Showing posts with label Wales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wales. Show all posts

Monday, 20 June 2022

Dates For Your Diary - Deva Fest Returns to Chester Lakes for 2022

Deva Fest returns to Chester Lakes this August and the event is packed with fabulous family-friendly festival fun. The three-day music, food and lifestyle festival takes place from the 12th to 14th August 2022 and organisers are promising it will be bigger and better than ever with a wealth of activities taking place on the main Deva Fest site.

From tiny ones to teenagers, there is something to appeal to youngsters of all ages across the festival weekend including funfair rides, pirates and parades, fancy dress competitions, mesmerising mermaids, mini raves and an unforgettable journey across the universe.

Meanwhile a special family weekend camping ticket, including entrance to the festival, costs just £349.50 for up to two adults and two children aged five to 17 - a brilliant 20 percent saving on normal prices.

The Deva Fest fairground will be open across the whole three days boasting free rides including a Ferris wheel, dodgems, waltzers and a Go Gator mini coaster for littlest festivalgoers.

Mermaid Cove is a new attraction for 2022, featuring amazing aquatic acrobatics from mermaids and mermen in a 10-metre-long tank - Europe's largest. There will be bubble discos and meet-and-greets, games and interactive fun. Alternatively, swap the deep sea for the skies with the help of Wrexham's brilliant Xplore Science Discovery Centre which will be on hand across the whole weekend. Lift off on a galactic trip across the universe in the planetarium, stopping at the Sun, Moon and fascinating planets along the way. Along with the special Star Dome there will be science discovery shows, demonstrations and out-of-this world experiments to take part in. 

Laughter Tots will be at the festival over all three days providing messy, craft and sensory play activities for babies and little ones. And Stagecoach Chester will be nurturing the talent of the future by offering free drama, dance and song workshops for four to 18-year-olds. 

Friday 12th August is Old School Dance Anthems day, and while adults can relive their youth to the sound of Symphonic Ibiza and Sonique, mums and dads can also introduce youngsters to their Ibiza youth with a special I'm a Little Raver family rave.

It's Pirate Day returns on Saturday 13th August and there's plenty to shiver the timbers for young and old with parades, swashbuckling street performers and piratical fancy dress with pieces of eight prizes for festivalgoers in the best Jack (or Jackie) Sparrow outfit. Chester's Mid-Summer Watch Parade team will oversee the walking of the planks and other pirate shenanigans, along with a craft workshop, 6ft long live pirate art, photo art and a walkabout.

All the family-focused events and attractions are part of the Deva Fest Difference which also includes free parking and a daily £1 shuttle bus to and from the Chester Lakes site from as far afield as Wrexham, Chester and Ellesmere Port.

The weekend line-up of top talent and household names includes headliners Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Heather Small, singer-songwriter and pop-rap princess Betty Boo, Scouting for Girls and Dodgy. They will play on the main stage, which is located inside a big top, meaning the music will go on whatever the weather, while a second, open-air, stage will host a mixture of up-and-coming bands, DJs and local talent.

Deva Fest 2022 also features the Deva Laughs comedy tent, the brand new Gin and Prosecco Festival, a bespoke selection of high-quality food and drink options including bars run by Chester's own Liquor and Co, and some of the best festival conveniences around as well as an NCT Chester breastfeeding and changing tent. Festivalgoers are also being offered a huge range of camping options within the Chester Lakes complex, with pitches for tents, camper vans, caravans and RVs all just a stone's throw from the Deva Fest action.

Deva Fest will take place across the weekend of Friday 12th August, Saturday 13th August, and Sunday 14th August 2022 at Chester Lakes in Dodleston, three miles from Chester city centre. The weekend programme will start on the Friday (12th August) with Old School Dance Anthems Day, headlined by Symphonic Ibiza and top hitmaker Sonique.

Returning to headline after their triumphant performance in 2019, Symphonic Ibiza will once again thrill the crowds with dance classics. DJ Andy Joyce will be joined by a full symphony orchestra conducted by Steve Etherington to ensure that Symphonic Ibiza transforms fans back to the White Isle.

The line-up also includes Brit Award-winning singer, musician and DJ Sonique, along with Dream Frequency, Bingo Bango, Dave Graham and Chester DJs Geddes and Gioia.

Saturday 13th August is Pirate Day. The event, headlined by platinum-selling and lockdown Kitchen Disco queen - Sophie Ellis-Bextor and M-People's Heather Small, will feature a host of pirate themed activities and entertainment.

Singer-songwriter Betty Boo, and Chester singing duo Belle Voci also appear along with the Pirate Day Ball with Trix, Shola Ama and The Old Time Sailors.

Meanwhile Deva Fest 2022 will close on Sunday 14th August with a headline set from festival favourites, Brit Award-winning Scouting for Girls and rock band Dodgy.

Once again Deva Fest will offer quality food and drink vendors, who will be hand-picked by Taste Cheshire to ensure locally produced tasty offerings and treats are available. 

You can also make a holiday weekend of it with camping weekend tickets also available with toilet and shower facilities. New, extended camping options with full facilities are available at The Meadow and Wild Woodland campsites with the event still having space for campervans and caravans as well as tents. Full camping details, prices and availability are on the website.

For more information on Deva Fest or to book tickets, you can visit the Deva Fest website or their social media pages on the following channels:

Website -

Facebook - @DevaFestUK

Twitter - @DevaFestUK

Listing Details

Event - Deva Fest 2022

Venue - Chester Lakes, Church Road, Chester, CH4 9LQ

Times - Noon til 11pm each day.

Tickets - For the latest ticket prices visit the Deva Fest website at

*Disclaimer - This blog post is written based on a press release kindly provided by BEA. The details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the event's own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Monday, 16 April 2018

A Family Day Out at Greenwood Forest Park, North Wales

The last time we visited Greenwood Forest Park was back in February 2017, where upon arrival we were met with quite possibly some of the heaviest rain we had ever experienced. Not to be defeated though, we stayed and enjoyed some of the attractions they had on offer and still had an incredible time despite the bad weather. We promised the children that we would definitely return though on a sunnier day so that they could experience some of the other outdoor activities that were available and we managed to return last week just after the Easter holidays.

