Many years ago I had the idea that camping was the way to go to guarantee precious family time and bag a cheap summer school holiday break. And it was, of sorts. What I didn’t bargain on was gale force winds and rain resulting in one of the most scariest holiday experiences ever and put an end to my brief encounter to sleeping under canvas. But not one to be defeated, I thought I’d give it another go, only this time as a glamper, not a camper, staying in a safari tent at Crealy Meadows, just outside of Exeter in my home county of Devon.

I still craved the peace and tranquility which camping had to offer; no TV, reconnecting as a family and my kids getting as much fresh air and escapism from their iPads, iPhones and games consoles. Yet I didn’t fancy splashing out on all the camping paraphernalia needed for a tent holiday, just incase my second attempt became my final.

Glamping was the perfect answer.

And here’s how we got on;

Checking into Crealy Meadows

Driving up to the main Crealy entrance you carry past the theme park on to a large, well maintained reception area, first impressions were fantastic. As we checked in, I had my first taste on the 5 star staff service which seemed to be a common theme throughout the whole park, not just in Crealy Meadows but the theme park too. You get vehicular access to Crealy Meadows via a key coded gate, both to get in a out, security felt a high priority on the site.

glamping at Crealy Meadows

Accommodation

We were located in the African Experience section of the campsite, in a quiet and well placed cul d sac of safari tents. Life sized animal scattered the area giving a fun feel. There’s parking for 2 vehicles directly to the front which makes unloading a breeze and also gave you extra privacy from the tents and other guests, without being too obstructive. Each tent has a small, fenced decked area with rattan tables and chairs and french doors giving you access to the inside.
outdoor space & decking at Crealy Meadows Glamping
Inside you have a double futon, solid wood table and 6 chairs and a kitchen area. You’re greeted by the smell of the real wood furniture and the aroma of the wood burning stove, a real surprise as I braced myself for the waft of damp canvas!

There’s also a fully stocked kitchen complete with fridge, Belfast sink, kettle, washing up bowl, crockery and cutlery. All we needed was a tea towel, dish cloth and washing up liquid, This meant no late night shower block runs for teeth brushing and drinks, plus less packing. Bliss.

kitchen area glamping at Crealy Meadows

kitchen area glamping at Crealy Meado

We had 2 separate bedroom, each with a solid wood double bed and bunk beds. The kids room was huge and you could easily accommodate a travel cot. There was also a double cabin bed with doors either side making it full enclosed and separated the living room area from the bunk bed room, the space underneath was also a great spot for storing suitcases. The chest of drawers in the double bedroom was ample enough for all our clothes.

We had 2 separate bedroom, each with a solid wood double bed and bunk beds. The kids room was huge and you could easily accommodate a travel cot. There was also a double cabin bed with doors which made it full enclosed and which separated the living space from the bunk bed room, the space underneath was also a great spot for storing suitcases. The chest of drawers in the double bedroom was ample enough for all our clothes.
There a huge leather bean bag which was perfect for chilling on outside after a busy day. We were so lucky with the weather that we made the most of being outside by bbqing our evening meals. Don’t panic if the forecast isn’t great though, there’s heating in the main living area and one of the bedrooms. Although I doubt you’ll need it as the wood burning stove kicks out some heat and the tents are insulated so we didn’t feel the cold at all!

outdoor space & decking at Crealy Meadows

Facilities at Crealy Meadows

a very short walk from our tent, and still within our sight when sat on the deck, is a small enclosed play area which was perfect for the younger members (3 & 4 years) of our party. There’s also a larger one for the older kids and with plenty of space to the front and sides of our tent so they could play frisbee and set up a mini tennis area.


The shower blocks were amazing. With under floor heating, makes them toasty warm and each shower cubicle is cleverly designed so you can easily accommodate a parent and couple of children. You have 2 hooks, a bench and sectioned off shower area. There’s also a large communal mirrored area. Music is played though day and night too which was a really nice touch.

We had complimentary tickets to the adjoining Crealy Park which was also where the evening entertainment was held. The small onsite shop stocked all the basics and we managed to buy enough from here for our impromptu bbq. Meals are also available in the main park day and night, (although being a vegetarian, I didn’t find much choice for me) this meant we didn’t end up leaving the whole Crealy resort for our long weekend. (tip, if you need to pop out for food which you can’t buy in the shop, Greendale Farm shop is 10 minutes up the road and has a much greater choice.)

The older kids loved playing in the late indoor play area in the evening while the adults sat and watched the younger kids joining in with the disco and games. After 3 nights and 2 full on park days, sleep was never an issue, quite the opposite. With the tent being so dark, it was a 9.30am wake up the first morning!

So it’s safe to say I’m a total glamping convert, especially as it only took an hour to pack up the car and no stressful tent dissembling!

