An autumnal Bluestone break

It’s a bit of a tradition for us to spend a weekend in Bluestone in late September.

We usually go around my birthday and it’s a lovely time to mark autumn’s arrival. I love autumn and it’s a pretty time of the year to visit Bluestone and see the hundreds of trees turn gold and shed their leaves.

This year, we were pleased to discover the Pembrokeshire resort was hosting a Bwbach festival offering a range of autumnal and Hallowe’en activities including a Bwbach parade.

The festival also meant that scarecrows were hidden around the resort. The children loved spotting them from the scarecrow couple walking a poodle to the scarecrow fishing at the Bluestone lake.

In previous years, we’ve been treated with autumnal sunny weekends. This wasn’t to be this year but we packed waterproofs and wellies so we were prepared for the wet Welsh weather.

The weather meant we didn’t leave the resort during our stay. The children were content splashing in the swimming pool, tearing around the Adventure Centre and playing in the park. Our daughter spent an age splashing in muddy puddles during our break too.

As our son is learning about forests and the outdoors at school this term, he also took us on a hunt for acorns and conkers and both children were pleased with their acorn treasures.

The children also enjoyed other free activities such as making jingle sticks for the Bwbach parade and the Bwbach festival, where they could dance and sing along to live music.

Overall, a lovely family weekend away to see in the start of autumn.

Blogger note: We paid for our holiday in Bluestone and the resort was unaware we would be writing a review.

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22 things you’ll know if you’ve been on a family summer holiday in the UK

1. Packing the car is like a particularly perilous game of Jenga. One false move and that boot will never shut.

2. The front seat passenger will be contorted in all directions due to the extra luggage at their feet.

3. You realise “Are we nearly there yet?” could be a useful interrogation tactic. Especially when it starts five minutes from home.

4. The comfortable time threshold for a car journey is 90 minutes by which time you’re willing to spend £7 on a sandwich each at the services just for a change of scene.

5. The 50mph signs on the M5 seem like a cruel joke because you’ve covered 0.9 miles in 20 minutes.

6. When you arrive where you’re staying, you realise you’ve forked out a small fortune to stay somewhere that is a fraction of the size of your home.

7. When you’re settled in to your accommodation, Wi-Fi is slow to the point of uselessness or non-existent. No streaming here!

8. The children’s holiday money will be spent on day one, often within the first hour, on an overpriced and ill-judged purchase.

9. But they will still ask for more during every other day of your holiday. Especially when you’re in the vicinity of a shop. Which is pretty much all the time.

10. Gift shops will become scene of nightmarish negotiations when you refuse to fork out £7.99 for a frisbee that your child insists they need.

11. You will never have packed enough pants for the children. Even the contingency ones will be used up with unexpected incidents such as rushing down a soggy slide or running into seawater in clothes.

12. There will be public tantrums on monumental scales attracting a mixture of disgust/sympathetic gazes.

13. Shattered from lack of sleep, the children will insist they can’t walk so you finish the holidays with superb biceps.

14. You’ll find yourself incredulous at the cost of any tourist attraction. £60 to look at a garden? Are you kidding me?

15. The British weather means you must bring coats/sun cream/hats/wellies/flip flops for every trip out so a 6lb bag accompanies you at all times. And you’ll still have forgotten something.

16. You’ll only realise you’ve forgotten that important thing when you’re miles from the car.

17. Despite your meticulous route planning and sat nav system, you will get lost usually as a child announces that they really need a wee.

18. Your child will start singing their rudest song during a quiet, educational day out making you want to crawl under the nearest table. Bum bum song at the museum anyone?

19. Someone will drop their ice cream the second after you’ve paid for it.

20. Any dream of a nice meal out will be shattered by the reality of overtired children and frazzled parents. Cereal it is then!

21. The onsite entertainment will remind you of Phoenix Nights, but the kids will love it and worship the oversized animal mascot sent out to interact with them.

22. The lack of structure means the children won’t sleep so your days consist of parenting between the hours of 5am until 9pm, when you collapse in an exhausted heap, too tired for wine.

10 family-friendly places to go in Cornwall

For our summer holiday this year, we decided to return to Cornwall, somewhere we haven’t visited for almost a decade.

It’s a special place for us. It’s where we had our first holiday as a couple 13 years ago. And it’s where we holidayed with treasured friends after university.

So, almost a decade since our last holiday in Padstow, we returned to Cornwall with the children and a mission to fill our days with fun and places that made us stop and smile.

