Showing posts with label Somerset. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Somerset. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Our Summer Adventure at Bristol Zoo Gardens - A Review

Last year we visited the fabulous Bristol Zoo Gardens over the October Half Term period and had the opportunity to not only see some incredible animals, but also got to join in with some fun Halloween activities. As a result it was high on our list of places to return to over the summer, so that we could enjoy the zoo and it's wonderful surroundings in the heat of the hot summer sunshine.

As we arrived at the zoo, we immediately noticed that it was much busier than our last visit. There were several coaches dropping off guests by the main entrance and the car park was completely full. Luckily we managed to find some parking down a nearby side street, though I was slightly worried that it would be incredibly busy inside and whether this may affect our day. I am pleased to say that we had an amazing day out and the increase in visitors did not have any impact on our day at all. If anything it was great to see so many people out and about enjoying themselves ranging from couples and families, to school groups and youth clubs. The weather was in our favour and this meant that guests were able to utilise the large open grass areas and enjoy picnics or treats from the operating food outlets. As a result we found that the attraction didn't seem crowded at all and my initial concerns were quickly forgotten.

As we entered the zoo, my children began to remember the layout of the zoo and where some of their favourite animals were located. Riley immediately ran over to the flamingos, which are situated opposite the entrance, whilst Ben and Emma took a left turn and headed straight for the lions with their dad.

The lion enclosure is fronted by large glass panels, which means that you can see these beautiful creatures really up close. At one point one of the lions was stood right by us and we could see every detail on its stunning face. My children found this fascinating and could have literally stood there for hours admiring them. My daughter took a wonderful photo during our previous visit, which shows just how close you are!


As we made our way along the path, the full beauty of the landscaped gardens became apparent. The pathways looked wonderful on our previous visit during the Autumn, but seeing all the flowers in bloom in the summer was absolutely stunning. Benches were ideally situated all along the walkway, so it was also the ideal place to just have a sit down and relax. The gardens are clearly extremely well cared for and appeared immaculately maintained.


The children then made a bee-line for the Twilight World, which is home to some fascinating nocturnal animals. It is very dark in here, so my youngest son Riley did get a little scared, but with a bit of guidance he was able to make his way around and spot some interesting creatures. However, he absolutely loved the area at the end, which has been recreated into a kitchen area. At first glance you may think, why is there suddenly a mini replica of the inside of a house, but on closer inspection, all is revealed. Riley began peering into the cupboard doors and noticed some small furry animals scurrying around in between the grocery boxes.......Mice!

The reptile house was up next and my children were excited to see the lizards. Riley remembered that we had seen some brightly coloured frogs on our previous visit and he was looking forward to spotting them again. All my children enjoyed learning more about the reptiles, by reading the information signs by each animal. This helps to make the visit to the zoo very educational and it was very interesting finding out some new facts.


As we exited the reptile house, we could all smell some of the fantastic food being cooked on the outdoor barbecue, so we took this as our call to have a sit down and enjoy a bite to eat. There is a large grass area where families can sit and children can play. We also found some benches around the outside of the area, so we chose to take a seat on these and enjoy our freshly cooked burgers and hotdogs, which were delicious.

One of our favourite areas on our last visit, was the lemur enclosure, so once we had finished our lunch we made our way over to the entrance. It was a hive of activity in here with lemurs circling around above us and jumping from tree to tree. The opportunity to get so close to them is incredible and they didn't seem nervous at all about having guests.

As we left the lemurs we checked the time and realised that if we were quick, we would just make the Gorilla talk and feed session over on Gorilla Island. Their size and beauty is just astonishing and they are an incredible animal to watch and learn about. The talk was really informative and Riley thought it was hilarious how the gorilla's could catch their food with their hands, when it was thrown to them. We learnt all about their diet and how they behave in the wild, which we all found really interesting. We spent a further half an hour on Gorilla Island before visiting some of the other monkeys and watching them play, swing and climb in their enclosures.


The Butterfly Forest offered yet another area of amazement and delight as stunning butterflies flew around us and in an out of the trees. My children enjoyed trying to spot as many different species as possible and Riley was fascinated by the cocoons and learning how butterflies develop. A lovely lady who was there also provided Riley with some information and pointed out things to him through the viewing window. He was mesmerised!

Overall we had a wonderful time at Bristol Zoo Gardens which echoed our previous experience. It was lovely visiting in the summer as it was beautiful being able to see all the gardens in bloom and enjoy the outdoor facilities. It was also delightful to walk around in the sunshine and enjoy an ice cream whilst appreciating the surroundings. We found the talks and information boards really helpful and it was nice to be able to provide the children with not only a fun experience, but also an educational one too. We believe this to be an excellent all year round place to visit and would definitely recommend to others.


Attraction Details

Address: Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton, Bristol, BS83HA
Website: www.bristolzoo.org.uk
Opening times: 9am til 5pm, 364 days a year.
Ticket Prices: Tickets can be purchased both online or on the gate. Prices vary, so please visit the Bristol Zoo website to obtain the most up to date details here: Ticket Information


Disclaimer: We were provided with complimentary admission for the purpose of providing an honest review of our experience. Opinions and photographs are my own, unless stated otherwise.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Our Summer Holiday Visit to Puxton Park, Somerset - A Review

One of our favourite places to visit in Somerset is the wonderful Puxton Park. We have been fortunate enough to have visited this family friendly attraction twice previously, however these visits have always been in the Autumn months and so my children were eager to return in the Summer sunshine.

