Before having our daughter, Andrew and I were super keen to ensure that we still continued to enjoy our travels. We’re by no means ‘world travellers’ but we do like our occasional UK weekend breaks. So almost the minute she was born, we booked ourselves a trip away to celebrate our anniversary 3 months later. (We figured this would give us enough time to get to grips with how to navigate our new lives as parents enough to be able to venture out.)
Being so close to Christmas, we wanted our first family trip to fill us with festive spirit, so naturally we chose a city that would be hosting a traditional Victorian Christmas market (Nottingham), and a stately home with all their many halls very much decked (Chatsworth House in Derbyshire)!
Here’s how we got on…
Nottingham Christmas Markets
The drive to Nottingham should have taken us a couple of hours… but by now we ought to have realised that anything involving a baby takes doubly as long! So four hours, three stops, two changes and one feed later, we were delighted to arrive to a friendly face at the service desk at our hotel.
We had decided to stay in aparthotel Roomzzz Nottingham – favouring the practicality of having our own kitchen to the luxury of a fancy hotel room. What a great idea this had been (I’m taking full credit!) The room was cool and modern, with plenty of space for our moses basket and pram (as well as the many many extra items we had brought with us, ‘just in case’). There was a pink mood light emanting from the headboard which gave the space a lovely glow and made for the perfect nightlight in the evening.
Our itineraries are usually jam packed whenever we go away, but we knew that this time would be a whole new kettle of fish, so we kept our plans light. After acquainting ourselves with the room and receiving the seal of approval from Robyn on the lovely big bed, we headed off in search of some festive cheer.
The markets did not disappoint. There was a great buzz about the place with festive music playing, twinkly lights twinkling, an array of lovely artisan goods and a delicious choice of traditional fayre to tempt our ravenous tummies.
A relaxed browse, a street-food dinner and a few little nick knacks purchased, we headed back to the apartment for a bottle of wine and a Christmas movie in bed. Robyn was good as gold, settling like clockwork despite her new, unfamiliar surroundings.
From what we saw of the city I would love to return, with a more ambitious itinerary of sights to see and things to do. But not a bad start for our first little family trip away…
The next morning marked our second wedding anniversary. We reminisced about where we were two years ago, the plans we had made to start a family, and how two years on our dreams had come true. What an amazing start to our married lives together. A quick coffee toast to the next exciting stages to come and off we set for a romantic day out (complete with our little tag along of course)…
We had planned to celebrate the occasion with a trip to Chatsworth House, a grand stately home in the Derbyshire countryside and famously the setting for the movie Pride and Prejudice (and that oh so popular ‘lake’ scene…) I had been wanting to visit for a long time, and when we found out that the house is decorated elaborately for Christmas we couldn’t resist.
Since prams aren’t permitted in the house, I strapped Robyn into a baby carrier and off we went. Despite a couple of minor cries, the visit went well – with Andrew and I easily able to enjoy the attraction pretty much as well as we would have done on our own. (Although my back did start to ache by the end – a good hour or so later…)
Every year the house chooses a particular theme for their festive decor. This year was the Nutcracker. There had been some amazing attention to detail and some beautiful displays, all proving the perfect backdrop for a few festive family photos.
As stunning as the decor was, part of me would have preferred to see the house in it’s original form. Without the distraction of trees and baubles, and without the added crowds that inevitably went with it. I found that in parts, the decoration took away from the grandeur of the house itself.
I think this is why I enjoyed our wander through the gardens so much. This part of the house was real. Untouched by the garishness of Christmas sparkle and wonderfully atmospheric on this cold, crisp and misty day.
The gardens were so vast that, despite the crowds that had edged their way through the house, we felt almost alone. Wandering hand in hand through our own private stately garden. The fresh air, the mist sweeping across the nearby hills – it all felt very peaceful. It was the perfect setting to celebrate our anniversary, to reflect on the passed two years of marriage, and look ahead to what the future will bring us.
We even befriended the resident robin!
Being our wedding anniversary, we needed to find a bauble to continue the tradition we started last year. We tried to get baubles that reflected the traditional material for each year, but figured that’s just going to get wayyyy too expensive as the years go by. So instead we’re just getting ones that mean something to us. And I think we found the perfect one…
All in all, our first trip as a family of three was a roaring success. My worries about disruption to our home routine were unnecessary and we were still able to enjoy much of what we had done before our family grew. No doubt as Robyn gets older the challenges of going away will increase, but it’s important to us to keep getting out and seeing the wonders of this isle in which we live. So as long as we can find a way, we will continue our adventures, with an extra one in tow…
When did you take your first family trip? Where did you go and how was it for you? Any tips to make travelling with a baby even smoother? Let us know below or on Twitter @LoveinMindBlog