We stayed in Hengar Manor Country Park near Bodmin, which proved a great location to see the great things Cornwall has to offer.

Its location meant we were able to visit 10 places during our Monday to Friday stay. Here’s what we did and saw.

Disclaimer: Although these days out were fantastic fun, I can confirm that either we or one of the children had a tantrum at each lovely location due to tiredness/lack of food/sheer grumpiness.

1. Sandymouth Beach, near Bude

Our first outing of our holiday was to Sandymouth Beach near Bude. A National Trust beach, it is surrounded by stunning cliffs and has a myriad of rock pools to explore.

Our children loved the small waterfalls dotted around the beach and using the pebbles to decorate their sandcastle creations.

It has ample parking, a lovely cafe overlooking the beach and well-tended loos.

Car parking is free for National Trust members, and £5.50 for non-members.

2. Bude

After our visit to Sandymouth, we decided to head into Bude itself for a stroll and a look around the lovely local shops.

And we also stopped for delicious fish and chips near the sea.

3. Porthcothan Bay Beach

Based near Padstow, Porthcothan Bay Beach is a stunning beach encircled by dramatic cliffs. It’s been featured as Nampara in Poldark, which is testament to how beautiful it is.

The children loved exploring the swirling streams on the sand and paddling in the clear sea.

There are chargeable car parks nearby and loos (you’ll need 20p to go though as the local town council runs the toilets after funding cuts by the local authority).

4. Padstow

After drying (and sand-dusting) ourselves off, our next stop was nearby Padstow where we whiled away a few hours exploring its shops, beach and harbour. We stopped for a Cornish cream tea and popped into Rick Stein’s bakery to lust after the delicate patisserie goods and doorstop bread loaves.

5. Lanhydrock

Rebuilt in 1881 after an extensive fire, Lanhydrock country house in Bodmin is presented with artefacts from the time meaning stepping over the threshold is like a walk into history.

The children loved exploring its 50 rooms and a spotting quiz kept our five-year-old enthralled as he tried to spot the items on the quiz sheet. Highlights included the vast kitchens, the nursery and seeing family photos and portraits of the Agar-Robartes.

Staff and volunteers dressed up in period clothes adding to the historic feel and we were lucky enough to hear a harpist perform during our visit.

Outside, the gardens and grounds are beautiful. Roses, topiary and wild flowers and a higher garden where the children loved hiding. Our daughter declared: “Flowers are my favourite,” as we left.

Parking and entry to Lanhydrock is free for National Trust members, but chargeable for non-members.

6. The Eden Project

In our previous visits to Cornwall, we had never made it to the Eden Project so it was on our wish list for this break.

With its aims of education and promoting environmental sustainability, it was somewhere we wanted to take the children to.

We started the day at the journey into space section. The astronaut training-style bouncy castle was a hit followed by the exhibition that walks you through the nine planets of the solar system. Our five-year-old loved hearing facts about each planet and the interactive rooms.

The highlight for us was visiting the rainforest and Mediterranean biomes. Filled with plants, fruit and vegetable plants and flowers from across the world, they featured walkways and bridges that take you high up in the biomes giving you a great view of the environments.

Sculptures and hands on activities caught the children’s imagination meaning they didn’t want to leave.

As a family-friendly venue, the project has plenty of places to eat, free water stations and all the facilities you need.

It isn’t a cheap day out, but it’s a unique charitable project on a huge scale, which is a must visit if you’re in these parts. You can save 10 per cent by booking online in advance.

You can also donate your entire entry fee to convert it into free access for a year, which is a good option if you’re a regular visitor to Cornwall. And children aged under 5 go free. Our entry fee was roughly £60.

7. Fistral Beach, Newquay

Newquay has been on my ‘to visit’ list for many years so we were lucky that the sun shone for our visit to Fistral Beach.

A massively popular beach with surfers and families alike, it has everything you’d expect including shops, bars and cafes for visitors.

With lifeguards on patrol, and notorious rip tides, bathers and surfers are told to stay within the yellow and red flag areas to stay safe.

With such dramatic views and a huge expanse of sand, we loved it here.

There’s free parking along the esplanade, but there are plenty of car parks in the area too.

8. Perranporth

The lovely village of Perranporth has an enormous beach and a huge expanse of sea.

With rock pools and dramatic cliffs, the children loved exploring it and sandcastle-building there. We had ice creams on the beach and the children buried themselves in the sand.

