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Countryside

  • Playing on the slide at Hogsdown Farm

    Hogsdown Farm Caravan and Campsite, Gloucestershire

    For the past two May Day Bank Holidays, we’ve spent our weekend at the gloriously named Hogsdown Farm Caravan and Campsite in Dursley, Gloucestershire. I’ve been meaning to write about it after both trips, but imposing work deadlines always forced me to push it to the bottom of the to-do list.

    Where is Hogsdown Farm?

    The farm is not far from Dursley, between Gloucester and Bristol near the A38 and M5 – making it an easy to get to option for families based in the Midlands, the Cotswolds or the South West. read more

    Camping, Reviews
    / April 14, 2019
  • Spotting-a-Dolphin-at-New-Quay

    Our UK Travel Plans for 2019

    This is a collaborative post with Vogue.

    Now that we’re starting to emerge from the depths of Winter, and the bank balance is starting to look a bit healthier after the Christmas bashing, it’s at this time every year that my attention turns to what our travel plans should be for the year. read more

    Camping, Lifestyle, UK Travel
    / March 7, 2019
  • Love Keeps You Warm

    This post contains gifted items from Jacamo.

    No matter the weather, the weekends are all about spending time outside for me. After four days of being sat in an office, in the middle of an open plan office away from any of the windows (why are my desks at work always the furthest away from the window?), I need to fit a whole week’s worth of fresh air and natural light into Saturday and Sunday. Not to mention, I’m usually itching to get my camera out and stretch my creative muscles. read more

    Countryside, Days Out, Fashion, Lifestyle, Marriage
    / February 11, 2019
  • Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent at Hogsdown Farm Gloucestershire over bank holiday weekend

    Did we choose the right tent?

    Almost a year ago now, we bought our first proper tent. Before then, we’d made do with little pup tents – which are fine for the odd night away or a weekend in the summer, but not practical when camping as a family and for longer periods. We excitedly went along to the Caravan and Camping Show at the NEC and came home with our Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent.

    Kampa Paloma 5 Air Tent

    Finding the Paloma 5 Air tent felt like we’d stumbled upon the perfect tent for us. On paper, it ticked all the boxes we could have hoped for, and it was just on the cusp of our budget. read more

    Aged 2+, Camping, Countryside, Parenting, Reviews
    / January 5, 2019
  • No need for a lawnmower with artificial grass

    Designing a Toddler-Friendly Garden

    This is a collaborative post.

    With our upcoming house move on the horizon, house renovations and decorating are very much on my mind at the moment. We’re moving into a relative’s house for about a year, so whilst the house isn’t ours, it’s the first time we’ve lived somewhere that we can make our own. Our main reason for relocating is to save money, so we don’t want to go mad, but I’m thinking it’s all good practice for when we hopefully buy our own home in the not too distant future.

    My main priority is the lounge, and I’ve spent all week scrubbing the walls and plastering them with emulsion but next on my list is the garden. Second to the lounge, it’s probably the area of the house that we spend the most time in with Pickle: come rain or shine, he just loves being outside. It’s got me thinking about what makes a good garden for a toddler, and although not all of these ideas are feasible for us right now, they’re good food for thought as we start thinking about searching for a house to buy.

    Flat and Spacious

    The main requirement any toddler has for outdoor space is… plenty of it! If you’ve got an energetic toddler like mine, they’ll love nothing more than running up and down, and round and round any garden space. Although Pickle really enjoys climbing up hills and racing back down them, or jumping off steps, a nice big flat area has bigger potential for stress-free play.

    That doesn’t mean sloped gardens can’t be fun… Some of my favourite memories from my childhood involve putting the tent groundsheet in the garden and using the slide to make a watery slide. Literally hours of fun! But in an ideal world, I think flat is best.

    Artificial Grass

    I wish we were the kind of family that drink coffee, read the newspapers and mow the lawns on Sundays – but we’re just not. Mowing the lawn is something that only gets done when it really needs it. With the grass so high and the weeds so numerous that it’s passable for a jungle, its not the most conducive environment to a football game or a quick play outside.

    If there’s one lesson I’ve learned through my life so far with a toddler, it’s that your garden needs to be playable in at a moment’s notice. Being ready for action at the drop of a hat means you have so much more flexibility, and helps avoid those horrible days cooped up indoors. So if, like us, you’re not best friends with your lawn mower, it’s definitely worth considering artificial grass.