Since our last visit there have also been a number of new additions to the park which include a High Ropes Course and a Wallace & Gromit sculpture installation. The Puxton High Ropes course was new for the Spring 2018 season and offers a 20ft high, thrilling challenge that both children and adults can enjoy.

As mentioned in my previous reviews, Puxton Park is described as "The Ultimate Fun-Filled Experience for the Whole Family" and they're not wrong. With activities to entertain all ages, the Puxton Park attraction has clearly taken careful consideration into what families look for in a day out and have worked hard to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone.

It is easily accessible from junction 21 of the M5 and well signposted from the motorway. There is also a large sign located at the main entrance which makes the attraction easy to spot whilst driving. We made our way along the driveway to the car park and my children began to get very excited as they remembered all the activities that were available.

As we approached the main reception area we saw this wonderful statue, that had been sponsored by Puxton Park for the 2018 Gromit Unleashed 2 Arts Trail. The purpose of the sculpture was to raise money for Bristol Children's Hospital and the Special Care Baby Unit at St Michael's Hospital.

It was great to see Puxton Park supporting such a worthy cause and my children thought that the Merry-Go Gromit was superb!


We had arrived shortly after opening time and it was a beautiful sunny day, so my children asked if we could head straight over to the Bumper Boats to beat the queue. This activity is great fun and allows you to travel around a water filled pool, in a circular bumper boat, with a water gun located on the front. This means that you can fire water at other guests, which everyone seemed to find hilarious! Emma and Ben enjoyed shooting the water at one another and came off the ride absolutely soaked. Fortunately the sunny weather soon dried them off and they spent half an hour on the nearby park before we made our way towards the High Ropes course.


We had visited Puxton Park expecting to pay at least another £5 each in order to enjoy the high ropes course, so we were extremely surprised to learn that this was INCLUDED in the entry price. We couldn't quite believe that there was no additional charge, considering that there must have been quite a large investment required to create such an exciting facility. Safety harnesses are provided and fitted by staff and you are shown how to use the equipment prior to accessing the course.


For safety reasons you must be wearing fully enclosed shoes, so this is something that you need to bear in mind before visiting and in order to avoid any disappointment. Unfortunately guests wearing crocs, flip flops, open toe shoes or similar will not be allowed to participate, so make sure you are dressed appropriately before attending.

The Puxton High Ropes course has been described as being one of the most exciting and challenging courses in the West of England, so we couldn't wait to put it to the test. Standing at over 25 feet tall, it features a wide range of fun and challenging elements including a rolling log, wave tunnel and walk the plank, that will certainly put your nerves to the test as you step out over the miniature railway track.

You need to measure above 1 metre in height to participate, but for toddlers or children under this height, there is the great addition of a Sky Tykes Junior ropes course. This is designed for children aged two to seven and is a miniature ropes course packed full of fun, to ensure that even the youngest of guests can enjoy the activity too. We thought this was a wonderful idea and felt that both courses were well constructed and felt really safe.


Like our previous visits, my parents had come along with us for the day and they have always commended the parks layout as being very disabled friendly with easy access to the majority of the site. My dad walks with the aid of the stick so uneven surfaces can prove tricky for him at times, however the paths around the park are smooth and level with plenty of benches available to have a rest if needed. There was some seating nearby the high ropes so they sat and enjoyed some drinks together whilst we climbed high on this new thrill-seeking activity.

My son Ben usually has a fear of heights, but after watching Emma, he plucked up the courage to give it a go and attempted all elements of the course apart from the rolling log. Admittedly none of us quite managed that one!


After the excitement of the high ropes, we had worked up a bit of an appetite. As we were visiting on a Sunday, we decided to enjoy the carvery together in the restaurant. I had booked a table a couple of days earlier and so we made our way over at lunchtime. The food was absolutely delicious and really well priced too. We all enjoyed our meals including the children, with two out of three managing to clear their plates completely! It was certainly one of the nicest Sunday Lunches that we have had in a while.

Once we had let our lunch settle, the children wanted to try Water Zorbing. Again this was included in the price, which makes the entry cost seem such excellent value for money, given the amount of activities you can participate in. We have visited other attractions before where you have had to pay £5 each to enjoy something like this, so again we were shocked at no additional payment being required.

Both Emma and Ben had a few minutes each inside the balls and certainly burnt off a lot of energy, trying to stay upright!


The remainder of our day was spent enjoying some of the children's favourite activities from our previous visits. Riley has always loved the Puxton Miniature Railway and also likes seeing all the farm animals in the barn. Ben and Emma on the other hand absolutely love the indoor play area and could literally spend hours going down the drop slides. They are definitely braver than me!

