After a much more rested sleep on the second night, we had a slower start to the morning. Eldest played with his new birthday toys and Youngest tried to run off with them all. The clever living space had two very large sofas around a coffee table and a television with freeview and guest info. Then off of this was a nook with a third smaller sofa and coffee table. This great layout meant we were able to create a little toy/play area off the centre of the lounge and keep all the new lego and wooden cars under control in the living space.
Mid morning we headed off in to the Village. We had popped here briefly on the arrival day to collect some supplies and then to have dinner and Kids Hour but this was our first chance to have a good old snoop.
The Village Shop was lovely and had everything you might need (or might have forgotten to bring!) The nicest touch we found was that there were the big brands etc but when it came to the sausages, eggs and other fresh produce, they were all local suppliers and brands and they were delicious too. Off the Village shop is an off licence with a healthy selection of drinks, whatever you taste.
Also in the Village there was a toy shop, clothes shop and arcade games room. The Oakhouse Restaurant (which we sadly didn’t get to try with our jam packed visit) and the pub The Knights Tafarn. There was also a lovely bakery/coffee shop with fresh bread, cakes and pastries.
Outdoor Play and Tree House Park
Throughout the entire stay at Bluestone, enjoying the landscape is encouraged. Even little signs dotted about the resort make sure you know it is OK to run, jump and roll around in the fun their nature has on offer.
Despite the electric buggies you can hire to get around the resort, the fact the site was car free meant we felt at completely at ease to just let the kids enjoy themselves running around, rolling down giant hills and exploring what mini beasts may be lurking under shrubs and leaves. We even encountered a small cute long bodied creature whizzing across a path to the woods that I can’t say I have ever seen before, we think it was a stoat but being so nippy we never got a good chance to get a good look!
Aside from all play that can be done across the greens in Bluestone, there is also a fantastic chance for children to enjoy a more rustic and natural play frame in the Treehouse Park just off the Village. This brilliant play space kept our two entertained for well over an hour and a half (and they still had to be dragged away home for Youngest’s nap time!) The park has slides and tunnels but a variety of climbing and balancing pathway obstacles to get about and through.
Booked Activities/Messy Play
Being our first trip to Bluestone and wanting to really explore the site for the review, we didn’t book in too many activities bar the Messy Play session. This fun activity was themed around a clowns birthday party and featured several sensory tables full of fun mess for the kids to really explore. Eldest and Youngest were both swayed by the ‘cake’ table, piled with cake dough, cocoa powder, sprinkles, mini marshmallows and flour, all for them to get their hands in and mix about. There was also face painting and balloon modelling happening too! A jam packed hour that we thought was great fun.
We booked this session in before we arrived at Bluestone on their simple and easy to use pre-booking system. Before your holiday begins, you’re invited to log on and browse the activities, spa treatments and meal bookings and purchase these prior to arrival if you want to. For us this meant we knew financially where we stood on the trip as dinners we’d prepaid for via this booking system and it made things simple to manage budget wise. You can still book in to any of the activities once at Bluestone if you prefer, by the visiting the manned desks in the centres or via the phone line on site. Another bonus feature is you can pre-book essentials to be in your lodge upon arrival or for continental breakfasts to arrive to your lodge if you’re not feeling up to cooking!
Woodie’s Wild Café and the Woody Wild Dinner Show
This was our final pre-booked activity/meal and I think a real highlight for the kids. Set in the brilliant Woodie’s Wild Cafe, which brings an enchanted forest style to a restaurant setting, is a live show for little ones. After being shown to your balloon adorned table, they start by inviting all the children to come and sit on a huge pile of cushion in front of the stage, whilst Leaf the elf reads them all a story.
I believe there are 4 stories that get rotated through but our story was about Busby the Bee. The children sat entranced in the story and then were all off across the other side of the room to meet Buzby himself! There were some games and dancing with Leaf and Buzby before the platters of dinner arrived.
This was easy going children dining that I think even the fussiest of eaters would be happy with. Despite it’s simplicity, it was as always still very tasty. A big tray of chip, chicken goujons, corn on the cobs, sausages and baked beans were brought out for each family to enjoy. Then a scoop of ice cream and chocolate sauce for the kids and a brownie for the adults desert. After the meal, a little more dancing with Buzby before they had a chance to take a photo with him and then enjoy a blast of every pre-teens favourite Let it Go, fake snow included!
This was the hidden gem for little ones at Bluestone. Upstairs in the adventure centre is the Circus Room. After asking on the front desk just what this was, we discovered it was a huge play space and soft play for under 5’s. This gorgeous room was very calm (as we were only one of 2 families in there!) but offered great fun for both Eldest and Youngest. There were rolling ramps, sensory tubes, smaller soft play frames and lots of fun circus themed touches likes tents.
Cars are allowed back down to the lodges on the transfer day, so we got ours down promptly first thing Monday morning. Thankfully leaving day was the only day we had any rotten weather and so whilst a soggy one, packing the car up was still an easy process. You are asked to check out by 10am but that doesn’t mean you have to be off site at this time. Before checking out (simply dropping your key card through the letterbox on the way out and leaving your car back in the car park) we stopped by the Village to grab some chocolatey goodies for the grandparents and some mini bug viewers for the kids friends. By this point Eldest was quite tearful, he asked if he could please live in Preseli View Bluestone for ever, so to distract him and to enjoy every last minute of our trip we headed off once more to the Blue Lagoon. This was a great thing to do as the Blue Lagoon also has it’s own car park so it meant we could splash, exhaust the kids once more and load us all straight in for the journey home.
The Bluestone park had so much more to offer than we even had a chance to experience. There were adventures like the zip wires, climbing walls and high ropes for older children. So many more activities to book in to that I couldn’t possibly list (although the adorable miniature 4×4 driving experience caught my eye for when eldest is 6!) and I didn’t even get a chance to try out the spa. I never encountered one staff member without a pleasant exchange and they seemed genuinely happy to offer help at any opportunity.
Whilst we were out watching the watermill at the Smokey Joe’s Shindig, a little girl and her dad were chatting next to us. The little girl had yawned and seeing this her dad asked if she was all worn out. This had upset her and she was promising that no, she wasn’t worn out. The dad reassured her being worn out wasn’t a bad thing and when asked what he meant, he said “It’s means you’ve had so much fun, more than you can fit in and more than you can possibly think of” That sweet exchange made me smile as it was true for us too. Our 4 days in Bluestone had been more fun than we could’ve possibly thought of.
If there was any lasting assurance that these opinions are all genuine and our feelings for Bluestone weren’t prompted by their generous offer of the stay, I should say that we’ve already booked to go back (using the Mumsnet Local discount of course!! Get yours with the link below, plus the chance to win one of 40 holidays on offer.) We’ve squeezed in another 4 day trip in early September before Eldest begins big school and we’re bound to holiday time tables forever more. So if you’re looking for fun for the little, not so little and big ones that is an easy drive from Berkshire, try out Bluestone. I have a feeling it is to be a family favourite for us for years to come!
Win 1 of 40 holidays and grab a £25 discount code for Bluestone holidays: http://local.mumsnet.com/Talk/local_reading/2392441-WIN-1-of-40-breaks-at-Bluestone-National-Park-Resort
It is with much thanks to Bluestone for this wonderful opportunity to stay at their resort in an exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Photos are not to be copied or used for any purpose outside this review.