We have a history of leaving holiday plans to the last minute and after ending 2019 on visiting the location that was top of my bucket list, I had no idea how we were going to beat it.
Our travel highlights of 2019 included visits to France, Ireland, North Wales and Iceland as well as other more local weekend breaks, so I was determined that we would continue our travels in the new year.
The weather wasn’t particularly kind to us in January, with a series of storms hitting us hard, however, we did manage to get out and about, with our first trip to the Roman Baths in Bath.
The kids were fascinated with the Roman Baths and enjoyed completing the challenge sheets they were given. They were less keen on actually tasting the water, with a firm “Yuk” as soon as it hit their tongue.
The stormy weather actually came in handy for our second trip along the coast to West Dorset. A good storm actually churns up the beach and causes cliff falls, perfect for a spot of fossil hunting.
We have been fossil hunting on several occasions before, but we are self taught. This time I booked a guided fossil hunting walk at Charmouth where we were taught what to look for and where, coming away with a large haul of fossils.
The storms kept coming and in the first part of February saw Sebby and I struggling with a particularly nasty bug. We were so desperate to feel better that we decided that a break somewhere warm and sunny during half term would be just the tonic and booked a holiday to the Costa Blanca in Spain.
The weather was warm and dry and our bungalow was beautiful to look at, but having planned a self-catering break we discovered that there was no oven and the only cooking facilities was an old microwave and a two ring hob – not the best start.
Our week went from bad to worse after discovering that most of the facilities were actually closed and then poor Sebby, who was still struggling with a bug, was admitted to hospital with pneumonia.
This holiday will definitely go down as our worst one ever, although my husband made the best of it and took Isaac and Eliza out everyday to explore. We did get one day out as a family to Valencia, where we visited Bioparc Valencia and the City of Arts and Sciences, which really enjoyed despite not having a much time to explore as we would have liked.
At the beginning of March we visit the Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum in Dorchester, an interactive museum that uses real-life stories and iPad guides for children, to let you walk in the footsteps of the people who were on held and sentenced in the courthouse, including the infamous Tolpuddle Martyrs.
It was a fascinating visit and the kids especially loved dressing up and acting out a courthouse trial.
On 16th March everything changed and our first lockdown began, with travel not allowed, just exercise locally.
I am quite proud that we have always enjoyed exploring our local area, but as the days turned into weeks, we discovered some fabulous local walks that we probably would not have found before lockdown.
With lockdown in full swing, we had one highlight – the weather was glorious, so despite being restricted to local walks and bike rides we really didn’t mind.
In May restrictions started to ease and although we stayed local, we did venture out a little farther in the car.
One of our favourite walks was Badbury Rings, a local iron age hill fort and we have visited a few times over the summer.
We also headed for coastal and river walks along the Stour Valley Way in the hopes of spotting an elusive Kingfisher. Let’s just say I am still trying.
June’s weather was glorious, but with it came an influx of people from all over the country trying to visit our beaches and getting themselves into serious trouble tomb stoning off Durdle Door.
With so many visitors to the local areas, we continued to explore our area on foot, avoiding the crowded beaches. We did manage a visit to the local Poppy field near Blandford.
For Sebby’s birthday, at his request, we headed to Mudeford Quay to do some Crabbing.
For my birthday, we took advantage of the National Trust opening its properties again and visited Corfe Castle and Swanage.
At the end of the month, we enjoyed our first press trip to Sculpture by the Lakes in Dorchester, which is simply stunning.
The day was slightly marred by my husband crashing his drone into the lakes – Oops.
Although lockdown restrictions had relaxed, we still continued to explore locally and ventured to Longham Lakes, a popular fishing lake a half hour walk from our house.
One of our favourite places to visit locally is the Jurassic Coast and now that the kids are older, I booked a family kayak out to Old Harry Rocks for my husbands birthday.
It was so nice to do something a bit different and a real adventure for the kids.
The kayaking reaffirmed our love of the water and we dug our paddleboards out of hibernation for some local adventures on the River Stour.
With attractions opening back up again to welcome visitors, we headed out to try and support them, with visits to Marwell Zoo, Weymouth Sealife Centre and Go Ape in Southampton, as a belated birthday treat for Isaac.
Some places managed the new COVID rules better than others and I remember finding some areas uncomfortably busy as we all got used to the new normal.
Despite some fabulous days out, we were all desperate for a change of scenery and booked at weekend break at the Wookey Hole Hotel.
It wasn’t the break we were expecting, with many of the attractions we hoped to visit closed, but it was nice to get away and we ticked a bucket list activities off the list with visits to Cheddar Gorge, Glastonbury Tor and Lacock Abbey, where they filmed scenes from Harry Potter.
Having a few days out under our belt now, made us more confident to travel farther afield, however, with the kids back to school it was restricted to weekends.
One of our stand out highlights of 2020 was a visit to Windsor Castle and it also had the best COVID19 safety measures of any place we have visited during the pandemic.
The other stand-out day out was our visit to the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Hampshire.
The kids loved seeing the birds and watching the displays, but it was the “Meet the Burrowing Owls” experience that was the real highlight of the year.
They loved it so much that Eliza has requested to return for her birthday in January.
We also visited the Royal Mews in London, which took a lot less time than we thought, so we explored an eerily quiet city.
We are big fans of Winchester Science Centre and during lockdown they had a massive refit to install the sound and hearing exhibition, which we all thoroughly enjoyed, especially the shows.
During our stay we went to Fleet Air Arm Museum, visited Kian in Bristol and took him to the Wild Place Project where we did the Leap of Faith Challenge and headed to Weston Super Mare, which we found very disappointing as the only place open was the pier.
November saw us back in lockdown and with the weather miserable, we never really resumed our daily walks that we had done in the spring.
We did manage to get to Arne Nature Reserve, which is set on Poole Harbour and were lucky enough to spot a couple of Sika Deer bouncing across a field.
December has been the most disappointing month of the year travel and days out wise as most Christmas events have been cancelled this year, are fully booked or astronomically expensive.
Thankfully we have the beach on our doorstep, which is always good for a walk, even on a stormy day.
Have you managed to get away this year?