Trip to France – the Journey

We’re all going on our summer holidays!

And by ‘all’ I mean mummy, daddy, a 2 year old and a 13 week old newborn. And by summer holiday I mean France, the Dordogne to be precise.

But before we get there let’s deal with the journey. The newborn is easy as she just sleeps. The key to a (relatively) stress free journey (when is it ever stress free with a toddler) is preparation.

First of all it is worth checking french law for rules on travelling with children as some rules are different to the UK such as placement of car seats, and the penalties can be severe. The RAC website gives a good overview.

Regular breaks

The journey to the Dordogne from North Yorkshire takes 14 hours. We have planned 2 stop overs, 1 near Calais and 1 in Orleans. We are using the channel tunnel as it is quicker than the ferry. We will also break each journey up into time slots of 2.5 hours. That way the baby can have regular feeds and will sleep when we’re moving. And if planned right the toddler will sleep for one of those stints as well.

Prepare your child a couple of days in advance by telling her you are all going on holiday and we she will need to be patient in her car seat for a couple of days but it will be worth it.

Reward good behaviour, if she travels really well a treat like an ice cream when you arrive will work wonders.

Entertainment

Entertaining a 2 year old on a long journey is tough. We decided to let her ride up front with daddy so mummy can travel with baby in the back. Daddy makes an event of it by waving at other motorhomes and giving the horn sign to lorry’s to get them to sound their horn. Spotting lorries and tractors and other large vehicles is a fun game.

Keep each activity to about 15 minutes to avoid boredom setting in.

If all else fails, we have a trick up our sleeves. We have downloaded back to back episodes of Postman Pat and Fireman Sam to an iPad which we have fixed in the visa above her seat.

I feel sick

Travel sickness can make travelling really difficult. We made the error last week of going for ice cream in the Yorkshire Dales. The combination of creamy desert and twisty roads led to a big mess in the back of the car. Having learnt our lesson on the day of travel we had a small breakfast of toast and water. Probably best to avoid milky drinks and deserts when travelling just to be on the safe side.

Make sure they have a drink of water or juice to hand to sip throughout the journey.

Music

Singing songs and getting the toddler to do the actions will also pass the time. There are loads – jump on YouTube for some inspiration. Listening to music can also while away the hours. Download a selection of their favourite Disney songs to keep them entertained.

Go bag

We always travel with a go bag to hand with wipes, nappies, snacks, water, spare clothes, toys and books. That way you can quickly react to any situation to stop it from escalating.

Above all, remember the journey is part of the holiday so make it fun. And be prepared that you may need to deviate from your plan by changing your route or planned stops. At the end of the day, happy children, happy holiday.

4 go to Chester

I write this blog slightly bleary eyed from lack of sleep but having had a great time in Chester. Due to a combination of us having recently ditched the dummies and her not being used to sleeping in the motorhome, our toddler didn’t sleep much. Baby on the other hand was a star!

We stayed on the Chester Fairoaks Caravan and Motorhome site.

The site facilities are as you would expect from the Caravan and Motorhome Club. Friendly staff in a well stocked shop:

The toilets are very clean and the baby facilities are excellent. They had the radio playing in there so we had a little party at bath time each night!

There is a good playground with facilities for all ages:

When you are hungry there is a pub 2 minutes walk down the road called The Rake. It is a Hungry Horse chain. The food is average but they have indoor and outdoor play for the kids and a reasonable kids menu to keep your little ones fed and entertained. There is also a local chippy van that comes to the site on a Monday and Thursday between 5 and 7pm.

Locally there is plenty to do from Chester Zoo to the Blue Planet Aquarium as well as Chester city centre right on the doorstep. It is around a ten minute walk to the aquarium from the site but you do have to walk down a country lane and cross a busy duel carriageway. From the aquarium you can get a bus to Chester city centre or the zoo. Around £4 per adult. Alternatively you can use taxis which cost around £11 into Chester and £7 to the zoo.

We went to the zoo which was a great family day out! Booking online offers great savings. Online quoted £40 and we paid £52 on the door for 2 adults as under 3 are free!

