Holiday at Bluestone – How baby made me love rainy days

This month, I was lucky enough to have a week’s family holiday at Bluestone Wales*.

Living near Cardiff, I’m familiar with Bluestone. And as our babies grow, more and more of my mummy friends are becoming familiar with Bluestone. In fact, I think we’re now starting to border on obsession. One mum will casually mention that they’ve booked a visit and all of us will look at her with immediate envy. I’m sure I’m not the only one that logs on to the Bluestone website later that day to check out the latest special offers.

My husband and I visited Bluestone in March last year with our baby who was then just seven months old. However, we were struck down with the curse of the baby ear infection. And no matter how hard we tried to relax and savour the holiday, we couldn’t help but succumb to our concern and exhaustion from round-the-clock baby comforting.

A year on, we returned. To say we were desperate for a holiday is an understatement. We counted down the days until our week of escape where we could spend every moment as a family without work, housework, credit card bills and the endless other chores and stresses of everyday life.

As the week approached, as did the certainty of the weather forecast; one day of sunshine and four days of heavy rain. Now, I’m someone who thrives on sunshine and passionately hates the rain – especially on holiday. Not to sound too dramatic but the thought of a holiday in the rain brings me bitter disappointment.

However, something changed in me on this trip to Bluestone. I watched my toddler’s unbridled joy at being on holiday – even in the rain. Encased in her new romper, she bounded about from puddle to puddle with glee. She squealed with delight as the wind blew in her face and the rain splattered down on her outstretched palms. Her most favourite thing on the holiday was the outdoor lazy river at the site’s Blue Lagoon swimming pool. She constantly pointed at it and when we started to get pulled in by the flow of water, her couldn’t contain her excitement and thrashed her entire body about in our arms shrieking. One thing was clear, no matter what the weather, she could not have been happier.

I quickly realised how old and boring I had become by the very nature of being an adult. My toddler’s emphatic enjoyment transformed my entire outlook and we didn’t waste a moment.

I’m not saying we played out in the rain all week but we certainly didn’t let it dampen our spirits. While there’s plenty of exploring to be done outside at Bluestone – especially with the whole of Pembrokeshire on the doorstep – there’s also lots for rainy days. And we crammed in as much as possible – laughing as we dashed through the rain to the swimming pool or the Adventure Centre with baby giggling and kicking her legs against the rain cover on the buggy. (Although part of me suspected she was laughing at us mugs out in the rain while she laid back in her dry, snug chariot and we affectionately nicknamed her Lady Muck for the week).

Pre-baby, if you’d have told me that a rainy week in West Wales would have been one of the best family holidays, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I’m actually now a little ashamed that I’d had such a spoiled and dull attitude in the first place. Sometimes you get so caught up in being a grown up with a set of likes and dislikes and being set in your ways that you actually forget how to let go. I’m so proud how my tiny little girl has taught me such a valuable lesson – to forget myself, to challenge life’s boundaries and to embrace every moment. So as corny as it sounds, thank you baby girl and thank you Bluestone.

* Note: I was lucky enough to be a guest of Bluestone Wales for this holiday. Visit my blog next week for a full review.

If you read this blog, you may also like: 10 Signs You’re on Holiday with a Baby


10 signs you’re on holiday with a baby

This week we are having a much-needed break at Bluestone; Wales’ answer to Center Parcs. After the frenzy to pack and get here, it’s made me laugh at how much our holidays have changed post baby.

Here are my 10 signs that you’re holidaying with a baby: 

1.You decide it’s fine to leave the packing until the last minute. Then totally freak out when you realise you can’t actually do it while holding your baby or with them playing treasure hunt with everything you’ve put in the suitcase.

2. You realise you don’t have near enough clean baby clothes to last the week so have to stop en route to buy more. We came out of M&S with two new coats, a romper, pack of sleep suits, bag of baby grows and a swim suit. £100 gone and we’re only five miles away from home.

3. After being confident you’ll only pack the essentials and won’t overload the car, you pack every square inch of space in the car and celebrate being able to jam another spare towel or singing train. Having room for your legs is totally overrated anyway.

Overloaded car - picture from freedigitalphotos

4. You spend half the journey listening to songs about monkeys and the other half sat in silence hoping the rhythmic car journey will send baby off to nap. Obviously they don’t actually sleep until 10 minutes before the destination.

5. You can’t check in straight away so when shown where the pub is, you decline; you’re confined to the car and watch the rain until nap time is over.

6. Everything is done in pockets of time: so once you’re in, you dump everything and run to the pool – you only have 90 minutes until dinner time otherwise a meltdown will ensue.

7. Kids’ pools are suddenly the epitome of excitement once more – Blue Lagoon at Bluestone has a wave machine, rapids river ride, flumes, lazy river which goes outside and wet play zones. I don’t know who was happiest – baby or grown ups! Needless to say, we did take it in turns to hold the baby / ride the slides. Typically, our baby’s favourite was the staircase which we had to pull her away from after clambering up it 17 times.

