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Our Travel Highlights of 2017

Posted on
December 27, 2017

What a year 2017 has been!
It has been a year of anticipation as I booked our dream holiday to Santa’s Lapland all the way back at the end of 2015 and have had to keep it a secret for over a year, which was not easy.
But let’s go back to the beginning of the year where we started our travels with a week in Scotland.
We stayed in a delightful cottage with Newton Farm Holidays in Angus and had an amazing week, exploring as much of the country as we could.
Our holiday cottage was a short drive from Dundee, which surprised me with lots of fun places for the kids to explore, including Verdant Works and Captain Scott’s famous RSS Discovery . We thoroughly enjoyed exploring Dundee’s murky past with Dark Dundee.
Verdant Works
When we arrived in Scotland we did see snow, although it wasn’t really settling where we were staying, so we took the short drive to Glen Doll, which is home to Corrie Fee, a truly dramatic, massive bowl scooped out by a glacier, which was covered in lovely thick snow, perfect for snowball fights and building snowmen.
A Visit to Glen Doll in search of Snow
We visited Edinburgh, not once, but twice during our stay and fell in love with the beautiful city. We were very impressed with Dynamic Earth and the National Museum of Scotland, where we took in great views of Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat.
Edinburgh
Of course I then got a bee in my bonnet as I wanted to climb Arthur’s Seat!,
Arthur's Seat
Our private tour of Glamis Castle was a real treat as we got to see where the Queen Mother lived.
Glamis Castle
The real highlight of our visit was our Scottish road trip which took in Arbroath Abbey, Lunan Bay, the spectacular Dunnottar Castle through the pine forests to Balmoral and back down along the A93 through the Cairngorms where we got to see more snow.
Dunnottar Castle
In fact, I wish I had watched Netflix’s The Crown sooner, as I love spotting places that we saw in the program.
2017 also saw us re-visit a very old friend – The Isle of Wight. Despite living just across the water it is somewhere we had not visited for over a decade, but we more than made up for it with two visits this year. The first to Blackgang Chine – the worlds oldest theme park and the second to Robin Hill Country Park. We fell back in love with the island and are heading back later this year to spend more time exploring.
Robin Hill
In April we headed north for a Stay, Play, Explore break in Leicester which included tickets to local attractions including Twycross Zoo and the National Space Centre.
Twycross Zoo
Keen to explore some of England’s history, we also visited Kenilworth Castle and Bolsover Castle, where the kids were excited to learn that they have links with the Scottish Castles we visited earlier in the year.
Kenilworth Castle
April also saw Isaac’s birthday and he requested a visit to Legoland to celebrate. Sadly, as his birthday fell over the Easter holidays, the Legoland Hotel was far too expensive, so we booked Bel and the Dragon bed and breakfast in Odiham. We were absolutely blown away by the hospitality and food at the Grade II-listed former inn. With features dating as far back as 1540, it had been brought right up to date and had plenty of features to keep the kids happy during our stay.
Bel and the Dragon
In May, Hubby and I headed to Birmingham for a short break to go and see Ed Sheeran at the Barclaycard arena and later in the month we stayed at AndrewShayes Holiday Park whilst we visited my dad in Axminster, Devon.
Pecorama
Living in Dorset, we explore a lot of what our county has to offer, so it was nice visiting some of East Devon’s attractions including Pecorama, Wildwood Escot and Axe Valley Wildlife Park.
Axe Valley Park
Abbey celebrates her birthday at the beginning of June and this year we headed to Bluestone in Wales, celebrating her actual day whizzing around on fairground rides at Folly Farm. This was our second visit to Bluestone and it is even better in the springtime, as the good weather gave us the opportunity to explore more of the activities on offer.
Bluestone Wales
July is always a month we look forward to as not only do the kids break up from school, but it is Camp Bestival month!! This year however was a Camp Bestival like we have never experienced before, it rained! It wasn’t just a light shower, but torrential rain and high winds for three days and surviving a wet festival was a real learning curve.
