Last month the most exciting email landed in my inbox, inviting us to come to the 5*Bluestone National Park Resort for a Monday to Friday mid week break. As Oscar broke up for half term last Friday it was perfect timing. The boys were so excited and it is their first ‘outdoors’ holiday that involved being outdoors, activities and getting muddy! Normally we go abroad and I am ashamed to see that I have only even been to Wales once before which was only last month for the opening of our trampoline park in Newport. So needless to say I was really looking forward to a different type of holiday for us in a totally new place!
So on Monday we arrived at the Bluestone National Park Resort in Wales. We left at about 11am from home as Greg had some work to do first and it took us around 5 hours to get here which included a stop off for lunch and a quick coffee break further on. We arrived at about 3.30pm and we drove up to the check in kiosk and the whole process only took a few minutes. With our key cards and welcome pack in hand we headed to the car park as we couldn’t go to our lodge until 4.30pm. We walked over to the adventure centre and Oscar and Archie played on the soft play and bouncy castle. At half 4 we went back to the car and drove around to our lodge to unload and unpack. When we arrived at our ‘Ramsey’ lodge Oscar was so excited and as soon as we opened the door he was running around to explore his new home for the week. Our lodge consisted of two bedrooms, one with a doubled bed and one with two singles and a travel cot, two en suite bathrooms and upstairs an open planned kitchen, living room and diner. I actually brought my own travel cot but a travel cot is included. All bedding and towels are included too (not bedding for the travel cot) but I would use my own anyway. On first impressions the lodge was lovely and clean and we had everything we needed.
I unpacked quickly and then we had to return the car to the car park as it is a car free zone. We walked to the buggy and bike hire station where I had pre booked buggy hire for the week and two bikes and a trailer. We picked up the buggy first which Greg and Oscar were very excited about and drove around the park to get our bearings. We drove to the village and grabbed some bits for breakfast from Newton’s Store and as we were shattered from the long drive went straight into the Farmhouse Grill for an early dinner. The food came really quickly and was very nice. I had liver and bacon, one of my childhood favourites. The only grumble was for Archie’s age (1, or 21 months to be precise) there wasn’t a great deal for him to choose from. Afterwards we headed back to the lodge and bathed and we were all in bed by 9pm.
Day 2 – Tuesday
Today was our first full day at Bluestone. Archie and Oscar were awake at 6.30am so we watched Cbebbies upstairs in the lounge and waited for Daddy to get up. Archie slept in with Oscar last night and woke up 9 times, he has a bit of a cold but it was a huge milestone as up until now Archie had never not slept in a room with us. I then cooked us all breakfast and Oscar had been begging since we arrived to go to the blue lagoon swimming pool so we got ready and drove the buggy up to the pool.
We got ready in one of the family changing cubicles which was really clean and as we walked in a member of staff was cleaning the floors. The lockers are £1 but when you open them you get your money back which was great as you know with children your always going back again to grab goggles or nappies/wipes. Inside the blue lagoon is a main pool with a wave machine, baby pool, pirate pool, jacuzzi, lazy river and water slides. I took Archie into the baby pool whilst Greg and Oscar went on the water slides, we then switched so I could go on the slides too. The lazy river is amazing, it takes you outside which was a bit cold to start with but is so refreshing. I got out with Archie after an hour as he was a bit cold and with the £1 from the locker we went in the drying machine. You get 3 minutes for a £1 and its amazing, my hair was dried and Archie was lovely and warm. Greg and Oscar stayed in the pool for another half hour and then we met in the cafe for lunch upstairs whilst Archie had a nap. They serve jacket potatoes, sandwiches and chips.
We then drove the buggy back to our lodge and then went back to the buggy and bike hire to pick up the bikes. The boys thought being in the trailer was very funny and we headed on to one of the bike paths and ended up deep in the woods by the high ropes and the Camp Smokey restaurant. The scenery is absolutely stunning, trickling streams and some of the tallest trees I have ever seen. It is simply breathtaking.
We rode back to the village and had a cup of tea whilst Oscar and Archie played in the play area then headed back to the lodge for showers before going out for dinner. We booked the Oak Tree restaurant and the food was absolutely amazing. I had the lamb, Oscar and Greg had the cod pasta and Archie had pizza. All the food was freshly cooked to order and tasted fantastic. Topped off with a chocolate brownie we headed home full and tired from an action packed day. Again we were in bed by 9.30pm!
Day 3 – Wednesday
I was up at 6am with Archie who coughed pretty much all night. We had a cooked breakfast at the lodge again and Oscar really wanted to go swimming so Greg and Oscar went off to the blue lagoon pool for a couple of hours on their own as Archie wasn’t 100% we stayed at the lodge so he could have a two hour nap instead. When the boys got back we put on our coats and wellies and drove to the village for a quick coffee then to Camp Smokey’s as we had a lunch reservation at 2pm. As we were a bit early we walked through the woods and the boys walked in the stream and jumped in puddles.
At 2pm we walked back to Camp Smokey’s for lunch. Camp Smokey’s is outside in the woods and served barbecued food. The setting is fantastic. I had chicken fajitas and the boys had pulled pork baps. The food was great. Pudding was what Oscar was super excited for, we had smores and marshmallows and roasted them on the fire. Afterwards we walked back to the buggy and drove to the village where one of the nature trails started and walked the 2.5km trail. Oscar took his creepy crawly I spy book that he brought in the village shop and ticked them off as we walked round. After the walk we were shattered, Archie with his little legs impressively walked most of the way. We wanted to go and Pan for Gold but it was fully booked from now until we go home so we have put ourselves on a waiting list at the booking office.
