Prior to my daughter being old enough to value friendship I NEVER EVER thought that I would go on a holiday in the UK, it didn’t cross my mind at all, a holiday meant sunshine and that can be an impossible goal in the UK (please refer to Summer 2012). Until my daughter was 5 she didn’t realise that you didn’t have to go on an aeroplane to go on holiday! That is not because I have an abundant disposable income, it’s because my mother worked hard and when she could we went on holiday to a sunny destination on an aeroplane. We went on one or two Butlins holidays with some other families. If my mother could not afford a holiday we had day trips, holiday schemes and lots of fun.
Like my mother I ensure that holiday’s are included in my budget, I think they are essential and will prioritise them over buying a designer bag/ shoes. We have travelled to Africa, Europe and America and these journey’s have taught my daughter things that she will carry with her for life, for example after experiencing water shortages in Sierra Leone baby girl never leaves a tap running. She understands that she is fortunate to have a ‘free’ education and that structured play is standard. Travelling to Europe has enabled her to practice her French, eat authentic food and learn that European countries have snakes too! However what I have learned is that there is a LOT to be said for a staycation. I am not talking about a cottage in the Cotswolds. I am talking about a good old fashioned British caravan holiday. Don’t shut your laptop or click onto one of the other open tabs!! Read on.
In 2006 two of my friends went on a Caravan holiday to Clacton-on-Sea (wait! seriously). When they returned their children aged 9 and 7 at the time told me that they had such fun on their holiday and that the caravan was really lovely. Prior to this I would not have considered it as I was totally put off after a trip to a well known holiday camp when I was in Middle School. The evening entertainment consisted of racist jokes such as, “What do you get if you cross an Indian with a West Indian? A thief who can’t drive”. This was a legitimate joke at this holiday camp in the late 80’s and the dancing time featured songs such as Agadoo. I swore that I would never endure that as an adult or consciously expose my child to such backwards and harmful thinking. Anyway fast forward twenty-odd years I decided to plan a group trip to a caravan park when my daughter was 5 bearing in mind the feedback from my friends and their children. A number of my friends have children the same age as my daughter, I thought that if we go in a group the children would have quality time with each other and we would have time with each other as we rarely get the chance due to life! Also as a group of friends we would have a good time as well as the children, win-win. IT WAS THE BEST so we have decided to to it each year in the school Easter holidays.
In order to have a good time you need a group of girlfriends. It doesn’t work with partners, sorry but it just doesn’t. You need a group of *real* friends, an iPod and docking station, prosecco and food that is easy to prepare! In relation to easy to prepare I mean spaghetti bolognese and jacket potato kind of vibe, although we have done curries and fried chicken too! We have been to Haven, Park Resorts, Park & Dean and Pontins. We will never do Pontins again the accommodation as it wasn’t to our taste, they have chalets which are terraced so you can hear your neighbours and it just feels too close. The chalet’s include signs about not punching the walls and doors…erm?? Caravans on the other hand are detached and come with a variety of mod-cons depending on the level of accommodation you book. The standard accommodation is decent however you get what you pay for and if deluxe means an additional £20 – £30 each you might as well upgrade. The evening entertainment is perfect for children under 12 and adults too apparently…
This year we went to Pontins in Camber Sands. Camber Sands is beautiful and the beach is gorgeous. Although it was not hot we had beautiful sunny weather which meant that we could enjoy the sandy beach and outdoor activities… many of our outdoor activities revolved around being able to buy seaside doughnuts and fish n chips! We had a great time (please see pic below) but chalet life is not for us, we will definitely stick to caravans. Our favourite’s so far have been Park and Dean in Sanford, Dorset for great activities and entertainment on and off site. It is very close to the stunning Durdle Door too. Park Resorts have nice accommodation.
Be prepared, your children will want to attend the evening entertainment, they will probably want to get dressed up, well the girls do anyway and they will have fun and guess what so will you!
The day time entertainment is awesome for children over 4 years old… it’s actually pretty cool for the adults too. Again you need to roll with your gang so that you don’t really have to veer outside your social group! The environment is also safe enough for younger teenagers to wander off and do their own thing.
There is lots to do in the day, but you do need to be organised and book things in advance, some activities have a charge which is relatively small unless you have a number of children.
Most holiday parks are near the sea and the UK has some beautiful coastal locations. Beaches are great as there is lots to do if you are in a group and its a low cost activity, even if you buy far too many doughnuts, chips and mushy peas!
Even if the British weather lives up to its reputation there are lots of indoor activities to keep your children busy. If all else fails there is always a good tea house close to the holiday park where you can have a cream tea.
A get away like this is a more cost effective alternative to going abroad and gives you, your children and friends some quality time.
In the comments below tell us if you have been on,
a) a caravan holiday
b) away with your friends and children
c) have you considered a staycation?
We look forward to hearing your view.