Postcards from 2016: a year of amazing family adventures
2016 was quite a year for us. Our girls turned three and one years old and I feel we’ve really started to explore the world with them. That’s not to say we didn’t travel in the proper ‘baby days’, but this year we took it up a notch. During 12 months we took 22 trips, spending 71 nights away as a family, plus quite a few more during solo trips for Mr Tin Box and I. On top of that we visited 64 family attractions and more beaches, forests and coastal paths than I dare count. We had some amazing family adventures in 2016. Here’s our highlights.
Amazing family adventures – our favourite holidays
It would be impossible to pick just one of our 2016 family adventures as our favourite. There’s been such a variety. Different styles of breaks have also appealed to different members of the family. So, I asked the girls and Mr Tin Box to tell me which were their best travel moments of 2016. Here’s what they came up with:
A child-free weekend in Jersey
This is Mr Tin Box’s favourite break of the year. We jetted off to Jersey for a child-free, luxury weekend for two. It was lovely to have a bit of mummy-daddy down time but I think the real reason Mr TB loved this trip was because we hired a brand new MX5 to drive around the island. We have one at home but it doesn’t see much action since we had kids. Mr TB is still a bit of a soft-top nerd and couldn’t resist the opportunity to spend some quality time in a two-seater. We spent our 24 hours in the Channel Islands stopping at coastal vantage points, visiting the island’s vineyard, La Mare, and the Jersey War Tunnels. I have to admit that I quite enjoyed this trip too.
Our first family cruise
In June we did something we hear a lot about from Tin Box Grandma and Grandpa – a family cruise. My folks are old hands at floating holidays and always have such great tales to tell. So I was very excited when we found out we’d be taking an eight day cruise onboard Carnival Vista. This was without a doubt Tin Box Tot’s favourite holiday of the year. She still talks about ‘the ship’ and ‘kids club’. I also adored our foray into this new style of getaway. Experiencing Florence, Pompeii, Marseille and Barcelona were a real thrill. The ship was also amazing with so much for us to do together as a family. Cruising is definitely something we would love to revisit.
A short break on the Gower Peninsular
I get a kick out of visiting beautiful coastlines and in November we had the chance to see one of the UK’s very best – Gower. This was my favourite trip of 2016. We spent three days exploring Swansea Bay and the wider peninsular. Seeing Rhossili Bay – one of Britain’s best beaches – was a particular highlight. But it wasn’t just the breathtaking beaches and scenery that enthralled me. I also fell in love with our beautiful holiday cottage in Mumbles. It’s somewhere we’d like to return for a break with our extended family.
Christmas in Cornwall
At 20-months-old, Tin Box Baby is still organising her thoughts on what makes a perfect family holiday but I’m pretty sure our most recent vacation at Bosinver Farm in Cornwall has helped. She had a lot of first experiences here like riding a pony, collecting fresh eggs and sleeping in a big bed. All major milestones for the youngest member of our travel team, I’m sure you’ll agree. Bosinver is such a family-friendly cottage resort with luxury accommodation, a toasty indoor pool and plenty of fun activities to do onsite. Not only that, the far South West is a favourite destination for us all with so many great family days out. One on the most mesmerising was Festival of Light and Sound at The Eden Project. I’ll be writing more about our Christmas holiday at Bosniver soon.
Our top 10 days out of 2016
As regular readers will know, our travels aren’t limited to stays away from home. We also enjoy day trips, often in our local area. Here’s 10 days out, at home and away, that we can recommend you check out in 2017:
Soft Top Sunday at Goodwood in West Sussex – this free event is one of Mr Tin Box’s favourite experiences of the year and a good one for car enthusiasts. There’s such a variety of autos on display ranging from classic soft tops to modern day super cars.
Crealy Great Adventure Park near Exeter in Devon – we were lucky to visit Crealy several times during the year. The girls loved the rides, the are some fantastic seasonal events, and we found the park’s staff to be the friendliest we’ve come across. They also have a camping, glamping and lodge resort so you can stay as well as play. We enjoyed our first glamping experience here in September.
The Eden Project near St Austell in Cornwall – we visited twice in 2016. The first time at Easter and then again at Christmas. This was one of my favourite days out for the sheer awesomeness of the biomes. The Festival of Light and Sound is also something we will remember fondly for a long time. Mainly for the hilarious interpretive dancing performed by Tin Box Tot and Baby during the show.
Lanhydrock National Trust near Bodmin in Cornwall – this was our first National Trust visits of 2016 and inspired us to see a lot more throughout the year. Tin Box Tot was kept busy by the indoor and outdoor quizzes and we enjoyed wandering around the superb Victorian mansion. The combination of adult and child-orniated activities made it a great day out.
Florence in Italy – this was one of our favourite excursions during our Mediterranean cruise. We took a self-guided tour of the city, exploring its bustling streets and iconic sights with our pushchair. We had just four hours to see Florence so this was just a tantalising taste of what it has to offer. It’s definitely worth a city break at another time.
L’Aquarium de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain – after our cruise we had eight hours to kill in Barcelona before our flight home. So, we decided to splash out on a visit to this harbour side aquarium. It turned out to be a great call. It was extremely child-friendly with lots of interactive exhibits and two moving walkways that allowed you to glide through the enormous tanks. Our tiny travellers were well occupied before we headed to the airport.
The Bear Trail near Cullompton, Devon – we were invited to try out this new family assault course and had great fun jumping over mud pits, rattling across wobbly bridges and rolling over bales of hay. A towel and a change of clothes are a must at this dirt-tastic outdoor attraction. Tin Box Baby wasn’t quite big enough for the main course but there was an equally messy toddler area where she could hang out.
Powderham Castle near Exeter in Devon – there was just so much to do when we visited Powderham during our August staycation. It is the family home of the Earls of Devon and is famous for its grand house, deer park safari and seasonal events. When we visited, the resident theatre company were presenting a pirate-themed, interactive show. It was great fun. How good is the Johnny Depp look-alike?!
The Lost Gardens of Heligan near St Austell, Cornwall – I’d wanted to see Heligan for quite some time but I wasn’t sure how family-friendly a ‘garden’ could be. In reality The Lost Gardens of Heligan are much more than this. There are play areas, children’s activities and farm animals. It was a wonderful surprise and somewhere that ranked as one of my favourite days out of the year.
Coleton Fishacre near Kingswear in Devon – this is another National Trust property that wowed us during 2016. We turned up for its Coleton Aglow illuminated gardens in December and came away feeling incredibly festive. The subtropical gardens are wonderful to look around during the day but by night, and the glow of thousands of lights, they were magical.
2016 has been a year of amazing family adventures for us and we can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store. If you’d like to read more about all our travels and trips during the past 12 months I’ve recorded them all in my Tin Box Traveller diaries. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
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