Friday, 22 July 2016

Our mini-break to Wells, Somerset

If you know me at all, then you'll know that I have had a long love affair with the West Country. Bath has to be my all time favourite British city (London doesn't count, that's home). I love Jane Austen country, I love the architecture and I love the romance and history of it. I can totally imagine all these Austen-type characters, parasoles in hand, parading round the Royal Crescent. Love it!

However, just outside of Bath there is a small city (the smallest in England, in fact) called Wells. Famed for it's beautiful cathedral and the Bishop's Palace, I think Wells has to be my second-favourite city and we're lucky enough to have some family there!

Recently, a family wedding took us to this part of the country and when I posted up pics on social media of our holiday apartment I had loads of people asking me about it, so I thought I'd do a quick review. Because when you find a gem of a place, in the right location, at an affordable price, it's almost a crime to keep it a secret (almost!).

This was our first foray into self catering holiday lets as our family has grown and can I say it was the best experience? We're used to staying in large, chain hotels which is generally fine when you're on your own. But we're fast learning that with kids it's not ideal. I mean, who actually enjoys retreating to the en suite at 8pm every evening to sit on the toilet and read a book because the kids are tucked up in bed?

We were looking for an affordable apartment that would be a comfortable base for us, our three year old and our newborn baby. In Wells. Which is actually quite an expensive place. And I have high standards, I want a hotel experience for a hostel-price! Not asking for much, no? (We also only definitely decided at the end of April that we were going so a fair few places were fully booked already).

We happened upon 1 Sadler Street on holidaylettings.com and as soon as I saw it, I knew we had to snap it up for our dates, fast.

The living area

I won't go on too much, because really the pictures speak for themselves. But basically, I couldn't have wished for better. The standard of finish on this newly renovated apartment was brilliant. It was perfectly clean and felt really bright and fresh, despite being a compact space. I would hazard a guess that the owner had some kind of design or creative background because on the blank white canvas was plenty of trendy, bright and fun pops of colour - whether it be the wall art, the accessories or the furniture - I mean, how many places have you stayed in with a pinball machine for a coffee table?

So much packed into a tiny space, but it didn't feel cramped at all!

A lot of the accessories and ornaments doubled up as interesting little toys and trinkets for Ruby to be enamoured with (she loved the display of rubber ducks in the bathroom!). And any problems were foreseen and sorted - it's a compact, renovated first floor flat with the potential to get really hot, so they provide a top of the range air conditioning unit. The bunk beds are in the living area, so they provide a TV in the bedroom.

Bishop's Palace

The location was perfect for us. We don't drive so it's a bit of a mission to get to Wells (we had a relative drive us from Bath Spa train station). But once we were there we were able to use this place as a base and be pretty independent. The apartment is right in the centre of the city and looks out onto the beautiful cathedral square. There's plenty of pubs, restaurants (we went to the local Ask!), coffee shops (try Crofters across the street, Ruby enjoyed their ice cream!) and little gift shops too! The apartment is above a pasty shop (smells amazing!) and a fudge shop too tempting for Jon!

The shower room

Anyway, we absolutely loved it and I think once word gets out, this flat is going to book up pretty fast! Here's a summary of the details:

  • First floor apartment (not wheelchair friendly but we managed by taking the buggy up and down the stairs).
  • 1 x double bedroom, inc. TV
  • 1 x shower room
  • Sleeps 4 (bunk beds in lounge area)
  • Open plan kitchen/living room, inc. Sky TV
  • Dishwasher
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi
  • Towels provided
  • Fully equipped kitchen
  • 10 minutes walk from Tesco so you can stock up the fridge

Now, I couldn't find a lot of fault in this place but for the sake of balance it's worth pointing out - this is a small apartment. It's a perfect base for a weekend, but if you're bringing children it could very quickly become noisy and claustrophobic on a rainy day. If you're cool with that, and you're planning on going out, not bringing kids, or if you're pretty used to squeezing a family of 4 into a small space then don't be put off! Personally, I probably wouldn't stay longer than a weekend either, but that's because my pre-schooler is not quite au fait with showers yet so the absence of a bath could prove to be a problem (unless we all trooped down the road to Jon's Nana's house!).

The bedroom

The only other thing was we brought a travel cot for our newborn but there wasn't space in the bedroom to set it up so we ended up co-sleeping. We're fine with that, but if you're not comfortable with that then there's space in the lounge - it's just by that point Ruby had clocked the exciting prospect of bunk beds so we couldn't switch.


In short, though, if you're travelling solo, a couple or a small, young family this is perfect for you. Booking and payment was strightforward, checking in and out was easy and the apartment felt secure and safe. Check it out with all the details and availability here.

And to finish, here's a pic of Mr. D and Ruby at the wedding, just because!

Jon & Ruby
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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Getting off the starting blocks

There are some things in life that seem like they'll never get done - the never-ending laundry pile when people just keep wearing clothes. A totally clutter free and clean house when children are in existence (Does Marie Kondo even have kids?!). A half decent savings account when your wages barely stretch to the end of the month anyway. World peace when people just keep starting wars - you know, just the small stuff like that!

