The Hamlet - Melon Holidays

A diary of a single parent holiday – melon holdays

A diary of a single parent holiday.

As a parent, I feel holidays make up an important part of childhood. I have so many fond memories of family holidays as a child. When I became a single parent the thought of holidaying with the children seemed a bit daunting. Just one adult to 5 kids in a place you don’t know can for some seem like a too bigger challenge.

However, this challenge has become a lot less daunting with the help of a fantastic new company called Melon holidays. They specialise in holidays for single-parent families in the UK and abroad.

During the Easter holidays, we were invited to try out a Glamping holiday in Lancashire.

The Hamlet - Melon Holidays

Sunday 1st April

We headed north up the M6 to Lancashire for our adventure on Easter Sunday. On arrival at Salmesbury Hall, we were greeted with friendly reception staff who informed us about everything going on in the hall during our visit.

We headed through the grounds to find our Shepherds Hut and pod. Being a larger than average family the normal family (sleeps 4) wouldn’t give us all a bed so the pod close by enabled the older children to sleep comfortably. The Shepherds Hut was well equipped with a shower room and central heating. There were double bunk beds which comfortably slept 4. Plus electricity and USB points to charger phones or similar.

Once settled in we headed to the hall for a tour with Betsy Bumblebee, it was a very light-hearted but informative. The older kids loved hearing more about the history of the property.  We then headed off-site to get dinner. The weather wasn’t too kind to us so we didn’t really have a chance to set up a BBQ. Plus I wanted something quick and easy after travelling.

Single Parent Holiday
Melon Holiday’s – Glamping Accommodation

Monday 2nd April

After a settled nights sleep, we headed to the Hall for a pre-booked delicious cooked breakfast with some other single parent families that were also booked on this holiday. It was lovely to have a relaxed breakfast with other families not having to worry what others may think of you as you are all in the same boat so to speak.

The weather still wasn’t on our side, we even got snowed on during our walk to breakfast. Once we had had breakfast we headed into in Samlesbury Hall for a Storytime, Treasure Hunt and Craft Morning with Betsy Bumblebee. The kids giggled along to the story before we headed around the hall in search of the picture clues to complete the treasure hunt. Whilst the kids searched and explored the hall, it was lovely to have a grown-up conversation with other adults. Once the hunt was completed, it was time for a craft activity for the kids to cut, stick and create to their heart’s content. Then Betsy Bumblebee herself checked the kids treasure hunt answers and gave them a little Easter treat.

single parent holiday
Activities at Samlesbury Hall

During the afternoon we decided to head off sight, to visit my sister who lives locally for tea. If you are staying in the Hamlet at Samlesbury Hall, they give you a key to the outer gates so you don’t have a curfew and come in once the Hall is closed to the general public.

Tuesday 3rd April

We started off taking our time and chilling in the Shepherds Hut, plus making the most of the power shower (this and the toilet alone has me hooked on Glamping rather than trudging to the shower block on normal camping holidays). Once we were sorted and ready to take on the day, we explored the adventure playground and let the kids be kids and get muddy.

This day was definitely the best day weather-wise on our trip. Meaning we had could explore every inch of the grounds including the Bee Centre and other animals on site.

Then in the evening, we lit a fire as the sun went down and created the most special memories of the holiday.

As the kids told me they loved this holiday and were enjoying time with Mum being switched off of technology. Yes, I am that business mum that spends too much time on her phone! Our last night left me feeling calm and relax, just what a holiday is all about.

single parent holiday
Fire Pit and Hot Chocolate Time

 

Wednesday 4th April

Our final day and time to head home, we took our time to pack. The kids played hide and seek in the grounds and then we headed on our way home.

Before we arrived at The Hamlet, Melon Holidays sent us full details of local places of interest to visit. Plus a full list of things going on a Samlesbury Hall. This means that parents can plan activities ahead. I like to take one day at a time when we’re away but it was lovely to know what was going on locally too.

