travel as a family with a young toddler. Bluestone is very easy to find, you basically drive along the M4 until you get to the A40, and there is clear signing to Bluestone once you get nearby. 

The weather was terrible on the day we were due to arrive. One thing I think is great is that you can arrive from 11am onwards on your check-in day and enjoy the park facilities, checking into the lodges after 4.30pm. We decided to delay our arrival however, as it was extremely wet and windy, and arrived at 4.30pm ready to check in. There was a bit of a queue on arrival and we had to wait a little while before we could get our keys, but once we had we drove into Bluestone and found our lodge.

The lodge we stayed in was within Knight’s Rest, which is a little distance away from the main Village area. We stayed in a Grassholm Lodge, which can sleep up to 8 people. It has 1 double and 3 twin rooms, and 3 bathrooms. The reason we had this lodge was because my family were due to join us but unfortunately my Dad just wasn’t well enough to travel.

    
The bedrooms were a great size, plenty of space to unpack and put your belongings. The lodge comes with a TV which has freeview and a DVD player. There are heating units which once they get going really heat up the place, much needed on our first rainy night! There is also free wifi which was pretty good most of the time we were there. Towels were also ready on the  beds, and the showers were fantastic and really powerful. I could have stayed in there for ages!

The lodge is well equipped with a well stocked kitchen with everything you could need such as cutlery, cups, plates, bowls and has a fridge and a freezer. There is also a dishwasher which is great. One thing we felt was that the fridge was a little small, especially for a lodge that could house up to 8 people. We had done some food shopping on the way to Bluestone, and there was plenty of cupboard space to fit everything in. I also felt that there could have been a washing machine in the property – with a toddler who goes through quite a few clothes in a day, this would have been useful! There is a laundry service available from the village, however. In the lodge you are given a bag which has some bin bags, washing up liquid and 3 dishwasher tablets as well. Its also worth remembering that all bathrooms had loo roll in but none spare, luckily we had brought some of our own anyway. 

Bluestone is a car free zone so the next day we exchanged our car for a golf buggy (which was £29 for 24 hours) and left the car in the long stay car park. The site is pretty easy to walk around however there are a few hills so you don’t absolutely need the buggy, but I felt that it made our life a bit easier, especially with carrrying bags etc.

What to do at Bluestone (with a 2 year old!):

Blue Lagoon Water Park

Nancy loved this place! It is well set out and very family friendly.  Most of the big pool is not too deep, and there is a wave machine, plus two other areas which smaller children can access – a pirate ship area with lots of showers and sprays and the nippers area which had a little bubble jaccuzi type area and other play equipment to press buttons and spray water with little rock pool area as well which toddlers could climb into which Nancy also really enjoyed. There is a river rapid type part as well in the big pool which we all went down together. There was a lot going on at Blue Lagoon and we were able to occupy Nancy for a good hour when we were there. There is also three water slides to go down as long as you are tall enough! I dared to go on one slide, and it was thrilling if a little terrifying when I hit the water at the bottom!

The Adventure Centre holds a lot of activities under one roof, probably something for all ages here! There is mini golf, bouncy castle, rock climbing and soft play, as well as some other adventurous activities aimed at adults using zip wires, as well as a circus soft play area. The main arena holds most of the activities and can appear a bit busy and noisy, but Nancy really enjoyed the soft play in here, especially the slides and the bouncy castle. We then went upstairs to the Circus room, which was a more open soft play, similar to some cafes here in Bristol, and Nancy love this. She made friends straight away with another girl and we must have spent at least an hour in there watching her play! The circus area is next to the Wild Wood Cafe which has a bar and serves food also, with a childrens show played there daily. This place is great and well equipped, if it’s a rainy day then this is a great option for all ages.

  

The Treehouse
is in the centre of the Village and comprises of a little play area where children can walk across wobbly bridges and net walkways, as well as little tree house areas, slide, etc. Nancy really enjoyed this and so did I running after her through tunnels!

There is also lots of activities suitable for toddlers which you can book at an additonal charge, and there is also a creche facility at Bluestone. Some activities are also unsupervised (as in you don’t need to be there with your child), giving you 3 hours to yourself. We were keen to book a session however there wasn’t a session on the day we had planned, so we weren’t able to try these. Next time however, I would book in advance and make sure we had a session!

There is so much space and beautiful views that just going for a walk through the grounds is a great adventure. We saw squirrels and rabbits as well as birds, lots to spot and talk about.

