Review: Butlins Minehead – Fun Stands The Test Of Time

When I was a child in the 1970s, my sister and I were taken to Butlins Minehead several times by our grandparents.

Those were the ‘Hi Di Hi’ days when accommodation was a small but comfortable prefab chalet with a tannoy to summon campers to their meals with gusto at 7 am in the morning.

Linda Hobbis, Sarah Jasper, Harry Setters & Phyllis Setters at Butlins Minehead circa 1974
My sister Sarah and I with our grandparents, Harry and Phyllis at Butlins Minehead circa 1974

There was an impressive network of cable cars which seemingly floated over the camp as well as a Gaiety Ballroom and a Gaiety Theatre.

Sarah Jasper & Linda Hobbis plus large monkey at Butlins Minehead circa 1974
Sarah and I – gran always dressed us as twins!  Can you tell I’m shattered?

Food was everywhere, particularly, I recall, freshly made mini doughnuts.

The fairground was free and when we weren’t there or in the arcades playing slot machines for a penny, we would religiously attend the Donkey Derby, the Glamorous Grandmother competition, It’s A Knock-Out and I think there was even the traditional Knobbly Knees competition.

The Red Coats were friendly, glamorous and talented.

We ate ourselves into oblivion, attended a show every night and stayed up far too late dancing in the disco.

Fast forward almost 40 years and I’m back at Butlins’ kind invitation holding on tight to my memories and wondering how the camp would have weathered the passing decades.

Promotional leaflet advertising the return of the chalet to Butlins Minehead

And this time I’ve got two kids with me who are roughly the same age as my sister Sarah and I were when we visited.

ARRIVAL & CHECK-IN

Our initial impression on arrival was a sense of overwhelm.  I had forgotten just how big the site is and finding our way to West Lake Villages where we had a lake view chalet involved a little too-ing and fro-ing up and down the car park and a little heated marital discussion on the basis that the Husband had a map.  Give a man a map and he automatically becomes Roald Amundsen.

We had a Lakeview Chalet in West Lakes Villages

But everything is signposted and eventually, we found the chalet accommodation office where we were required to book in.  If you do get lost return to the large Guest Check-In centre at the front of the complex and they’ll be able to help.

The site is a collection of ‘villages’ with designated check-in points so you have to make sure you go to the right place.  You park your car, check in and then drive round to your accommodation where there is a designated parking place and you can unpack.

Our tips: if you get lost, return to the central Guest Check-In and they’ll direct you.

ACCOMMODATION

We were based in West Lake Villages, a complex of new style chalets built surrounding a man-made lake with a fountain.  Everything was well laid out and pristine – and incredibly peaceful. You pay an extra supplement for a chalet right by the water but ours, with a lake view, was very pleasant.

Our chalet was on the top floor.  The chalets are built in small runs of one-up, one-down and entered via a contactless key card.

Butlins Lakeview Chalet interior, bedrooms, bathroom and sofa
The bedrooms, bathroom and comfort family sized sofa

There was a double and a twin bedroom, a bathroom with a toilet, a combined bath and shower and a generously sized lounge/diner with a fully equipped kitchen including a fridge and a microwave.

Kitchen and retro detailing - Lakeview chalet, Butlins Minehead
A generously sized kitchen and lots of retro detail

A balcony looked over a green central area towards the lake and was visited by ducks, geese and rabbits.  There was a table and chairs on the balcony so you could just relax whilst the kids played football in the green space below.

Kids being kids, it didn’t take long before they were out making new friends.  Top tip – take a football.

Our chalet also had housekeeping and towels were supplied. The bathroom had a small pouch with toiletries but you would need to bring your own and particularly a bar of soap.

I was really impressed with the quality of the chalet’s fixtures and fittings.  The chalets are, of course, reasonably new, but the accommodation was a world away from the prefab days of the 1970s.

There were several clever little touches too – a chalkboard with chalk for the kids to play with, coat hooks running around the rooms for all those towels and coats and when we arrived our towels had been turned into an Easter bunny.

We didn’t take food with us, although we did take teabags and biscuits plus a bottle or two of wine. The site is well equipped with supermarkets which carry all the basics you could possibly need.

In any case, you will find you are amply fed if your package includes dining, with only lunch and snacks to provide for.

WiFi was free for us for two devices, however, depending on your package you may only have 30 free minutes a day and need to pay for top ups.

Our tips: bring soap, tissues and toiletries. If you don’t have housekeeping with your package, don’t forget towels and bring extra ones for swimming. Caffeine addicts should bring their favs with them plus some milk if you don’t like milk capsules.  And there was a corkscrew, but a spare never hurts. Bring a ball for the kids (although you can buy one on site)

Butlins Minehead site map
There are plenty of maps and information leaflets to help you.

DINING

We had the Premium Dining package which meant that breakfast and dinner were all in and we could choose between two restaurants, The Deck or The Yacht which were situated in a block a short walk from our chalet.

Caitlin and Ieuan enjoyed the food at The Deck, Butlins Minehead
Caitlin and Ieuan testing the food at The Deck

The dinner menu changed daily and for the duration of our stay, we dined in The Deck which is the bigger of the two.

Both restaurants are on the ground floor with a bar situated just outside and toilets inside.

The food is served buffet style and there are stations for grilled food such as steaks and burgers, wok-based food and pasta.  Dishes are cooked fresh for you if you want to wait or you can help yourself from the dishes already laid out.

The Yacht & The Deck Premium Dining Restaurants at Butlins Minehead

There is also a large well-stocked salad bar, various soups in tureens and cabinets full of desserts, primarily cheesecakes or if you’re quick, cheese & biscuits.

The children’s buffet food is laid out separately and I would say that it is geared for kids much younger than Caitlin and Ieuan.  There are plastic plates and knives and forks available and the menu is pretty much chips, nuggets, sausages and standard kiddy fare.

My only gripe with the food we had is that the temperature of the children’s food could have been much hotter and the chicken dish laid out one evening had gone completely cold.

My suspicion is that given the number of adults to kids, the adult food gets replaced far quicker and far more frequently than the kids’ food does.

The temperature of the adult food can also be a little hit and miss depending on what you choose. One evening we had freshly cooked chicken, noodles, veggies and soy from the wok station which was lovely but on another, we had a vegetarian Jalfrezi curry which was just hot enough.

Dining runs from 4.30 – 7.30 pm so you take pot luck depending on when you choose to dine. Sunday night seems to be the night for early dining as there was a pool party starting at 7 pm in Splash Waterworld.

But the desserts…… apologies to Butlins at this point for Caitlin and Ieuan emptying the ice cream machine and the cheesecakes were lovely.

Teas and coffees are available from a self-serve machine as squash for the kids and these are free of charge.  Alcoholic drinks are available from the bar outside and have to be paid for by cash or card – you can’t add the cost to your room.

