Friday, 2 December 2016

Brittany Ferries 2017

Brittany Ferries 2017

We'll we've booked our camping holiday in France for 2017 and this time the in-laws are coming with us and we've booked with Brittany Ferries for a change.

After a long search we've ended up booking up at Les Alicourts in the Loire again for another year!

For the last two years of holidaying in France, we've always driven to Dover and crossed the channel from Dover to Calais.

Now driving from the southwest to Dover was a bit of a pain last year due to the problems at the port. Although we didn't have massive delays, the long journey and then the short delay was a little boring for the kids.  This year however will be completely different as we are traveling from Plymouth to Roscoff. The Plymouth to Roscoff ferry can be a little expensive at peak times of the year, however when you book your accommodation with Brittany Ferries as well, the price is substantially reduced making it considerably more affordable.

We chose Les Alicourts again this year due to it's fantastic array of facilities and activities on offer. The kids love the swimming pool and especially the new slides that were put in last year and the lake and it's beach are fantastic for swimming. We also thought that all of the onsite facilities and activities along with the vast choice of laces to visit nearby would be good for the whole family as well as the grandparents to visit.
Les Alicourts Beach

Les Alicourts

We'll give you a full update on the holiday once the summer comes around!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Family Day Out Saltram House

Family Day out Saltram House

Family Day Out Saltram House

Today we had a fun family day out at Saltram House near Plymouth.

Saltram House is a National Trust property which can be found in the Plympton area of Plymouth overlooking the River Plym. The estate was home to the Parker family and the house is absolutely fantastic.

When you visit Saltram House you have a variety of things to do and see. We've been to the Saltram House estate many times in the past but as a family have never ventured inside the house. The estate has many places to walk, ride your bike, walk your dog and have fun but today we decided to skip the walking and just head off inside the house.

Saltram House

The architecture at Saltram House is fantastic. The outside of the house is outstanding and there's plenty to see inside. There are a plethora of paintings by many different artists with several of the estate itself which were painted for the family. Those paintings show in detail how the estate once looked including the estuary where now the train rolls by and where there are a number of houses on the opposite bank.
Messing around at Saltram House

Also within the house are a variety of different rooms where you can discover who the family would have once lived. The kitchen area was most impressive with it's huge range of cooking articles from the past. We also loved looking at the large ballroom with it's wonderful painted ceiling.

Saltram House Fun

One of the best things about Saltram House are the grounds in which this wonderful monument sit. There are acres of woodland walks some of which take you along the Plym Estuary which on a sunny day offers some particularly wonderful views. To add to the house and land you find a great pond near to the shop and house where there are always plenty of ducks for the kids to feed. Ours love to stand there feeding the ducks for ages.

Duck Pond at Saltram House

If you're looking for a great day out with plenty of history combined with lots of nature walks, then head on over the Saltram House. These wonderful National Trust properties really do provide a fantastic day out for all the family!

Ducks at Saltram House

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Poor Old Stanley Dog

Poor old Stanley dog!

Our lovely black Labrador Stanley is showing his age. Back in March he hit the grand old age of 11 and in the months since he's really started to struggle.
Stanley Dog

He's now on a variety of different tablets to help his ageing body cope. Although his hair has become grey and he's starting to look like an old man, our beloved Stanley is still going strong at heart.

As soon as he gets up onto the moors he runs around like the puppy he once was. Back and forth, into the bushes searching for whatever he thinks may be there. Is it a ball, a stick or some form of animal. I dont really know and to be honest as long as he's happy in his old age I don't really care.

The one thing we have noticed as he gets older is his bowel movements. Unfortunately he started to have a few accidents around the house!

Now although this is rather unpleasant, the vet has been very good and given us some great advice and help. Good old Stan is still full of energy and not struggling too much so the vet's been happy to prescribe some tablets to help settle his stomach.

Luckily for us, the main smelly problem has stopped, apart from the odd tiny accident which we are happy to cope with.

Last week, the Mrs and Kids went to Whitsand Bay in Cornwall, which is one of our favourite places to visit. Now this used to be a one of Stanley's favourite places to visit also but in recent times we have decided not to take him due to the steep steps leading up from the beach. Well, last week we decided that he was looking a bit more agile and so off he went!

What a surprise, bounding, splashing, running around like a baffoon! Mrs said she hadn't seen him so active in ages.

Good old Stanley Dog, I know that your time is limited but I hope you will carry on for a while longer yet!!!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Our Eurocamp Holiday Part One!

Our Eurocamp Holiday Part One!

Our Eurocamp holiday to France this year has been and gone and boy did we have a fantastic time. We love going camping in France and this year was no different with an overnight stay just outside Paris followed by a week at Saint Avit Loisirs in the Dordogne.

Both of these stays were booked with Eurocamp with the third part of our holiday being booked with Al Fresco Holidays.

As i've got so much to write about our holidays i'll split it into three parts with our Eurocamp Holiday part one covering our journey and the overnight stay at Camping International near Paris.

Our first task was the long drive from Devon to Dover for the ferry. We chose to travel from Dover to Calais due to the savings in price we could make over travelling from Plymouth to Roscoff. Although it's a fairly long drive, we saved over £600 even when you take into account the increased diesel costs.

A trip across the channel from Dover to Calais cost us around £75 whereas an overnight crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff would have cost in excess of £750. Due to the time it takes to get to Dover, we decided to stay overnight just outside of Paris with Eurocamp and even with this added into the cost we still saved over £400 on the overall cost of our holiday!

Camping International Paris

Camping International Paris
We arrived at Camping International as some point around 7pm. Although it was a long drive from Devon, our trip from Calais to the campsite was quite quick. The roads were clear and we loved using our new Sanef Tolling Tag which we'd picked up before our holiday started.

On arrival, we checked in at the main reception area and were directed through to the Eurocamp office which was just inside the campsite. Here we met our Eurocamp Rep who told us all about the campsite and took us to our accommodation.

We booked a 2 bedroom classic mobile home which had a double bedroom and a second bedroom which had two single beds with a further high single bed. Although the accommodation was clean and tidy it was a little bit dated compared to other campsites we've stayed on previously.

The campsite in our opinion if excellent for an overnight stay or for those looking to explore Paris although there are few activities of facilities on site other than the basics.

Once we'd checked in we went immediately to the restaurant to eat. The choice of food was good, the quality was excellent and the portion sizes were amazing. It is one of the best campsite restaurants we've eaten in for some time!
Camping International River

The campsite is located along the banks of the river and the views from the restaurant are lovely on such a beautiful summers evening.

After we'd finished our meal we decided to have a quick look around the campsite. There's a small playground area which is perfect for younger children.

Camping International Playground
Part of the Playground at Camping International
Small slide at Camping International
The small slide was great fun for the little ones!
 You'll also find on site, the restaurant, as we've already mentioned, a take away, the bar,  a multi sports pitch, table tennis and a small shop for all your essentials.

The campsite is well laid out with a variety of different sized camping pitches along with a variety of mobile homes and these great tree houses which we though were quite cool looking.

Camping International Tree houses

Now as we've said, we thought the accommodation was a little dated, but we still had a great evening and fantastic nights sleep before we headed off down to the Dordogne for our first week of our holiday.

Don't forget to keep an eye out for our Eurocamp Holiday part Two!

Monday, 27 June 2016

Boys Day Out at Buckland Abbey, Devon

Boys Day Out at Buckland Abbey

Many years ago we were members of the National Trust but because at that time, we have very young children we cancelled as we found we were not able to us it as much as we wanted. Recently however, now our children are a bit older we decided to take out membership once again and I am very pleased we've done so!

This weekend the Mrs was busy and so i decided to take my youngest two out for the day. The eldest of my two younger sons had recently been to Buckland Abbey with his school and when I asked them what they wanted to do, this was the first thing they said.

Now I haven't been to Buckland Abbey for quite a few years but still remember being amazed at how good it was.

We set out mid morning and headed off to Buckland Abbey which is only a 10 minute drive for us. When we arrived i showed my membership card and off we went with the eldest of the two leading the way.

Outside of Buckland Abbey
First we headed down to the massive barn, what a stunning building both inside and out. Just outside there are some smaller buildings which have some farm equipment which, being boys, they were happy to look at for a while.

Buckland Abbey

From here we headed off round to the main entrance of the house. What a fantastic building inside and out. There are many rooms inside with lots of great features but unfortunately i didn't take any photos.

Main Entrance Buckland Abbey

Both children were amazed by what they saw inside and the volunteers were very forthcoming with a plethora of information about the house and it's contents.

I also found out a few things that i never knew before. One of these, which i am compelled to write about is in reference to where the term "The Upper Crust" comes from in relation to the upper class of society. Apparently years ago when the staff made bread in the bread oven then would light the fire inside and when hot they would pull out all the embers and put the bread inside to cook. Once cooked they would remove the bread which would of course be covered in soot and dirt on the bottom from where it had been in contact with the base of the fire. Once removed the staff would cut the "upper crust" off which would be eaten by "them upstairs" and the staff would be left with the bottom dirty portion of the bread, hence the term Upper Crust.

Buckland Abbey
After we'd walked around the house we went outside the garden and then on up to the restaurant where we had the compulsory pasty and sausage rolls.

Lunch at Buckland Abbey

I knew that there were a variety of walks around the area but didn't realise that the National Trust had also made a lovely woodland play area for children. Mine had a fantastic hour playing around on the variety of climbing equipment including the zip wire.

Play area at Buckland Abbey

Buckland Abbey Play Area

We all had a fantastic time and i explained to them both that because we were now members, we could come back to Buckland Abbey or to any other National Trust property whenever we wanted. I was slightly surprised but very pleased to hear them ask to come back again tomorrow!

A great day out for all the family, even though only half mine went today!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Mont Saint Michel France

Back in March I decided to take the family on a cheap break to France. We stayed at a campsite called Chateau des Ormes near to St Malo and on one of our day trips we visited Mont Saint Michel.

Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel is a wonderful place and the kids were amazed by the sight of it even as we approached it. It can be seen from miles away and i was quite surprised how impressed even our youngest was at the size of the island and abbey.

We parked in the main car park which is located near to the main information centre. From here you can get a free bus, or pay for a horse and cart ride to the island itself.

Horse and cart

Parking at the car park is fairly cheap and you pay prior to leaving. Please make sure that you visit the paying machines that are located at the rear of the information centre prior to returning to your car.

Although when we first arrived at Mont Saint Michel it was a little cloudy, it soon cleared up and it ended up being a lovely sunny day.

Mont St Michel

If you're planning to visit Mont Saint Michel i would try and take a packed lunch with you as although there are plenty of food shops and restaurants located within the small medieval streets on the island they do become very busy.

Mont Saint Michel Streets

We walked all the way up to the abbey on our trip which is truly spectacular. There are two ways to get there, either up the main street as we did or via the ramparts. We chose to go up the main street and then down via the ramparts which is what the majority of people seem to do and the sights you get are brilliant.

Mont St Michel Ramparts

We had a really great time at Mont Saint Michel and in my opinion it really is worth taking the time to visit if you're in the area. It is one of the most visited attractions in France, outside of Paris so please ensure you are prepared for the crowds.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Woodburner in April!

Although it's now the end of April and May is just around the corner I was surprised this morning to see a massive change in the weather with pretty much 4 seasons in one day.

It was fairly bright and sunny first thing today but as the morning and afternoon have progressed the weather doesn't really appear to have decided on what to do.

Mid morning the sky went awfully black followed by, would you believe it a massive hail storm and even some snow. Since then I have seen a large amount of gusty wind, some rain, more hail and sleet, dark grey clouds and then sun again.

Aga Little Wenlock

Although it's now turned out to be a sunny afternoon it is still very cold both inside and outside and so i decided to give the woodburner another go before the season ends.

We fitted out woodburners over 5 years ago now. We chose the Aga Little Wenlock multifuel burner so that we could use both wood and coal to keep the house warm

As you can see from the photo, it gets really hot when burning coal and we even bought an ECO Fan, which works well at redistributing heat around the room!

Eco Fan

Holiday Booked - Camping in France 2016

We'll we've booked our family summer holiday 2016 and yes we are off camping in France again.

It didn't take us too long to decide to go camping in France again as we absolutely love it. What did take a while was deciding where we wanted to go in France.

We decided to book for two weeks again as we have done the last couple of times and also decided to do two separate campsites so the kids could get a taste of two different areas. MRS wanted us to go back to one of the campsites we went to last year being Les Alicourts Resort in the Loire so that was our first choice along and after a long deliberation we decided on St Avit Loisirs in the Dordogne with Eurocamp.

Les Alicourts Resort
Les Alicourts Resort
Les Alicourts Resort was on our list as we all loved it last time we went. The campsite is in a lovely location and boasts a great range of on site activities and facilities. There's a good pool complex which has a nice swimming pool, a wave pool and some great slides. There's also a brilliant lake which not only has pedalos for hire but also kayaks and wake boarding which we tried last time round. Add to this the brilliant playground, mini golf, frisbee golf, go karts and everything else and you find yourself with a cracking holiday location.

For the second choice we decided on St Avit Loisirs. It was somewhere that we'd thought about previously but decided that it would be a great place to visit. The main draw of the campsite for us was the fantastic swimming pool complex with it's slides, water jet park and brilliant pools.

st avit loisirs
St Avit Loisirs

We are really looking forward to our trip to France and will be sure to fill you in on all the details once we've been!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Evening Dartmoor Walk

Evening Dartmoor Walk

Every evening one of us gets out of the house with Stan the dog for a while for his evening walk. Yesterday was my chance to get out of the mad house and take him for a run on Dartmoor near to our house.

As i've said previously we are extremely lucky to live where we do and i think that these several photos probably prove my point!

The first was taken with a view over to Brentor. Brentor is quite well recognised due to the fact that there is a lovely church located on the top of the tor.


The second photo is of some of the local Dartmoor sheep. There are plenty of these little chaps all over Dartmoor and it's quite a pleasant sound and sight.

Dartmoor Sheep I don't think i really need to say much about the last photo which i though was just a cracking view and showed off why i feel so lucky to live on Dartmoor and in Devon.

Dartmoor View

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Stanley Dog

Stanley Dog

We went for a short walk earlier today up onto the moors and we took the kids bikes with us. Our two younger children haven't really been that interested in learning to ride but we'd love them to so we can all go out.

Well today we took the bikes up and unfortunately as yet it sill hasn't clicked.

Shame really , but i forgot to take my phone with me so i was unable to take any photos. This evening however i took Stanley Dog up for a short walk and managed to get a couple of photos. The first was a picture of the evening sky complete with MOON!

The second photo is of the wonderful STANLEY DOG! Unfortunately this year Staney Dog was 11 years old and he's starting to look a little grey, like his owner!

Dartmoor moon

Stanley Dog