Our last couple of holidays have been abroad so you can imagine my delight last week packing for our stay at Ribby Hall with no baggage limits beyond what I couldn’t fit in the car. Ok delight is a strong word, packing is never much fun but it was certainly less of a challenge.
We’ve stayed at Ribby Hall once before in October 2013 in a cottage at Fishermans reach which was lovely accommodation but we decided to treat ourselves to a 3 bed pine lodge this stay as the lodges have hot tubs which meant I could wear my bikini without having to board an airplane.
Our lodge slept 6 and was very spacious and comfortable, well stocked (high chair, ironing board, toiletries) with tons of storage and 3 bathrooms. It was tucked away with 5 other lodges in amongst the privately owned holiday homes.
The site looks big on the map but although peak season did not feel too busy and our lodge was in a quiet scenic corner. Our rowdiest neighbours were the ducks who tried to join us for meals several times and were quite put out I wouldn’t let them hang out in the lodge with us (this could be tricky in warmer weather if you had any doors left open!).
I was particularly thrilled with the kitchen. As any allergy Mum knows you still do a lot of catering on holiday and having a good space to do it in makes such a difference! We had a full size fridge & freezer, lots of cupboard space (some holiday kitchens are so crammed with equipment there is no where to store groceries!) and clean modern looking kitchen equipment.
Basic cleaning supplies, tea towels, teabags & coffee were supplied which was a lovely touch and a bonus as I hadn’t packed teabags! I brought a chopping board, sharp knife and cutlery & plates for the boy. I was actually ok to use the lodges crockery once it had been through the dish washer but I’m happier knowing I have safe stuff for him and I wouldn’t use an unknown chopping board!
We stayed four nights and ate out two at the Bar & Grill. I rang and spoke to the team leader there a few days before our visit and she was super helpful. I listed my son’s allergies – milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, treenuts, peas & lentils and she went and spoke to the chef about catering for him. I could overhear the tone of their conversation if not the content and was gladdened by the positive upbeat voices. She came back to me to say they’d be happy to cook for him and if there was anything he particularly liked to eat they would order it in for him. This offer was reiterated to me during our stay. It was a very useful conversation and one my husband was delighted to listen in on as he knew if they were not confident and helpful we would not be eating out!
While the choice on the menu is limited, particularly for gluten free they will order safe pasta, pizza, fish fingers and chips for you. The regular chips are not safe as they are fried with other food but I have to say the oven chips they got in for us looked much nicer! My son ate an adult portion gammon steak both nights. There were other options (grilled chicken or steak) but gammon is his absolute favourite and I can vouch for it being tasty as I ordered the same meal the first night. I brought safe treats for pud.
The sachets of ketchup looked OK ingredients wise but both my kids skin reacts to cheap tomato sauce so we brought our own with us. Classy I know.
- The kids entertainment is held in the bar & grill. If you book a table for 7pm you can keep it for the evening. If you have tiny tots and this is late there are meal deals between 5 and 6pm.
- Do not wait till you get there to discuss your dietary requirements. While they go out of their way to be helpful it is LOUD and an almighty challenge to talk to your waiter/waitress beyond yelling your order.
While very loud and busy eating later the kids were kept occupied and entertained while we waited for our food and during our meal. There is also a small shop selling flashing tat which was a big draw and there was a face painting/ fake tattoo stand.
On the two nights we ate at the lodge we kept it simple. I’m not keen cooking away from my kitchen and only make stuff that can be cooked on lots of foil! Luckily my kids see baked potatoes and beans as a treat!
The weather was kind to us despite the grim forecast and we managed two days out without getting rained on. We used our Tesco club card vouchers to pay for both.
Blackpool pleasure beach – I took safe snacks and a gluten free roll with dairy free cheese and we had lunch at Burger King. We just order a beef patty on its own and fries.
If you have a child that would freak at wearing a wristband the nice ladies on the Pleasure beach tills will stick one on a piece of paper for you. You just need to write your child’s age and general description on the back.
Our second day out was to Blackpool zoo and we took a simple picnic & snacks. The kids enjoyed the zoo, they loved the sea lion display and the play park and I enjoyed the wee bit of sunshine we had and the fact it’s built on the flat. Our nearest zoo at home is Edinburgh zoo which is famously steep!
We had one full day on site and while there are plenty of activities available we took it easy with a stroll round the woodland trail (wellies absolutely essential!) a play at the park and shot on the amusements. I like that the amusements are separate from other areas so you don’t have to walk through them to get to the pool/entertainment.
So all in all a lovely stay. Comfortable accomadation and safe options for eating makes for a happy mum. The hot tub helped! Absolutely gorgeous to sink into the heat on a rather cool April afternoon. Packing dressing gowns would have been a good plan though as it was freeeezing climbing back out!
I didn’t visit the Spa hotel this holiday but I can recommend it from our previous stay. Heading up for a meander round the thermal journey and a treatment while the family unpack and make dinner is how every holiday should start.