Family adventures: The Forest of Dean part 2 | AD

  (read part one here)

Sunday morning we all awoke to the sun filtering through the trees had a had another lazy breakfast before taking a little walk with the dog round the woodland trail right behind our cabin.

We followed the path through the woods, passed by runners on a morning jog and other dog walkers and spied yet more cabins nestled in amongst the trees. We had a little play and climb in a clearing before continuing on the loop that took us right round and back into the site. This is what I loved most about the Forest Holidays setting, that it was so easy just to step out the door and be immersed in the woods and nature.

Our plans for the day included a trip to the near by Beechenhurst lodge for a walk around and to have a go at the Go Ape they have on site there. Theo actually visited this place for his birthday back in January, where he and two friends and Rob travelled up just for the day to have a go, this is what originally inspired us to discover the Forest of Dean further! Seeing as Rob went last time Theo wanted me to join him, which I did thinking it would be easy but in actual fact I quickly realised that I'm not too keen on heights! This was actually only the kids trail, so I definitely wouldn't be able to do an adult one! Who knew that getting older meant that these fears suddenly creep in without you knowing?! Theo had a great time though, even though he was still a little hesitant - maybe he was picking up on my vibes! The staff were all really friendly and understanding that some people need a little more time and really tried their hardest to make you feel at ease! It definitely makes for a great place to take kids for a birthday or special occasion, or just something fun to do on a day out. Prices are £19 per person and you get an hour up in the trees and it is pretty fun (even if you are a bit afraid of heights!)

After having our fill of the heights we met back up with Rob and had a little lunch in the cafe on site and met up with my mum whilst we played in the park which was lovely for both the boys. We then went on a little walk around the grounds which has a sculpture trail and a mini 'Zog' trail for kids which you could purchase a little activity bag for for £3 in the cafe. Rohan had a little sleep whilst we navigated around and did the trail and the pup loped around having a whale of a time! There is a sculpture trail which we tried to follow in parts, but we either got a little lost or the sculptures were no longe there as we didn't see any which was a shame, but by this point the weather was just starting to turn so we decided to head back to the lodge for dinner.

We had bought ingredients for a BBQ and even though it was tipping it down we decided to have it anyway, but just eat inside, but if the weather had been nice there is a big table on the outside decking which would be perfect for sunny evenings eating surrounded by the forest. We of course had another dip in the hot tub, even in the rain!


On Monday it was time to pack up our lovely lodge and leave, even though we all agreed that we could have definitely stayed for a week and explore more! We were definitely sad to leave, so much so that we decided to stop off on the way home just to make the most of it, plus the weather was pretty lovely so it felt a shame to waste the day seeing as it only takes an hour to get home.

We stopped off at Goodrich Castle where we've been a few times before so we knew it was a good place to spend a few hours. It's set in a beautiful grounds and scenery and it's so interesting to read all about the history of the castle. Rohan had a little wander around whilst Theo and Rob climbed up the towers and we just soaked up the quiet morning!

We had an early picnic lunch back at the cafe and shop area before reluctantly heading back home. It really was such a great way to spend the weekend, and really made us have quality time as a family doing things we all really enjoy. I didn't really realise how easy it was to get to this area from Bristol, especially now that the bridge is toll free and there's just so much more to do here, so we'll definitely be back to explore further, next time even bringing our own bikes maybe!


Our trip was in collaboration with The Forest of Dean tourism board, our accommodation, travel and activities were gifted as part of the review but all words and images are my own. 

Family adventure: The Forest of Dean part one | #AD


Last Friday we packed up our bags, picked everyone up from school and nursery ready to hit the road and drive the short distance from Somerset/Bristol to the Forest of Dean. It couldn't have come at a better time, Rob had been away all week for work, our weekends have been all over the place and it really felt like we needed to reconnect as a family. Planning holidays usually takes quite a bit of effort for us (like most families!) but we really have to consider travel time as Rohan doesn't do very well in the car for long distances, so travelling for just over an hour to somewhere we've not really explored before was perfect.

We had the whole weekend ahead of us to unwind, explore and spend time together all in a beautiful setting. Whilst even though it's so close we've not really properly explored this area before, more skirted around the edges whilst visiting my Mum, who lives not too far away in Malvern. It's always been one of those places I'd heard of but not realised that it was quite so close as it is!

We were lucky enough to be invited to spend the weekend at the Forest Holidays Park near Coleford, which proved to be an excellent base for lots of exploring, as all of the places we visited were less than 15 minutes drive from here and there was so much to do. We were staying in a woodland cabin and realised that this meant it came with a hot tub, much to all of our excitement! I don't think we've ever quite been the family to holiday in places with hot tubs, or know anyone with one, so it was still a total novelty. The cabin itself was beautiful, with so much open space, floor to ceilings windows that perfectly framed the view of the forest behind. There was a wood burning stove, a fully equipped kitchen, and in our two bed cabin we had an en suite bathroom as well as a main with a bath. There was everything you'd need to stay a week or more! It definitely exceeded our expectations!


