Bluestone National Park Holiday in Wales

Bluestone National Park 

Bluestone is a five star resort in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It’s a bit like Centre Parcs, but in my opinion I think it feels more personal and authentic. There is plenty of Wildlife to see around the park and beautiful woodland and countryside.

Arrival

We came from Milton Keynes and entered the postcode into the sat-nav which took us directly to Bluestones. We arrived late Monday (around 10pm) and found the whole check-in process extremely easy. We went online prior to arriving and entered the whole party details to make the process as fast and easy as possible. We were given two keycards and given directions to our lodge. As my partner is disabled and a blue badge holder we had space at the front of our lodge to leave our car and were able to use our car around the park for the duration of our stay.

Accommodation

As my partner is disabled and struggles to stand and walk for any length of time we stayed in the Cadley adapted lodge (10 Forest View). The lodge has wide doors for wheelchairs and a wet room with seat. The lodge was spacious with two bedrooms, wetroom/toilet and open plan living with kitchen, living and dinning area. The lodge had everything we needed, which included towels for our stay and we had a welcome pack with washing up scourer, dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid and a cloth. The wetroom had a heated towel rail which was great for drying out our swimwear and towels after a swim. The kitchen had all the essentials you could need including crockery, cutlery, glasses, pots, pans, utensils, microwave, toaster kettle and dishwasher, they even included some plastic bowels which was handy with the youngest child. The TV was standard freeview, which was fine for the children in the morning who were happy to watch cbeebies. You do also have a DVD player, so it’s worth bringing a couple of films if you expect to stay in all evening. We did decide to upgrade to the premium internet so I was able to go through my work emails and it was handy for downloading a couple of films to watch on the laptop in the evening. The dinning area was a good size and included a highchair which Tristan (3.5 years old) insisted on sitting in.

Tips:

  • Bring extra towels for the swimming pool
  • Bring extra dishwasher tablets as the welcome pack only includes two. I believe you can purchase these individually from the local shop in the park.
  • If you can’t stand cooking in a pan without a non- stick base then bring your own.
  • Pack an extra toilet roll or two as the lodge included only one.
  • Pack some DVDs
  • Bring some board games or cards for the evening.
Our cabin
Kitchen
Living area

Restaurants and Shops

We decided to bring our food with us for the stay to keep the costs down, but we used the village shop a couple of times and found that it was well stocked and only a little over what you would expect to pay at a convenience shop. We had Fish & Chips one evening which was very tasty and well worth it, we decided you couldn’t go this close to the coast and not have some Fish and Chips. We had some snacks and drinks inside the adventure area and again found it fairly reasonable and everything was of a high standard. The one thing I did think they were missing was the takeaway and delivery service that Centre Parcs provides.

We enjoyed looking around the giftshop and the children picked a couple of souvenirs each. The shop was well stocked and had everything you would expect from a holiday gift shop.

Tips:

  • Plan your meals and do a food shop on the way or a click and collect if you want to save money.
  • Book into the restaurants online to avoid disappointment.

Blue Lagoon Swimming 

The highlight for me had to be the swimming pool, it had everything you needed for all ages. Jasmine who is six loved the slides and was very happy that she was tall enough to go on them. I loved the lazy river which goes outside, which was lots of run in the pouring rain. Everything in the changing area was clean and they had large family changing rooms. Make sure you bring some money for the lockers.

 

Activities 

Visit to Santa- We had recently seen Santa locally, but we thought whilst we were there we may as well see him again and I’m so happy we did. The children got to make some t-shirts and then had a story with Santa and his elf. After the story each family gets a chance to meet Santa.

Kingdom of Elves- I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was brilliant. Everyone involved was great in character and made it fun for all the children and adults. You go into various rooms, which all look so magical and meet many intriguing characters on the way. The children even got decorate some tasty gingerbread men to take home. The story is interactive and gets the children and adults involved and you even get to keep the elf outfits for the children.


The wall

Will we go back? 

We really do want to go back again in the spring or summer so we can experience what it has to offer. Even though the weather was terrible whilst away we had a brilliant time and got to do some much in our time there. This is the perfect year around break for families and I believe the cost is reasonable for what it has to offer.

*I was gifted services for this blog post for a review. All opinions are my own.

 

 

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Frosts Father Christmas

Frosts Garden Centres – Visit to see Father Christmas

We have been coming to Frosts to see Father Christmas for four years now and always get in early to help us get into the festive spirit and to let the children pick some new decorations for the tree. Frosts always put on great seasonal activities for the family and we had already been the month previous for pumpkin carving and the Wizards school.

