Our hike along the Southwest Coastal path and a bit of Wild Camping – No Kids!

IMG_8349Sometimes, just sometimes, you need to go on an adventure and sometimes, just sometimes, it’s without the kids! My friend and I decided we needed to get down to nature and away from the everyday life of electrical gadgets, school runs and the fast pace of life. But we wanted to challenge ourselves too.

We walked the South West Coastal Path with our lives on our backs: we took our tents, food, water, cooking utensils, spare clothes and of course a bottle of wine and headed off for our journey.

The South West Coast Path offers 630 miles of beautiful scenery, there are lots of different walks from easy to moderate and some of it can be challenging but every bit is worth it.

IMG_8345Westward Ho to Clovelly, and beyond to the Hartland Peninsular, has easy and challenging stretches and so you can choose to try it all or depending on your level of fitness/ability chop it up a little. There are regular bus services between towns and villages so you can plan your journey back if you do not want to retrace your steps on foot. We parked the car at Clovelly and then took the bus to start our journey.

Some of the terrain was challenging especially with my very large backpack: the hardest thing I found were the manmade steps up some very steep inclines but the view at the end of each challenging point was amazing.


Sunset was approaching and it was time to find a place to pitch our tents, we found an amazing place with fab views (if you do go wild camping just make sure you set up just before dark, pack away early in the morning and most importantly leave things exactly as you found them. Follow these rules and you should be ok. There are lots of wild camping websites but none really share their actual locations or it wouldn’t be wild would it!).


Sunrise, cup of tea, sea view, couldn’t be better!


Then we packed away and began the rest of our trek to Clovelly. This village really is a throwback in time, cobbled streets (very steep), no traffic and an amazing relaxed and quaint atmosphere. We walked past the New Inn Hotel where we could smell breakfast! A friendly lady was sweeping outside and we asked on the off chance if they sold breakfast: to cut a long story short she arranged for us to have a cooked breakfast with the residents, oh my, I think it was the most amazing breakfast I had ever had! It is amazing how quickly we appreciate toast and tea and this was only after one night sleeping rough!

Clovelly itself is amazing but you do have to pay to enter if you arrive by car, if you are following the Southwest Walking path then it takes you through the village without going via the main centre.

Beyond Clovelly you will find the Hartland Peninsular, a dramatic change to the landscape with waterfalls, dolphins, magical scenery and more. We walked for about an hour and our time was up so we retraced our steps to Clovelly. If the first hour is anything to go by The Hartland Peninsular has to be next on my list to discover!


Watch out for angry pheasants, this is Phil, he wasn’t very happy, at first he was chatting and following me along the track but after about 20 minutes he began pecking at my ankles! Obviously didn’t like my trousers.


What amazed me the most was how varied the terrain was along this stretch of the South West Coastal Path in such a short area, from woodlands, to fields, to grazing marsh land to waterfalls and rocks……I will definitely return, next time maybe with the kids…

This was just what we needed, we felt reenergised, at one with nature again, and ready to get back to our everyday lives even if I did have massive blisters !!! It’s ok I won’t add that picture…

You can find more about the Southwest Path here:

Or Clovelly:

Or the Hartland Peninsular:

and here is some great reading that is inspiring my family friends and I for a little more adventure:

For solo adventures maybe with one or two friends try Phoebe Smith – Wilderness Weekends which gave us the inspiration to visit the South West Coastal Path (we thought about sleeping on Peppercombe beach but it was just too loud! (the waves that is!):

pheobe smith

For micro adventures with family and friends or solo if you prefer try Alastiar Humophreys, Micro Adventures. The reason I mention family and friends for this one is that he really will get the couch potato out of almost anyone!There is also a section on his website for kids microadventures. – this book is going to be my Christmas present to everyone!

a h

Just as if by magic, while writing this I received and email with news from the National Trust that new research reveals that a walk by the coast will help you sleep an extra 47 minutes a night, well there you go!!! That will be the topic for my next blog post!

A whistle stop tour of the Silver Coast, Portugal

Portugal map

The Silver Coast, Portugal

Portugal is undoubtedly picturesque, with long beautiful beaches, quaint, and picturesque towns and fishing villages and the Silver Coast is one of it’s hidden gems. Lesser-known than other more popular parts of Portugal, such as the Algarve, over the last few years tourists and holiday-home buyers have stumbled upon this previously well-kept secret for a family holiday destination.

