Clydey Cottages a family escape in the Welsh hills

At the beginning of March we were thrilled to be invited to spend a weekend at Clydey Cottages in Pembrokeshire.  I was amazed that I hadn’t previously heard of Clydey cottages as they are only some 20 minutes drive away nestled on the boarder of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.  So I was really excited to explore and enjoy some family time.  Excitement grew when our welcome pack arrived the week before our stay and the boys spent some time looking through the leaflets and the website. Clydey Cottages are a complex of ten 18th Century farm building that have been lovingly converted into cottages. Ranging from one bedroom to four bedrooms.  They  have retained as much of the character and successfully blending it with modern furnishings and facilities.  

The children and I packed up the car on the Friday afternoon and shortly after 3.30pm set off, dad of 3 would follow on when he got home from work.  Thanks to knowing the area I knew the way to Clydey as far as the Nags Head, a lovely pub in Abercych.  From there I followed the directions we had been given along narrow country lanes.  I needn’t have worried though as when we approached the Nags Head we spotted a brown tourist sign pointing the way to Clydey Cottages.  The boys took it in turns spotting the signs and we made quick progress, weaving our way up the valley towards our destination.    
Pulling into the car park I decided the best thing would be to go and say hi to Jacqui who along with her husband Dewi own the cottages.  We made our way over to the shop/reception where we found Jacqui.  Jacqui then showed us to our home for the weekend, Honeysuckle cottage and left us to settle in but promised to return to give us a tour of the facilities.    
Home for the weekend – Honeysuckle
Nestled on the corner position some 100 yards from the car park.  Honeysuckle enjoys views out over the valley opposite Clydey and the lawned areas.  Stepping inside you are immediately greeted with warmth and that feeling of ‘home’.  Each room in the cottage has retained so much character from the exposed beams to the large hearth in the sitting room.  

In the large kitchen dinning room which is up too steps ( a stair gate had kindly been put up to stop Erin climbing/falling the steps)  we were meet with a gorgeous bunch of tulips, welsh cakes and tea and coffee, along with a welcome letter.  


The children were eager to explore the rest of the cottage but I insisted on unloading the car first.  This done the children disappeared to find their bedroom for the next couple of nights while I put the kettle on and made drinks for us all.  I took the opportunity to familarise myself with the kitchen and was amazed at the equipment provided, it was like being at home with everything I could possibly need for preparing meals and snacks during our stay.  Even down to cutlery, cups, plates and bowls for the children.  These little things make family meals much easier.  

 


upstairs

The children seemed just at home in the cottage as I felt, the large beanbag was an instant hit with all four taking turns and even sitting together on it.  I quickly located cbbc on the tv so I could take our bags upstairs and have a quick look around in peace.  This done Jacqui returned and talked me through the cottages heating and other essentials like things for lighting the fire.  Then it was time for a quick tour of the site.  

First stop was the games room where there was a air hockey table, table tennis, pool table and a dvd library for guests to use.  Also in the same building is a indoor heated swimming pool with a hot tub and sauna.  It looked lovely, lots of comfortable looking loungers, playpen, and coupios amounts of pool toys for guests to use.  Jacqui ran through the dos and don’ts for using these too.  She also explained they now had a treatment room which has a whole host of lovely treatments available if guests want to indulge and relax.   Next stop, walking around the back of the building was to the play room, a lovely very well equipped room that catered for the whole family.  Soft play for the under 8 year olds, play station for the older children, sky tv, a home corner, books, ride on toys and lovely sofa’s and magazines for the grown ups with free hot drinks.  The boys were eager to stay and play but I explained we had to finish looking around first.  Back out and towards the front of the building, as we walked back down the path Jacqui pointed out the laundry where there was also frozen meals and ice cream for guests, we just had to write down what we used so it could be added to our accounts to settle when leaving.  There is also a supply of logs and other bits we may need.  

In front of the building which houses the swimming pool, games room, treatment room and play room is a large lawn facing out over the valley.  An extensive outdoor play area with something for all ages from a playhouse, trampoline, football goals, picnic tables, secure patio areas with ride on toys and a hot tub nestled in a secluded corner.  The views are just breathtaking, I can only imagine how it looks in the fine weather.

Jacqui pointed out where we would find the animals in the morning for the daily animal feeding and left us to return to Honeysuckle to finish settling in.   The children settled down to watch some tv while I set about preparing dinner for us, dad of 3 would eat before joining us so it was just us to cook for.  It was nice to be able to get on with the cooking and be able to see the children from where I was.  


Dinner passed uneventfully with us all sat up at the large dinning table.  I had literally just finished loading the dishwasher and clearing up when there was a knock at the cottage door.  The boys immediately spotted it was daddy and ran to let him in.  By this time it was dark but the boys wanted to show daddy around.  Once he had brought his bag in we wrapped up and set off towards swimming pool building.  The paths were lit and the lovely large tree outside the cottages was flood lit and looked lovely. 