Nearby Places to Visit:

We set off for Tenby on our first morning to get a look at the sea. It didn’t take long at all to get there (under half an hour) and it was such a lovely place. Being off season the beaches were quiet, peaceful and looked beautiful. Nancy loved playing with the sand and the views were amazing. The fish and chips we ate here were really good and there was a lot of shops to have a look at.

Narberth
is a small town very close to Bluestone – under 15 minute drive. They have a Museum there which was lovely (£3.50 adult, £2.00 children, 2 and under free) all about the local history and had colouring in and some dressing up costumes and toys as well – great for when it’s a rainy day! We had a look in some lovely independent shops and had lunch at a place called Peppercorn which was really nice and the food was delicous too.

  

Llawhaden Castle was actually a bishops residence but it is a medieval castle ruin, with beautiful views from the towers. We spent a good half an hour looking at the castle and the views. It was lovely and quiet and was so close to Bluestone (less than 10 minutes) which was great too.

  

We also noticed that there was a few other attractions nearby such as Folly Farm and Oakland Theme Park, I also noticed a few other castles and near Tenby are zoos and farms so ther is plenty in the area to go out and explore. 

Food and Drink

As the lodges are self-catering we were able to bring our shopping with us, and make our own breakfasts in the mornings and we also made our evening meals. As a vegetarian family (with quite a fussy veggie included!) I found the restaurants on site did not have a lot of the variety or choice which met our needs. We did try The Chippy on our first evening, but the fish and chips were a bit cold and not that amazing. We also had lunch in the Tafern, which was good ‘pub’ food (I had scampi and chips) but I did feel the menu was quite limited. The other restuarants were closed at lunch time which was a shame as we had wanted to try the Pizza in The Oaks restaurant. We tried one evening to get into The Oaks as well but it was fully booked for the time we needed. The village shop Newton’s sells the usual groceries and bits and pieces you may need and it was actually not that expensive, and there is also a bakery in the village which is great as fresh bread on holiday is a must.

Would we come back to Bluestone?

Overall, we loved our Bluestone break. It is such a lovely, relaxed place and you really do feel like you’re recharging your batteries when you are here. All the staff were lovely and friendly, and the lodge we stayed in was comfortable and met our needs as a family. There is so much to do here, that a mid-week break simply isnt long enough to fit everything in! We are really keen to come back to Bluestone again, and to try out a few more things such as the Spa and some of the children’s activities as well as explore more of the local area. I love Pembrokeshire, and having never been here before, I definitely want to visit again. 

A 4 night midweek break in September 2015 starts from around £500 – see the Bluestone website for up to date information and pricing.

I was offered a 4 night mid-week break in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions written here are my own.

A Trip to Brighton with Travelodge #Bloggerlodge

We were really lucky when Travelodge offered us a 2 night stay in a family room in Brighton, to review their newly updated rooms.

Brighton is a lovely city and as we have family living there, we thought it was a great chance to take Nancy to Brighton to see the sights.

The journey to Brighton was relatively straight forward, and the Travelodge was easy to find. We were staying at the Brighton Travelodge on Preston Road.

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Parking in Brighton is at a premium, luckily there was parking on site although this is first come first served. You also have to pay to park, it was about £15 for two days parking. However having been to Brighton before, I know parking is a nightmare and it does cost a lot, so I wasn’t phased by this, but its worth remembering.

The room was a Family Room, and it was large! We were really lucky as one of the single beds was in a little alcove which meant that we could have the lamps on it didn’t affect Nancy too much when she slept.  The bed was a good size, and there were tea and coffee facilities.The room was clean and also had the added touch of a Fan in the room which was great seeing as it was so hot! There was also a TV in the room too. WiFi is available with 30 minutes free and 24 hours costing £3 – the wi-fi was actually very good, and Nancy could even watch YouTube on it without buffering! One thing I really would have loved to have seen was a fridge – in a family room especially with Nancy liking a lot of Milk to drink, a fridge would have been a great addition to the room.

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The Bathroom was a little disappointing. The bedroom had clearly had a makeover, but the bathroom looked old and there were a few worn bits, although it was as clean as it could be. Still, it did the job. Well, at first it didn’t as the shower fell to pieces but the lovely staff at the Travelodge got this fixed in no time, and we were happy with that.

The location of the Travelodge is not near the sea; however it was a very quick bus journey of less than 10 minutes and we were right there on the seafront. The Travelodge is near a big park though called Preston Park which was just across the road; this was a lovely place to wander around in the evening, and there were also some gorgeous wild flowers that I stopped to admire. A 10 minute walk away is London Road with many lovely pubs and places to eat. On our first night we went to Hare and Hounds which has a mexican street food menu, and it was delicious. They allow children in up to 8pm so this was perfect for us and then we walked back to the hotel via the Park.

