Fuerteventura

After a pretty draining year we decided a week in the sun would be a good idea. With an 18 month old in tow we didn’t really fancy contending with major time differences or a long haul flight, especially when we were only going for a week. So, if we wanted sun, The Canary Islands were the obvious choice. I should confess at this point that I’ve never been a huge fan of the Canaries…. I thought I knew what they were like because of stereotypes I’d seen or heard, which put me off.  However, the reality was, a four hour flight, no time difference and some sun meant Fuerteventura was a sensible choice.

Due to the early flight we decided to stay at Gatwick the night before – we picked Sofitel Gatwick as it was connected to the North Terminal and we could simply walk from the hotel to check in within minutes.

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The hotel was lovely – we ate room service on the floor, from the light of the bathroom (the joys of sharing a hotel room with a sleeping toddler) but the restaurants and bars we saw from the main atrium of the hotel looked great – I was only a little jealous……

Anyway, the alarm got us up at 5am and we were able to lift the sleeping toddler (well done wife for thinking about the travel GroBag), nip along the covered walkway from the hotel and get checked in before he woke. A little research had told us about the family lanes at Gatwick, which made going through security so much easier. Before we knew it we’d had breakfast in Starbucks and were heading to the boarding gate.

We’d been told about Barceló Castillo Beach Resort by friends and it seemed to tick a lot of boxes – a short drive from the airport, branded drinks, a number of restaurants and bars to choose from and, if you chose Royal Level, a gated pool area so nice and safe with a toddler. We weren’t disappointed. We went straight to a separate check in area (very handy with a restless toddler), and were taken to the block we would be staying in.

Somehow the Barceló Castillo have managed to make a huge hotel and apartment complex feel like a small town. It’s located at the end of a peninsula so there’s not much traffic and the hotel complex is cleverly split up into areas, punctuated with bars, cafes, ice cream bars, main dining area, pool area, kids play ground on the beach, theatre, hotel reception and small shop. As a result, wandering around feels like you’re walking around an area of the island rather than a hotel complex. The grounds are stunning and the whole area spotlessly clean. My perceptions were beginning to change….

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The Royal Level has a beach side area and a gated pool area. We had requested the pool area and got a great room (ground floor – easy with the pushchair) which looked over the pool and the sea beyond. There’s two pools, loads of loungers, a bar and the staff would come around offering fruit kebabs and drinks on a regular basis.

 

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Our days generally followed the same pattern: breakfast; walk; lunch for the boy (beer for the adults); walk to get the boy to sleep; lunch for us; pool in the afternoon; shower and change; tea for the boy; dinner for us. With little to think about other than food, drinks and strolls around the harbour it was pretty easy to relax.

 

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Now, I should give full disclosure here, if you wander out of the hotel complex, there are elements of the local town that are a little ‘Brits abroad’…. fine if you like or want that, one to be aware of if you don’t. On our morning walks we’d head up to the local town and the first things that you see are an Irish bar and a string of English cafes and restaurants. There’s also a small supermarket and a kids play area which are very handy so you can’t knock it too much!

 

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We somehow managed to spend a whole week eating, drinking and wandering around. It was a very relaxing holiday and so easy with a toddler. I’d definitely recommend for a quick break whether that’s with kids or as a couple. My views of the Canaries are definitely changing and I’d definitely look to the Barceló chain again if I was heading that way again.

 

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The Lake District

We spent three days in The Lake District staying at Park Cliffe caravan park in October last year.

I really wanted to go back to the Lakes so was very happy when my wife told me she’d booked it, I wasn’t quite as pleased when she told me we were staying in a ‘pod’. A pod?! Apparently it was going to be fun and the kids would love it……I was still to be convinced.

Turns out it was brilliant! The pod is heated and had enough room for two adults, two growing kids and a baby travel cot. There was electricity to it so we could plug in night lights and charge phones – both baby and kids happy.

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There’s an onsite bar, restaurant and shop so we could sort all kids and have a pint so we were all well catered for.

Park Cliffe is located on the side of Lake Windermere and this is what makes the place so amazing. The views are stunning and, after buying an extra bedding roll (plenty of camping shops nearby!), I could just about cope with sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor of the pod.

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From Park Cliffe you could get to Bowness and Windermere in minutes. Booths supermarket was a pull for my wife who used to work for them and Windermere itself is a lovely town to walk around. There’s obviously boats on the lake and all of the fells to explore. Fell Foot is a nice easy ramble that kids can also manage. The prize is the view.

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There’s also the Lakeside & Haverthwaite railway station and Grizedale Forest slightly further away.

To break up the journey on the way back we detoured through Blackpool Illuminations. It turns out our memories of ‘the lights’ are better left as memories and the kids were pretty underwhelmed…. lovely that they are still on every year though.

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Turns out the ‘pods’ were fun!

 

Bucket List Life

I’m a 50 year old husband and father of three children. A year ago I was diagnosed with Advanced Prostate Cancer. I’ve been told the average life expectancy for somebody of my age and diagnosis is around 5 years. Although initially devastating, my diagnosis has enabled me to look at life differently and given me the opportunity to make the most of the time I have left. This blog is an account of the things I’m enjoying.