There aren’t many people I know that don’t love a good break away from the dreariness of everyday life. That’s why the travel industry has boomed so much! We all love a little escape. While it was easy to book a last-minute flight or holiday pre baby, things aren’t quite as simple post baby.
Everything has to be meticulously planned and thought ahead.
We’ve been abroad once with our Son. We took him to Amsterdam because the flight was under an hour and I thought it would be quite good testing ground. It was disastrous. And that was with all the pre planning!
Being able to up and go was one of my favourite aspects of my life before my Son. So I decided it would be quite nice to try to experience that same feeling but with him- after all I don’t regret for one second the changes he’s brought to my life.
Flying overseas was a definite no-no. He’s just not happy being that confined, but at the same time I didn’t want to feel like we were restricted to the areas immediately surrounding us. I wanted to experience some form of ‘journey’ with him.
Darwin Escapes contacted me to find out if I’d like to review one of their 15 handpicked UK holiday destinations. With a range of destinations such as Cornwall, Devon, the Lake District, Somerset and even close to home Surrey there was bound to be a place suitable for exactly what I was looking for. With each holiday park having a different feel I was able to narrow down our choices. Did I want somewhere romantic? somewhere family orientated? somewhere pet friendly? somewhere in a city?
Now the smart person probably would have chosen a resort that was aimed at families. Somewhere with a heated indoor pool, leisure activities and outdoor fun made for the entire family. But I just really wanted somewhere natural, unspoilt and peaceful. Probably the total opposite of a good family resort. And like I said earlier I wanted to ‘journey’ somewhere.
So going against all my maternal instincts I chose the Isle of Wight Woodside Coastal Retreat. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s still very family friendly (board games in all the lodges and wii games and controllers etc), but the on site location wasn’t geared for the entertainment of children and that’s what I wanted. My Son, to be honest, is happy as long as he’s outdoors, and knowing there was a coastal area on site was enough to make me know he’d be overjoyed. Picking up rocks, stones and playing in nature is what he does best.
Along with his Godmother; my beautiful friend Victoria, we filled my car up with everything we might possibly need. There wasn’t any worry about luggage or any fear about forgetting anything- because of course we could pick up everything we might need at the destination. We drove down the motorway from London to Portsmouth and hopped on the ferry across the waters.
This for me is the moment when you truly leave behind your home life. The journey. Being on the ferry gave me that feeling that we were going on an adventure. There was a separation of water between where we would dock to where we left. That for me means the holiday has truly begun.
It didn’t matter that the crossing was so quick, literally a cup of coffee on board and you’re ready to drive off the ferry! Little London loved it though, unlike an aeroplane he wasn’t confined to a tiny seat. He could stretch his legs, gape in wonder at the sea though the window and wave goodbye to the coast… and flirt with a number of the other passengers.
Once we reached Fishbourne harbour, a quick 15 minute drive and we were at our destination. We grabbed our key and went in search of our lodge. The Osbourne Premier Lodge- with a hot tub!
Immediately Little London ran around enjoying the space and freedom of the lodge.
He dived into each and every room. There was a big double room with an en suite, and a twin room (with a separate bathroom) that I wanted, as I could push the two beds together and create a giant cot (although you can hire baby items from the resort should you wish including high chairs and travel cots). It also meant I got lots of sleepy cuddles from my baby which always makes a Mama happy.
The resort leave food essentials in the fridge in case you haven’t had time to pick up food or drinks when you arrive, as the lodge is self catering. But they needn’t have worried with us. We’d picked up everything we needed from a supermarket in Portsmouth which included copious amounts of Prosecco and loads of chocolate and cake.
With an active journey, my little man went down easily for the night. So myself and Victoria took advantage and jumped straight into the hot tub on our porch. With the baby monitor giving me the ability to check on my Son as we wallowed in the hot steamy water I couldn’t have felt more relaxed. The coastal breeze skimmed the top of the water, but irrelevant of how cold the wind was once you were in the water you weren’t anything but toasty warm. We gossiped, had lots to drink and scoffed our faces with unhealthy treats and caught up on each others lives.
After a night’s sleep where we all slept soundly we awoke to the most incredible view. Pushing open the doors and stepping out onto our porch we could just see the sea stretched before us.
The beautiful rugged landscape and wilderness just lay ahead.
^^ Elephant Cord Dungarees c/o Powell Craft
(Powell Craft is a family run business that specialise in vintage inspired baby and children’s clothing- although they do also sell adult wear, accessories and house and home products too. The dungarees are part of their A/W15 range which features soft corduroy products such as dresses, skirts, trousers and the dungarees of course- all finished with gorgeous appliqué designs. I loved these mustard pair which have a beautiful bright blue elephant on the front with matching blue detailing on the straps, buttons and on the turn up around the ankles).