What to bring

  • A potty if you’ve got small children for late night toilet runs.
  • small lamp for the bedrooms, they get very dark at night & the main light doesn’t feed through
  • a torch
  • tea towel
  • dish cloth
  • crocs or flip flops for quick toilet / shower block runs
  • hairdryer or 20p’s to use the shower block hair dryers
  • outdoor / camping light
  • disposable BBQ
  • duvets and pillows (and covers)
  • shopper bag for shower trips
  • cards and board games (you can hire them from the shop too)

glamping at Crealy Meadows

Disclaimer

We enjoyed a complementary stay in return for sharing our stay. 

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I recently completed a journey which I was secretly dreading. It was one of those trips which had to be done just to prove to yourself it could be done.  And once the initial maiden voyage was over, it would be plain sailing from forth with.

What made my nerves even more nonsense was that I’d done this journey many times before, the exception being I had children, older children but never a toddler. An adventurous, lively toddler who loves to explore and investigate everything, a toddler who I knew would be beyond excited at doing something new, a toddler who hated to be confined and rarely sat still for more than 5 minutes .

That was the cause of my concerns.

So the very fact that we completed our little journey, Toddler, Tween and yours truly, in a spectacular and stress free manner has compelled me to share how we managed 6 trains over  7 hours on our return trip from Devon to Oxford. And share some tips we picked up along the way for anyone else considering travelling with toddlers.

secretes to travelling with toddlers


The key to my success was in the planning. I knew that to guarantee that Toddler slept for some of our journey, I booked a train that should in theory give me an hour until his nap. This meant that he could get all excitement out of his system not long after boarding and then after a little snack, would settle down to sleep. failing that, the iPad is genius for quiet time. I’m careful never to overuse it as it looses it’s appeal and is only ever brought out at as a last resort.

As we were only staying away for a few days, we made do with a wheeled rucksack. This was our saviour when navigating the platforms or walking down train aisles and was soft enough to pack into the luggage holds. And packing was a crucial part in the planning. My BabyMule changing bag is an absolute game changer for travelling. slung over my shoulders, leaving my hands free and having everything stored in the different compartments makes grabbing snacks and nappy changes simples.

 

I also made sure I had plenty of snacks, dinners and drinks for distracting any efforts to continually want to toddle around, as toddlers do. I chose snacks which would take a while to eat and hopefully not make too much of mess of clothes or the train floor, thus eliminating any further stress.  Think raisins, Little Dish GoGo’s 

To make getting on and off the train safe, I carried my toddler in a baby sling. This meant I had my hands free to carry my baby bag and suitcase. And reins are a must for more mobile toddlers. I take mine even when I’ve got the buggy as it keeps him close by while I’m collapsing it.

Any experienced parent, who’s learnt from experience,  will know that you can’t really travel anywhere without a few extra items in your parenting ammo, one of these being a few first aid items and while my mini break was hardly crossing that Amazon, the basics still applied. Along with an emergency packet of stickers, a small pot of distraction bubbles and a favourite teddy.

Mothercare parenting expert, Liz Day, recommends that when travelling, keep your child’s teddy bear safely in your hand luggage or an easily accessible bag so they are within reach to soothe and calm your tot if there are any upsets during the journey.

So now I’ve got my plan for successful travelling with toddlers I’m hoping to be a little more adventurous with our days out and short breaks. Watch this space!

secretes to travelling with toddlers

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post 

 

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We were all set to conquer my camping fear.  This was going to be the summer we did it, with a weekend booked at a Devon country park. I had it all arranged. It was going to be fun. I was sure of it, this would be the turning point after our final camping trip saw me clinging to the edges of the tent while gale force winds whipped up around us and I frantically googled the nearest Travelodge.

It was going to be fun.

We’d secured some borrowed equipment and had a new and super cute Vango sleeping bag for the toddler to try out.

And then it rained, and it rained and it rained some more. So the game changer of a weekend never happened. The safety and comfort my bed too much of pull to risk it.

Not to be out witted and wanting the toddler to get some use out of this multi-purpose wearable sleeping bag. I set up camp in the garden to see what he’d make of it. But the perfect photo shoot I had planned went to pot when the sleeping bag proved so comfy he refused to get out!


The unusual thing with this cute little number is the ability to zip off the bottom leaving the legs free to run around, while the shoulders have little zip so you can stick your arms out. Great for keeping you warm on midnight toilet trips or early mornings as you wear it like a jumper!


When in conventional sleeping mode, with the bottom section in place and the arm holes zipped up it’s a fun yet warm way to snuggle down for the night. Or at least I’m guessing it is by the fact I had to coax my boy out, much to his protests as he buried further inside. And the handy bag it comes in means it’s now hung on the back of my door waiting for that moment I throw caution to the wind. (can’t help associate camping with that word now!) and brave a night under the stars.


Disclaimer

I received this sleeping bag to review & share. 

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The sun’s shining and the living is easy.  You’re yearning to venture out into the great outdoors  every waking hour, get closer to nature and experience a simpler way of life. Summer’s here and you’re in the mood to go camping.

Me too!

