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December 2018 mont­­hly family roundup

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I probably don’t need to say it, but December was busy!  We did lots of Christmas events, went on a festive holiday and of course had Christmas Day itself.

I do love Christmas and all the preparation and busyness, but at the same time I also kind of want to go away for the entire thing!  It’s my quietest time of the year, work-wise, and so the best time for me to go on holiday and switch off.  We did have a small three night break this year and I’m hoping to do the same next year and perhaps even go on a winter sun holiday a following year, if I can convince Ben and he can get it off work!

Bella and Reuben always have a very busy December as there are so many festive activities for them at school, pre-school and nursery.  Reuben goes to two settings, a pre-school and a nursery, so he had two lots.  They both also go to the kids club at David Lloyd around three times per week so they also had a lot of festive crafts. 

Bella had a Christmas jumper day at school, an entire Christmas craft day on a Saturday and a Christmas sing-a-long on the last day of school.  They also have a Christmas party day at school where the children have an entire day of games, a Christmas lunch and they can wear their own clothes.  Bella takes a packed lunch as we’re vegan, so I just put a few extra treats in.

Reuben had an entire Christmas jumper week at nursery and he was also in his very first Christmas play!  The entire pre-school class at his nursery took part at the local church hall as there were too many to squeeze in the nursery!  It was very cute and quite amusing too with the three and four year olds taking part, often shouting ‘I need a wee’ out loud and more!  I’m not sure Reuben really knew what was going on and he just sat on a bench most of the time not joining in with the songs.  He only goes to that setting twice a week so I think he missed a lot of the practice sessions.

Both children also went to the special Christmas event at our David Lloyd club which was a disco and a meet the Santa 30 minute experience.  The kids club staff are always really amazing with the kids and go all out with these events.

Oh and Bella also met Santa at her school!  There was a Christmas fair one day after school and they had a Santa.  She met Santa three times this year.  Totally unplanned as at the start of the month I hadn’t arranged anything, but then we saw all these events.  I wonder if she realises they are all different Santas?!

For the kids it was a super exciting month and they were both pretty exhausted by the end of term.  As you can begin to tell it was a very festive month with numerous Christmas events!  There was more too… Here’s what else has been going on:

Gloucester vegan Christmas market

We went to the Gloucester vegan Christmas market for the first time at Blackfriars Priory in Gloucester.  It was the first time I’d been to this building in Gloucester and it’s really beautiful.  It’s a medieval 13th century priory.  I had no idea it even existed.  We live on the very outskirts of Gloucester and are both from Cheltenham, so don’t know all of Gloucester too well.

The vegan market was great, but a bit tricky taking the children.  I think Bella is at an OK age to enjoy it now and look at all the stalls, but Reuben is only three and he just wanted to grab everything and got bored!  Luckily they had a craft room where they could make a Christmas tree decoration each so they loved this.

I didn’t get to totally explore every stall as the kids needed to get out and run around!  What I did see was great and I managed to spend all our spending money within about ten minutes on lots of yummy food!  I’ve realised I only really love the vegan fairs for the food stalls!

Spectacle of Light, Sudeley Castle

This was our first trip to the Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle and it was amazing!  I’d heard of it last year when friends and family attended, so I already knew about it this year and wanted to go.  My sister bought our tickets as our Christmas present. 

The entire gardens and surrounds of the castle were lit up with different light displays following an Alice in Wonderland theme.  It looked incredible and we all enjoyed it, from my kids to us, to my mum and sister.  It was suitable for all ages.  I’d definitely go again and I’d highly recommend it.

Vegan Christmas lunch at The Golden Heart, Birdlip on Christmas Day

On Christmas Day we went out for Christmas lunch for the first time ever!  Usually we spend it at home, in the eight years I’ve been with Ben, and before this I always went to my Mum’s.  Ben once said he only wanted Christmas Day at home, but for 2018 he changed his mind! 

The Golden Heart is a cosy country pub as short drive from our home and they serve a lot of vegan and vegetarian food.  They had an entire vegan Christmas Day menu so as soon as we saw it we knew we wanted to go, even Ben!

It felt like a real treat to go out on Christmas Day.  It also meant we didn’t have to spend time in the kitchen cooking or do any cleaning up in the afternoon!  Bliss!

We really enjoyed the meal and I think in the future we’ll probably witch up whether we eat at home or out on Christmas Day.  The only downside is how expensive it is, so I’m already thinking maybe we have Christmas Day at home next year and have a special meal out on Boxing Day or Christmas Eve.

The food was great and they really catered for us as vegans. They even had mince pies for us and dairy-free ice-cream for the kids.  I was very naughty over Christmas and indulged in these sugary treats that I wouldn’t normally.

Family Christmas get-togethers

We had two family Christmas get-togethers in Christmas week and another that had to wait until the New Year as we were away after Boxing Day, then back to work.  My Mum and sister hosted a family get-together with one of my uncle’s, cousins and Grandad.  Ben’s brother hosted a get-together with their sister and their kids.  I’d like to host one of these at our home next year.  Usually with Ben’s sister and brother we take it in turns to host.

Festive 3 night break at Bluestone, Wales

This was the Christmas of firsts!  As well as it being the first time we ate out on Christmas Day, it was also the first year that we went away!  Not for Christmas Day itself, but for a three night festive break in-between the day and New Year’s Eve, so the 27th to 30th.  I’d booked it at the start of the year in January so we’d waited all year for our magical break away!

It didn’t disappoint and the kids had an amazing time.  It was really all about the kids having a magical time and we had four festive themed activities booked which pretty much took up the two and a half days we were there in-between meal times.  We had Kingdom of the Elves tickets included in our stay which was the activity Bella says was the best!

We also went to the panto, Santa’s workshop and Bella did a festive lantern craft workshop.

The whole place was littered in fairy lights and there was even a lit up nature trail with lots to see.  It was a bit drizzly during our stay so the kids didn’t use the outdoor playground, but inside was a massive wooden adventure playground and bouncy castle, so they were very happy indoors!

Ben took the kids to the swimming pool which they enjoyed for a couple of hours.  I bet when the kids are older we’ll struggle to get them out of the pool!

The accommodation was very spacious and clean.  We stayed in a cottage in The Village, rather than in a wooden lodge.  We also enjoyed the best vegan pizza at The Oak Tree restaurant.

My only complaint is that we didn’t book long enough!  It was a whirlwind enchanting break for the children, but there was so much we didn’t get to see.  We managed a short woodland walk, but there were some woods on the other side we didn’t even see.  There’s also a beach nearby that looks stunning in the photos on their website.  I’d love to return again for another magical Christmas break whilst the kids are still young and believe in Santa, but also for a summer break to explore the outdoor area more.

Reverse advent calendar

We dropped off our reverse advent calendar donation to the food bank.  Well, the food bank wasn’t open at the weekends so we dropped it at a local Tesco.  It was a great way to raise awareness and donate food to those in need.  I’ll definitely do it again next year as the food banks need a lot more donations for December, but we’ll also donate more food throughout the year too.  Read more here: help others this Christmas with a Reverse Advent Calendar