Once we'd settled in and unpacked we ordered some pizza from the main reception (which had it's own bar and cafe), to be delivered to our cabin so we could enjoy an evening in. We brought our own food too for the rest of the weekend, which really helps to keep costs down, but having one little treat on the first night was great. Once we'd settled Rohan into bed we enjoyed dinner, then hopped into the hot tub that had been warming up all day. It was a perfect way to unwind and really feel like we were on holiday, that and a glass or two of prosecco! 

The next morning after a lazy breakfast we headed a short drive away  (under 10 minutes) to Pedalabikeaway Cycle Centre to hire bikes for the morning and explore the forest on two wheels. The service was brilliant as they checked and fitted all of our bikes, including swapping to a trailer for Rohan as we felt he'd enjoy it a little more this way, and give Onyx a rest if he needed it! We were soon all set up and on our way, deciding to take the ten mile family trail round the forest. It was a great distance for us, taking around an hour and a half (with a few stops!) and provided us with such stunning scenery. The trail was also relatively quiet, with us being the only users on it for good portions, which was great to feel like we could spread out and go at our own pace. Onyx ended up running the whole way with us, he was definitely a tired pup at the end of the day! The views were just beautiful and it's so relaxing cycling through the woods, it really reminded me of a place we used to go to as a family for cycling over in Norfolk. 


Once we'd returned our bikes we headed back to the cabin so Theo and Rob could head off for a forest survival session located onsite. They spent a good few hours with an expert who talked them through all sorts of skills, giving tips and advice as they walked along through the woods. Theo seemed to take so much of it in and came back chatting about all that he'd learnt, especially about fire lighting and wanting to get his own steel and flint. After building a camp fire and having a go to light it, they finished off with hot chocolate. I think they'd definitely recommend having a go at this! I just think it's so important for kids to get out in the woods and immerse themselves in it, and learn some new skills along the way.


Determined to explore as much as possible, once Theo and Rob had returned we jumped back in the car to go up the road to Puzzlewood Forest. Unfortunately they don't allow pushchairs on site, and the forest isn't accessible to wheelchairs, something which isn't very clear from their website and we were only told when we turned up, so something to bear in mind to plan for if you want to visit! It's a shame it isn't more disabled accessible, but I do understand that it's an ancient natural woodland. If we'd known we would've taken our back carrier so we could all visit the wood, but Theo and I just had a wander round instead. That being said there was a lot to do for Rohan without visiting the woods themselves, so he was happy. When we arrived we headed to the cafe for a late lunch, and sat outside in the lovely picnic area surrounded by trees. The area had a mini music garden and a great hill for rolling down which is perfect for keeping kids entertained whilst you wait for food, we stayed in this area for quite a while as it really relaxing in the late afternoon and not too busy at all. 

After lunch (which was nice and well priced!) we wandered over to the playground and farm area and said hello to all the animals which was very fun...I always have a soft spot for goats! It was actually quite nice not to have the pushchair for a few hours as I think it encourages Rohan to be out on his feet and engaging in the world a little more, he is too heavy to carry in our arms constantly and I like seeing him wander about as much as possible. After the mini farm we headed to the barns where they have a few activities such as a maze that Theo and I tackled and a toddler area with lots of ride on cars and scooters which Rohan had a lot of fun on. Whilst he was entertained here Theo and I headed into the magical forest itself where we followed small winding paths taking us through the woods and off on tangents around and under the roots of these old trees. The woods was dark and mysterious, covered in moss and smelling of damp earth. We followed steps leading through between towering rocks and held hands as we explored round scary corners. It was so quiet and still, except for the occasional rustle of the undergrowth where we managed to spot little mice travelling through their tunnels and poking their heads out occasionally. The watched squirrels dart from tree to tree and just stood and marvelled the ancient trees and the magical surroundings. You can see why it's been used as a backdrop for so many films. 

After we'd wandered around a while and managed not to get too lost we made our way out of the forest as it was nearing closing time. We definitely could have stayed a lot longer and explore more of the woods. I think we'll add that to our list of something to visit again, this time with a carrier for Rohan! 


Despite their faces they did enjoy themselves! We made our way back to the cabin ready for an evening of hot tubs, eurovision and the log burner...sounds good doesn't it?


Come back for more soon!




We worked together with Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Tourism board for this post, in exchange for a review of local attractions and accommodation. Our cabin, entry to places and travel has been covered in exchange for the review, but I've not been paid for my time or opinions. All words and images are my own. 

France holiday part two: pedalos & pools and the beach!


(read part one of our Eurocamp holiday here!)

Friday

After our little trip to the supermarket to stock up on French goodies we decided to check out the pool. We'd passed it on our way in and had a glimpse at the water slides which I know Theo was dying to go on, so we changed and made our way over. The sky was looking a bit heavy so it was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.

The pool complex had this great glass roof that could be opened or closed meaning it as perfect for if the weather wasn't too warm or raining, or feel like you were still outside if the weather was nice and sunny with the roof open. Inside (if the roof was closed!) they had a large pool with lots of different steps, jets and a little jacuzzi area, this was pretty good for playing games and letting Rohan have a good kick around. There was also a dedicated baby/toddler pool which had its own dedicated little slides which were great, it was also the warmest pool. Then inside there were two different types of slides, a twisty one that went outside and in the dark then a really fast slide that three of you could go down in a row. None of the slides were that busy and each had their own plunge pool at the end. We were pretty surprised at just how fast the fast one was, but for a 7 year old, he was in his element. In addition to the inside pools there was also an outside part that had a lazy river with bridges and ramps. There is also the main bar and restaurant located by the pool, which looked pretty good.