Overall we had a wonderful visit to Puxton Park and it has firmly become one of our favourite family friendly attractions in the UK. There is something for everyone to enjoy and I believe that the entry price offers superb value for money. The Puxton High Ropes course is a superb addition to the site and it is great to see that investments are being made that enhance the visitor experience.We will definitely be returning in the future!

Attraction Details

Puxton Park, Cowslip Lane, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset
Parking - Yes, there is plenty of free parking available.
Opening times - Daily from 9am til 5:30-pm Monday to Sunday (excl. 25th/26th December and 1st January).
Entry prices - Entrance costs vary, so please visit Ticket Prices to obtain the most up to date information.
Website - www.puxton.co.uk/
Twitter - @PuxtonPark
Facebook - Puxton Park


*Disclaimer - We received a complimentary family ticket to provide our honest opinion and review of the attraction. We purchased three additional tickets for our accompanying guests. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but can be subject to change. Admission, prices and opening hours may differ from those stated. I would therefore always recommend visiting the attractions own website prior to visiting in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Our Family Adventure at Sandy Meadows with John Fowler Holidays - Part Two!

You may remember that back in October we visited Sandy Meadows Lodge Park, which is a fabulous holiday park owned by John Fowler Holidays. The holiday park is situated at Brean, Somerset in a lovely coastal location. We stayed in a stunning four bedroom lodge and we were overwhelmed by what a brilliant time we all had.

Due to the fact that there was so much to do, both on site and with nearby attractions, we decided that one week just wasn't enough. Therefore a couple of weeks ago we returned back to Sandy Meadows to enjoy some more John Fowler holiday fun!

On the day of our holiday, we set off early in the morning and stopped at a Beefeater for a buffet breakfast along the way. After a bit of a lengthy drive, we arrived just before lunch and pulled up excitedly outside reception. Just like the previous year, we received a friendly welcome and were told that our lodge was actually ready early and so we could check in straight away. This was great news as it meant that after a long drive, we had no waiting around and could go straight to our lodge to unpack and enjoy some lunch and a rest.



We decided to stay in the 4 bedroom platinum hot tub lodge again. There are now a few of these on the site due to recent expansion, but we were very pleased to have the same one that we had visited previously. I really liked the location as it was so quiet and peaceful, with a nice outlook over the field in front. The hot tub also had reed screening all around it, which meant that because we were not overlooked, our family had lots of privacy when spending time either in the hot tub, or on the decking.


Just like our first visit, the accommodation was fantastic. The lodge was so spacious and clean, with plenty of room for all the family. The great thing about the lodges is that there are no tiny cramped twin rooms like you get in some caravans and instead each room has ample storage, comfy beds and they even had space for the kids to play. I am also reliably informed by the children that it is great for a good game of hide and seek as there are plenty of places to hide!

The outside decking area is just so relaxing and is a great place to enjoy a good book, a glass of wine, or some family games on the table outside. There is a sliding patio door that opens out onto the decking which means that you can come and go out of the lodge with ease, making it perfect for some alfresco dining in the spring and summer months.

The hot tub is brilliant and was enjoyed by all of us. It is very private so it offers a great place to relax as a family, as well as being lots of fun. There is a list of rules on the decking gate and in addition to this, the chemical levels are checked twice a day to ensure that the water is safe and also at the correct temperature. We thought that this safety conscious attitude was fantastic and it was great to see that the company made guests well-being a priority.

There was one slight problem in the kitchen of the lodge on arrival where something was broken. I rang reception and made them aware of this and someone came to the accommodation in less than twenty minutes. This member of staff then quickly replaced the item and apologised for the inconvenience. Simple things like this can happen and go unnoticed until reported by guests, so I am not surprised that it was missed by the cleaners initially. I never judge a company based on problems, but more on how they resolve them and I am pleased to say that we were extremely impressed with the sites pro-activeness and speed in getting the matter sorted. Well done!


Before long we were unpacked and enjoying our holiday. We had a walk around the park and read the entertainment guide for the week so that we were aware of what was on in the show bar throughout the week. There was certainly plenty of entertainment to choose from and we ended up visiting Dunes every night of our stay to enjoy the kids club and bingo games.

The evening entertainment was definitely one of our favourite things at the holiday park and the Dune Show Bar was located a short walk away on the adjacent Sandy Glade site. You could drive over there and park outside, or alternatively enjoy a five minute walk through the park, which is what we chose to do. The entertainment team work so hard to ensure that guests of all ages have a great time enjoying the activities which range from the kids club to bingo and family game show night to cabaret. There was something on every evening, which made sure that there was always something fun for us to do as a family.

Riley's favourite Stripey was Kelsey and he absolutely loved dancing and singing along with her at the Foxy Club. Usually Riley can be quite shy and reserved, but Kelsey's positive energy, cheery attitude and constant smile, made Riley feel really comfortable around her. The other Stripey's were fantastic too, each of them taking it in turns to take on a different role each night whether it be djing, bingo calling, or dressing up as the mascots. They were also great at getting everyone involved on the dance floor (even the parents)!


