Where did the summer go? It’s my favourite season but felt like it ended far too soon. Looking back though, we packed a lot into it. From exploring a completely new region of Spain, Aragon, with some of my fellow bloggers, to road tripping through southern France and numerous UK day trips. We had a lot of fun! Here’s a look at some of our family travels and days out which we embarked upon this summer.
Prior to the official summer months starting, we celebrated my youngest, Cheeky’s, first birthday (had to give her a mention).
Early June saw me jetting off to Spain with five other travel bloggers. It was my first time away from Cheeky and no doubt much needed. It gave me the chance to get some ‘me time’ and enjoy freedom away from mother duties. Occasionally you just need that, don’t you?
It was an incredible trip. A brilliant group of people exploring a lesser known area of Spain, Aragon in the Pyrenees. The family-friendly area saw us go kayaking and white water rafting, view some of its stunning scenery as well as explore historical cities such as Huesca and Teruel.
The waterfalls at the park in Piedra Monastery Gardens were a highlight for me as well as Castle Loarre and the biggest Palentologist park in Europe, Dinopolis, in Teruel. In between we sampled the region’s gourmet food and wine and enjoyed great conversations. Can you believe we only had four days away? We certainly did a lot!
Summer isn’t summer without a bit of strawberry picking, is it? We retuned to Crockford Bridge Farm which we first visited two years ago. The balmy summer days of June also meant lazy days in the parks, meeting friends and a return trip to Willows Farm. Most of all though I enjoyed spending time with these two crazy kids. What is it about my youngest and sunglasses?
The beginning of July started with my eldest brother visiting from the US. With a train-mad nephew to entertain we headed to the brilliant Didcot Railway Centre along with my extended family. A ride in a steam train was a highlight while climbing aboard old locomotives and going down into an air raid shelter went down well too.
A visit to Kew Gardens and Wisley Gardens were also on the agenda as well as various trips to London. Suddenly it was almost the end of the school term and in between lamenting the end of Mrs T’s first year at school, we were busy attending sports day and organising school fairs.
As the summer holidays beckoned, the activities ramped up. A trip to London’s South Bank where we viewed its quirky nordic benches proved a hit.
A visit to SeaLife Aquarium was also very well received. Along with some other bloggers, we got a VIP tour of the popular London attraction. Going ‘back stage’, Mrs T fed the stingrays (and turtle) which was an amazing experience for her (I was too busy holding Cheeky to help out). The jellyfish exhibition was a particular highlight. Watching them move so graciously was mesmerising.
After the aquarium we were taken to the House of Vans in the Arches. It’s a cavernous space under Waterloo station used for concerts, art exhibitions and skateboarding. How did I never know it existed? Mrs T and I had a brilliant skateboarding lesson. It’s something I’ve always I wanted to do so getting a professional to teach us some of the basics was brilliant. My daughter is now asking for a skateboard for Christmas!
Another fun day out came at Wisley Gardens during its Five Go On A Garden Adventure event. As a fan of the Enid Blyton books, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Mrs T learn more about the characters and take part in the trail.
Then it was off for our two week road trip to France. Our first stop was the delightful city of Tours where we stayed overnight. Then onto the Dordogne where we enjoyed a holiday with friends – 42 of them (including kids). Can you believe it! It was an amazing trip and a beautiful part of France to explore. As well as sampling the wine and enjoying time by the river, we visited the towns of St-Emilion and Bergerac. You can read more about what we did here.
After a week with friends, we headed off as a family for the second part of our trip. Montpellier was our home for two nights then we went east to Provence. In between chilling by the pool, we visited Sisteron and its famous fortress and the hilltop villages of Roussillion and Gordes. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to picturesque towns in this region of France.
We travelled home via Vézelay and I was flung straight into party arrangements for Mrs T’s 5th birthday party. The woodland fairy party seemed to be a success. I had to brush up on my cake decorating skills for this toadstool house creation.
For her actual birthday we headed to Legoland – somewhere I hadn’t been before. Mrs T loved it! Her favourite attractions were the fairytale boat, the puppet show and the Lego driving school..she got a licence to take home and everything! A huge unicorn balloon was another essential we took home!
Our final overseas trip of the summer saw us go to Mallorca with my husband’s extended family. It was a wonderfully relaxing holiday with grandparents on hand to help with the children. We discovered locals’ beaches, ancient forts, ate lots of delicious food and chilled by the pool.
When we got back, there was time for wedding anniversary celebrations – 8 years! Japanese restaurant, Zuma, in Knightsbridge, was our restaurant of choice.
We rounded off the summer with a day trip to Portsmouth. I haven’t been there since I was a child but was very impressed. Walking abroad the magnificent ships of HMS Warrier, HMS Victory and the Mary Rose helped bring history to life. A great education and insight.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyards also has a whole building dedicated to children’s activities called Action Stations. You could have a go in a helicopter simulator (harder than it looks), do a rope course and have a go at a Ninja Warrior style assault course which Mrs T tackled.
And so ended our summer travel activities. What a time we had. Check out my full posts for more on our summer adventures.
What did you get up to? Is there anywhere we went that you’d like to visit?
You may also enjoy
The Dordogne: What to see and do
Why Visit Tours in France
Why family-friendly Aragon needs to be on your travel list