I loved that the coastal area was wild and natural still. It’s what gave me that feeling of being back in nature. Real nature. Not something man-made and constructed. Just what nature should be. It’s natural state.
After breakfast we decided to explore the Isle of Wight. With a car it’s easy to get around and drive the length and breadth of the island. It also meant that Little London was never in the car for too long at any one time.
Our first stop was The Needles Landmark attraction. The Needles are a trio of chalk stacks that can be seen from Alum Bay Beach. To see them you have to either walk down a multitude of steps, some quite steep. Or use the chairlift. We asked the lady the best way to get down to the bay to see the needles and she recommended the chairlift with Little London. I recommend walking it- it is quite demanding but it’s a whole lot safer!
I have never been so petrified in my life. Anyone with a toddler knows you can’t quite predict their behaviour. And the chairlift just had a bar that came down in front for protection. Now don’t get me wrong, my Son was remarkably well-behaved and loved the journey on the cable car- he smiled at every person that was travelling the other way. But I just couldn’t relax. I had his harness on him just in case and my arms tightly around him, but I didn’t feel safe with him on there at all. The cable car cruises above the tree tops and then has a really steep decline over the cliffs. Without him it would have been a really enjoyable experience. Perhaps with a baby strapped in a baby carrier you might be fine, but otherwise definitely take the steps with little ones!
Once on Alum Bay Beach we were able to see the different colours in the rocks and witness the needles out at sea. Little London just ran free and copied the other children who were skimming small rocks onto the water.
^^ leggings from dab + blyton.
On the way back I decided to walk with Little London and left Victoria to enjoy the cable car alone. I couldn’t put myself through that again. By the time I reached the top of Alum Bay cliffs I felt like I’d done a proper work out, but felt much happier knowing that my little one was all safe
Our second stop of the day took us to Osbourne House.
The house (with its own private beach) was built by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a Summer home and rural retreat. It was supposed to be Queen Victoria’s favourite home. The place where she could just be her, and not the head of the state. Her children were free to run and play and just be themselves and she was able to truly relax. To be honest that sums up the Isle of Wight perfectly.
Little London wandered around the house, he sat himself on the Queen’s toilet- which I’m not sure he was supposed to… and set off alarms by moving protection bollards. He also pointed at a picture of Queen Victoria sat on a horse and excitedly screamed ‘hor…’ *cringe Mum moment.* But he loved walking from room to room and seeing all the artefacts and looking out of the windows onto the manicured lawns.
We didn’t manage to see Swiss Cottage, which homes a lot of play things for children to get involved with. It was built by Prince Albert for his children, to have an area where they could grow their own vegetables in individual plots and play, with the freedom he had had growing up. There is also a play ground at the entrance of the visitors centre that we also didn’t manage to go and enjoy. But none the less Little London loved the freedom afforded to him again and playing wasn’t really on his mind or even needed! But I do want to return to see Swiss Cottage in all its glory at some point.
A few miles down the road and we were back to our lodge. After eating dinner and settling a knackered Little London down we treated ourselves to some cookies and hot chocolate in front of the roaring fire.
As luck would have it Bridget Jones was on TV- so we put our feet up and enjoyed a truly girly chick flick and popped open a bottle of chilled Prosseco.
With the movie coming to an end, we donned our swimwear again and delighted in the freedom that we were able to jump into the hot tub while not neglecting any child care duties!
I loved the fact that we were afforded the luxury of really indulging while not having to disturb my child. As every parent knows, often on holiday once your child is down for the night you are restricted in what you can do because you can’t leave them. But having the hot tub just outside meant we didn’t have this worry. We could be loud, and the baby monitor was with us at all times. It’s the prefect retreat for a romantic getaway of even a girly trip like I had- even with children!
After another brilliant nights sleep, we awoke to our final day. A quick coffee on the porch overlooking the scenery and a little jaunt down the beach gave me what I needed to start packing to go home.
^^ Jumper and leggings from dab + blyton.
But with a late afternoon ferry booked we still had a day of fun ahead of us. We decided to indulge Little London and take him somewhere he would love. With so many things to do on the Isle of Wight it can be really hard to pick one thing only, but we decided to go to the Seaview Wildlife Encounter. After all it wasn’t far from our final stop which would be the ferry terminal.
^^ I couldn’t not include this action shot of a toddler trying to get out of a deck chair…
It really was the perfect place to end our tour of the Isle of Wight. We could see the beautiful well-kept animals easily, interact with some of them and once more Little London was given the freedom to roam about as much as he wanted without much restraint. He loved feeding the ducks and stroking the wallabies.
With our ferry time fast approaching we made our way over to the terminal and boarded the boat once more and said goodbye to our dance with adventure and freedom.
Without a doubt we’ll be back.
(Disclosure: Complimentary accommodation from Darwin Escapes)