Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Beautiful Bluestone

Our Grassholm lodge
At the end of last month we went on our third getaway to Bluestone Resort in Wales, and it did not disappoint!
I always thought of myself as a 'one person trip' to stay at a hotel/resort/holiday park etc but Bluestone is somewhere I'd return to regularly. First of all its' beautiful, tranquil National Park setting is perfect  when you want a break, whether it's as a family, as a couple or with friends, I believe there's something for everyone! From woodland walks, to play areas, to the pub, to the spa, there are plenty of things to do at Bluestone!
Secondly from what I have seen of Pembrokeshire it is absolutely beautiful, and there's still so much I haven't seen!

What's Included In A Bluestone Break?
When you book a holiday at Bluestone, free entry into the Adventure Centre and Blue Lagoon is included. Guided walks, outdoor play areas and seasonal festivals are also included at no extra cost, to find out more click here. There are plenty of other activities available for all ages that can be booked and paid for.


Accommodation At Bluestone
There is a variety of lodges and cottages available to book to suit your individual requirements, from couples to large families or groups there will be somewhere ideal, including interconnecting lodges. 

Our Stay At Bluestone
Monday
We left later than originally planned and had a couple of stops on route for food and coffee. It's a pretty long journey for us so next time I'd definitely consider leaving on the Sunday and staying overnight along the way in somewhere like Cardiff. When we were about twenty minutes away from Bluestone Nola got quite upset, I think she'd had enough of travelling so breaking up the journey would work well for us I think. Maps on my phone gave a travel time of just under four hours but of course you then have to factor in any stops or traffic you may come across. I think our journey was between the five and six hour mark.
We arrived to the usual friendly check in just after 7pm. Our lodge was immaculate as they have been on our previous visits.
Once we'd unloaded the car we headed to Aldi in Haverford West to stock up for our stay. We had a late dinner in our lovely Grassholm lodge and there was sometime spent trying to get Eliot into bed, he was too excited to sleep and couldn't wait to go back and visit the Blue Lagoon!


Tuesday
This was our busiest day at Bluestone in terms of activities we had pre booked. After a relaxed breakfast in our lodge, accompanied by some seagulls Nola and I headed up to the Adventure Centre for the baby sensory class, an activity suitable for 0-13 month olds.
Some of the local wildlife!
This was the first class I'd ever taken Nola to so was really looking forward to it.  When we arrived we got comfy and settled on our mat. Once everyone had arrived the lady leading the session introduced herself and explained what would be happening during the session. Everyone then introduced their baby before things got started. A variety of activities followed giving each baby opportunites to get involved. There were musical instruments, different textured balls, toys, materials for the babies to use their senses to explore. The different activities were introduced separately enabling the babies to have a go before clearing away and starting the next one, aiming to prevent the babies from becoming too overwhelmed. One of the last little activities was banana tasting, which Nola loves but unfortunately she had fallen asleep after all the excitement! It was a really lovely relaxed class, perfect for Nola. As she is delayed in her development due to her condition she didn't wasn't 'too old' being at the older end of the class age range. I certainly recommend booking on to the sensory class if your staying with a baby!
Whilst I'd been in the class with Nola, Eliot had been with dad collecting bikes to use for the duration of our stay, before making the most of indoor play and mini golf elsewhere in the Adventure Centre. I met with him, swapped children and then took Eliot down to Camp Smokey for the 'Into The Wild' activity. There is space for twelve children on this activity but Eliot got a 1:1 experience! It was onlysometime after I realised there were no older children because our break was in term time.
All ready & camouflaged!
We met 'Smokey Joe' who led us to base camp in search of her cousin 'Digger'. On route they added some camouflage to their faces using mud and leaves. Smokey Joe explained to Eliot that Digger lived with her but she wanted him to help her build a new home for Digger as she snored too much!

 We found Digger at base camp and she was promptly told she needed to move out before they began 'building' her a new home,  I also helped (a little bit) after some encouragement to get involved from everyone else!
Building a new home for Digger!
Attempting to make it waterproof
 Once the home was complete and tested on how watertight it was, we warmed up by the camp fire and ate a welsh cake!
We then got into teams, Eliot & Smokey Joe and myself and Digger to make a raft to race down the stream. We searched for twigs to create our masterpieces which I must admit I was pretty poor at and Digger did most of the 'building'!
Eliot with 'The Black Pearl'
Collecting the rafts after the race
 After the 'Rusty Bucket and 'The Black Pearl' were safely retrieved post race, a very special visitor made their way to base camp, Frodo the owl.
 I think I was more excited about Frodo! I'm a big fan of birds of prey and being this close certainly makes me in awe of them!

Eliot got to 'fly' Frodo and ask questions about him, it's not everyday you get to fly a bird of prey so this was fantastic! After Frodo left we toasted marshmallows over the camp fire, a nice way to end the session!
Eliot had instructed everyone to do  a 'Captain Jack' pose
This activity was my favourite, I'll 'fess up and say I'm a bit of a 'no mum' and the thought of Eliot smearing mud on himself on a regular day would probably have me shouting about dirt and germs! It was so lovely just to watch him immerse himself in all the activities and do things he hasn't done very often. It was certainly beneficial for him and he throughly enjoyed it. The two members of staff were fantastic too as I think in some respects it's tricky to run an activity that is planned for groups for an individual but they were both great!
After lunch and a break back at the lodge we walked up to Blue Lagoon, which Eliot had been going on about for weeks and couldn't wait to get in the pool!
 The under fives area was closed but all other parts of the pool were open, Eliot tried out a couple of the slides and spent a lot of his time in on them. We also enjoyed the lazy river and wave machine before it was almost closing time.
The family changing facilities are just what you need with little ones to get everyone changed. If you spend a long time at the pool, have family who don't wish to swim or simply fancy a drink or snack there's a cafe poolside to fulfil your snacking needs!
After our swim we headed straight down to Camp Smokey for 'Smokey Joe's Shindig' which is held on various evenings throughout the week depending on the time of year (it's closed between November & February) and involves eating, drinking and dancing! Included in your ticket is the food and live music, drinks are purchased from the bar.
I was very much looking forward to eating and enjoying music Al Fresco in the wood! On arrival we were greeted by 'Smokey Joe' and 'Digger' (the first) and put in Digger's blue team. We then had blue paint smeared on our faces. The red and blue team had to to compete to see who'd get their dinner first. Dancing and stomping were strongly encouraged, especially on chairs! The red team won so us blues had to wait a little longer before we could collect our dinner which consisted of a burger, sausage, pulled pork, BBQ beans and roasted potatoes. For pudding there was a choice of brownie or choc ice, brownie is always a winner for me! The evening ended with some familiar songs played by the live music act. I had such a good time I forgot to take any photos but did take some video clips, this is my favourite showing how much Nola enjoys music and dancing! 
I would certainly book the shindig again, the experience of eating down in the woods, singing and dancing was brilliant!



Wednesday
After breakfast in our lodge we headed out of Bluestone to the nearby Tenby which I'm sure hosts one of the best beaches in the UK! It is such a pretty little seaside town with shops and lanes to explore about a twenty five minute drive from Bluestone.
We had a relaxed mosey before having a coffee break. Then headed down to the harbour where we had a pit stop to give Nola her lunch.

 After enjoying just sitting back and taking everything in we walked over to the beach where Eliot was literally living his best life playing with a bucket and spade in the soggy sand. if we'd been there from 9am-5pm I'm sure he would have happily spent the entire time on the beach!


Before driving back to Bluestone we had fish and chips for dinner, you just have to have it when you're at the seaside!
There are so many more things to do at Tenby, such as visit the Tudor Merchant house, go on a boat trip or visit the castle. It's a must do if you holiday anywhere nearby!
We had booked Eliot on a 'Games Night' back at Bluestone which is an activity where you can leave your child/ren unaccompanied and enjoy some time alone to make the most of Bluestone! They had called us in the morning to let us know Eliot was the only one booked on the games night (again because it was in term time) and to see if he still wanted to participate. He had initially wanted to still join in but when he arrived and could see he was the only one there he changed his mind. It was a shame but I was impressed the staff had called to let us know the situation in the morning, rather than turning up to drop Eliot off and then being informed.

Thursday 
We spent the full day in Bluestone beginning with a leisurely start to the day by relaxing in the lodge. Eliot did get taken to the adventure centre again to enjoy more time in the indoor play area.
Lunch was something I had been looking forward to as we had booked it down at Camp Smokey, where my love for al fresco dining grew!
We rode our bikes down to the parking area ready for a woodland adventure after lunch.
This time we ordered from the menu and waited for our order number to be called to go and collect it.
I ordered 'smores' for pudding which I enjoyed and got to toast marshmallows over the fire again which was lots of fun in the surroundings.
Afterwards we collected out bikes and went on a little woodland adventure on one of the trails in Bluestone. It was only when we were down in the woods a family we rode past said it looked like my back tyre was punctured. On stopping and inspecting it was clear it was flat so I had to abandon my 'ride' and settle for pushing it, which I really didn't mind as I was appreciating how peaceful and calming the woods were.

 It was wonderful to feel like I was 'away from it all', hearing only woodland noise like the rushing water of the stream or the crack and crunch of sticks under your feet.
Hiring or bringing your own bikes to get around Bluestone is a great way to explore but if you're a very inexperienced bike rider like myself be warned, there are LOTS of hills, easy to get down, not so easy to get back up!
After our little adventure we arrived back to the village just in time for the village festival which is part of the Bwbach Festival running from September 3rd to November 4th.
Eliot enjoyed getting involved with the dancing before he spent time in the play area.
We then went back to our lodge for our last night at Bluestone, having dinner and getting packed for the journey home.

Friday
Check out time at Bluestone is 10am, once we'd loaded the car and vacated our lovely lodge, we took the bikes back. Then went to the Adventure centre for Eliot to enjoy one last play and had lunch at the Wildwood Cafe.
One thing we almost forgot to enjoy was the circus room, which is upstairs in the Adventure Centre for under fives.
Four Nola's!

Nola had a wonderful time watching the sensory bubble machine and enjoying the soft play area. Eliot also enjoyed having a play in here, it was interesting watching him as the last time he was in there he was under two!
Then reluctantly, we dragged our feet back to the car park to make the journey home. None of us wanted to leave which speaks volumes about how wonderful Bluestone resort is!

Why Visit Bluestone?
All of us 101% recommend Bluestone as a holiday, what we got up to is just a fraction of what you can do at the resort and there is plenty more to see and do in Pembrokeshire.
The staff are very pleasant and helpful.
You have the option to cook what you fancy in your accommodation but if you don't want to cook you can choose from a selection of places to dine in Bluestone.
There are seasonal themes and activities.

I mean I could go on but you have to experience a stay yourself, even if you're not really an 'outdoorsy' person like myself, you will want to get out, enjoy and make the most of the surroundings and facilities!

Have you been to Bluestone?

*We received a stay at Bluestone and use of bikes in return for a post. All opinions are my own

Photos credit: Photos marked with MPP were taken by Meet Petty Photography

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