We started our journey to Gladwins Farm after picking P1 up from school. It was meant to take just under an hour and a half but the traffic was awful and it ended up taking nearly three. As we arrived, the sun starting to set, the stress from the journey seemed to just disappear. The view was so peaceful and as soon as we opened the car door there was literally no sound except birds. I couldn’t see or hear another car which is such a difference from our home.
We headed to reception where we were greeted by the very welcoming Susie who owns Gladwins Farm. She explained where our cottage was, the pool and visitor centre. I’ve been so excited looking at all the photos on the internet for weeks. The girls were very awake after their sleep and were ecstatic too. It was all becoming real. I’ve recorded a video about our whole trip which can be found at the bottom of the post or click here.
Gladwins Farm consists of 9 bespoke cottages sleeping from 2-8 people. We were originally meant to be saying in the Constable cottage but had been unexpectedly upgraded to stay in the Wiston cottage which slept the same but was a much larger property. As we opened the door to the cottage it was like my dreams were unfolding in front of me. I have no idea quite what it was about this place but it was so warm and welcoming.
The girls took no time to explore. The lounge was equipped with three two-seat sofas, a TV that has Sky, a wood burning fire and a toy box. It was so inviting. We then went into the kitchen, it was huge with a six seater dining table in the middle with plenty of space around it. Perfect for little people and dogs (yes dogs are welcome at Gladwins Farm) to run around. All the cupboards were stocked up with various appliances and cutlery. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many pie dishes in one place. I especially like the fact there was children’s cutlery, bowls and plates too.
The Wiston cottage has three bedrooms; 2 King Beds (1 is two singles pushed together) and one twin room. The twin room is situated downstairs which at first I was a little concerned about but I’d requested a baby monitor so we set this up for P1 and P2. Their room had a large bathroom jutted out with disabled support bars around the toilet and bath. Upstairs one of the rooms had a bath insure and the other was a shower. There were full length mirrors, a dressing table and a small tv in each room. The cupboards and storage spaces were vast. Outside excited hubby and the girls the most. The garden was fully fenced and secure with a few children’s toys, a clothes line, large BBQ, three sun loungers, a picnic table with umbrella and of course the highlight of the cottage, the hot tub. Oh and the breathtaking view of miles of fields and trees.
On the first night we enjoyed some time in the cottage, exploring it and cooking our dinner. It was so lovely to be able to eat as a family at the dining table and chat face to face. We then put the hot tub to test, the girls were quite worried as it was dark and freezing cold outside but once they were in they loved it and cried when we had to get them out. The first night was a late one after all it was a holiday. It was so lovely to look around at all the homely gestures the cottage offered, the paintings on the wall with quotes that I didn’t think I liked and all the cushions on the beds. It was a real treat to be able in such a picturesque cottage and location. Waking up to a view made from heaven was just breath taking.
On our first full day of our mini break we decided to head to Colchester Zoo. Gladwins Farm is just a half hour drive from the zoo. That zoo is one I’ve grown up visiting and I haven’t been for three years so it was quite exciting to go back. The zoo has pretty much completely changed from what I remember. It’s even better than it ever was, it was amazing in my childhood! The girls had great fun looking at all the animals and exploring the various interactive parts. We’d finished looking round the entire zoo by about 3pm so we headed back to Gladwins Farm.
We were so lucky with the weather apart from being a little windy and cold, the sun was out and it was dry. Gladwins Farm has a lovely Beautique situated on site offering some deliciously sounding treatments. Unfortunately, neither of us got to experience any as although Gladwins Farm can arrange a local child minder, I didn’t feel comfortable with it and so the massage I’ve never had is still a massage I’ll probably never have. The lady inside the Beautique was very friendly though.
Gladwins Farm also has a fantastic play area for children. When we got back from the zoo we decided to have a little explore to find it. I honestly thought we’d head over and a find a worn out playground like you find in a pub garden or something, but what greeted us was a huge well kept lawn, a huge trampoline, plenty of trikes and cars, a Wendy house and the typical climbing frame area. The girls were in their element. We also decided to check out the swimming pool but unfortunately the pool was a little too cold for my girls and it was also all one depth and neither of them can swim so we decided to head back to the hot tub. We all ran back to the cottage wrapped in towels still wearing our costumes, it must have been a hilarious sight!
Inside the Visitor Centre, which is next door to the Farmhouse, there are plenty of locally produced food and drink, sweets and frozen ready meals that you can buy. There’s also a cupboard of games and DVDs you can borrow and take back to the cottage. Of course being a visitor centre means there’s plenty of leaflets that help you decide what’s nearby that you’d like to visit. There’s also animal feed. The animals were definitely the highlight of our holiday for the girls. They were thrilled to be able to feed the goats, sheep and pigs. I really enjoyed being able to go inside the chicken enclosure to see if any had laid some eggs for our breakfast.
There’s so much to do in Colchester for families or adults. Things ranging from museums, farm parks or stately homes, there’s even a really lovely Leisure World perfect for fun in the water. We decided that this holiday would be about relaxing as a family long before we arrived so spent Sunday, our last full day, exploring and making use of the things on offer at Gladwins Farm. It was really nice to be able to come and go as you please, explore as you please and not be watched on by staff ready to tell you off for touching something you shouldn’t. It’s really hard for me to describe exactly the atmosphere at Gladwins Farm, it’s very laid back and it makes you feel like you’re part of a little village with the shop, playground, pool and the 9 cottages. It’s a very odd, wonderful feeling of contentment.
We went on the woodland walk which is part of Gladwins Farm’s grounds. We made the mistake of taking the double buggy, this particular woodland walk is certainly not pram or wheelchair proof but it was thoroughly amusing watching my Hubby struggle getting it over fallen trees and steep hills. Despite the struggles with our buggy, the woodland walk is such a peaceful thing to do. It’s not to strenuous, for those walking happily alone, and both girls could manage it. There are fun signposts situated the whole way round with facts about different animals that can be seen. The walk goes past the huge lake where there’s a hut full of fishing gear and there was another family doing a bit of pond dipping. I was completely on edge with the girls so we swiftly walked round the lake and back up to the playground.
We forgot to go and check out the play barn until the afternoon of Sunday and I’m completely gutted about that because inside the restored barn there were loads of toys, a ping-pong table and a Wii. I wish we’d gone up to it on the first day because the girls really enjoyed it in there. The play bit had soft flooring which was great for P3. It was a lovely area to chill. You can see more of it on my video below.
Apart from being awake at 5:30am every morning whilst at Gladwins Farm with P3, we had such a wonderful time. Dreams were literally rolling out in front of me and a taster of what I really want for my family in the future. Peace and quiet. Fields surrounding us. Run by solar panels. The bedroom layouts, the country style kitchen with dining table! Gladwins Farm really allowed us to have the space we need and bond as a family.
Staying at Gladwins Farm is not exactly a cheap holiday choice, think around the £1000 marker, all of the cottages are self-catering being run by four huge solar panels. The homely atmosphere of Gladwins Farm which is also packed with luxuries, the fact you can request certain children’s items so that you don’t need to worry about packing it yourself and you can also get a food delivery from a supermarket delivered straight to your cottage! The girls are already asking to go back so I definitely think we will in the future, next time for longer! Don’t forget to watch our video below.