 

Melon Holidays have Glamping Trips to Samlesbury Hall, The Hamlet: 27th May29th July26th August21st October

Plus trips to Malta: 26th July20th October
Majorca: 25th May12th August19th October
Tenerife: 26th May15th July20th October

Disclaimer – We were offered a holiday in return for an honest review, all thoughts and photos are my own.

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Dry Kids Review

Review – DryKids

We are a family that loves adventure, but for years I was definitely a good weather Mum. If it was rainy, windy or wet I would often opt to stay indoors. But as the Little Pickles have got older, some days we just have to get out for them to run off some steam whatever the weather. So when I was in the midst of kitting the Littlest Pickles in the family Aliza, 4 and Faryl, 6 with their winter wardrobe. I was pleased to receive an offer for some Dry Kids dungarees to review. So we opted for the cosy thermal lined ones, to keep the kids cosy on Winter walks. I let the kids choose the colour they wanted and slightly gender stereotypically Aliza opted for the hot pink ones and Faryl for the navy ones.

There was a choice of 4 colours in this style and they are very reasonably priced at £16.95. Plus there is over trousers, jackets, wellies and all in ones available too. I have fallen in love with the black padded jacket for Faryl so that is now on my shopping list for the future. DryKids Padded Jacket

We opted for the dungarees as they are great to keep in the car and pop on if we get caught in the rain. Or just have to get out to save ourselves from cabin fever. The Pickles are now dreaming of snow this Winter too as then they can stay warm and play out in it with their DryKids dungarees on.

I asked the Little Pickle’s what they thought.

Faryl, 6 – I love my new trousers as Mum actually let me jump in the puddles.

Aliza, 4 – I can get muddy now and don’t get wet.

Think that is a thumb up from them.

On a family day out to Stourhead recently, after a night’s heavy rain. The Pickles searched all day to find the biggest puddles they could to jump in. They did pretty well to find this one and splashed to their heart’s content. But reassured they were dry as a bone when we got back to the car. Shame I managed to stand in the firing line and got a little bit wet. Maybe one day I’ll have to get the grown-ups version so that we can do a bit of twinning with my Little Pickles!!!!

Also, the mud just wipes off bonus. Plus I found that they were a very generous fit, but with the shoulder straps and poppa’s they are adjustable. So will last more that one Winter for sure.

Now the Little Pickles are looking for the next rainy day to get on an adventure.

Written by Jessamine aka Mummy Pickle – Founder and Owner of Little Pickles Markets

Disclaimer – We were offered 2 pairs of dungarees in return for an honest review

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October Half Term Ideas

October Half Term Ideas

The beginning of October has gone and my children only have 8 more days at school before it’s half term!! How did that happen? I am now racking my brains for ideas how to keep the Pickles entertained. So thought I would share my October Half Term Ideas with you all.

It will be nice to have a week and a half again with no routine. No 6 am wake ups to get my eldest 2 to the bus stop by 7.30am.

Now I need to decide what we are going to do with the days that the pickles are off school. Well, my bank balance is still recovering from the summer holiday. Plus having to buy school uniform, shoes and bus passes, for the kids return to work last month. Also with the festivities only 11 weeks away (Sorry, if like me you are trying to ignore this!) I will be watching the pennies to go towards Christmas surprises.

Luckily we have National Trust Membership and lots of NT properties close to home. If the weather is fine we can go and explore some of the houses and gardens at local NT properties. One of our favourite NT properties is Stourhead, it always looks lovely in the autumn so definitely worth a trip. 

Not a National Trust member then I’m sure you will have a nearby park or woods. Where you will still go and have some autumn fun. If the leaves are dry the Pickles can collect a bag full of leaves and twigs as they make lovely pictures, this will give us an indoor activity if we have a wet day.  Although I am not a fan of walking in the rain I will have to brace myself if it’s  rainy as we all of wellies, raincoats and the 2 littlest Pickles both have rain trousers thanks to Dry Kids.

