Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Five Days in Bournemouth with Kids

I feel like I barely got my camera out during the five days we spent in Bournemouth and it was lovely. After our week in South Wales which was all about the natural beauty and outdoor adventures, Bournemouth offered a different kind of holiday (still very beautiful).  We stayed in a Daish's hotel, something I have done before with the children.  They are quite old fashioned and designed mostly with an older generation in mind, but they also offer packages for families and include breakfast and dinner each day as well as prime seafront locations so it seemed a great choice for us.

We had to get two separate rooms (the downside of being a larger family) but they were next door to each other.  We were right on the Westcliff, only a stone's throw from the sea and had two of our meals each day covered.  The children loved the hotel and choosing their beds and it had everything we needed for a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

Bournemouth with kids, explore Dorset, family travel blogger

We didn't explore as far on this trip, making the most of everything that was within walking distance.  We visited the aquarium which was at the base of the pier, walked through the beautiful gardens and explored the shops.  We swam in the sea and played on the beach and found ourselves down on the sand every evening after dinner, running off the last of the days energy.  We walked down the pier at sunset to go on the helter skelter and I went running along the flat promenades which stretch for miles.

Bournemouth with kids, explore Dorset, family travel blogger

We spent a day at Adventure Wonderland, a small theme park for younger children (I exchanged Tesco Clubcard vouchers for tickets) and despite me being a bit apprehensive on arrival, we didn't leave until they were shutting the gates as the children were having so much fun.  There were a selection of rides, a soft play, playground, small pony area and a brilliant maze and it is a fun day out, probably best suited to children aged 3-8.

We also decided to spend a day exploring on public transport and Bournemouth had an open top bus route with plenty of places to get off and explore.  I grew up holidaying in Christchurch every year and I wanted to take the children to some of the places I remember from my childhood.  We stopped at Mudeford Quay and watched people crabbing, enjoying the beach and played in the fantastic playground.  We went along to Boscombe pier where you can play crazy golf with a ball made of fish food and shoot it into the sea at the end.  There were big rocks on the beach which they all loved climbing on and jumping off.

Bournemouth with kids, explore Dorset, family travel blogger

Bournemouth is a beautiful place to explore and there is so much for families.  We all agreed that it was friendly and somewhere we would go back to.  There is so much we didn't get to fit in but the slower pace suited us all and the evenings spent on the sand are some of my favourite summer memories.

Bournemouth with kids, explore Dorset, family travel blogger

Bournemouth with kids, explore Dorset, family travel blogger

Bournemouth with kids, explore Dorset, family travel blogger

Bournemouth with kids, explore Dorset, family travel blogger



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Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Day out in South Wales // Techniquest

Most of our trip to South Wales was spent outdoors exploring the Brecon Beacons and Gower Peninsula and I came away with a real sense of the beauty that the country has to offer.  We were keen to get to Cardiff for a day though to see another side of Wales and booked in a session at Techniquest, the city's science museum.

My children are not usually museum children, they like to explore at their own paces and they just want to touch everything, but I had only heard good things about Techniquest and it was the perfect kind of museum for them, one where they don't even realise they are learning anything. 

South Wales, Days out with kids, Techniquest, Cardiff science museum

The whole experience is hands-on and experimental and the space is set out so that older children can explore a little more independently.  There are two floors, linked by both stairs and a slide and each one has separate areas looking at different aspects of science.  The museum was easy to find with plenty of parking nearby and the floor to ceiling windows made it bright and light.  It is situated next to the Mermaid Quay and plenty of lovely places to eat.

South Wales, Days out with kids, Techniquest, Cardiff science museum

Due to covid measures, time slots had to be booked, but we had three hours which was plenty to see the whole museum and go back to favourite activities.  Everything was well spaced out and even though the session was fully booked, it was easy to stay socially distanced.  There were lots of hand sanitiser stations and adults were required to wear masks.  There were a couple of shows available for a small additional fee but we decided not to book in advance for those and unfortunately they were fully booked on the day. I would highly recommend the experience for primary school aged children, all four of mine (aged 5-10) thought it was incredible and a wonderful start to our day exploring the city of Cardiff.