Camp Bestival
It was at Camp Bestival I was tipped off about an opportunity to go to Walt Disney World with Mumsnet and I applied, in the pouring rain, not believing we had a chance of being picked.
Just days after getting home from Camp Bestival we headed to the Lake District for a walking holiday with HF Holidays.
Exploring the Lake District with HF Holidays
We loved exploring the Lake District and went on both planned walks and enjoyed a day out to explore on our own.
HF Holidays
It was here I got the phone call to say we were going to Walt Disney World and we literally got home and re-packed our cases and headed to the airport.
Walt Disney World
It was probably the most amazing, full-on holiday we have ever experienced! We stayed at Disney’s Art of Animation Hotel which was perfect for my Cars loving Sebastian.
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World has something to offer everyone and whilst Eliza loved the Magic Kingdom and wanted to meet every single Princess she could, the boys were more than content with everything Star Wars at Hollywood Studios, especially the Jedi Training Academy.
Jedi Training
I do wish we had, had slightly longer to prepare as there were things I wish I had known before we visited Walt Disney World, however we were all issued “1st time visitor” badges so the staff really looked after us and gave us lots of advice during our stay.
Elsa Walt Disney
I highly recommend you take full advantage of the fast pass system and the memory maker photo app if you visit as we have some fabulous memories of our visit now. Eliza’s favourite ride had to be the Frozen Ever After at Epcot, we all adored the safari at the Harambi Wildlife Reserve, but it was Pandora, World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom that stole the show.
Pandora - Banshee
The kids went back to school with lots of tales to tell their friends and teachers.
September was a month of days out at weekends and we finished the month with a glorious visit to the Cotswolds with Manor Cottages. In fact, I was slightly disappointed it was so warm as was itching to light the log burner, but we were pleased of the sunshine during our visits to Cotswold Wildlife Park and Bourton-on-the-Water.
Manor Cottages
We fell in love with cruising during 2016 and our voyage aboard the Carnival Vista, so I was really excited to be invited onboard the MSC Preziosa, even if it was only for a few hours whilst it was docked in Southampton.
MSC Preziosa
November saw us heading back to Birmingham, only this time with the kids in tow, to see Disney on Ice and Brick Live, which they loved. In fact, Sebastian was over the moon that Donald Duck remembered him and waved just to him.
Disney On Ice
And finally, the time had arrived!
After months of keeping it secret, we got to the airport and announced to the kids we were heading to Lapland to see Father Christmas.
Bournemouth Airport
Flying over the snow-covered ground was exciting enough, but to land on a snowy runway and exit the plane to find a reindeer for you was almost overwhelming.
Reindeer
We arrived at the Saariselkä Inn and got settled as quickly as we could as the kids couldn’t wait to put on their snowsuits and get outside in the snow. The quickly found their favourite mode of transport for the holiday too – the toboggan.
Bogs Footwear
It was the Search for Santa day that was the most magical. With a husky dog sled ride, super fast snowmobile rides, slow and steady reindeer rides plus lots more activities to keep us amused, it really was the most amazing day.
Santa's Lapland
Of course, we got to meet the big guy himself too!
Santa's Lapland
We finished the day with a Northern Light Safari, although the lights stubbornly refused to shine for us, we thoroughly enjoyed the chance to drive the snowmobiles in the darkness.
Northern Lights Tour
We finished the holiday with fun on the longest toboggan run in Northern Europe at 1.2 kilometers long and a vertical drop of 130 meters, before picking up some souvenirs to bring home with us to help us remember our stay.
Saariselkä
It is safe to say that 2017 has been full of fun and interesting places to visit and I cannot wait to see what 2018 brings!
Where have you travelled to this year?