The booking process is online and very straight forward and I’ve always found the parking to be good. I love how every year something new seems to get added to the display, which always makes it feel fresh and exciting. We really loved the snowman the children could climb into, which make a great picture opportunity and if you are like me and like to get in early, you have the advantage of getting some lovely pictures fit for Christmas cards. The children always love to see the real reindeer’s and Jasmine loved being able to pet one of them.

We headed off to Santa’s grotto and were met with some very welcoming elves who took us in to a beautifully decorated room for sing-song and a few jokes. From there we were led to another room ready to decorate gingerbread men. Tristan loves gingerbread men and loved decorating his and he even managed to sneak a few sweets to keep him going. The elves then lead you in to see Father Christmas one family at a time, which I really appreciated as it make it feel personal and special. As always the Father Christmas you see is very authentic and has the most amazing real bead. He’s very jolly and seemed to really be enjoying himself. The look upon my two children’s faces is priceless and always makes the trip worthwhile. The children were presented with a lovely book and two gifts, which you select in the booking process, which are decent and age appropriate.

After we said goodbye to Father Christmas and the elves and headed out to explore the rest of Frosts and let the children choose some new decorations. The displays in Frosts are stunning and very Instagram worthy. After all the excitement we decided to head to the café and let the children pick some Christmas biscuits and us adults had some large hot chocolates. You really could spend a few hours looking through all the wonderful decorations and displays and we even headed back outside again to say goodbye to the reindeer’s before we headed off home.


Thank you Frosts, you never disappoint and we hope to see you again in the New Year for some more seasonal activities for the children. Visit Frosts Garden Centres website here to look at all the events going on right now.

 

*I was gifted services for this blog post for a review. All opinions are my own. 

 

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frosts garden centre review

Frosts garden centres pumpkin scooping and wizards school

Last week was half term for us and I thought with it being Halloween we should try to get some seasonal fun activities in for the children. We always choose Frosts Garden Centres every year for our trip to see Father Christmas and when booking up for our annual visit I noticed that Frosts had some great Halloween events coming up, which I knew would be a massive hit with the kids.

Unfortunately things didn’t quite go as planned as our youngest Tristan who is three was up the night before being sick, so I had to stay at home whilst my ex husband took our oldest Jasmine to Frosts. Jasmine was very keen to report back on her experience to me and her dad made sure he got some lovely pictures.

Pumpkin Scooping

The first event planned was the pumpkin scooping, which for me is great as it’s not something I enjoy doing at home with the children. I’m not a fan of the smell of pumpkin and always get lumbered doing all the scooping and cutting. This year the adults didn’t need to get involved, unless they wanted to, as Frosts Garden Centres had a great team on hand to assist the children and help them make their pumpkins. The children got to pick their very own pumpkins, they had all the tools they needed to make the perfect pumpkins and it involved no washing up from me (win, win). The children even got a nice cup of witches brew to enjoy after all their hard work. Jasmine’s pumpkin was excellent and I was very happy to notice it came with a battery tea light ready to go straight outside for all our neighbours to enjoy. The whole event was well worth the money and really made it an enjoyable experience for us all. We’ll certainly be coming back again next year, fingers crossed with two germ free children.

 

Wizard School

Jasmine who is six was especially excited for the Wizard school and from what she has reported back to me, it certainly didn’t disappoint. She was extremely keen to show me what she had learnt and the first thing she said when getting in the door when home, was that the professor was a real Wizard, who knew real magic. The Wizard school event is 35 minute experience, which is run by the professor of the wizard school, who will be looking to see if you have the right stuff to make it in the world of Witches and Wizards. Jasmine loved making her chocolate apple and really got involved with the entrainment and songs on offer. The Wizards school had been decorated beautifully and really captured the magic, which tied in beautifully with Halloween. Jasmine is very proud of her achievement and has been quick to tell anyone who will listen about her newly acquired certificate from the Wizards school. I really think Jasmine was the perfect age for this event and with her new found interest in Harry Potter, I am certain It would be something she would love to do again next year.

We are happy to report that Frosts Garden Centres once again went above and beyond to deliver fantastic events for all seasons. It really has become our first choice when looking for seasonal events throughout the year, which are reasonably priced, entertaining and authentic. We can’t wait to see you again soon for Santas Grotto.

 

*I was gifted services for this blog post for a review. All opinions are my own.