The park has gained new ownership in the form of Continuum Attractions since our last visit and so we were keen to see what changes (if any) they had made to Greenwood Forest Park, which was already a well established and much-loved environmentally friendly North Wales attraction.

As per our previous visit the attraction was well signposted from the main road and very easy to find. There is a large main car park, in addition to an overflow car park opposite that provides plenty of spaces. The first change we noticed was the new bright and colourful logo, which we all agreed looked fantastic.

As we made our way to the admission booths, we came across an absolutely stunning peacock that was roaming freely by the entrance. My children thought it was so beautiful and also found it really funny when it began to follow us.

Once we arrived at the main gates, we noticed a large blackboard sign that displayed all the events that were taking place that day along with details of where and when we could find them. We took a photograph of this so that we could refer to it throughout the day and watch one of the shows in the Forest Theatre. You can also view the daily schedule of events on their website here: What's On
Having this information online is a really great idea, as it means you can plan your day and see exactly what events are available prior to your visit. You simply select the date you are visiting on the calendar and the event list will pop up. It also states whether the event or special activity is included or if there is an extra charge, so again this helps with planning if you are visiting on a budget.

There were two admission booths, which meant that the queue to get in reduced very quickly. I noticed that there were different admission rates that vary, depending on whether it is low, mid or high season. During quieter periods some of the activities are unavailable or operate on a rotational basis and so the price for low and mid season costs less in order to reflect this. I think that this is a great idea and means that you are getting good value for money all year round, regardless of whether you visit during the quiet February half term or the peak time of the summer holidays. As we were visiting during the Easter holidays, this classed as peak time and so the entry price for an adult was £15.95 and for children aged 3-15 it was £15.40. Under 3's can enter free of charge, which I think is excellent as there is still plenty to do for the little ones.

Once inside the park, my children quickly demanded that we went straight over to the Green Dragon Rollercoaster, as this had been closed on our previous visit a year earlier. This ride is actually very unique, as it is the world's only people powered rollercoaster. This environmentally friendly ride begins by you walking up a hill to the entrance of the ride, where you then enter a lift. The power that is then exerted by the lift descending, causes the rollercoaster and platform to lift up towards the top of the track. When you then exit the lift, it is another walk back to the top, to take your seats.

The five car coaster can carry 20 people per ride and sets off along a 250 metre track. Reaching speeds of upto 25mph, it is so much fun and an ideal rollercoaster for young children. Once the ride comes to a stop, you alight at the bottom of the hill and the process begins again with the next group of passengers.

If you look carefully in the picture below, you can see the rear of the rollercoaster being lifted up through the woodland as the lift descends.

After the excitement of the rollercoaster, we noticed that there was only a small queue for the archery, so we all made our way over to this sheltered area for some bow and arrow fun. Both Emma and Ben have tried archery many times before, but this was only Riley's second time, having previously attempted it only once before on our previous visit. With the help of his dad and also the instructor, he managed to get two arrows on the board and was extremely pleased with himself. I really liked the fact that this was a covered area, as it meant that this activity can be enjoyed in all weather conditions.

Next we decided to climb up to Snowdon View which is a large wooden platform, that on a sunny day boasts magnificent views of the highest mountain in Wales. Unfortunately as you can see from the photo below, it was a bit too cloudy during our visit, however it did mean that we could see something very exciting in the distance, in the form of the Solar Splash!

Of course no sooner had my children spotted this, we were met with requests to go over to it immediately. Somehow I managed to convince them all to enjoy the other activities that were nearby first, before we took a walk over. Luckily they didn't need much persuasion, once they saw the Treetop Towers and disappeared off into the woodland playground.

This play area is huge and features a combination of timber towers, tube slides and netted walkways. There is also plenty of seating and picnic benches available in this area, so it is the ideal place for parents to have a rest or enjoy a drink whilst the children play. Riley decided that this playground was still a little too big for him and so he went to the adjacent Tunnel Warren instead, which has been designed on a smaller scale for the under 7's. Again this features lots to enjoy with tunnels, slides and rope bridges. There is bench style seating all around this play area, but if you have children in both parks, then you can sit on the picnic benches that are located in the middle and that gives you a good view of both play areas.

My children's favourite activity on this side of the park though, had to be the Great Green Run which is an awesome 70 metre sledge run, that is also the longest in North Wales. You simply pick up your sledge from the bottom of the track, carry it up to the starting point at the top of the hill and then ride at speed down the sledge run. Occasionally they spray water onto the run, which helps the sledges to run a little smoother and pick up some speed. To ensure that smaller children don't miss out on the fun, they have also created a smaller version right next to it, called the Little Green Run and Riley absolutely loved this! I will be uploading a video very soon that shows this fantastic activity, so be sure to check back to this page shortly!

We decided to make a stop at the cafe on our way over to the Solar Splash and we purchased some drinks and snacks. We had eaten a large cooked breakfast on our way to the attraction so none of us were hungry enough for lunch, however we did have a read through the menu and felt that there was plenty of choice for families, all at reasonable prices. The menu had a nice selection on offer, which varied from filled baguettes and jacket potatoes to burgers and snacks.

The children also made use of the large indoor soft play area that is within the cafe whilst my husband and I enjoyed a coffee together. We sat in the attached conservatory area which was nice and warm with plenty of seating and tables. Everywhere seemed very clean and well maintained and we enjoyed a few moments peace whilst the children burnt off some more energy.  When they returned to the table, Ben quickly spotted a dragon mascot walking around outside and so we grabbed a quick photo!

As keen as the children were to get to the Solar Splash area, we couldn't help but stop at the Magic Chair along the way. This clever trickery helps provide you with some fun photos with no photoshopping involved and the chair shrunk Emma much smaller than her five year old brother. Can you figure out how this is done?

The moment then came that Emma and Ben had been waiting for as we arrived at the Solar Splash. Believed to be the first solar powered ride of its kind in the UK, it features a large spiral water slide, along with two fast chutes that stand at the top of a 12 metre high tower. Both Riley and I decided that we were not brave enough to try this, so we stayed firmly at ground level whilst watching Ben, Emma and their Dad climb the stairs to the top. Ben opted to go in a two seater boat with his dad down the yellow spiral slide, whilst Emma chose to be a single rider on one of the open chutes. They definitely travelled with some speed and Emma went on this several times, she loved it so much. There are age and height restrictions on this and some of the other rides, so it is best to check these on the website before visiting. Details of all the rides can be found here: Activities

As we continued our walk around the attraction, we came across a new activity called Woodland Rovers, which is situated where the Donkey Rides used to be. These are a great idea and give children the opportunity to experience what it is like to drive their very own vehicle. There is an additional charge of £2 per child to try this, but my son thought it was fantastic to get the chance to practice his driving skills and manoeuvre around the course, so we didn't mind paying this small fee.