After a few hours Rohan had had enough so we left Theo and Rob playing in the pool (honestly Theo could've stayed in all day) and walked the short way back to our home just as it decided to start to pour down. I love that cosy feeling of once you're all dry of sitting and watching the rain pour down. We sat on the decking under the canopy drinking tea and relaxing before the others returned and we started dinner.


Once we'd eaten dinner and the rain had cleared up, we decided to explore the campsite a bit more. I knew there were a few lakes and we wanted to get our bearings and ended up doing nearly a complete lap of the park. I love going out for an evening walk and it was a great way to get a feel for the place. Just past the swimming pools we found the fishing and boating lake, there was also a great play park by here where Theo played for a while. There was also a covered ping pong place, as well as extra things like trampolines, mini go cart track and other things you can pay extra for (we didn't actually get time to try any of these out, yet another reason to stay a little longer next time!)

It was so peaceful walking around the park, seeing families out together and it really felt like we were on holiday. I love how bedtime routines aren't as strict and it was great not having to worry about getting up early for school and our daily routine.


We saw that you could hire out pedalos too, so made a note to come back the next day and chose which one we wanted (I wanted the swan or flamingo but Theo chose the dragon!)

We then found the beach lake, complete with a beach side bar and restaurant too. I loved how there was the option of having this beach to go to as an alternative to the pool, and we couldn't wait to come back the next day and try it out too.


Saturday

We managed to check out the Eurocamp kids club and sent Theo off for the morning session of games. It's always a bit of a relief having a few hours break and I know it does Theo so much good to be around kids his own age for a while. They actually had kids club for all ages (from 6 months to 17!) including Rohan, but we didn't get round to doing one with him, but next time we will definitely check it out as I'm sure he'll love it. We spent a few hours just relaxing back at the holiday home having a slow morning until it was time to pick him up again. We had a little lunch back at the home before gathering up our beach things and heading to where we'd explored the evening before.


First stop though, the pedalos. The sun had been teasing and trying to come out properly all morning, and decided too just as we got out on the lake, so it was pretty hot, especially with all the pedalling! I think it was the first time Theo and I think he really enjoyed giving it a go, Rohan seemed to enjoy it too as it's pretty relaxing when you're not the one having to pedal and can just watch the water, and he looked very cute in his life jacket! We had half an hour (which Theo got a bit panicked about keeping to?!) which was actually the right amount of time for us all especially Rohan.


So next stop, the beach! I have a bit of a love hate relationship with the beach most of the time. I love being close to the water and being able to swim in the sea, but I have a slight phobia of putting my feet down, unless it's super clear. I also am not the biggest fan of the sand to have to sit on, I don't mind playing in it, but I HATE it when it get's all over your things especially if you're trying to eat.

But luckily the pool had lovely grassy banks with sunshades to lay your towels down, which meant that no sand went near our belongings and the sand was just there to play on. As the whole beach and lake are man-made the sand was lovely quality too and not gritty and horrible. The water was great too, and had a good gentle slope which did actually get pretty deep right out in the middle, I don't think I could stand up (but was also a little afraid to put my feet down to test!) You were also able to take your big inflatables out on the water which was great for floating and playing games. It was also pretty big so even though there were lots of people playing and swimming it didn't feel overcrowded at all.


Theo loves being buried in the sand, so of course we had to do this. Rohan on the other hand was all about the water, and this holiday seems to have really cemented the fact that he is happiest when he's in it. He had no fear about shuffling into the water and just wanted to splash around! We do have a baby float for him but I think he wants to be free now! We just need to find him a float to put around his waist to keep him a little more upright as there was quite a lot of face plating the water going on!



It was so good to see the boys being able to finally play together in the water, they loved splashing and chasing each other (Rohan's actually pretty fast and was able to bumshuffle even in the water!)


We all were able to get in and play together, and after a while Rohan and I just sat and watched Theo been thrown in the water over and over again by Rob, much to the delight of them both. Rohan just sat giggling.

After a while we got out and treated ourselves to an ice-cream from the bar, as well as some chips and a beer whilst we dried off. They did more food too, but there wasn't much option for vegetarians (as a lot of it was rotisserie chicken!) but we did note that they did crepes too! We had such a fun afternoon hanging out at the beach, and the best part of it was that we didn't have to pack up the car after and drive home. We just walked the short way back and got ready to have a bbq!

It was a really great day, and we ended it by drinking wine and playing card games together on the decking.


I also made a little video of our days so check out that!

France holiday part two: pedalos & pools and the beach!


(read part one of our Eurocamp holiday here!)

Friday

After our little trip to the supermarket to stock up on French goodies we decided to check out the pool. We'd passed it on our way in and had a glimpse at the water slides which I know Theo was dying to go on, so we changed and made our way over. The sky was looking a bit heavy so it was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.

