Once Christmas and New Year festivities are over, January hits with a bang. The dark mornings and nights linger and days are generally wet or cold. So though it was full steam ahead looking for a summer family holiday, we also made up our minds to book a last-minute short break to shake off our winter blues.
'We took a cricket set down to the sands, and as it was a massive weekend for rugby, we also kicked a rugby ball around and perfected our dropkicks. We'd planned to find a pub to watch the game but decided that our holiday cottage was perfect, with a wood-burner to snuggle up in front of, a leather sofa and huge squishy beanbags.'
A weekend we could all make was decided; a family reunion in the midst of the winter was just what we needed. We decided on Wales, the halfway point between both sides of the family. But having spent a lot of time on the Welsh coast over the years, there was one spot we'd never ventured to – the Llyn Peninsula, an 'arm' that hangs off the mainland just below Anglesey in North Wales. Reading about it, it sounded like a dreamy combination of flat sandy beaches and rural Wales at its best. It's also meant to be amazing for water sports.
We found the perfect property to suit our needs as a group of eight, including a lively 11-year-old and two dogs – a modern stone-built farmhouse down a quiet country track, with farms dotted around and a garden where the dogs could stretch their legs. We were greeted with fresh flowers in the kitchen, along with Welsh treats including freshly baked bread from the owner's farm shop, local butter, cheese and chocolate.
The next two days were perfect. Waking up to the Welsh countryside kickstarted each morning, then it was downstairs for a rare family breakfast around the table, in a swish kitchen full of modern technology. We all really appreciated the time to catch up with no need to rush around.
Both weekend days were spent exploring the local area and the nearby beaches of Aberdaron and Abersoch. We took a cricket set down to the sands, and as it was a massive weekend for rugby (Wales versus England in the 6 Nations), we also kicked a rugby ball around and perfected our dropkicks. We'd planned to find a pub to watch the game but decided that our holiday cottage was perfect, with a wood-burner to snuggle up in front of, a leather sofa and huge squishy beanbags.
The main things we got out of our break were quality time with one another, generally over meals – something it seems only getting away from home allows us to do – time spent in the fresh air, and the minimal phone signal and our choice of a cottage without WiFi. Not all the family appreciated this to start with, but by the end of the weekend it was something everyone appreciated the benefits of.
Check out our pick of self-catering places to stay which are ideal for families with children and (well-behaved) pets.