Perranporth itself is kitted out for visitors with pretty shops and cafes serving delicious food. There’s ample parking and facilities including showers to wash off the sea and sand.

9. Trelissick

This National Trust property offers a 18th century house, gardens, wooded walks and incredible views of land and sea.

You can follow the woodland walks down to catch the ferry to Falmouth, wander through the hydrangea garden (some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen) or take in the views of the Fal Estuary.

Visitors can also explore many rooms of Trelissick House. Sit in the dining room and take the views of the sea. Take in the artworks and sketches sitting delicately on pretty period wallpaper. And read about the fortunes and fall of the original owners.

I particularly liked the exhibition about this, including period clothing dotted with golden coins, a visual way to tell the story.

We ate at the cafe, which offered delicious food and healthy options, which is perfect when you need to take a break from the cream teas!

A great few hours out!

Parking and entry to the house and gardens are free for National Trust members, but chargeable to non-members.

10. Summerleaze Beach, Bude

For our final day in Cornwall, we headed back to Bude for a visit to Summerleaze Beach. It’s near to where we first holidayed as a couple and is another huge beach filled with rock pools.

It’s also home to Bude Sea Pool, an open air swimming pool which provides perfect views of the beach and beyond.

A popular spot, it’s advisable to get there early as the nearby car parks fill up fast.

Where are your favourite days out in Cornwall? I’d love to hear your ideas!

A mid week stay at Bluestone Wales – a review

Nestled in stunning surroundings in Pembrokeshire, Bluestone Wales has been a popular getaway for families for more than a decade. 

With hundreds of lodges, and a swimming pool, a spa, a park, a lake and indoor and outdoor activities in its 500 acres, the five-star resort offers plenty to keep its guests entertained. And partly falling into the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, it provides a comfortable base to explore the beautiful beaches and days out nearby.


We have been regular visitors to Bluestone since 2013, when we enjoyed our first family holiday there. We love its range of family-friendly activities, high quality accommodation and pretty setting and how close it is to home. It is just 90 minutes from where we live meaning the children are fairly comfortable with the journey.

Bluestone offers a good range of free activities for guests including swimming, soft play, mini golf, quizzes and shows. There are also bookable activities including messy play, interactive story times and craft workshops.

It has a range of places to eat from a coffee shop to a family-friendly restaurant and a pub. One of our favourite experiences in good weather is Camp Smokey, where you can enjoy food cooked on a campfire and roast marshmallows.  

The resort has updates and new additions fairly regularly including a chip shop van (perfect for that arrival day!). This year they have created a fabulous new play park in the centre of the resort’s village, which the children were thrilled to test out!

We were fortunate to get sunny weather so we could enjoy walks around the lake and the nature trail. 

The nature trail

We usually rely on prams, the children’s scooters and walking to get around Bluestone. But we opted to hire a golf buggy on this trip for the first time as I’m recovering from a nasty chest infection. At £92.50 for the duration of a mid week or weekend break, it isn’t cheap, but it made getting around the resort easier and the children enjoyed it!

Customer service on site is marvellous. For example, at home we have a stair gate on our toddler’s door as she’s a little explorer. On our first night, she was awake until 9.15pm after discovering she could just walk out of her room. I mentioned it to staff in passing when booking some activities the following morning and they arranged for a complimentary stair gate to be delivered to our lodge that day.

One of the things I enjoy about Bluestone is how environmentally-friendly the resort is. The swimming pool, for example, is heated by biomass and each lodge has recycling facilities. I was pleased to see a disposable nappy recycling service at the lodges, which was a new addition since our last stay.

Breaks vary in price according to your accommodation and when you stay. The resort features a range of accommodation aimed at sleeping between two and 12 people, including cottages, studio apartments and lodges. 

This time, we stayed in a three-bedroom Tenby lodge, which gave us plenty of space to relax and meant the children had separate rooms. Off peak, weekend or mid week breaks can be as little as £250 (sometimes less). 

However, like all holiday resorts, prices increase substantially during peak times, including the school holidays. For example, the cheapest 2-bedroom lodge would cost more than £1,000 for a mid week stay in the first week of August (prices checked on 3 May 2017).

Overall, we had another unforgettable family break at Bluestone. The accommodation and facilities are second to none and give you a great base to explore Pembrokeshire. So, yes, we’ll be coming back again!

Blogger note: We paid for our holiday to Bluestone Wales and all of our activities there. The resort was unaware I would be writing a review.

Where are your favourite places for family holidays? I’d love to hear your recommendations.