It was worth it though, we spent most of the day there and saw most of the animals we wanted to see (animals don’t always want to come out especially when it’s cold and wet). To minimise costs you can take your own food and eat it at one of the many picnic areas. The food on site isn’t unreasonable however, but it does get busy at lunchtime.

Take your walking boots, we walked 4 miles in the day! Also take a pushchair for little legs, although they do hire buggies if you can’t.

I would give this site and Chester a 5 out of 5. Well worth a visit.

And then there were 4!

So bump turned into baby in February bringing our total family unit to four. A toddler and a baby in a motorhome. This is going to be fun!

With baby just 5 weeks old we are ready for our first trip in the rig since last October. (I didn’t fancy clambering up above the cab with a big bump!)

We are heading to Chester, just for a couple of nights, as a trial run. We are planning a big trip to Europe in the summer and we want to see how everything works.

After much deliberation (do we overthink it?) we decided that our oldest would continue to sleep over the garage, we would continue to sleep over the cab and baby would sleep in her Moses basket on the bench seat. That way I can look down from our bed and see her in the night.

We have had to bring so much more stuff this time and when we go away in the summer I am sure we will be full to bursting! What with 2 different size nappies, clothes, pushchairs and car seats we are bound to have forgotten something! I am planning to start a list now ahead of the Europe trip to ensure we don’t forget anything then. There is one thing managing without something for 2 nights in the uk and quite another being without something for 3 weeks in Europe!

We have also had to rethink travelling. There are 2 full seatbelts on the forward facing bench seats and 2 lap belts on the rear facing seats. Our 2 year old used to sit in her car seat on the forward facing bench seat and I could switch between the front passenger seat and next to her.

We toyed with the idea of putting both the toddler and baby next to each other in their car seats on the forward facing bench seat but that meant I couldn’t see baby at all as her seat is rear facing. We decided the toddler would travel in the front with daddy and baby would be on the bench seat with me.

So far so good.

Many a time our toddler has been travel sick in the motorhome while travelling. Cleaning sick out of the nooks and crannies of a car seat is a nightmare! I came up with a genius solution for this trip. She now wears her pelican bib on long car journeys. That way if she is sick her clothes and crucially the car seat are protected. The only downside is she thinks she’s getting food!

Cornwall, a complete blowout!

Following a brief stop at the NEC for the motorhome and caravan show we headed down to Cornwall for a short family holiday.

Unfortunately the bump is playing havoc with my immune system and storm Brian was intent on ruining our trip. There was no chance of erecting the new awning that we recently purchased in 30 mph winds! 

We found a great private site, Doubletrees Camping, St Austel in Cornwall. With spectacular views of the sea we were also within 2 miles walk of the Eden Project which was the main reason for the visit.


However, the exposure was the downfall with the site as when the winds picked up we were buffeted from every direction!

Amazingly our daughter slept through it but we had a very sleepless night and bailed out the following day cutting the journey short. 

We did, however, make it to the Eden Project which was superb and I would thoroughly recommend! 


Having only purchased the rig in May this is the first ‘bad weather’ we have really experienced. I don’t want to say that we will be fairweather motorhomers but perhaps next time we need to be more mindful of our choice of site and ensure we have some good shelter. All lessons learnt. 

The search for the perfect motorhome continues …

We took our one year old down to the Motorhome and Caravan Show 2017 at the NEC, Birmingham last week. We were en route to Cornwall to spend some time exploring that neck of the woods. 

Our motorhome suits us fine but in 5 months we will have another addition to the family and we are on the look out for a better layout for a young family. Why are there no motorhomes with sensible low down beds? Ideally we need something with a nice comfortable seating area for us parents and a separate, low down bed or two beds for the kids. 

It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack! Clambering in and out of motorhomes 5 months pregnant is exhausting.

I did find some fun exhibitions to keep me and our daughter amused while my husband continued the search. Check out this caravan made entirely of lego! 


It has won a Guinness World Record for the largest caravan to be built with interlocking plastic bricks!


The Caravan and Camping Club stand had a great game to draw people in. This scalectric with cars towing caravans was powered by pedal power! 


So we’re still looking for the perfect motorhome layout but we had fun and it broke up the journey down to Cornwall. 