Situated near the Woodland Rovers, was also the Giant Jumper which is like a large bouncy pillow that children can jump up and down on together. Greenwood Forest Park have had the really good idea of offering specific toddler times for this activity too, so that little ones can enjoy a good bounce without the worry of being knocked into by larger children.

Next to this was the Moonkarts, which all of my children remembered from our previous visit. Riley is still a little too small to pedal around the course by himself, but they have two seater passenger karts, so Emma happily volunteered to take him around the track.

The Barefoot Trail was just slightly further down from the Moonkarts, which offers a barefoot sensory experience through different terrains including sand, bark and water. There are plenty of taps on standby for cleaning up afterwards, however we were so cold that I didn't want to even entertain the thought of taking my nice warm socks off, so we chose to give this activity a miss.

Noticing that it was nearly time for Smarty Marty's show over in the Forest Theatre, we made our way back to the other side of the park via the Crocodile Maze. This activity tested my children's problem solving skills as we had to find the correct route. I particularly liked the fact that it was designed to be both pram and wheelchair friendly.

Our last activity of the day was enjoying some comedy and magic with Smarty Marty in the theatre. There was plenty of seating for all the guests and the show was packed full of fun and laughs. There were lots of opportunities for audience participation too, with several children from the audience being invited up to enjoy some plate spinning! This was a really nice end to our day and we will definitely be returning again in the future.

Overall Greenwood Forest Park is a wonderful day out for all fun loving families with a sense of adventure. There is plenty to see and do for guests of all ages and the majority of activities are suitable for all weather conditions. Despite spending a full day here, we ran out of time to try the Den Building, Jungle Boats and the Enchanted Barn, so a return visit is definitely on the cards for the summer. If I was to make any suggestions based on our visit, it would simply be to add the option to purchase a 2nd day ticket at a discounted price. I found that there was so much to do, it would be nice to spread it over two days and I know if we were camping or staying in the area, we would definitely take advantage of a two day ticket. The park is extremely environmentally friendly, well maintained and spotlessly clean throughout, making it an absolutely lovely place to be. It is easy to see why this attraction has won the Family Attraction of the Year Award with The North Wales Chronicle for the 7th year running, as they really do provide a fantastic experience and great day out for all the family.

Attraction Details

Attraction: Greenwood Forest Park
Address: Greenwood Forest Park, Y Felinheli, Gwynedd
Sat Nav Postcode: LL55 3AD
Accessible by public transport: Yes, please see here for further details.

Opening times: Open daily 10am til 5:30pm during the main season which for this year is 17th March 2018 til Sunday 4th November 2018. Please see this page for further details: Prices & Opening Times

Entry price: Admission costs vary dependent on age/season/group size. Discounts are also available for booking online. Full details can be found here: Prices & Opening Times

Twitter: @GreenwoodFP

Disclaimer: We were provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. Attraction information is correct at time of writing, but is of course subject to change, so I would always recommend visiting the attractions own website to obtain the most up to date information.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Becoming Nature Detectives with The Woodland Trust

We are regular visitors to our local woods at Wepre Park, which is packed full of wildlife, adventure and history. Based in Connah's Quay in Flintshire, we find it a great place to go for a few hours at the weekend as there is always plenty to see and do, as well as it being a completely free activity for us to enjoy as a family. The ancient woodland is extensive and a long winding path leads you through the trees, past the red rocks and up to the ruins of Ewloe Castle. We often finish our walks through the woods with a trip to the visitor centre for an ice cream and my children enjoy some time on the park. We always have a great time on our trips to Wepre, however last weekend it was made even more enjoyable with the help of the Woodland Trust.

The Woodland Trust are the UK's largest woodland conservation charity, that currently boasts over 500,000 members. The charities aim is to protect woods, restore ancient woodland and create new native woodland that all helps to benefit wildlife and people.

We became aware of their Nature Detectives membership scheme for children, which helps them to discover more about woods and trees, as well as the wildlife that depend on them. For the very reasonable price of £1.50 a month (and an extra £1 for each additional sibling), members receive a lovely Nature Detectives welcome folder that includes the following:

  • An action-packed activity booklet
  • Stickers
  • Nature Detectives Passport
  • A bookmark
Nature Detectives then receive a new pack every season, posted directly to members four times per year, with each set containing more new fun activities to enjoy. The Woodland Trust also keeps members up to date with details of family-friendly events, as well as regular updates full of fun facts and fresh ideas.

Emma, Ben and Riley each received their welcome pack through the post and the first thing they all picked up was the activity booklet. The opening page had a space for a tree photo diary, which I thought was a lovely idea. Basically you choose your favourite tree, stand next to it and smile. Then simply print the photo out and place it in the space provided. Each time you receive a new activity booklet, you just repeat the process and then you can look back on how both you and the tree have changed over time. The welcome page also provides you with details of the website where you can go online to download some activity sheets. We managed to get some great ideas off the site including bark rubbing, pine cone painting and even how to make a simple birdfeeder.

The booklet also contained a colouring page and lots of fun facts. When you complete the activities you can award yourself a sticker, which you then place in your Nature Detectives passport. Emma absolutely loves art so this was the first activity she chose to complete and awarded herself the Arts & Crafts sticker. Some fun games were also provided in the book including the Wild Woodland Race, a Tree Wordsearch, Caterpillar Maze and a fun Who Am I? quiz. The last couple of pages gave us lots of ideas for building an outdoor den using long sticks and branches, as well as leaves, grass and moss for the roof. Unfortunately it was a bit too wet the day we visited the woods, but den building is definitely something we will try on a drier day.