 

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Disney on Ice

Disney on Ice Dream Big – Book Tickets Now

I am so excited to hear Disney on Ice is back in the UK and for the first time ever it will be including the fearless Moana and the much loved demigod Maui. Disney on Ice will also include the classic characters of Rapunzel, Elsa & Anna, Olaf, Jasmine, Ariel, Aurora, Belle and Cinderella. To book tickets and check locations click here. Plus, arrive early to join a special 90th birthday celebration in honour of Walt Disney’s ‘True Original,’ Mickey Mouse.

For us as a family this will be our first visit to see Disney on Ice and we will be going opening night (21st November) at Nottingham, which I think will really kick start us ready for Christmas. For our family Disney and Christmas go hand in hand (you should see our Christmas tree) and we even named our oldest Jasmine (our cats called Gus Gus). My Disney mad family and I will be writing a review on our experience and as my partner is disabled in a wheelchair, it will also be a great opportunity for us to see what the facilities are like for disabled people.

Disney On Ice presents Dream Big will be skating into Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Nottingham and London from the 21st September 2018 to 6th January 2019. For the complete list of tour dates, head to www.disneyonice.co.uk

We hope to see you there and keep an eye out for our review.

Disney on Ice

 

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Mummy and daughter bracelet from Kaya Jewellery - Plus giveaway

Mummy and daughter bracelet from KAYA Jewellery – Plus giveaway

I was recently contacted by the lovely people of KAYA Jewellery to review one of their stunning mother and daughter sets. Obviously I couldn’t say no once I looked on their website and knew that Jasmine would be so happy with this sweet keepsake. KAYA Jewellery have generously offered a £40 voucher to my readers, so please have a read through my review and enter the giveaway below. Good luck!

KAYA Jewellery recently launched their UK web store to offer hand engraved, beautiful and timeless jewellery to celebrate the special bonds between mother and child, friends and family.

The set I choose for me and Jasmine is a mother and daughter silver bracelet set. One bracelet has the heart and the other has the key. This seemed perfect for me and Jasmine and she happily agreed with my choice.

Our beautiful set

My parcel was delivered quickly and Jasmine and I were excited to unwrap our parcel. The bracelets came in two beautiful pink satin bags and included two silver polishing cloths. The bracelets are made in the UK, have adjustable extension chains and are great quality.

This is a gift that Jasmine and I will treasure for a long time, it’s perfect for us to wear to any special occasion and is the perfect keepsake to hold on to forever. I think this would be an ideal gift for Mothers Day, Birthdays or Christmas. If you are a father to a daughter I think you could score yourself some major brownie points with this gift this coming Mothers Day.

Something that also touched me about KAYA Jewellery is that with every sale they also give back a part of their profit to the Eduki Foundation, a charity whose goal is to help underprivileged children in Gambia to get an education.

Have a look at the beautiful range of mother and daughter jewellery here from KAYA Jewellery and don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a £40 voucher to spend at KAYA Jewellery.

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Pinterest https://uk.pinterest.com/KayaJewellery/

 

 

 

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Competition open to UK residents only

 

***I was gifted this product to review from KAYA Jewellery. All opinions are of my own***

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Playhouse Milton Ernest

Playhouse party review and giveaway

My oldest baby has now turned five and to celebrate we decided it was time for Jasmine to have her big girl party at Playhouse Softplay in Milton Ernest, Bedford.

We’ve been taking Jasmine to playhouse since it first opened when she was around 18 months and have been coming back ever since. We’ve always been impressed with how clean the place is kept, the size, the equipment and the food. Jasmine had been to a couple of parties herself here and was desperate for one of her own now she was a big girl and had her school friends to invite.

The whole booking process was straight forward and we were given a great selection of food to choose from, all we needed to do was bring the cake and party bags (they can supply party bags at an extra cost). We were greeted by friendly staff and shown to our reserved table where juice and water was provided. The children were left to their own devices to play, whilst us parents got to sit back and enjoy a hot cup of tea.

Main play area

The slides are always a firm favourite with Jazzy

Playhouse has a baby area, a toddler area and a big play area for older children up to 10. There is plenty to do and lots of seating so you can easily keep an eye on the children. They have a decent food and drinks menu, with children’s meals, baby food and cakes. In my experience the food has always come in good time, even when busy and has always been very tasty. The toilets are kept clean and they have a decent changing facility for babies.

Toddler area

We opted for the princess party so the children could have their faces painted. The staff took the children two at a time and the children loved picking out a design. After the children were all face painted it was time for lunch and the children were extremely eager to get stuck in after running around like crazy. We were shown to a beautifully decorated party room and once the children settled lunch was served.  We decided to go for pizza, chicken nuggets, sandwiches, fruit and vegetable sticks. I sneaked a slice of the pizza that Jasmine didn’t finish and I can tell you it was very tasty.

