THE RUBENS AT THE PALACE-A SUMPTUOUS STAY

   

Last week we had the absolute pleasure of staying at a beautifully luxurious hotel in the heart of London over looking Buckingham Palace….an opulent and gloriously elegant home away from home with comfort & decadents exuding from all directions & in all manners…
A quintessentially traditional and exuberant welcome awaited us as we arrived to an idyllic but highly polished and warm reception at The Rubens at the Palace

And boy were we in for a treat on the highest of levels. 

The pavement welcome alone gave us a strong hint as to how our stay would far exceed our expectations…. 

 So let me take you inside and give you just a whisper of the lavishness of our stay… 

 We’re not familiar with the city, we arrived from the country with an outward etiquette that would probably denote that but from the second we adorned the pavement we seemly fell into the lap of luxury and were made to feel that our presence was of the upmost importance, each face we encountered was with an eagerness to help, a genuine interest & an ease to communicate, a homely air was given from the moment we checked in along with a firm knowledge that help & information to ease our stay was only a question away & our comfort was their aim.  
 Having arrived around 8am our bags were taken to be stored until our room was ready, we were given complimentary coffee and offered breakfast to start our day, after a long journey we decided on breakfast to gather our thoughts and plan our day ahead….a fabulous choice and a luxuriously pleasing yummy start to our stay… 
 Food is most certainly the way to my heart and The Rubens most certainly had my heart in their hands before 9am with an overwhelming feast…..it really was as good as it looked…  

    
 There was something for all tastes.. 

   It really was the best possible start to the day.. 
   
After breakfast we took a little time to explore the hotel…there was a room for everyone…each caked in beauty and elegance..

 The Library room… 
    
   

We sat and watched the world go by with Buckingham Palace Mews right outside the lounge window.. 

  

After a stroll through the virtually adjoining world famous St James’ park we were phoned by The Rubens to notify us that our room was ready… 

Our room was beautiful… 

   With a complete Royal view 👑

  and the attention to detail made it all the more comfortable… Homemade biscuits! 
 a paper delivered… 

 Fabulous room service…we had afternoon tea and it was exquisite… 

 and even the delivery of a promise of sleep with a turn down service.. 

 

We explored the hotel a little more lapping up the feel of relaxation bought to us from every direction.. 

 

   
   

Even the toilets were shrouded in elegance.. 

    
 

Our visit was a child free treat but it soon became evident to us that  The Rubens really was a haven of treats for children too and a very family friendly hotel with an importance of making the smallest guests feel at home…

The children can get involved in the Little Princes and Princesses Afternoon Tea, with plenty of tasty treats to tuck into! They can even try their hands at a Masterchef Pastry Experience – including the chance to decorate cupcakes with the Rubens chef! 

  
I couldn’t resist enquiring about a visit with kids and was impressed by the most simplistic of touches..

Children’s evening turndown including a glass of milk and kid’s treat 

Bathrobes and slippers 

Sticker / colouring books  

An interactive child’s map of London where they can tick off all the places they have seen   

Kids movies as well as a Nintendo Wii console and games. But we will never put them in your room without getting your parental permission first 

Children’s books and games available upon request

Check out these cute robes & slippers! 

 and these adorable complimentaries for the smallest guests.. 

 

We couldn’t resist taking one of the children’s maps on our day out 😊 

 Our stay at The Rubens at the Palace was a fabulous time away, luxurious, sumptuous, rejuvenating and a gorgeous treat without the children in tow but also certainly proved to be somewhere that we’d return to with the children. 

As winners and finalists of a family fun award we can firmly say that The Rubens has gone above and beyond for its younger guests….and we didn’t even take the children!!
Our trip was made special by not only the hotel but ultimately the evident heart, care and thought that exuded from all the staff within it, attention to detail was beautiful, cleanliness unquestionable & comfort exceeding our expectations…

The Rubens at the Palace was truly a beautiful and memorable place to stay at. 

For more details please visit their website http://www.rubenshotel.com/

DUNE SURFING AT MERTHYR MAWR WARREN

 Merthyr Mawr Dunes provided the setting for parts of Lawrence of Arabia, they are one of the largest groups of sand dunes in Europe and their remarkableness will not disappoint you, they are fab for dune surfing!  

Take a picnic and make a day of walking around the dunes and exploring the ruins of Candleston Castle and taking a small hike over the dunes to Ogmore beach (approx 20 minute walk) 

The dunes are full of small wildlife and beautiful foliage and flowers…snails and butterflies are in abundance.

Location- Merthyr Mawr, Bridgend CF32 0PA car parking was £3 for the day.

It’s a lovely walk….