We took our booklets and Nature Detectives passports out with us on our most recent visit, as well as some handy Woodland Trust Swatch Books which are available from the Woodland Trust online shop here for £4.99 each - Woodland Trust Shop

The swatch books we took with us were Minibeasts, Leaf Identification and my boys favourite which was Poos & Clues! As soon as we got to the woods, we set about being nature detectives and looking for clues that we could identify. It didn't take long for us to spot our first clue thanks to a dog owner who was obviously caring enough to take their dog for a walk, but not kind enough to pick up their business after them! With the most obvious clue out of the way, we wanted to focus more on the wildlife and so we walked down towards the waterfall and stream as we knew this would probably be a good place to spot some footprints in the nearby mud.

As we made our way to the waters edge, we spotted some scratch marks on a tree that looked very similar to the badger scratches in the swatch book. A few people had spotted us looking for clues and two very nice ladies stopped to ask us more about what we were doing and to ask where we got the books from. They also pointed us in the direction of where they had seen badgers before and gave us suggestions of where we may find some setts that we could spot from a safe distance.

We continued our search along the muddy woodland path and found some very small footprints that we think could have possibly belonged to a rat or large mouse. We also found what we think was possibly a fox footprint (the boys are convinced it matched the picture in the book) but with so many dogs around it could have quite have easily been a paw print. If you look slightly to the left of the centre in the image below, this is the print that they found. What do you think?

As I mentioned previously the Woodland Trust Nature Detectives website also features lots of fun ideas to try. These are all really cost effective ways of keeping the kids entertained and they are also categorized into age groups so it makes it easy to find something age appropriate for your child. You can also filter your activity results by season, key stage, activity type and topic, meaning that there is always something different to try no matter what time of year.

If you would like to find out more about Woodland Trust Nature Detectives then you can visit their site here to obtain further information - The Nature Detectives Membership targets three age groups which are 0-2, 3-5 and 6+ so even the youngest members of the family can join in the fun.

Alternatively you can find out more about joining here:

If you are unsure where your nearest woods are, then there is also a handy map tool here, where you can just enter your postcode and it will tell you where woodland around your area is located.

Overall we had a fantastic time becoming Woodland Trust Nature Detectives and my children found the activities we tried, really fun and interesting. My youngest son has asked to visit another local park in the next couple of weeks so that we can have a look around some new woodland surroundings, which I think is a great idea. We are now also going to make a habit of downloading a new activity sheet each time we visit some woods, so that we always have something different to enjoy. I think that the membership fee of only £1.50 a month is great value and also helps to contribute to the charity and their efforts to help protect the UK's woodland and wildlife.

Disclaimer: My children were provided with the initial welcome pack, along with some additional swatch books for the purpose of this review. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Our Visit to Bluestone National Park Resort - Part Two!

Following on from the excitement of our arrival at Bluestone National Park Resort which I wrote all about in yesterday's post, I couldn't wait to share more with you about the park and the facilities on offer. We really did have a fantastic time, and the five days that we were there literally flew by. In Part Two of my review I will aim to cover some of the activities, the restaurants, The Blue Lagoon, and some local attractions.

The Blue Lagoon

When you first arrive at Bluestone, you are provided with your passes for the Blue Lagoon. You can  then use these to enter the pool by scanning the barcode on your ticket on arrival in the Blue Lagoon reception. In the foyer area there is also a shop that stocks a wide range of swimwear, swimming aids and flip flops, so if you happen to have forgotten something, then you should be able to buy it here.

You then make your way down to the changing rooms, where there are male, female and also family changing cubicles. The changing area was always very busy each time we went, but we never had an issue in finding a cubicle. The showers are located just by the entrance to the pool and the toilets were a slightly further walk away around the side of each changing area. There are lockers available which require a £1 coin. I did notice however that they also had some free lockers just in case you had forgotten to bring any money with you, and I thought this was a helpful idea. They were quite small in size and so our family of 5 used 3 lockers between us.

My children couldn't wait to get inside and were very excited when they heard the whistle blow for the wave pool. They weren't quite sure what to do first as there is a great choice of flumes, lazy river ride, wave pool and splash zones, but they decided to try out the wave pool to begin with. All of the iceberg floats had already been taken but they were happy just jumping up and down in the waves.

A word of warning here would be to take any babies/toddlers to the very edge of the pool when the waves start, as they get very strong, very quickly and I saw a few people caught out by this, who simply thought they would just sit there and get a gentle wave. Believe me you don't!

The Lazy River Ride was enjoyable, and goes outside where you can also relax in an outdoor pool. My youngest son Riley really enjoyed this and the only extra thing I would have liked here would be some more floats or inflatable rings to use.

The toddler pool was really nice and my son enjoyed splashing about and climbing in the pretend rock pools too. It was a nice warm temperature which was ideal and there were several fun toys for babies and toddlers to play with. It is also in an enclosed area with a gate, which prevents any children from wandering off which is a great idea.

I was persuaded by my children to try out the slides, and I nervously obliged. The first one I went on was in complete darkness which I hadn't been aware of at the time of entry. I hate not being able to see where I am going so I didn't enjoy this one, but the larger flume was quite light inside and very fast.

My children particularly loved the double slide that took you outside to a raised pool area. You then got on another slide to get to another pool, before sliding down the last slide which took you back indoors. I really enjoyed this one, even though I did get a slight injury when I got on the second slide as the water was fast flowing and it started carrying me down before I had got both of my legs in causing me to hit my ankle. It wasn't a major deal but it did take me by surprise and hurt for a little while. Not enough to stop me from going on it again though!

We visited the Blue Lagoon every day of our stay and on Wednesday evening there was the added addition of an inflatable assault course. We had great fun watching people attempt this, and my son had a go and made it look easy. The queue was quite slow moving though and my son waited 45 minutes for his turn, though he really enjoyed it so said it was worth the wait. My kids also really liked the fact that it got dark whilst we were there and that the lazy river ride now took you out under the stars. I must admit that this was lovely, especially as the sky was clear and there was a lovely view of the Moon and Venus.

The Adventure Centre

We visited the Adventure Centre several times during our stay, and my children particularly enjoyed the Sky Trail. My son was very nervous to begin with, but enjoyed it once he had completed the first obstacle and relaxed a little. The course took them about 20 minutes in total and cost £7 per person. Some obstacles were harder than others, and it ended with a leap of faith where you had to jump off the course and swing over to the opposite side where you were met by an instructor.