    There is still an element of maintenance needed for artificial grass, but arguably it’s much less than a normal lawn, and will always look nice and fresh, and neat.

    Lots to Play With

    Providing Pickle with lots to play with in the garden hasn’t been much of a priority until now, as our old home was so close to the park that it was easier to wander down there than mow the aforementioned jungle lawn. But when I see how excited he gets when we visit our friends who have swings, slides, climbing frames and playhouses, it makes me realise how lovely those things would be to have at home.

    That said, if space and finances are limited, there are some small, cheap basics that should be in any toddler’s garden: something to throw, something to kick, something to push and something to climb. And anything that involves water play is always going to be a hit – Pickle’s face the first time he played with a water pistol is just a picture!

    For some great toy ideas, I’ve created a little shopping list of items I can personally recommend:

    Things to Grow

    For Father’s Day this year, we were sent some little pots and some seeds from Johnson’s Baby and it was just the push I needed to get over my fear of gardening and learn from scratch. Pickle and I figured it out together, using a small trowel to move compost, poking holes in the soil and sprinkling the seeds.

    Not only did he enjoy planting the seeds to begin with, but it was really sweet to see how excited he was to water our flowers each morning. Granted, he did over-water the little pots right from the off and they never actually grew… but the larger planters have done really well and I’m so proud of us both that we’ve successfully grown something from seed!

    As Pickle gets older, I’d love to widen our growing horizons and start growing our own fruit, vegetables and herbs. I think it’s so important for children to understand where their food comes from, and what better way than to see it from seed to plate?

    A Washing Line!

    This last item isn’t so much for the toddler’s playing benefit, but for their welfare. I’m not sure I need to convince anyone how essential a washing line is for any household with children.

    When the weather is dry, there is nothing I love more than the feeling of accomplishment when I peg a load of washing out to dry. We don’t have a tumble-dryer so it’s the quickest way I have of getting through the never-ending laundry pile and seeing the line full of Pickle’s cute little clothes makes me feel very adult for some reason.

    What’s in your Garden?

    So, what do you think? Have I covered all the essentials for putting together the perfect garden for a toddler? Am I missing anything? I’d love to hear what you have in your garden so I start to think about buying our first family home and knowing what I need to be looking for in the outdoor space available.

    Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post in collaboration with Grass Direct. All content, views and opinions remain my own, as as always, is 100% honest.

    Countryside, Lifestyle, Parenting
    / September 1, 2018
  • The view of the bay from the golf course at Trevornick

    Camping at Trevornick, Cornwall

    We love holidaying in the UK, and although it would be lovely to go abroad one day as a family, there’s something about exploring our own country which will never get old for me. Buying our tent earlier this year has already been such a worthwhile investment and top of our list this year was to start seeing more of the gorgeous Cornish coast. At the end of July, we packed up the car and set off for a super family-friendly site near Newquay in Cornwall called Trevornick, who put us up for a few nights so that we could test out their facilities. It was that good, that we didn’t want to leave. We extended our stay by a couple of extra nights, and would have stayed for longer if we could. We absolutely loved it.

    Journey & Arrival

    As much as I was excited to holiday in Cornwall, I was a little apprehensive about the journey to begin with. I had originally hoped we could find a campsite on the way down to stay for a couple of nights but after LPD (Little Pickle’s Dad) got booked for a hog roast on the Saturday, that was no longer feasible. It all turned out for the best though, as it actually made for the perfect opportunity to stop over in Exeter, visit LPD’s sister and wish her a happy birthday.

    Breaking the journey up meant we only had a two and a half hour journey on the Sunday, followed by an hour and half on Monday morning. We arrived at Trevornick feeling refreshed and raring to go: I’d definitely do the same whenever we next visit the South West coast (which I hope will be soon!). Upon driving onto the site, it was immediately welcoming and fresh looking with lots of gorgeous flowers and such friendly staff on reception. The best bit though? You follow a moped to your pitch! Which was a really nice touch and really helpful for a site of this size.

    Trevornick

    Without a doubt, this is the largest campsite I’ve ever stayed at. There are over six different camping fields to choose from, with a range of pitch sizes, features and Trevornick also has a number of Eurotent pitches for those without tents or who would rather the ease of having a tent pre-erected for you. More time for you to enjoy a gin and tonic!

