“ Breydon Water Holiday Park / Burgh Castle / Great Yarmouth / Norfolk / BR31 9QB. „
*** WILL THEY, WON'T THEY? ***
A trip to Yarmouth has been a long time coming for me, it was a whole summer ago that in my friend group we were whispering/shouting rumours of an upcoming trip there fairly soon and how cheap you can get caravan holidays there when you split the cost between you. With my friends 18th birthday at the very, very end of July it meant that for the first weekend of August (and a fine pick weather wise, might I add) would be the date that we finally took the trip.
Organising things in a group of friends certainly isn't as easy as your parents deciding where you are going seems to be, and for some of us it would actually be the first multipul night trip away where just us as young'uns were incharged (maybe we've been mothered too long, I don't know). Originally it was an idea that we would collect the tokens given out in The Sun, and from a fellow review I've read here it sounds liket his location is avaliable as a token holiday, but collecting things and making a decision in the spring is never easy so we ended up charging ourselves extra as we booked it over the internet.
I won't go too much into the booking process, as that is for another review, however we left it til literally the day before we were supposed to go and it was very much a "lets just book it so we have to go" and for a silver grade caravan, 12ft, for eight people the cost was £306, however you are immediately given a £5 online booking discount. That works out at about £38 per person, which would have been ideal if we actually didn't have people dropping out, but it ended up just being six of us in this caravan, upping it to £50 per person. Pretty expensive really, but it's something we really wanted to do, and the extra room was nice to play around in.
*** WE'RE ALL GOING ON A, SUMMER HOLIDAY ***
Packing wasn't the easiest thing to do as I couldn't decide what I'd need. I ended up packing quite a bit and using most of it, although due to the weather I didn't really need some of the warmer clothes. We decided that we wouldn't leave until around 1pm on the Friday, because the website told us that we could not check in until 4pm anyway. That would allow us to get from Cambridge to Yarmouth in three hours, which was more than enough time, traffic permitting. The journey was fine, I wasn't driving and there was only four of us in this one car - I don't know how another one would have fitted with all our stuff! The traffic was quite conjested in places where it was only one lane and they clearly should have two, but I guess that's all about protecting the scenery.
The use of a sat-nav came in quite useful as well, even though on the way there is sent us down the wrong road once and didn't think a road existed. I'm guessing this is due to the fact that the roads were probably very new. Beginning to see a lot of rivers, I could tell we were getting closer and then we drove past the Vauxhall Caravan Park, which looked amazing and it gave me a sick feeling in my stomache of what ours could be like - and since I was one of the prime people involved with booking it I could tell I would get it bad. It seemed quite complicated to get to the place we were getting to, but in actual fact once you've done it once it is easy to remember. There was something I didn't like about the roads in Yarmouth though, very slopey and they all looked like they'd been taken straight out of a computer game.
Arriving I could tell we were much further out from Yarmouth than I was hoping we would be, as we took a drive through villages to get to Breydon Water. The sat-nav took us to Bure Village first, which is the sister village to Yare Water, and we weren't smart enough to look at the signs. Bure Village is basically slated as the quieter alternative to Yare. We got there at around 3pm, so decided we might as well just take our chances booking in straight away. The woman was incredibly nice and upon giving her my reference number, as I was scared that perhaps my booking had not gone through and I had not been smart enough to print off the confirmation emails, she was able to point us in the direction of the right caravan park.
So back on the road we went, and a 60 second drive up the road took us to Yare. The turning into Yare is an incredibly sharp left turn, which is a bit strange for a family caravan park. Driving in you drive past the mini-golf course (more on that later) and you can see there is also people staying in tents as well as caravans. Speed bumps are in place, and one of the first things you see as you have passed the mini golf course is the 'Yare Mill' entertainment complex in front of you. It sounds spectaculator, but it's not (once again, more on that later). We parked in the small carpark outside Yare Mill, and walked down to the reception area, which strangely enough is a lot smaller than Bure's. Once again, another friendly woman, who was happy to let us check in early (this was probably getting on for 3.30 now). I'm guessing that it's pretty much just a situation of when all the caravans are clean, they let you in. Making jokes, talking us through our welcome pack, I can't complain with the service upon checking in at all. This is a Park Resorts holiday for the record.