My son also enjoyed the claw machines in the Arcade winning a couple of soft toys and some sweets whilst we were there. He spent a total of £6 and came away with 2 soft toys in total including an Angry Bird plush which he has seen for sale before in one of our local shops for around £15, so he was very happy with his prizes.

There was an impressive climbing wall that was £15 for an hour session, however my husband is a qualified climbing instructor and when he went to talk to the staff member running it, he didn't seem to know much about it, nor did he know if he had a climbing qualification as just said his boss had shown him how to do it. Unfortunately this lack of knowledge didn't fill me with confidence so we decided against using it, but my children go climbing regularly with my husband and so I didn't feel that they were missing out on anything by not doing this.

My husband, Emma and Ben all enjoyed a game of crazy golf together whilst I took Riley to his Shelby Snail Messy Play activity. They said it was very basic and easy but all the same fun and enjoyable and it also meant that it was fun to play as a family with all ages without being to hard for the younger family members. This is also a complimentary activity so it is something fun to do to fill some of your time that won't cost a penny. Always a bonus!

Emma and Ben really enjoyed the adventure play area, and it is great to have something so big indoors to enjoy as it was really cold outside. Riley enjoyed the under 6's soft play on numerous occasions and made some friends there too which is always lovely to see.


Riley took part in both the Buzby Bumbles and Shelby Snails Messy Mayhem activities on the Tuesday and Thursday of our stay. He is generally very shy and also very wary of taking part in new things with people he doesn't know and so we had a few tears on both occasions when we first took him to the activity.

However, the instructors were great and within minutes Riley was enjoying what was on offer and listened carefully to any instructions. He participated in all the singing and dancing, and really enjoyed a little treasure hunt that took place during the Buzby Bumbles activity that encouraged lots of movement and exercise. All the children also got to dress up as little bees to help Buzby and Riley looked so adorable!

The Shelby Snail Messy Mayhem activity was great fun, and as the title suggests it is full of Messy Mayhem. We changed Riley's clothes beforehand and put him in some old clothing so that he could fully enjoy the activity and get as messy as he liked. There were numerous little work stations that ranged from a water play area where you could catch some rubber duckies, a baking area where you could make a mud pie or cake for Shelby using various messy ingredients, a gluing area where you could create some crafty masterpieces and some paints on the floor where you were actively encouraged to get your hands and feet covered in paint and design some bright and messy artwork!

Riley loves pretending to bake and cook, and also helps out in the kitchen whenever I allow him to, so his favourite station was the cake mixing area. He grabbed a large baking bowl and filled it with flour, mud and marshmallows along with some mixed oats and glitter. He then pretended to make some smaller fairy cakes and cups of mud coffee for me to enjoy. Yum Yum! This activity cost £7 which I felt was really good value for money as there was plenty to do, and although Riley spent the majority of his time on the same station, he absolutely loved it which made it worth every penny for us.

My favourite activity was actually a complimentary one, which took place on the Thursday evening before we left and was a beautiful light show set amongst the Woodland Trail. The trail had been adorned with lights and lanterns that represented different wildlife and creatures. As you walked further down the trail you come to a large rock face, where someone has had an amazing idea to turn this into a fairy village. As you look closer at the little lights on the rocks, you soon realise that these aren't just lights, but are in fact a selection of homes, shops, and cafe's for the fairy folk to enjoy. Due to it being dark it was really hard to get a good picture to show just how amazing the display looked, but here is a close up of one of the little shops. The attention to detail is just exquisite and it made the whole experience really magical for my children.


Of course you don't want to be on the go all the time, and although there are ample activities to enjoy we also enjoyed just taking a bit of time out and having a leisurely walk around the park and the lake. Bluestone is in such a beautiful setting and our walk saw us encounter an abundance of wildlife as well as peaceful scenic views.

There are bug houses located around the park, and we saw plenty of squirrels, rabbits, ducks and different types of birds. The bus driver told us on one of our journeys to the Blue Lagoon that last year the park also attracted some swans to the lake, which was the first year they had experienced visting swans, and so they are hoping that they make a welcome return this year.

(Waterproof all in one clothing in pictures kindly provided by Dry Kids UK)

If a leisurely walk isn't your thing, then the Well Spa offers a range of treatments for both men and women where you can truly relax and enjoy the spa retreat. The treatments aren't cheap but any treatment over 50 minutes in length also includes 2 hour entry to the Thermal Suite (usually £35 for 2 hours). As we were enjoying an active family break, I knew that I wouldn't have chance for any "me" time, but it would be great to return here with some friends in the future and enjoy some pampering.


It was my son's 9th birthday whilst we were here on the Wednesday. We therefore decided to visit a local attraction for the day, and then return back to the site to enjoy the inflatable assault course in the Blue Lagoon in the afternoon. The ample space in the lodge meant that there was plenty of room for us to enjoy watching Ben open his presents in the morning, and we all enjoyed some cake for breakfast. If you are celebrating a special occasion during your stay, you can arrange to order some special extras for your lodge on your arrival including hampers, champagne, flowers, wine and balloons!


There is a nice selection of eateries on site including The Oak Tree Restaurant, The Farmhouse Grill, The Knights Tafarn, The WildWood Cafe, and Ty Coffi. There is also an al fresco dining experience available at Camp Smokey, though we didn't see this during our stay so I am unsure if it is open during winter months. There is also an on site Chippy van which we ate from on our first night.

The Oak Tree Restaurant offers Italian fine food dishes ranging from £8.95 to £19.95 for main courses. The menu uses local and seasonal produce to create a varied menu and also has a daily changing specials board. Children's meals are available here too but my children wouldn't eat any of the options available which included Carrot Linguine with Cauliflower, and Seared Cod served with Tomato Tagliatelle. These dishes sound delicious to me, but my children prefer kids favourites such as chicken nuggets or burgers when we eat out, so this was a no from them!

Farmhouse Grill offered a menu that was slightly more to our taste, with a few dishes that we would like, however I just felt that it was really overpriced and was disappointed to find how expensive it was to eat out onsite. For example kids desserts were £4.95 each with adults starters and desserts averaging £6.95. Adult mains ranged from £11.95 to £20.95 which would just work out too expensive for the 7 of us which was a shame. If we had all eaten what we would have liked for three courses our total bill would have come to £135.90 not including drinks.

