For the first time EVER, our little family spent the Christmas & New Year period on holiday.
It was amazing for us all to be together, spending a full 10 days just relaxing and enjoying our surroundings. After a busy year, it was a much-needed and well-deserved break. Those regular visitors to my little blogette will know that we love to go to Coombe Mill, in Cornwall. The tranquillity and the closeness to the natural outdoors appeals to us, and it made a great setting for us to enjoy Christmas even more.
The most memorable experience, however, was the day of New Years Eve. We decided to spend the day surfing in the sea at beautiful Polzeath Beach. Bonkers, I hear you mutter, given the time of year but, with the proper kit, we hardly noticed the cold and lasted over an hour in the surf, jumping and riding the waves.
We went to a surf shop located right on the beach, where we were able to hire a board, wetsuits, boots, gloves and hats, all of which were much needed in the chilly swell. We used the “privacy” of our car to writhe and wriggle into our wetsuits, and then we were ready to face the waves.
The first few steps into the ocean we sort-of OK, and surprisly not as cold as we anticipated it to be. Having the correct kit is essential, and I was able to slowly lower myself deeper into the water without too much of a cold-shock to the system, acclimatising as I went tentatively ever farther out into the surf.
My daughter caught her first wave and soon stood up straight away, making it look very easy and completely putting her Mum to shame! I don’t mind admitting that I’m not the best surfer, and I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been able to successfully stand up on a moving board, but I still love the whole experience.
After almost an hour, the wind started to chill our heads, and cheeks began to glow a nice shade of rosy red. We were ready for warm clothes and, as we waddled quickly back to the car, we all agreed that we should visit the nearest tea-rooms, where we enjoyed a steaming pot of tea, and a huge warm scone with extra clotted cream and large spoon of jam!
The ability to enjoy such a wild, fun day with my family was such a brilliant way to end the year and mark the end of a wonderful holiday.
We’ve just returned from an amazing walk up Pen Y Fan! The best part was that we had snow at the top of the mountain!
My daughter has been watching the news reports, praying that we might get some snow in Wales. As we drove around bend in the road to Storey Arms in Brecon, she let out a huge squeal as she could see snow on the top of Pen Y Fan!!
We met some friends who’d never walked up Pen Y Fan, so it was very special to be able to take them up, in these beautiful conditions.
The start of our walk was slow and steady, but everyone was so in awe of the clear blue skies and beautiful walking conditions of the day.
As we got to Corn Ddu, (the first peak), the layers and extra jumpers went on as the wind picked up. The girls were still determined to reach the top.
After taking it slowly and steadily on the uphill path, (due to the ice), the girls had smiles when they saw the top of the mountain, and the crowds of people milling around waiting for their picture to be taken.
After a brief stop for a lunch of the “ever popular” chicken noodle soup, we posed for our ” summit picture”.
Over to Corn Ddu and down the rocky path, we started our descent with lots of happy chatter. We were all full of the Christmas feeling due to the weather, and the fact that we were, at last, out in the snow!!
It was a lovely day out, and it’s made the Christmas holidays a little bit more special for us.
A competition being run by Center Parcs, celebrating the things that get your family into the Christmas spirit. The question asked was, “What 12 things truly get you into the Christmas spirit”.
It really did get me to thinking about the traditions and things that, as a family, we love to do together, to capture the feeling that Christmas is coming. It has been a lovely family exercise, pondering our favourite Christmas traditions.
My 12 favourite Christmas activities are:
1. The day of baking. We have a Sunday where we don’t venture out of the house until all the cooking of cakes and other delicacies are done. Five traditional Christmas cakes for presents for neighbours and aunties, a whole range of Christmas cookies put into sparkly boxes ready for teachers as a thank you and the start of the puddings for after Christmas dinner.
2. Going outdoor ice skating gets us into the Christmas spirit. We all wrap up warm with hats, scarves and glove. We enjoy Christmas music playing and having the first cup of mulled wine.