Occasional fluctuations in temperature aside,  the food was lovely, great quality and varied enough so you didn’t have to eat the same thing each meal.

Breakfast offered pastries, fresh fruit and yoghurt, cereal and a buffet style full English with the works – including fried bread and kippers.

Breakfast is served from 8 am up to the very reasonable 10 am but, again, towards the tail end of the time period, you may find some of your favourites have gone.

Caitlin and Ieuan loved going off to get their own food (particularly the ice cream and squash) and of course, you can refill your plate if you are extra peckish.

Our tips:  come early for the hottest food and biggest choice and don’t forget cash/card if you plan to buy drinks from the bar.

ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES

As I child I remember being so tired getting back on the coach to return to Plymouth that I could barely speak.  (The Husband can only dream of this now).  I was expecting a jam-packed few days and there are certainly plenty of things to do.

The central hub of the camp is the Skyline Pavilion – a massive white tented structure which houses a shopping mall, the stage areas, numerous cafes and restaurants, arcade type machines, a pool and bowling hall and more toilets.

Collage of pictures in the Skyline Pavilion Butlins Minehead
The Skyline Pavilion is the hub of the camp

There is also a handy information desk which helps you get your bearings and tells you the day’s available activities and what shows are available at the Skyline Pavilion (which has a large stage area surrounded by seating), Centre Stage and Reds.

The Skyline Pavilion stage is home to the Skyline Gang (a Butlins version of Lazy Town) and Silent Cinema.  Centre Stage hosts the bigger, music based shows, for example, The RollerBoys and Freddie In Concert (A Freddie Mercury tribute act) whilst Reds hosts shows for the little ones such as Justin Fletcher’s Just Sing & Dance and Billy & Bonnie In The Wizard.  Billy and Bonnie are Butlin’s resident bears.

We saw three shows, wrestling, Sam & Mark On The Road Show and the Teletubbies.  I say we,  I watched the Teletubbies whilst Ieuan muttered: “I am SO too old for this”.  I enjoyed it.  Both the Teletubbies and the wrestling were in the Skyline Pavilion where, again, the noise levels were an issue for me.  I much prefer the Centre Stage venue which, though spacious, is more intimate and hosts fewer visitors.

Our tips: plan your shows in advance so you can use your B-Line passes if you have them and secure early entry and better seats.  Some of the shows don’t start until around 8:30 pm.

DAILY ACTIVITY SCHEDULE

Each day has a full timetable of activities included in the price of your break, details of which are available on the leaflet “Butlins When And Where”.

In it, you’ll find lists of daily activities and shows all handily designated with the age range these are best suited for.

On first sight, these are primarily geared towards tots and I was initially worried that there would not be enough for Caitlin and Ieuan’s age group to do.

I needn’t have worried. For example, there is archery, shooting and crafting for the over 9s.  There’s also a circus school, drum workshop, magic workshop and numerous science workshops.

The Husband took Caitlin to the code-breaking workshop hosted by Bletchley Park.  In this, they had to crack the code by breaking into three safes to assemble a six digit code to break into the master safe.  They also wanted to go to the Bath Bomb workshop hosted by The Royal Institution and L’Oreal UK & Ireland to investigate the science of fizz but it was fully booked.

As it was Easter, there was also an Easter Egg Hunt where youngsters had to crack the code by finding crates in secret locations around the camp and solving the puzzle to get part of the code.

There is something on right throughout the day, whether it’s a sporting activity, crafting or a show and the programme spans from 8 am through to 12:30 am with live music in one of the complex’s pubs, Inn On The Green.

Not everything is free, however, for example, the Adventure Golf, Ten Pin Bowling, American Pool, Go Karts and Bungee Trampolines all have a charge.  The golf is £3.50 per person and go-kart hire is £9.50 per half hour per kart.  It’s worth getting an All Action Pass which includes all these activities a £17 per person.

Caitlin, Ieuan and Mathew Hobbis at Butlins Minehead
We loved the go karts

You can also buy B Line fast passes from £20 per person for 3 nights which allows priority access to Centre Stage, Reds and Splash Waterworld.

We absolutely love the Go Karts which we hired twice and which brought home my dismal level of fitness quick nicely.  Cycling round on these is a great way to get your bearings and to appreciate just how big Butlins Minehead is.

Our tips:  get there early to get your pick of the best go-karts.  The outdoor activities get busy early. Plan your day to make sure you get everything in!  

EATING AND DRINKING

Because we have breakfast and dinner in our package, the only thing we had to provide for was lunch, snacks and drinks and there is plenty to choose from.

There’s Ludo’s Restaurant (Italian), The Diner (50’s themed burger joint) and the Firehouse Grill as well as the Sun & Moon family pub, Soho Coffee Company and Inn on The Green (drinks only).

We ate in both the Sun & Moon family pub, the Firehouse Grill and the Soho Coffee Company and found the food in all three good quality and good value.  The children’s menus were adequate and the portion sizes generous.  In fact, after a full breakfast at The Deck, we didn’t have all that much room for lunch!

Children’s menus are priced around the reasonable £6.50 mark for a main, dessert and a Ribena Mini.

Our tips: we found the Sun & Moon to be quieter and more relaxed than the food venues around the Skyline Pavilion.

THE POOL

The outdoor lido with the fountain I remember has been replaced by the huge Splash Waterworld, an indoor heated pool complex with a wave machine, a disco beat and a number of very long and exhilarating water slides.

The queues to get in were long although given that it was Easter weekend this was not surprising. (so a B Line pass is a good idea). Once through the door, you are given an allotted time frame (we had an hour and a half) and a coloured armband in the good old fashioned British style.  (Yellows out of the pool now!!!).

retro Butlins postcard

There are multiple changing areas with cubicles and lockers which require a pound coin to get your key out.  Due to the number of people who had already been there that day, the changing area we chose was a little less than fresh but this is a common problem where there is lots of nappy changing going on!

The Husband took Ieuan on the waterslide but, again, there was a queue.  There are three slides of varying length and Ieuan waited 20 minutes to get on his.  A lady in the queue behind him had waited 45 minutes to go on another of the slides so she was clearly earning her mummy stripes.  Despite the wait, haring down a waterslide with his dad in a small inflatable boat was one of the highlights of his holiday.

I stayed with Caitlin in one of the three smaller pools.  The main pool has a continuous current and a wave machine and is definitely not suitable for non-swimmers.  We were in the second pool, smaller, no current and well manned by lifeguards.  There is a third kiddy pool nearby.

I was really impressed by the lifeguards who were really attentive and not afraid to usher swimmers back into the shallows if it looked like they were not confident swimmers.

On a personal note, as a tinnitus sufferer, I found the volume of the pool absolutely deafening – not helped by the disco music played to encourage swimmers to circle round the wave pool but this is not a criticism of Butlins.  If you do suffer from tinnitus I would suggest you take ear plugs.