My parents enjoyed some sandwiches and drinks in Ty Coffi on our arrival date, and said they were really nice. As it was a bank holiday on the day we arrived they hadn't received a food delivery and so the sandwich choices were limited, but my mum was able to find something suitable for her and they had an enjoyable snack.

The Knights Tafarn offers pub style food with a nice menu, and also offers Sunday Lunch on a Sunday between 12-3. We would have dined here as I felt this catered more to our taste than the other two restaurants however it was busy both times we visited and so we decided to eat off site in the end and also self cater for our remaining days on the park. The lodges are designed for self catering though and cooking a large meal was no problem at all as the kitchens are so well equipped.

On our first night we ate from "The Chippy" which offered chip shop favourites at reasonable prices. Our order came to £30 for plenty of food for the 7 of us, and this was a nice treat to have on our arrival day. The Jumbo fish cake was delicious, and the battered sausages went down a treat with the kids too. The chips were also very nice and the portion sizes were just right.

On the two occasions we ate off site, we visited a Marstons pub restaurant located exactly 12 minutes drive away in Haverfordwest called "The Lost Coins". We had a really enjoyable three course meal here and it came to only £60 for the 7 of us. The food was delicious and the service was great. If you like pub food in a relaxed setting, and you don't mind a short drive then I would recommend eating there. They specialise in Rotisserie chickens and these can be seen being cooked in a large window in the main restaurant area. The restaurant also offers a small indoor play area and a park outside to keep children entertained. The kids menu also offered excellent value for money with three courses for £5.95. My children all had clean plates and really enjoyed (and most importantly ate) all the food they had ordered.

Local Attractions

There are numerous attractions located nearby including Oakwood Theme Park which is a very short distance away and the rides can be seen from the park. Folly Farm is also nearby but unfortunately both of these were closed for the winter during our stay.

We did find one attraction that was open however, which was the Manor Wildlife Park also known as "Anna's Zoo" as it is run by television presenter Anna Ryder-Richardson. It is a lovely little wildlife park, where you can get close with the animals in their enclosures which we weren't expecting and so this was a wonderful surprise.

I thought the entry prices were slightly high as they don't offer a family ticket, so at £13.95 per adult and £11.95 per child it does work out quite expensive. However there is plenty for children to do, and the added bonus of being able to walk in some of the enclosures makes up for the entry price.

Immediately after the entrance is a large wallaby enclosure that you can walk through. The wallabies all bounce over to you very friendly and waiting to see if you have brought them some wallaby food which can be purchased on entry. They didn't seem scared at all, and they followed us round as we walked through the enclosure. I got a lovely picture with one of them who kept trying to look in my pocket!

We then continued our walk through the park, the animals look very well cared for, and all have the largest enclosures I have seen in a wildlife park, however some updating and general maintenance is required in some areas as we noticed a few things that had fallen down or that were damaged. I appreciate that with them being open 363 days a year it is probably hard to get work done whilst there are guests everyday, but it could definitely do with a few improvements and perhaps closing for a few days to carry this out would be a good idea.

Another walk through enclosure that we really enjoyed was with the lemurs. They had just been fed so it was really nice being so close to them whilst they munched away on their food. My son Ben also really enjoyed petting the giant rabbits which were in another nearby enclosure. Other animals we saw included Gibbons, Tigers, Rhino's, Meerkats and Zebras.

There is a cafe on site, however I would recommend taking a picnic as the food here is quite limited and very expensive. Near to the cafe is a fantastic indoor play area that houses a bouncy castle, some ride on toys, and a very large indoor adventure centre. There are also lots of tables and chairs in here, so it is the ideal place to have a picnic in the winter months if you don't mind the peacocks wandering in and searching for left overs.

Overall Opinion

We had an absolutely fantastic time at Bluestone and would love to return again in the summer months to experience both the parks facilities in the sunshine, and also the many nearby attractions.

We were very impressed with the accommodation, and thoroughly enjoyed every day that we spent at The Blue Lagoon. I would like to see food prices reduced, or perhaps a meal deal option introduced for children at the restaurants as I just feel it is too expensive for what it is at the moment, and I appreciated the Chippy van on site as this was a great option for us on arrival night without having to worry about reservations or where to eat.

Bluestone offers so much for it's guests that I could have easily stayed here another couple of weeks. The wide range of activities on offer truly means that there is something for everyone to do, and you can choose to do as little or as much as your like at a pace (and budget) that suits you.

The staff we encountered on site were always friendly and helpful, and prior to our stay we had all our queries answered in a friendly and efficient manner too. Certain staff that stood out for us were the bus drivers, who were always pleasant when driving us to the Blue Lagoon, the maintenance staff who would go out of their way to try and help, and also the lady who worked on reception in The Blue Lagoon as my dad had misjudged his walking ability on one occasion and was unable to get back to his car, so she kindly rang another member of staff to come and collect him and drive him back to his car with no fuss.

I would definitely recommend the Bluestone National Park resort and we cannot wait to return again in the future!

Related posts: Our Visit to Bluestone National Park Resort - Part One

*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of providing an honest review of the resort. All activities, food, and items purchased on site were at our own expense. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Our Visit to Bluestone National Park Resort - Part One!

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, then you will have noticed that my family and I have been at the fabulous Bluestone National Park Resort this past week. I literally cannot believe how much we have managed to cram into just five days, and definitely far too much to write about in only one blog post.

I have therefore decided to split my review over two posts with Part One covering everything about the booking process, the website, the build up to our stay, our journey, the check in process and the first impressions of both the park and our lodge.

Part Two will then cover everything you need to know about the facilities, the restaurants, the Blue Lagoon, the Adventure Centre, the activities available and also about local attractions and recommendations on where to visit nearby. If you have any particular questions though, or think I might have missed something then please don't hesitate to get in touch and I will be happy to help out with any queries you may have. So without further ado...................................

What is Bluestone National Park Resort?

Bluestone is a beautiful 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 offering guests the chance to enjoy a relaxing break, or an adventure packed fun activity 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.