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22 Comments
  1. Reply

    Sheri

    December 27, 2017

    I love the husky sled ride, we have done it twice and we loved it. We also stayed in an Igloo hotel once. Winter travel is great.

  2. Reply

    Sonia Cave

    December 27, 2017

    Wow what an amazing year you and your family have had. You did so well keeping the Lapland holiday a secret for a whole year, I am not sure I could have done it!!

  3. Reply

    Justine Robson

    December 27, 2017

    So many adventures! I bet meeting Santa was the cherry on the cake. Can 2018 top it?

  4. Reply

    michelle twin mum

    December 27, 2017

    What an absolutely amazing year Kara. You’re not going to forget 2017 in a hurry, are you? I hope our next year is even half as exciting.. Mich x

  5. Reply

    Jemma

    December 27, 2017

    Wow what a totally amazing year! Lapland sounds totally magical!

  6. Reply

    Angela Milnes

    December 27, 2017

    You have been on some amazing travel adventures. That’s for sure. I hope to take my daughter somewhere special in 2018.

  7. Reply

    Zena's Suitcase

    December 28, 2017

    You guys have had the best year and it’s been great following all your adventures. I loved your Walt Disney trip a lot.

  8. Reply

    Cleo

    December 28, 2017

    The shots of the lake district look amazing! Defo need to take a trip!

  9. Reply

    Lynne Harper

    December 29, 2017

    Such amazing memories you have created for you all. This is my plan next year to explore and travel more. Im loving the fact you added Lapland on as well im sure it was a magical visit 🙂

  10. Reply

    Ayesha Farhad

    December 29, 2017

    aww! I loved the highlights! Like you, I fell in love with Edinburgh as well! The people are so lively and helpful over there as compared to London! We are going to Isle of Wight during the new year hopefull!y! Love the disney pictures! super adorable!

  11. Reply

    Gemma

    December 30, 2017

    I was lucky to be able to explore lots of Scotland this year, I loved the National Museum of Scotland! The refurbishment was beautiful and the central hall was breathtaking. I lord the Riverside museum in Glasgow too – great architecture and exhibits.

  12. Reply

    laura dove

    December 30, 2017

    Im not sure which I am most jealous of, lapland or Disney! I think both equally! You’ve had a great year of travel!

  13. Reply

    Starlight and Stories

    December 31, 2017

    What an incredible year you have had! I’d love to visit Glamis Castle!

  14. Reply

    Mellissa Williams

    December 31, 2017

    What an amazing year for you! I have been following your travels and your kids always seem to have big smiles. I need to explore Scotland more so I’m slightly envious you managed to do that. To go to Orlando through your blog must be a dream come true. We went to Orlando this year too, (although not through my blogs), and Pandora was amazing. I think Flight of Passage is the best ride I’ve been on, my son loved it. Then the trip to Lapland is just wow! Hope you have some fantastic experiences in 2018.

  15. Reply

    Anosa

    December 31, 2017

    What a truly incredible year of travel you guys have had as a family, I have been to about 15 cities abroad this year but yours still puts mine to shame. Wishing you an incredible 2018

  16. Reply

    Hannah

    January 1, 2018

    You went to some great places. I enjoyed Lapland, one of the best trips ive been on

  17. Reply

    Elizabeth

    January 2, 2018

    Wow, what a fabulous year you have all had! Wishing you all the best for plenty of adventures in 2018 too! 🙂

  18. Reply

    Crystal

    January 2, 2018

    What a great recap of all the fun adventurous things you did.

  19. Reply

    Fashion and Style Police

    January 2, 2018

    Wow what a year of fun. I doubt I would be able to keep it a secret for a year. You did well.

  20. Reply

    Kaz | Ickle Pickles Life and Travels

    January 2, 2018

    Wow, what a year for you! I can’t wait to take Pickle to WDW, I have been three times and it is truly the most magical place on earth! happy New Year to you. Kaz

  21. Reply

    Hannah

    January 2, 2018

    I love the Elsa photo! Makes me want to go to Disney x

  22. Reply

    Thena Franssen

    January 7, 2018

    Looks like you guys had such a great year of travel. Cheers to a new one full of more memories!!!!

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KARA GUPPY
Bournemouth

Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog chelseamamma.co.uk