Weekend in bonny Scotland

Help yourself herbs, bug hotels and deep fried Mars Bars. All to be expected on a roadtrip to Scotland.

We went for a long weekend up to my husbands home land of Scotland for a big family reunion. We booked to stay one night in Edinburgh at the Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Silverknowes.
IMG_4929  IMG_4938
This was a great site. Very clean with great pitches. Unfortunately there were no children on the site for our daughter to interact with but it was really geared up for kids. It had a great kids play area which even featured a cute Bug Hotel.
IMG_4941
The ‘Bug Hotel’
Again I would say the play area was aimed at children slightly older than our daughter. But it was all very clean and safe. It had a separate baby and toddler wash room with a small bath with little shelf seat in it, a large change table and even had a little tiny toilet!
IMG_4942
Kids play area at Edinborough Silverknowes Caravan and Motorhome Club site
The adult facilities were very good and clean. One thing I did like was the shower was an on/off tap. Much better than those push buttons. They’re the worst, you get soap in your eyes and the water stops and then you can’t find the button to wash it off! There was a well organised washing up and rubbish facility. You could buy a few provisions in the reception where the staff were really happy and helpful. We also saw the wardens on a regular basis checking the site.
IMG_4944
The pitch
There is a bus straight into Edinburgh centre a short walk from the site which only costs £1.60 for an adult single ticket. You need exact change mind or they won’t let you on! The site also runs a minibus into the centre every half an hour until 2pm.
One added bonus was the incredible view we found hiding just behind some trees. Over the road from the site and down about 50 steps through a wood snicket we came across a view of the estuary and Forth Rail Bridge. There were people riding bikes, jogging and walking their dogs. The weather was glorious! We only wish we could have stayed longer!
IMG_4934
Glorious view of the forth rail bridge and estuary
The site cost £25 per night, for that we would have expected a water point at the pitch which there wasn’t. And a restaurant / bar / cafe would have been useful. For that reason I am going to score it a 4.5 out of 5.
We only stayed here one night. Next stop Strathclyde Country Park Caravan and Motorhome Club site.
We had two nights in Glasgow.  On the way from Edinburgh we stopped at the Falkirk Mariner Centre pool as it was tipping it down.  It was a great facility for kids with plenty of slides and things to play with as well as a wave machine.  Our daughter wasn’t so sure about the waves as they were quite big but you could sit right back out of the way and just have them lap at your feet.  The centre also has a gym, cafe and soft play for little ones.
Also on the way over to Glasgow we spotted The Helix which looks great for kids if the weather is a bit better.  As well as tons of activities for kids it has two giant horse head sculptures which are called the Kelpies.
One thing to bear in mind travelling to the Strathclyde Country Park is the road network.  The roads are going through some extensive works which haven’t updated on Google Maps yet so you need to have your whits about you.  There are also a number of unplanned road closures which can cause significant diversions which you might not be expecting.
IMG_4961
The rig at the Strathclyde Country Park Caravan and Motorhome Club site
Overall though the site was great.  I am starting to see a theme with Caravan and Motorhome Club sites.  The baby and toddler facilities were exactly the same.  We also made use of the laundry facilities this time to dry our towels.  A bit expensive at £1 for 15 minutes but it was worth it to have dry towels again!
There was also a kids play area, shop and minibus into town which we took advantage of this time.  But again there was no restaurant / cafe / bar.  One nice touch I liked was a planter with herbs with a sign saying ‘help yourself’.  You might not think to take herbs away with you for cooking so it was a nice touch to add a bit of flavour to your ‘meals on wheels’.
IMG_4949
Nice touch, help yourself to free herbs.
I give this site a 4.5 out of 5 for lack of restaurant.
One thing I did try that I have always wanted to when I went to Glasgow is a deep fried Mars Bar.  This sounds like a truly magical experience and one I have wanted to try at least once in my life.  And what better place to experience it than at the fish and chip shop where Justin Bieber went for battered Haggis and chips back after an all night sesh in October 2016.  Well if it is good enough for the Bieb’s then it is good enough for me!  Magic!
IMG_4959