John Fowler Holidays actually have five mascots who are Freddy the Fox, Kenny the Badger, Trixie the Bunny, Cheffy the Chef and Paxo the Chicken. The costumes were brilliant and there was an opportunity every night to have your photo taken with them. I really like the fact that you could take the photos yourself, so there was no extra charge for a mascot photo. Riley loved meeting all the mascots and we managed to take some brilliant pictures that will be going into his memory box.


We all loved the bingo games and throughout the week we managed one cash prize win of £30 in the adults bingo and each of my children all won a game each (much to my relief) in the kids game. The prizes for the kids bingo are pre-determined based on the sales amount for the evening and so the prizes vary for each game. We managed to win a Foxy Club soft blanket with all the characters on, a Trixie Bunny keyring, flashing minion eyes and some finger puppets. If you aren't lucky enough to win though, then you can buy some Foxy Club merchandise in the Foxy Shop which stocks plenty of soft toys and character products. We bought a couple of items to add to Riley's collection and found the prices to be very reasonable.

Across the road from Dunes is a well stocked shop and a small cafe called Chef's Corner. We enjoyed a meal in there together on one night of our stay prior to heading to the bingo and found the food to be very tasty and fairly priced. The menu isn't huge, but does feature plenty of comfort food dishes and family favourites. My husband enjoyed the Steak & Kidney Pie with Chips & Gravy and said that it was delicious. You can also purchase take away food from here that is allowed to be consumed in Dunes, so you can enjoy a meal whilst watching the entertainment if you would prefer.


Other facilities on site include an indoor heated swimming pool. In addition to swimming, there are also some indoor water activities held in there for an extra charge which include water walking zorbs, aqua gliders and pool kayaks. To the rear of the pool building there is also an outdoor park which is a good size with plenty of equipment to play on. It was too far from our lodge to allow the children to go on their own, but they enjoyed some time here in an evening on the way to the clubhouse.


Although there is plenty to keep you entertained onsite, we do enjoy having days out and there is certainly no shortage of places to visit in the area. In our last review we mentioned that we had visited Puxton Park, Bristol Zoo, Wookey Hole Caves and the Helicopter Museum. This time we wanted to try some new attractions, so we ventured to Crealy Adventure Park, Noah's Ark Farm Park and Fleet Air Arm Museum. We also enjoyed a day at nearby Weston-Super-Mare where we had a pleasant time walking along the golden sandy beach.



Overall we had an amazing time at Sandy Meadows in Brean, Somerset. We very rarely return to the same place twice, yet I feel like I could happily return here again and again. There is so much to do in the area that there is certainly no chance of getting bored and the lodge accommodation provides you with a luxurious place to relax and enjoy your holiday. Would we return for a third time? Absolutely!

We will also be uploaded a video of our stay in the next couple of days, so watch this space!

About John Fowler Holidays

John Fowler Holidays have been established for over 60 years and their aim is to provide families with a wonderful UK holiday that includes comfortable accommodation, an action packed entertainment programme and on-site facilities.

They have holiday parks throughout the South West of England in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, offering a range of accommodation options including chalets, caravans and luxury lodges. Some sites also have facilities for camping and touring.

If you would like to obtain further information on Sandy Meadows, or learn more about their other parks located in the South West of England, then you can find more information on their website, or social media channels which can be found here:

Website: John Fowler Holidays
Facebook: John Fowler Holiday Parks
Twitter: @JohnFowlerHols
Instagram: @johnfowlerholidays
YouTube: John Fowler Holidays


Disclaimer: This is a collaboration post and we paid a discounted press rate for our stay. All opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Looking Back at 2017 - Our Travel Favourites

Whilst we are looking forward to all our planned adventures for 2018, it is also great to look back and reflect on the travel opportunities we had last year. I therefore wanted to share with you, some of our travel favourites from 2017.

January - Our year began with a trip to the fabulous Bluestone National Park Resort, in South Wales. Although we live in North Wales, we had never actually ventured to the South before and after a very scenic four hour journey to Narberth, we enjoyed a lovely few days in a beautiful lodge and enjoyed the wonderful Blue Lagoon and some other local attractions. Bluestone is a stunning holiday resort, set within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. It has 345 luxury lodges set amongst 500 acres of spectacular countryside. It is marketed as an all year round short break holiday destination, where fun can be enjoyed in all weather conditions and offering guests the chance to enjoy a relaxing break, or an adventure fun-packed holiday. As Bluestone offers so much, it is suitable for families, couples, or groups of adults and caters for all ages, with over 100 activities to enjoy. You can read all about our visit to Bluestone in our review here.


February - This month saw our first overseas trip of the year, where my family travelled to Silvaplana in Switzerland to attend the World Ski Championships being held in St Moritz. This trip actually came about as a result of a competition that my husband had entered on Twitter and we couldn't believe that he had won the family such an amazing opportunity. During the trip my family travelled on the Glacier Express taking in some wonderful sights, enjoyed the fabulous opening ceremony, watched some skilled skiers taking part in the championships and also had the opportunity for a skiing lesson and some sledging fun. You can read more about Silvaplana here.


March - In March my husband and I enjoyed a weekend break at the Shibden Mill Inn for my husband's birthday. This was our first and only time away without the kids throughout the year as I really don't like going away without them, but it was a relaxing time with delicious food. The suite we stayed in was stunning and had been tastefully decorated with a great combination of both modern and traditional furnishings. You can find out more about our stay here.


