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  • A watercolour print of Laura Ashley The Iliffe in Coventry

    Laura Ashley Hotel The Iliffe, Coventry

    This is a review of a gifted hotel stay.

    After experiencing Laura Ashley The Tea Room at the Regency Hotel in Solihull earlier this year, I was intrigued to learn that (the formerly known as) The Chace Hotel in Coventry was being rebranded as a Laura Ashley hotel. Even more excitingly, we visited the newly named Laura Ashley Hotel The Iliffe on opening night – and I’m very happy to report that it was an absolute treat. read more

    Lifestyle, UK Travel
    / August 2, 2019
  • Golden Valley Caravan and Campsite, Derbyshire

    For me, bank holidays are made for camping. An extra night means all the effort of pitching the tent can be enjoyed that little bit longer, justifying it all the more (in case you needed any more of an excuse to get under canvas). This year, after venturing to Hogsdown Farm for the last couple of years, it was time to try somewhere new and so after a quick Google to see which campsites within about an hour’s radius had decent playgrounds, we settled on Golden Valley Caravan and Campsite in Derbyshire.

    I’m not over exaggerating when I say it was the playgrounds that sold it to me – I knew I wanted somewhere that Pickle would just love and with so many picnic benches situated nearby, the optimist in me was excited about the prospect of maybe sitting down and savouring a cup of tea or a gin and tonic in the sunshine whilst he enjoyed the slides. read more

    Camping, Countryside, Lifestyle, UK Travel
    / July 29, 2019
  • A Day on the Grand Union Canal

    I love how our memory works. I love that a smell or sound can immediately transport you back to a specific moment in time. It was a conscious decision that I kept the same album playing on loop a few weeks ago when we joined my parents for the day on their canal boat holiday. I wanted to have an easy way to transport myself back to it, and I’m so glad I did. There’s one particular song that makes me feel quite emotional (in a good way!) about our day, and how seeing my family work together made me feel…

    My parents are no strangers to the canal, having been on at least two previous canal boat holidays that I know of. Over the Easter holidays, they booked an almost-too-good-to-be-true deal they saw and seized the opportunity to spend a week exploring the Grand Union Canal, and then (much to my delight) invited us to join them on the Bank Holiday Monday. read more

    Days Out, Lifestyle, UK Travel
    / May 11, 2019
  • Spotting-a-Dolphin-at-New-Quay

    Our UK Travel Plans for 2019

    This is a collaborative post with Vogue.

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

    Camping, Lifestyle, UK Travel
    / March 7, 2019
  • Center Parcs Woburn Forest lodge at sunrise with sun flare

    Winter Wonderland at Center Parcs Woburn Forest in Pictures

    After trying to write up a blog post about our recent holiday to Center Parcs for what feels like forever, I’m scrapping everything I’d written so far and starting again. Why? Because I was going about it the wrong way. I was trying to fill in the back story – explaining why we went in the first place, how I wanted to make sure this year my birthday was better than last year. I spent over 1,000 waffling on about the lead up to the trip and hadn’t even begun documenting the memories I want to cherish from our time actually spent at Center Parcs. So I’m starting again. And focusing on what’s important.

    Our First Full Family Holiday in Years

    One of the most special things about this holiday was that my whole immediate family came too. My parents, all three of my brothers (including the one who lives in Australia – he made the trip over especially!) and my foster brothers too. It’s the first time the full Parker-clan (my maiden name) has been on holiday together in… I don’t even know how long. Possibly fifteen years. That’s half of my life. That really meant a lot to me, and I was hoping for lots of fun in the forest together to properly pre-celebrate my 30th birthday. read more

    Aged 2+, Lifestyle, Parenting, UK Travel
    / January 2, 2019
  • The view of the bay from the golf course at Trevornick

    Camping at Trevornick, Cornwall

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

    Journey & Arrival

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

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

    Trevornick

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

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

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    Our Pitch

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

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

    The Washing Facilities

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

    Family-Friendly

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eating Out

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

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

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

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

    Holywell Fun Park

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

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

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

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

    The Beach

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

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

    Our Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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