The pool complex had this great glass roof that could be opened or closed meaning it as perfect for if the weather wasn't too warm or raining, or feel like you were still outside if the weather was nice and sunny with the roof open. Inside (if the roof was closed!) they had a large pool with lots of different steps, jets and a little jacuzzi area, this was pretty good for playing games and letting Rohan have a good kick around. There was also a dedicated baby/toddler pool which had its own dedicated little slides which were great, it was also the warmest pool. Then inside there were two different types of slides, a twisty one that went outside and in the dark then a really fast slide that three of you could go down in a row. None of the slides were that busy and each had their own plunge pool at the end. We were pretty surprised at just how fast the fast one was, but for a 7 year old, he was in his element. In addition to the inside pools there was also an outside part that had a lazy river with bridges and ramps. There is also the main bar and restaurant located by the pool, which looked pretty good.


After a few hours Rohan had had enough so we left Theo and Rob playing in the pool (honestly Theo could've stayed in all day) and walked the short way back to our home just as it decided to start to pour down. I love that cosy feeling of once you're all dry of sitting and watching the rain pour down. We sat on the decking under the canopy drinking tea and relaxing before the others returned and we started dinner.


Once we'd eaten dinner and the rain had cleared up, we decided to explore the campsite a bit more. I knew there were a few lakes and we wanted to get our bearings and ended up doing nearly a complete lap of the park. I love going out for an evening walk and it was a great way to get a feel for the place. Just past the swimming pools we found the fishing and boating lake, there was also a great play park by here where Theo played for a while. There was also a covered ping pong place, as well as extra things like trampolines, mini go cart track and other things you can pay extra for (we didn't actually get time to try any of these out, yet another reason to stay a little longer next time!)

It was so peaceful walking around the park, seeing families out together and it really felt like we were on holiday. I love how bedtime routines aren't as strict and it was great not having to worry about getting up early for school and our daily routine.


We saw that you could hire out pedalos too, so made a note to come back the next day and chose which one we wanted (I wanted the swan or flamingo but Theo chose the dragon!)

We then found the beach lake, complete with a beach side bar and restaurant too. I loved how there was the option of having this beach to go to as an alternative to the pool, and we couldn't wait to come back the next day and try it out too.


Saturday

We managed to check out the Eurocamp kids club and sent Theo off for the morning session of games. It's always a bit of a relief having a few hours break and I know it does Theo so much good to be around kids his own age for a while. They actually had kids club for all ages (from 6 months to 17!) including Rohan, but we didn't get round to doing one with him, but next time we will definitely check it out as I'm sure he'll love it. We spent a few hours just relaxing back at the holiday home having a slow morning until it was time to pick him up again. We had a little lunch back at the home before gathering up our beach things and heading to where we'd explored the evening before.


First stop though, the pedalos. The sun had been teasing and trying to come out properly all morning, and decided too just as we got out on the lake, so it was pretty hot, especially with all the pedalling! I think it was the first time Theo and I think he really enjoyed giving it a go, Rohan seemed to enjoy it too as it's pretty relaxing when you're not the one having to pedal and can just watch the water, and he looked very cute in his life jacket! We had half an hour (which Theo got a bit panicked about keeping to?!) which was actually the right amount of time for us all especially Rohan.


So next stop, the beach! I have a bit of a love hate relationship with the beach most of the time. I love being close to the water and being able to swim in the sea, but I have a slight phobia of putting my feet down, unless it's super clear. I also am not the biggest fan of the sand to have to sit on, I don't mind playing in it, but I HATE it when it get's all over your things especially if you're trying to eat.

But luckily the pool had lovely grassy banks with sunshades to lay your towels down, which meant that no sand went near our belongings and the sand was just there to play on. As the whole beach and lake are man-made the sand was lovely quality too and not gritty and horrible. The water was great too, and had a good gentle slope which did actually get pretty deep right out in the middle, I don't think I could stand up (but was also a little afraid to put my feet down to test!) You were also able to take your big inflatables out on the water which was great for floating and playing games. It was also pretty big so even though there were lots of people playing and swimming it didn't feel overcrowded at all.


Theo loves being buried in the sand, so of course we had to do this. Rohan on the other hand was all about the water, and this holiday seems to have really cemented the fact that he is happiest when he's in it. He had no fear about shuffling into the water and just wanted to splash around! We do have a baby float for him but I think he wants to be free now! We just need to find him a float to put around his waist to keep him a little more upright as there was quite a lot of face plating the water going on!



It was so good to see the boys being able to finally play together in the water, they loved splashing and chasing each other (Rohan's actually pretty fast and was able to bumshuffle even in the water!)


We all were able to get in and play together, and after a while Rohan and I just sat and watched Theo been thrown in the water over and over again by Rob, much to the delight of them both. Rohan just sat giggling.

After a while we got out and treated ourselves to an ice-cream from the bar, as well as some chips and a beer whilst we dried off. They did more food too, but there wasn't much option for vegetarians (as a lot of it was rotisserie chicken!) but we did note that they did crepes too! We had such a fun afternoon hanging out at the beach, and the best part of it was that we didn't have to pack up the car after and drive home. We just walked the short way back and got ready to have a bbq!

It was a really great day, and we ended it by drinking wine and playing card games together on the decking.


I also made a little video of our days so check out that!