Here’s a picture of the wave pool:

Wave pool at Bluestone

8. Your evening meal is now at 5pm and overlooking someone dressed as a clown dancing to Gangnam Style surrounded by a dozen hyperactive screaming children. But it kept baby entertained until dinner arrived and we were kept ‘hydrated’ with a nice glass of Birra Moretti.

9. You don’t feel guilty about going to bed by 9pm. Now this is something that’s taken us a while to learn. Usually on holiday, we excitedly stay up late drinking wine and enjoying adult company. As the week goes on, we slowly start to spontaneously combust from exhaustion. So this time around, my bedtime on the first night was 8.45pm. Up at dawn this morning with baby, I was feeling totally smug and raring to go. I’m sure I won’t be this sensible any other night of the week but I’m going to enjoy feeling awake while it lasts!

10. Your days are the most fun filled of any holiday in your adult life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of amazing action-packed holidays but there’s something about the infectious enthusiasm and unbridled joy from your toddler that makes you raise your game. Baby even makes simple things like exploring the holiday lodge a total adventure. But today we are going to visit Folly Farm before another trip to Blue Lagoon at Bluestone and I’m more excited about sharing with with my baby than when I went zip-lining across a Mauritian jungle, picnicked in the Grand Canyon or flew by helicopter over the Las Vegas strip.


Daddy’s Cool – gender roles in parenting

I like to think that I don’t conform to stereotypical gender roles. At least excessively anyway. When I bought a cupboard from Ikea, I assembled it by myself. When I decided that our spare bedroom needed painting, I took a day off work and got painting. Okay so the cupboard does have a slight jaunty angle and I didn’t paint behind the wardrobes as they were too heavy for me to move. But still, I tried.

However, a recent trip away to Bluestone (Wales’ version of Center Parcs) with my baby girl and her nana has made me question the different gender roles.

As my mum is in her sixties, if there are any ‘man jobs’ to be done, they become my domain. You know, things like carrying all the bags, packing the car, driving, bringing the car round when it rains and being in charge of possessing important items such as keys, phones and money when we go out. Of course I didn’t mind doing any of these things for my mum but by the end of our holiday, I started to think about all the things daddies do that we take for granted.

The final straw was when I went to collect the car from the car park getting ready to leave; a 15 minute walk up a steep hill in the Welsh torrential rain and gales getting dragged around by my umbrella and soaked through. On arrival, I realised I’d left the keys behind so had to trudge back down and repeat the journey. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed and I wished that I could be the one in my pjs in the warm lodge doing important ‘mum jobs’ like giving baby breakfast and generally potching around tidying up. My husband certainly wouldn’t have left the keys behind. And he wouldn’t have even moaned about the rain.

Often as the primary carer, us mums do a hard and busy job. I like to call us VBIMs (Very Busy and Important Mums). But I think sometimes we get so caught up being VBIMs that perhaps we’ve become a little bit guilty of not recognising how much daddies do too:

* Dads are not allowed to say they’re tired – I mean how could they possibly be as tired as us!? How dare they even THINK it!?

* After a day at work, we’re waiting for them by the door with a baby poised and ready to be thrust in their face.

* If they dare to be late home, they face the wrath of a sleep-deprived hormonal mum who’s often been counting the very seconds until they’re due through the door. How very DARE they be four minutes late!?

* During childbirth, dads have to pretend everything is going to be fine when they are as terrified as we are – but they don’t get to have any gas and air.

* In the first few weeks, when mums are rendered almost immovable from the sofa due to a combination of constant feeding and childbirth trauma, they suddenly have two babies to care for; baby and mum. Daddies are subjected to being at our constant beck and call. Mine would have to pass me everything which was out of my reach and even lined up a supply of sandwiches, snacks and drinks on the coffee table so I could survive the hours of sofa confinement.

* After only two weeks’ paternity leave, dads are forced to abandon their baby and wife to go back to work. It was hard enough for me after a year. I couldn’t imagine doing this after just two weeks.

* Then dads are constantly judged for how they’re looking after the baby – by their wives. From how they’ve fastened the nappy and the amount of Sudocrem they’ve applied to how they hold a bottle and the ridiculous way that they dress the baby. On reflection, how do we expect them to put tights on a baby girl when (hopefully) they’ve never had to do it before. And how are they supposed to know the ‘right’ way of doing anything when they only get to spend a couple of hours a day with baby?

* And within the space of moments, dads go from being our number one to becoming almost a bystander as a tiny little pink screaming being commands every fibre of our attention.

So I think we all need to take a minute to forget the VBIM role that we’re doing and appreciate our VBIDs. Thanks for putting up with us and our demanding ways and for being great dads.