What is it? ‘Hen Sgubor’, a disabled-friendly barn conversion with Coast and Country Cottage Holidays

Where? Silian, nr Lampeter, Cardigan, Wales

Description: [the_cottage.jpg]Single mum Francesca Lambert took her four children to Wales for a wonderful week’s farm holiday

If you fancy a get-away-from-it-all holiday that’s comfortable and child-friendly with loads to do, this is the place to do it

You name it, they have it. We enjoyed fun on the farm; stunning scenery; steam railways, gorgeous beaches; riding, wildlife; amazing parks with a lot going on.

We tired easily with the country/sea air, but the main TV has a DVD player. There are puzzles, and games to entertain all ages. Sean, 15, played table tennis and darts in the shed and saw the World Cup (mum registered on the moan-o-meter there!). We were never bored.

As the farm is completely independent and self-catering, there were none. I expect you could speak to the owners in advance to try and hire a local babysitter, but this is not the place for kiddie clubs or supervised creches.

This is a holiday in the country, not a day spa. Saying that, the cottage had en-suite bathrooms – including one with a whirlpool spa bath – ideal after a day running around after the children!

Local activities: So many we can’t mention them all but here’s a few: We visited the Gwili and Rheidol railways, beaches in New quay, Cei Bach, and Llangronog. There are also several riding stables and nature parks nearby. Cardigan island is highly recommended. There is a children’s farm park in Aberystwyth. Also, Lampeter has a scrumptious award-winning chip shop with a child-friendly restaurant, and several yummy cafes. There are two supermarkets and plenty of shops in addition to two Farmers Markets on the 2nd/4th Friday of every month.

Wish we had known: …that we would all need wellies even though it was hot! Also, we had no idea that Dr Who is made in Wales.

Our top tip: Plan ahead. We made the most of Wales by searching on entertainthekids.com in advance. We also found that Wales has loads of public loos!

Kids say: Amber, seven, says: “I loved being on the farm, I saw a calf being born and fed them. The beaches were sandy and good for exploring. I felt sad when we went home. I would like to live there.”

Getting There: Coast and Country Cottages have beautiful properties all over Wales. Hen Sgubor sleeps six and prices range from L260-L775, depending on season. We travelled by car from Southampton, which took roughly three hours.

About our stay: With children of different ages – 15, seven and twins of five, it is virtually impossible to find a holiday to please everyone. Joe and Eric also have Down’s Syndrome but we managed to keep them entertained whilst the older two had a super time too (the moan-o-meter hardly registered all week!). I wanted somewhere ‘away from it all’ and a change from the hustle and bustle of city life – we got all that and more. A fairly painless journey (not often I say that with five of us in the car!), the highlight was crossing the Severn Bridge at which there were several “wows”. I even exclaimed “wow” when the L5 for crossing the bridge was waived because Eric and Joe are both Blue (Disabled) Badge holders. We weren’t disappointed, the farm and cottage were wonderful! The children ran around excitement, exclaiming ‘Can we stay here forever, Mum?’. The Davies Family made us very welcome and Mrs Davies produced a huge plate of cakes, and milk after our journey we devoured with pleasure! The cottage has been thoughtfully restored from old farm buildings. It was cool in the hot weather but has a wood burning stove/CH when the weather isn’t so accommodating. Each bedroom had an en-suite bathroom (one adapted for the disabled). All child-friendly facilities were there, including games, puzzles and DVDs. There was also a fully fitted kitchen with dishwasher and thoughtful touches like a family size toaster, ice cube maker, washing machine/dryer. There is a small, grassed playground with swings and some play toys which were good to let off steam and keep the kids occupied. Use of a big trampoline in the farm/B&B garden and also a table tennis table, dart board etc housed in one of the sheds for the older child/teen. The farm was clean and tidy and my daughter Amber and Aarron the farmer’s son played together and fed the calves, which Amber loved. We all witnessed a calf being born which had the kids spellbound, I had to check and make sure she wasn’t secreted in the boot when we went home again! Warning: on diary farm there are farm smells if you’re really averse to smells, it won’t be for you! [at_the_railway.jpg] Our first trip out was a trip to Gwili Railway near Camarthen, especially for Eric and Joe who adore trains. The boys were ecstatic and they were fascinated to see their ‘heroes’ so close up. Gwili has full-size steam engines and the one we travelled on was a replica of Percy (from Thomas the Tank Engine). Those who run the railway to take you into the signal box, and they are knowledgeable and friendly. The kids eyes glazed over thought when I got into reminiscing about ‘Ivor the Engine’ (a Welsh cartoon engine from my childhood). The actual train ride is short but there’s chance to visit a (free) miniature railway further down the line. The children enjoyed it immensely, the downside being the expense but seeing the look on the boys’ faces it was worth it. The nearest beach is 25 mins drive in New Quay which is a seaside village with a very pretty picture-postcard ambience, although extremely steep and hilly. The main beach there is a long sandy stretch and very busy but Cei Bach further along that was quiet, although a bit seaweedy, the kids loved it. If the mood takes you, there are boats that go out into the bay to watch Dolphins, although probably best for older children, as there’s no guarantee of actually seeing them. [amber_on_the_beach.jpg] We also visited the beach at Llangronog, about 5 miles up the coast. It has great tea rooms, with ice creams, a super pub and an award-winning chippy where we had lunch. Ensure you park at the car park at the top, the hairpin bends are frightening! The beach itself is lovely, with caves and rock pools to explore. A really worthwhile day out for all the family (even non-train enthusiasts!) is the Vale of Rheidol Railway in Aberystwyth which connects with the mainline railway station. An hour-long journey through valleys with absolutely stunning views seeing Wales at it’s very best. The train ends up at Devil’s Bridge falls where we devoured some lovely ice-creams before getting the train back again. Tip: even if it’s a hot day, take a jacket or cardigan to wear. We all really appreciated what Wales had to offer- there’s something for everyone. My children had opportunities that they’d never had before, and it was all so easy and even relaxing, which I never thought I’d say! The Welsh people are friendly and welcoming and we would like to extend a huge thank you to the Davies family for making us feel so at home. We will definitely be going back! (Francesca Lambert, 42 is writing her first novel, runs a support group for families of children with Down’s Syndrome, and is a full-time single mum from Southampton, Hampshire)

Created: 2006-07-13 13:23:31.760

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