Family Friendly Breaks: Wallops Wood Cottages, Hampshire

So, at 35w pregnant, I wasn’t going to travel far for an Easter break. If anything, I wanted to be closer to the hospital and not further away. We settled on Hampshire and chose to stay at Wallops Wood Cottages, booking Glenside for a five night break. Attracted by the enclosed garden with a private hot tub and a baby friendly promise, we were quietly optimistic about our choice.

Prior to arrival, the owners emailed us several times to let us choose from their children’s kit (travel cot – for once with a proper mattress! – high chair, booster seat, toys, etc.) and to let us know of events in the area that we might enjoy. This personal touch is the kind of thing that can make or break a holiday and it was appreciated, as was the home-baked cake, apple juice, beer and wine that had been left for us.

The cottage was comfortable and very well equipped. The beds and linen were of good quality and the children settled easily. Always a good sign. Sadly, our first night was somewhat marred by our neighbours next door having a very loud and sweary barney until 3am. Our only criticism of the accommodation is that the dividing walls are very thin and at times it felt like we were on holiday with the shouty people next door.

That said, after the initial noisy couple of nights, it did quieten down and the silence was glorious. We utilised the paddock at the bottom of the garden for an impromptu Easter egg hunt and to play tennis. The strong wifi meant we could take our Firestick with us to catch up on all the things we never have time to watch, as well as to catch up with each other.

The cottages are well appointed for getting out and about, and notable things to do in the area included a lovely Easter egg hunt at Mottisfont, a fun packed and busy few hours at the Winchester Science Centre and a great day out at Marwell Zoo, where the very beautiful but elusive snow leopard treated us to an appearance.

But the highlight had to be lunch at The Shoe, Exton. We went for Sunday lunch on Easter Sunday and the food was superb. I’d go as far as to say it was the best roast I’ve ever had and the children’s meals were of excellent quality and beautifully presented. Service was attentive and prompt and we all had a great time. A gorgeous gastro-pub that we’ll return to.

Now we’re home, I’m manically nesting. Every cupboard is being cleared out. I’ve filled ten bin bags in less than 24 hours. No matter how tired I am, no matter how much I ache, I simply cannot stop. The pixies are scared to stand still in case they’re bundled up and tidied away. I don’t blame them. We’re on the final furlong. The Miracle will be here before we know it.

Family Friendly Breaks: Wallops Wood Cottages, Hampshire

Family friendly breaks: Review 2

It’s taken us a while to get ourselves organised to head off for another family weekend. We’ve just got back from Chisel Barn’s Whites Ground in Blandfold Forum, Dorset. Blue Chip Holidays promise a ‘Baby Blue Chip’ package that should mean you can leave at least the kitchen sink at home.

We don’t know Dorset particularly well. Our hearts lie in Devon, really. But lovely though the A303 is, it’s just that bit too far for a weekend. We think we might have hit on the perfect compromise in Dorset and, in particular, at Chisel Barn. White Grounds, a converted dairy, boasts three large double bedrooms with either twin or king sized beds, a large open plan lounge/dining/kitchen area, a safe enclosed garden and two bathrooms. It has a separate utility room with washing machine and tumble dryer and the kitchen has all the mod cons. The beds are comfy and, most importantly, Big and Medium settled immediately from the first night. Bedtime was a breeze.

Decor is restful; I’ll go out on a limb and say Farrow & Ball throughout. A large, comfy corner sofa comfortably envelopes the whole family and there’s a cheerful log burner for chilly nights. Outside, the garden is fully fenced without compromising the beautiful view over Chisel Barn’s land. Baby cows, sheep, horses and a large pond are all you’ll see and the quiet is wonderful. Even the cows don’t moo at night and, weirdly, despite them being only a 40 or so metres from the front door, they don’t smell. Big, Medium and Little adored the cows and made several visits a day to say hello. They also enjoyed using the fishing nets left for them in the pond and hunting for frogspawn. Lovely Husband and I enjoyed an evening drinking champagne and eating cheese around the fire pit while the smalls slept. Lovely.

And onto the Baby Blue Chip promise. Well, we felt this was a bit ‘meh’. It didn’t induce us to write a glowing report on the ‘reduced packing’ aspect. There was a potty, loo seat, steriliser, monitor, some bath toys and the owner thoughtfully bought a Bumbo (at our recommendation) for us,  but we were disappointed by the lack of toys and DVDs. If the weather had been too bad to throw the kids outside, we would’ve been stuck. We did need that extra crate of things in the car after all, which means more packing and unpacking at both ends. That’s really what we want to avoid.

That said, we would definitely return, even with the extra crate in the car. The house is restful and incredibly easy to live in. It has a better broadband connection than we have at home, so Lovely Husband could work. It’s location is handy for several beaches (we visited the gorgeous and unspoilt Studland beach) as well attractions such as Monkey World and the Tank Museum (honestly – this place is fascinating and well worth a trip). We were all sad to leave and White Grounds could well be another contender for our regular jaunts.

Find out more about Chisel Barn here: http://www.bluechipholidays.co.uk/dorset/blandford-forum/chisel-barn-whites-ground

 

 

 

Family friendly breaks: Review 2