Many of the beaches on the Silver Coast are proud to carry the Blue Flag; marking them out for their cleanliness and beauty. There are beautiful coves within the cliffs and the breath-taking clear sea coupled with the soft golden sand. The sheer abundance of beaches means there is always somewhere to escape from the crowds; even in high summer.

Sao Martinho do Porto beach (image Wiki Paulo Juntas)

Sao Martinho do Porto beach (image Wiki Paulo Juntas)

One of the safest beaches for children is . Lying in a bay, sheltered from the sea and cliffs, it has one narrow stretch of water that opens up to the ocean and is a paradise for families. But the Silver Coast has a good selection, if it is busier beaches you are after, Nazare is a huge stretch of sand that gets extremely busy with tourists during the summer. Santa Cruz which lies on the Silver Coast is home to more than 20 beaches that offer something for everyone; whether it is surfers or families. And yes, you’ve guessed it, all with the trademark miles of sounds and magnificent cliffs. For a beautiful child-friendly lagoon try Pbidos Lagoon beach or Foz do Arelho beach.

If the endless choice of beaches isn’t quite enough to keep your brood entertained, there are countless other activities to enjoy on the Silver Coast.

Peniche, one of the beach destinations is somewhat of a surfers’ paradise and has a surf camp that has classes for children of all ages and abilities, so why not grab the wetsuits and see if you and the little ones take like a duck to water? Of course there are other ways to enjoy the water, for example at one of the water parks in the area. If you are in the area of Peniche, try Sportagua, or if you are nearer, Norpark lies just north of Nazare. Both parks have slides and activities for all ages, so really are, fun for all the family.

If you want a break from the water and are equine by nature, there is a range of horse riding tours available along the coast – there are also lessons available for less experienced riders. And of course, the Silver Coast again stays true to the much of the Portuguese coast with its range of golf courses for the gents, ladies or indeed the whole family to attempt to get a hole in one.

The menus often come fresh out the Atlantic Ocean due to the thriving fishing industry, but from the Silver Coast countryside also comes a variety of warming pork, sausage, bean and meat dishes for those who are not of a fishy disposition. In some cases the dishes are mixed; you could find pork served with mussels!

Obidos, Portugal (image via Wik. author Lacobrigo)

Obidos, Portugal (image via Wik. author Lacobrigo)

If you want to soak up some culture as well as sun, you really are spoilt for choice. There is the architecture in Alcobaca, the natural spas and art in Caldas da Rainha, the castle in Leiria or in the old preserved town of Obidos or Fatima, the village where three young children claimed to see ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ and there forth Fatima became a village of pilgrimage.

The Silver Coast in Portugal has something for everyone, beaches and activities for all ages and interests.

For self-catering family-friendly accommodation along the Silver Coast in Portugal take a look at our website. We have a couple of properties at the time of writing this (our list is growing rapidly :)) You can view them here:

View from Master bedroom

View from Master bedroom

For a  family holiday for larger groups try the five bed villa with private pool, gardens, mini golf and wonderful sea and lagoon views



For something a little smaller try the three bed ground floor villa with enclosed pool



Family day trip to Southend

When I was a child I loved the seaside, its sea breeze, fish and chips, penny arcades and ice cream. It didn’t take a lot to keep me happy, I didn’t need it to be glamorous or warm and sunny- I just loved the atmosphere. I spent the youngest part of my childhood in Hackney in London and, because my mum worked, spent the summer holidays with my Aunty near Southend (in Rayleigh). I have really happy memories of this time: we spent time on the farm harvesting and looking after the pigs, and some days  we visited Southend.

On a trip down memory lane, I decided to pop to Southend for the afternoon with my daughter (25) and son (6). The weather wasn’t great but it didn’t matter, we had so much fun and,before we knew it, it was time to leave…

adventure island

 Adventure Island

We hit the adventure golf here but there really is something for everyone: roller coaster, swings, crooked house, Flying Jumbos, Helter Skelter, Jungle Express, Kiddi-Koasta (roller coaster for the littlies!) and more. Trip Advisor reviews are great too!

