Family days out, Travel tips & gear, UK

A perfect daycation for new parents

A rare thing happened this week – Mr Tin Box and I had a toddler free daycation.

Since Tin Box Tot came along last February, we haven’t had a full day off together without our now sizable bundle of joy. It’s something we’ve been meaning to do for a while, but house moving and general disorganisation has got in the way.

However, on Monday we did it! Mr TB made all the arrangements and did a very good job of keeping them secret – joking every now and again about sky diving. I was hoping for something a bit more chilled out – like a spa day. Luckily I wasn’t disappointed.

However, our first stop involved something more active to keep Mr TB happy. We were booked in at Go Ape at Itchen Valley Country Park.

Carved wooden monkey by the Go Ape hut

I’m ashamed to say that, even though we live very close to Itchen Valley, we had never been to the country park. It’s a beautiful place with two exciting looking play areas and a trail of carved wooden beasts to entertain the kids. Anyway, for once, we weren’t interested in any of that. We were heading for the big kids’ play area.

The Go Ape course looks pretty daunting to begin with, but with a bit of coaching from the instructor and remembering not to look down, you soon relax. With at least one safety line attached at all times, the worst that’s going to happen are a few bruises or a broken a nail (I did the latter getting out of the car!). Soon we were swinging through the trees and enjoying the views.

The whole course took us about an hour and a half to complete, but might have taken longer if we had been there on a busy day. There were five ‘sites’ to work through, each more extreme than the last. Having been to Go Ape at Moors Valley Country Park a few years before, I felt confident to have a go at most of the extreme sections. Mr TB braved them all.

Go Ape certificates

Next up was the Botleigh Grange Hotel for an afternoon in its Shambhala Spa. Mr TB had booked a couples package including a two course lunch, a 55 minute treatment and use of the facilities.

Two flutes of sparkling wine

Lunch, including a glass of fizz, was served to us in the garden. I can recommend the Thai Broth starter – very tasty.

Feeling comfortably full, we headed into the spa for a swim before our treatments. Two sides of the pool area look out onto the garden, which made it feel like we were still outside – a definite bonus on a lovely day.

All of a sudden I came over a bit sleepy and decided to retire to the relaxation room to rest my eyes. If it hadn’t been for our treatment appointments I would have probably been found there at closing time.

I opted for a Back, Neck & Shoulder massage, followed by a Shambhala Pan Asian Rice Facial. Mr TB went for a Full Body massage. At one point he was caught snoring – enough said.

We concluded our day sitting in the Jacuzzi by the pool, feeling unburdened and very relaxed.

The front entrance of Botleigh Grange Hotel and Spa

The only minor downside to our experience at Botleigh Grange was that there were renovation works underway in the lobby. It would have been better to have been directed to an alternative entrance than walk through the scaffolding. However, it didn’t detract from our day and these things have to be done sometime I suppose.

It was lovely to pick up our little Tin Box Tot from nursery that evening – we did miss her and had talked about her a lot. However, the part of my brain that longs for the freedoms of my pre-mummy life can’t wait for our next toddler free daycation.