As we approach the end of the 2015, it’s been a pleasant experience looking back at what we got up to over the past year. It’s actually quite surprising how much travelling we ended up doing, while the trips at the beginning of the year seem such a distant memory. Meanwhile, we got up to so many family adventures – all of which were a lot of fun. It’s amazing just how many attractions and days out there are on our doorstep.
I am still pretty shocked by how quickly time has flown by – and, while I am usually a big planner, 2016 will be taken in a more relaxed manner. We have Iceland to look forward to in February but other than that, I have nothing in diary as yet. Although, I do have some idea of where I’d like to end up…
In 2015 I’ve enjoyed discovering new countries and places with both family and friends, and feeling proud of how Monkey has become such an inquisitive little explorer. Travelling has definitely opened his mind, even at this young age.
My first trip on a plane was back in February when I, along with six friends, spent a long weekend in Bucharest, Romania. It was an utterly surprising 48 hours – not least because one of our gang ended up with severe concussion in hospital after being hit by falling ice. The city itself, still recovering from the wake of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, is not only edgy, but interesting and gripping. I would love to go back.
It was onwards to sunnier climes when we went to Thailand in May. Having both spent some months in the country back in our backpacking days, husband and I were apprehensive, but needlessly so. We had a wonderful fortnight in the resort of Hua Hin and one of our treasured memories was taking Monkey out onto Hua Hin beach in his pyjamas and watching the sun set with all the locals. He was truly amazing – trying the local foods and taking the long haul flight and time difference in his stride.
Even though we’d been in temperatures close to 30 degrees in Thailand, it was still quite chilly in the UK. Spring was meant to have sprung but we were still feeling the cold. But this didn’t deter us from having a great day out at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park with our friends and their children. The safari ride was mesmerising and we were stunned to be able to get so close to the lions and have the monkeys climbing all over our car. I remember laughing as the children squealed with delight at feeding the sea lions and all of us stoically sitting on the park’s train ride, even though it was tipping down with rain.
In June, we were invited by Forest Holidays to stay at Blackwood Forest in one of their signature golden oak cabins. Even though the forest is only about an hour from home, it couldn’t have felt more far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was an idyllic location nestled amongst the canopy of trees. We explored our surroundings on bikes and even went on a bug hunt. The hot tub was a welcome treat at the end of the day.
Nearing the end of Summer, we still hadn’t had the elusive heatwaves but we were excited to be going to the Cotswolds to spend a week with my brother-in-law, who was visiting from Australia. We stayed in the quaint village of Poulton in a traditional stone cottage and, even though we were hit again by bad weather, we still managed to get out and about. On one of the only dry days during our stay, we hired bikes and cycled around the Cotswolds Water Park – a stunning natural playground made up of over 50km of paths and bridleways. We covered some distance, stopped for a pub lunch and an ice-cream, and got lost. We were all exhausted!
During the summer holidays, there was much buzz around a new attraction which had opened at Westfields London. Kidzania promised to be an interactive world for young kids and it didn’t disappoint. I was stunned by the intricate detail of this mini-world and impressed by the staff and the way they communicated with the children. Most of all, I was proud of Monkey and how he threw himself into the activities with gusto, forgetting his shyness and taking part. His turn as a firefighter was brilliant to watch. We’ll definitely be returning.
Even though this was my third trip to Madrid, I still felt like it was the first when I went with friends back in September. My only complaint was I didn’t spend long enough there. We stayed in the most fabulous apartment in Malasaña – a vibrant area, full of bars, restaurants and revellers. Aside from enjoying the hot tub on our rooftop terrace, wandering the streets and soaking in the city’s wonderful architecture, we ate – a lot. And one of my favourite paces is Mercado de San Miguel – an indoor market bursting with different flavours and good wine. It was hard to tear ourselves away.
And it was back to Spain again in our final voyage of the year. This time to the Basque region of San Sebastián in the north of the country. A foodie paradise – I was unsure if it would be child-friendly, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only was it welcoming of families but we ate some of the best tapas I have ever tasted. The pintxos bars are some of the best in the world, while the beautiful La Concha Beach is a stunning backdrop to a truly beautiful city.
I hope that 2016 will bring you all a wealth of travelling happiness, and I can’t wait to share our new adventures. Safe travels and see you all in the new year!