Booking our Family Holiday to Bluestone

Bluestone have an excellent user friendly website that is jam packed full of information, so you can be sure of making an informed choice before booking your holiday. There are separate sections on the accommodation, the resort, and the experience as well as local information which all help you to fully understand what Bluestone can offer to you and your family. I always fully research any destination that we are heading to on holiday using tripadvisor, blogs and the resorts own information and so it was great to have a website where I could find out literally everything including activities price lists and menu's for the restaurants which help with planning the spending money budget.

Although I booked our break through the marketing department, I did do a trial run to check their booking system out and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was. I simply entered the number of guests and it pre selected what bedroom sized lodge I would need. It then gave me several options of a weekend, mid week break, or a full week break. Once you have chosen your duration and the dates you would like to stay, you are then presented with the prices of each accommodation that is available. One thing I really like about this, is that it also displays the prices for the week before and after, so you can see if there is a better deal (if your dates are flexible). I think that this is particularly great if you aren't limited to school holidays and are travelling with toddlers or as a group of adults so you can select the best price for your stay.

Once you have chosen your preferred accommodation and holiday dates, you simply fill in your details, and pay either the deposit or full balance to secure your booking. Shortly after booking you will receive an email with your booking confirmation number, which you will need to keep a record of in order to log in to the manage my booking area, where you can have lots of fun checking out all the activities and extras that are available during your stay and pre book everything prior to your arrival.

In between booking and arrival I received 8 emails encouraging me to log on and plan our stay. This averaged out at one a week which I felt was a reasonable amount to receive and I certainly didn't mind receiving regular reminders to get activities booked and confirmed. As you can imagine Bluestone is a very popular holiday destination and so activities get booked up very quickly. The manage my booking tool means that you can check availability, book activities, reserve a golf buggy or bikes, or even pre book a table at your preferred restaurant, so I actually appreciated these reminders to encourage me to log on and get things done.

Managing our booking

I loved being able to log on to the Manage My Booking area whenever I liked to check what activities were available during our stay. Payment has to be made in full at the time of booking the activity and so being on a budget, I booked activities on three separate occasions rather than all in one go. The booking system was very easy to use, and it would also tell you how many spaces were left when availability began to run low. I found that logging in regularly was a big benefit as I noticed new activities and experiences had been added since the first time I logged on and so I am glad that I kept checking otherwise I might have missed something that was of interest.

As well as activities you can also pre book a golf buggy for getting around the park, make reservations for dinner (there is a £5 per person deposit for this), order some groceries to have ready in the lodge for you when you arrive, or book a spa treatment. 

My only minor grumble here is that when pre booking restaurants you can view the menu on offer and we were very pleased with the menu that it showed here for the Farmhouse Grill, offering nice meals for regular family restaurant prices. However just before I went to make a reservation, I noticed that the menu displayed in the main restaurant section of the website was different with meals costing an average of £3 more per dish. I sent the reservations team an email to query this and was disappointed to find out that the menu displayed in the manage my booking area was in fact an old menu that was incorrect. I was reassured that this would be updated to prevent confusion for future customers. Unfortunately the correct menu was not to our taste or budget and so we decided against making a reservation in the end, instead opting to purchase a chippy tea for our first night, from the onsite Chippy van. I was glad that we made this decision in the end, as none of us were as hungry as we thought we would be, and it also meant that we weren't stuck to a specific time to eat, and we could grab our food once we had unpacked and were ready to relax.

In terms of communication, I had several queries prior to our stay, and every email that I sent was replied to in a friendly manner within 24 hours. This highlighted great customer service for me, and every question I asked was always answered thoroughly and provided me with the information I had requested.

Our Journey

We live in North Wales and so we had a choice of routes that we could take to venture to South West Wales. After looking through our options we decided to go via Wrexham and Oswestry and head down the A483 and A40. This gave us an estimated journey time of 3 hours 45 minutes, which was slightly longer than the other routes but it meant that we were able to avoid B roads and any single track lanes which was a big plus point for me. 

Having never travelled to South Wales before I was unsure of where we would be able to stop for a bite to eat, but I knew that there was a Premier Inn hotel on the way out of Oswestry, so we decided to stop for breakfast en route at their Table Table restaurant where we enjoyed a full cooked breakfast for 5 for only £17.98 and it was absolutely delicious too!

Once back on the road we came across several slow moving vehicles and tractors, as to be expected on country roads, and so after taking into consideration the delays and the stop for breakfast, the total journey down took us 5 hours and we arrived shortly after 2pm. The resort itself was very easy to find, and was well signposted from the main roads around Carmarthen.

Our Arrival

On arrival we immediately joined a queue of cars waiting to get into the resort. I had read that check in wasn't until 4:30pm and so I had expected to simply park up and have an explore around the resort, however to access the main long stay car park and to be able to use the facililites you can actually check in as soon as you arrive, you just can't access your accommodation til 4:30pm which makes great sense as it prevents the queues being far too long and everyone rushing to check in at the same time. There were about 5 cars in front of us and we waited approximately 10 minutes before it was our turn. The check in process was very simple and you don't even need to get out of your car, with a very easy drive through system where your welcome pack, passes and a map are all provided to you. It literally took a few minutes and then we were free to park up and enjoy the facilities until our accommodation was ready. 

Getting Around

Bluestone is a car free resort, and so you are only permitted to take your vehicle on site to unload your vehicle on arrival day, and again on to reload on your departure day. If you are a blue badge holder then you are permitted to drive on site throughout your stay, and park in the disabled spaces provided or by your lodge. There is disabled parking available in the village area, and by the Blue Lagoon.

The best and most inexpensive way to get around is by walking, we were situated about a ten minute up hill walk away from the adventure centre and The Blue Lagoon and really enjoyed the exercise and the views, however as it is on an incline, my youngest son did get tired legs, so we opted to use the free bus that is provided on several occasions aswel. This runs every half an hour and so once we had got used the timings and surroundings we generally chose to catch the bus up the hill to places, and then walk back down.

The most fun way to get around the park however is by hiring a golf buggy which costs £85 for 5 days. I enjoyed walking though and think that the golf buggy is more of a fun thing to do rather than a necessity. However had we been placed at the furthest end of the park, then it would have been something we would have considered. We were just very fortunate that where our lodge was located it wasn't too far a walk to all the facilities.

First Impressions

The lady who had checked us in was very welcoming and friendly which gave us a great first impression and made us very eager to start our Bluestone holiday. We found a parking space with ease, and met up with my parents who had arrived a couple of hours earlier. We then followed the sign posts to the Adventure Centre so that we could have a sit down, enjoy a coffee and let the kids burn off all their stored up energy from the car journey. 

Although I had seen plenty of pictures beforehand, the Adventure Centre was much larger than I had expected. The first thing that caught my children's attention was the climbing wall and the high ropes activity course that hung from the rooftop. We had a quick look in the arcade, then my two eldest children aged 9 & 10 ran off to the big adventure play area, whilst my youngest enjoyed the under 6's soft play. In addition to this was a lego area, a bouncy castle and a crazy golf course, all of which were free of charge which was great, and I was pleased to find that there were plenty of complimentary activities as well as the payable ones. After half an hour of play we headed up to the Wild Wood Cafe and purchased some drinks to enjoy, and the cappuchino was absolute perfection!

Within the rest of the building was also a Circus play area for toddlers, ample toilet facilities, and some studio rooms which were used for some of the activities. At the entrance there was also a shop that sold a wide selection of soft toys, and also a reception area where you could make bookings, amend existing ones, or simply wait for an instructor to take you to your activity.

As it got nearer to 4pm we decided to take a walk down to the Village and find our lodge. We knew we couldn't get in the actual accommodation until 4:30pm but we wanted to see where it was and what it looked like. My dad is a blue badge holder and so he was able to take his vehicle on site as disabled guests are permitted to park their vehicles by their lodge and so whilst my parents drove down, we took a nice leisurely walk and enjoyed some of the views that the park offered.

We were very impressed as we made our way down to the Village which was a lovely quaint little area where the shops, restaurants, village hall, marquee and studio accommodation are located. It really is a beautiful setting, and we were fortunate to be able to see it all still lit with the Christmas decorations that hadn't yet been taken down. The lights were beautiful and twinkling and the Spa had been decorated with a beautiful huge light up bow.

I had a quick look in the Newton's Village store, which offered a wide range of food and drink, all at reasonable prices. I will be honest and say that I had expected the prices in the shop to be over inflated as with most other resorts, but was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the prices were in fact very similar to our local convenience store at home.

A short distance away from the village is the beautiful lake, we admired this from a distance as it had already began to get dark and so we thought it would be nice to take a walk around it the following day, but it looked lovely as darkness fell, and we were slightly jealous of the views that some of the lake side accommodation had.

However, we were really pleased to find that our lodge (12 Forest View) was literally a stones throw away from the village area, and was adjacent to the disabled parking area for the village which meant that it was perfectly located for my dad. It also meant that we were only a short distance from the bus stop, the park, the village, and the restaurants, and I particularly liked the fact that my dad was able to get from the lodge to the village with the use of his walking stick which also helped maintain independence and be less reliant on his vehicle which was something that we had worried about beforehand. 

The Lodge

We couldn't wait to get into our accommodation as soon as it turned 4:30pm and it's always exciting when you are staying somewhere new and you aren't quite sure what to expect. Resorts are known for using the best possible pictures of their accommodation which sadly doesn't always live up to your expectations, but we definitely didn't need to worry about this at Bluestone. Our lodge was absolutely stunning and perfect for our needs. We stayed in a Dinas Lodge which can accommodate up to 8 people and there was ample space for everyone. 

The layout of the lodge has two bedrooms at either end consisting of a double, a twin and a shower room, so a total of 4 bedrooms and 2 shower rooms. This meant that everyone in our group had their own space and I think this is a great idea for large families sharing, or two separate groups of friends together. It was all one level so there was no worry about needing to use the stairs consistently, and I really appreciated just how much space there was for my children to play.

The first thing I noticed was the large dining table which I loved! We have stayed in so many places that sleep 8 but then only have a dining table that can seat 4, but Bluestone had definitely thought this through and the dining table had plenty of room and seats to fit everyone. The kitchen was well equipped with everything we could think of, and we were surprised to find not only one under counter fridge freezer but two! This worked out really well for us, as being a large group we had lots of food and drink with us and so we used one fridge for drinks and the other for food which was great. 

Each of the bedrooms offered ample storage space, however the wardrobes only had around six hangers in each, so I would suggest taking some of your own if you have a lot of items you need to hang. I ended up folding most of the children's clothing and using the drawers, then used the hangers for blouses and shirts. There were also bedside cabinets in each bedroom with plugs just behind them so ideal for charging any devices.

A high chair and travel cot were also provided free of charge, and although we no longer use these items, they would have been a huge benefit to us a couple of years ago, as we used to end up having to take a trailer with us every time we went on holiday just to accommodate baby items such as these. I therefore wanted to give it a mention as I think this is a big plus point for families and a nice addition to have in the lodge. I also believe that stair gates are provided in the two storey lodges which again is a great extra to have included.

Our lodge had two shower rooms, although we became aware of an issue with one of them shortly after our arrival. We informed maintenance and they came out within half an hour of us reporting the problem. Unfortunately the tiles in the bathroom would need to be removed in order to fix it and so it wasn't something that they could do whilst we were there despite their best efforts, however with us having another shower we could use, it certainly wasn't a major problem for us. I was very impressed that the maintenance team were so quick in coming out to us and not only that, but they were also extremely friendly, polite and willing to help in any way they could. 

Once we had unpacked and settled in, we accessed The Chippy menu on the internet and wrote down our order. My husband walked over to place our order and came back approximately 20 minutes later. The food was great and I really enjoyed my jumbo fish cake.We were missing two sausages for the children, so my husband did have to pop back over to get these but again it wasn't a major issue and we enjoyed having our first Chippy Tea at Bluestone in the comfort of our Dinas Lodge. We had thoroughly enjoyed our first day at Bluestone, with great first impressions and we couldn't wait to explore the following day and visit the Blue Lagoon water park. Just before we went to bed after a busy first day, my husband and I took a quick walk through the village to see the lights again, whilst my mum, dad and the kids settled down for the evening. What a lovely start to our holiday!

Related posts: Our Visit to Bluestone National Park Resort - Part Two!

*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of providing an honest review of the resort. All activities, food, and items purchased on site were at our own expense. All thoughts and opinions are my own.