Less Ordinary Travel #4 – How To Do Budapest In 2 DaysRead More...
I realise this topic is going to be controversial but let me start by making it clear I’m not saying NEVER TAKE YOUR KIDS AWAY WITH YOU. If you read my blog or follow me on social media you’ll see that I love going on adventures, near and far, as a family.
We’ve been away the four of us, with friends, with extended family and, shock horror….either just the two of us or each with our own friends.
All the trips we’ve been on have been amazing in their own ways.
Aside from work trips I’ve only ever gone away for 1 or 2 nights in the past to go to birthdays, weddings and hen do’s. Until I recently went on a trip with my best friend. A trip for no reason other than we wanted to go away for a few days together.
We planned and saved small amounts for two years. Two whole years. But as the time to go away became closer I had a serious case of the mum-guilt.
How selfish were we to go away and leave our children for 5 days!
It wasn’t a work trip, we didn’t HAVE to go away, it was 100% because we wanted to. And this knowledge did make me feel bad. I found myself pre-empting the judgemental questions and defending myself before anyone had even said anything, explaining that I see the kids more than ever now that I work from home. I also didn’t want to seem like I was ‘too excited’ about going away without the family.
That, coupled with a lot of the conversation being about how dad would ‘cope’ stopped me in my tracks.
It’s interesting that there still seems to be this notion of dads being babysitters, as opposed to joint caregivers. There’s certainly none of the ‘how will you cope’ chat whenever Alan goes on a trip.
I also remembered that I’ve spoken before about mum guilt, how we need to stop beating ourselves up and how society as a whole needs to back off and let parents make their own choices. So there I was, not listening to my own advice.
The last time Alan went away he had said how it was a nice break not have to think about anyone other than himself for a few days. Quite right! And he reminded me of this before I went and said I should do the same. Enjoy being a bit selfish.
So I did!
We stayed up late, drank in the middle of the day, read our books, walked and walked and walked without having to stop ten million times with snack bribes…actually finished sentences. Utter bliss!
Taking the children to see new places and experiencing trips with them is of course amazing. I love seeing their little faces when they see something new. And I love being able to relax the rules and let them run around wild.
But likewise, if you’re lucky enough to be given an opportunity to go away for a few days without them, do it. It’s a great chance to let your brain relax, to see sights that you may otherwise miss, eat where and when you want….and to have as much vino as you fancy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a little selfish now and again. It’s self care isn’t it. We all deserve to look after ourselves a little.
So, I’m already planning the next girls trip and I can’t wait.
The Highlands have been on my list of places in Scotland to visit for a while now. I always feel slightly ashamed when I speak to friends from other countries and am asked about the north of Scotland and I have to confess I haven’t seen a whole lot of it. So, I may have put on my persuasive voice when we were deciding on the annual weekend getaway with Alan’s side of the family. The last couple of years we have been to Perthshire, which is so beautiful that we were thinking about visiting again this year. However, it can be difficult to find accommodation for our huge family so we looked farther afield.
We opted for the Highland Holiday Home and weren’t disappointed. Located in Errogie, on the North East end of Loch Mhòr and just a couple of miles to the East of Loch Ness it’s perfectly rural (whilst being near enough to Inverness for a wee visit).
It’s been an intense few months what with the house project getting into full flow and various other bits and bobs going on. So to say we were ready for our annual catch up with some very good friends is a bit of an understatement. I was champing at the bit to get going on Friday and finally, after popping up to the house to take receipt of our new kitchen (exciting) and waiting for the car to be serviced and being told it needed extra repairs (sob), we managed to get on our way.
This is our fourth trip away with these friends and our families have expanded somewhat since the first one, so we’ve leaned more towards booking more spacious cottages so there’s plenty of room for the kids to run about. They are inevitably more expensive but I do think it’s worth it. Especially since we do spend our nights in after being out and about during the day. Also because we go away with another family we do have a bit of freedom to book something a bit nicer than the norm.
So we booked East Bickerton, right in the heart of the Northumbrian countryside.
The cottage is absolutely stunning and Lizzie, the owner, lives right next door which is really handy if there is anything you specifically need. Not that we did need to contact her as she had thought of everything. Apart from on our final morning Alan woke up with a bug and wasn’t able to travel. Lizzie was so gracious in allowing us to stay past the 10am check out, telling us we could stay as long as we wanted. Thank you Lizzie! When we arrived there was milk, biscuits, tea and coffee awaiting us (I love little touches like that). As well as being a stunning home in a stunning location, it was also really family friendly. We were provided with two travel cots and two high chairs, a stair gate and boxes of toys for the kids to play with. One piece of feedback I would give Lizzie is to advertise this as it’s a huge draw for families and saves us packing our own. As if all that wasn’t enough we were able to order a supermarket delivery which she kindly took receipt of for us. All in all East Bickerton gets a massive thumbs up from us.
