Quite a while ago I won a £100 voucher to spend at The Co-operative Travel, so we decided to go for a family weekend away. We wanted to go to a hotel that wasn’t too far, with a swimming pool, and some interesting things to do nearby. The Co-operative Travel only deals with a limited number of hotels so we looked on the website and we chose the Hilton Hotel in Newport because it ticked all the boxes and kids go free. My voucher almost paid for 2 nights bed & breakfast; we just had to top it up with a few pounds of our own money. Here is what we did (as well as a lot of swimming and sitting in the Jacuzzi.)
National Trust Tredegar House.
I’m always keen to make the most of our National Trust membership so we took a trip to Tredegar House. Unfortunately the house itself is not open in winter but we had a walk around the extensive parklands. You can find out more about Tredegar House here.
Caerleon is a Roman village very close to Newport. There are lots of places of historical interest such as the Roman museum which is free to enter (hooray for the Welsh government!) and has lots of things to see and do. The kids can try on replica helmets and clothes. There’s also an amphitheatre which was built around AD90.
3. Big Pit
Big Pit is not to be missed. It’s an old coal mine which has been turned into a museum. You have to put on a helmet (so you don’t bump your head) with a torch on it (so you can see where you’re going) and you are taken down into the mine by an ex miner. Our guide was called Gavin and he was a mine of information. (See what I did there?) I’m not usually one for guided tours but his commentary was so fascinating that I was enthralled for the fifty minutes of our tour. he told us of the times when seven-year-old children used to sit in the mines for ten hours at a time in complete darkness to open and close the doors for the miners. Times when miners weren’t paid in money but in tokens which they could only spend in the shop belonging to the pit owner, who could then raise his prices as much as he wanted because the miners had no choice but to shop there. Big Pit is also free to get in. (Hooray for the Welsh government again!)
It made me stop and think how lucky we are to live in a time when we are protected by EU employment laws, and fearful of what might happen should the British public choose to leave the protection of these laws. I’m pretty sure the current government would be only too happy to go back to a time when it was possible to exploit workers in ways that seem unthinkable to my generation.
And here’s a picture that my son took of the hotel lobby.
I had to work a couple of days this holiday, but I did take some annual leave too and I managed to do quite a lot of stuff with the kids. Here are some of the things we did and the places we went.
We went to the cinema to see The Martian. I really enjoyed it, and it’s great that my boys are getting a bit older (they are 12 and 8) so I can go and see more grown-up films. We went to see it at the Sherborne Cinema, which if you are local to Gloucester, you really should visit if you haven’t already. It’s a lovely little retro cinema created in an old church hall, by Mark Cunningham who does everything himself from selling the tickets to making teas and coffees as well as showing the films.
I took the boys swimming at GL1 (the local leisure centre). I love swimming and so do my boys but for some reason we rarely go. Ben has been having swimming lessons with school this term and it was lovely to see how his swimming has improved and his confidence has increased. Again, it’s nice that they are a bit older now so I don’t have to constantly watch them or hold on to them and I can go and have a little swim myself.
Chedworth Roman Villa. We are members of the National Trust and this is one of our nearest NT places so we’ve been a few times. They had various half term activities going on for kids including badge making. The nearby woods are a great place for a walk to see the autumn colours.
Robinswood Hill. This is another family favourite. The Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust were organising Halloween activities so we paid a visit and Ben made a bird feeder out of half an apple, some peanut butter and some bird seed. We hung it in the garden when we got home but the only flying visitor I have seen on it so far was a fly.
I took Toby to see a performance of Macbeth by local amateur theatre group Tyger Productions. it was staged at the stunning Blackfriars Priory and the action took place both inside and outside. It was a superb venue for the play – very atmospheric – and the acting was excellent. Just the thing for Halloween. It brought back memories of my O’ Level English Literature.
On Saturday I took the boys trick-or-treating and as every year I was struck by the generous spirit of the local people. The boys came home laden with sweets, and as we went out early, there was still plenty of time to hand out treats to all the little witches and ghosts who came to our door. Answering the door and handing out sweets proved just as exciting as receiving them.
We went over to visit my mum in Stroud, and the boys helped her out in the garden.
Back to work again now, and back to school for the boys.