Farms, family and friends – a fabulous week in Wales

Right readers, today is my first official day of materity leave, with our new arrival due in just over 4 weeks time.  I’ve finally managed to handover my job, put work stress behind me, and find some time to catch up on real life!  So expect much more regular blog posts from now on (well, at least for the next few weeks until life becomes hectic again!!).

I have a lot to catch you up on, so I shall start with our recent holiday to Wales.  Following last year’s successful visit to a cottage in Abergavenny, we decided to head back to the Brecon Beacons for a quiet family week, this time staying a little bit nearer Brecon itself.  We rented the gorgeous Tower House for a week – and for any of you looking for a great cottage, I’d highly recommend it – it was heavenly.  Here are my boys checking out the view from the garden:

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The cottage overlooked a farm, so Alex enjoyed spotting sheep, chickens and tractors – he’s getting very good at shouting “cock-a-doodle-doo”.  And with both a massive box of brio railway inside the cottage and an enormous, enclosed trampoline in the garden, he really was in heaven.  And Matt and I were too as, perhaps because of the fresh air and super dark nights, Alex slept amazingly well, sleeping till after 8am every morning 🙂  Here is a very amateur video of alex giggling on the trampoline:

Feeling well rested and refreshed, we packed plenty in to our week away.  With lots of family and friends in the region, we interspersed sightseeting with reunions – starting on the way to Brecon with a visit to see an old colleague of mine, Eve, in Cheltenham.  We enjoyed a lovely lunch with her beautiful family – and had the very surreal experience of her oldest daughter, on being asked what we should call our baby girl, suggesting the name at the top of our short list!  A sign perhaps?!

When in Brecon, we visited the National Showcaves Centre for Wales – a slightly surreal, but fun, mix of unusual cave formations, life sized dinosaur models and a farm!  Luckily, Alex adored it – getting good at pronouncing different dino names and loving getting dripped on in the caves!  Here he is with his new, cuddly T-Rex (!).

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We also stopped by the Cantref Adventure Farm, a pretty tacky – but totally child focused – petting farm / play barn.  Alex discovered a love of guinea pigs:

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And particularly enjoyed riding on mini-tractors and the super long sledge ride:

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Our final Alex focused day was spent at the Brecon Mountain Railway where we road an old stream train along a mountain lake.  Alex was more impressed than this picture suggests!

Brecon Mountain Railway

Thankfully, not every day was spent at toddler attractions – we managed to get out into the hills in our hiking boots for a short walk.  Not quite the full day hikes of our pre-baby days, but certainly a muddy ramble with fabulous views.  Alex enjoyed being in the backpack (and Matt’s back survived an hour of Alex’s weight!).

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We also finally got round to visiting a Red Kite feeding centre, something Matt and I have wanted to see for ages.  Turned out to be a bit of a disaster, partly because the local farmers had been working their land during the week and the red kites had been filling up on voles and other small mammals and therefore weren’t hungry – but mostly because it turns out to be a pretty bad idea to take an excited toddler into a bird hide!  After about 2 minutes of him shouting “sheep”, “eagle”, “tractor” at the top of his voice, we’d had enough glares from the binocular-wielding spotters – so we fled!  We saw some beautiful red kites from the comfort of the car park instead!  Oh well – maybe next time!!

The other highlights of the week involved visiting family.  We spent a wonderful evening with Matt’s family at the farm near Carmarthen – it’s sad that we see them so rarely, so we loved the chance to visit (and Alex adored his first experience of a real, working farm).  He spent quite some time afterwards reciting all the things he’d seen during his visit – “tractors, chickens, cows, dogs, kittens…”.  I’m kicking myself for taking absolutely no photographs at all – too busy chatting!

We also visited Matt’s old school friend Luke, with his wife Laura and gorgeous baby girl Isla on the Gower, as well as another former colleague of mine, Amy and her family, in Bath on the way home.  Brecon really is a great place for us to visit as it gives us such an opportunity to catch up with people.  And just to top off the visiting, we stopped in to see my brother in Reading for his summer BBQ party and then to see Matt’s parents in Crowthorne on the way home!  Phew – I think that covered our entire family in England and Wales!  It was a wonderful week that really felt like a holiday.

For those of you who haven’t seen all the pictures already on Flickr – here’s a quick slideshow of all our holiday snaps:

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