We passed a couple of guests enjoying the outdoor hot tub and a few more leaving the swimming pool and said hello as we passed.  The older two were keen to have a game of table tennis when we reached the games room.  While the older two played dad of 3 and myself indulged in a game of pool while the younger two ran around picking up the ping pong balls for their brothers.  After half an hour we realised that it was almost 8.30pm and time to get the bedtime routine started.  



Back in the cottage it was warm drinks all around before bed.  Rowan and Erin had a quick bath in the lovely bathroom.   Which boasted a rainfall shower and underfloor heating.  Then the three boys climbed into the bunk beds and attempted to sleep.  There was the usually giggling and chatting that goes hand in hand with being somewhere new and exciting but eventually they fell asleep.  Erin followed suit and dad of 3 and myself were close behind.  

Saturday morning dawned and we could hear birdsong from outside.  Opening the blind in the bedroom we revealed a lovely morning.  The boys were already awake but reading in bed.  Dad of 3 had to pop back into town for an appointment so had a quick breakfast and headed off.  I fed the rest of us and we dressed and made our way over to the stables for 9.30am to meet farmer Malcolm for the animal feeding.  

As we approached we could see a few other guests waiting by the animals and a gentleman I assumed was Malcolm was chatting to them.  Greeting everyone by name Malcolm welcomed us and asked if we were joining in the feeding, the boys nodded.  As Malcolm made a start he introduced Iggy the pot bellied pig and set about giving him a treat of yogurt.  Iggy certainly seemed to enjoy his treat and the boys thought it was funny a pig eating yogurt!  That done Malcolm produced a bowl with chopped up fruit and some plastic forks.  Ensuring that each child had a chance he handed them a fork with fruit on and showed them how to fed Iggy.  The boys were delighted when their turn came.  Iggy fed it was time to fed the two donkeys,  Trystan was quick to point out that he thought Granny would love the donkeys (she has always wanted a donkey!) Again turns were taken and the donkeys fed.  Malcolm was so patient with all of the children and happily answered questions and ensured no one was left out.  Erin wasn’t sure about joining in but with a bit of help from me she quickly enjoyed helping.  Next we had to wake up the goats, then the guinea pigs and rabbits.  I quickly realised that a couple of the guests were regulars at Clydey Cottages and they helped the other children learn the ropes.  On to the chickens and I have to say there was some lovely looking chickens too.  

By the time we had feed the chickens and collected their eggs, Erin was getting restless and I was in need of a cup of tea.  Malcolm and the other guests headed off to feed the sheep and we headed back to the shop/reception.  I remembered that there was a delivery of fresh croissants and bread due that morning and liked the idea of some for a snack.  The boys opted for fresh pan au chocolat while Erin and I had croissants.  The cost was added to our account.  Back at Honeysuckle we enjoyed the fresh pastries and a hot drink.    

Refreshed we headed back out to the playroom for an hour to wait for dad of 3’s return.  The older two enjoyed the opportunity to play the play station while the younger two had great fun in the soft play area.  It was nice to have somewhere that catered for all of them and I could relax knowing they were enjoying themselves and could also watch them all.   

Taking the opportunity to read some of the magazines and also look at some of the certificates that were displayed on the walls of the play room, I could see that Clydey Cottages has won several awards.  Also on display was a lovely picture by local artist Helen Elliot of the complex and a sign saying prints were available from the shop.  I wish I’d seen it earlier as would love one of the prints but the shop was locked up when we passed.  

Clydey Cottages by Helen Elliot

 
Forty minutes later dad of 3 returned which also signalled lunch time, the boys were reluctant to leave but we promised to return to the playroom again.  The complex was quiet as we emerged into onto the lawns.  We could see one couple setting off on a walk but apart from that it was quiet.  Passing the car park I could see several of the cars that had been there first thing had also gone.  Probably out enjoying the countryside and other attractions that are with in easy reach.  

Lunch consumed and tummy’s settled with a spot of TV we decided to head over to the indoor pool.  Once changed in the changing rooms we realised we were the only ones there and made our way through to the pool.  Dad of 3 took the cover off the pool as we had been instructed to do and also turned the sauna on as he fancied having one after a swim.  The children love the water and although aren’t strong swimmers at present are learning and growing in confidence.  So to have the whole pool to ourselves enabled them to practise.  After an hour splashing about dad of 3 took the opportunity to have a sauna while I stayed in the pool with the children.  Then twenty minutes later I had the chance to use the hot tub.  Two hours we enjoyed the swimming pool, sauna and hot tub, I was amazed we were the only ones.  But that said it was a dry day and a good opportunity to explore the area.  As we know the area for us it was a luxury to relax and enjoy each others company without having to leave the complex.  

