I learnt 3 things during our stay at Bluestone:
1 – It is impossible to explain to a 2.5 year old the difference between Wales and whales. He was extremely disappointed not to see any whales in the water as we crossed the bridge into Whales. Then on the way home he said “but daddy, we can’t go home we didn’t see the whales”.
2 – I’d really like to live in a wooden lodge; the accommodation at Bluestone is in the form of the classic wooden lodges and I was quite amazed at the space we had given that it was a relatively small building. 4 very large bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and an open plan living area. Change the downstairs bedroom into a playroom and the bathroom into a utility room and you’d have a pretty perfect house to live in. I love the simplicity of it and the open plan feel. Plus with the double height sitting room you could have one massive Christmas tree!
3 – family holidays are all about making memories; it’s as much about the journey as the actual destination. Which may sound a bit corny but if you ask Matilda what her favourite thing on the holiday was she’ll tell you that it was driving around in the golf buggy rather than the activity at the end of the drive.
During our stay at Bluestone we had gales, a small tornado, hail, snow, rain and some sunshine. Yet even with this crazy weather we had a great time, although it does of course help that we’re happy to throw on our waterproofs and head out in most types of weather. The park is set in beautiful countryside and centred around a lake and small village at the bottom of a valley that contains most of the restaurants along with a few shops. This being Wales it definitely isn’t flat and going anywhere involves a few hills, worth keeping in mind if you have little ones like us or aren’t as mobile. The site is car free so we hired a golf buggy for the week to get around when we needed to travel a little further or wanted to save the kids energy for the playground.
What I liked about Bluestone was that even in the depths of January there were loads of activities on offer, most of which you can prebook before your trip if you want. I imagine that would be essential in the busy summer months but was less of a big deal for us. The activities ranged from baby sensory and messy play through to kayaking, archery and bug hunting. In fact as you can probably guess it’s the outdoor ones and more adventure type ones that appealed the most to me. However I would say that a lot of the activities are geared to older children than ours, certainly the more active ones like rock climbing or watersports. I can’t wait until Matilda is old enough to do rock climbing and the high ropes courses, we’re going to have so much fun!
On the really wet days we went swimming and used the indoor soft play area, although we almost didn’t make it swimming as we didn’t have enough adults to meet the pool’s rules on supervision. Thankfully Ella was staying at the same time and was our extra adult. Matilda absolutely loved the flowing river that took us outside while Henry and Rupert stayed in the little pool that was just a few inches deep. Unfortunately I couldn’t indulge my big kid desire to go on the chutes this time which curl around the outside of the building.
On the Thursday we finally had a good block of sunny weather so we headed out for a stomp through the forest near camp smokey with Matilda eyeing up the zip wires across the valley. We’d only planned a short walk but ended up walking all the way down the valley to the village jumping in muddy puddles and trying not to scare all the wildlife away. We then dived into the Knights tavern for lunch just before the hail started again and for some warmth next to the log fire. I was actually quite impressed with the food in the pub, I’m definitely a bit of a food snob but the food wasn’t the mass produced chain pub food I expected and was really quite good. There are lots of mentions around the site about the use of local food and that was clear in the deserts and the tasty local ice cream!
We definitely enjoyed our time at Bluestone but there are a couple of changes that could take the park a little closer to perfection. First none of the restaurants in the village open before 12pm, you do have the option of the shop or bakery but if you want a cooked meal 12pm is the earliest. If you have children the age of mine you want to be eating before this, or at least ordering. Given the site is set up to be family friendly I was a bit surprised at the timings. The second thing is in the lodges, they already have stair gates fitted which is great, but I’d have loved to see it go a little further. There was no child cutlery or china in the kitchen and it would be great to have a step in the bathrooms for them to use with the toilet and at the sink. Little things (literally) but they do make a difference.
The big question of course is would I go again? Yes, but is my answer. For me 5 days there was long enough; while I enjoyed not getting in the car at all during the week part of the reason I like going on holiday is to explore and discover new places. By the end of the week I was ready for a change of scenery and to see more than the parks roads etc. But if we had older children I can certainly see the attraction of having so many things for them to do, you could easily send them off each day for half a day to do a high ropes course or kayaking and then have time to yourself.