*** THANK F**K, IT'S FRIDAY ***
Our caravan was located along the main entrance road to Yare, so we were about a 10 second walk from Yare Mill. Sounds good on paper. My friend could easily park his BMW next to the caravan, as loads of space was provided there really. The two other people staying with us were not going to be arriving until the next day, but his Fiesta was easily going to fit there as well. I see no reason why two big cars couldn't fit one behind the other. Entering the caravan it looked really nice, and it was a good sight considering the look of the place we were at seemed like a family holiday haven, and not really somewhere for an 18 year old to be.
The caravan had a huge 'U' shaped couch that had a bed to pull out underneath, but we never actually bothered with that. Of course this couch was pointing at the television, colour but without a remote control but you'd have to be really lazy to not get up and walk to change the channel, eh? There was also a couple of books provided, including the Holy Bible, although neither of these were in a good shape at all. They looked as though they were ready to fall apart. Lots of storage space was provided, and there was another smaller 'U' shaped couch around the circular dining table that worked as a good separate area for sitting at chatting. I should say there was also a long rectangular table in the main living room area. The kitchen was really nice, with lots of utencils provided, and a washing up cloth was also provided. We were told to bring our own cleaning up materials, so we can't really complain there, but I don't think we realised quite how hard it would be to clean up without the stuff you take for granted at home.
Most impressively, the kitchen featured a microwave, which was great although I don't think I actually used it once. The fridge was a decent size, however unfortunately the freezer fell flat on expectations and my tub of Ben & Jerry's wouldn't fit in. I decided to risk it in the fridge, and ended up eating milk with big lumps cookie dough in it. There was a door separating the kitchen from a corridor, and I was impressed how it wasn't open plan and there was a lot of doors. Three bedrooms, one was obviously nicer than the other and that was the one that had a double bed. There was then a slightly bigger room with two single beds, and then the smallest room with two single beds. The toilet and the shower room are two separate things that was slightly disappointing. I would have preferred a bigger room with the shower and the toilet, but I guess having two sinks came in handy. The toilet was slightly uncomfortable to use, whilst the shower worked well. Sharing between six of us in the morning wasn't the easiest thing in the world though.
Upon slinging our bags down in different bedrooms, it was time to investigate, and once you'd got in the rhythm of making sure everything is shut up I would like to say it was easy to stick to. On the website is listed off a long line of features for Yare Village, but well I'm not really sure how many of them existed. There was a big map on the side of reception, and we were given a smaller copy, this allowed us to locate the shop. The site shop was nothing like I was expecting, and it was actually a couple minutes walk to what was more a local shop and post office than a caravan site shop! The prices were as could be as expected as well, which made us decide to jump in the car and do some shopping at a massive 24 hour ASDA we saw on the way there.
Everytime we left Yare Village we turned right, because that's the way we knew, however at the end of the holiday when I went to check out I saw that on a piece of paper they had written down instructions saying it was quicker to turn left. Ouch. The car journey to Great Yarmouth didn't seem that long, but it's really not something you could walk. Yare Village was actually our second choice to California Cliffs, so it makes me wonder how much better/worse that location may have been. I would have loved to have been so close that we could have walked into Yarmouth, because the time we spent there was great. On our way to the ASDA we spotted multipul more shops, including a Tesco Extra, so you had the choice. By the time we returned to the caravan with all the [junk] food, it was getting on a bit so it was decided that we might as well just start drinking and see where the rest of the weekend takes us.
After finding out Shanessa and David had been evicted from Big Brother, it was time to go check out the rest of the site. Things like a pictured ballpit, the indoor swimming pool and the tennis courts seemed to be missing and I can only imagine that they must have been on the Bure Village site, because otherwise that's some false advertising. It's a bit of a trick anyway, because I don't know why anyone would want to walk from Yare to Bure to swap between indoor and outdoor pools. Likely it was nice weather anyway. The kids activity place looked like it would be good for kids, and the all weather colours didn't look as *ALL NEW* as it is listed on the site, but both places were shut on early evening. There was also a block of toilets and showers etc. for the people camping. The laundrette looked like a run down building, but I'm guessing it did work. I never entered there myself.