3. That family time of Christmas. As the festive season builds, we deliver cards and presents. We make the time to sit, chat and catch up with family members. I find that we really make an effort to see everyone, and I believe it’s a very special part of Christmas.
4. Our Christmas decorating ritual is wonderful and when we start decorating the tree, I get to look at the ones we made when my daughter was a baby. Paper Christmas puddings with her face in the middle, and special ornaments with past family Christmases on them are a lovely way of remembering Christmases past.
5. The time of stopping is quite momentous. The first taste of time off work, the children finish school and having the first real time to enjoy the little things are such a joy. We may go for walks, we enjoy old movies that are always shown on television, we take the time to sit and play games together, we enjoy festive foods and soak up that lovely, relaxing feeling of not having to rush around any more. “It’s all done!”.
6. On Christmas Eve, we love a hot chocolate in our Santa mugs. We open a box of Christmas chocolates and watch a Santa Claus movie, all snuggled together on the sofa under the duvet.
7. Christmas pyjamas are a bit of a tradition in our family. We all have new Christmas pyjamas that we wear on Christmas Eve, snuggled up warm and cosy, but ready for that busy, early start in the morning.
8. The Christmas game is an institution, too. As a family, we each take in turns to bring a family game to play, to break up the afternoon and to stop people nodding off due to Christmas food over-load. It starts off with fun and laughter, but can then descend into the various teams really getting into it! You’ll soon see the competitive streak coming through!!
9. Our Boxing Day afternoon welly-walk is a “must”! We pull on our new “outdoor clothes”, and all go to our nearest forest trail for a good crisp winter walk. After that, we’ll all go back to my mum and dad’s house for an afternoon buffet of cold-cut meats and home-made soup from the leftover vegetables from Christmas dinner. The fire is always on and it’s a lovely, cosy feeling coming in to warm, friendly surroundings from the crisp cold.
10. At this point, we have to talk turkey. It’s great thinking up new and inventive ways of using up the Christmas left-overs. Not just turkey sandwiches, turkey curry, turkey pasta bake, but spicy turkey filo parcels and turkey tagine are winners!!
11. My day of mountain biking. During the holiday period, I have a day where a group of my friends and I all take off to ride along the Taff Trail, in South Wales. We ride past lovely scenery and listed buildings, call into one of the coffee shops en route, and and also enjoy packed lunches……. with the obligatory sandwiches of turkey, cranberry and stuffing!!
12. For the last 5 years, we’ve had the tradition of a big New Years Day walk, in an effort to burn off the wondrous excesses of Christmas. This year, we’re going to try Pen-y-Fan in Brecon, with the family, (weather conditions permitting). This is somewhere I’ve gone many times with work, and I can’t wait to get my 7 year-old daughter to the top, for her to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
This post has been amazing to think about what Christmas means to our family and I hope, by reading this, you to have the chance to think about those 12 festive things that make Christmas great for you.
All of these things can be enjoyed anywhere……. be-it a Center Parcs holiday, or with extended family, or with close family at home, because it’s all about that cosy, warm, friendly feeling of spending special, quality time in the company of the ones that you love.
This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 December challenge. If I am chosen, I would like to visit Longleat Forest Center Parcs, Wiltshire.
My favourite tip from Center Parcs winter wonderland expert Nick Oot, was about getting out and about. We love being wrapped up warm, going for walks in the cold, crisp air, enjoying what nature shows us and being together in the environment.
We also love it when our little family comes in from the cold, snuggles together in a warm, safe home and we’re lucky enough to enjoy a hot chocolate and other Christmas treats, together.
It’s finally here, all the running around, the last minute dash to the shops, forgetting a present for at least one family member, getting those endless Xmas cards out, going through rolls and rolls of wrapping paper, not having enough tags, counting down the hours till you finish work, and it’s all for today.
We have been up for hours, (we have
an alarm clock call that sounds like an excited 7 year old). The dinner is being prepared and it smells delicious. New toys are being tested out and happily played with.
So, I would just like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and hope you all have a lovely day. Enjoy this festive time.