April - We travelled to a few places in the Easter holidays during April. The first was to Somerset where we visited some wonderful local attractions that included Puxton Park and the Wookey Hole Caves. On our return to the North, we enjoyed a stop at Drayton Manor where Riley had an amazing time in Thomas Land. We also travelled to Yorkshire for some cliff top camping in Filey, where we also spent the day at the fabulous Alpamare Waterpark in Scarborough and had an absolutely splashing time!


May - In the May half term we travelled to Salou in Spain, where we stayed at Sanguli Holiday Park with Al Fresco Holidays. This was an absolutely wonderful break and we spent our days between the onsite Africa themed resort pool and the sandy beach located a short walk away. This holiday resort certainly ticked all the boxes for us and you can read all about our stay here.


June - June saw us head to Shropshire where we enjoyed a weekend break with my parents in Ironbridge. Whilst there we travelled back in time to the Victorian era and visited Blists Hill Victorian Town. My children absolutely loved it here and we had a great experience. You can read more about our time at Blists Hill here.


July - The school summer holidays began in July and we started the six week break off, with a trip to the Lake District. This really is a stunning part of the world and we had a wonderful week exploring and visiting some fun attractions. Some of our favourites included a day out with Windermere Lake Cruises, spending some time at Old Hall Farm and finding out more about transport at the Lakeland Motor Museum.


August - In August we spent two days in Hamburg, Germany thanks to the Come to Hamburg scheme. We only spent a short amount of time here, but managed to fit so much into only two days. The Miniatur Wunderland was magnificent and Hagenbeck Tierpark provided the opportunity for my children to feed some elephants, which is definitely an experience they will never forget. Whilst in Hamburg we stayed at the Appartello Smarttime Living hotel, which offered fantastic apartments with plenty of room for the whole family.


September - In September we had the chance to visit France and stayed with Al Fresco holidays at the La Croix du Vieux Pont holiday park in France. The park offered so much for families that we didn't get the chance to see it all, so it is definitely on our list of places to return to in the future. Ideally situated only 90 minutes from Disneyland Paris, it also meant that we could enjoy a magical day out together before the return back to school!


October - The October half term saw us return to Somerset, where we stayed with John Fowler Holidays at their Sandy Meadows Lodge Park. There is so much to do both onsite and in the local area and we had a lovely day out at Bristol Zoo Gardens whilst here.


November - As the end of the year approached we spent the majority of November and December staying local as there was just so much on offer throughout the North Wales and North West areas. We are very lucky to live right on the North Wales/Cheshire border so this means that we have the lovely North Wales coast twenty minutes in one direction and the great cities of Manchester & Liverpool 40 minutes in the other. Some of our favourite events and days out during November were going to see The Snowman at the Manchester Opera House and meeting Santa at Bridgemere Garden Centre.


December - Well we definitely enjoyed a month of family fun throughout December, with my personal highlight being the Dick Whittington pantomime at the Manchester Opera House. I have never laughed so much at a panto and at one point I was actually crying it was so funny.

My youngest son Riley also had a lovely experience of a theatre production at Waterside where we saw the beautiful performance of The Bear.

Topped off with a family evening of fun at Winter Wonderland and a trip to Dunham Massey to see their stunning festive lights, December was certainly a month to remember.


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Puxton Park Review & Upcoming Christmas Events!

Earlier this year, we visited the wonderful Puxton Park which is set amongst 40 acres of countryside, in Somerset. There was so much to do there, that we didn't get the chance to do everything in one day, so we were delighted to have the opportunity to return a couple of weeks ago, for another fun packed family adventure!


Like our previous visit, there was no issue with parking as there is a huge car park available for guests, which is also free of charge. The young girl on reception was very welcoming and we purchased tickets for my parents, who had come along to join us for the day. Our entrance was slightly different on this occasion, as due to there being a Halloween theme running that week, we had the chance to walk through the spooky tunnel to reach the main site.

As soon as we were outdoors, the kids were adamant that we needed to take the obligatory funny photo, before continuing with our visit. 


When we last had our day out at Puxton Park, we missed out on a few things, which included the tractor ride & falconry display, so before we set off anywhere, I made sure that I checked the timings for these events to ensure that we did not miss them this time round. The children remembered the meerkats from their last visit, so we decided to start from the back of the attraction where they are located and work our way forwards throughout the day. 

As we made our way to the Meerkats, we passed some beautiful animals, so we stopped at regular intervals to say hello and take a look. One thing that really impressed us was how clean and tidy the whole park is. The paths are clear and well maintained, which made it great for Grandad to be able to walk along, without having to worry about any bumps or holes. As we got closer to the meerkat compound, the fence maze caught Riley's attention and he quickly ran in, determined to complete it all by himself. He did manage to do it on his own, then he did it again, and again, and again! In the end we sat down on a nearby bench as he seemed more than happy just running round and round the maze, whilst Emma and Ben enjoyed bouncing on some nearby trampolines.


