As Autumn turns to Winter, time seems to slow down. Weeks and months drag on. Exercise levels decline and exposure to the outdoors decreases. It’s no wonder then that most of us find this time of year tough. The one thing that seems to help is taking a break. Getting away from the daily grind and better still, getting outdoors and active. And there’s nowhere better to do that than Bluestone, the home of Free Range Breaks.
Accommodation at Bluestone
The self-catering accommodation at Bluestone is an ideal home from home. Beautiful wooden lodges offer upside-down living, with the bedrooms on the ground floor. Upstairs is an open-plan kitchen, living room and dining room all rolled into one.
There are numerous cafes and restaurants on site at Bluestone. From fine dining to character meals for children and everything in between. For us though, this had to be a budget break. So, we made the most of the self-catering in our lodge and cooked there for most meals.
Our lodge was based by the lake, an idyllic location at the bottom of the resort. We took bikes with us to make getting around the resort a little easier, although we did end up walking up the hill. But that just gave us chance to admire the scenery, like this rather cute dragon.
Blue Lagoon at Bluestone
This was our third trip to Bluestone and as always, we made the most of the fabulous Blue Lagoon swimming pool. For the first time ever, Libby was tall enough for the water slides. Two are very dark and quite quick, another goes inside and is a lot slower. The last slide is in three stages, with a hot-tub to warm up in between. We put them all through their paces, as well as spending plenty of time in the other play areas and the lazy river, and enjoying the wave machine.
Kingdom of the Elves at Bluestone
The adventure centre at Bluestone becomes the Kingdom of the Elves at this time of year. As well as being decked out with festive decorations, a special event takes place in Sugar Plum Land. We headed to the platform and boarded the train, but there was a problem. Evil mice had turned the King of the Elves into a toy, and it was our job to rescue him.
We all had missions to complete, including playing games and decorating gingerbread. The girls were given icing pens and sweets to draw a uniform onto their gingerbread soldiers. They were topped off with popping candy and put into a bag for them to eat at the end of the mission.
Next, we met the Sugar Plum Fairy who had games for us to play. She explained that the adults were in fact the evil mice and it was the children’s job to beat them at three little games to rescue the king. Of course, the children won with a little help from the fairy. Then, we were off to the Nutcracker Ball.
During the ball, the children did some magic to turn the toy back into the king. Then there was a dance to learn before we exited the ball back into the Adventure Centre – in a surprise festive snowstorm!
Bluestone Activity Centre
We’ve always loved the variety of activities available at the Bluestone Activity Centre. We’ve never seen it at Christmas and the decorations are fabulous. Especially the huge Christmas tree covered from top to bottom with Bluestone Elves.
Libby has been asking to learn rock climbing for a while now, but she had to be six to do it and we hadn’t got around to booking her in since her birthday. So, we decided to do it together. It was an intense hour of climbing and descending and Libby was a superstar, making it to the top of the wall on several occasions. The instructor was great, filling us both with confidence and making the whole experience great fun.
Outdoor fun at Bluestone
As well as the adventure centre, the rest of the resort is decked out for Christmas. Lights are tasteful and understated throughout, with the exception of the Well Spa with its rather large, red bow. It certainly reminds you that Christmas is on its way.
The outdoor activities are probably my favourite thing about Bluestone. The girls love the play areas, which are ideal for burning off some energy. They’re never too busy at this time of year either. Play equipment is aimed predominantly at younger children, at six Libby feels she is a little too old for the park now, but she did manage to spend a good half an hour playing there without too much complaint.
This was the first time we’d visited Bluestone since the girls learnt to ride bikes. So, we decided to make the most of the sunshine and bike tracks to explore the woods around the National Park. From our location by the lake, we were on the bike track within a minute. It wasn’t long before we started to see the magic of the Bluestone woods.
We took the three mile-long family cycle trail. This was across various surfaces and incorporated both flat elements and some steep hills. We had a few complaints about little legs having to push up the big hills, but it was a lovely cycle, ideal for families. It will be much easier when both girls are big enough for bikes with gears though.
The other thing I couldn’t resist while I was at Bluestone was exploring a local beach. I’ve been open water swimming all Winter and took the opportunity to go for a swim in the sea at Freshwater East, just 25 minutes drive from Bluestone. It was idyllic, and the water was surprisingly warm.