Travelling abroad with a child with additional needs

So as you may know we journeyed to Barcelona over the Summer to stay with my sister and have our first abroad holiday as a family of four. In fact we've not been abroad together as a family for a good number of years (I think Theo was around 18 months!) but this time it was different. There were four of us, and it needed a whole load more planning than usual. I wanted to talk about preparing and organising a family holiday that involves having to take into account everything you might need for a child who has additional medical needs.

I know that planning a family holiday abroad, or in fact even at home can seem like a pretty daunting task. It all looks so easy when you watch people from a far swanning around villas and pools, their kids having the best time, what you don't see are the challenges that come with travelling with children, and even more so those that come with all the additions. For one we had to hold off really even booking anything this year as we had to wait for Rohan's heart procedure to happen, we had two failed attempts and each time then had to wait to be given a new appointment, to pass the surgery pre assessment and then keep our fingers crossed that he didn't catch some bug in the week in between. He finally had a successful procedure in June, which meant our chances of finding any good holiday deals went out the window.

We decided that we wanted to go abroad, seeing that last year our holiday consisted of a week in a tent in the rain in Cornwall (well it was Sunny for a few days, and I do love Cornwall) but after the last few years of holidaying in the UK (all of which we've enjoyed) we felt it was time to try somewhere further and have a proper break. I think we felt like we deserved a little holiday. Considering that actually booking anywhere in the UK would have cost us nearly the same amounts that late in the year. So we decided to try and visit my sister in Barcelona, which is one of our favourite places to visit anyway. Initially we were just going to go for a week and stay with her, but after thinking about it we felt that actually having a little more time and to relax somewhere by a pool would do us all good. So we found a last minute deal in a holiday park with Eurocamp just down the coast from Barcelona. It was perfect. It cost us pretty much all our extra savings, but sometimes you just really need to give yourself a break right?


So then the planning began. Because Rohan is on special high calorie milk we had to take all that we would need with us, as well as his regular medication and all the equipment he needs. This meant that we had to contact the airline to let them know and give us permission to bring all that extra stuff. Thankfully Easyjet were really accommodating and allowed us an extra hold bag with no weight limit, and an extra carry on for the plane. We had to then arrange a letter to be written by two separate people detailing all the things we needed to take with us and why. I mean I know you usually end up having take so much stuff with you anyway when travelling with babies and children, but add in a box of 24 bottles of milk, a CPAP machine, extra masks, a sats monitor, his boots and bars, medication, tubes and leads and you have A LOT. We even had to remember extras such as additional plug adapters for all that we needed to plug in. There was just so much to remember as Rohan relies on all of this to be able to survive, that if we forgot anything then we'd be in a lot of trouble. It's a daunting thought.

So eventually the day of our flight, (which we purposefully booked and paid a but more for) in the middle of the day, to avoid travelling over bedtimes to avoid having to worry about Rohan being overtired or needing his CPAP to sleep. We had to carry on milk to the flight which again required a letter to let security know. But all went really well and Rohan even managed a little nap on the flight for around half an hour. We'd arranged for my sister to meet us at the airport to take the luggage back in their car, whilst my sister and I and the boys took public transport across the city, which was fun and not stressful seeing as we weren't weighed down with bags. The rest of our time in Barcelona passed as most others when travelling with children. Rohan had to forgo some naps at home, and we had to remember to slow down to let them adjust to the new routines, but I think we all had a great time. Day to day was pretty much the same as it is at home, with the normal additional things we have to do for Rohan. Sometimes it's actually easy to forget that our days might look different to other people's, because we do it everyday. When we got to our second part of the holiday we realised that Rohan really needed a few proper days of napping in his cot with his CPAP machine because we'd been out and about most days and he'd been having short naps in his buggy obviously without it, which is fine, but not for prolonged amounts of time as his airways had clearly got weaker for having to work hard during his nap times that he struggled to breathe well one night, even when on his machine. It wasn't ideal but a few days of proper naps seemed to make it better, and we learnt yet another lesson. Maybe we should've had a days rest in between all the outings.

I'm guess not writing this to complain or get pity, more I think to remind myself what we had to do and to share a little of what our experience was like. It's so easy to think that so many people are living these perfect lives, and when you share a smiling holiday picture, often there can be so much unseen that has gone on up until that point that I think it's important to share that things may never be as easy as they seem. I also know that we're pretty lucky to be able to go on a holiday abroad, to afford it and also that Rohan's condition still allows us enough flexibility to do so. I think holidays will always be like this for us, but I'm hoping they will still always be worth the extra effort.

Oh and it definitely didn't go 100% swimmingly, we forgot and left one of our carry on suitcases somewhere in the airport on the way back! Hopefully lost property has it, as it had most of Theo's and Rohan's clothes and we can get it back. I think this was a result of having been allowed an extra bag, but actually not having enough hands for all of our stuff and it being the end of the holiday and being a little worn out! 

Travelling abroad with a child with additional needs

So as you may know we journeyed to Barcelona over the Summer to stay with my sister and have our first abroad holiday as a family of four. In fact we've not been abroad together as a family for a good number of years (I think Theo was around 18 months!) but this time it was different. There were four of us, and it needed a whole load more planning than usual. I wanted to talk about preparing and organising a family holiday that involves having to take into account everything you might need for a child who has additional medical needs.

