Archive for the ‘Review 5 star’ Category

  • Family fun at the National Stud, Newmarket, Suffolk, East Anglia

    Date: 2011.02.26 | Category: Been there, Cottages, Family Man, Holiday Parks, holidays, Latest News, Review 5 star | Response: 0

    Whilst holidaying in East Anglia we were looking for something to do on a family day out and we came across the National Stud at Newmarket… what a great find it was for all the family!

    The National Stud is, not surprisingly, to be found just outside the town of Newmarket in Suffolk – the home of horse racing in the UK. It is easily reached by car with plenty of parking but don’t be fooled by the automatic electronic gates which are closed until you approach by car – we almost turned away thinking it was closed.  And, according to several of our tourist leaflets, the tours weren’t available until mid March when we arrived in February, so we were pleased to find that they were very much open.

    Set in acres upon acres of land (over 500 acres), the National Stud is big business with some of the resident stallions being worth over £10 million and owners paying anything from £10,000 to £60,000 to bring their mares for a visit.  On the tour, which is about 75 minuntes, you get to see the Stallion Unit which included Bahamian Bounty and Cockney Rebel, seen from a respectful distance as they are not keen on people. You also see the Foaling Unit and get to see lots of mares and foals up close in the Nursery Yards and paddocks. And, it’s not often your children can say they have stroked a Grand National winner… the 2004 winner Amberleigh House is a very friendly horse that the family will love meeting.

    The tour is one of the most informative and interesting we have been on, giving you a fascinating insight in to the world of racing and breeding and was thoroughly enjoyed by all the family. The price was £20 for a family ticket which was excellent value. It was a relatively sunny February day when we were there and, as much of it is outside, we would recommend going on a day when it is not raining.  Find out more about the Tour>

    Staying in self catering in East England > Suffolk > Newmarket

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  • 5 star entertainment at Puy de Fou, Vendee, France

    Date: 2010.10.11 | Category: Been there, Places to go, Review 5 star | Response: 0

    With over 1.3 million visitors, the Puy de Fou is the 4th biggest theme park in France and is a great fun family day out.  Situated in the Vendee region of France, the park is a French favourite but it does cater well for its big number of foreign visitors each year.

    Puy de Fou offers the visitors fun packed live entertainment shows  including Gladiators in a colleseum, Vikings battle over a village, the Musketeer spectacular, the knights on horse back  jousting and a birds of prey display.  Doing all of the shows will take most of your day as you rush from one to the next and they are all great value.  If you do not speak French do not worry, you can get MP3 style players with headphones at the entrance that translates all the important bits.

    All of the shows are well put together and above all fun. We thoroughly enjoyed the Gladiators and the Vikings shows but have to say that the Musketeer show is truly spectacular and the top must see show.  From start to finish the Musketeer show was full of delightful surprises from villains appearing from chandaliers above the audience to the superb horse and light display as the arena filled with water… truly fantastic.

    In addition to the shows you can explore the Medieval City, the 18th Century village, Town Square and the Forest.  There is plenty to see and do and of course you will find characters in traditional dress.

    Through out Puy de Fou you will find places to get snacks and drinks and some fast food restaurants. Although there are picnic areas so it is worth taking some bits along with you to keep the costs down.

    Some practical advice is that if its going to be a warm day don’t forget your hats and sunscreen – a lot of the shows are in the open and so there is not a lot of shelter when the sun is at its hottest.  Similarly, if rain is possibility, don’t forget your raincoat to keep you dry through the shows… we watched some of the shows through a downpour, they never stopped and we never minded – it just made it all the more authentic.

    Puy de Fou also has two evening shows that make the most of fantastic castle and lake as backdrop to the evening entertainment.  The nights include, horse displays, fountains, fireworks and music.  If you are looking to do these shows you may want to buy a ticket for more than one day as we were so exhausted after doing the park we didnt have the energy to day for the night shows.

    So will this apply to families of all ages?  Simply, yes.  Our children, one of who was in a pushchair the first time we went, absolutely loved it with so much happening all around them.  The shows are superb but the whole park is just great to explore. We have been to the Puy de Fou 3 times in recent years and have enjoyed it every time – it’s 5 star entertainment.

    Accommodation near Puy de Fou

  • Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall, South West England

    Date: 2010.08.24 | Category: Been there, Places to go, Review 5 star | Response: 0

    One word comes to mind when thinking of Fistral Beach in Newquay, Cornwall… surfing.  Fistral Beach is the home of British surfing, with the British Surfing Association based there, and so is a must for surfers of all experiences and levels.

    Before I go any further, if surfing conjures up images of Hawaii and young athletic people riding the waves… don’t be put off.  Fistral, particularly during the summer months, is the haven of the family amateur surfer, body boarder and the swimmer.  In fact with the RNLI Lifeguards present throught the summer months, keeping order and keeping you safe, Fistral Beach is a great place to take the family for safe water fun.

