Holiday Heaven, Holidays

Holiday Heaven: White Cross Bay, Ambleside, The Lake District

Like many people from all over the world I ADORE the Lake District, it is one of those places where you can simply be and that’s ok. In our busy modern everyday lives, you very rarely get the opportunity to just be, to not rush about, have a million things to do and commitments to keep. The Lakes take that all away the moment you arrive.

Driving up from Nottinghamshire takes a good few hours, but as the journey progresses you can feel the tension easing from your shoulders, your tongue remove itself from being pressed against the roof of your mouth and your jaw relax. The scenery surrounds you and almost hugs you welcoming you into this new place of being, it’s quite simply heaven on earth.

Now yes during the summer it is very touristy but that doesn’t detract from the shear beauty of this amazing place. Even when you’re in the hustle and bustle of Windermere you still feel the sense of tranquillity and calm that this place bestows upon you.

My favourite place to stay is White Cross Bay, a caravan/chalet park just outside Ambleside. It really is special, the chalets and caravans are lovely, impeccably clean and the setting is right on the shore of Lake Windermere. If you’re lucky enough to have your own boat, you can moore and launch it here too. There are privately owned chalets and caravans, but everything here feels inclusive, it’s a real family friendly place. Having stayed in both the Chalets and Caravans I can tell you both are equally lovely!  My preference is actually the caravans purely because you’re generally a little bit nearer the centre of the site.

The facilities here are great there’s a lovey swimming pool, not huge but perfectly sized for the demand of the place, a small shop selling essentials and souvenirs, the LOVELY Boathouse restaurant for a very special evening meal, a fast food outlet serving pizzas etc, a Bar with live entertainment in the evenings and even a small arcade. Not only that but the outdoor facilities are great too! A fantastic children’s play area and as I said the marina is beautiful. Another great thing about White Cross Bay is they will allow you to bring dogs* (*selected accommodation only and limited numbers) and there are some stunning walks especially in the springtime when the Bluebells in the woods on site are spectacular!

From White Cross Bay you are perfectly situated to explore everything the Lakes have to offer! We’ve been all around and found some breath-taking views and places to stop and have a coffee and cake! The traditional hotspots such as Windermere and Coniston never loose their appeal though and going on a Windermere lake cruise is like a tradition for us now! The Chocolate dipped ice creams from the parlour near the boat drop off are also amazing and a MUST whilst you’re there!

If you’re self catering or just want to pick up a bite to eat the supermarket Booths in Windermere is lovely.  It’s clean and a really nice place to shop,  there’s lots of special treats and what’s great is they’re not too over priced.  We always go here for our holiday food shopping.

One of my favourite, more secluded and out the way places to visit is Tilberthwaite Ghyll. It is down a very narrow single track road running along the side of a VERY steep mountain with a sheer drop off. The Herdwick sheep roam freely around here, and you can get some lovely pics from the car! When you finally arrive at the end of the lane you’re greeted by an amazing force (Waterfall). It’s such a lovely place to stop and have a picnic, walk the dogs and paddle in the force, you can explore up the slate mine and the views from the top are truly amazing.

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We’ve visited so many places; Windermere, Coniston, Kendal, Bowness, Grasmere, Ullswater, Wastwater and Hawkshead to name but a few! We’ve also hired boats on Windermere, travelled aboard the Steam Gondola on Coniston Water, visited The Lakes Aquarium, I’ve even been on an experienced rider Horse Riding Trek up the mountains overlooking Lake Windermere (which by the way was absolutely AMAZING!).

Hawkshead was a revelation when we discovered the Hawkshead Relish Company! Wow they do some seriously scrumptious stuff! Their Hawkshead Relish and savoury jellies are absolutely divine! I love them so much I even order their products direct online!

There quite literally is so much to do and each time we come to the lakes we’re discovering more and more things and amazing places to visit!

Come rain or shine the Lake District has something to offer everyone, the atmosphere of the place changes with the weather but never in a bad way.  The rain brings glistening new beauty, the mist and fog more intrigue and in a thunder storm there’s nothing more spectacular that watching the lightening over the lakes!  The sun sharpens the views casting deep shade over the sides of the mountains and highlighting the peaks but no matter what the weather this place is certain to grab your soul and never let go!

So if you’re planning a UK holiday I most definitely recommend White Cross Bay
and The Lake District!

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Holiday Hell, Holidays

Holiday Hell: Best Tenerife Hotel, Playa de las Americas, Tenerife.

Now this might be a holiday hell review but Tenerife as a holiday destination is an amazing place.  I wouldn’t want to put anyone off visiting this gorgeous country, the volcanic scenery really is something special and I dare say you could have an absolutely fantastic holiday here. Sadly our Tenerife holiday was completely spoiled by the “Best” (aka WORST) Tenerife Hotel.  I would love to go back to Tenerife and give it a second chance but I would NEVER stay at this Hotel again!