I know that planning a family holiday abroad, or in fact even at home can seem like a pretty daunting task. It all looks so easy when you watch people from a far swanning around villas and pools, their kids having the best time, what you don't see are the challenges that come with travelling with children, and even more so those that come with all the additions. For one we had to hold off really even booking anything this year as we had to wait for Rohan's heart procedure to happen, we had two failed attempts and each time then had to wait to be given a new appointment, to pass the surgery pre assessment and then keep our fingers crossed that he didn't catch some bug in the week in between. He finally had a successful procedure in June, which meant our chances of finding any good holiday deals went out the window.

We decided that we wanted to go abroad, seeing that last year our holiday consisted of a week in a tent in the rain in Cornwall (well it was Sunny for a few days, and I do love Cornwall) but after the last few years of holidaying in the UK (all of which we've enjoyed) we felt it was time to try somewhere further and have a proper break. I think we felt like we deserved a little holiday. Considering that actually booking anywhere in the UK would have cost us nearly the same amounts that late in the year. So we decided to try and visit my sister in Barcelona, which is one of our favourite places to visit anyway. Initially we were just going to go for a week and stay with her, but after thinking about it we felt that actually having a little more time and to relax somewhere by a pool would do us all good. So we found a last minute deal in a holiday park with Eurocamp just down the coast from Barcelona. It was perfect. It cost us pretty much all our extra savings, but sometimes you just really need to give yourself a break right?


So then the planning began. Because Rohan is on special high calorie milk we had to take all that we would need with us, as well as his regular medication and all the equipment he needs. This meant that we had to contact the airline to let them know and give us permission to bring all that extra stuff. Thankfully Easyjet were really accommodating and allowed us an extra hold bag with no weight limit, and an extra carry on for the plane. We had to then arrange a letter to be written by two separate people detailing all the things we needed to take with us and why. I mean I know you usually end up having take so much stuff with you anyway when travelling with babies and children, but add in a box of 24 bottles of milk, a CPAP machine, extra masks, a sats monitor, his boots and bars, medication, tubes and leads and you have A LOT. We even had to remember extras such as additional plug adapters for all that we needed to plug in. There was just so much to remember as Rohan relies on all of this to be able to survive, that if we forgot anything then we'd be in a lot of trouble. It's a daunting thought.

So eventually the day of our flight, (which we purposefully booked and paid a but more for) in the middle of the day, to avoid travelling over bedtimes to avoid having to worry about Rohan being overtired or needing his CPAP to sleep. We had to carry on milk to the flight which again required a letter to let security know. But all went really well and Rohan even managed a little nap on the flight for around half an hour. We'd arranged for my sister to meet us at the airport to take the luggage back in their car, whilst my sister and I and the boys took public transport across the city, which was fun and not stressful seeing as we weren't weighed down with bags. The rest of our time in Barcelona passed as most others when travelling with children. Rohan had to forgo some naps at home, and we had to remember to slow down to let them adjust to the new routines, but I think we all had a great time. Day to day was pretty much the same as it is at home, with the normal additional things we have to do for Rohan. Sometimes it's actually easy to forget that our days might look different to other people's, because we do it everyday. When we got to our second part of the holiday we realised that Rohan really needed a few proper days of napping in his cot with his CPAP machine because we'd been out and about most days and he'd been having short naps in his buggy obviously without it, which is fine, but not for prolonged amounts of time as his airways had clearly got weaker for having to work hard during his nap times that he struggled to breathe well one night, even when on his machine. It wasn't ideal but a few days of proper naps seemed to make it better, and we learnt yet another lesson. Maybe we should've had a days rest in between all the outings.

I'm guess not writing this to complain or get pity, more I think to remind myself what we had to do and to share a little of what our experience was like. It's so easy to think that so many people are living these perfect lives, and when you share a smiling holiday picture, often there can be so much unseen that has gone on up until that point that I think it's important to share that things may never be as easy as they seem. I also know that we're pretty lucky to be able to go on a holiday abroad, to afford it and also that Rohan's condition still allows us enough flexibility to do so. I think holidays will always be like this for us, but I'm hoping they will still always be worth the extra effort.

Oh and it definitely didn't go 100% swimmingly, we forgot and left one of our carry on suitcases somewhere in the airport on the way back! Hopefully lost property has it, as it had most of Theo's and Rohan's clothes and we can get it back. I think this was a result of having been allowed an extra bag, but actually not having enough hands for all of our stuff and it being the end of the holiday and being a little worn out! 

Postcards from Kent


A few weeks back we made the annual journey over to my sisters for her birthday. We spent a few days doing what you should whilst there; a trip to the seaside for evening fish and chips, picnics and sprinklers in the garden, walking through fields of crops (we weren't quite wild or brave enough to run through the wheat field though!) and stopping at country pubs nestled in chocolate box villages.



Postcards from Kent


A few weeks back we made the annual journey over to my sisters for her birthday. We spent a few days doing what you should whilst there; a trip to the seaside for evening fish and chips, picnics and sprinklers in the garden, walking through fields of crops (we weren't quite wild or brave enough to run through the wheat field though!) and stopping at country pubs nestled in chocolate box villages.



A family walk: Killerton National Trust

 So I'm going to try and be a little more up to date with my post's, as often I have adventures sitting there waiting to be shared but then too much time goes past and I forget and then it feels like it's the wrong time to share. Too much else is going on though to be consistent, but I find it nice to be able to look back in a year or two at what we were doing and how we all looked. Recently thanks to the memories function on facebook popping up daily reminders of what we were doing one, two, three etc years ago it's made me even more want to capture our days now, as they happen. There's something magical in looking back, the shock of how much the children have grown and changed, old outfits which send you searching through under the bed boxes to hunt them out and retrieve them to relive them again. Important milestones too, most of last year the little steps and victories we had with Rohan, how his first year was laid out and all that we went through. I love being able to look back and remember it all.

On our way back from Devon on Easter Monday we decided that instead of just driving all the way back, we'd stop along the way and make the most of the time we had together before our busy week before Rowie's surgery. We'd passed the signs off the motorway many times for a National Trust, but had never really thought to stop as the journey isn't too long so it we never feel we have to stop. Sometimes you get so caught up in getting from A to B that you miss the bits in between (wow isn't that a metaphor for life?!) So we stopped. They were holding an egg hunt for Easter which led us on a trail around the beautiful gardens that were full of blooming Rhododendrons, Magnolias and Camellias. We stopped many times to admire the colours and heavy laden trees and smell the sweet scents. The sun eventually came out too and Theo spent a long time rolling down the gentle sloped lawns and making new friends. We of course stopped for cream tea (a National Trust must-do) before we made our way back to the car, glad for the long gentle walk and fresh air.


A family walk: Killerton National Trust

 So I'm going to try and be a little more up to date with my post's, as often I have adventures sitting there waiting to be shared but then too much time goes past and I forget and then it feels like it's the wrong time to share. Too much else is going on though to be consistent, but I find it nice to be able to look back in a year or two at what we were doing and how we all looked. Recently thanks to the memories function on facebook popping up daily reminders of what we were doing one, two, three etc years ago it's made me even more want to capture our days now, as they happen. There's something magical in looking back, the shock of how much the children have grown and changed, old outfits which send you searching through under the bed boxes to hunt them out and retrieve them to relive them again. Important milestones too, most of last year the little steps and victories we had with Rohan, how his first year was laid out and all that we went through. I love being able to look back and remember it all.

On our way back from Devon on Easter Monday we decided that instead of just driving all the way back, we'd stop along the way and make the most of the time we had together before our busy week before Rowie's surgery. We'd passed the signs off the motorway many times for a National Trust, but had never really thought to stop as the journey isn't too long so it we never feel we have to stop. Sometimes you get so caught up in getting from A to B that you miss the bits in between (wow isn't that a metaphor for life?!) So we stopped. They were holding an egg hunt for Easter which led us on a trail around the beautiful gardens that were full of blooming Rhododendrons, Magnolias and Camellias. We stopped many times to admire the colours and heavy laden trees and smell the sweet scents. The sun eventually came out too and Theo spent a long time rolling down the gentle sloped lawns and making new friends. We of course stopped for cream tea (a National Trust must-do) before we made our way back to the car, glad for the long gentle walk and fresh air.


A family walk : Weston-Super-Mare




On the days where you catch the light just right, the golden hour, and you're all revelling at filling your lung with the crisp winter sea air, many photographs are taken. I seemed to have forgotten to share them on here though, but they are some of my favourite and before we hurtle through Spring and into Summer, I thought I would sneak them in. There will be more to follow..at some point! 

Yours sincerely, the worlds worst blogger. 

A family walk : Weston-Super-Mare




On the days where you catch the light just right, the golden hour, and you're all revelling at filling your lung with the crisp winter sea air, many photographs are taken. I seemed to have forgotten to share them on here though, but they are some of my favourite and before we hurtle through Spring and into Summer, I thought I would sneak them in. There will be more to follow..at some point! 

Yours sincerely, the worlds worst blogger. 

A family walk: Clevedon


A crisp winters day in the quiet between Christmas and New year. Rob was back at work, we were all recovering from illness and moving but there was an itch to get out into the sun and explore. We've been to Clevedon many times before, but now we live even closer we didn't want to miss this chance and weather. We strolled along the front with many other people and made our way onto the beach, Rohan sat on the stones whilst we watched Theo leap from one rock to another and throwing pebbles into the pools with a satisfying plop! The sea was as far out as I had ever seen it and we ran down ramp right to the end. The water was so still and calm, the freezing colours of silver, blue and purple all around us.

We then took ourselves to a cafe to warm up with hot chocolate and lunch and Theo got his reward of an ice cream for being so well behaved. It was one of those days where it just worked, we had fun and I felt like a super women. 

A family walk: Clevedon


A crisp winters day in the quiet between Christmas and New year. Rob was back at work, we were all recovering from illness and moving but there was an itch to get out into the sun and explore. We've been to Clevedon many times before, but now we live even closer we didn't want to miss this chance and weather. We strolled along the front with many other people and made our way onto the beach, Rohan sat on the stones whilst we watched Theo leap from one rock to another and throwing pebbles into the pools with a satisfying plop! The sea was as far out as I had ever seen it and we ran down ramp right to the end. The water was so still and calm, the freezing colours of silver, blue and purple all around us.

We then took ourselves to a cafe to warm up with hot chocolate and lunch and Theo got his reward of an ice cream for being so well behaved. It was one of those days where it just worked, we had fun and I felt like a super women. 

December in Devon


The week before Christmas we took Theo down to Devon for a few days whilst we moved house. It was a little bit of calm before the crazy storm that was to come. I think visiting Rob's grandparents is always my place to go to for a little sanctuary. I'm not sure if it's the sea being so close but I always find it so therapeutic, plus Rob's grandparents always treat us so well that it's so hard not to enjoy it!

We only stayed for a day or two but I wanted make sure we did something a little special with Theo for Christmas before we left him for a few days, so we took him to a little zoo to visit Father Christmas. It's such a funny one, as now that he's getting older I wonder how long he'll believe in it all. This year I feel like he really believed it, but I'm sad to think that the magic won't last that long. I do really want to up our emphasis on that Christmas should be about giving and helping others as much as possible, and hopefully as the run up to Christmas won't be so hectic next year we can really try and do more.

We woke up to the valley being clouded in thick mist that refused the lift for the day which made it feel even more wintry and magical. The little zoo in Shaldon was quiet and we spent a bit of time looking at the monkeys before visiting the little grotto, where Santa spent ages chatting to Theo.

Afterwards we made our way down to the beach through the smugglers tunnel and marvelled at the fog covered beach, where I may have gone a little crazy with taking photographs, because you know, it just looks so beautiful!



December in Devon


The week before Christmas we took Theo down to Devon for a few days whilst we moved house. It was a little bit of calm before the crazy storm that was to come. I think visiting Rob's grandparents is always my place to go to for a little sanctuary. I'm not sure if it's the sea being so close but I always find it so therapeutic, plus Rob's grandparents always treat us so well that it's so hard not to enjoy it!

We only stayed for a day or two but I wanted make sure we did something a little special with Theo for Christmas before we left him for a few days, so we took him to a little zoo to visit Father Christmas. It's such a funny one, as now that he's getting older I wonder how long he'll believe in it all. This year I feel like he really believed it, but I'm sad to think that the magic won't last that long. I do really want to up our emphasis on that Christmas should be about giving and helping others as much as possible, and hopefully as the run up to Christmas won't be so hectic next year we can really try and do more.

We woke up to the valley being clouded in thick mist that refused the lift for the day which made it feel even more wintry and magical. The little zoo in Shaldon was quiet and we spent a bit of time looking at the monkeys before visiting the little grotto, where Santa spent ages chatting to Theo.

Afterwards we made our way down to the beach through the smugglers tunnel and marvelled at the fog covered beach, where I may have gone a little crazy with taking photographs, because you know, it just looks so beautiful!



So that was Summer; part three


We arrived back from our Cornwall holiday for a quick pitstop back in Bristol before heading back East, to my hometown for a friends wedding and to see my dad. It's always a weird sensation going back with my little family, showing them the places of my childhood. It was the first time Rohan had been there too, so that was good to feel like we were introducing him there. We spent a few days there before Rob, Rohan and I headed to Mersea Island for our second wedding (two in two weeks!) and had such a great time.

We passed the rest of the time spending it on little day trips to castles, walks around parks and climbing trees. It was a good Summer. Our first as a family of four and we felt so lucky to be able to take a holiday all together at last!




We decided to spend the last part of the holidays and bank holiday weekend down in Devon for one last little trip and mini holiday. Going down to Teignmouth is always such a treat, it's our little holiday home, where we know we can escape to when we need to most. We get to stay with Rob's grandparents where we're always made to feel so welcome and do all those lovely seaside holiday things. We played on the beach, went to the pier, swam in the lido, went to the zoo and of course played on the pier. It felt like we managed to snatch a little more of the summer before it was September once more and summer was over as quickly as it began...(other than it being a ridiculously warm September!)


So that was Summer; part three


We arrived back from our Cornwall holiday for a quick pitstop back in Bristol before heading back East, to my hometown for a friends wedding and to see my dad. It's always a weird sensation going back with my little family, showing them the places of my childhood. It was the first time Rohan had been there too, so that was good to feel like we were introducing him there. We spent a few days there before Rob, Rohan and I headed to Mersea Island for our second wedding (two in two weeks!) and had such a great time.

We passed the rest of the time spending it on little day trips to castles, walks around parks and climbing trees. It was a good Summer. Our first as a family of four and we felt so lucky to be able to take a holiday all together at last!




We decided to spend the last part of the holidays and bank holiday weekend down in Devon for one last little trip and mini holiday. Going down to Teignmouth is always such a treat, it's our little holiday home, where we know we can escape to when we need to most. We get to stay with Rob's grandparents where we're always made to feel so welcome and do all those lovely seaside holiday things. We played on the beach, went to the pier, swam in the lido, went to the zoo and of course played on the pier. It felt like we managed to snatch a little more of the summer before it was September once more and summer was over as quickly as it began...(other than it being a ridiculously warm September!)