    Fistral Beach has a car park above it, but you will need to get there early or be lucky to find a space.  If not, there are a plenty of car parks in the town which are not too long a  walk away.  However, we always tried the car park first, if we were not lucky with a space then we dropped all our stuff and the passengers off and then went to park the car.

    Fistral itself is a large, generally flat, sandy beach.  It will get busy in the summer holidays when the sun is out but you can usually find yourself somewhere to sit.  We found our beach tent invaluable in securing a little bit of space and, more importantly, to help us find our way back to our stuff after being in the sea!

    The facilities at Fistral are very good, there are toilets and showers (50p token required) as well as a cafe and shops over looking the beach.  The food is not the cheapest – £2 for chips – but all in all, the facilities make it far easier to spend the day at the beach.

    So the surfing and bodyboarding.  Well the summer swells are not the best time of year for the serious surfer – it is much better in the Autumn – but it is a good time for beginner as there are usually good waves to learn and practice on.  As you would imagine there are a number of BSA approved surf schools that operate on Fistral Beach and lessons for a half day tend to be around £30.  It is well worth having a lesson at the beginning of your holiday to teach you the techniques and the safety basics nad then you can spend the rest of the holiday refining your technique. Surf lessons are appropriate for people of all ages – from 8 to 78, so there are no excuses not to give it a go!

    Your surf school will provide everything you need for your lesson – including boards and wetsuits – you just need to remember your swimming costume, a towel and the sunscreen (even on cloudy days)!  If you don’t want the lesson but don’t have the equipment, there are plenty of places on the beach or nearby that you can hire surf equipment including the wetsuits.

    Whether you are swimming, surfing or bodyboarding, there are specific areas for you to be in on the sea and the RNLI Lifeguards keep it well organised, meaning you can feel safe whatever you are doing.

    Newquay town centre is only a short walk from the beach and so at the end of the day it is easy to head for a bar or pub for a drink to celebrate your success!

    Where to stay?


    • Suitable for Family: 5 stars
    • Beach and surf: 5 stars
    • Beach facilities (toilets/showers): 4 stars
    • Cafe/food: 4 stars
    • Safety: 5 stars (RNLI Lifeguards during season)
  • Eden Project, St Austell, Cornwall

    Date: 2010.08.16 | Category: Been there, Features, Places to go, Review 5 star | Response: 0

    One of the UK’s premier holiday attractions, the Eden Project is a fascinating and fun,
    5 STAR family day out in Cornwall.

    So what exactly is the Eden Project?

    First and foremost, it’s a garden – an amazing, incredible garden.  Discover plants that have helped humanity since the dawn of time explained in fun and engaging ways.

    Trek through steamy jungles, past shacks, waterfalls, and plantations – including the largest rainforest in captivity with a tree canopy 50 meters high.

    Travel to the Mediterranean without leaving the UK – perfumed citrus orchards and olive groves, all enclosed in a second Biome, transport you to warmer climes.

    Then you can marvel at the cutting-edge architecture and art.  Such as the world-famous Biomes which include the largest  greenhouse in the World. Explore the Core, a stimulating education centre, with a roof built the same way plants are.  See World-class art installations right across the site making Eden a huge gallery.

    And, of course, it’s a living example of regeneration and sustainable living – learn how they turned a clay pit in to a paradise.

    Fun for all the family?

    Whatever your age you will find plenty to entertain you at Eden.  During the School summer holidays the Eden team run lots of kids entertainment, which while we were there included building a den from items such as poles, ropes, canvas, tarpaulin, material and whatever else you could scavenge!  Also water challenges – including pumping water along family made river valleys.  The children had great fun at these and then sat down and watched and took part in the fire starting demonstrations for over 45 minutes.


    You can eat at the restaurants at Eden which are reasonable value for a major attraction.  However, if you are there after 4.30 in the summer you can also enjoy a barbecue which is superb value and well worth doing.  There was also a band playing to entertain you.

    Plan your day

    Before you visit Eden it is worth checking the website to see what is going on to make the most of your day.  It is well worth knowing that after 3.30pm there are reduced rates for adults and children go free – this made a saving of £30 for our party of 5! Not only did it save money, parking and wandering around the attraction was so much easier later in the day.

    Couple of other tips.

    • Don’t forget the sun lotion as it can be a major sun trap.
    • Its a long walk back to the car once inside, so make sure you take everything you need when setting off.


    St Austell, Cornwall, South West England

    Where to stay

    Caravan and holiday parks close to Eden: St Austell, Cornwall, South West England

    Self catering and cottages close to Eden:  St Austell, Cornwall, South West England

    Lodges close to Eden: Cornwall, South West England


    • Value for money: 5 star – especially after 3.30pm
    • All family entertainment: 5 star
    • Parking: 5 star
    • Overall: 5 star

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