After building up an appetite we headed for fish and chips, of course! We went to Clarks Fish and Chip Shop opposite Adventure Island. If I had read the Trip Advisor reviews beforehand I would have avoided it like the plague but actually the lady who served us was lovely, the dining area itself clean and comfortable and the fish and chips went down well for all three of us so we would go back.

chip shop

Then we headed for the arcades, sooooo much fun!

2p slot machine is a must and stick with it you might get lucky and win a prize, we won three!

Freddie beat Tas at the racing car game oops!

I beat Freddie at Mario Kart – double oops!

There is a fab water fountain feature that I think would be fun on a sunny day, was a little too cold today…


But never too cold for an ice cream!

Southend provided a fun family day out, and the fact we live in landlocked Hertfordshire, it makes a good place to visit to see the sea for a drive in under an hour. We will be back.

‘What’s on’ in West Sussex – ideal for a family short break this autumn

West Sussex is located just south of London within a couple of hours drive or train and is ideal for a short family break or if you are near London why not visit for a day out?  It has something to offer every family member with beautiful scenery, amazing food and drink, festivals, beaches, and stunning quaint villages and castles to explore.

There are three child-friendly holiday properties in West Sussex on Holiday Tots close enough to enjoy all the activities below and with availability from 14th September. Prices start at £475 for a short stay Mon – Fri or £525 for a weekend, a week is from £845. The family-friendly activities below are either on the doorstep or less than half an hour drive. Owners Les and Louise also run a Bakehouse with freshly produced cakes, bread and home cooked meals workshops too!


So if you fancy taking the family on a little holiday or just a family day out, there are a few ideas on what to do this autumn in West Sussex.

Walk and explore the South Downs National Park.

Now this is vast and I have lots of headings below that are technically within the South Downs National Park but I felt it necessary to add this as a simple excursion too. The South Downs National Park covers 1,600km2 of landscapes, visitor attractions, beautiful villages, country pubs and much more. It is worth taking a look at their website and seeing what is on when you want to visit or just get a map and compass and explore away…

Family-friendly events in West Sussex September/October 2015:

The Ploughing Match

19th September – join the fun and watch the annual ploughing match as horse and tractor-drawn ploughs battle it out, plus a livestock show, farrier display, sheep shearing, tractor/trailer rides food and drink. Fun starts at 9.30

Daylands Farm walk & cream tea plus hedgerow workshop

27th September – Led by Mother Nature join in the walk and cook what you pick. “Pick It Cook it” run special events for all ages at Daylands Farm in West Sussex from 10am – 4pm. They involve a short walk to forage for ingredients and include refreshments and a homemade lunch. You also get to take home what you cook. For more details visit

Lewes October Feast

September 18th – October 10th

Now in its sixth year the Lewes October feast runs for three weeks in the Autumn and is run by a small charity. With food markets, pop up stalls, apple pressing, beer tasting and more, it might be a lovely introduction to some culinary delights for the kids and adults alike. To see what’s on where, visit their website for more details.


Arundel Castle – Life in a Medieval Cattle

20th September

Arundel Castle is a fab place to take the family for a fun day out, the castle and gardens are great to explore. There are lots of family-friendly events throughout the year too. Life in a Medieval Castle is set in The Keep and Barbican at Arundel Castle. Characters will be portrayed by members of the Raven Tor Living History Group: with stories and tales and craft displays, there will be lots of opportunity to learn about the Castle’s history. Arundel Castle is open until 1st November 2015 with the last admission at 16.00hrs. For more details visit their website

Chiddingly Festival

24th September – 4th October 2015

This lovely parish of just 1000 residents stages this amazing festival of the arts every year. This year is no exception with Jo Brand and many other fab artists from jazz bands to bell ringers. Music comedy, drama and workshops all in one place for all ages. Specifically for children there is The Amazing Adventures of Librarian Lil, Circus Skills with Jimmy the Juggler and a Cartoon workshop with Matt Baxter. Intrigued and want to know more? Just visit their website:

Bentley Woodfair

18th ,19th and 20th September

In its 20th year the Bentley Woodfair is a celebration of woodlands, forestry, trees, woodcrafts and more. With exhibits and displays of amazing skills and activities,  it is a fun and different day out for the whole family. There are demonstrations of machinery, tree climbing, children’s activities, local food, beer tent and a great family atmosphere.

Parham Harvest Fair

26th and 27th September

The house and gardens will be open for this family-friendly fair of the celebration of the abundance of produce that autumn brings. With homemade food, deer walks and cookery demonstrations plus an outdoor arena with a variety of events such as displays from the gun dogs and heavy horses. To bring it all together there will be live jazz playing in the grounds.

Apple Day Brighton

27th September

Brighton is located just outside West Sussex in East Sussex. It is a fun place to visit any time of year with lots of attractions and activities for all the family. Apple Day Brighton is one of many events, it is a free event and is located in Stanmer Park, Brighton from 11am to 5pm. There will be lots of children’s activities with traditional fun fair rides and storytelling in the Orchard. Music and Dance is also on offer as well as apple themed workshops and produce.

appledaybrighton07-1e39edecae appledaybrighton12-25ab0a05ee

Beaches galore…

Finally don’t forget there are lots of wonderful child-friendly beaches too!

West Wittering beach

So what are you waiting for?!


Knebworth House Gardens, what a lovely day out for all the family and here are 10 reasons why…

We visited Knebworth House Gardens for our last day of the school holidays and would highly recommend it. In fact I think we might invest in a season ticket next year. Children under 3 go for free too. Here are our Top 10 reasons why…

  1. Super slides

The three slides at Knebworth are fab for kids of all ages. There is a drop slide for the more adventurous, a tunnel slide for mid range sliders and a large bumpy slide for everyone- basically, whether you are a toddler or grandparent there is a slide for you.

  1. Play area for all ages with Zip wires, climbing frames and more…

The play area has enough to keep even the busiest of children entertained for hours, from zip wires to climbing frames, hills to climb, swings to negotiate and there is even a water play area.

  1. Bouncy Castle

Next to the play area is a bouncy castle for children under 1.2 metres tall. It is free to go on and is monitored well to keep numbers to a minimum

  1. Fort

The fort is so much fun for the children to explore, climb ladders, and crawl through the muddy tunnels, glide down slides, clamber across nets and more.

  1. Maze

The hedge maze is small but lots of fun, we found quite a few dead ends before we made it to the middle!

  1. Fabulous gardens to explore

The gardens at Knebworth House are absolutely wonderful, whether you are a child wanting to run, explore and roll down hills, or a keen plant lover. There really is something very calming and serene about this place.

  1. Trees to climb

Dotted around the gardens from the play area right up to the gardens nearer the main house there are plenty of fab trees to climb.


  1. Dinosaurs to find

An adventure wouldn’t be complete without the search for dinosaurs! There are 70 life sized dinosaurs to find all grazing around the Dino Trail (each one with an information board so you can learn about these prehistoric creatures too)

  1. Brass rubbing

For those who want to get a little creative there is a craft table in one of the gardens set under the trees with some fab pre-historic brass pictures to rub!

  1. Ice cream to eat

Finally there is a café by the main house serving food and drinks or a kiosk by the play area and fort where you can pick up a snack, drink or/and ice cream.

We had a lovely time at Knebworth House and the children did too. The Park and Gardens are only open weekends now until the end of September so you either have to be quick or wait until next year.

They also have lots of events throughout the year with the open air cinema: in September there is a sing-a-long Frozen showing; in October the Pumpkin Trail, Treats and disco; in November it’s the Knebworth House Christmas Fair ; and Sunday lunch with Father Christmas in December.

Visit the Knebworth House website for more details of opening times and events throughout the year.


A Whistle stop guide to the Poitou Charente

poitou charenteThe Poitou Charente is located in South West France and is made up of four departments: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres and Vienne. It is one of the sunniest regions in France making it popular for families looking for a holiday any time of the year. If you want a warm sunny child-friendly holiday without the crowds then a visit to the Poitou Charente is a must during the shoulder months of the year.

It is ideal for families with young children any time of year and especially those not yet of school age as September and October are lovely months to visit and the prices drop considerably. There are lots of private family friendly villas and gite complexes to choose from, if you do want to have a family holiday during the summer school holidays it is advisable to book early to get the pick of the crop as they get booked up early.

charenteThe four departments offer something for any type of family holiday: to the South is the Charente which shares its border with the Dordogne. Here there is beautiful countryside, historic towns and lakes and rivers to explore.