What To Do In Brighton:

Brighton has everything a seaside town should; it has the famous pier, with arcades and rides and the beach. There is a Sealife centre right on the front as well as The Big Wheel – which is a bit like a smaller version of the London Eye. We went into full tourist mode and went on the wheel, which Nancy loved, and although it was half raining, half sunny when we went on board, we could see some lovely views. Watch out though – you turn around and suddenly there is a photographer in your face taking your photo, and at the end they try to get you to buy the photos, so just be warned!

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The arcades are just such a british seaside tradition, and the arcade on Brighton Pier is a famous one. I remember my grandparents taking me to the 2p machines when I was young. Nancy loved the hustle and bustle of the arcades and even had a little go at the 2p machines, and her Dad even managed to win her a few prizes. Unfortunately it started to really rain at this point so we didn’t walk further down the pier to the end, which was a shame.

Brighton SeaLife Centre

The Sealife Centre was something I was really looking forward to. It has recently been refurbished, and it looked like there was a lot going on. The main arcade of the centre is amazing, and there are lots of fish and animals to see as you wander through. Nancy loved experiencing a rock pool, being able to touch a starfish and a crab, as well as shells. The rainforest section is well designed and Nancy loved going into the little view ports for children. There were snakes, turtles and other fish. Nancy thought the piranha looked a bit sad.

The main attraction for me was the walk-under tunnel, where you can see massive turtles and sting rays float right over your head. There is a glass bottomed boat you can ride in as well, for an extra cost (which we didn’t go on). There is a Jurassic style section but I didn’t feel this was well stocked at all and Nancy was not really interested in the sealife in this section. In general it was a good couple of hours to spend out of the rain and Nancy did enjoy it. Oh, and there is also a photo opportunity in the sealife centre, so again be warned!

The weather thankfully cleared up in the afternoon, and we headed to the lanes for a spot of window shopping and some tea and cake. I love the lanes, so much vibrancy and lots of lovely little unique shops to explore. After tea and cake we wandered down to the beach again and walked along the promenade to Hove, where we met with some family members for a catch-up.

After this, we walked into Hove and had our dinner in a great Italian restaurant. Hove is a lovely little place, with a village feel to it.  We got a taxi back to our Travelodge from Hove which cost around £8.

How Did We Sleep?

Our nights in the Travelodge were good. Our beds were comfortable and at night it was relatively quiet where we were staying. Having seen the location of the seafront Travleodge, right in the middle of all the clubs and bars, I was quite grateful for our location!

We all managed to sleep well despite the heat, and in the morning we had a complimentary breakfast (usual price £7.95). The breakfast was eat all you like, which included cereal, fruit, toast, yoghurt, croissants, bacon, scrambled eggs, baked beans, tomato, sausage, fruit juice, tea and coffee. I felt there was a good range for the breakfast and something for everyone and the cooked breakfast was very tasty and cooked well. £7.95 seems moderately priced for breakfast and you could literally fill up on whatever you liked. I have paid a lot more than this for a breakfast at other hotels so whilst not cheap, I didn’t feel this was too bad a price.

Checking out was easy, and it was great that we didn’t have to check out until 12, although we did check out earlier as we wanted to get going to visit Arundel Castle on our way back!

We really enjoyed staying in Brighton, it was a lovely break and there was so much to do. The Travelodge was a great base to explore Brighton from, and the room was comfortable and spacious.

We received 2 nights complimentary stay at Travelodge including breakfast in order to undertake this review. All views and opinions are my own.

When in Rome……

Do have a pizza. They’re delicious.

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Don’t pay priority tickets for the sistene chapel. They cost a bit more and don’t actually seem to get you priority into anywhere…..

Do go to the Vatican, St. Peter’s square is free to enter and so is St. Peter’s Basillica. It’s lovely actually. (I liked it better than the Vatican museums)

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Do go and see the sistene chapel but be warned you will feel like a cow being herded and blink and you’ll miss the actual ceiling. And don’t take pictures coz they shout at you.

(Oh and the Sistine chapel is round the corner from St.Peters Square, in case you can’t find it.)

Do go and have a drink on the square outside of the Pantheon, great atmosphere especially early evening. It’s free to go inside the Pantheon and it’s amazing too.

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Do Walk. All you have to do is walk around, and you’ll find something amazing.

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Do be aware the Trevi fountain is a bit under construction at the minute…..

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Don’t get harassed by a man in roman costume and let him take all your change.

Do put your hand in the Mouth of Truth and see if it bites your hand off.

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All in all Rome is a lovely place to go.

Have you been to Rome? What would you recommend?