Here’s how our walk looked…  
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

TINTERN OLD STATION 

 We went on an after school adventure took us to The Old Station in Tintern, a favourite local spot of ours to take a picnic to and walk through the woods, along the riverbank, through the meadows and generally absorb the beauty of the Wye Valley in which it’s nestled in.

It costs just £1 to park for 3 hours and is always open. 

There’s a stationery train which double as a museum & gift shop during the day and a cafe that sells all sorts of yummies….but you’re free to take a picnic too. 

The play park has recently been added to and you can check their websites for organised events if you’d prefer…we just like to visit to enjoy all the natural beauty it has to offer….

http://www.tinternvillage.co.uk/seedo/tintern-old-station

Here’s how our visit looked  

                                   

A fab place!!  

RAINBOW MINI TODDLER ADVENTURE AT LYDNEY PARK

  As part of our ongoing toddler mini adventure series aimed at making the most of the pre nursery time remaining with Noah before he heads off to school in September, endeavouring to slow down & embracing our time together, today we went on a colours of the rainbow hunt with Noah… 

This also formed part of our local places exploration..

We went to Lydney Park spring gardens, nr Chepstow…..it was an absolutely beautifully stunning place & the perfect place for a colourful adventure with or without the kids… There was so much more to see there but our objective was to find colours… 
You can find more details of admissions & opening times at http://www.lydneyparkestate.co.uk/gardens.html
Here’s how our day looked 😊 

 

We found blue..
  
and green..
  
and red…
  purple..
  White..   

 

yellow (on the way there!) 

 Lots of pink…

   
 

we even stopped for an orange 🙂

   

There was plenty to explore… 

 
The gardens were stunning…& the colours kept coming… 

  

  

  

  

  

There  was lots of beauty to see, together with a tea room, a museum & a deer park where you could picnic!

   
         

We finished our rainbow hunt with a colourful picnic….. 

 

FIRST SNOWFALL MINI ADVENTURE/ UPPER WYNDCLIFF

With snow seemingly falling everywhere overnight apart from within the green bubble that surrounds our house we headed out on a mini adventure in search of the snowfalls that we could see on the hills in the distance.
We found our patch just outside Chepstow in Upper Wyndcliff.
The Upper Wyndcliff car park is reached via a lane off the A466, 1⁄2 mile north of St Arvans. The car park is on the right after about 1⁄2 mile. The footpath on the left at the back of the car park is signposted for Eagle’s Nest and the Wye Valley Walk which gives you stunning views across Wye Valley.

We were only on a mini adventure so settled for a walk surrounding the car park….this in itself was a lovely walk but only lasted an hour…..just enough to wear out little legs.

We headed over the stile and onto the farmland and explored the fields…

Here’s how we got on..
We started our walk under dark skies in the company of a rainbow…IMG_5378.JPG

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IMG_5385.JPGThe higher up the hill we walked the thicker the snow became..

IMG_5387.JPGand beautiful view grew.

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IMG_5389.JPGit was like a big white fluffy enticing blanket….

IMG_5398.JPGso we built a snowman.

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IMG_5396.JPGand had a snowball fight…

IMG_5390.JPGwe made tracks and followed them..

IMG_5391.JPGand even tried a little sledging without a sledge 😉

IMG_5399.JPGwith soggy bums, cold snowman building hands and school run time approaching we decided we’d had enough snow fun and headed back to the car…

But not without saying goodbye to our afternoon friend…

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….with a peck on the nose 💖

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⛄️

THREE CLIFFS BAY (THE GOWER)

IMG_5333.JPGWe started our walk outside Shepherd’s shop on the main road (A4188) next to the Gower Heritage Centre and followed the signs for Three Cliffs bay. You’ll need wellies as it was quite muddy in places.
There was a small charge for car parking which was payable inside the shop.
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Our walk took us along the river through woodland and over marshy sandbanks until we came to Three Cliffs Bay. The beach was a beautiful cove with some awesome stepping stones but was quite difficult to navigate yourself and the kids over the muddy banks and water ways, the sand was very soft in places and left me feeling a bit uneasy with the the children….but they had a fab time exploring their surroundings.
We’ll definitely return when the weather is drier and would expect it to feel a lot safer in the Summer months.
There was plenty of opportunities to explore with a Pennard castle ruins overlooking the valley and access to adjoining beach coves.

Here’s how our walk went..

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IMG_5328.JPGthe big kids loved rolling down the huge sand dune!

IMG_5342.JPGwhilst the little ones were content with beach combing..

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IMG_5325.JPGand splashing…

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It was extremely quiet and we were almost the only ones on the beach

IMG_5324.JPGif we had more time we would of ventured over the sand dune hill to explore the castle ruins and the adjoining cove that was beyond a fab arch in the cliff..

IMG_5341.JPGbut the day caught up with us and we headed back as the light started to fade..

