A WHILE ago I thought it would be a nice idea to throw a joint birthday party for Ezra and Santi’s first and third birthdays – it made sense as they’re a day apart. I made a list of things we’d need to do – book a hall, order a cake, decorations, hire a bouncy castle, organise party bags – then came to my senses and decided that escaping and spending the weekend glamping in Wales was a far better plan.
Being my usual disorganised self, we didn’t actually book anywhere until the Tuesday before, and being the last weekend of half term meant there wasn’t a huge amount of glamping sites with availability. I was worried we’d struggle to find somewhere we liked the look of, but then Stew came across Hidden Valley Yurts, near Chepstow. It was a 90 minute drive from home, a small site which meant there wouldn’t be too many people, and had fab sounding facilities for children.
I intend to write a review of the actual site and facilities, but thought I’d share some of the highlights and my favourite photos from the weekend first.
What made the weekend stand out to me was the freedom to explore. We were tucked away in the countryside surrounded by fields, with a stream running through the campsite, and a chicken coop where we could check for fresh eggs – perfect for whiling away the hours outdoors.
The first thing we did when we arrived was put our wellies on and head down to the stream for a paddle. There was a toy box full of plastic ducks near the kitchen so we took some down with us for a mini duck race – I would never have thought to take our own so it was a lovely touch that they were there. We’d pop them in the water, follow them along to see which one won and then fish them out to start again. We did accidentally lose a couple to the resident dog, who thought it was more fun to chew them…
The water was crystal clear and shallow enough in most parts to walk along easily, until we came to a small waterfall which fascinated Santi. He was desperate to climb down it, but the pool at the bottom would have been waist deep to me and I didn’t fancy that!
So much time was spent either walking through the stream or throwing stones into the water. Santi developed a game where he’d make up a word as he let the stone go – usually involving some variation of the word bottom – and he thought it was hilarious. It was so nice to see him giggling away at such a simple activity without a care in the world. When we’re at home I feel like we need to fill time and constantly be doing something, but being so remote made me chill out and realise that Santi can make his own fun.
My imagination tends to get a bit carried away, but I could just picture us returning next year or the summer after and watching both Santi and Ezra playing together in the river. That’s the nice thing about them being quite close together in age – it won’t be long before they’ll be able to play the same games.
We were lucky that Saturday was a lovely sunny day, and we spent pretty much all day outside. Ezra is at a tricky age where he wants to be independent, but his wobbly toddling makes him a bit of a liability so he was stuck with us. To be fair, he’s usually happy to watch whatever mischief Santi is getting up to. He also enjoyed sitting on a wooden swing bench on the decking and playing with the grass, and was happy to be able to eat outside, so he wasn’t too hard done by.
It was so nice to get away from responsibilities for the weekend, and to be able to say yes to joining in with games or popping down to see the chickens without worrying about housework, food shopping and all the other things that can take over a weekend at home. There was no rushing around, and when Santi stopped to look at something we had the time to look with him. He has such an interest in nature and was asking about badgers, foxes and even woodpeckers by the end of our stay.
There are five yurts on the site, and they were all full until Sunday morning, when everyone apart from us and another family left. Santi made friends with a brother and sister, and had a whale of a time squirting water pistols with them. I think we’re going to have to buy some for the next bout of sunny weather – but I’m making sure I have one too, as I ended up pretty wet and with nothing to get my own back.
The yurts are set in a huge amount of land, with fields above that you can walk through, and a wild flower meadow at the end nearest our decking. This was so beautiful in the evening and of course I had to get the boys in there for some photos.
A few years ago I wouldn’t have thought a weekend glamping in Wales in a yurt would be my kind of thing as I’ve never been particularly outdoorsy, but getting away from it all was exactly what I needed. It was the perfect way to celebrate the boys turning one and three without the distraction of technology. At home Santi asks to watch the iPad quite regularly, but over the weekend he didn’t mention it once. He absolutely loved being free outside, and it was a struggle to get him to sit and eat because he was having so much fun just being free.
And it’s so cheesy, but I really feel like we bond more as a family when we’re away from home. Yes the boys were menaces when it came to bedtime as we were in a different place, and neither of them ate particularly well while we were away but I loved being able to spend quality time with my little family that I feel like I miss out on during the week.
*We paid for our stay at Hidden Valley Yurts and they did not know we would be writing about the facilities