Omaha beach

Days Out in Review – January to June 2016

For some 2016 has been shocking and they have been very vocal about it and how they are looking forward to 2017.

For us however, 2016 has been one of our best years yet, full of fun and adventures and here are some of our favourites.

January 2016

We love to get out and about and bad weather never stops us from having fun. In January we journeyed to Hampshire where we climbed the Spinakker Tower, explored the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth and then headed to Rock Up in Whiteley for some climbing fun.

Staying a little closer to home we enjoyed playing in the sand dunes at Sandbanks beach, explored a new beach for us, Ringstead Bay near Weymouth and took part in the Stickman Trail at Moors Valley.

I also attended my first ever Toy Fair at Olympia, London where I was introduced to some of the fantastic toys that arrived into the shops in late 2016.

Spinnaker Tower

February 2016

For her birthday in January, Eliza got her first bike so we headed out to Potterne Park to get some riding practice and headed out to Farmer Palmers for some animal fun.

The highlight of the month had to be our holiday to France where we stayed at Eco Gites of Lenault and visited all the historic D-Day beaches, Pegasus Bridge and Le Mont St Michel, saw the Bayeux Tapestry and even had some snow.

We also had an unexpected stop in Jersey after a rather traumatic ferry crossing and a disappointing stay in Guernsey where we learned that EVERYTHING closes in winter.

Snowman

March 2016

March was a busy month for us with a visit to Thomas Land at Drayton Manor, a fabulous preview day at Thorpe Park where we barely queued for any rides and still on the adrenalin theme we tried out some new flumes at Splashdown Poole and released our inner apes, swinging through the trees at Go Ape, Moors Valley.

We did do some calmer activities as well, with strolls around Christchurch Harbour, Whitecliff Park and Lulworth Castle.

Lulworth Castle

April 2016

April saw us heading back to Farmer Palmers to feed the deer, get down and dirty with some Owl Forensic investigations at Avon Heath Country Park

We headed to Lighthouse Poole to watch Gruffalo’s Child Live and Genting Arena in Birmingham for some WWE action.

Owl Forensics

May 2016

May is one of my favourite months in Dorset as there is a plethora of activities for families to enjoy. This year was no different and we visited the Dorset Knob Throwing Festival, Lyme Regis Fossil Festival and Donkey Derby in Kinson. We also headed across to Weymouth to see its new exhibit in the Sea Life Centre and enjoy a spin on the Jurassic Tower.

We are frequent visitors to Paultons Park and could not wait to go to the opening of its new Lost Kingdom section of the park.

Lost Kingdom

June 2016

It was back to the Sea Life Centre in June for a very special occasion – we got to have a personal tour of the centre, meet some of its famous residents and feed the Seals.

June is a big birthday month for us and we had a great time at Hollywood Bowl to celebrate but the highlight of the month had to be meeting Ashley Banjo and learning to dance with the Diversity crew on a Diversity break at Butlins.

Diversity

It was also the month that Kian finished his GCSE exams so we celebrated with a rather damp Forest Segway experience with Go Ape.

Segway

So that is the first half of the year, second half coming soon………..

Condor Ferries

A Holiday Nightmare

My husband had been hinting for years about visiting Normandy and the D-Day beaches that he is fascinated by, so for his birthday last year I booked a family holiday to see them. With money fairly tight I booked to go in February half term as the prices were very reasonable and we are a family that will enjoy activities in pretty much any weather. What I hadn’t considered was the weather for the ferry crossing and the night before we set off I was convinced it would be cancelled thanks to driving rain and howling winds. We set off …

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Eco-Gites of Lenault

All the fun of the Farm at Eco-Gites of Lenault

Being a family of 6, hotel stays can be really awkward as they just don’t make family rooms that are big enough for our family so we have to pay extra to have two rooms which really adds to the cost of a holiday, so we tend to look for holiday cottages or large caravans that can comfortably sleep us all.

I am always nervous of staying in new places and have to admit that I prefer to stay somewhere where there is some sort of friendly connection, so Eco-Gites of Lenault stood out for me as I had been chatting to Rosie on twitter for quite some time.

I booked the Gite back in May last year as a surprise birthday present for Hubby who wanted to see all the historic WW2 sites and was really surprised by how reasonable the price was, even in high season. The booking process was clear and simple, with a deposit to hold the week and then payment 6 weeks before our arrival date. You also need to factor in a damages deposit of £150 which is payable on your arrival and returned after inspection when you leave.

Rosie also offers those little extra’s such as doing a small shop for essentials on your arrival and cooking your first meal on your arrival for a small extra cost. We were also welcomed with a large gift basket of goodies and some homemade cakes, much to the kids delight.