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LOWER WYNDCLIFFE VIEW POINT

2015/01/img_0352-0.jpgWe parked in Lower Wyndcliffe Car Park which is on the A466 three and a half miles north of Chepstow and just north of St Arvans, you can cross the road and follow the signs for the 365 steps or as we did just explore the area around the view point in the car park.
There were fab trees in the woodland and it was quite magical…
Here’s how it looked..

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2015/01/img_0356.jpgwe found some hanging vines and made a natural swing..

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2015/01/img_0360.jpgwe searched for bugs..

2015/01/img_0362.jpgand found some skeleton leaves..

2015/01/img_0361.jpgwe climbed on tree stumps..

2015/01/img_0363.jpgand even played a little hide and seek..

2015/01/img_0368.jpgwe only spent around an hour and a half there but it was a lovely stop off.

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GUARDIAN MEMORIAL

In the heart of the valley over looking the community stands ‘The Guardian’, towering 20 metres into the sky this steel structure of a sinewy minor is a memorial that stands as a stark reminder of the 45 miners that lost their lives in the towns 1960 underground mining explosion.
We parked in the signposted car park & took the 10 minute tranquil stroll up to the structure, set surrounded by rolling green valleys ‘Guardian’ exuded a sense of awe. The kids seemed to lap up a lesson in history & the fragility of life. This visit only took us an hour at most, strolling and taking a good amount of time to absorb the atmosphere & appreciate the significance of the site.
Guardian is the largest mining memorial in Wales which commemorates the 1960 Six Bells mining disaster in which 45 men & boys lost their lives in an underground gas & coal explosion, The Guardian was unveiled on June 28th 2010 to mark the 50th anniversary of the disaster.

Costing over £200.000 the memorial of a miner 12.6 metres high and stands in a plinth display the names & ages of all whom perished. He is made up of 20.000 individual slices of 10mm thick cor ten steel, a weathering steel that enables a protective rust to form on its surface.

The memorial towers over 20 metres high looking over the former Six Bells colliery.

Our visit was very thought provoking especially after visiting the Big Pit heritage site nearby & having the opportunity to go underground & grasp an idea of mining life.

Both places are free to visit & great to install some Welsh heritage education.

(Six Bells, Abertillery NP13 2NQ)Would definitely recommend a visit.

Here’s how our walk went..

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SPELL BINDING DRAGON HUNTING & ENCHANTMENT AT CASTELL COCH

IMG_4458.JPG We headed to the beautiful Castell Coch in South Wales. An enchanting Cadw fairytale castle nestled in ancient hillside woodland, this was the perfect setting for us to do some dragon hunting.
When we arrived we were greeted by the most magical castle ever, beautifully exuding under a blue dappled sky…

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We checked out the castle, walking around it and exploring the moat before heading in..

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Inside was magical..

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IMG_4448.JPGWe came across a magical wand and witch hat! We’d heard about the dragons that roam in the woodland surrounding the castle and the magic cast to turn the fire breathing ones to wood…we thought we could use the wand and hat to head out into the wood to cast protecting spells within the autumnal trees…

IMG_4446.JPGso we finished exploring the castle..

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<img src="https://familydaystriedandted we caste a spell within the castle walls to keep it safe in our absence

IMG_4472.JPGand cast a spell over the castle as we left.

IMG_4473.JPGthe woodland was beautiful and basked in Autumn sun as we headed in search of dragons…

IMG_4462-0.JPGwe came across a sign on a tree as we went further into the trees..

IMG_4502.JPGand we found a magical leaf floating in the air….it was caught in a spiders web thread but was high enough for the kids not to see….. It floated on the enchantment that filled the air…

IMG_4464.JPGwe thought we may be getting closer to the dragons lair as we caught lots of dragons breath prickles on our clothes as we walked through the trees…if a dragon breathes fire within an enchanted wood it turns to prickle balls that fall to the ground and prevent the dragon from landing….this deters fire breathing dragons.

IMG_4463.JPGbut it did not deter us..

IMG_4466.JPGwe explored some more and were brave..there was plenty of evidence of dragon battles with trees pushed from the ground.

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IMG_4468.JPGand then right there on the woodland floor we discovered a dragons egg!! Right at our feet..

IMG_4501.JPGwe decided to take it with us as we didn’t want a baby dragon roaming in the woodland! Imagine what could happen should it hatch and it be an inexperienced fire breathing dragon?! ….we took it for the safety of the castle.
It was glistening and rather beautiful.

IMG_4506.JPGwe abandoned our search for the wooden dragon after deciding our best option was to head back to the castle as the sun started to descend as we didn’t want to get caught in the woodland under the cover of darkness.
We arrived back to find the castle covered in shadow..

