Up until the week before, I was preparing for a low key half term week at home with the children.
That was, until Sam came home announcing he’d booked some annual leave and an air bnb and suddenly we had plans for a last minute trip to Devon with a stopover in Bristol.
Our first stop was a remote house nestled in the Exmoor national park, close to Barnstaple. Our friends had kindly invited us to come with them to their family-owned home. It was a large, rambling house that at one point had served as a b&b, surrounded by acres of woodland and fields.
Partly because the area is so hilly, and partly because the house consists of so much land, wherever you were on the grounds, you couldn’t really see any other signs of civilisation – just miles of rolling hills stretching all the way down to the coastline. The surroundings were absolutely beautiful and so secluded.
Despite it being mid-winter and not usually the time of year I’d usually think about taking a UK holiday, the secluded nature of the place we were staying, the short daylight hours and the log fire made it the perfect setting for cosying up indoors and naturally encouraging a slower pace of life. We took walks, ate good food, and played a lot of board games.
The house’s corridors and many, many doors and cupboards made an excellent platform for hide and seek. I remember being a child and playing hide and seek myself when we’d stay somewhere new, so the thought that Arlo and Rory might well take these memories with them into adulthood is a warm one.
We visited a cold but bright beach, where Arlo promptly dipped my brand new Go Pro into the water without asking, because he’d “seen on the advert that you could do it”. Luckily, he was right that it didn’t need any additional housing before getting submerged, but there may have been a slightly nerve wracking few moments before we confirmed this ; )
One of the reasons I’d asked for a Go Pro for Christmas was because I hoped it would help the kids get on board with documenting our adventures. They often ask to use my camera for video and it makes me a bit nervous knowing how easily breakable it is, but the Go Pro is built for this sort of stuff. My instincts were right, with both Arlo and Rory adopting our new camera immediately – in fact, during our trip, Arlo made his own video. I’ve pinched a bit of his footage to use in my video, but you can see his full vlog here on his own channel.
After a long weekend, it was time to wave goodbye to our beautiful Devon surroundings drive the two hours to Bristol. Arlo unexpectedly vomited midway through our drive (which involved a complete outfit change on a freezing cold and rainy motorway hard shoulder). We didn’t know if it was a one off or a bug, so our plans to explore the city that day were somewhat scuppered – but we spent a chilled afternoon in our apartment and thankfully for Arlo there was no more sick and he quickly started to feel better.
As our boys are really quite into landmarks, architecture and transport, one thing I knew they would be very interested in was seeing the Clifton Suspension Bridge. So, we headed off there for a very rainy and foggy walk on the last day of our trip.
Once we reached the end of the bridge, I did that thing that always makes Sam and the boys sigh – getting my camera out and requesting a group photo. Rory was being really grumpy (as you can tell in some of these shots) and Arlo flat out refused to pose with me until right at the last minute. Otto was game, but he’ll soon learn.
What I really wanted was one nice photo of me and all three of my children – I don’t ask it enough for fear of making everyone groan, but it is important to me. We didn’t manage that today, although I do really like the photos of me with them individually (except I wish I wasn’t rocking so much of a hobo look with my extra long cardigan under my coat and my battered ‘driving’ trainers).
This moment actually sparked a bit of a family conversation afterwards, in which I essentially pleaded to the children (and Sam!) that photos make me happy and sometimes all I want is one nice photo of everybody, and in future can we think about making it a rule that in exchange for giving you guys a fun holiday/trip/day out whatever, that you agree to stand with me for just one photo. Desperate times call for desperate measures! But actually I do think this conversation sparked a bit of thought, in Arlo and Sam especially…or so we shall see.
We finished up with a walk around Clifton and a really lovely lunch at Primrose Cafe – I literally could have picked anything off the menu, it all sounded so good, I had such a hard time choosing!
This whole trip felt like a lovely but unexpected bit of bonus time together. I had been gearing up for a quiet, and probably pretty boring (but restful) half term with the boys – just mostly being at home and catching up on some rest after a full on school term. So, the fact that we got to spend this extra time with Sam, in such a beautiful part of the country, made this trip feel all the more special.
I also made a video of our trip which you can watch here:
A few more photos from our trip: