Very few of us are lucky enough to have our entire family close by, with it often being the case that relatives live in different locations across the country and further afield.
While visiting family members in their own homes can provide a nice break, it is not always possible to get everyone together at one time, due to factors such as space and travel. However, a luxury holiday cottage in the UK can be a great solution to this, providing a neutral base, with all the facilities and room needed to have a family reunion.
We spoke to a number of mummy bloggers who have experienced staying in English country cottages with their family, to provide you with advice for organising and enjoying a trouble-free cottage break with your loved ones.
Research the destination before arrival
The cottage will probably be the main focus of your holiday, so you can catch up on all the things you may have missed since your last reunion. However, you’ll probably also want to check out and make the most of your temporary surroundings, by visiting attractions and seeing the sights.
“Find out what there is to do in the area around your cottage. Talk about the various places you would like to visit as a family so that you can schedule this into your holiday. You can search for discount codes online.”
“Check out the reviews. TripAdvisor is fine for this but there's no substitute for a good review from a like-minded parent. Check out independent parenting blogs for their honest reviews and recommendations.” – Tracy Dixon, Green Mums Blog
Ensure the cottage meets your requirements
There are many questions you should ask before booking your cottage holiday, such as whether the facilities will be able to cater for all your individual needs. These could be dog friendly requirements, should you want to bring along a four-legged-friend, or necessary extras for any young children.
“Think about the living space. We have holidayed in cottages with my parents, my sister and her partner. In the evenings we required enough space for us all to sit and socialise. Six adults squeezed on to one sofa is a little bit too cosy!” – Eilidh Gallagher, Mummy and Monkeys
“If having a phone or WiFi is essential to you, then check before whether the cottage has phone signal or a landline that you can use. In some rural locations phone service can be very patchy or non-existent.” – Stephanie Couch, A Cornish Mum
“Check out exactly how big the ovens and fridges are. Cottages for large numbers can say they are well equipped but may have small fridges and ordinary sized ovens. Difficult to cook a family roast for 19 in a single oven!” – Karen Beddow, Mini Travellers
“Bathrooms. If you are holidaying with other adults you are going to need more than one bathroom or be prepared to have to schedule your showers. Even having two bathrooms and six adults requires some juggling.” – Eilidh
“Find out what will be available in the cottage. There's no point packing essentials such as high chairs and travel cots if the holiday cottage already provides them for you.” – Tracy
Pack all the essentials
Packing is stressful enough, without having to work out who will take what, as well as the added extras that you may need because there are more of you. Here are some items which you should ensure are on your checklist.
“Do you need bed linen, towels? Is toilet paper provided? There is nothing worse than turning up late and having to go back out to get essentials.” - Eilidh
“Pack for all weathers. Do not assume that because the forecast says sun, that sun is what you will get, as flip flops in the mud and rain aren't anyone's idea of fun.” – Stephanie
“Pack an extension lead. Some old cottages don't have a large amount of plug sockets, and having an extension lead could save you having arguments over who charges what first.” – Stephanie
Plan what you will eat
Your cottage will be self-catering, so it’s a good idea to work out what and where you will be eating in advance. Maybe you will decide to eat out 50 per cent of the time, and cook in your property’s kitchen for the other half. If that’s the case, you will need to do a food shop, which may be easier to do when you arrive in order to make sure fresh goods don’t spoil on the journey.
“Check you can get a supermarket delivery direct to the cottage, as this saves on time, space in your car and makes it easier to agree what you are spending up front. If this is delivered as you arrive you have a huge job done.” – Karen
“Plan your meals. If you can, cook and freeze a meal or two before you go. That way you can just re-heat it at your convenience when you arrive.” - Tracy
Think about entertainment
As your party will no doubt be made up of a number of ages, it’s important to make sure that everyone is catered for, with a variety of things to do while at the cottage. This could be bringing DVDs which you can all watch should you choose to spend an evening in, or packing items such as tennis rackets so you can enjoy activities in the garden if the weather is good.
“Remember board games, although some cottages are lovely enough to provide them, it's handy to have some with you. There is nothing cosier than sitting in front of an open fire playing games with your family.” – Stephanie
“Plan for a rainy day. If the cottage doesn't provide them then make sure you pack books, colouring pens and games for those rainy days!” – Tracy
“Book somewhere with a garden. Letting the kids run off some steam after a long car journey is a must for us. It also means they can burn off some energy whilst we are packing up the bags for the day. If you are lucky and have nice weather it means you can have BBQs and sit outside with a glass of wine once the kids are in bed too.” - Eilidh