IMG_4441.JPGwe cast one last spell over the castle to restore light and left our wand and the dragons egg at the castle door before we left…

IMG_4460-0.JPGour visit to Castell Coch was truly magical…

PLEASE NOTE
There is a wooden dragon sculpture on the trail at Castell Coch but we arrived late in the day and never made it to the Dragon once we’d stumbled on the eggs and the day started to disappear…we will return another day bid to find it. But here’s proof that it’s there..

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We are very lucky to be Family Faces for CADW which enable us free entrance to their sites. Please check their webpage for more detailed information regarding opening times and admission fees.
The woods surrounding Castell Coch are free to roam with only a small car parking charge required.

COUCH POTATOES ON TOP OF WALES

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We’re no strangers to the mountains & love to find some of the most beautiful spots in Wales to lap up gorgeous views. Our usual mode of exploration is our feet & you’ll often find us hiking in the hills in mid Wales in search of natural beauty.
Last week we headed away from our usual spots and drove North on an adventure to Snowdonia. We’ve visited on several occasions before and climbed several peaks including the summit of Snowdon so are no strangers to the awe striking beauty that greets you at the very top of the highest peak in Wales. With an elevation of 1,085 metres (3,560ft) above sea level, this towering mountain really is something special & is a must for any explorers bucket list. On clear days you are promised 360 panoramic views that stretch over the national park and out to the ocean that hugs the North Coast.
After defeating this mountain with the children in tow we were extremely overwhelmed to have an invitation to ride to the top on The Snowdon Mountain Railway. We’d travelled on the railway a few years ago and due to snow had only made it halfway up before the snowdrifts made it impossible for the train to go any further so we were really excited to go back to complete our journey.
We planned to make the very most of our ride to the summit & take advantage of the difference between a hike with only essentials in tow, maps, safety equipment, common sense, planning etc & being able to carry things up that would otherwise not be on our essential list to go in our rucksacks, so our plan was to toast the occasion ‘Family Days Tried & tested’ style..

We packed plastic champagne flutes, lashings of tea, iced gems and, of course, somewhere comfy to sit to take in the view…..we were to become couch potatoes with the aid of an inflatable sofa on the summit of Snowdon with the most beautiful views you could ever imagine absorbing from the comfort of your own settee.
It was a gorgeously blue skied day, with no wind & only breeze forecast for the mountain so we were set for our adventure…..
Here’s what greeted us…20140909-191330-69210943.jpgwe arrived at Llanberis mountain railway station and spent some time watching the trains coming and going..

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Noah was in awe of the trains.

20140909-191604-69364042.jpgbefore we boarded our train we checked out the drivers carriage..

20140909-191722-69442755.jpgWith our tickets in hand, some snacks for the journey and our deflated sofa tucked under our seat we were off…up, up and away….

20140909-191939-69579159.jpgthe scenery that accompanied us as we climbed high and higher up the mountain was spectacular.

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20140909-192306-69786404.jpgwe passed trains on the way up.

20140909-192446-69886457.jpgwe passed through Rocky Valley….which was rocky 🙂

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20140909-192617-69977299.jpg we climbed higher & higher..

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20140909-192813-70093245.jpgThe views were a stark contrast to those that we’d seen during the snow, here’s the same spot, one lush greenness basking in sunshine and the other glistening white under a beautiful blue sky…

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20140909-193032-70232271.jpghalfway up and we were enjoying every second of beauty outside our window.

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20140909-193340-70420513.jpgwe past lots of walkers on the way up..

20140909-193455-70495603.jpgNoah spent lots of time waving 🙂

20140909-193542-70542038.jpgwe could see the familiar summit approaching..

20140909-193647-70607912.jpgwe pulled into the station alongside the cafe nestled in the sky..

20140909-193833-70713706.jpghere we were able to use the wash room, purchase a cup of tea and snacks or just sit and admire the beautiful view out of the window…

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20140909-194141-70901804.jpgwe had taken our own snacks and drinks so we headed straight to the top to inflate our sofa and sit to enjoy the most beautiful views ever…

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20140909-194507-71107484.jpgwith a quick trip to the trig point for a ‘on top of Wales’ selfie 🙂 before heading back to the platform to watch our return journey train coming back for us..

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When we got back down we spent some time in the small train museum before choosing some souvenirs in the gift shop..

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20140909-195152-71512684.jpgwe had an absolutely fab day on Snowdon Mountain Railway and would like to thank them for inviting us to ride on the train… It certainly made a little boy who loves trains very very happy & a family who love the mountains very happy too…. It was a great adventure!!

You can find more info on Snowdon Mountain railway on theirwebsiteor over on their facebookpage.

**please remember that if you are hiking it is not advisable to take a sofa with you and to always be sensibly prepared, taking the train up enabled us to reach the top of the mountain in completely different manner to our usual ways & experience it in an unusual way. We love walking, but we also love mountain trains 🙂