Once I had finally managed to convince Riley to leave the maze (of course on the promise that he could return later) we went over to the meerkats, where we literally could have watched them for hours.

Opposite to the Meerkats is a large animal barn, that contains a variety of farm animals including sheep, goats, shetland ponies and alpacas. There is also a lovely petting zoo area where you can stroke and hold guinea pigs and rabbits. This whole area is nicely set out and very clean and tidy. Each enclosure has plenty of space for the animals and their homes are designed around a little town theme. Our personal favourite was 'Miceland'!



After spending some time with the animals, my phone alarm went off to alert me to the fact it was nearly time for the tractor ride. We therefore made our way over to join the queue. Riley was very excited by this point and couldn't wait to climb onboard the tractor trailer to go on a little journey. We hadn't been waiting long, before a young man arrived with the tractor and reversed the vehicle to the start of the queue. We took our seats and set off on our bumpy ride towards the large cow sheds. The driver stopped for a short while in each shed so that the children could see all the animals. He told us about the different breeds of cows and what food they could produce. The jersey cows were my favourite, they are so adorable! It was also very interesting to learn about all the work that goes in to producing some of the food & drink that we take for granted, such as milk, butter, cheese and ice cream. These are all so readily available in the supermarkets, but I hadn't actually thought much about how they were produced beforehand. It was therefore a bit of a learning curve for me, as well as for the kids.


Once our tractor ride was completed, both the kids and Grandad were hungry and thirsty, so we headed over to the Meadows Restaurant to get a bite to eat. There was a lovely selection of cakes available, as well as delicious looking hot meals. As I had already eaten a large breakfast that day, I decided not to purchase anything but Nana and Grandad both bought some sandwiches each and the kids all bought a lunch box that contained a sandwich, drink and some snacks.


After lunch, it was time for the falconry display. We were all really looking forward to watching this as hadn't had the chance to do so on our last visit, so we walked over to the display field and took a seat on one of the benches. The falconry expert introduced numerous birds to us including an Eagle and an Owl and told us more about each species. It was fascinating watching the speed that they can travel through the sky and it was also incredible to see them up close.



Riley's favourite part of the day however, was on the lovely little train ride, that took us on a journey around the small lake. This was really enjoyable and it was great to see Riley enjoying himself so much and making 'Choo Choo' noises as we travelled around.


The remainder of the day was spent enjoying the many play areas that are available for the children. These range from large adventure playgrounds, to fun filled sand play areas, as well as a huge three storey indoor soft play zone. There is certainly plenty of choice and more than enough to keep families of all ages entertained.


Once again we had an absolutely fantastic visit to Puxton Park and it is certainly one of my favourite attractions that we have visited in the South West of England. On both of our visits I have found the customer service to be exceptional, the whole park clean, tidy and well presented, and wonderful facilities and events to keep you busy in all weathers. We have been very lucky that on both of our visits we had lovely sunshine, but the soft play area, animal barn & cow shed are all indoors, so there is still plenty to see and do on a rainy day too.

Puxton Park Christmas Events

Puxton Park is open all year round except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. They have a great range of fun festive events planned for the next few weeks, that are sure to delight and entertain families of all ages.

They have gone all out with their plans for this year and have even created a brand new attraction especially for Christmas! The space between the JCB Dig Sandpit and the Crazee Golf Course, has been transformed into a Santa's Grotto, with adjoining events room. This new feature will be a comfortable home to both Father and Mrs Christmas, as well as their loyal elves. Santa's Grotto will be open every weekend in December from 10am til 4pm and December 19th to 23rd from 10am til 4pm. The Grotto will also be open on Christmas Eve from 10am til 2pm. Guests are invited to enjoy the new Cosy Cottage and Events room where they can visit the Puxton reindeer, enjoy Christmas stories, create beautiful crafts and even watch some Christmas films. For an additional charge of £5 children can also visit Father Christmas and recieve a special present.

In addition to the Santa's Grotto, Puxton Park will also be hosting their very first Grand Light Switch On Event, which shall be taking place on the 2nd December. The event will commence at 3pm, with the light switch on at 4pm and closing at 5:30pm. There will also be some very special guests in attendance as the cast of the Weston Playhouse's Aladdin pantomime come along to enjoy the festivities, including TV celebrity John Altman, who played Eastender's Nasty Nick. An official ribbon cutting ceremony for the parks newest attraction 'The Cosy Cottage' will also take place.

From the 19th to the 22nd December, Puxton Park will also be hosting their annual supper with Santa. This event includes a buffet tea, ice cream, funky disco and a present from Santa. After the meal, children are invited to play in the spectacular 3-story soft play area, whilst parents can sit back, relax and enjoy a tea or coffee. This event does carry a charge, so to obtain the most up to date information or to reserve & purchase tickets, please either visit reception or call on 01934 523500.