To gain entry to Yare Mill you have to show your passes that you are given when you check in, because there's usually about two bouncers standing on the door. I don't really understand why, as they can't get that much trouble. Eventually they begin to remember you anyway. You walk straight into the mini-arcade, which is quite small really when you consider they are trying to let you play pool there. Everytime you want to play pool you have to ask for the que's and the white ball, and in the daytime we had to put down a deposit to make sure we brought them back. There is also an air hockey table, but we're talking £1 a time for most of this so it's not the funnest places in the world. You then have steps and a slope up to the bar/restaurant area. The bar was playing Sky Sports, although most of the other flat screens in the place were playing Magic music channel (on mute). The bar was a bit busy, and if you wanted to get the comfty couch seats you'd have to get there early.
Outside of Yare Mill is a window that you can purchase food from, but we're talking £1.50 for large chips and 10p for a sachet of ketchup. It was time to investigate the chinese fish and chip shop that we'd heard so much about, and that walk felt a lot longer than I was expecting. The place was completely deserted, and not lit up very well at all, the guy tried to charge my friend 70p for a can of coke even though it was listed as 60p. We also went back the next day after 11pm, but it was shut. Something I was not expecting from a chinese, because even the McDonalds around my area are open til 3am in the morning. We decided to walk down further into the village, and we wondering if we'd see any of the village teenagers, but that was just empty as well. We didn't look too much into the village, but sadly there was no obvious signs of life or good shops. It would take a drive to get to that.
So that pretty much brings a wrap to the Friday, where we ended up falling asleep to Make My Play. I decided I wanted to sleep out on the couch, as it looked much more fun than those beds, however I got uncomfortable in the night and decided to go to the smallest bedroom where my bag was. That was a stupid decision, as the room was freezing and the bed didn't help matters. I also woke up with a bite on my chest and both my shoulders strangely, I'm not sure if that's to do with the caravan or what. I did read a review with complaints of ants in caravans, but I never saw any bugs in ours.
*** SATURDAY AFTERNOON TRAFFIC ***
Waking up at around 10am, I thought that was early. Upon getting dressed it was time to look around the site again and try to decide what to do today, and unfortunately the all weather courts seemed to be filled by some activity day for the kids. Entertainment schedules are posted up everywhere, so you can always know what's going on if you're someone that likes that catered for entertainment. In the daylight I also discovered that there was a larger bar area, and it was quite a big room with a stage. Of course it was practically empty at that time of day, but explained why so many people were going in and out of the place and it didn't seem to be filling up. I was never even really sure of what time the place closed, but I swear people were coming out of their at 2 in the morning, whilst their kids ran wild in the arcade.
The outdoor swimming pool was a bit smaller than I was expecting, and it was packed of course. There was also an outdoor pool table, but unfortunately that didn't work. And even more disappointingly, the pool slide advertised didn't even go into the pool! It's just a big slide that takes you down. We weren't going to stand around and wait for some kid to leave the pool so there was actually room to fit in, so we jumped in the car and decided to go looking around Yarmouth! Yay!
...I just realised though that I'm doing a review on the caravan site, and that is why you will have to wait for another review on my time outside of Yare Village...
Returning back after an EPIC day it was time to get drunk again, and as we were pretty much spent for cash since paying out for the holiday and the fact that taxis would cost a bomb, we spent most of this time doing it around the outside/inside of the caravan. There was room for double celebration as well, as the two other people we were expecting arrived around 8.30/9pm. When we went to look at the 'showbar' as it was called, there was a comedian going and the room was packed, but that was not something we would sit through. At the other bar it was a bit more peaceful, and at around £2.70 a pint I'm not surprised.
Still no one had showed up to the caravan next to us, so there was some expectations to who it might be, at it seemed the family on the other side of us that were there before we arrived had left. We were all alone, what would Sunday bring? Afterall, it was the last night.
*** SUNDAY, A DAY FOR NOT REMEMBERING ***
Waking up at 8am, what on earth could those screams be? Oh yes, it's the kids next to us have arrived! Considering the caravan got hot everytime we left it and had to shut everything up, of course we had the windows open at night, and that was not the welcome we wanted in the morning. I guess that just goes to show what the most of this holiday was - having to watch families, and it probably wasn't the best pick of a place to go, but I'll save that for the conclusion.
It had to be done one day, and we decided that we would check out the pool properly today - including going in it. Unfortunately all of the deckchairs were taken, mostly by people just leaving rolled up towels on them and not actually using them, which meant we just had to throw us stuff down near the side. I guess we must have had some trust for the people around us, considering we were leaving our caravan key there that has the number written on it and all our stuff inside. The pool does go from deep to shallow as you would be expecting, and it was quite fun to be out there in the sun getting a tan, although as you would expect it was quite busy and there's something unsettling about being around young kids in a pool when you remember what you may or may not have done in the pool when you were younger. There was also a really shallow pool for the younger kids separate, although that closed early. There was two lifeguards on duty at the same time.