Quite literally from the moment we walked into the reception to check in you could tell the 4* rating was a completely false representation of this hotel. It looked incredibly dated and not at all what we’d been sold! Our flight times meant we arrived at the hotel just after they had finished serving the evening meal and despite asking at the reception desk we were told there were no provisions for late arrival travellers, not even a sandwich or bottle of water!

After checking in we made our own way to our room and found it to be incredibly basic, dirty and generally not up to a 4* standard. The beds were so hard I may as well have been sleeping on the floor, although if I’d have done that I would have had to share with all the ants! Needless to say we barely slept a wink the whole time we were there.

Our first experience of the “food” was the following morning when we went down for “Breakfast”.  I use the term breakfast in the loosest sense of the word as what was provided was barely suitable for feeding to a stray dog! I settled on some miscellaneous cheese and a slice of what could possibly have been ham, who knows as nothing was labelled and if you suffered allergies it was pot luck! All meals thereafter were of equal repulsiveness and myself and my son lived on foul tasting chips, possibly Ham and cheese for the duration of our stay.

Now we had paid for all-inclusive and therefore on our first full day we went to go and get ourselves some drinks and an ice cream from the bar. We were very quickly informed that the “ALL” inclusive drinks were from a dispenser in the corner! Serve yourself! If I recall correctly you could have red or white wine (replace the word wine for vinegar!), some miscellaneous watered down “beer” that my partner said tasted ‘off’, a selection of “Spirits” which again were all miscellaneous bottles and the one I dared to try tasted like cough medicine. When it came to ice-creams they had a lovely poster displaying a large selection of Cornetto’s, Magnum’s and ice lollies etc, however the only one allowed for “all” inclusive customers was a nasty Choc Ice!

It was utterly disgraceful! I have NEVER been so appalled by a hotel in my life! I’d spent thousands of pounds on what was sold to us by our local travel agent to be this amazing luxury holiday and it was the polar opposite! (Needless to say we complained and took matters a lot further when we got back to the UK!)

So take note, when booking your holiday’s just check that all-inclusive actually means ALL inclusive! Having stayed all-inclusive in various hotels previously I didn’t expect it to mean anything else but ALL inclusive so be warned, it is not guaranteed!

Now appalling hotel aside, Tenerife IS amazing and during our time there we did have some great days, trips out and I would certainly recommend doing the following;

  •  Siam Park – OMG this place is out of this world! THE best water park EVER! We had an amazing time here. The organisation from the hotel was again shocking but once we were there it was fantastic! I would definitely go back if we returned to Tenerife. The rides were exhilarating and the Siam beach was amazing! The wave machine was huge and it was just the best fun, just what we needed on our holiday from hell!
  •  Mount Teide Jeep Safari Tour – This was again another fab day out, touring all around the island in the back of an open top jeep! All around these amazing tracks and up Mount Teide, then a stop off for a traditional Tenerife meal. Great fun, our tour guide was hilarious and I would certainly do it again. The views were spectacular and gave you a real sense of the islands history and special nature.
  • Crazy Golf at Mini Golf Santiago in Playa de las Americas – This was so much fun, it does get busy but we went just as it was getting dark and the lights and effects are great! Would highly recommend you do this if you visit.

Playa de las Americas is also a nice area, there are plenty of shops and entertainment. The musical fountain is especially nice of an evening.  The beach is nice (although MUCH further from our hotel than we were advised!) and there are parasols and loungers you can hire too but be warned my eldest was stung by a jelly fish whilst swimming here!

The only other activity my partner and eldest participated in was a Scuba diving excursion with Blue diving school.  First they went snorkelling which they both really enjoyed, it gave my eldest loads of confidence in the sea and he was beaming when they’d finished.  Then in the afternoon they were both to go scuba diving.  My more experienced partner completed and enjoyed his dive but my eldest was 11 at the time and didn’t manage to get down and dive at all.  The equipment was leaking air which scared him, they did replace the leaking regulator but then forced him to walk quite a distance carrying all the very heavy gear with no help in the heat of the day.    By the time he got to the sea he was exhausted and panicking.  The Blue dive school were very unhelpful, showed no sympathy to him whatsoever, they dragged him out of the sea and abandoned him on the beach in all his heavy kit as they all buggered off diving!  He was distraught and absolutely devastated he hadn’t managed to dive and I certainly would not recommend this trip for anyone under the age of 16.
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In hindsight we shouldn’t have gone abroad for his first scuba experience but he was a very confident swimmer and it was something he was more than capable of given the proper instruction.

He passed his PADI Open Water on returning to the UK thanks to the amazing instruction and training from the team at DIVE A LOT SCUBA who built his confidence back up. I can’t praise them highly enough!