The French don’t do postcodes like us British, so the best our satnav could do was take us to the village of Lenault, but thankfully the directions to the Gite were easy to follow and we found it, in the dark at 10pm at night, with no problem at all. Rosie was waiting for us with a fire going and wine chilling in the fridge (we really needed it) and the meal we had ordered postponed until the following day, as we were late due to ferry delays.

The first night went passed in a bit of a blur but the kids all slept well and we all felt better by the morning but we decided to stay at the Gite on our first day as 15 hours of travelling had taken it out of us but it gave us the chance to take in our surroundings.

Eco-Gites Lenault

The gite has it’s own terraced garden with table and chairs, sun umbrella and BBQ, although it was the wrong time of year to use this. The kids however loved the large play area, play barn and trampoline that are a few metres away from the front door and Rosie introduced us to all the farm animals.

Eco-Gites Lenault

The kids favourite part of staying at Eco-Gites Lenault was not just the huge amount of toys that they could play with both inside and outside the gite, but they also had access to the animals. Every morning they got the chance to help Rosie on the feed run,  mixing up the pigs feed, collecting eggs and even giving the pigs their sugar beet treats and in the evening they got to put the animals to bed.

Eco-Gites Lenault

We were really lucky with the weather and it was mostly sunny whilst we were there, with the added treat of a snow day, where we stayed at the Gite and spent the day playing in the snow.

Eco-Gites Lenault

The Gite benefits from excellent insulation and although we had radiators we could switch on in the bedrooms we didn’t need them as the log burner warmed the whole Gite for us. I so wish we had one at home.

I cannot recommend Eco-Gites Lenault highly enough. The hospitality was fantastic, the Gite was cosy, comfortable and more than big enough for us all and the location was perfect for exploring Normandy and everything it has to offer.

A week wasn’t long enough to see everything we wanted to see so we hope to return next year, only this time in the spring.

Arromanches

Day Five of our Normandy Adventure

It is difficult to say which day was our favourite on our break in Normandy as they were all special in their own way. Day one introduced us to the history of WW2 with a visit to St Mere Eglise, Utah Beach and Pointe Du Hoc. Day two started us off on a medieval adventure with a visit to Bayeux and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux and the famous Bayeux Tapestry followed by Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery. Day three was the simply stunning Le Mont St Michel and Day four was a day where we stayed at Eco-Gites Lenault …

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Le Mont St Michel

Day Three of our Normandy Adventure – Le Mont St Michel

Our Normandy holiday was for Hubby and Kian to indulge their love of history and WW2 in particular but I had one place on the list that I insisted on visiting – Le Mont St Michel.

I last visited as a young teen, too many years ago to count and was keen to return and explore as an adult.

The magical island is topped by a gravity-defying medieval monastery and is one of France’s most amazing sights and it is plainly visible from the motorway as we approached it.

Le Mont St Michel is one of Europe’s major pilgrimage destinations and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site as is its breathtaking bay which is subject to the largest tidal range in continental Europe during spring tides. The waters can withdraw as far as 25km from the shore and after low tide, the local saying goes that the sea waters rush back in to the bay ‘at the pace of a galloping horse’.  When I last visited you had to walk along a causeway with lots of warnings about quick sand, but this has now been replaced with a bridge and a free shuttle bus service to and from the island.

The Benedictine abbey on top of the mount is reached via a steep and winding village street lined by museums, restaurants and shops. It is beautiful with “WOW” moments around every corner, although if travelling with young children they tire very quickly. I ended up having to carry Sebby most of the way which was a bit of a killer on the stone steps!

le mont st michel

Once above the main village area you are offered spectacular views over the bay and my only disappointment is that I saw it when the tide was out. There are a couple of hotels on the island and I would love to stay there and watch a full tidal change and join a guided walk across the bay.

The Benedictine Abbey that sits atop the island is well worth a visit and cost us just €18 for the family to get in to.  Although not as beautiful as the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux that we had seen the day before, the atmosphere of the church and cloisters and also that of the grand chambers was far more special. Some of the architecture reminded us of Hogwarts and the kids had great fun pretending to take the floo network in a giant fireplace.

Le Mont St Michel

The great chambers of the Marvel were really impressive and it’s only when you get outside that you realise was a feat of engineering this must have been as it clings so spectacularly to the rock. It is amazing to think that this has been here in some form for over 1,000 years.

Far above the abbey church’s spectacular flying buttresses and Gothic pinnacles, an acrobatic statue of Saint Michael, weigher of souls, stands at the highest point on the mount, although it was obscured by scaffolding on our visit.

Le Mont St Michel

We made our way back down, stopping at a patisserie for some donuts as the walk had made the kids starving. I will warn you that the shops here are very expensive and we payed €5 for each donut.

If you plan on visiting with young children, be aware that it a very steep climb with lots of steps and inaccessible for a buggy, so use a back carrier or sling if possible but it well worth it.

Lou Messugo