Jazzy opted to be a tiger

The children loved it, we had full smiles all around and we will defiantly come back soon. Thank you Playhouse and your wonderful team for making Jasmines party extra special. Check out the Playhouse website here.

 

Party food!

Playhouse have been lovely enough to supply me with a three-month membership for two children and also a free admission ticket for two children that I will be giving away. Please enter below and share with your friends. Good luck!

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Jasmine with her best buddy

*I was gifted services for this blog post for a review. All opinions are my own.

*To enter the competition you must be a UK resident and be able to visit the site, it is none refundable or exchangeable. It must be used within six months of issue. For playhouse rules please visit https://twinwoodsadventure.com/playhouse

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center parcs woburn forest

Center Parcs Woburn Forest Review

Woburn Forest

Our trip away to Center Parcs Woburn Forest was jammed packed with fun despite the weather being a tad unpredictable at times. As a family this was our first trip to Center Parcs and something I had been keen to try out for a few years and the timing seemed perfect now Tristan was old enough to get involved in some of the activities.

center parcs woburn forest swimming

Accommodation

We only live locally in North Bedfordshire so Woburn seemed like the ideal choice for us. It’s the smallest of the parcs, is only a few years old and it takes under 30 minuets to get door to door. We booked into a 3 bed executive lodged which accommodated four adults and two children happily. The open plan living with small children was ideal and the dishwasher and maid service made things that bit easier. All rooms had a TV and all three rooms had an en-suit (two walk in showers and one hydrobath). We had an outside BBQ that we didn’t use and also a sauna. We took along our Amazon firestick as the TV is a bit limited and if like us your children are small then you probably will spend a fair amount of time in the lodge in the evenings. WiFi in the lodge and around the parc was really great and I never had any issues connecting any devices. Remember extra dishwasher tablets as they leave you three and also remember cot bedding as this won’t be provided.

Center Parcs Lake

Getting about

We decided to book a lodge which was in the outer area (395 Oak) as from looking at the map it meant we would be at the end so would only have a neighbour one side, but it still looked close enough to the water front. We hired two bikes between us all which was handy for nipping back and forth, but generally we walked. Woburn has some big hills so bear it in mind if you do plan on lots of bike riding with small children. One of the bikes we did rent out was an electric bike, you still peddled, but it gave you an extra turbo boost for hills and was so much fun to ride. Our walk to the swimming pool was a bit longer but easily manageable with a five year old.

Pony Ride
Pony Ride

Eating out v’s eating in

I think it goes without saying that eating out can get expensive with a family of four. We ate out once whilst we were there at the Pancake house for lunch, it was good, but it wasn’t cheap. Center Parcs does have an option to order in and you can book deliver slots from 3pm and they have a large selection of food, but again it is much more expensive. For us we prefered to spend what we had saved on activities so we cooked in the evenings and made packed lunches. I did a click and collect food shop from Tesco on my way to Center Parcs and picked up odd bits from the supermarket in the parc. The supermarket isn’t cheap, but fine for a few odd bits. There is nothing stopping you from leaving the parc and going to a local supermarket and picking up extra food and alcohol.

Pancake House
Pancake House is worth a try.

Activities for children

They have some great activities for children and Miss J especially loved the Mad Hatters Tea Party, this was for three hours and we were able to leave her there and go for a swim. Miss J and Mr T also enjoyed a Teddy Bears picnic and Miss J fulfilled her dream of riding a pony and hasn’t stopped talking about it since, They run a crèche so you can also put the children in and head off to the spa to relax.

Teddy Bears Picnic
Teddy Bears Picnic

Activities for adults 

Besides bike riding the only other activity we did was the kayaking, we could have done much more, but we had so much fun with the children we didn’t feel the need to disappear off. Next time I will make sure I spend some time at the Spa though.

Kayaking
Kayaking

Swimming Pool

My favourite thing about the whole of Center Parcs has to be the pool, it really is great and it’s so easy to spend three hours in there with no idea of the weather outside. The children loved all the swimming and were thoroughly exhausted at the end of the day. I’m glad we did go with my parents so we could take turns watching the children and enjoy the outside rapids and water slides. Miss J was a big fan of the children slides and Mr T loved the wave machine. We found afternoons were quieter by the pool and would go after Mr T had his nap. The changing area is full of large family changing rooms and the lockers can be locked with your electric wristband which also opens your lodge.