I was dying for the toilet after a bit of swimming, and looking around it was very questionable as to where I could go! In the end I had to dry off a bit, and walk out a gate that sort of leads on to the swimming pool, and go all the way to the toilet block for the campers. That's not a very nice walk to have to take when all you want to be doing is be in a swimming pool. Whilst the swimming pool may shut fairly early (I read somewhere they offer swimming lessons), it was interesting to see that the gate seemed to be open the whole time so whilst they have two bouncers on the front anyone can walk into the back.
We couldn't not try out the mini golf as well, which was a £5 deposit (or just give your caravan keys) for clubs and balls, then £1 each. It was the same woman that checked us in though, and she kindly let us off the £1 each, although we were only given 2 clubs and 2 balls between the six of us. The mini golf was pretty god awful to be honest, and with no scorecards it was pointless. The sides of the mini golf greens were worn down so if you hit the ball at one the chances are it would bouce off and go in the bushes around the mini golf course. It took us about 10 minutes to find a ball again, and there was another family on there as well that gave us dirty looks as though we were ruining their perfect family vacation!
From there it seemed like we had maxed out the facilities, and the guy working behind the bar couldn't even tell us if they were going to show the Community Shielf game, so it was off to Yarmouth again. Returning we decided we should have one evening meal at the Yare Mill restaurant, and we decided to do a 2 main meals for £10 deal. The list of meals was quite small, but 3 of us decided to have the cheese and bacon burger, whilst the other three had the lasagne. Interestingly meals had to be ordered at the bar and paid upfront, something I have never done at a restaurant before. The service was good and so was the food. This was followed by another night of drinking, as well as meeting some new people that had just moved in that day. You don't need to know about that.
*** DIFFICULT LIKE MONDAY MORNING ***
The new neighbours really took the biscuit this next morning, waking us up at around 6am, I'm not sure what time they must have gone to bed the night before. Maybe they were trying to get back at us for something. We had to be out of there by 10am anyway, and I was looking forward to getting home, although it was slightly weird to be leaving. Whilst I might not have many responsibilities anyway, it felt like I had literally none even though I was just about 100 miles down the road.
I do feel that it would have been more fun if it was more than just the six of us, because with a bigger group we probably could have got away from the feeling that we were friends on a family holiday park. Yare Mill was incredibly disappointing, although if I was ever to visit again with a bigger group of friends I would definitly be eating there again. Every receptionist I encountered was very polite, which makes me feel slightly bad for not filling out a 'star service' form, but I never actually picked up on any of their names. The drive home seemed to be a lot quicker than the one there, even though the sat nav tried to send us round in circles! I'm glad I spent the weekend there, and I look forward to another holiday when I have money again.
NAME OF LOCATION: Breydon Water Yare Village Holiday Park, one of the Park Resorts, near Great Yarmouth.
BACKGROUND: My boyfriend Robert and I wanted to go on holiday with his best mate Richard and his girlfriend Michelle so we collected tokens from my parents Daily Express for their holiday offer.
Outdoor Pool closed whilst we were at the caravan site in October. No opening times known.
Indoor Pool (at sister park Bure Village) open Mon-Fri 9am to 10am Adults only then 10am to 4pm and 6pm to 7.15pm are open sessions, with Wednesday open session from 10am to 7.15pm. It is also open Saturdays and Sundays but we only went for a week and didnt get chance to use this facility. Please note that private swimming lessons are held between 4pm and 6pm most days and on Sundays 9am to 12pm.
There is also a mini arcade on Yare Village, which was open 11am to 8pm daily (sometimes longer).
Fish and chip shop (which I never found on the map or on the site) open Friday, Saturday and Mondays only between 5pm and 8pm. This could have been on the Bure Village site
We thought there should have been a little shop on the site but we didnt find it and this too may have been on the sister site, which we didnt get chance to explore due to other attractions off site.
