Parent friendly holiday


Well it’s already two weeks since we got back from our first family holiday, and I did promise to report back, so while Buzz Light-toddler appears to be sound asleep here’s a very quick review of our stay in Dorset.

The plan was to find somewhere close to home in case things didn’t go too well. There was also a slight danger that we’d need two cars/trips to get everything there, so we wanted to find somewhere already equipped for babies. We found Hastings Farm Cottages on the Child Friendly Cottages website, and it had all the big stuff (cot, highchair, pushchair, etc.) provided, giving us a fighting chance of packing everything else for our four month night stay into a relatively small car!

I have no idea if all the Child Friendly Cottages are the same standard but Cowslip Cottage was excellent and came with everything we needed. Well, except for electricity for a bit but we were looked after with some hot water for an emergency cup of tea! (Entertainingly there was a small field of solar PV panels nearby but those were no use when the main supply is off, to protect the inverter- luckily they also had a generator to plug the kettle in to!)

It may not be far from home but Dorset has plenty of things to keep a toddler entertained, and Hastings Farm was a fabulous spot. We arrived with a baby, who decided it was a perfect place to start walking, so we had our own entertainment- chasing a new toddler!

Fortunately everyone survived and we now know that we can manage holidays, and we probably don’t need a bigger car. (They need less stuff when they get older, right?) So, any suggestions for where to go next?



At the risk of stating the obvious, I’m having a short summer break from blogging, mostly due to an ongoing project to buy a new house. That’s not exactly been going smoothly, so when we do eventually move I’m sure there’ll be a few posts on the subject! Until then I’m wondering whether to blog at all, and perhaps stock up a few posts for a new season, or just stick to the odd short ramble. Here are a few bite size updates from the last few weeks for example…

It seems a bit like I’ve spent every spare minute on Rightmove but investigating house locations has been the perfect opportunity for a spot of mapping; after initial success with Open Street Map, I’ve made a few more edits. I did think the map was pretty complete where I live but on closer inspection there are actually quite a few details missing.

I’ve also spent a bit of blogging time playing with Google+ instead. Meh. I think the most interesting thing has been the discussions around using your real name, but that issue is not exactly unique to Google+.

Exploring the Android Market looking for apps that will work on the Joggler has been a welcome distraction. Need to add a few more to that list, including my new favourite clock. I’m impressed with how well the Joggler has taken to it’s new life as an Android device, but it is somewhat tied the wall, so I’m seriously tempted to buy a ‘proper’ tablet. I’m sticking to my dumb phone so I want something portable enough to make it out of the house on a regular basis. For a budget option the Andy Pad seems like it might be worth a look, except that I’d want to try before buying, and now there are rumours about a Samsung Q mini tablet/giant phone, except that’s not going to be cheap at all!

And we’ve been on holiday to Germany, which was much more fun than any of the above.

Need another holiday already though!

What did the Victorians ever do for us?

Last week, after an aborted start due to a meteorite impact (stone chip on windscreen!), we spent a couple of days away from home/work/the internet in Shropshire. We spent a bit of time at the birthplace of the industrial revolution, now home to a few museums… and a power station:

(Probably not PC but somehow seems an apt addition to the scenery considering the area’s past.)

Despite a closed road (travel was turning out to be a pain on this holiday!) we made it to the Blists Hill Victorian town, which was well worth the effort.

The town has it’s own printing shop where they were printing boxes to put bricks in, as you do. They had a couple of old presses, including one fantastic platen press. Probably a bit too big for the shed sadly.

Typesetting the kind of postcards they usually print probably doesn’t take too long, but the post office had a newspaper which would have been a huge effort to typeset… not to mention pulling apart again, cleaning and storing ready for the next edition. Movable type clearly has it’s drawbacks.