Our tips:  be prepared to queue, both to get in and to get on the waterslides; don’t forget pound coins for the lockers and if you are a tinnitus sufferer, take your earplugs.  Parents of non-swimmers – make sure you stick to the designated non-swimmer areas.

The Fairground

Again, this is free.  It’s smaller than I remember and I was hoping for a ghost train but there is a carousel, a helter-skelter, dodgems, waltzers, go-karts. Chair-o-Planes and the Rockin’ Tug.  Kids have to be tall enough to go on each ride and if you don’t like fast rides you are rather limited to the safer choices of the helter-skelter and dodgems.

Carousel and helter skelter at Butlins Minehead
You’re never too old for a carousel

The fair closes at 5 pm during the week but is open till 8 pm on Friday nights which coincided nicely with our arrival.

Little ones have their own Little Stars Fairground.

OUT AND ABOUT

Should you find the time to actually leave Butlins, Minehead beach is literally just across the road and is a lovely soft sandy beach.  Nearby there is Dunster Castle and Somerset Valley Railway sends its steam trains along the perimeter of the camp.

Collage of Minehead Beach with Caitlin
Minehead beach is literally a stone’s throw away – shame about the lack of sun!

BOOKING YOUR NEXT BUTLINS BREAK

The kids absolutely adored our 3 days at Butlins and were shattered by the end of it.  I asked Ieuan what was his favourite bit and his response was “there’s so much to do.  I’m struggling”.  Both Caitlin and Ieuan asked to come back and, not surprisingly, Butlins Minehead is pretty fully booked for the rest of the year.

Caitlin & Ieuan with Butlins Easter Eggs

There is, however, an on-site Holiday Accommodation office where you can book your next Butlins break with an up to 40% discount.  You can also secure your next booking for just £10pp.  This makes subsequent bookings even better value if you rebook whilst you are there.

Front cover of Butlins booking folder

We have a 3-night break on the same basis (lake view chalet in West Lakes Village and the premier dining package) for just over £800 – with a significant saving of around £400.

Our tip:  if you want to come back, secure your next break for the minimum deposit of £10 per person.

So, did Butlins Minehead 2017 compare favourably to the Butlins I remember in the 70’s?  Yes, it did – it’s a lot more comfortable and nobody shouts at you over a tannoy to get you up for breakfast. Come to think of it though, that tannoy might be very useful on school mornings.

Big thanks to Butlins for our break and for giving the Husband a chance to laugh at my rubbish cycling abilities.

Things will be different next year.  You’ll see.

Find more information and to book your break go to  www.butlins.com.




Web Analytics


Reasons To Choose A Family Staycation This Summer

If you haven’t yet booked your summer holidays as you can’t decide whether to hop on a flight or get in the car, these key reasons why you should stay in the UK with the family just might sway you.

Foot of a baby playing on a beach

Get more for your money

One of the most topical reasons to stay in the UK is the cost-benefit. There’s been much debate about whether UK holidays are in fact cheaper than going abroad but if you factor in the current exchange rates and the fact you don’t need to pay for flights, then more expensive accommodation is generally outweighed.

There’s even more opportunity to save money by going self-catering in the UK. You also don’t need to renew your passports or get one for the kids. An adult passport costs £72.50 and child passports cost £46, or more if you need it in a hurry, which all adds up.

Young girl jumping into a loch

The beauty of the UK

It’s easy to forget just how beautiful and historically-rich the UK is when all we see is where we live and the main roads to nearby cities. From ancient castles and country houses to stunning steam railway journeys, breathtaking walks and some of the best beaches in the world, our fine country has a lot going for it.

Walking around any of our national parks  is a treat, but some of my favourites are The Lake District and my former home grounds of Dartmoor and Exmoor. And as for our beaches, there are so many that rival those abroad, even if we don’t have the guaranteed sunshine. Try the North Norfolk coast for seal spotting, Cornwall for coves and surfing opportunities, the caves, stacks and rock-pools of Yorkshire, the vast stretches of sand in Devon and the craggy beauty of the Gower peninsula.

A craggy coastline

Do lots or do nothing

One of the best things about holidaying in the UK is there’s less pressure to make the most of every second, as you can always come back for a long weekend some other time. This means that you can head out to some of the local family attractions or just walk around the countryside. A day in your pyjamas doing puzzles and playing board games isn’t out of the question, either!

If you get a rainy day and you don’t fancy spending it in the holiday home, somewhere like Legoland Windsor or the Warner Bros Studio Tour is a fab option that Harry Potter fans of all ages will love. There’s plenty of indoor Hogwarts action, like visiting The Great Hall, Diagon Alley and Platform 9 ¾ sets, plus learning how the films were made and getting pictures of you flying a broomstick in the green screen.

Two girls out hiking down a pretty country lane

Convenience

Lastly and by no means least in terms of having a stress-free break, UK holidays mean far less travelling, no time differences or language barriers and fewer uncertainties. As for travelling, you don’t even have to staycation for a week to make the most of it as you won’t be travelling for a day each way.

Other convenience factors are that you know the culture, you’re probably familiar with the area you’re going to and you’re certainly familiar with the food. While part of the charm of going abroad is trying all the different flavours, you really can’t argue with fish and chips and clotted cream ice cream by the harbour (teaching the kids how to fend off seagulls is a rite of passage). Plus afternoon teas, pub lunches and all the takeaways we like.

Are you going abroad or staying in the UK this year? And have I missed any of your deciding factors off the list of why to staycation? Let me know below.

Treat Your Kids to a Weekend Holiday

The weekend is a time for relaxation and unwinding before we prepare for yet another busy work week. However, there are some great and exciting ways to spend the weekend that don’t involve sitting around the television watching a movie or playing video games with your children. In fact, if your kids are still young, it’s beneficial to take them out more often so they can experience more of life and soak in all the sights and sounds of the world.

Going on holiday with your kids is a fantastic opportunity to bond as a family and create some wonderful memories. Thanks to digital cameras, Facebook and online photo storage services, you could create long-lasting memories and come out of a holiday with hundreds of photos, dozens of souvenirs and a refreshed mind before working hard at your job again.

Young girl and two baby brothers playing on a beach

Photo Source

Ask your kids what they’d like to see

Whether it’s the beach, a museum or somewhere fun like a fairground or theme park, ask your kids where they’d like to go and try to meet their requests. You have to consider how practical it is as well. For instance, if you drive then you’ll probably be able to take them to a nearby city or a distant city, but if you need to fly, then you might have to reconsider the location because the weekend will be over before you know it and the last thing you want is to spend an entire day flying to and from the location.

