This month I was invited to spend a short break at Bluestone in Pembrokeshire with my new little family, my only experiences of a family friendly holiday was a week at Pontins dancing around to “I am the music man” whilst wearing a hula skirt and being allowed fizzy pop when I was 7 years old, so I was certainly intrigued to see how this compared to the days of 80’s holiday camps.
Having had a surprisingly easy 5 hour car journey with a 4 month old we arrived it would seem the same time as everyone else that would be staying that week with a long queue of cars in front of us, however thanks to the quick and easy drive thru check in system, we were given our holiday pack by a very helpful and friendly lady within 10 mins and whilst waiting we were also entertained by a little door mouse, who seemed to enjoy putting on a little welcoming party, running up aside all the cars, stopping at each one and peering in, this was the first glimpse of how immersed the park is in nature.
Driving round to our lodge, which was beautifully situated overlooking the lake (no 11 Bartholomew Rise I would wholeheartedly recommend booking this spot as it’s just spectacular) The car was unloaded and then returned to the main car park at the entrance for the rest of the duration, as Bluestone is a non vehicle park, well unless you count the little golf buggies which you see zipping past you. A note on these, we didn’t hire a golf buggy as we like to try and walk as much as possible, however it is advisable, especially if you have young children or older relatives, as the park village is right at the bottom of a very steep hill, which you need to go up if you are heading out for day trips away from the park, or want to use the activities centre or blue lagoon, also if you have a lot to carry around (we know these little people come with a lot of baggage, literally!). Make sure you hire them in plenty of time before your stay, as with the bikes as they will all be rented out if you leave it till the last minute, as my hubby found out when after the first trip back to the car they suddenly looked appealing, although upon enquiring we were put on a waiting list.
Having settled in and unpacked all of the Little Cubs suitcases we headed down to the village to explore and by explore I meant to sit and have a well deserved beer and toast our first family holiday.
The village comprises of a wide choice of cafes & restaurants, a coffee shop, play park, spa, grocery shop and gift shop.
There is also the most beautiful lake and woodland just steps away from the village centre.
Having decided not to stop in Carmarthen to pick up shopping (I recommend stocking up at a nearby supermarket if you are planning to self cater and utilise all the activities on site!) for the week as the little cub was sleeping, we popped to the village store for essentials and gathered a nice basket of fresh produce to put together some dinner for that night, including a bottle of wine from the well stocked selection.
One of the most wonderful moments of the week happened upon our return to the lodge, pouring 2 gasses of wine and opening up the French windows onto the terrace to take in the views overlooking the lake within minutes we were surrounded by all types of birds, which our little cub thought was just wonderful and could have quite happily spent the rest of our holiday there watching and babbling to them, it was really quite perfect, he really loved being immersed by the wildlife and being a mini Dr Doolittle.
The following morning we (well the cub!) were up with the lark and the duck that was already waiting outside the back door, as were the bunny rabbits and squirrels … I honestly felt like I could burst into a Disney song at any moment.
The little cub decided to join daddy having a lie in and I having not run since being pregnant was really looking forward to getting out to blow the cobwebs away and so whilst my boys relaxed at the lodge, at 7am I had my running shoes on and was skipping / jogging / bobbing down past the lake and into the most beautiful woodland, I implore any mummy … or daddy, who has had a sleepless night with little ones to take some time to get out in the fresh air whilst taking in the beautiful surroundings, running along the babbling brook coming across hobbits, pixie villages, toadstools and Iron Age settlements it really was like medicine for the sleep deprived, by the time returned I was buzzing and ready for the day ahead for the first time in a long time, rather than wanting to go back to bed.
We like to get out and about and so we headed off to Tenby for the day (see separate blog on all the wonderful places to see and do here!).
The wonderful thing about the location of Bluestone, is that it’s central to so much and has lots of options for days out in the wet and dry weather if you choose to leave the park.
Out and About;
Local beaches –
There are too many beaches in Pembrokshire to list them all here, from harbour towns to quiet spots off the beaten track, see here for a link to Bluestone’s overview of each and every one of them.
Nearby Towns –
Tenby, A busy picturesque harbour town, with pastel washed buildings and lots of shops, places to eat and delicious ice cream … watch out for those pesky seagulls though.
Saundersfoot – A beautiful quaint seaside town, many refer to it as a smaller and sandier version of Tenby.
Narbeth – A small quirky town with unique shops, it holds a lovely old world charm.
Things to do at Bluestone;
However if you choose to stay on site for the break there is plenty for you to do,
The blue lagoon swimming pool, with dedicated areas for big and little kids, a lazy river, flumes and a cafe for those who want to stay dry.
The outdoor play area, which is an amazing adventure playground for dry days with tunnels, slides and swings.
The Activities centre is full to the brim with things to do, from a climbing wall to mini golf and a bouncy castle, a perfect place to spend a welsh damp day.
High wires and ropes course set in the wood at Camp Smokey is a really incredible activity for those who have a head for heights.
Daily activities galore. One of the good things about Bluestone is that you can plan your schedule before you go, logging into the online booking system you can scroll through pages of things to do from puppet workshops to baby massage and a muscle melt massage.
The one thing we loved the look of, was the Wednesday night Smokey Joes shindig, set at the Camp Smokey in the woods. There’s a BBQ and live music and although we took a walk down to see what it was about we were unable to stay with cubs bedtime at 7pm, but had a really lovely family walk back through the trees as the sun shone through them with the little cub smiling completely mesmerised by the trees the whole way.
There is so much to do, if we had of gone with my sister and brother in law and their older children we would have got round to doing so much more of it, as they are regular annual visitors to Bluestone … I would like to return and try out the high ropes with my nephew who says he will help me overcome my fear of heights on the zip wire, also my niece is a very good babysitter and would enable mummy and daddy to have a much needed spa date. There is a fantastic crèche on site, but as little one is only 4 months he will only settle with people he knows.
Like I said there is so much to do on site and places to see in Pembrokeshire you will run out of time before you can fit it all in, this was the case for us, so we’ll just have to go back soon!
Tips & info;
Closest supermarket –
Tescos Extra – Haverfordwest (10 miles), Sainsbury’s – Tenby (13 miles)
There is no washing machines or launderette, although if essential they offer to launder items in 48 hours.
You get a welcome pack of a couple of dishwasher tablets, bin bag, mini bottle of washing up liquid, cloth and tea towel. Also a bar of soap in the bathroom. Towels and sheets are all provided. A highchair and travel cot are available in each lodge and you can order additional upon request. The Caldey lodges are equipped with a dishwasher, fridge, microwave and oven.
Wifi / reception –
The park has its own wifi that you can access without a password. Phone reception is sketchy, especially in the wood … this is worth knowing in case like me you get lost!!
Don’t forget –
Tea / coffee, sugar & milk – poor daddy missed his cup of tea on the first morning as presumed there would be a little condiments kit in the lodge!
A Barbecue, although the disposable ones can be purchased from the store.
Pre book any activities, buggies or bikes before your stay to ensure you don’t miss out.