We went to the Knights Tafern at 6.45pm for dinner, you can’t book this restaurant but we turned up and got a table straight away. The menu is pub food. Oscar had sausage and chips which he loved, Archie had fish fingers and Greg had BBQ chicken and I had fish and chips. To be honest the food wasn’t great and I left most of it, compared to the other three restaurants we went to where the food has been of such a high standard I wouldn’t eat here again. I tried to book the Oak Tree for the Thursday night but it was fully booked so booked the Farmhouse Grill instead. Looking back now I would recommend booking all your restaurants on the first day as they all get booked up really quickly! We drove the buggy back to the lodge and watched some TV then went to bed.
Day 4 – Thursday
We got up at 7.30am and we had breakfast at home again and then drove our buggy up to the car park and drove the short 5 mile drive to Folly Farm. We had read loads of great reviews about Folly Farm and decided it was a must do day out. Folly Farm has a farm, zoo, fairground and play area and we couldn’t believe how cheap it was to get in. Only £13.95 for adults and £11.95 for children aged 3-15 and senior citizens. So for the four of us to get in as Archie was free it was only £39.85 which is great value for the amount on offer inside. The only optional extras are the the Vintage Fairground, The Pembrokeshire Wheel, Follystone racetrack and The Big Dig which you can buy 50p tokens for. I looked at the daily timetable online the night before so we knew what was on and at what time so we didn’t miss anything we wanted to see.
We arrived at 11am and went around the farm and the zoo and stopped for some lunch. There is so much to do at Folly Farm and it is well worth a trip if you are staying at Bluestone. The boys had a great day and the amount of different animals they have there is amazing! The lions were my favourite and we got so close to them.
We left Folly Farm at 2.45pm and drove pack to Bluestone. We rode our bikes back to the buggy and bike hire so we didn’t have to worry about doing it in the morning. Oscar was desperate to go swimming again so we went back to the Blue Lagoon for an hour for our final swim of the holiday.
We had booked dinner for 7.15pm at the Farmhouse Grill so headed back to the lodge at about 5.30pm to shower before dinner. Dinner at the Farmhouse Grill was great again. I had the steak this time, Oscar and Greg had the beef burger again and Archie shared mine. In the Farmhouse Grill is a small children’s play area where the boys played why we waited for our meals. After dinner Oscar had the build your own ice cream which is great fun for the kids with four different sweet toppings to build his own sundae. I was a piggy and had the biggest ice cream sundae which came in a huge bath dish. It was delicious. We headed back to the lodge on the buggy and I packed our bags before we went to bed. We are sad that we are going home in the morning.
Day 5 – Friday
We are going home today 🙁 You have to check out of your lodge by 10am (but you can use the facilities until 3pm( so we had breakfast and then Greg went and got the car so we could load all of the bags into the boot.
We then went to the village for a coffee then returned our buggy to the buggy and bike hire station. Hiring the buggy has been well worth it, we have used it to go everywhere and it is big enough to fit Archie’s pushchair folded on to it as well so if he fell asleep after dinner it wasn’t a problem. To hire the buggy for the week it is £85 and I would completely recommend hiring one, especially if you have young children. To hire the bikes and the trailer for the week was £65. On reflection I should of just hired them for the day as we only went on one long bike ride and didn’t use them to get around the park as we had the buggy. I used the Bluestone website to add on all our extras and the booking system is so easy to use to book in your activities, restaurant reservations and bikes/buggys.
We left for home at 11.00am as we had a five hour drive home. We have had the most amazing week at Bluestone and as you can see we have had an action packed week of fun. I asked Oscar what his favourite bits where and he said the Blue Lagoon pool, lunch at Camp Smokey, the golf buggy and walking in the outdoors. We will defiantly be coming back again soon and have loved every minute of our holiday.
Here our some top tips for your Bluestone holiday:
- Hire a buggy, the park is quite hilly and with small children having the buggy has made getting around so much quicker and easier.
- In the lodge towels and bedding are included. Bring some extra towels to take to the pool with you. I hung ours in the inside of the airing cupboard along with our trunks/bikini so they dried over night.
- A small paper bag with a few kitchen cleaning essentials are included but bring a few black sacks, dishwasher tablets and surface cleanser. Also bring kitchen roll and toilet rolls.
- I brought with us tea bags and sugar and a few other snacks.
- The kitchen is fully equipped for you to cook a breakfast/meal. We had breakfast in the lodge everyday and picked up fresh bread and eggs for the store in the village.
- Book your activities and restaurants in advance. Some activities like the panning for gold that Oscar really wanted to do was only on one day during the week and when I went to book it on the Tuesday it was already fully booked.
- Go for lunch at Camp Smokey. The lunch is lovely and roasting marshmallows over the fire in the middle of the forest is great fun!
- If your not serious bike riders like us then hire your bikes for the day as we hired them for the week and didn’t use them as much as we thought.
- Have loads of fun!
Disclaimer: We stayed at Bluestone free of charge for the purpose of this review. However we paid for all activities, food, buggy and bikes. All opinions are completely honest and my own! We love Bluestone!