It's the stuff of dreams, the seemingly impossible. The mountains.

And yet, I've been thinking a lot about this lately and I've come to the realisation that we just need to start. A house is built brick by brick. A marathon is run step by step. Savings are built penny by penny. Novels are written word by word, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter. And sometimes it's taking that first step, writing that first word, saving that first chunk that is the hardest to do.

But as with many things in life, once you've made a start, once you've gotten over that initial first hurdle, once you've got out the starting blocks, the rest builds itself. The subsequent steps seem to become easier, the subsequent words seem to flow better.

See, life is simply a series of steps. But how often do we put off attempting our first steps because the rest seems impossible, too big or too hard? How often do we struggle to get out the starting blocks because we can't see the finish line?

Some relatives of mine were brave enough to run the London marathon this year. And I can imagine as they stood at the starting line, 26 miles from the finish, it probably felt like a bit of a daunting task. The finish line was out of sight. And life's like that, we don't know where the finish line is. We can't see the end goal - whatever it is. But we just have to start. We just have to have faith that by putting one foot in front of the other, we will eventually reach the end goal - whether that be owning a house, publishing a novel, or simply getting to the bottom of the laundry basket!

Image courtesy of Peter Berwick via Canva.com

In the Bible, God had promised Abraham huge things, things beyond Abraham's wildest dreams. Abraham had no idea how or when these things would come to pass. But it says in Hebrews 11:
"God called Abraham to travel to another place that he promised to give him. Abraham did not know where that other place was. But he obeyed God and started travelling because he had faith." ~ Hebrews 11:8 (ERV)
Abraham had no idea where the end goal was. He didn't even know what it was! But he knew he just had to start.

So I've started to start.

I've started to do the laundry, one load at a time.

I've started to save money, one pound at a time.

I've started to write, one word, one sentence, one blog post at a time.

Like Abraham, I don't know what the end goal is. I don't know how far away the finish line is. But I do know that I have dreams. I also know that God has dreams for me, probably beyond my wildest imagination. So, what do I have to do? What's my part in the plan?

Just to start.

And starting seems pretty achievable, right?
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Sunday, 17 July 2016

Where have I been?

If you've been following my Facebook or Instagram (and if you're not, why the hell not?!), it's no secret as to the reason for my long and unintended blogging hiatus.

That's right peeps, I birthed an actual child and some crazy God decided I was worthy and capable of looking after not one, but two children! At. The. Same. Time. Madness, I tell you. 

So, we've been transitioning into this new chapter of parenthood but now that little man is nine weeks old, I'm itching to do something for myself again. I may not be the most successful, consistent or engaged blogger on the Interweb, but I do miss it when I'm away. It does form a part of my identity and it's probably the one thing in my life that I attempt to do just for myself. I don't always achieve what I set out to but if I cease trying then I think I would be really sad about that. 

So anyways, I'm back, for now. And here's a quick photographic update on what the last couple of months have looked like. It's mostly involved being pregnant, giving birth and attempting to look after multiple (ok, two) children. Seriously, I'm like Superwoman right now!

L-R: 32 and 36 weeks

L-R: 38 and 39 weeks

Hello world!

Joel Stanley John Davies arrived perfectly on time, at exactly 40 weeks. The birth was brilliantly straightforward, with us being in hospital less than 12 hours in total. It felt a bit surreal, as if we'd just been on a little day trip and picked up a baby whilst we were out! He was 7lb 13oz and born at 12.24pm (I know you totally don't need to know these minor details, but I write them down for my own benefit!).

Sleepy baby!
He has pretty much slept through the first two months of his life thus far and despite a few issues early on with tongue tie and feeding, he's lovely, cuddly and placid. I thought Ruby was a relatively easy baby but I look back now and realise that I just didn't know any better (she was actually quite colicky and unsettled in the first few weeks!).

Siblings!

Ruby has adapted really well to being a big sister. I had no idea how she would react. Generally speaking she's a really confident, flexible child, but she has been the centre of our world for three years so who knew! She loves "her baby"!

Cute at six weeks!

All dressed up for a family wedding!

Sleeping through life without a care in the world!

It did occur to me yesterday that Joel was born into an entirely different world to the one we live in today, only nine weeks later. He's lived through an EU referendum, the beginnings of Brexit, a fair amount of political and economic turmoil, some quite significant politicians leaving the stage and then some new ones taking their place, plus plenty of other quite horrific events taking place the world over... and yet here he is anyway, sleeping his way through it, dreaming his way through it. 

The hopes and dreams we had for him nine weeks ago, are no different to the hopes and dreams we have for him today. We smile as we look to the future. 

And if there's one thing I hope I can teach both my kids to do in life, it's that.

To smile at the future.

Whatever it may bring, whatever the world looks like. There is always hope. And I hope they remember that.

I hope we can all remember that.
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