Set a budget

If you’ve been saving the pennies and you’ve built up some additional income, then you’re probably financially able to afford a weekend holiday with your children. However, it’s important that you set a budget so you don’t go overboard and end up spending more money than you first anticipated. Make sure that you check prices for travel or fuel, the price of admission into whatever events and shows your kids want to see, and also the costs of accommodation.

Pick a place to stay

Try your best to pick a reputable location sleep in. For instance, Dorsett Hotel is a well-known chain of hotels that has several locations in the world, giving it a solid reputation as opposed to random unknown hotels that are converted from houses; they might function as a hotel, but the point of a holiday is to have a fantastic memorable experience and that includes the sleeping arrangements! If possible, try to pick a location that is close to public transportation so that you spend less time moving around and more time enjoying yourself.

Don’t forget technology

Make sure you take your smartphone or a camera so you can snap up pictures wherever you are. A spare battery is also handy, but you could also take a portable battery bank to keep your devices charged up so that you can take pictures, record videos and keep in touch with relatives and friends. Remember that roaming costs for data in other countries can add up very quickly, so take care when using mobile data and always try to use a WiFi connection when possible.

London’s Calling! Why You Must Visit England’s Capital City In 2017

Have you made any big plans for 2017 yet? If not, why not get a little culture in your life by taking a trip to London?

It’s one of those cities that really does have absolutely everything, with thousands of years of history combined with some incredibly cool modern architecture, a plethora of incredible restaurants to eat and hotels to stay at, and a diverse, multicultural vibe that means that absolutely everyone feels welcome here.

Here are some of our top reasons that you must visit London…

Incredible Nightlife 

Picadilly Circus, London at night
Image source

Everyone says that New York is the city that doesn’t sleep, but if you go to London any night of the week, you’ll see that the same is true there as well! London is the sort of city that’s truly alive all night long – party on Brick Lane or in Soho before taking one of London’s famous black cabs back to your hotel. The Underground now runs all night, if you feel like being adventurous!

Museums To Visit


Museum interior
Image source

London is home to some of the best museums and galleries in the world – and happily, they’re all free (although it’s advised that you make a small donation of £5). The British Museum is near Tottenham Court Road and is home to a truly spectacular glass domed central hall along with exhibits from all over the world, while the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum are next door to each other in South Kensington and some of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. You could also go to Buckingham Palace or the Tower of London if you really want to explore an incredible slice of history.

The West End


Globe Theatre, London
Image source

If you’re at all interested in theatre, then London’s West End is up there with Broadway. You could go to any one of a number of brilliant shows, from The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time to Jersey Boys to Wicked to Les Miserables. If you’re interested in a more cultural experience, check out what’s on at the Globe, the National Theatre or the Soho Theatre.

Restaurants To Go To


London eateries
Image source

One of the sheer joys of London is the huge variety of restaurants that you can go to. There are plenty of great pubs serving hearty, wholesome British food, but it’s the range of worldwide cuisines that really make London a gastronomic force to be reckoned with. It’s been said that curry is the national food of the UK, so check out the Gourmet guide’s best London restaurants to find out where exactly would be best for you and your family to visit.


It’s Easy To Get To The Rest Of Europe


Eurostar train at Waterloo, London
Image source

One of the best parts of visiting any European city is how easy it is to get elsewhere. London is home to a number of major airports that will take you pretty much anywhere, along with the Eurostar that can take you to Paris from St Pancras. Use London as a hub to explore the rest of the world, with cheap fares to cities like Madrid, Rome and Berlin.

Review: Our Holiday Home Rental From Toad Hall Cottages, Kingsbridge, Devon

We have just returned from a week’s holiday in Devon where we rented a lovely house in the small town of Kingsbridge from Toad Hall Cottages.

This is our third time using Toad Hall Cottages and we remain quietly impressed.  The company specialises in holiday property hire in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall and many of its properties are situated in lovely, picturesque locations.

Bralo, Kingsbridge courtesy of Toad Hall Cottages

Our first two hires were of a property called Blue Skies in one of my favourite locations, Noss Mayo, which is about 10 miles from Plymouth.

Devon has a special place in my heart as my parents were both born there and our childhood holidays always involved a stay with our grandparents who lived in Cattedown and Peverell.   The Husband has become resigned to the fact that the area is always my first choice of holiday location.  

Booking is easy, as you would expect.  You simply select the property which interests you and check online availability and pricing.  You do have to be quick because the properties are booked well in advance of school holidays and a deposit of one third is payable on booking, plus a security deposit which is refunded 3-4 days on return, provided you have not damaged the property or left it in a mess.  The security deposit for Bralo was £175.  The balance of your holiday is payable 6 weeks before the start of your booking.

A UK staycation has the reputation of costing more than a comparable holiday abroad but, to us, the benefits of a home-spun holiday far outweigh anything the Costas have to offer – although I am sure we will venture abroad at some point in the near future.

Once you ignore the galling fact that the price of all the holiday rental properties rockets in August (we paid around £1400 for a week) and then sink like a stone again in September (a comparable week would cost £570), the price is actually bearable if you are in a location where much of the entertainment is free and you are not being stung in excess of £50 entrance fees every time you enter a theme park or other similar attraction.

In terms of budget, it is possible to have a cost-effective holiday if you are happy with the simple pleasures of a bucket and spade and an ice cream, provided that the weather holds.  

The other thing to remember is that the M5 can resemble a car park at peak periods so if you are travelling to Devon in August you may want to be flexible with the times you travel.  It took us over 6 hours to return to Cardiff and on our next trip we may well travel home on the last night (the journey usually takes half that) to avoid numb bottoms and the suspicion that getting out of your car and walking might actually be quicker.

We stayed in “Bralo”, a 4 bedroomed detached property in Kingsbridge which is just a few miles from many great beaches – Thurlestone, Hope Cove, Salcombe, Slapton, Blackpool Sands, Torcross and Bigbury – and that’s without taking into account all the sights of Plymouth and the beauty of Dartmoor which are also practically on your doorstep.

You can access your holiday property from 3 pm in the afternoon and are asked to leave by 10 am on the morning of your departure date.

Bralo has a garage large enough for one standard saloon which you can use but parking is a little difficult as the house is directly opposite a primary school.  It being school holidays, this was not a problem although the school was in constant use and I imagine that there would be lots more congestion during school run times.

The property was in immaculate condition and spotlessly clean.  The quality of the fixtures and fittings was high (can’t go wrong with John Lewis, can you?!) and everything had been thought of, with the exception of pegs for the washing line and some bathroom cleaner.

Today though, everyone is so health and safety conscious I suspect that these items are deliberately not included.

There was plenty of space for up to 8 people to relax and spread out.  The wood burning fire must be lovely in winter.

There’s a generously sized table to accommodate some great family meals when all you want to do is chill in your own space.  There are only so many restaurant and pub meals we can take in a week.