Now that the Pickles are a bit older on a fine day we will go the park with some bats and balls to have a game of rounders or cricket, although we don’t stick to the rules or are too strict on scoring as this prevents battles. It’s just so that they can all run around to let off steam and wear them out.

We have a subscription to Now TV  so love to have a film marathon, with buckets full of popcorn. Nothing like a lovely lazy film afternoon to relax and recharge our batteries.

When I was little we used to have indoor picnics on autumn afternoons. If you cook with your Pickles then this could fill a lot of the day as you could make cakes, sausage rolls, cheese straws etc with them and then have these at the picnic. Cooking isn’t my thing so I will get the picnic bits at the supermarket or just raid the fridge and do with what we have at home. 

I think am going to try an Indoor Treasure Hunt if it’s the weather isn’t on our side this Half Term. Now my children’s rooms are always untidy. It seems that as soon as I finish tidying it and walk downstairs the toys and books throw themselves on the floor!! So I am going to make a list, for each Pickle. For example, they can find a Barbie with clothes on, a red car. They will have to collect 10 things each and get a prize for doing it nothing massive. But before they get their prize they will have put their items away in the right place 1st.

My last saving grace for a wet half term is our local scrapstore. The pickles can go and have a rummage, picking up all sorts of bits for crafting, including big sheets of paper to stick the bits onto. At our local one, we can fill a bag full of goodies for a minimal fee. Coming home with enough to keep the Pickles amused for ages. There are now Scrapstores all over the UK, so I’m sure there is one local to you.

Well, I hope these ideas will help you have a great half term. I have now reminded myself of all the great things we can do and am actually looking forward to having the Pickles at home again.

Written by Jessamine aka Mummy Pickle, you can follow our families half term adventures over in Instagram

 

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Chessington World of Adventures – family day out

Chessington the all around family day out.

As a child I have some fond memories of family days out at Chessington World of Adventures. So it is great to add to those memories by taking the pickles all too.
A few years ago we were invited to attend the launch of the Azteca Hotel, we had an amazing time and ever since I have wanted to return with the whole clan. Now we have our Merlin Annual passes, top of myself and most of the pickles theme parks to visit was Chessington.
After a rocky start to the holidays with the man of the Family breaking both of his wrists, I wasn’t sure if we should still go as he wouldn’t be able to go on any rides and could be bored. But seriously what was I thinking, after taking a good look at the website, I saw there was shows for him to watch and tons of animals to see.
So we set off along the M4 on Wednesday, loaded up with a hearty picnic and waterproofs well it is British Summertime so rain was forecast.
After several toilet stops, we arrived just after 10, I thought being the first week of the school holidays it would be packed but I was wrong, the park was pretty quiet, with most ride queues only being between 5-10 minutes.
We downloaded the Chessington app, which was really helpful, to keep an eye on queue times, showtimes, closest toilets (essential when your taking a recently toilet trained toddler), a map of the park and where you were in the park, plus planner to help you keep track of all the things our family wanted to do on this visit.

What did we do and see?

So going back to those childhood memories of mine, a firm favourite has always been the Bubbleworks and as it is closing in September we hot footed it there, we will be returning later in the summer hopefully once Faryl’s plaster is off for him to ride it before it closes.

Then we had a rest and a snack watching the sea lion show, next to the sea lion bay is the Land of Kings featuring Tigers, Lions and Gorillas. The lions were pretty sleepy but always for the pickles to see the sheer size of them close up. As we got to the Tigers one came out had  a wander around and the pickles followed her to the top of her enclosure, where she stretched out to bathe in the sunshine. We could watch the cheeky gorillas for hours on end, seeing the silver back get a little bit irritated by the young gorillas and beat his chest, then Aliza, 3 was so excited and proud that one of the baby Gorillas came to the glass and high fives her, definitely the highlight of her day.

I have seen the adverts for Pandamonium and have to admit I wasn’t so sure but, the kids were captivated and loved the interactive, entertaining show. Plus the baby Panda was pretty cute.

