Almost a year to the day since we went to Bluestone Wales and Kingdom of the Elves in 2016 we were invited back to see what Elftopia had on offer this year!
This time, we were prepared (or as much as you can be) for the long journey to get to Bluestone Wales and knew what to expect when we got to the other end.
Unlike last time, we had a vague idea of what we did and definitely didn’t want to do; i.e. do make use of the facilities and definitely don’t waste a whole day in Tesco buying bras.
We hoped to book a buggy as last time we hadn’t, and there had been a lot of walking (in the rain) involved, but by the time we were booked in the buggies had all been snapped up. Undeterred I instead paid a fee to choose our accommodation, and selected one as close to the Adventure Centre as I could, in Preseli View.
The fee of £102.50 also came with two hours of spa usage per adult and a bottle of wine each too; which for the three of us seemed like money well spent!
Our upside down house, a Gateholm lodge, was a few minutes walk from both the Adventure Centre and the Bluestone Wales Village.
The Gateholm Lodge was smaller than last year’s Skomer Lodge. Although both lodges sleep up to six, the Skomer had a large porch which was great for buggies and muddy boots. It also had big double French doors which opened out onto a patio area which the Gateholm lodge (in Preseli View) didn’t have. Obviously we didn’t make too much of these in the middle of December, but even though one of the bedrooms was downstairs it did feel roomier.
However there are obvious pluses to the upside-down house; namely the fantastic view across the Preseli hills. We were lucky to have a few clear days and you could see a long way; as mentioned last time it is a truly stunning part of the world. We didn’t really have a lot of time for looking at the scenery though!
The lodge itself was very clean and the kitchen, which we made good use of, looked as if the appliances had barely been used!
On the first morning, Tuesday, my mum and I dutifully went to the Well Spa to use up our two hours.
Having not been the previous year I wasn’t sure what to expect and thought two hours might be pushing it for steam rooms and saunas, but we had the place to ourselves and it really was a lovely relaxing experience which left me feeling a bit floppy for the rest of the day.
Meanwhile, my dad took the kids to what I think based on my hazy recollection of the previous year, may have been a brand new outside play area.
We spent the afternoon at the Adventure Centre with its soft play and trampolines, before heading to the village pub, the Tafarn, for dinner and to see the Christmas lights.
The Tafarn is a nice little traditional pub.
It’s fairly expensive, but it’s in a holiday village so of course it is!
My only gripe with it really was the lack of gluten free options for the small one and his fussy belly. They were accommodating and able to do us a child-sized portion of the day’s special which happened to be ham, eggs and gluten-free chips, but they didn’t do jacket potatoes in the evening which is usually our go-to when out and about. I had halloumi and I’d been hankering for some for ages, so I was more than happy.
Personally I didn’t think the light display was a patch on the previous year, which was set to rousing music and really quite an amazing thing to behold; this year seemed a little lacklustre in comparison. Still, the kids enjoyed themselves.
The next day we went to the Blue Lagoon swimming pool in the morning. There is one main pool with a lazy river which goes outside, a wave machine every 20 minutes and two shallow baby pools. Although there isn’t actually anywhere for an adult to ‘swim’ lengths you can spend an hour or so here with toddlers quite easily!
That afternoon we were booked in for the Bluestone Wales ‘Christmasland’ Kingdom of the Elves 2017 experience.
This year, Kingdom of the Elves started with both children donning an elf suit; the previous year the big one was given a cape and wristbands so this was a step up for sure, and they are so big they’ll fit for many years to come. And I will be demanding they wear them, naturally.
We were then lead through ‘security’ and onto the plane to Elftopia. Once there, we moved between festively decorated rooms and took part in different activities, including making magical stardust reindeer food in the Stardust Workshop and beating the adults at games in the Funhouse, to earn stamps for their passport.
Their favourite bit was the Elf Snow Queen at the end; the room was dressed magically with snowballs and a huge glitter ball casting sparkles around the room!
The elves were very enthusiastic and made the Kingdom of the Elves experience brilliant; the children loved it and although our group was made up of very young children in the main, they all seemed to be very involved!
The whole Kingdom of the Elves experience was around 90 minutes long and the kids had a lovely time and took it very seriously! We even found the small one’s doppelganger; I’m not kidding – same hair, same pout, same eyebrows. I was almost tempted to see if they were in the market for a spare…
That evening, I booked my four year old and myself in to see Singalong with Belle in the Village Hall.
The singalong was Christmas songs as opposed to songs from Beauty and the Beast, but my four year old loved it.
On our final full day at Bluestone Wales we headed out to the local market town, Haverfordwest, having already visited Narbeth and Tenby on our previous visit. The highlight for us was the festive yarnbombing which had taken place!
That afternoon, my parents took the kids back to the swimming pool, and that evening we all went back to the Tafarn pub for a few drinks.
It felt like we fit a lot into the three full days that we were there, even though there were a lot more activities on offer.
We didn’t go to the breakfast or dinner shows, or the pantomime which was running as well as a Santa chocolate house workshop and numerous play and creche sessions. We didn’t go to the restaurants or coffee shop; just the Wildwood Cafe for a cup of tea.
I imagine with older children slightly easier to corral you might be able to pack these things in but we really had no need; we were busy enough and everyone was tired by the end of the days and slept (reasonably) well in the fresh Welsh air.
Thank you once again to Bluestone Wales for inviting us along and providing us with accommodation free of charge.
Thank you to the Welsh weather for holding off while we were there and staying mainly bright and breezy with only a smattering of rain. Amazing.
Bigger thanks go to my mum and even more so my dad, who drove us all the way to Wales and back!