South Wales, Days out with kids, Techniquest, Cardiff science museum

South Wales, Days out with kids, Techniquest, Cardiff science museum

South Wales, Days out with kids, Techniquest, Cardiff science museum

South Wales, Days out with kids, Techniquest, Cardiff science museum

South Wales, Days out with kids, Techniquest, Cardiff science museum

South Wales, Days out with kids, Techniquest, Cardiff science museum

South Wales, Days out with kids, Techniquest, Cardiff science museum

South Wales, Days out with kids, Techniquest, Cardiff science museum


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Monday, 6 September 2021

Exploring the Brecon Beacons with Kids

When we made our plans to visit Wales, I knew that this needed to include the Brecon Beacons.  We chose to stay just south of the area in Merthyr Tydfil and it proved to be a great base for exploring. We spent time in four different areas in the Beacons, all close to the southern border and we would love to go back and see more as it was a real highlight of our trip.

The Brecon Mountain Railway

I came across the Brecon Mountain Railway when googling the area and found it was actually due to reopen on the day after we arrived in Wales.  I thought it would be a great way to get a feel of the area and the novelty of an old fashioned steam train would be fun for the children.  The website suggested that we could get off and spend time at the two stops and even included walks that could be done in the areas, but the reality was that you had limited time at each one (ten minutes at the first stop) and then had to be back on the train.  I don't know if this was just due to covid or not, but it changed our plans as we had hoped to explore on foot as well. 

The children loved the train though and the scenery was stunning. We passed a beautiful lake and our second stop was at a little cafe with a playground (unfortunately the whole train wanted coffee so the entire stop time was spent queuing to get a drink.  The children loved the playground though and there was plenty of seating for the more organised travellers who had packed their own drinks.

The mountain train offered us a great introduction to the area and made us even more keen to discover more of the Brecon Beacons.

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Brecon Mountain railway

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Brecon Mountain railway

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Brecon Mountain railway

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Brecon Mountain railway

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Brecon Mountain railway

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Brecon Mountain railway

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Brecon Mountain railway



Garwnant Visitor Centre

After our trip on the mountain train ended earlier than we expected, we drove twenty minutes to the Garwnant visitor centre which I had been recommended many times.  The only entry cost was parking and the site had a lovely cafe with hot and cold food, an information centre and plenty of toilets as well as a brilliant playground.  We decided to start with the carved animal trail as it was only one kilometre and it looked an easy route, but the children were soon keen to go off the beaten track and walking through the woodlands.  We spent hours exploring, taking in the flowing water, the lakes, the hills and nature and it was such a beautiful location.  We did find many of the animal sculptures and it would be a lovely trail for children, but there is so much more to the area and we preferred exploring in our own way.  We popped back to the cafe in the middle for an ice cream break but ended up staying in the area for several hours.

By the time we left the children were wet, muddy and exhausted and I would highly recommend a visit to the Garwnant visitor centre.  Well behaved dogs were allowed on leads, parking was reasonable (I think £5 for the day) and the cafe had a mix of hot and cold food including vegan options.

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Garwnant visitor centre

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Garwnant visitor centre

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Garwnant visitor centre

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Garwnant visitor centre

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Garwnant visitor centre

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Garwnant visitor centre



Henrhyd Falls

We had seen a waterfall on our trip to Devon and the children were amazed so I was keen to fit some waterfalls into our Wales trip.  My brother suggested Henrhyd Falls as the batcave was filmed there for the Batman movies.  It is also the highest waterfall in South Wales at 90ft. We haven't watched them yet but I assumed it would be impressive and it definitely was.  The car park is around a 15 minute walk from the falls and there is a burger van there if you need snacks pre or post walk.  

The walk wasn't too tricky and you could get down to a great view of the falls.  That wasn't enough for my gang though and we knew that you could walk behind the falls.  To get there you have to walk across the rocks which are slippy because of the spray, but the children were all more than capable in their trainers (as was I at 5 months pregnant).  We got soaked by the water but there is something so exhilarating about getting behind a waterfall.  If you want to see a waterfall without a big trek, then this one is definitely worth a visit.

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Henrhyd falls

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Henrhyd falls



The Four Waterfalls Walk

We had enjoyed our waterfall taster but after reading about the best falls to see, I had come up with the four waterfalls walk and I was excited to see how we would get on as a family.  It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.  The walk is beautiful and the paths between falls are easy to navigate.  When you are approaching the falls, it gets a little trickier and we were climbing up and down rocks for some as well as a 180 large stair walk to get to another.  To get up close you do need to be wearing solid footwear (we were all ok in trainers) and not be afraid to get very muddy! The children all loved the challenge and nothing was too much for them to get closer to the water.  We went with my brother and his family too and all of the little ones loved getting stuck in exploring.