Attraction Details

Puxton Park, Cowslip Lane, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset
Parking - Yes, there is plenty of free parking available.
Opening times - Daily from 9am til 5:30-pm Monday to Sunday (excl. 25th/26th December and 1st January).
Entry prices - Entrance costs vary, so please visit Ticket Prices to obtain the most up to date information.
Website - www.puxton.co.uk/
Twitter - @PuxtonPark
Facebook - Puxton Park

*Disclaimer - We received a complimentary family ticket to provide our honest opinion and review of the attraction. We purchased three additional tickets for our accompanying guests. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

John Fowler Holidays - Sandy Meadows Lodge Park Review

A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of spending a lovely few days at Sandy Meadows Lodge Park, located in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset. Sandy Meadows is owned by John Fowler Holidays, who have been established for over 60 years. Their aim is to provide families with a wonderful UK holiday that includes comfortable accommodation, an action packed entertainment programme and on-site facilities.

We couldn't wait for our holiday to begin and a few days prior to our arrival, we received a welcome email that also provided our check in time. We had booked to stay in a 4 bedroom luxury hot tub lodge on the Sandy Meadows Lodge Park, which is adjacent to Sandy Glade. The facilities here are shared, so although the lodge park has a separate name, you are free to enjoy the entertainment and facilities on offer at the adjoining site. This includes the swimming pool, park, shop, on-site cafe, bar and evening entertainment. There is also an activities programme that is run by the 'Stripeys' that children from both sites are welcome to participate in.

Our Arrival

We live approximately three and a half hours away from Burnham-on-Sea and didn't fancy travelling in heavy traffic, so we set off at around 6am. With a stop on the way, this meant we reached the site by 10am. I visited reception to make them aware that we had arrived early and although we were unable to check in until 2pm, they said that we were more than welcome to enjoy the facilities available whilst we waited. The lady at the desk was very friendly and helpful and also told us to check back in a couple of hours, just in case our lodge was ready slightly earlier. We rummaged through the boot of the car to find all our swimwear and towels and made our way over to the swimming pool.

After a relaxing hour long swim and a short play on the park, I popped back to reception on the off chance that our lodge was ready. I was delighted to find that it was and so the receptionist handed me the key, an entertainment booklet, passcode for the swimming pool and the entry code for the Sandy Meadows gates, as well as providing me with directions to our lodge. This was neatly presented in a John Fowler Holidays envelope which gave me a safe and secure place to store all the information I had been given.

From the main reception on Sandy Glade to the lodge park on Sandy Meadows it takes approximately 10 minutes to walk, or just a couple of minutes in the car. We drove over excitedly, ready to explore our accommodation and unpack.

Accommodation

The accommodation was absolutely stunning and featured everything we could have hoped for. As soon as we arrived on the park, we could tell this was going to be luxurious, with both the lodges and their surroundings well cared for and maintained.


Our lodge looked huge from the outside and had a lovely large decking area that overlooked the fields in front. In addition to this, there was a nice modern hot tub, that had privacy screening all around it. The maintenance man on site saw us arrive and informed us that we would be unable to use the hot tub until at least 5pm as it had just been cleaned and refilled, so it would take a while to heat up. This was fine with us, as by the time we had unpacked and had a look around, it would probably be early evening before we had the chance to use it anyway.


We stayed in a 4 bedroom lodge, which featured 2 double bedrooms and 2 twin rooms. This was of ample size for our party of 7 and there was plenty of space for all of us. As we entered the lodge we walked into a small cloakroom area which led into the open plan lounge, dining and kitchen area.




It was immediately apparent how luxurious and comfortable the lodge was. The children excitedly ran from room to room to explore what was going to be their home for the week. We were all shocked at how big the bedrooms were and all the storage that was available. There were two shower rooms, which both had two doors, meaning that it could be used as a en-suite from the bedroom, or alternatively, they could be accessed from the hallway. This worked out really well for us as it meant that my parents could have one bathroom to themselves, whilst the kids and I had the other.



The kitchen had everything that you could think of, including a washing machine, dishwasher, microwave and oven. Plates, cups, glasses and utensils were also provided. We did notice that there were only 4 tumbler style glasses and we also couldn't find any placemats for the dining table. I therefore simply made a note of this and alerted reception when we went over to Dunes in the evening. By the time we had got back from bingo on our first evening, these had been placed in the lodge ready for our return. Excellent service!



Facilities

There were plenty of on-site facilities, to help ensure that all guests have everything they need. Chef's Corner provided tasty takeaway and sit down cafe meals, that were all of a reasonable price. There was a nice selection of comfort food available, which is always a nice treat when you are on holiday. The service was very friendly and quick and although it certainly isn't a five star fine dining restaurant, it does offer you a relaxing place to go, for when you just don't fancy cooking yourself, which is always a great option to have.

Located next door to Chef's Corner, was a well stocked shop, that had all the daily essentials that you would need, as well as a selection of toys for the children. We had already done a big shop prior to our arrival, but it was useful for us to pop to this shop to get a couple of small things we had forgotten.


Another facility that was popular with my children was the NextGen arcade, that was located to the right hand side of the Dunes Bar. My children enjoyed playing on the 2p machines and would spend £1 each night trying to win some little prizes, whilst we waited for the bingo games to start. Riley really enjoyed another game too, where you had to steer a wheel that was connected to a basket and catch the eggs that dropped from above. This was a really fun game and at 50p a go, it didn't break the bank either.