    The site boasts lots of features that make a stay super relaxing and easy. There’s a really well stocked onsite farm shop (we once visited it four times in one day!), and also a hire shop (very handy if you forget any of your camping essentials or fancy a go at body-boarding). There’s also a laundrette – which was music to my ears after we decided to extend our stay and needed to do an emergency load of washing, and the driers were really handy for popping our towels in before heading home. There’s nothing worse than the smell of damp towel for the entire journey home!

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    Our Pitch

    I couldn’t have been more pleased with our pitch. We were on the Pond field, which has a series of almost terraced pitches overlooking the fishing ponds and the golf course. It was perfect for us as it meant there was only one direction in which Pickle could run – and he loved having the length of our terrace to run up and down, although, it did cause a few issues when balls and toys were accidentally thrown onto the terrace below.

    Our pitch had it’s own water supply and electricity supply, and even a TV connection and on-site movie channel if we’d have wanted to use it (perhaps a good option for families who are staying a bit longer and run into some rainy weather!).

    The Washing Facilities

    I didn’t want to look like some kind of weirdo by taking my camera into the shower and toilet block, so I’m afraid I don’t have any gleaming photos to share – but you’ll have to take my word for it that the toilet block was just the ticket. It was closed for an hour each day for cleaning (which wasn’t a problem as there were plenty of other toilet blocks to visit during that time – in fact, one of the others I visited had music playing in it! Which I thought was really cool). Perhaps wise that I didn’t go for a shower in that block, as I’m not sure my fellow campers would have appreciated the inevitable early morning sing song!

    Family-Friendly

    There were so many aspects to Trevornick that made it a real hit for us as a family. I can honestly say we didn’t really want for anything during our stay there – everything was so close and well thought out. There was so much on offer that we didn’t even get to try out most of it, and I’m sure there’s probably things we still don’t even know about. But the things that we were grateful for in particular were: the park, the evening entertainment, and the swimming pool.

    The playground is great for all kinds of ages – Pickle was quite happy clambering up the climbing frame, whooshing down the slide and having a go on the swing, but there was also monkey bars and more challenging equipment for older children. There’s also a dedicated ball games field the other side of the campsite which is perfect for older children who want a kick about, a game of rounders or a bit of cricket.

    If it weren’t for our camping neighbours, a gorgeous family from Coventry whose lovely children were such brilliant playmates for Pickle over the course of our stay, we probably wouldn’t have braved the evening entertainment – knowing from past experience that Pickle would much rather run riot than take part in the activities. We gave it two tries: the first was as I predicted! I spent most of the evening going up and down the stairs, back and forth from the dance floor to the amusements arcade next door. He became obsessed with the 2p machines – and he’s surprisingly good at them!

    The second time, it was a much greater success. Pickle had become firm friends with the little girl next door, and was no longer interested in escaping because he was glued to her side. They sat beautifully next to each other, arms wrapped around each others necks watching the comedy magician intently. It felt like a real treat to sit with a glass of wine and chat to our neighbours, getting to know them a bit better and not having to take it in turns to chase around the vicinity! Winner.

    We spent a glorious morning enjoying the outdoor pool. I’m not sure I can remember the last time I enjoyed an outdoor pool in the UK! Feeling very grateful for the sunny weather we’ve had this summer. At Trevornick, there are two heated outdoor pools, a big one and a smaller shallow baby pool, as well as a hot tub spa pool. I was really pleasantly surprised by the temperature of the water, and all three of us had fun in both the baby pool and the main pool – Pickle giggled with delight throughout!

    The changing facilities were really clean and there were plenty of sun loungers available if that’s your thing. The pool allows inflatables so we were even treated to seeing a huge unicorn in the pool! Amazing.

    Eating Out

    Part of the reason we enjoy camping is the option to self-cater. It saves us so much money by cooking our own food, which enables us to spend more money on treats and days out. However, I appreciate that that’s not everyone’s idea of a holiday so Trevornick caters for however much or little you want to cook, with a variety of price ranges too.

    Not only is there an onsite Cafe and Restaurant, Fodders, but there’s also a takeaway option if you’d prefer to eat outside your own tent. I thought it was brilliant that each night there seemed to be a different mobile food stand too. We bought ourselves a woodfire pizza which although it took a while (we were given a time to come back and collect it), it was a nice treat.

    We had a lovely evening trying out the Woody’s Restaurant, which overlooks the start of the golf course. It had a lovely welcoming, homely feel to it, made complete with some scrumptious home cooked food. I had a homemade beef lasagne and it was absolutely delicious – exactly how I would have made it myself at home, and LPD and I both loved the side salads that came with our food.

    It was a real bonus that Pickle was so well behaved – we honestly couldn’t believe it! There was a time not long ago that going out for a meal was a really stressful occasion filled with tantrums and muttered expletives under our breath, but he was so happy just chatting to us and playing with his Bing sticker book. Maybe this is paving the way for some more nice family meals out for us? If Woody’s was much closer, we’d definitely make it a regular haunt of ours. And good news for holiday makers with dogs, as they’re welcome in the restaurant.

    Holywell Fun Park

    I could write a whole blog post on it itself, and I intend to do just that, but I hope to give you flavour of it here too. We spent one of our days having so much fun in the Holywell Fun Park, which adjoins the campsite but you don’t have to be staying at Trevornick to visit it. At first, I wasn’t sure if it’d be particularly good for us as Pickle is just a tad too short for lots of the more ‘exciting’ rides, but he was more than happy going on the little choo-choo train and the ladybird ride. As was I!

    We were given a family pass for the day which meant we had unlimited use of the fun park which we really made the most of! We loved riding these little toddler rides, and we also had a go at panning for gold in the mining area, and had a good old bounce in the trampoline and jumping pillow section of the park. We must have spent a good hour in the maze which we really enjoyed (although, another family almost put us off trying it – it must not have been their cup of tea, but it was ours!).

    The best bit about our day passes and it being so close to the campsite was that when it was getting close to nap time, we headed back to the tent for a few hours so that Pickle could nap and we had some chill out time reading our books, before returning for some further afternoon fun!

    We finished off the visit with an ice cream from Daisy’s Ice Cream Parlour and sat watching one of the fun water boat rides, with the gorgeous views of the coast in the background.

    The Beach

    Although it’s not park of the campsite itself, you really can’t talk about Trevornick without mentioning the glorious beach on its doorstep. It’s only a ten minute walk away, accessible either by a hilly walk over the sand-dunes or a walk along the road (which has a path alongside it the whole way). There is a National Trust car park near the beach as an option for those who aren’t up to the walk – which was recommended to us by our neighbouring family to prevent the post-beach whining from tired children with tired legs who no longer are excited about carrying their buckets and spades.

    We couldn’t resist a visit on our first full day, and had fun building sandcastles, splashing in the sandy puddles and running away from the sea waves. The beach is fairly big, so there was plenty of space for us to set up camp with plenty of options – lots of families were sat along the river that runs from the top of the beach down to the sea, but we chose to prioritise a view of the sea!

    Our Final Thoughts

    Having a beach as beautiful as this just a stone’s throw away is part of what makes Trevornick a very special campsite. What I particularly loved about our stay was that we didn’t need to spend a fortune to have a brilliant time and memorable days out – everything was right there in front of us to enable our little family to spend fun, quality time together.

    As Pickle gets older, even more of the site’s features will become more accessible to us. It’d be brilliant to have a little family golf tournament (Trevornick has both an 18 hole par three golf course and an 18 hole pitch and put) and I wouldn’t mind a few hours of peace if Pickle and LPD fancied spending a morning in the fishing ponds together. Trevornick also has a Kids Club – with Forest School sessions and a Teddy Bear’s Picnic as part of the schedule – which would be perfect for us in a couple of years’ time.

    So many of the families we met at Trevornick have returned after spending previous years’ holidays there, and it’s so easy to see why. We’d definitely come back, and we’d hope to say hello again to the lovely people we met. It was magical to watch Pickle make friends during our short stay, and the delight on his face every morning when we woke up to realise his friends were still right there ready to play.

    I cannot recommend Trevornick enough, and I’d happily try my best to answer any further questions you have about our stay if you’re thinking of booking yourself. Whether you’re in a tent, a Eurotent, a touring caravan or staying in one of the site’s static vans, you’re in for a treat.

    Disclaimer: we were offered three nights accommodation in exchange for an honest review. We chose to extend our stay for a further two nights, which were paid for by ourselves. All content, opinions and views remain my own. read more

    Aged 2+, Camping, Countryside, Lifestyle, Parenting, UK Travel
    / August 21, 2018