And yet there’s something far more tactile about the end result than modern printing, which got me thinking about a fairly random mashup of old and new technology. Instead of assembling all those individual pieces of cast metal by hand, could you print the whole thing using a 3d printer? Linotype may have cast complete lines as a single slug, but a 3d printer could produce whole paragraphs, or pages at a time. Ok, pointless I know: technology has moved on, and clearly in a more efficient direction, but I still want to try it!

(Alternatively, this random use for 3d printing could be even more fun!)

Photo of metal type © no_typographic_man cc by-nc-nd 2.0


Since I rarely send postcards when on holiday, here’s a blog substitute (minus the handwritten font)…


You’ll probably get this after we’ve been back home several weeks! Having a wonderful time- we’ve seen a lot of this kind of thing:

Yes, blue sky! Oh, and ancient ruins, carefully put back together by markeologists. It’s amazing how big cities like Ephesus were, and slightly strange how they look today. It almost looks like a builders merchant in parts- not just rubble, stonework and rows of pillars, but piles of pipes as well!

It’s mind blowing just how much is just below the surface…

…or propped up in a corner (like the goddess of trainers!)…

I’ve no idea how the wooden horse fooled anyone; even with the windows closed the steps would be a dead giveaway!

(That horse is the same age as me and it’s been refurbished already! Yikes!)

And that’s why I don’t write postcards!!! It was a brilliant holiday though, and I’d definitely like to see more of Turkey if I get the chance. (More photo’s on facebook.)

Welsh cakes

The lack of a recent blog post is because I spent a glorious week beyond the reach of the internet in a cottage in the Brecon Beacons. No broadband, no telephone, no wifi and no mobile phone signal! Bliss. Instead, we did have lots of sun, waterfalls, roman roads, reservoirs, mountains, mountain railways, coal mines, and castles. And a TV (freesat) so Jo could keep up with the world cup!

The lack of rain was a bit of a surprise, which meant we ended up in the pitch black down a coal mine on the hottest day of the week. I think the guide thought we were mad but, having been waiting for a rainy day to visit the Big Pit, it was the last day of our holiday. It was well worth a visit anyway; probably my favourite part of the week, despite banging my head repeatedly. Fortunately they supply hard hats!

We also had tea.

The Old Barn Tea Room

Not much about this place on the internet, which isn’t surprising given it was right next to our cottage! I thought we might visit more often but we actually only went once in the end; it didn’t open until 11am and Jo did a great job with the self catering. The walnut and cherry cake made a welcome arrival snack before we settled in to the cottage though. Should have got a slice or two to go before coming home!

The Mountain Centre

The best thing about a cream tea here is the view. Certainly the best view from any of the tearooms we’ve visited so far; the photos on their web site don’t do it justice. You can take your own food for a picnic, which would have been nice if we’d have come prepared. No problem though, the cream tea did the job, with Jo describing the cream as, “Just like whipped clouds.” Plenty of whipped clouds as well, stretching the jam/cream ratio slightly with those tiny jars of jam. Certainly too much cream to entertain any daft ideas of putting the jam on top.

I also made an impulse purchase of a package of Welsh cakes before we left. Definitely need to find somewhere that sells those round here!

Older and wiser

Checking in after a short break from blogging (hands up if anyone noticed!) for a very nice holiday in Spain. Still in shock at the sudden drop in temperature coming back to not-so-sunny Southampton! The shock of returning to reality has yet to hit.

I got another year older in Spain; only the second birthday outside the UK and this time while watching a great flamenco show. I’m probably just older and older, rather than older and wiser but I did learn a little about Federico Garcia Lorca, who I had never heard of before, while visiting his summer house in Granada. It turned out to be a well timed visit with an art exhibition on in the house with, among other things, a typewriter that only types ‘o’s, a postcard sent every day from India and a virtual table cloth… and loads of other stuff I quite liked.

This weblog isn’t about travel though, so when I’ve unpacked and tamed the jungle outside I’ll be dusting off jo and jt’s big adventure for the next installment.