One of the things we love most about self-catering is that you have the freedom to choose when and where you eat.  Kingsbridge has a range of good local shops plus the ubiquitous Tesco and Morrisons so it’s easy to stock up for at least a couple of meals.

The kitchen was well equipped with a large fridge/freezer, washing machine, dishwasher and double oven.

There were lovely little personal touches everywhere.

There were two twin rooms downstairs both with TVs.  My only gripe was that the blinds in the second twin room were too light to prevent the moonlight flooding through.  Caitlin and Ieuan managed to share one of the two rooms without killing each other.

There was also a separate toilet with vanity unit and walk-in shower downstairs. The light / air con unit for this was great but if switched on in the middle of the night was rather loud if you were a light sleeper.

Upstairs there were two beautiful bedrooms, one with an ensuite and the other next to a bathroom with a stand-alone bath.

This particular property would work really well for two families or for a family with members of a variety of ages.  There is, however, no disabled access and dogs are not welcome at Bralo, although many of Toad Hall Cottages’ other properties do welcome them – you just have to check before you book.

One of Bralo’s main strengths is its lovely garden which has clearly been landscaped and has a dining table to seat 8 in the back garden and a barbecue area in the front.

We loved Bralo and would highly recommend it as a holiday rental for a larger family.

Ieuan loved it so much he made his own mini guide with some charming selfies at the end of it.  Alastair Sawday watch out.

You can find more information about Toad Hall Cottages on their website www.toadhallcottages.co.uk and they will also send you a brochure if you prefer.  Just call 01503 272303.  You can also find Toad Hall Cottages on Twitter and Facebook.

They will certainly be our first choice for our next holiday booking.

10 Ways To Give The Gift Of The Great British Summer With Buyagift.com

In 2016 it seems that we are living in turbulent times and whilst the political climate is so unsettled, I’m sure some of us would prefer to holiday here in the UK.

Despite the fact that UK Staycations have a reputation of being rather pricey, there are bargains to be had and here is a selection of great value days out and short breaks from Buyagift.com.  Needless to say, they all make great gifts too.

Days out in London

1. The ArcelorMittel Orbit

The ArcelorMittal Orbit

London is home to some of the biggest and best tourist attractions in the world but this is something really different and not for the faint-hearted.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit was a major icon of the 2012 Olympic Games and is now home to the world’s longest and highest tunnel slide.

You can enjoy entry to the upper viewing platform and external balconies where you can take in the awesome 360-degree views of the city before plummeting 178m towards the ground!

You will be able to see some of the world’s most iconic sights as you twist and turn 12 times around the structure before a final 50m straight run back down the earth!

The Slide at The ArcelorMittal Orbit for Two, £33

2. The View From The Shard

Only recently built and already an integral part of London’s iconic skyline, The Shard points up to the clouds, reaching an incredible 308m which makes it Western Europe’s tallest building.

Designed by Master Architect Renzo Piano, the Shard has redefined London’s skyline and it has become a dynamic symbol of the capital.

You can visit London’s highest viewing platform situated at the top on floors 68, 69 and 72. At almost twice the height of any other viewing platform in the city, you’ll get unparalleled 360-degree views for up to 40 miles.

Needless to say for photographers (and selfie-lovers!) this is a fantastic camera-ready opportunity which you can follow with a meal in the Michelin recommended restaurant, Latium.

The View from The Shard with 3 Course Michelin Dining and Bubbles for Two £99

3. The Houses of Parliament

Why not visit the Houses of Parliament where you can see both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. An audio tour will describe the incredible medieval structure of Westminster Hall, the Queen’s Robing Room and the Royal Gallery, featuring leading parliamentary figures such as The Speaker and Black Rod.

Buyagift.com’s package also includes a pass for to 24 hours unlimited travel on Thames River Cruises and afternoon tea at the Park Plaza County Hall.

Tour of Houses of Parliament, Afternoon Tea and Thames Cruise for Two, Was £113.90, Now £108 – note:  this tour is no longer available (30/01/2019)

Royal Palaces

4. Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace – Always Stunning No Matter What The Weather

Blenheim Palace, just outside Oxford, contains one of Europe’s finest collections of antiques, inimitable 18th Century Baroque architecture a 2000 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds.

With an ever-changing array of exhibitions at this UNESCO World Heritage site and home of 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, there is plenty to see and enjoy.

The birthplace of Churchill, the palace has an interactive experience that guides you through all 300 years of its history, as well as a special gallery paying homage to Churchill himself

Annual Entry to Blenheim Palace with Afternoon Tea for Two, £75 (note: currently unavailable as at 10/04/2019). 

5. Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

The royal palace of Hampton Court is situated in Richmond upon Thames in Greater London.  Its most famous resident was King Henry VIII.

Redevelopment of the manor, as it then began in 1515 for Cardinal Wolsey but when he fell out of favour with Henry, the King seized the palace for himself in 1529.

Visitors can take a free audio guide around the stunning palace, wander around at their own pace or even be accompanied by a costumed guide as they explore the many rooms and artefacts including the Tudor Kitchens, the crown of King Henry VIII and more.

The Palace continues to display a large number of works of art from the Royal Collection and, apart from the Palace itself and its gardens, other points of interest for visitors include the celebrated maze, the historic real tennis court and the huge grapevine, the largest in the world as of 2005.

Hampton Court Palace Entry for Two, £64 

Family Days Out

6. Harry Potter Studio Tour

Harry Potter Studio Tour

Probably top of many parents’ day-trip bucket lists (and certainly ours), is the Harry Potter tour where you can discover the magic behind the spellbinding special effects and explore the behind-the-scenes secrets of the Harry Potter film series.

You can tread the original stone floor of the iconic Hogwarts Great Hall, encounter animatronic creatures and wander down Diagon Alley.

Located at the Studios where all 8 films were produced, the Studio Tour showcases the incredible British talent, imagination and artistry that went into making the impossible a reality on screen.

Harry Potter Studio Tour, £128

7. Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is one of London’s top attractions and features an astounding collection of over 700 artefacts over six floors.

You can explore everything that the museum has to offer from a mirror maze and graffiti wall to a toilet paper wedding gown!

Located in the heart of Central London at the infamous Piccadilly Circus, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! guarantees a day packed with interesting facts and some weird but wonderful displays that’ll you’ll remember for years to come.

Family Entry to Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Was £79.95, Now £68 (no longer available 30/01/2019)

Sports

8. Family Wimbledon Tennis Tour


Your tour will take you behind the scenes for a tour of the grounds. You will visit court number one and centre court, the site of some of the greatest matches in the history of the sport.

Your guide will lead you through the beautiful picnic terraces and up to the water gardens with amazing views of London before heading to the marvellous interactive Wimbledon Tennis Museum.

Here you can discover the history of tennis, viewing all the trophies and even meeting the “ghost” of John McEnroe!

