We didn’t manage a traditional summer holiday this year. You know, the type that your hairdresser asks you about the minute you get in the chair. There was no exotic faraway destinations, no new areas to scratch off our travel map and no sipping cocktails by the pool in 30 degree heat. And you know what? We were absolutely ok with that.
It was partly due to my Husband’s work schedule being so hectic and full of travel that we were lucky if we saw each other for one weekend a month over the summer period. Partly due to money being tight and us prioritising other things with our small amount of savings (something for some reason none of us want to admit but hey, let’s be honest, these early parenting years are tough on the finances). And partly because, honestly, I’m not even sure what that traditional summer holiday sipping cocktails by the pool would look like with a toddler in tow? And further more, we really, weren’t actually all that keen to find out.
Yup. I said it. Travelling with a young child is daunting, and stressful, and tiring. And often not that enjoyable. And therefore most of the time not all that appealing.
Lucy wrote a brilliant post on this subject recently, and admitted that even as a seasoned traveller, she had become a homebody since having her daughter, and it really rung true for me. Things change when you have a child, and as much as Instagram would have us believe that travelling with a baby in your backpack is effortless and glamourous and all staring at waterfalls and paddling in the sea and smiles, smiles, smiles. The reality is that it probably looks a lot more like tantrums, and meltdowns, and sleep disruptions, and not being able to find the food they like, and long days and long nights, and stress, stress, stress.
Anyway that’s not to say we’ll never travel anywhere with Evie. We have in the past and we will again (we’re considering a Christmas market city break in December), and we still tour about the UK often enough to ensure she’s getting plenty of adventures, but it’s just that I can now understand why so many parents opt for staycations or all inclusive holiday clubs in those early years rather than attempting a three week island hopping adventure.
So this year we decided to stay put in the UK, and we were more than happy and excited about that decision. After a few months of non stop travel, my Husband returned home and took a week off work so we could spend some family time together. Originally we’d planned to visit Wales for the whole week, staying in a family caravan but in the end we decided against the caravan idea; because A) it appeared to be far more difficult than we’d appreciated to actually find an available caravan pitch in North Wales in September (who knew caravanning was so popular?) and B) after taking Evie up to Scotland to visit my folks the week previous, we thought she’d maybe had enough travelling and sleeping in different locations and might benefit from her own house and her own cot for a while.
Instead we stayed home and spent the week adventuring locally, taking day trips, and finding cute new haunts not too far from our doorstep, and it was GREAT. We finished off the holiday with a weekend in North Wales, which is only around 2 hours away from Manchester, and we managed to tick off a lot of the sights we’d looked into when planning to stay for the week.
We decided on Conwy as our base – as we wanted somewhere with a cute town full of cafes and ice cream stores (me), with a bit of history and interest (husband) and near to beaches and the sea (for Evie). Conwy is a small town, which you can easily tick off in one afternoon if you wanted to, but there’s plenty of lovely places to eat and drink, a harbour, a castle, a few touristy spots and some crumbling architecture in the form of the old castle walls which line the town and make an interesting walk with incredible views at each stop off. It’s also a short drive from both Llandudno (a bigger town with plenty of beaches) and Corbyn Bay (smaller beaches and little seafronts). Should you be visiting without a toddler, it’s very close to Snowdonia and all that that offers, plus not far from the famous zip line and bounce below trampolining cave.
There’s also several steam trains sites and the railway museum nearby which was one of our reasons for visiting. But having taken Evie to a garden centre with a steam train earlier that week and it ending in a meltdown, we gave that a miss this time around. Perhaps her obsession with trains has come to an abrupt end already LOL.
We spent time wandering around the cobbled streets of Conwy, with Evie waving ‘hi’ and ‘ba bye’ to every person, dog and car that passed us (nothing makes that girl happier right now than simply walking, hand in hand with Mum, and stopping to point out everything she sees). We stopped for coffees, lunches and scones and jam in sweet tea rooms and cafes, and we ate fish and chips on the beach while Evie danced around to live music playing from the bars nearby – it was the perfect little family weekend.
Here’s a few postcards from our trip, we’ll definitely be visiting North Wales again soon to do some more exploring!
And one last outtake which I just love – I didn’t even realise she was doing this until I flicked back through the photos! What a cheeky chops 😉