We headed to the sealife centre, definitely more interesting for the older pickles than the Little Pickles that were more interested in just dashing through until they found Dory, which the did and briefly looked at before racing off again.

We stopped for a picnic, but then it obviously started to rain, so we had to decamp and shelter under a tree finishing our picnic before the rain passed and we continued with our day.

My favourite animals are Giraffes so I couldn’t miss Zufari, the bumpy truck ride to see, Zebra, Rhinos, Giraffes and Flamingos.

chessingtongirafffe
Chessington – Giraffe

We donned our poundland ponchos and got soaked on the Dragon Fall, a complete must for a family day out at a theme park.

Then we did some other rides including Tomb Blaster, Scorpion Express (The Baby’s first roller coaster) and finally myself and the 3 oldest girls braved the Vampire ride which I remember from my childhood and it was just as heart racing as ever.

So what did we miss?

Things we missed the Penguins of Madagascar show,  Temple of Mayhem, Dragon’s playhouse, Canopy Capers and Jungle Bus plus several smaller rides. So plenty more to explore on our next trip plus you can never have enough goes on Zufari and of course the Bubbleworks before they close.

Plus all the rides Faryl missed out  whilst waiting with Grandma sporting his plaster cast duo!

What did we eat?

We took a bumper picnic like we always do on a day out, full of plenty of bottles of water and snacks as walking 16,000 steps (yes that’s what my iPhone told me) needs lots of energy.

We only brought the odd coffee and slushy from a kiosk on this visit but next time we will hopefully take advantage of our 20% Merlin Annual Passholders discount and fill up at one of the parks restaurants before our long drive home.

Kids verdict?

On the way home the kids actually said a huge Thank You off their own backs (no prompting, that is like a huge parenting win in itself). Then went on to say that Chessington was the best theme park they have ever been to and can’t wait to go back, so off to find my diary and schedule a date to return.

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Our Summer 2016 To Do List

Little Pickles Summer 2016 To Do List

So the 6 weeks summer holiday lay ahead of us, here in our household we breathe a massive sign of relief. As the constant running around for school runs and extra-curricular clubs (yes between them my pickles do most of them, apart from playing an instrument, well that would be nice to have a pianist in the family ((off I wander to think which would be the best candidate, seriously woman we have enough to do)) where were we).

Yes the holiday are a time for us to chill out and recoup, but we also want to have a plenty of fun along the way. So I have asked all of the tribe to make a list of what they want to do over the break. We are proud owner of exciting Merlin Passes and members of the National Trust so we are planning some days out close to home and a little further afield.

summertodolist

So here goes with the kids wish lists.

Jolie, 7yo

  1. Go to see BFG in the cinema
  2. Complete the Big Reading Challenge at the local library
  3. Learn to ride my bike
  4. Go to Chessington
  5. Day out with Mum!

Lexia, 10 yo

  1. Go to see her cousins in Wales
  2. Visit Chessington World of Adventures
  3. Go to the Beach
  4. Go swimming at Oasis, Swindon
  5. Have a day out with just me and Mummy

Faryl, 5yo

  1. Make a Noah’s Ark
  2. Have a day out to Chessington
  3. Go to the Aquarium
  4. Try out Warwick Castle
  5. Go to my friend’s house

Firstborn, 15yo

  1. Go shopping with Mummy
  2. Take a trip to London
  3. Go to Swindon Designer Outlet
  4. Change our room around and get new bed
  5. Chill out alot

Aliza, 3yo

  1. Go to the park
  2. Go to Cbeebies Land
  3. See Finding Dory
  4. See Peppa Pig’s house
  5. Have fun

Mummy, do I need to tell you, ok! 33yo

  1. Stay in my PJs for the whole day
  2. Laugh until I cry
  3. Paint the hallway
  4. Go to see the AbFab Movie
  5. Get my hair done

So we have a huge list to achieve, hopefully you will see lots of updates over the Summer of our fun and days out for updates

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