What we did on holiday 2018...
So the holiday is over... It was our first non beach holiday as a family!
We had a great time as a family in Scotland. It, like most of life, came with ups and downs. Firstly, holiday started with me having a horrible virus, so packing was difficult as I had very little energy. I couldn't sleep so we started off earlier than planned - 2.30am. We were hoping the kids would remain asleep for the majority of the journey - they did not. Secondly, we did not arrive until 5.30pm the following day. There were speed restrictions and traffic we did not anticipate f, or an early Saturday morning and although we tried to share the driving, I was ill and needed to rest. Thirdly, it was much more expensive to eat out than we anticipated. We are used to chain restaurants using our 241 meal taste card or coupons for savings. As we were in the middle of nowhere, we ate at independent places which were much more expensive. One night the whole area, lost power - so a cosy fire and early night was
Finally, after a lovely scenic walk over lots of different terrain, my husband fell on the pavement and ended up with a severe sprain which meant a trip to A&E, a boot and no more walking.
It didn't get us down, we were in a beautiful, scenic part of the country. We had little/to no WiFi and contact with others. The little WiFi was a challenge to our teenager but he overcame. We rested, we did exhibitions, saw dolphins, learnt how whiskey was made, soaked in the hot tub, went fishing, watched DVDs, cosy fires, rested and played board games. I didn't want to leave, it took such a long time to travel there and it was so peaceful there.
We stayed at Wildside Highland Lodge, which was tastefully decorated, all the mod cons and equipment you could need, amazingly clean and spacious, views of the countryside, veranda, outside eating space, feeding station for the many different birds, log burner and hot tub. The lodge was on 2 levels and very spacious. The ground floor consisted of utility room, main bathroom, open plan kitchen, dining room and living room. The master bedroom with en-suite were off the living room. The kitchen had all the mod cons and the staff left a welcome pack of whiskey and shortbread. The kitchen was kitted out with all the little things like oil, milk, butter, tea and coffee, dishwasher tablets etc so you didn't have to worry about that. The furniture was all well made and nothing looked/felt cheap. It felt luxurious. Upstairs, there were 2 bedrooms - one double, the other with twin beds. Again lots of space and great views out to the mountains. The staff were really helpful and I would recommend this holiday lodge to others.
We booked through Hoseasons and the process was really simple and straightforward. The surrounding area included mountains and countryside with a hotel/pub in walking distance. We ate here twice and the food was really good. It was also nice not to travel to eat out. I didn't want to leave. So thankful for the relaxing space and time to reconnect and refresh.
On the way back, we arranged a couple of days stopover at Warwick Castle. I'm so glad we did - it prolonged the holiday and again it was a beautiful place to stay. We stayed in the Knights lodge. As a family of 6, we needed 2 lodges as the most they accommodate is 5 in a lodge. The lodges were knight themed and looked great. There is a double bedroom with attached shower room and kids bedroom. The kids bedroom was small. It has bunk beds with a pull out trundle, a small window and each had their own light. The shower room was modern, a small station for tea/coffee for the morning and there was a small veranda and bench for outside. We ate at the onsite restaurant and felt it provided value for money and choice for gluten/dairy free eaters, like myself. The menu choices remained the same each night but there was a choice.
The first day we arrived, we were really tired from travelling so we pretty much ate and went to bed. I would add book your breakfast and evening meals as soon as you can as they get booked up quickly. On the second day, we went into Stratford-upon-Avon. This is the birthplace of William Shakespeare and felt it would be really beneficial for the boys to see/learn as its covered in their GCSEs. The boys weren't as keen but actually they enjoyed it. It was interactive and interesting. There are 5 sites in total but we just visited his birth place. It took around an hour and cost £46 for the 6 of us. My husbands leg meant we couldn't do a lot of walking around so we just picked one place. The town in quite pretty with lots of interesting shops.
In the afternoon, we went into the castle and watched the War of the Roses show. This was fantastic. It explained the history of why the castle was important and what happened. The jousting and horse stunts, were amazing, so action packed. We then watched the Trebuchet show. The host was really funny and it was great to see the Trebuchet in action, it fired about 150 metres. I was amazed at what people achieved so long ago with little technology. That evening, after dinner we went to the knights village entertainment. There was another knight show, games and archery to try. We also treated our boys to a birds of prey experience. Our eldest loves birds and it was great for them to get up and close to them and ask the handler lots of questions. The following morning, we packed up, checked out and went back into the castle. This time we did the Castle Dungeon Experience. This is an additional cost (£9 each) and only for those aged 10 upwards because it can be frightening. My husband took 2 of the boys and did the Horrible History maze, whilst I did the dungeons with the other 2. It was great fun to learn the darker side of the castles history. The actors were great and interactive. I jumped many times. Afterwards, we took tours learning about the history of the castle up to now. I love history and sharing this with my children, who had varying degrees of interest.
We did enjoy staying at Warwick but I would say firstly, bring anti bite spray as it is situated on the River Avon and there are lots of midges. Secondly, as you are a captive audience, drinks and food are expensive. Thirdly, whilst lots of activities are included within the tour, there are many that are not. Archery at the castle is an added extra. Finally, you will probably end up buying a sword/axe/crossbow/shield/dagger. There were many children dressed up as knights and princesses but these sets are expensive here, so if you have them at home, bring them.
We visited the castle over 2 days as it was so hot but on a cooler day, with a plan, all the shows/activities could be fitted into one busy day. The knight lodges are expensive but they are private themed rooms with included evening entertainment for the children. Parking is not included and costs £6.00. Merlin (the owners of Warwick Castle) do offer lots of deals for coming/staying but the add on activities/gifts can make this expensive. We had lots of fun and enjoyed our time here.
I have to say for a non-beach holiday in the UK it was expensive by the time we added everything up, we could have gone abroad but this year, due to the heatwave it was good to escape the heat. It could have been cheaper if I had done more research/planning before we left but actually so much of my life has to be planned and thought out it was a good break to just go with the flow. It was great to experience our own culture, see the beautiful landscapes that the UK has to offer and to learn who we are.