Wildlife

On one of our days we got stuck in with horrible rain and spent the morning watching wildlife, We had plenty of squirrels, ducks, pheasants and even a dear to keep us entertained. The animals are all very friendly and used to children. I recommend taking some bird feed out with you and letting the children get involved.

Will we go back? 

We will definitely be heading back again and would ike to explore the other parcs too in the future. It really is the perfect family break and a great way of getting outside and appreciating all that England has to offer.

Exploring at Woburn Forest
Exploring at Woburn Forest

 

 

 

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Vini and Bal's curry sauce review

Vini and Bal’s curry sauce review

I’m a massive fan of a curry, but I’ve made a few failed attempts of recreating the tastes and flavours at home. My husband has a bit more success, but if we make it from scratch, buy a ready meal or from a jar it never matches up to what you get from your local curry house. I was approached recently from Vini and Bal’s and asked if I would be interested in trying out the range of their packet curry sauces and of course I was more than happy to oblige.

Here is an extract from their website to give you an idea of where they are coming from-

Here, at Vini & Bal’s, we use the finest blends of authentic Indian spices in our range of cook-in-sauces so you can create mouth-watering traditional Indian curries in your own home. All our ingredients are freshly prepared so there is no chopping, no mess and no fuss…just the great taste of Rustic Indian curry. Our sauces are healthy, nutritious, vegetarian, gluten free and nut free.

Simply select your choice of meat, seafood, vegetables, lentils or paneer to be cooked straight in the Curry sauce – Indian food made Easy in just 10 minutes!

I eagerly awaited my parcel and was keen to start cooking. You really can’t go wrong with getting these sauces right as you literally throw your meat or fish in the pan and let it cook whilst you cook your rice. I decided to work my way through the sauces starting with the most mild the Shashi first which was a hit with me and my youngest (22 months). The sauce was mild, creamy, but still full of flavour. We soon arranged a weekly curry night and worked our way through the rest of the sauces. My favourite was the Tharka which has quiet a kick to it followed closely by the creamy Shashi. My husband loved the Fiery Mirchi, but for me it was a bit too spicy for me.

I think it’s safe to say we are now Vini and Bal’s converts and will be sticking with our weekly curry nights alternating through the range. I’m hoping to get more adventurous and try to add in lentils and paneer to make them even more diverse and fun.

Vini and Bal’s sauces are sold at Morrisons and I would recommend giving them a try. Check our their website here for some great recipe ideas

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Our family visit to see Father Christmas at Frosts

As we did last year we decided to come back and visit Father Christmas at Frosts Garden Centre Willington . Last year we had such a lovely time and it wasn’t even an option not to come back. I decided it was best to get in early and avoid the crowds and to get us in the Christmas spirit after a bad few weeks.

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We booked our tickets online and arrived in good time and found it easy to park straight away outside the main doors. Inside the garden centre looks amazing and has really outdone it’s self this year. They’ve added some lovely new displays to have pictures with including a giant polar bear, Aslan the Lion and a unicorn. Miss J was ecstatic about getting to have a picture with a unicorn, but Mr T didn’t feel the same.

Mr T wasn't loving the unicorn like Miss J
Mr T wasn’t loving the unicorn like Miss J

We went off to Santa’s grotto and got all booked in and got to meet the lovely elves and real reindeer’s. The young ladies working as the elves had really got themselves into character and they put so much effort into entertaining my two whilst we waited. With the early booking and start time we were the only ones in our group so we had quiet a special, personal experience.

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The elves took us in for a sing-song, a few silly jokes and some making of reindeer food. The elves enthusiasm was magically and my daughter gave it her best to get stuck in despite being a little shy. Mr T was loving the lights and was keen to try and eat the reindeer food.

We were shown into see Father Christmas and sat down for a lovely story, another sing-song and a mince pie. It was lovely to see the same warm, kind face and real beard from last year and Miss J’s face lite up with excitement. Everything about it was magical and everyone kept in character perfectly and actually looked like they loved what they were doing. After a picture and chat we headed off to pick a present and were presented with some candy cains. Miss J took her time deciding from the large selection of toys and settled on a glitter tattoo and bead set whilst Mr T become besotted with an owl puppet. We said our farewells to the lovely elves and made our way back to the main shop.

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We spent another hour looking at the toys, displays and getting some new decorations and decided it was time for a pit stop at the restaurant. We got a lovely table over looking the large pond and had some lovely tea and cake before heading home.

We had a great day and have made some lovely Christmas memories. We will be back again next year I’m sure.

Miss J was a bit tired after all the excitement.
Miss J was a bit tired after all the excitement.

 

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