The Dunes bar was a lovely place to go in the evening, with modern decor and comfortable seating throughout. We enjoyed spending our evenings in here and felt that there were plenty of tables and seating options for groups & families of all sizes.


Our favourite facility though, had to be the one that was back at our lodge, The Hot Tub! We loved being able to relax in here everyday and we were also very impressed with how well maintained they are. During our stay a maintenance worker, would come and check the chemical levels of it twice a day which we thought was really good. We have stayed in lodges with hot tubs, owned by other holiday parks in the past and the hot tubs haven't been checked once during our stay, so we felt that this showed excellent customer care by John Fowler Holidays.



Activities

Activities were scheduled for each day, which were ran by the Stripeys or leisure staff. During the week that we stayed there was football, water walking zorbs, pool kayaking & games. We had hoped that there would be some Halloween activities planned, but I was told that these had taken place the week before, as that had been the local half term and they were busier then. Whilst I can understand this, it would have been nice if there had been something on the 31st at least for all the children on site. The activities seemed well run and organised and there were certainly many happy participants, especially at the football!

The swimming pool offered a fun place to go for a swim and it didn't feel too crowded at any point. There were a couple of changing cubicles, showers and toilets located around the outside of the pool, as well as some seating and tables for anyone wanting to supervise their children. The water temperature was just right, a little cool on entry but absolutely perfect once you are in and have started swimming. There was also a lifeguard on duty, which I always find very reassuring.

Evening Entertainment

Evening entertainment is held on the sister park of Sandy Glade in the Dunes Bar. This would begin at 6pm with kids club, which involved some games, dancing and the chance to have a meet and greet with one of the on site mascots. My children took part in this every night and loved the games, especially Hide & Seek and Shuffle Bum!


The Dunes Bar was very clean and tidy, with nice and modern decor throughout. There was plenty of seating, however I can imagine that it probably gets extremely busy during the peak season. Television screens were displayed in several areas, that provided details on entertainment or activities that were taking place throughout the week and there were also some larger screens near the main bar, that showed the sports channels for anyone wanting to catch up on the football. The bar service was friendly and the drinks were reasonably priced.


Once kids club was over then it was time to purchase your bingo tickets, with kids being able to buy theirs from the Foxy Shop for £1 and adults could buy theirs at the bar. Each bingo booklet contains five games and both the kids and adults bingo are played at the same time, which seems to work really well. The first four games are for a line only, with the final game being for a full house. Prizes are calculated based on ticket sales, so the value of these changed each night, dependent on how many booklets were sold. Children's prizes were for toys to a certain value from the Foxy Shop, whilst adults played for a cash prize. My husband won £15 on our first night which paid for a nice round of drinks for us all.

Once the bingo games were finished, then there would be further entertainment that continued on til late. This varied from quizzes to live cabaret acts, however we always chose to leave after the Bingo games as Riley would start to get tired. There was certainly a nice selection of acts available throughout the week though, so we felt that there was something for everyone in terms of evening entertainment.

Nearby

There is a huge amount to do in the local area, ranging from museums & fairgrounds to beaches and beauty spots, such as Cheddar Gorge and Wells. Popular attractions include Brean Leisure Park, Wookey Hole, Cheddar Gorge, Weston-Super-Mare Pier, Puxton Park, The World's Largest Helicopter Museum, Animal Park and Bristol Zoo to name a few. There are also many others that are within driving distance of the holiday park.

During our stay we visited Bristol Zoo, Puxton Park and Brean Leisure Park, which all offered fantastic family fun days out.

There were several supermarkets nearby including Tesco & Lidl, so if you didn't fancy taking food with you, there is no worry about doing a big shop once you get there. A well stocked co-op store is also only a couple of minutes down the road.

Overall

Overall, we had an absolutely wonderful time at Sandy Meadows Lodge Park. The site was well cared for, clean and tidy, which made the park a pleasure to be on. The staff were all very friendly and worked extremely hard to try and ensure that the guests have a wonderful holiday.


Our lodge was a comfortable and luxurious place to stay and it was lovely to be able to sit out on the verandah in the afternoon and enjoy a glass of wine, whilst just watching the clouds float by. The outdoor seating was also really good quality so again the feeling of luxury continued outdoors too.


The view was very peaceful and despite visiting at the end of October and beginning of November, we were fortunate to have lovely weather for that time of year, which improved our stay even further.
From the tranquility of the lodge park, to the music and atmosphere in the bar, everything was just perfect for our stay. If you are looking for a lovely UK family break, with plenty to do both onsite and nearby, then I highly recommend Sandy Meadows by John Fowler Holidays.


Further Information

If you would like to obtain further information on Sandy Meadows, or learn more about their other parks located in the South West of England, then you can find more information on their website, or social media channels which can be found here:

Website: John Fowler Holidays
Facebook: John Fowler Holiday Parks
Twitter: @JohnFowlerHols
Instagram: @johnfowlerholidays
YouTube: John Fowler Holidays

There are also some fantastic savings to be made on 2018 holidays at the moment, which makes it a great time to book your holiday for next year!


*Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post & we received a discounted media rate stay for our visit. All opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise.