Where did your travels take you in 2017? We always expected to see a lot of the UK in 2017 but with buying a house mid-way through the year we never expected to venture further. So a trip into Europe was a lovely surprise. As well as short breaks and road trips we’ve also had some awesome days out. Here’s a taster of our favourite family travel experiences of 2017 including some of my most popular Instagram snaps. Maybe you’ll find some 2018 travel inspiration here too:
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A winter weekend in Surrey
Our first weekend break of 2017 was to Surrey where we stayed in a family suite at the Bel & The Dragon. This was a seriously family-friendly hotel from the moment they thrust hot chocolate into our icy cold hands when we arrived. It was also in a great location for seeing the world’s largest all-year sculpture park, Alice Holt Forest, RHS Wisley and Polesden Lacey.
Exploring the The Roman Baths in Somerset
I’ve wanted to visit The Roman Baths in Bath for ages but I was unsure of how child-friendly it would be. I needn’t have worried. We had a lovely time learning about the origins of this spa town…and no one ended up in the water!
Glamping in East Devon
Whenever I hear the word ‘glamping’ I think of bell tents decked out with lavish cushions and vibrant carpets. Or safari style tents with shady verandas and crackling fire pits. In March we were invited to review something altogether a bit more space age: the glamping pods at Oakdown Holiday Park in East Devon. We loved this camping and caravan site and had good fun trying out a different style of glamping.
Meeting seals in Cornwall
During our Easter trip to Cornwall we had the chance to feed a few of the resident seals at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. Handling the fresh fish was smelly work, even with gloves, but it was something we’ll remember for a long time! The Sanctuary has saved more than 1,000 seal pups during the past 40 years and takes in between 50 and 60 each year. Most arrive here injured and are released again to the wild after some TLC.
Cliff top theatre in Cornwall
Another of the highlights from our Easter week in Cornwall was a visit to the Minack Theatre on Porthcurno Bay. It’s an outdoor theatre with amazing panoramic sea views. We were there for a family show. Tin Box Tot was enthralled and even Baby sat still with a bit of snack bribery. If you’re visiting Cornwall the Minack is a must.
A taste of Elizabethan England at Hardwick
Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire is one of the most extraordinary National Trust properties we have visited. It was built by Bess of Hardwick who was four times married and a peer of Queen Elizabeth I. She built this hill top stately home to demonstrate her wealth and status, and it is magnificent. It’s no wonder that the researchers on the Harry Potter films chose it shoot some of the scenes in The Deathly Hallows in which it represented Malfoy Manor. Recognise it?
Filming with friends in France
In May Al Fresco Holidays invited us to stay at Yelloh! Village Pin Parasol in the Vendee region of France. Not only that, we got to bring along some friends to help with filming for a promotional video. We had a lot of fun and made some very special memories, particularly by the pool. My only regret about his trip was that Mr Tin Box couldn’t join us. Sadly work got in the way, so it was my first solo trip abroad with the girls – an experience in itself!
A luxury lodge retreat in the Peak District
I still feel a little fuzzy whenever I think about this very relaxing stay at Darwin Forest Country Park on the edge of the Peak District. It came after a busy couple of weeks moving house and my trip to France with the girls. We were all exhausted and our stay in a spa lodge in the forest was just what we needed.
A five star caravan break in Dartmoor National Park
This was Tin Box’s first proper review trip and we found a place that ticked all the boxes on our caravan site wish list. The girls loved Woodovis Park’s indoor swimming pool, the small but perfectly formed playground, the woodland walk and the bug hotel. And we loved seeing them enjoy the great outdoors. It was also a very dog-friendly site so we enjoyed a brilliant family caravan weekend here. We also enjoyed family cycling at the Tamar Trails just down the road.
A spa break with kids
Would you go on a spa break with kids? We did just this at China Fleet Country Club in Cornwall over the summer. It was a revelation – you can relax while on holiday with kids! The Club has two restaurants, a family-friendly pool with flume and floats, an aqua spa, treatment rooms, gym and sports facilities. That’s not to mention its family suites, perfect for short breaks and longer holidays exploring East Cornwall.
A magical adventure at BeWILDerwood
Curious, magical and a lot of fun! BeWILDerwood near Norwich was our favourite day out of the summer. It’s a woodland adventure based on the children’s books of local author Tom Blofield. The stories are brought to life with ginormous tree top playgrounds, storytelling and a boggy boat ride in search of Mildred the tiara-wearing Crocklebog. If you have children aged 0 to 12 and find yourselves in Norfolk you have to visit!
A family-friendly festival in Cheshire
We spent a few weeks of the summer on a UK road trip with our final destination being Just So Festival in Cheshire. When we arrived the festivities were in full swing but we still managed to join in a jazz dance lesson in the Jitterbug tent, catch a few acts on the Footlights stage and party in the Spellbound Forest. The whole weekend continued to delight and absorb us into the festival fold.
Conquering the England’s highest manmade waterfall
I was so proud of out girls’ little legs when we visited Canonteign Falls in Dartmoor National Park. It’s England’s highest man made waterfall with water plummeting 70 meters down a rocky outcrop. From here it flows through fern-lined woods to a series of lakes where wildlife abounds. Tot walked all the way to the top of the falls and back again without a moan. A brilliant children’s trail and searching for these beautiful fairies along the way did the trick!
Winter glamping in Dorset
Camping in sub zero temperatures…would you? That’s exactly what we did at Caalm Camp the weekend before Christmas and we loved it! Our accommodation was a traditionally built Mongolian yurt with a wood burning stove to keep us toasty warm. It was beautiful. Outside we had a fire pit which we sat around at night toasting marshmallows and spotting shooting stars in the glittering skies above. I’ll be writing a full review on the blog in the new year.
Sparkling winter lanterns in Wiltshire
The Festival of Light at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire is the UK’s largest Chinese lantern event. We visited in December and were wowed. The fairy tale themed displays were enchanting and drew many gasps of delight from our girls. This was a perfect winter event and a great alternative to a Santa’s Grotto.
Farewell 2017, hello 2018
I hope you’ve enjoyed my round up of our favourite family travel experiences of 2017. It’s been a busy year of visiting new places close to home and further afield. 2018 is going to be quite different for us as Mr Tin Box’s job is going to take him away from home a lot more. Expect more solo travel with kids, some trips into Europe and plenty of UK adventures.
If there’s anything you’d like us to feature on Tin Box Traveller in 2018 do let me know! Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
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