As a family we don’t go away much. Sam and I were always fairly reserved with our travel pre-parenthood and once we had Little H we couldn’t summon the energy to do it often! Last year we decided to make the effort to have a proper summer holiday and drove over to Holland. We all had a wonderful time and wanted to make sure we gave Little H and equally good holiday experience this year. But with Little Z now on the scene, we made the decision to stick to a ‘Staycation’. Aside from a weekend away to Norfolk about 6 years ago, it’s an area of the county Sam and I have never explored despite so many positive stories. So after some quick research, I booked us a self catering holiday home on the north coast.
Our accommodation was great. We stayed in a barn conversion with Home Farm Holiday Cottages in Weybourne. Made up of about 15 small cottages, the site also had a games room, play park and a 12m swimming pool. The cottages ranged in size but we paid a little extra to hire the large 6 bed Old Flint Barn. It proved true to the photos and was an awesome property, feeling both cozy and spacious. The extra room was a blessing as we used that as a space to change Little Z, keep all our clothes and Sam’s bike. It was also only one of two properties on the site which had a washing machine which as a cloth nappy mum I now find crucial. (I’m also a huge fan of having a washing machine on holiday – see my footnote for why!**). The living space was reversed to normal with the bedrooms on the ground floor. It meant that the open plan lounge / kitchen / diner was on the top floor and wonderfully airy. The girls spent ages happily playing or chilling out in that space. The site also had a brilliant kids play park (with a wendy house) and a heated indoor pool!
We love getting out to see and do things whilst away. But Little H is still a bit young to really get value for money from activities. So many of the big attractions around north Norfolk are quite expensive (£15 – £20 + for adults and kids 3 and over); we tried to opt for cheaper or free options. We also took each morning easy and didn’t go out until Little Z had had a nap in her cot. It worked really well for us – we kept the cost down whilst keeping everyone amused.
Our first full day and we wanted to take it easy after all the travel the day before. Sam went out for a cycle whilst the girls and I relaxed in the house. We then wandered down into Weybourne village with Little Z in the sling and picked up a pastry from the amazing little village store / cafe. We then wandered down to the beach to see the sea. It was a pebble beach which is used by fisherman so it was not a place to stop and play but Little H enjoyed looking at the pebbles. We then stopped in at the village pub, The Ship Inn, for lunch and it was really tasty and relaxing.
We followed it by an afternoon of napping and a cuppa (Little Z and I), the play park (Little H and Sam) and then a trip to the swimming pool. I took Little H in the water whilst Sam and Little Z watched. Because it was off season, we had the entire pool to ourselves. Little H hasn’t swum for years and was a little nervous but after 20 minutes was already letting me hold her under her stomach to kick and flap her arms.
Rain! Heavy rain in fact. We didn’t fancy trekking about in it with both the smalls so we headed out mid-morning to a farm shop and cafe that I’d seen outside Holt. We thought we’d get a drink and a snack before buying some bits. But sadly everyone else had the same idea and the cafe was full of brunchers – bah! So we bought some scones, jam and fruit and headed ‘home’ to have our own tea and cake there. It actually worked really well as Little Z napped whilst we ate. Then we had a slightly later lunch which Little Z was able to join us for. Then the afternoon was play and, of course, more swimming!
Sam had done some research and noticed we were right near the North Norfolk railway. We love a steam railway so we went to Holt to get a late morning steam train out to Sherringham. It was a lovely ride lasting only 20 minutes so nobody could get bored. We then found a cute cafe in Sherringham to have lunch and walked down to look at the sea. Little H played in the kids carriage (a fixed play area) at the station and then we got an up-close look at the train before heading home. We were all quite tired out by the end (me especially after sling-ing Little Z round the whole trip) so we watched a film and vegged out.
Sam headed out early for another cycle – this time a longer ride. Little Z ended up having a long nap so Little H and I chilled with some play-doh play, reading and some snacks and (for me) tea. My plan was to take the girls to nearby Holt for a little explore and a morning tea and cake. By the time Little Z was up and I got them both in the car, it was past eleven though; Sam was 2/3 of the way round his route and we had the only key. So I felt a little under pressure. We found a cute tea shop, Folly Tearoom, in one of the mews in the town though and shared a toasted tea cake and a piece of tiffin – yum!
Knowing Sam was waiting for us back at the house discouraged me from browsing any of the little shops round Holt. Plus old quirky buildings and the buggy don’t mesh well! We had lunch and then headed over to a nearby country park / camping site which was supposed to have a good adventure playground. It wasn’t all that awesome and was definitely not for Little H’s age group. But she still had a clamber around and burnt off some energy! They also had some red squirrels there in a breeding compound – I love red squirrels.
My only requirement for our holiday was fish & chips near the sea. We decided to drive East over to Wells-next-the-Sea. It felt like being in the middle of a hectic city compared to where we’d been! It was much busier and the car park in the centre was full. As we started to get frustrated though, we happened upon a brand new spacious car park on the Holkham Estate which was only 2 minutes from the town and cheaper the the town cap park. Win!
As we walked to the town, Little H spotted an amazing play park which she was desperate to go to. This proved our bargaining chip to keep her behaviour good during the rest of the excursion because we told her she could go before we went home!
The port-side restaurants were rammed but we finally found a nice spot in a pub beer garden where I had a very tasty fish & chips. Little Z fell asleep during lunch so we walked the mile up to the sea front whilst she slept some more. Then when we got back, we let Little H loose on the park whilst I changed and fed Little Z on the grass. The weather was really glorious for the end of September so once Little Z was happily back in her buggy, we went and got a couple of ice creams from a nearby ice cream parlour. When I got back, Little H’s reaction was, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that!”. Then she proceeded to try and eat as much of both our ice creams as possible before getting back to her playing. The ship climbing frame was her highlight of the day!
After our busy day the day before, we wanted to have a lazy and local final day. Sam and Little H to the site park whilst Little Z had long nap. Little H took her balance bike and they were gone for a good 45 minutes +. Little Z also had an impromptu long nap so and I actually sat and relaxed for once. It was delightful sitting there in the quiet, in my PJs with a cuppa and reading some articles.
Once everyone was back / dressed / awake, we decided to go and get lunch at the pub again. I got their seafood platter with prawns, smoked salmon, smoked mackerel, hot kiln smoked salmon, potatoes, bread and olive tapenade. It. Was. AMAZING! Sam had a delicious steak pie and Little H had beans on toast which she ate without any prompting. After a happy lunch we took another walk to beach and sat to watch the water. Then, because she’d been such a good girl, Little H and Sam got lollies from the shop. We also managed to sneak in a final swimming session before tea!
We had such a wonderful holiday and whilst we were all happy to come home, we didn’t feel like the holiday dragged at all. The accommodation was so comfortable and the environment so peaceful that we all managed to relax. With two young children, it’s really difficult to get lots of rest even when away. But those few quiet stints I got whilst Little Z napped and Little H was out with Sam helped revitalise me a little bit! Little H will at school next year so we’ll have to start going away with everyone else. This was certainly a brilliant final September holiday!
**I should probably be a little embarrassed to admit what I’m about to right, but now I’m in my mid-30’s and a mum of 2, I’m now past caring. So I put my hands-up and admit I love going on holiday to a property with a washing machine! This was our first trip with Little Z wearing cloth and I didn’t want to have to swap to disposables. Given the length of the wash (over 3 hours total), I really didn’t want to have to use a communal laundry room. On top of that though, I *like* being able to put a few loads on whilst away to avoid having a tonne of washing when back home. There is also the added bonus that I don’t need to pack ‘back-up’ clothes for the girls (or Sam)!