To the west is the Charente-Maritime, the only department with a sea coast in the region offering sandy white beaches, and is the most populated with the highest number of hours of sunshine a year.

The Deux-Sèvres can be found to the north offering beautiful rivers, and wooded valleys and it borders the Loire Valley, so not surprisingly some good wine on offer.

Finally Vienne, to the east of the Poitou Charente, where you can soak up the beautiful scenery and lots of family friendly activities and days out to choose from without the seaside crowds.

Accessible by air there are plenty of options for airports in the region and neighbouring regions such as La Rochelle and Poitiers, Limoges  and Bordeaux all offering low cost airline flights from the UK such as Easy Jet, Ryanair and British Airways.

map of airports in poitou charente google

  1. La Rochelle, France
  2. Poitiers – Biard Airport
  3. AngoulêmeCognac Airport
  4. Aéroport de Rochefort-Saint-Agnant
  5. Parvaud Airport
  6. Limoges-Bellegarde Airport



Ports are between 4 and 6 hours depending what part of the Poitou Charente you stay and which port you use.

Coming soon: Family guide offering ideas for days out for the family in each region in the Charente.

Glynn Barton Cottages Exterior

26 family friendly holiday complexes with availability in June and July – all are baby/toddler friendly: UK, France, Portugal & Italy

Our holiday cottage complexes are ideal for those looking for lots of other children to play with and adults to socialise with. They are located in beautiful surroundings with enclosed swimming pools and lots of outdoor space, plus lots of toys and games to play too. All of the 26  28! complexes below have odd weeks available during June or July 2015 – as of 20th June 2015. UK, France, Portugal and Italy…


1. Wales: Fabulous award winning farm-stay in the beautiful Welsh countryside. Toddlers will love helping farmer Rob with the animals. Various availability from £350 for a family of 4-6 for a last minute mid-week stay.


2. Devon: Five star three bedroom/three bathroom farm house in Devon. Private hot tub, indoor heated swimming pool, toddler playground. 3rd July for one week (£1470)


3. West Sussex: Wonderful family friendly cottage located in West Sussex: on site tea barn, outdoor swimming pool, 10 minute drive to beaches, 25 mins to Brighton, South Downs National Park and the River Adur on the doorstep. Available w/c 24th July (plus 7th Aug and 21st Aug).

June opening pool elllies art 051 (2)

4. Cornwall: Toddler friendly farm-stay near Padstow in Cornwall with six cottages, enclosed swimming pool, farming experience for little ones – a few weeks still available in June and July 10% discount.


5. Cornwall: Gorgeous collection of family-friendly holiday cottages near Bodmin in Cornwall. Limited availability for 26th June – 17th July with every available week now discounted. See listings for prices


6. Cornwall: Luxury collection of five star Eco cottages in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall – walk to beach. Currently one cottage left for the following dates: 3-10 July at £1249 (also w/c 14, 21 & 28 August @ £1750 )



7. Brittany: 1 bedroom cottage in Brittany ideal for couple and one child/baby – beautiful award winning gardens – this property is usually full so grab it quick! WC 18th July £395

Lenvos Gites

8. Brittany, Cotes-d’Armor: two bedroom lodge use of large swimming pool, meal options and beaches. Available end of June to mid July 25% discount for Holiday Tots guests.

lwl lodges

9. Brittany: Three bedroom farmhouse set in rolling fields in the Cotes d’Armor only 20 minutes from award-winning seaside resort. Available 27th June – 11th July 10% discount on these dates


10. Brittany: Choice of two three bedroom and one five bedroom cottage in Morbihan, Brittany France. Gardens, animals and enclosed swimming pool. W/c 4th July £100 discount on 3 bed cottages and £170 on five bed – W/c 11th July £100 discount on 3 bed cottage and £170 on five bed.


