In the middle of September we had a lovely four day break in North Norfolk. A sort of continuation of Andy’s 40th celebrations and if it hadn’t been for that then I’m not sure we would have got away this year. I certainly didn’t relish the prospect of travelling with such a young baby and with me being on maternity leave again, our holiday budget is pretty much non-existent. But we found a reasonably priced mid-week break at Barnhouse Holiday Cottages via Baby-Friendly Boltholes and I’m so pleased we took the trip.
If you haven’t come across them before, Baby-Friendly Boltholes is a UK-based travel website bringing together an array of child friendly holiday accommodation in the UK and abroad. The properties they offer not only provide suitable sleeping arrangements for families but go the extra mile providing necessary yet difficult to pack baby equipment such as sterilisers and high chairs and helpful bits like toys and books too. Now we’ve got two car seats in the back of our car, we needed to travel as lightly as possible!
During my search for a suitable place, I homed in on Norfolk as I’d never been before and it was a reasonable drive from north London. The three Barnhouse Holiday Cottages in East Beckham are owned and managed by the Partridge family who live in the Barn House next door. Cate and Fergus and their four kids escaped from London five years ago to start a new life in rural Norfolk. So they certainly understand the needs of a family with young children on holiday and the list of items they provide is pretty exhaustive! Though not all of the items listed were provided in our cottage by default so if there is anything you couldn’t live without then I’d double-check before arriving.
The couple gave us a friendly welcome, both in person and with a cute hand made welcome card. They had called us just as after we had set off as the double Phil & Teds buggy that came with the cottage wasn’t working properly. They offered us their Bugaboo Chameleon instead which worked out better for Imogen I think and we were able to pop back home for our Bugaboo buggy board for Seren. They gave us a bottle of Prosecco and some chocolate to say thank you! On top of the usual wine, biscuits, bread, butter, eggs and milk that they leave for guests.
Seren was absolutely thrilled to find a Peppa Pig DVD in the cottage! And enjoyed playing with the toys, particularly the building blocks and a little farm set. We were able to encourage her to go and find something to play with when she woke up in the mornings.
The kitchen is well equipped with cleaning products, child friendly plates, cups etc and baking equipment to make cakes or biscuits on rainy days. We tended to eat our main meal out at lunch time (hmmm fish and chips!) and ate cheese on toast type things for tea. We stocked up on provisions at Sainsbury’s in Sheringham on our second day.
We stayed in the one bedroom Salthouse Cottage, which kept the costs down for us I think. We had no problem sharing with the kids as Imogen is still in our room anyway (a travel cot was provided) and I was sure Seren would frequently end up in our bed what with being in a strange place. We did play musical beds a couple of times during the week. Imogen didn’t seem to settle well at first and would be wide awake at 3am, not hungry or upset just wide awake. Seren then woke around 6.30am – until we realised that the remote control on the bedside table was to close the blinds in the Velux windows and she slept for a bit longer!
There is a small courtyard garden outside of the cottage, shared with the cottage next door and each cottage has a little table and there’s a BBQ to use as well. And twinkly fairy lights that come on the evening! Just off the courtyard is the family’s own garden which you are welcome to use. Seren had a lot of fun exploring that and climbing up to the treehouse with my help.
We were lucky with the weather and managed to get to the beach each full day of our stay and had a sunny trip on the Poppy Line steam railway the day we left. I’m going to write about our adventures over the next couple of days so check back tomorrow for more!