Waterside Bar and restaurant open 5pm to late Monday to Friday but on our first visit there it shut at 9.30pm, which I dont count as late. This was a nice quiet bar with a few arcade games (sport mainly), a pool table (at a £1 a go) and a large screen which had a music channel on it one night and football another. We did not use the restaurant as we had taken our own food.
Show bar open from 6pm until later for all evening entertainment. We went the first week of October which unfortunately happened to coincide with Finals Week where the winners of each talent show, dart competition, etc return for the Grand Finale to judge the ultimate winner in each class. As Richard was not interested in watching these talent shows, we did not visit the show bar much during our visit. Robert did see part of the entertainment show that followed one of the talent competitions but then sullied my evening by being ill (too much drink!).
There was bingo from 7pm but I never took part in this, as we were usually still having our evening meal or getting ready to go to the Waterside Bar.
Crazy golf, tennis courts and a five a side pitch with basket ball arena for the children were available as well as a childrens play area but unsure if any carried an additional cost as we didnt have any children with us, to utilise these facilities. There was a post office, launderette, soft playroom, hire shop, and shower block for the tourers on site. The map was very useful and reception staff were very helpful in giving directions to the caravan and to Great Yarmouth itself. They also helped Richard find a model shop for his radio controlled Monster truck!
TRANSPORT: We used our own cars to travel down to Great Yarmouth and there was just enough space outside our caravan to park both vehicles. We needed our cars, as we were not in walking distance of any local attractions and we even drove as far as Potter Heigham and Wroxham one day.
It cost £9.50 per person for a caravan holiday in low seasons Mar-May or September-November. We chose 4 holiday parks and 4 dates giving our first, second etc choices for both. We chose our holiday parks all in the Great Yarmouth area and got our first choice holiday park and first choice of dates with a free service charge week i.e. we didnt have to pay extra for gas/electricity. We were charged for entertainment passes £3 each and linen charge (sheets/pillow cases) £2.50 each.
This came to a total of £60 for the four of us (not including petrol/diesel or food).
The site offers Bronze, Silver or Gold caravans and I am unsure what we got, due to our offer. However, the Daily Mirror (October 7th) states that half term week prices for 2 nights starting October 28 2006, are £99 at Breydon Water based on a Bronze 2 bedroom caravan accommodation, which sleeps up to 6 people.
The company offers 2, 3, 4 and 7 night self catering holidays in caravans, chalets and lodges and there is a Sparkys Krew a childrens club for 5-11 year olds and for teens, The Mix is available at selected parks.
1. Very helpful staff
2. Clean caravan, with a microwave, gas cooker with electric ignition and 3 bedrooms (1 double bedroom, 1 twin bedroom, 1 with a single bed and bunk bed) and the option of making a bed up in the living room i.e. an 8 berth caravan).
3. Duvets were provided for each bed
4. Two bars to choose from one to get away from the children
5. Near to a Roman fort and is actually within walking distance from the caravan site.
6. The Redwings Horse sanctuary is a short ride away along Beccles Road and is free admission.
1. Although the caravan was clean, someone had left a bag of rubbish outside the caravan door and it had split open, which we needed to move.
2. The shop and other useful faculties we may have required were not on our site. However, this is balanced by the fact that our site had all the entertainment facilities so we didnt have to walk down in the dark to them.
Go home and plan where to go next year!
MORE INFORMATION FROM
Breydon Water Holiday Park, Burgh Castle, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk NR31 9QB (Tel 01493 780357). Park Resorts Tel:0871 200 6200 or visit park-resorts.com
Directions: from Gt Yarmouth on the A12 towards Lowestoft go straight over 2 roundabouts, then take the exit sign-posted Burgh Castle. At the bottom of the slip road get in right hand lane and turn right at the lights (signposted Diss and Beccles). Continue on Beccles Road for 1.5miles and after 100 metres on the dual carriageway turn right (signposted Burgh Castle and Belton). At the mini roundabout turn right onto Stepshort, continuing on this road and Bure Village (the sister park to Yare Village) is on the right, continue on for a further 600 metres and Yare Village is on the left and is the last holiday park on Butt lane.
Once you have got your bearings it is easier to get to Gt Yarmouth by turning left onto Butt Lane, then right onto High Road, follow it round a sharp right hand bend and then turn left onto Market Road. At the roundabout (where the cheapest petrol/diesel station we found), turn left onto Gapton Hall Lane, then follow the A12 to Great Yarmouth and/or follow signs for Town centre or Sea front.