11. Limousin: Beautiful manor house with stunning views across the valleys in Correze, France. Six beds sleeps 12, large games room, shared enclosed swimming pool with guests staying in cottage. Available: up to 4th July 20% discount

Fleuret aerial

12. Midi-Pyrenees: two bedroom cottage in the Lot region France – grounds of three acres with pool shared with one other holiday cottage and full use of facilities at neighbouring cottage complex (ref LMCH)

cotton house terrace - Copy

13. Charente: Choice of two luxurious converted barns with stunning views in the Charente countryside. Swimming pool, hammock, iPod doc and lake beach 7km

2014-06-11 12.16.39

ref LSC available from the 7th to the 17th July 10% discount

ref LSP available from the 11th to the 18th July 10% discount

14. Charente: Collection of holiday cottages situated around a beautiful chateau courtyard with two still available. Enclosed pool ‘Tots Zone’ play barn, animals.


Ref DNCF W/C 27th June

Ref DNPC W/C 27th June and 4th July 30% discount

15. Vienne, Poitou-Charente, France: Collection of three sweet cottages, village location, swimming pool, available last 2 weeks in July. 10% discount


16. Charente Maritime, France, collection of cottages within this lovely former cognac distillery. Swimming pool, gardens and half an hour to sandy beaches of South West France. Following weeks available in various cottages 27th June through to end of July. 5% discount for last minute.


17. Charente Maritime: Child-friendly barn conversion four beds, swimming pool, water parks, beaches etc. Two weeks available 11th – 25th July 25% discount if booked before 29th June

sag pool charente

18. Charente: Cluster of four cottages with shared swimming pool, gardens, toys, prepared meals and more surrounded by tiny hamlets and small market towns. Lots of fab restaurants in the area and a lake beach. UK TV and private gated terraces for each cottage. Great availability for June and July 20% discount for all available weeks up to 25th July Exclusive to Holiday Tots guests.


19. Charente: Private three bedroom villa in the rural Charente sharing the enclosed swimming pool with only families staying in the Yurt. Available 4th – 25th July offer 15% discount plus free bike hire.


20. Charente Maritime: Collection of six child-friendly holiday cottages in South West France, enclosed swimming pool, half hour to beaches. Various cottages available up to 25th July.


21. Languedoc Roussillon: Choice of a private four bedroom cottage with private garden and use of shared facilities in the Languedoc-Roussillon, France – just by the Spanish border or one of the lovely three bedroom lodges available for the following dates: lodge: 27 th June-18 th July – villa: 3 th July-17 th July.


22. Aude: Collection of four family-friendly luxury cottages enjoying extensive grounds, enclosed swimming pool (heated May-Sept) each with its own private terrace.

The gites from the pool

Ref MK2CR 11/07 – 18/07 (normally €995) with 20% discount now €796

Ref MK4CA 04/07 – 18/07 & 25/07 – 01/08 (€970) now €776

Ref MK1L  04/07 – 18/07 (€1400) now €1120

23. Aude: Lovely wine and olive chateau in Aude, with beautiful vineyard views and a host of family-friendly activities including swimming pool, play barn, tennis courts and more. Choice 1, 2 and 3 bedroom cottages with 30% discount on the following availability: ½ bed 22nd June to 11th July 3 bed 1st July to 11th July.

Barbeque area overlooking olive grove

24. Languedoc Roussillon: Collection of child-friendly apartments located in Gard, Languedoc Roussillon France. Shared swimming pool, village location with various weeks available in June and July – offer May prices in June and June prices in July.


25. Languedoc Roussillon : luxury micro resort close to beaches, four cottages, almost inclusive packages kids club, meals, wine and more. June prices and inclusions extended to the 18th July.



26. Tuscany: A gorgeous five bedroom baby and toddler friendly villa in a stunning rural location with views over lakes and hills. 10% discount on all remaining weeks in June, July and August.



27. Algarve: Lovely child-friendly cottages with amazing facilities and views over Loule in Portugal. An ideal rural escape yet only a short drive to the family friendly attractions and beaches the Algarve has to offer.

29 November 2012 164

Property ref: RML 2 adults 1 child under 2 available 20th June – 16th July 7 nights reduced from £485 to £415

Property ref RMC 2 adults and infant under 2 yrs available 20th June to 18th July 7 nights was £485 now £415

STOP PRESS… Late addition


Normandy, France: We have just been notified about a last minute availability in Normandy France, walk to beach and village available 18th – 25th July.  10 % discount

gite 3 large