With this in mind, we were intrigued when a friend of ours mentioned she had visited Bluestone with her sister and nephew recently, and suggested we check it out.
Bluestone is in Pembrokeshire National Park, Wales. It has a similar feel to it as Centre Parcs, in that accommodation is in lodges or cabins around the park, with a central village with shops and restaurants, a swimming pool and indoor adventure centre. Cars are not permitted to enter the grounds apart from on Mondays and Fridays, and there are organised activities which you can partake in as much or as little as you want. And there's a spa, for a bit of child free relaxation too. More than anything we wanted somewhere beautiful, that we could take long walks and enjoy the outdoors, and could have some time together, just the three of us. Bluestone seemed to tick all the boxes, so we booked and waited for Monday 13th March to roll around.
On Monday we got up early and headed off in the car, leaving around 11am. We knew we would want to stop off for lunch on the way, and let Oskar have a bit of time out of his car seat, so planned to stop off at a place we have been to before, just off the M5 in Gloucester, where we were able to have some lunch and spend a bit of time out in the glorious March sunshine. With full tummies we headed back on the road and finally reached out destination around 4pm. Oskar was an absolute superstar and despite being in his car seat for longer than he has ever been before, spent the whole time either napping or chatting, giggling and playing happily.
We haven't taken him swimming more than a handful of times, so initially he seemed unsure. He clung on to Sarah as she lowered him in to the water, but before long was splashing around and enjoying the freedom of the warm water around him. The Blue Lagoon offers both a full size beach type pool and a smaller toddler pool, a lazy river, two slides, and a variety of water based games such as fountains and rock pools. After an hour or so we all got out and showered and headed back to the village area for lunch at the coffee shop.
In the afternoon we visited Bosherston Lakes, a National Trust site which has beautiful freshwater lakes, gorgeous mountains and the most spectacular views. It was only a 20 minute drive from Bluestone and very well worth the visit. With Oskar secured snugly in his sling, we set off. The views were incredible and the long walk was peaceful and very much enjoyed by us all. We always say that I love water and Sarah loves the trees, so this was a perfect mix of the two. Oskar just loves singing at the top of his voice as he took in the sights all around us! After a busy day, dinner and an early night was welcomed by us all.
On Thursday afternoon we had planned to visit the local town of Tenby, for a walk along the beach and some chips! But the weather had other ideas, so although we enjoyed the drive there it was far too wet and windy to go anywhere, and Oskar was decidedly exhausted from his exciting morning, so after admiring the scenery, we drove back again!
We decided to take a different route on our return journey, that took us through the Brecon Beacons. We have previously holidayed here and so it was lovely to drive through the picturesque mountains and valleys on our way home. Oskar must've been tired by his busy week as he slept nearly the whole way home! Which was perfect as it meant we could chat and listen to our music and enjoy the last moments of our holiday before returning home.
It's funny how holidays change you. I guess that is part of the appeal. New sights, sounds, experiences, you always come back a slightly different person to the one who left, and it is wonderful. I love the chance to reflect on life, on our goals, ambitions and dreams, on where we are and where we're headed and what we want to come next. It reminded us how much we love to be surrounded by nature - the trees, the water, the sky. Although we weren't expecting is the change in Oskar to be so dramatic! Maybe not so much to the outside world but to us, his mothers, he has grown and changed so much in such a short period of time! It was wonderful to see his confidence in the water grow so much from going every day, and to see his eyes sparkle in wonder and delight at all the new places around him. He has learnt a whole new load of sounds, and gestures, and he seems so much older and wiser. He amazes us every single day, and our first trip away with him was at times overwhelming with just how magical it was, how magical he is, and how magical it is to be a 3. I hope we can always fill his life with as much adventure as he does ours, and this week was just the beginning of it.
If you are heading off to Bluestone, here are a few things you need to know!
* There is a cot in each cottage or cabin, but it's a travel cot, so might not suit every baby. We assumed it'd be a full size cot and planned for Oskar to sleep on the mattress of it, next to our bed, but instead he ended up in with us. Cot bedding isn't provided.
*The golf buggies are quite expensive - the lesser advertised mini bus service, is free!
* There is no plastic / children's plates or cutlery, so you need to take your own! Also take dishwasher tablets - you're only given two, and they're expensive in the shop. Tea, coffee, toiletries aren't provided either.
*Restaurants aren't cheap, but not as bad as we'd expected - we went out for dinner once, with a starter, two mains and two glasses of red wine costing around £40. The other evenings we cooked in our cottage, using the Hello Fresh box we had taken with us - this turned out to be a great idea as we really enjoyed cooking new recipes!
Breakfast and lunch options were quite limited, and as it's child friendly, most things close by 9pm.
*We wouldn't visit without children - Bluestone is definitely centred around families.
It took us a day or two to find our feet in Bluestone and were initially unsure of the 'holiday park' scenario, but once we had settled in, we adored it. Bluestone is suited to so many types of families - whether you want to do lots of activities, or like us, do a few activities but mainly explore the forest! We cannot wait to return and are already planning another trip, and also planning on family trips with Oskar's cousins too.
For a week we we felt like we found a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the world around us and each other's company. We realised what makes us happy, but also that we are happier right now than we have probably ever been!
We have a little video of our trip here: https://youtu.be/6aho1CwGreY
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