If you’re from, or visiting Fife, and, like me, you’re sick to death of taking your kids to soft play centres, with their overpricing, sticky carpets, lack of mute button and terrible, terrible food, then the below list is for you. I’ve explored a fair amount in Fife with my two children (5 and 2) and can vouch for the fact there’s so much to do. Sometimes we can all feel like we do the same things with our kids so I thought it would be nice to note down what I think are some ‘hidden gems’.
Before you read on I’d like to note that none of the companies listed have paid me anything in return for the high praise I’m about to bestow on them. I just really like them and it’s nice to spread the word when you discover something fun to do with the kids.
The thought of travelling with children is pretty daunting. I’m by no means the most experienced of travellers, however we’ve been on a fair few trips both in the UK and abroad, with Tom and more recently, Lois, in tow.
So here’s my top tips to make those journeys a little less stressful:
- First of all lower those expectations. I mean, get them right down. To the point where your goal is simply to get to the other side alive, and having not committed violence against another member of your family. By doing this you aren’t going to be disappointed are you?! I say this, because we’ve travelled in the past with lovely ideas of how it’s going to go down and it just never goes this way. For example, we decided to drive back from Cornwall to Scotland in a day, with a stop in Manchester to go to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre for a few hours. Setting off and stop off times were planned around Tom’s naps. We didn’t factor in leaving on the first day of half term in England and being stuck in traffic for the entire day, missing LEGOLAND and Tom staying awake for the entire 12 hour journey. Actually, that’s a lie, he fell asleep 45 minutes from home, then we had the added fun of the car to bed transfer. It stressed us right out but the funny thing is, looking back, Tom was completely chilled out. If we’d had no plans for how the day SHOULD go, we might have been the same.
So it goes a little something like this. We’re having out usual Friday night – G&Ts at the newest hip bar in town, watching a really cool up and coming band. Not believable? Ok, fine. We’re at opposite ends of the couch in our pjs, eating too much, watching The Walking Dead and my phone rings. It’s my friend. I have a bit of a phobia of talking on the actual telephone since the advent of texting. So I confess I did take a wee moment to decide if I should answer. Upon thinking something bad must have happened I decide I should. Imagine the guilt of ignoring it to continue stuffing popcorn down my throat and she needed my help? She greets me with the bad news that disaster has struck her upcoming trip to Disneyland Paris with her husband and two sons. Son number 2 has chicken pox. There’s an issue with their travel insurance and it’s going to cost a fortune to switch the dates so unless I go along with Tom in place of husband and son 2, she will be going to Disneyland with son 1 alone. I should note before you read on that son 2 is fine, and was fine at the time – neither up nor down, just unable to travel. Just fine.
They leave Monday. In 2 days!
What a dilemma! What a quandary! What is one to do? I mean, I want to help a friend in need of course, but to not go to work for a couple of days and go on a paid for trip instead? It really is a lot to ask! But I sucked it up and took one for the team and Tom and I dragged ourselves along for the ride (pun very much intended).
Check out some of the fun we had. Obviously I haven’t shared any pictures of our friends but they were there, promise. I didn’t just go ‘cheers for the free trip, we’ll catch you for the shuttle bus home on Wednesday’. Honestly!
We had such a blast, I honestly couldn’t fault it. Except maybe the temperature, but I won’t hold that against my friend. Other than that though everything about it was amazing. We were there at the coldest time of year so of course we needed a few extra layers, but it meant no queues for anything. The staff were great, the food was great, and seeing how excited the kids were about literally everything was just amazing!
Each year we have a few days away with Alan’s side of the family. Us, Alan’s parents, brothers, their wives and children. A lovely wee tradition so it is. This started when his brothers had their children…..pre-Tom we weren’t invited, much to our relief! Of course, times have changed and staying at home nursing a two-day hangover is our life no more. So, we’re now 5 years into this lovely tradition. So far we’ve been to Center Parcs twice, Crieff once and we’ve had our second year in the beautiful Aberfeldy, Perthshire.
We like this destination…not least because we are the owners of two little beings who HATE car journeys. Tom can be placated with technology these days but Lois…..we barely get out of our village before she’s eaten all the snacks and defeated us with her screams for the dummy. Typically this will buy us about 6 minutes of peace before chaos ensues. Anyway, I digress. Our holiday….
We stay in the cottages at Moness Resort. They’re great value for money and perfect for us as we will gather in the biggest cottage each night to cook and drink copious amounts of wine and there’s a little courtyard area out the front where the kids can play. We like that there is a swimming pool on site too so there’s a rainy day option.
We had some lunch at the Three Lemons in town when we arrived on Sunday. This is a great place to eat with kids. Relaxed and friendly and the food is great, with some good choices for the kids.