This was our fourth annual "Youth Hostel Trip" - me, my two sisters, my mum, and our seven children (seven children under the age of seven - honestly, if our husbands had any clue what that's like then they'd soon lose and twinges of jealousy they might be feeling about not being invited!
This year we headed to YHA Stow-on-the-Wold. Stow-on-the-Wold is a picture postcard little town and the Youth Hostel sits right on the square. It made a great base for our explorations.
We arrived at lunchtime on the Friday, me from Scotland (with a visit to the lovely in-laws in Stoke-on-Trent on the way), and the others all from Devon. Lunch was in The Old Stocks next door to the hostel. After lunch we made ourselves comfortable in our rooms and then headed off for a self-guided "town trail" which my Auntie had picked up from the TIC when she had visited. It was about the architecture, but we were able to interpret it to maintain some interest for the children, and the promise of an ice-cream at the end of the "explore" helped those who lost interest. Bug decided that sleep was for the weak, and kept her brother and two of her cousins awake long into the night, but overall we got more sleep on that first night than we have managed on previous trips.
On the Saturday after a self-catered breakfast we headed to Cotswold Farm Park, where we spent a happy day playing, feeding animals, riding on tractors, a picnic lunch, bouncing on giant pillows and all the things that little children like to do. A great day. Pizza for dinner and then thankfully more sleep for everybody.
Sunday morning, after clearing out our rooms we headed off to Bourton-on-the-water to the model village. While it's beautiful, and inexpensive, I confess that spending a lot of time examining models lately with our railway in mind, this one didn't inspire me - there could have been a bit more attention to detail I think. Still, the children enjoyed it, despite needing to be shackled to us to prevent them climbing over everything and running all over the model. We headed for a cafe after this, and then I bundled the children in the car and made the long motorway voyage back north.
It sounds like a hectic weekend, but there was plenty of space for relaxing, and it was nice just to see the cousins running about and playing together and to have a chance to chat with my sisters and my mum. We're looking forward to our next Family Hostel expedition, which we are planning for Boggle Hole in North Yorkshire next year.