Family Wimbledon Tennis Tour, £75 

9. Tour of Stamford Bridge

Stamford Bridge

This unmissable tour of Stamford Bridge, home of FA Cup Winners and European Champions, Chelsea Football Club is a fun, informative and unforgettable experience, enjoyed by sports fans of all ages from all over the world.

The fully guided tour takes you behind-the-scenes of one of the world’s greatest football teams, giving you access to areas normally reserved for players and officials.

Chelsea FC pride themselves on having guides who are both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the club and they believe it’s their passion that makes their tours a truly memorable experience!

https://www.buyagift.co.uk/days-out/stadium-toursFor details of all stadium tours click here.

10. Explore the UK’s National Parks

Exmoor

From lakes to moors, woodlands to mountain peaks, the UK’s National Parks encompass some truly breath-taking scenery and are a pleasure to explore, whether on foot, by car or bicycle or on horseback.

Fish in the Lake District, see the wild ponies of Exmoor, explore the quaint villages of Cumbria or whatever takes your fancy, and know you will have a warm welcome, comfortable room and delicious breakfast to come back to.

Overnight National Parks Escape for Two, £89 National Park Minibreak, Was £189, Now £139.99

Which would be your first choice?  I’ve already got a couple at the top of my bucket list.  I’ve put The Husband on notice.  And if it rains, we’ve got our kagools.

Buyagift.com is the UK’s leading online provider of gifts and experiences, and offers over 4,000 unique and exciting gift ideas for all occasions. For more information, visit www.buyagift.com. Prices and product details correct at time of distribution.

*collaborative post

City To Countryside In 2 Hours: 3 On Trend Weekend Getaways

At the end of the week, why not buckle up your seatbelts and head straight to the countryside for a weekend retreat? Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire, as well as sharing their Shire titles, also boast a conveniently close proximity to London. This, combined with their stunning scenery, makes these spots the ideal counties to escape to.

Below is a roundup of the most idyllic hotels to stay in for a weekend away from the city.

The Mews at Sopwell House, Hertfordshire: 1 hour drive from London

Sopwell House

 Originally an old stable block, the newly renovated Hertfordshire oasis comprises 16 Mews set within the 12-acre grounds of the stunning Georgian manor house, Sopwell House.

With the choice of studio, one bedroom and duplex mews houses, each of the properties is styled in a quintessentially British manner. The glamorous retreats benefit from full use of the Sopwell House Hotel’s elegant restaurants and award-winning spa.

The Mews surround a stunning communal botanical garden with a hydrotherapy pool, designed by Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist Ann-Marie Powell. Many have their own private terraces with sunken hot tubs.

Sopwell House

The Mews at Sopwell House is at Cottonmill Lane, St Albans, AL1 2HQ.  For reservations, please call: 01727 864477.

Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire: 2 hour drive from London

This escape needs no introduction. Belonging to one of the most exclusive group of members clubs in the world, there’s no wonder why Soho Farmhouse has been frequented by the likes of Henry Holland, Princess Eugenie and Alexa Chung. The charming seven-bedroom farmhouse is set in 100 acres of Oxfordshire countryside and the retreat boasts a four-bedroom cottage as well as 40 additional cabins. Activities on offer include pony hacks across the fields, tennis on the all-weather courts, boating from the boathouse pontoon and football on the five-a-side grass pitch.

Soho Farmhouse is at Great Tew, Chipping Norton, OX7 4JS.  For reservations, please call: 01608 691000.

Coworth Park, Berkshire: 1 hour drive from London.

Located in acres of picturesque parkland– this luxurious country house hotel on the borders of Windsor Great Park boasts high-end style coupled with a countryside ambience. As part of the prestigious Dorchester collection of hotels, the retreat comprises a Georgian style Mansion House and self-contained converted Stables and Cottages. An understated palette of subtle colours lends an air of calm to the spacious rooms and suites. The hotel also offers a spa as well as equestrian and polo facilities.

Coworth Park is at Blacknest Road, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7SE.  For reservations, please call 01344 876600.

Day Trip Ideas That The Whole Family Will Love

When you’ve got little ones, you’re always on the lookout for fun and different things to do with them. No matter how much to see and do there is in your local area, after a while it all gets a bit too samey. There’s only so many times you can visit the zoo or go bowling without losing your mind with boredom. That’s why sometimes it’s a good idea to mix things up and explore a little further afield.

Day trips can be a great way to get the whole family out and about, having fun and exploring. It’s just a case of selecting the best places to go for a family-friendly day out – we’re spoilt for choice as the UK has so many amazing places to explore.

To help you choose the best locations for family day trips, I thought I would put together this handy guide. Hopefully, this will allow you to find the day trips that are most well suited to you and your family.

London

For a city day out, it has to be London. Cardiff is pretty great too, but compared to London, it’s nowhere near as exciting. Home to the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, The National History Museum, and so much more, there is an array of things to see and do here.

Whether your kids are science lovers or are mad about history, London has something for everyone. The London Dungeons, The London Duck Tour, and The Science Museum are all perfect places for a family day out.

Cornwall or Devon 


Are your kids beach mad? If your little ones love building sand castles and splashing about in the sea, then a day trip to Devon or Cornwall could be ideal.

There are so many beautiful places to explore in these two regions. From white sandy beaches to idyllic areas of countryside.

For a fantastic family day out in Cornwall, St Ives, Perranporth, Newquay, or Padstow are all great. In Devon, Dartmouth, Salcombe, and Goodrington are all perfect places to explore.

Kent 

If your kids love places with lots of history, then Kent is the perfect place for a day trip. There are so many beautiful castles and ancient ruins here that make it the perfect place to spend some time exploring.

Whether you choose to visit Tudor castles or Canterbury Cathedral, you’re sure to have a fantastic time. Of course, Kent isn’t just known for its history but also for its beer. So after a little exploring, a pub lunch could be the perfect way to recharge your batteries.

The Jurassic Coast 

fossil hunting.jpg
Image credit

One of the best places to take kids with an aptitude for adventure has to be the Jurassic coast. This 96-mile radius of coastline, spanning from East Devon to Dorset, is famed for its fossils.

On the beaches along this coastline, there are hundreds of thousands of fossils ready to be found. While you’re not allowed to chip fossils off the rocks, what you can do is collect ones that have already been dislodged. For kids who love adventure or are dinosaur mad, this is the ideal day trip.

Hopefully, these ideas will give you plenty of places to visit and explore with your little ones. When life gets too samey, mixing it up is important.

*collaborative post

The Easter Bunny Springs Into Action At National Trust & Win A Family Weekend Pass

The Easter Bunny has kicked off his 2016 schedule in style, with the National Trust unveiling a show-stopping giant topiary bunny at Stourhead, in Wiltshire.

Children with the topiary Easter bunny at Stourhead for National Trust - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Easter Bunny makes first stop at Stourhead to kick off the National Trust’s nationwide Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts 

The topiary bunny has been created to celebrate the ninth year of the Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts.