We walked miles, we left the car park as the sun was setting but amazingly all the children kept up, even Cora at 5 with her little legs, probably encouraged by the excitement and adrenaline.  It is a fantastic walk and the falls are just beautiful.

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Four Falls Walk

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Four Falls Walk

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Four Falls Walk

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Four Falls Walk

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Four Falls Walk

Brecon Beacons, South Wales with Children, exploring the Brecon beacons, Four Falls Walk

The Brecon Beacons are such an amazing place to go exploring and there is so much more than what we could fit in to our short trip.  The wildness and beauty was both wonderful to photograph and an ideal location to let our adventurous children discover Wales.


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Monday, 23 August 2021

Evening Adventures with Dole Fruit in Jelly

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Summer evenings are my favourite, without school in the morning we can be more relaxed about bedtimes and it doesn’t get dark until late, which means we can enjoy being outside even longer.  Dole mandarins in orange jelly are a favourite dessert sweet treat to pack up and take with us on our evening adventures and are loved by all the family.




We are lucky enough to live within walking distance of the beach and the children think it is the best thing ever when we have an early dinner, change into our jammies or onesies and go for an evening stroll.  The beach is our usual destination and they love hunting for sea glass, searching for crabs in the rock pools or just watching the sunset if we make it to the right part of the coast.  There is something special about sneaking in that extra time to the day, just as we would usually be thinking about winding down and when we get those super hot days, it is our favourite time to be out.





Having an alfresco pudding only adds to the excitement and dole fruit in jelly is convenient as it combines real fruit pieces with tasty fruit jelly.  We have started having our sweet treat when we arrive, rinsing the pots out (the children have usually licked them clean by now! And then using them to collect little treasures like pretty shells and flat rocks for skimming.  Cora is always trying to find space in someone else’s as she wants to collect everything she finds and Archie is so specific about what makes the cut, that he is the last to be pulled from the sand as it is time to head home.





These are the nights they always settle down to bed quickest, having had that opportunity to get out the last of the day’s energy, with tummies full of fruit in jelly, sandy toes and pots of treasure.


You can try Dole Mandarin in Jelly for only £1 at the moment if you click here! 





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Sunday, 15 August 2021

A Week in South Wales

We have been wanting to visit Wales for a long time, but there always seemed to be somewhere a bit further away that got prioritised so it has taken until 2021 for us to get here.  Covid has made international travel more expensive and more difficult and there has never been a better time to explore the United Kingdom.  I found the dates I wanted to travel and we knew we wanted to go to Wales but that was about as far as we got, so I went on Airbnb and looked up the prices and availabilities of different areas.  Merthyr Tydfil came out the cheapest by far, and whilst I could see that it wasn't the most pretty or interesting part of the country, it also looked like a well positioned base for exploring and so I booked a three bedroom house near the high street and started looking at what we could fit into a week there.

South Wales with Kids, exploring Wales, Cardiff castle


It turns out, a week isn't nearly long enough for exploring South Wales and choosing what to miss out on became harder than picking what to include.  There was so much we wanted to do and I wanted to get a feel for how much the country had to show us.  I booked a couple of attractions and came up with plans for the rest of the week knowing the weather (specifically the rain) can mean flexible plans are the best.  We actually ended up sticking to our plans pretty closely and were so lucky with the rain, that our raincoats were used mostly to protect us from waterfall spray than anything else.

South Wales with Kids, exploring Wales, Henrhyd falls


I have always associated Wales with rolling green hills and so spending time in the Brecon Beacons was something we couldn't miss.  We ended up doing two full days there spread across four different areas.  We booked the Brecon Mountain Train for our first day thinking it would give us great views and a bit more awareness of the size and beauty of the area and the views were pretty spectacular.  Due to covid restrictions, we couldn't actually go out and explore at the destinations though, so we drove over to Garwnant Visitor Centre afterwards for lunch and to explore the area on foot.  The children loved being able to roam freely and as much as they enjoyed the animal sculpture trail, it was the wildness and getting off the paths that really excited them.  I saw the energy that they had for this beautiful part of the country and knew we had to spend more time here.

