A couple of weeks ago I got a message from M saying he had seen a good deal online for a weekend away at the Hilton in Aviemore. Since we hadn’t been away abroad this year, due to me being pregnant, we agreed it would be nice to get away as a family of 4. So we booked it and were very much looking forward to it.
Before the trip
So on the Monday before we set off for Aviemore I was aware that I have to make time that week and pack for the trip. I’m usually so organised when it comes to things like this but I had a full scale breakdown on the Monday night, ranting to M, as I had so many things to do before we left and being me I had to fit in nails and a trip to the hairdressers before we left. He calmed me down and made me write the list that I usually would write but my insanity had clouded my mind and I’d gone crazy mummy instead. List written and I was feeling a little more in control.
Packing for 4
So usually when we go away it’s just 2 people I have to worry about packing for, myself and the man child. Now it’s a whole different ball game with 4 of us to consider. Two outfits a day for each of us, heavy winter coats, a double buggy and 2 sleepyheads, all to get packed into the car. How was this going to fit with 2 adults and 2 car seats? My anxiety was through the roof thinking about the logistics of it all.
On the road
By some miracle we’d managed to fit everything in the car and were on the road by 9am. We dropped the loony dog off at the dog sitters and then hit the road, my stress levels still pretty high from a very hectic week of running around. I had woken up that morning feel slightly unwell with tummy pains so took some painkillers and powered on through.
The babies slept until lunch so we stopped at House of Bruar to feed them both. We headed straight to the restaurant for food, did nappy changes, then a spot of shopping. If you love outdoors activities that involve a lot of tweed then House of Bruar is for you. An hour and a half and S was starting to get fractious so we got back in the car and back on the road. Another hours travel and we made it to Aviemore by 2.45pm.
Car unloaded, checked in, dinner booked and unpacked, we headed to the soft play next to our hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Coylumbridge, just outside Aviemore centre. My first impressions were that the hotel was pretty basic but throughout our stay I was pleasantly surprised with the standard of food and how family focused the hotel was. We had a choice of 2 restaurants within our deal, so we booked into one on the Friday night and the other on the Saturday. The breakfast selection was fabulous with two industrial waffle makers and a full gluten free section which even gave coeliacs use of their own toaster. My two sisters are coeliac so I’m always on the look out for good gluten free facilities. The dinner service in the first restaurant was a buffet targeted at families and was Italian themed. Again the selection was great with fresh pizzas made in front of you using a wood burning pizza oven. The second restaurant was a la carte with an allocated spend of £15 per person. We didn’t quite make it to the second restaurant….
On the Friday night we thought it might be nice to let S play with the other children and maybe make enjoy some live entertainment but he only made it to 7.30pm and was wanting to go to sleep. We headed back to the room and S was asleep by 8pm. M and I got into bed fired up sky go on the iPad and settled in for the evening. Funny how you go away on “holiday” and end up in your bed earlier than you ever have at home. Life of a parent, glamorous! It’s about to get even more glamorous.
So I previously mentioned that I had woken on the Friday with a pain in my tummy. Well on the first night I was running to the toilet all night long! Then things went from bad to worse… I had just put I down after a feed at 12.30am when S started to stir. He had a dirty nappy that needed changed so the light had to go on. M tried the trick we use at home and told him to go back to sleep and lie down but once he saw we were in the room he thought it was play time and was shuffling round in his sleeping bag pressing buttons on the hotel phone and chatting. Every time he was put back in bed he screamed the place down. I was worried he would wake the baby but she slept through everything. M and I were at our wits end, he finally dropped off around 4am. Then just as I was drifting off baby woke at 4.30am. Luckily when she went down none of us woke again until 8.30am. I said to M who would have thought we’d be rushing to catch the last of the breakfast service!
My stomach was still very upset but instead of feeling sorry for myself and wasting our weekend away we decided to take a drive up the mountain and see if we could get the cable car up to the top of the mountain. On the 15 minute drive both babies had fallen asleep. We arrived at the car park to get the train to the top of the mountain and my stomach started gurgling. A white knuckle ride down the mountain back to the hotel then ensued. We made it back to the hotel and when I got back into the car M said to me will we try again?
Take 2! Back up the mountain we went, an hour had passed since we first set off. We parked the car, bundled 2 sleeping babies into the double buggy and off we went to get the train to the top of the mountain. M was hoping to play in the snow with S but he slept the whole time and would have slept longer if M hadn’t woken him and bundled him into a snow suit. He spend 5 minutes outside on top of the mountain and wanted to come in. The trip to the top was worth it thought when we got back into the cable car, M positioned S at the front window and we raced down the mountain. His little face lit up and just that one look made the trip worth it with a dicky tummy.
Santa Express Train
Due to said dicky tummy we ended up not going to the a la carte restaurant on the Saturday night and asked if we could return to the buffet. S only made it to 8pm on the Saturday night and was asleep by 8.30pm. So it was another early night for M and I but due to the way I was feeling I was kind of relieved. We had a slightly better nights sleep Saturday through to Sunday as S only got up for an hour through the night.
Before we left M had tried to get tickets for the Santa Express Train but they were fully booked. By chance M had met someone he knew and he had mentioned he’d called and managed to get a cancellation. So on Sunday morning at 9am M called the station booking office and was told first come first served. So M jumped in the car and raced to the centre to get tickets. He was back in 10 minutes saying that the lady who sells the tickets isn’t in until 9.30/9.45am so he would have to go back down after breakfast.
Take 2 again! He jumped in the car and came back with a raffle tickets as he had been put into a ballot so we would have to load the car and just head to the station in the hopes that we would get selected in place of someone who hadn’t shown up after booking their tickets. 5 minutes to departure they called our number and we were on the train.
The train journey is an hour out into the countryside where the children get to meet Santa and are each given an age appropriate gift. Each child is also given colouring paper and pencils and can write their letters to Santa to post at the station when they return. On the way back each child and adult is given a snack box with crisps, chocolate, fruit and a drink and hot drinks for the adults, with a choice of mulled wine. I would have chosen the mulled wine if I wasn’t feeling so ropy. It was an amazing experience, something we will always remember and something we would like to repeat again in the future when S and I are a bit bigger and I would certainly recommend this if you are in Aviemore over the festive season.
Would we do it again?
Would we go back to Aviemore? Yes, there is lots to do for families, children and adults and I think we only saw a fraction of it.
Apart from the dicky tummy and sleepless nights we had a really memorable time away on our first trip as a family of 4. M said to me he always wondered why people got separate rooms for their children and he now understands why, this is our main lesson learned from this trip, it will definitely be adjoining rooms the next time!