The hunts will be taking place at 271 National Trust locations over the Easter weekend (25-28 March).

A family on the National Trust Easter Egg Hunt in partnership with Cadbury's

He is set to deliver 362,592 chocolate bunnies to 271 National Trust places around the country. 

Families are invited to unleash their inner explorer at these adventurous hunts taking place across the country.

Stourhead, known to many as the location of the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice, played host to the Cadbury Easter Bunny’s first destination this year, as he begins his nationwide tour to generate excitement ahead of the upcoming Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

The iconic gardens and Palladian mansion, given to the conservation charity in 1946, is just one of the locations providing a beautiful backdrop for an Easter day out.

At a towering height of 8ft, the frame of the impressive topiary bunny, celebrating the Cadbury Easter Bunny’s visit, took a whopping three days to create. If laid flat, the length of the steel wire used for this creation would be that of two football pitches!

His accompanying 4ft friends used the combined talents of a team of four over a five day period, using enough wire to cover the length of a further five football pitches in the process.

Hoping to delight children and families alike this Bank Holiday Weekend, the smaller topiary bunnies will be on display at Wimpole, Stowe, Killerton, Castle Ward, Fountains Abbey, Hardwick Hall and Tredegar House.

The Easter bunny has been very busy indeed, delivering an impressive 362,592 Cadbury Dairy Milk Bunnies around the UK.

Visitors to National Trust places across the Easter holiday weekend will be able to take part in special Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts, with every child receiving a Cadbury chocolate treat for getting involved.

With over 270,000 people getting involved in a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt last year, and over 3 million people welcomed to participating National Trust places over the Easter weekend, the charity is hoping for another great turnout.

You can find your nearest hunt here: Cadbury.co.uk/Easter or check the list of participating properties below.

Scroll down and you can also find out how to win one of two Family Weekend Passes.

Participating Properties

Castle Ward, County Down
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt at the Easter Fair, 27 – 28 March, 12pm – 6pm

There’s a mystery to be solved at Castle Ward and we need your help! The Easter Bunny has hidden clues all over the front lawn, can you solve the puzzle? You’ll be rewarded with a tasty Cadbury chocolate treat at the end. Stick around afterwards for a whole day of fun at the Easter Fair. Visit Phil’s Farm, take part in the chicken run race and tuck into some delicious local food.
Price: £8 per adult, £3.80 per child (normal admission charges apply)
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-ward 

Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, North Yorkshire 
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 10 April, 10am – 4pm

I spy with my little eye… an Easter bunny! This spring at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal little bunnies have been hoppety-hopping around the estate. Head over bridges of the river Skell, explore around every corner of the Abbey ruins, and follow the waterways of the Georgian gardens to find
them and get a yummy Cadbury chocolate treat. There’ll be lots of family fun along the way too, including crafts in Swanley Grange and a brand new adventure playground.
Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01765608888
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire 
Cadbury
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt at Hardwick, 25 – 28 March, 11am – 4pm

Get outdoors at Hardwick Hall this Easter and grab a trail sheet for the Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt. See if you can follow the clues that will lead you around the house, garden and Lady Spencer’s Wood, and then collect a delicious chocolate treat at the end. After you’ve had your fill of chocolate why not seek out more adventures with the ‘Famous Five’-inspired trail or try your hand at some special Easter crafts.
Price: £3 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01246 850430
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardwick-hall

Killerton, Devon 
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 19 March – 17 April, 11am – 4pm 

Visit Killerton this Easter to explore the estate in search of mysterious clues left by the Easter Bunny. The egg hunt will lead you along winding paths through wild woodlands and blooming orchards to find the Bear’s hut, ice house and chapel. There’s a yummy chocolate treat to tuck into at the end, so what are you waiting for?
Price: £2.50 per child (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01392 881345
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/killerton

Stourhead, Wiltshire
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 11am – 4pm 

Take a trip to Stourhead this Easter where egg hunters can explore through towering trees, by mystical grottoes and past a glittering lake. Make a day of it and bring a picnic, best enjoyed on the rolling lawns with views that stretch across the Wiltshire countryside. Afterwards, keep the family fun going and play giant games in the garden.
Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01747 841152
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead

Stowe, Buckinghamshire 
Stowe’s Sleeping Beauty Quest – Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March 10am-4.30pm

This Easter embark on a quest to awaken Sleeping Beauty from her slumber, and in return claim your delicious chocolate treat. Fairy-tales, myths and legends have been weaved through the garden, where chivalrous knights and courageous princesses will hunt for clues. The quest will take you past mystical lakes and deep into the Sleeping Wood to claim your egg and finish on a happily ever after.
Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01280 817156
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe

Tredegar House, Monmouthshire 
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 11am – 4pm

The Easter Bunny has been up to his old tricks again at Tredegar House. He’s left a trail of clues around the garden for you to follow. Solve the puzzle to claim your chocolate treat, then why not explore the rest of the estate? There’ll be loads of other Easter crafts and activities to try your hand at.
Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01633 815880
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/tredegar-house

Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire 
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 8 April, 10.30am – 4.15pm

Take a trip to this beautiful country home complete with a working farm and resident bunnies. Rhyming clues will lead you on an egg hunt around the gardens, but to claim your chocolate treat you’ll have to find the hidden magic word.
Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01223 206000
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wimpole-estate

The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces, and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. More than 120 years later, these values are still at the heart of everything the charity does.

Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than over 600,00 acres of countryside, 775 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Over 20 million people visit every year, and together with 4.5 million members and over 62,000 volunteers, they help to support the charity in its’ work to care for special places forever, for everyone.

For more information and ideas for great seasonal days out go to: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

I have two free Family Weekend Passes (2 winners) up for grabs for you and your family to enjoy at your convenience (though please note this would not be redeemable on a Bank Holiday weekend).

Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget.  UK entrants only and terms & conditions apply.  One entry per household.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Friday 8th April.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and happy egg hunting!

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

More free competitions at www.theprizefinder.com

Great Escapes In The UK

Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than a ‘staycation’. Your destination can be easier to reach than some far-flung country, and considerably less expensive. Below I have listed some of my favourite areas in Britain. These places are family-friendly and you will find loads to do with your entire group. And best of all, you can go any time of year!

6056086215_973c3972cc_b.jpg
Pic Credit

How you choose to stay is up to you. Whether it is a Bed and Breakfast in Cornwall, a tent in Wales or a caravan park in Scotland, the UK has options for all kinds of travellers. So let’s take a look at 3 awesome places you have to visit:

Loch Lomond

Winter is a particularly wonderful time in Loch Lomond. This is especially true when you see the white-capped mountains shimmer in the late afternoon sunshine. Here you can enjoy brisk walks of a day and stargaze during the peaceful nights. You can enjoy trekking around the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park and take in the astounding views. Witness the horizon of snow-covered Ben Lomond and take a day trip to one of the Scottish castles. Within close range of major Scottish cities, there is more on offer than just countryside. When it comes to accommodation, it is very refreshing to stay outdoors.

St Ives Beach, UK - UK Staycations - motherdistracted.co.uk
St Ives Beach

St Ives 

This part of Cornwall has won lots of national awards such as best family holiday destination. it is held to be one of the most popular beach holidays in Europe. At times, St Ives feels like a subtropical paradise. One where the golden sands, lush vegetation and crystal waters evoke images on somewhere far from England. break

It’s not surprising to know that the town has attracted artists for decades who flock to soak up the area’s incredible beauty. It began when J M W Turner and the noted artist Henry Moore came to St Ives during the mid-nineteenth century. The town has since become a firm favourite among many artists and creatives from all over the world.

The Lake District

The Lake District (or Lakeland as it is known in the area) is easily the UK’s most treasured area for walking and hiking. There is a wealth of places to visit and you will not be surprised to learn that the area is steeped in history. Much like St Ives, this part of the country has long been the preserve of poets, painters and writers. Beatrix Potter lived here, in Troutbeck. She surely found inspiration for her characters among the wildlife scattered throughout the villages.

On the shores of Lake Windermere, you will find the Lakes Aquarium. here you could while away the hours of a rainy day. Let your senses be wowed as you stare at the tropical fish and sea creatures that inhabit the centre. Who needs the Mediterranean!

These are just three of the UK’s most amazing destinations, as Britain is blessed to be home to so many contrasting areas. the main thing is to plan ahead, as you would not want to be forced inside for the length of your break. You will be in the gorgeous countryside, try to make the most of your surroundings. Enjoy your stay, and keep your fingers crossed for sunshine!

Discover England’s Hidden Gems

We all have our favourite holiday experiences. Building sandcastles on beaches, exploring rolling countryside and trying out exciting new things. Whether it was hang-gliding off a cliff, taking part in a spot of scuba, or just relaxing next to the pool, these are the memories we hold dear when we return to day to day life. In an ideal world, that is!

The Real Deal 

The reality of low-cost travel can often involve long delays, cancellations, and all kinds of other unpleasantness. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Imagine moving at your own pace and arriving at a time that suits you. We all know the importance of keeping down the costs but we still want to be within reach of golden sands, lush forests, and amazing attractions! All of this is possible, and a UK holiday could be just what the doctor ordered.

Coast & Sea - English Tourism - motherdistracted.co.uk
Image Source

Try to forget about the old fashioned view of cramped, freezing tents. Modern holidays are a million miles away from all of that! In the United Kingdom we are blessed with some of the most beautiful countryside in Europe. For example, you would find that caravan holidays in Cornwall can offer everything from sunny beaches, to craggy cliffs and world famous landmarks.

Local legends

In some cases, familiarity can mean that we take things for granted. Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves of the great places that are all around us! Castles, centuries old. Sites of infamous battles, where thrones were lost and won. With a camping holiday you can be sure to have access to some pretty inspiring places, many with good transport options.


Breaks With Benefits

A long haul flight can be tiresome at best, and completely draining at worst. Once you have gathered your bags, made your connecting transfer and checked into the hotel you can feel frazzled and fried.

You don’t have any of these problems with a camping holiday in the UK. One of the best things about a camping trip is being around nature. Whether you are a seasoned tent jockey, or prefer the home comforts of a caravan, you will at some point be face to face with Mother Nature in all her glory.

5766265050_d2e8f3c2e1_o.jpg
Image Source

This could be walking through a wooded glen, the sounds of a babbling brook murmuring gently in your ear. It could be a scenic walk on a cool clifftop, the sea air filling your lungs. Whether you are inland or on the coast, there will be invigorating paths for you to tread and this can have some great health benefits. Being out in the sun will provide you with Vitamin D, which is known for maintaining calcium levels in the blood and keeping those bones nice and strong!

Basically, the fact that you are active and walking around, even if it is only to the local tea shop, means that you are getting some physical exercise. As we all know, physical activity has a huge area of positive effects. These range from weight loss, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and improved circulation.

So, maybe you should consider a camping trip for your next jaunt. With so much out there to see, isn’t it time you went exploring?

Places To Eat Around St Paul’s In London

With St Paul’s Cathedral being one of the most iconic buildings in the capital, the vibrant atmosphere in the area from sightseers and London folk alike make it the perfect location for enjoying a meal.

St. Paul’s Cathedral London

Restaurants around St. Paul’s

Feast your eyes on this list of the best places to grab a bite to eat in St Paul’s:

The Saint

Paternoster Square, London - Best Places to eat in St. Paul's - motherdistracted.co.uk
Paternoster Square as seen from St Paul’s Cathedral (Image source Elias Gayles via Flickr Creative Commons)

Situated in the lively Paternoster Square, The Saint Bar and Restaurant is the perfect place to stop for a relaxing lunch after a morning of site seeing. If the sun is shining, then go al fresco and enjoy one of their delicious sharing boards or speciality sandwiches on the outside terrace. The ‘Saint Fish Pie’ also comes highly recommended for the hungrier diner.

Barbecoa

When it comes to steak, there is no denying that Barbecoa is one of the best venues in St Paul’s. Using fire-based cooking techniques, and meat of the highest quality, their mouth-watering menu will have you coming back again and again. Located opposite the Cathedral, the restaurant offers spectacular views, not just of St Paul’s, but of the hustle and bustle of the open kitchen as well.

The Trading House

Just a 10-minute walk from St Paul’s Cathedral, The Trading House serves freshly cooked pub food with an emphasis on doing simple dishes well. Housed inside the site of the former Bank of New Zealand, this impressive building and the quirky decor within create a vibrant atmosphere for your dining pleasure. Be sure to try the hanging kebabs!

Bengal Tiger

Indian Cuisine - Best Places to Eat in St. Paul's - motherdistracted.co.uk

Mouth-watering Indian Cuisine (Image source: Pixabay)

Sometimes you just can’t beat a good curry. The Bengal Tiger on Carter Lane is ideally located on a bustling corner between St Paul’s Cathedral and Blackfriars Station. Head here if love authentic Indian cuisine in a lively atmosphere, the chefs at Bengal Tiger pride themselves on their traditional dishes made to their own unique recipes.

Miyama

This popular Japanese restaurant has been serving delectable dishes for over 21 years and is just a two-minute walk away from St Paul’s on Godliman Street. Miyama is a great place to go with friends – watch in awe as the chefs create freshly made Sushi and Teppanyaki masterpieces right in front of you, and sampling their selection of Japanese Rice wines is a must.

So next time you find yourself in the St Paul’s area be sure to book a table at one of these fantastic restaurants.

*collaborative post