South Wales with Kids, exploring Wales, Brecon Beacons, Brecon Mountain Train

South Wales with Kids, exploring Wales, Brecon Beacons, Garwnant


Our second day in the Brecon Beacons came later in the week and we headed up to Waterfall Country.  Last year they climbed up to see Canonteign Falls in Devon and I remembered the amazement so I wanted to fit in some of Wales' offerings.  First up we visited Henrhyd Falls where the Batcave was filmed in the Batman movies.  They couldn't have had bigger smiles as they scrambled over rocks and got the chance to walk behind the falls, getting soaked as they did.  After a quick picnic we drove over to the Four Falls Walk which takes in four waterfalls and is a much longer walk.  I was impressed at their stamina and energy and they loved being compared to mountain goats as they took in the more challenging climbs with ease.  It was about 7.30pm before we got back to the car and everyone had tangled hair, rosy cheeks and muddy legs but big smiles.  

South Wales with Kids, exploring Wales, Brecon Beacons, four falls walk

South Wales with Kids, exploring Wales, Brecon Beacons, four falls walk


We couldn't visit this part of the country without checking out the capital city.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Cardiff but we had booked Techniquest the Science Museum to start the day and it was a fantastic hands on museum that was perfect for my little whirlwinds who don't cope so well in a traditional museum.  Walking round the Mermaid Quay was pretty and then we walked up to the city centre, not realising it was actually quite a stroll! (We got the bus back down the other way).  The city is vibrant and colourful and full of lovely places to eat.  We visited the castle right at the top of the High Street but stuck to the grounds rather than going inside.  Back down at the Bay, we admired the brilliant Millenium Centre from the outside and spent money in the funfair just in front of it.  I would love to revisit Cardiff without the children and explore the shopping arcades and bars more.

South Wales with Kids, exploring Wales, The Mumbles, Mumbles Pier

South Wales with Kids, exploring Wales, The Mumbles, Mumbles Pier


With my maiden name being Gower, it was important that we made it to the Gower Peninsula at some point during the week, but we decided to stop at The Mumbles on the way and almost didn't make it any further.  We walked down to The Mumbles Pier for some lunch and to play on the arcades and got stuck enjoying the crocheted wonders all around, playing on the rocky beach and searching for Joes Ice Cream which we had heard so much about (and didn't disappoint).  The Mumbles was such a lovely town and we could have spent all day there.  It was later than I was hoping for when we left and headed to the Gower Heritage Centre so we could park up and find one of the famous beaches.  It was around a 20 minute trek to Pennard Castle ruins at the top of the hill and then we clambered down the cliff to find the most stunning and completely deserted beach.  It was a little windy and cloudy but still warm enough to run around (and for the kids to get fully in the water).  Our beaches at home are full of man made structures, piers and shops so it was different to find the beauty so raw and untouched.  There was so much space to run and explore and we had to drag them away at the end of the day, using the light on our phones to safely get back to the car.  I had hoped to get to Rhosilli but that will be something for another trip, for now, I can't imagine much better than Three Cliffs Bay.

South Wales with Kids, exploring Wales, Gower Peninsula, Three Cliffs Bay

South Wales with Kids, exploring Wales, Gower Peninsula, Three Cliffs Bay


Our week was adventurous, outdoors and focused mostly on the natural beauty of the country.  Our final full day saw everyone a bit more tired so we decided to stay closer to home and spend some money in Merthyr.  We did crazy golf, the arcades and the cinema and the kids loved it all.  They were so used to late nights because we couldn't stop exploring though, so we drove to Dare Valley Country Park because we heard the park there was great and it gave them some space to run out the last of the day's energy.  To keep up the pattern, we were dragging them away as the sun was going down.  I don't think I have ever had such easy bedtimes with them as they were asleep within seconds each night!

South Wales with Kids, exploring Wales, The Mumbles


Our week in South Wales gave us a taste for what this part of the country has to offer and my list of places that we didn't make it to is at least another week, so I imagine we will be back before long!  The people are friendly and welcoming, the scenery is beautiful and all the adventuring tires out the children.  There were lots of adventurous activities that the children were either too young for, or I wasn't able to do pregnant that I would love to come back for too.

South Wales with Kids, exploring Wales, Merthyr Tydfil, Heart of Merthyr
The 'Heart of Merthyr' was a few metres from our Airbnb


Merthyr Tydfil may not be a classic holiday spot but it proved to be a great location as everything we wanted to see was an easy drive and our airbnb was perfect for accomodating us.  If you are looking for family accomodation in Merthyr then this was our location 
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