I simply hate being indoors during a glorious summer day and I long for weekends sitting under a warm starry sky without the distraction of the everyday chaos which comes part of the parcel as a busy, self employed mum of three. But there’s just one thing stopping me, equipment. Camping equipment to be precise. It’s like having babies, there’s just so much ‘stuff’ you need and I just haven’t got the time to plan, research and shop for everything I’d need for a camping weekend away.

I’d love to admit to a free spirited, carefree parenting style where I  whisk my family away at the drop of a hat but that simply isn’t the case. I’m a planner, I need to be sure that we’re comfortable, fed and safe , where would I start?

So, lets say for arguments sake, that I do want to go camping, what exactly would I need?

Well I could scour the internet for advice (like this camping guide)  or put it out there in an sos on social media. Well I know I need a tent ,  and sleeping bags, an air bed would be nice, a camping stove wouldn’t go amiss so I can still get my early morning cuppa, and some chairs so I wasn’t left with a numb bum, no wants a numb bum on a relaxing break.

so you want to go camping? so do I but i need all the camping tips i can get!

Now that sounds easy enough, not too much to splash out on, but wait, what will we eat? Ok,  I’ll need a cool box, I guess, and some pots and pans. A picnic blanket for a little home comfort and warm clothes, just incase. You can never be too certain of our great British weather.

Now that I think of it, it doesn’t sound too complicated, let’s do it, come on boys, mummy’s feeling adventurous, we’re going on an adventure and campings on the agenda.

First stop, the front garden.

Baby steps, boys, baby steps.

what a funky way to liven up your garden and keep your children safe,

Disclaimer

This is a sponsored post 

I’m linking this one up with THE LIST over at Mr and Mrs T plus Three

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Reconnecting as a family at Trevella Park

Everyone has their go-to holiday place. The one where you know you’re going to have a great time and already holds many happy memories. Mine’s Cornwall, the last county in England, or the first depending on where you’re standing. Where the land ends and the living is easy. It’s my little piece of heaven which the boys, Daz and I come back to year after year and Trevella Park in Crantock is the perfect base to from which to explore.

Set back on the road from Newquay to Crantock, Trevella is a 5 star, award winning holiday park for campers, caravaners and glampers. You can take your own or hire one of their caravans, safari tents or geo dome tents and is just the ticket if, like us, you prefer to avoid any holiday parks with pubs and entertainment. We like to go away to relax and reconnect as a family as well as make the most of our days rather than party through the night.

On site there’s a heated swimming pool and toddler pool, a small cafe, 2 large play areas; one for toddlers and one for older kids, a small arcade, shop, a launderette and resident owl, bunnies, and cockatiel but perhaps the best features though are the picturesque fishing lakes and rangers activities.

We’ve stayed in Trevella once before, it seems like an age ago, but it has remained one of our best holidays with the boys. It was where we first set foot on the beautiful beach in Crantock and couldn’t believe our luck on discovering such a beautiful part of the country (our bonkers spaniel loved it too as it’s one of the few glorious sandy beaches which allow dogs all round.) We’ve been back to Crantock several times since but Trevella is by far our favourite place we’ve stayed and judging by the reactions to my social media updates of our mini break, is the favourite of many of you already.

breakfast on the decking at Trevella Park caravan and campsite in Cornwall

Accommodation

The caravans are set so you feel a real sense of space and security. We stayed in Lake View 20, accessed through a key fob operated security gate and with a glimmer of the stunning lake just a stones throw away. The 3 bedroom superior caravan boasted decking which caught the morning sun and importantly for us, a gate to stop the toddler escaping. (You can read more about the different caravans here)

breakfast time

It was being well equipped for a self catering holiday and enjoying al fresco meals, they’re comfortable enough for a chilled evening playing board games and watching TV after some full on adrenalin fuelled days. Even with 5 of us, it felt spacious and judging by the long lazy lie ins the boys had, we all found it incredibly comfortable!

the beautiful setting of the Lake view caravans in Trevella Park, Crantock in Cornwall

With the weather on our side we made full use of Trevella during our stay. The older teens mooched around exploring the site, playing in the arcade, making lots of snack trips to the shop and revisiting their younger, screen free years in the park as well as cooling off in the pool. After a full day surfing thanks to hiring boards from the onsite Crantock Beach and Bike Hire shop, we didn’t get even a glimmer of the word ‘bored”

the beautiful setting of the Lake view caravans in Trevella Park, Crantock in Cornwall

The toddler was an absolute delight the whole holiday, I’m putting it down to hang so much to do on the park, busy days, Daz and I being so relaxed and being able to explore and play safely and that’s where I’ll leave it for today.

In Part 2 I’m sharing all the activities we did as well as the other things you can do in the area.

making the most of the self catering facilities in the caravan in Trevella park

Disclaimer

We were invited down to Trevella Park to experience a family holiday. All words and photography are entirely my own. 

a fabulous family holiday in a family friendly holiday park in Cornwall. this photo was taken on the local nearly Crantock beach near Newquay

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