Once dried and changed the older two asked if they could play in the outdoor area on their own for a while.  Erin and Rowan looked exhausted and in need of a nap so dad of 3 and myself agreed as long as they stayed where they said they would be and they returned to Honeysuckle after half an hour.  To be able to allow the older two to do this was fantastic, we live on a quiet but busy road which some parts does not have pavement or views are concealed so it’s not very safe for them to go out alone.  This said they need to learn and we as parents need to feel safe in the knowledge that they are behaving and also safe.  So this was a big thing for us all.  Luc and Trystan headed off for the play area and within ten minutes of getting back to the cottage the younger two were asleep.  Peace, just dad of 3 and myself, the sound of birds outside and occasionally a chicken could be heard.  I think we may have nodded off ourselves! 

Twenty minutes later Rowan was awake and dad of 3 took him to find his brothers.  It was now 4pm and dad of 3 had to go and collect grandma who was looking after our animals for us, to go for dinner.  Boys retrieved dad of 3 set off and we arranged to meet just before our dinner booking.  The boys were restless and didn’t want to stay indoors so once Erin woke we got our wellies and coats on and headed off passed the animals to do part of one of the woodland walks.  My aim was to kill time and hopefully tire the children out.

    
After forty minutes of following the trail it was time to head back and clean up for dinner.  The boys wanted to carry on as we hadn’t quite reached the bottom and the river at the bottom but they reluctantly followed me back.    

All cleaned and changed for dinner we climbed into the car and headed back along the country lanes to the Nags Head in Abercych, where I had booked a table.  Dad of 3 and Grandma were already there and the children were pleased to see their grandma.  Excitedly they told her all about the cottages.  We spent an enjoyable two hours at the Nags Head, filled our tummy’s, laughed and joked.  Grandma had originally been going to spend a night at the cottage with us but she sadly was having to return home early, which also meant I would spend the night alone with the children as dad of 3 would have to stay at home for the animals.  Bidding each other goodnight, I promised the children we would see what Ice cream was available at Clydey and we would skype their dad before bed.  

Back at the cottages we headed to the laundry in search of ice cream.  We quickly found the ones we wanted, marked them down to show we had taken them so they could be added to our bill and headed back to eat them.  Ice cream and a wood fire burning while we watched the Voice, a perfect ending to the day.  I for one was tired but was unsure at how the boys would sleep.  It was apparent after half an hour that the boys were not going to sleep in the bunk beds so we all climbed into the king size bed I was sleeping in ( a couple of hours later I was so thankfully I had opted for the king size bed!) We watched a DVD in bed and one by one the boys and Erin fell asleep, all five of us in the one bed!  Somehow we all slept and awoke at 9.45am the next morning. 


We’d missed the animal feeding so I made us all a cooked breakfast while we waited for dad of 3 to return.  Erin had been quite restless in the night with a heavy cold and had started to wheeze.  It was also pouring down outside much to the boys disappointment.  11am on the dot dad of 3 arrived, he was also a bit concerned about Erin wheezing so we agreed to keep an eye on her and head over to the playroom.  

A couple of other guests came and joined us and we all enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and the children playing nicely together.  Erin bless her wasn’t herself and didn’t venture far from us.  She did try to play but seemed to struggle a bit and returned to us.  Although no longer wheezing as badly she was so bunged up.  I had given her some calpol before we headed to the playroom but it hadn’t brought her much relief.    After an hour and a half in the playroom dad of 3 and myself decided it was time to head back to the cottage.  The boys wanted to show their dad the animals so we took a detour.  After which it was evident that Erin really wasn’t well.   The decision was taken to leave early so that I could contact our doctor easily, there is hardly any reception at Clydey although there is a pay phone for guests.  However I didn’t relish the idea of trying to contact the doctor from the payphone with a ill Erin and the boys in tow on my own!  None of us wanted to leave early, we felt there was more to explore at Clydey but we needed to get Erin home.  

We set about packing our things and checking each room to make sure we hadn’t left anything behind.  I wrote a note for Jacqui to explain our early departure and money to settle my account. I knew we had made the right decision but we had all thoroughly enjoyed our short stay at Clydey Cottages.  Loading the car we bid Clydey Cottages a sad farewell and headed for home.  

Having spent two lovely days at Clydey Cottages we can see why families return.  In Clydey Cottages they have successfully provided a home from home environment.  Somewhere that children are free to roam, laugh, play and learn and parents can relax knowing they are safe.  There is so much to do and something for everyone.  If you didn’t want to leave the complex there really isn’t any need too.  I personally felt relaxed and enjoyed watching the children have fun and just be themselves.  Sometimes the after school activities and daily routines can get too much and an escape is needed.  That’s exactly how we felt when we were at Clydey, we had escaped.  Jacqui and Dewi have managed to provide a real family orientated facility and it’s something they should be very proud of themselves for.  So much thought and attention to detail has gone into Clydey Cottages and the experience guests have while there.  

Clydey Cottages is one of those places that leaves you wanting more, the quietness and tranquillity you find there brings so much pleasure and joy to those that stay.  We found gold in the Welsh hills, not quite Clogau but Clydey.  

For more information on Clydey Cottages or to book your own stay please visit www.clydeycottages.co.uk




Disclaimer – We were kindly given a three night weekend stay at Clydey Cottages for the purpose of this post.  However the content of this post is 100% my own. 

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