New Year. I had to get away.
I always find the lull after Christmas Day a bit claustrophobic. Too much time spent indoors under artificial light. Or brief trips to the local playground until we get too cold or it starts getting dark. Take away the pre-Christmas excitement then parenting small children in midwinter can be pretty tough (well it can be at any time but that time has always been the worse for me).
My favourite New Years have been when I’ve escaped to the country or seaside and got lots of fresh air. A perfect antidote to Christmas intensity. I hadn’t done that since before having the kids but I felt a very strong pull to a New Year getaway this year.
But where to? We only had 5 or 6 days. I didn’t want a long flight. Anywhere short haul would be on the cold side. The kids love to swim but I thought if we were going to spend the day in an indoor pool in Spain or Portugal than we might as well stay in the UK. I looked at Center Parcs and nearly fainted at the price. I was willing to through a bit of money at the situation but not that much. I looked at child friendly hotels with play areas and things to do on site – most were booked up or were running packages that included set dinner times and babysitting. I didn’t really want the kids to go to an evening movie club so I could have dinner on my own.
Anyway, cutting to the chase, I booked the gorgeous, family friendly Watergate Bay in Newquay from the 2nd to the 5th of January and the stylish Queensbury Hotel in Bath for over new year. Both pretty fancy hotels and the price was less than Center Parcs (though I guess going catered instead of self-catering meant I spent more on food and drinks).
We arrived in Bath as the sun was fading on 2018. We had a huge room with a king size bed and trundle bed too. The kids loved that they could play hide and seek in the room as there were so many nooks and crannies. We headed out to Pizza Express for an early dinner and were back in our room for about 8pm. The girls fell asleep in front of a film. I got upset. Despite putting my logical head on (as Andy would tell me to do) New Year’s Eve is pretty symbolic. The move from one year to the next without a loved one is painful. I tried to rationalise it. The years are an arbitrary unit of time. Just because the year has a different number, nothing really changes. I got a flurry of kind messages which made me reflect and cry. I was asleep by 11pm though and slept through to 2019.
We had a lovely buffet breakfast in the hotel and headed out for a wander. The girls enjoyed running around the grass in the crescents. I needed to buy trainers as I had left mine at home. We had a look in some other shops and I told the girls they could spend a bit of their Christmas money, maybe one thing each. Imogen wanted several things and she was tired and that set off an almighty tantrum that culminated in her walking down the main shopping street without coat or shoes on. Not completely untypical and I probably didn’t handle it brilliantly. We had recovered by the time we got back from the hotel and got hot chocolates and regrouped.
Later that day we went to the lantern festival at Longleat. Sort of similar to the light festival we went to at Kew just after Christmas but with stunning paper lanterns based on an ‘around the world’ theme. It was too busy for us though and a bit overwhelming. They had fireworks on and after those the crowds thinned out so we got to enjoy the exhibits and get food without being swamped. The fireworks themselves were amazing, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them set so well to music before? Let’s forget about Auld Lang Syne though, I blocked that one out.
The next day we headed down to Cornwall, driving past the hordes of traffic coming back towards London. I had chosen Watergate Bay Hotel based on the hundreds of instagram photos I’d seen of it. It promised gorgeous decor, good food, a beach on the doorstep, indoor infinity pool and child-friendliness.
We enjoyed being in our Cornish bubble for 4 days. We clocked up about 8 hours in the pool (which would have been longer if I hadn’t dragged the kids out), made our own waffles for breakfast, ate one night in the fancy restaurant, had room service (one of the kids favourite things from the trip), walked on the beach, did lots of colouring, read books, watched films and played Hangman.
We went into Newquay on our last day and bought Cornish pasties for lunch. As I sat in the car park at 2pm and asked the SatNav to direct us home I had a headache and a scratchy throat. As the 5 hour journey went on I felt iller and iller. We stopped for loo breaks, tantrums over toys and for tea. I took painkillers and kept stocked up on coffee. I arrived home feeling full of a cold but to our still lovely looking Christmas tree and feeling proud that we had accomplished this trip away and it had been OK.
Well, more than OK, it was an absolute tonic and the kids still talk about it now, 3 months later.