Nothing annoys parents more than expensive school holidays, prices inflated by companies looking to cash in because kids can only go away in the school holidays. Prices can rise as much as 200% for a decent foreign break in half-term. But parents have simply had enough and an increasing number are going away in school time, which the school has to fine them up to £150 a week. It’s a no brainer to go away in term time as the mark up for half term holidays abroad is six times that £150 pound fine. There is a threat of prison for non payment of the fine and attendance issues but only three people have been jailed in the ten years the fine has been present.
The fact the fine is generally all that happens means the parents will pay it and off the kids go on holiday. Middle-class kids are going to catch up any lost school work and their parents are going to have no problem paying the fine. One rather wealthy parent got so wound up about having to pay the fine he unleashed his lawyers and overturned the ruling, claiming he was fore filling his education needs under the current law. The idea of enforcing the law is to stop everyone taking term time off but our rich chap didn’t care about that. Someone has taken £150 pound of him and he wasn’t having it.
Another side of this is more worrying as the schools are getting used to the parent spaying the fines and using it in their budgets as the Tories cut and cut. So expensive are the holidays in term time even the white-collar classes are bulking at paying them now. The travel agents have noticed this trend and so moving away from family holidays. So many parents in some areas are taking kids out of school that it’s driving up term time prices on the winter beach breaks. I would not put it past the Tories to put up this fine to £200 as it’s now quite lucrative. But for me I do feel middle-class parents have every right to take their kids out of school as they will catch up missed work and they will still achieve in school. Education is everything to the middle-classes and they have every right to give their kids a full life. I don’t see the same schools fining chav's who truant every other week. Why, because they wont pay?
TRECCO BAY COUNCIL ESTATE, DONT GO THERE!!! THEY MAY HAVE SPENT MONEY ON THE SIGHT BUT THEY CANT CHANGE THE PEOPLE OR THE TOWN, IT WAS A HORRIBLE RAINY WEEK IN A HORRIBLE PLACE.
As our main holiday last year was Portugal in September, we needed a little something to be going on with before then. We wanted something inexpensive and not too far afield, so when the Warner's newsletter popped into my E mailbox in January last year advertising a weekend of sixties music complete with star guests, I thought, "That'll do me." It's about time we sampled the Great British Holiday again.
This two night break was advertised at £99 per person half board and as Corton is near Lowestoft in Suffolk, it's quite close to where we live so no travel expense either. So I duly booked on-line and received a £5 discount. We were to go on Friday 15th April and return on Sunday 17th. The entertainment advertised was Jethro, Susan Maughan (Bobby's Girl) and The Firebirds.
Warners is an "adults only" holiday resort with places dotted all over the UK and a couple in the Isle of Wight. Some of their complexes are in huge manor house hotels and some are in smaller chalets clustered around central buildings housing the entertainment, dining rooms, bars etc. Sam and I visited the Isle of Wight resort at Norton Grange last year and were pleasantly surprised. They cater very well for disabled guests and we have found that the majority of holidaymakers are over 50. The larger the resort the more activities on offer.
So, we were were raring to go and when we received a phone call from Warners the week before, to check that we were still coming, I asked about booking in times. We were told that we could book into our room at 3:30pm but could use the facilities from 12 noon. (Apparently if you had a premiere room you could book in at 1:30pm. Premiere rooms cost extra.)
Unfortunately, after quite a good week weather wise, the heavens opened and we arrived at Corton around 12 noon in pouring rain and overcast skies. Never mind, we could have a drink in the bar and relax. The complex is quite small and we drove into the main entrance and parked among a dozen other cars. The girl on Reception told me curtly that they opened at 12:30, so we wandered over to the small coffee shop in which waited several other old wrinklies with their coats on, sipping coffee. It wasn't a very warm or friendly atmosphere so we decided to head for the bar, which was a few yards away in the same building.
Although it was past 12:00, the bar hadn't opened yet, so we sat in one of the many clusters of armchairs and surveyed what appeared to be the dining area/stage/cabaret/ dancing area.The dining tables were laid for dinner and surrounded the stage area and dance floor. Some of the young resident entertainers were on the dance floor, rehearsing for the evening cabaret. We finally managed to buy a drink when the bar opened at 12:15, not getting much change from £6 for a pint of beer and a pint of cider. I tried to book in at Reception again and this time I was successful. Along with the key to our room, a map of the (small) resort and a list of meal and entertainment times, we received a voucher each for a free cup of coffee. We were disappointed to see that breakfast started as late as 8:30 am the next morning and 9:00 Sunday morning! Dinner was at 7:30pm. Oh, well, we could look forward to the wonderful cuisine.
Then came the first bombshell.........Jethro had moved from Saturday evening to Sunday evening! We would miss him completely. Busy bemoaning this , we missed the posting on the noticeboard that said a member of the Firebirds was ill and they had been cancelled completely! There was, however, a substitute band, The Earl Jackson Band. Hmmmm. Meanwhile the rain poured down and the bowling green, tennis courts, pitch and putt and giant chess game outside got soggier and soggier. We amused ourselves by watching some workmen carrying shower stalls and toilets into one of the chalets, getting soaked themselves.
"Let's explore" I suggested, "there's bound to be more to it than this", so we made our way up some stairs past a small swimming pool(closed for lunch) and ended up in a room containing two snooker tables, a small ten-pin type bowling alley, that you had to buy tokens for, and a dartboard. We had a game of snooker although the pink ball was pale grey and the brown ball was pale khaki. There weren't any complicated pieces of equipment like spiders or rests. After Sam beat me, as usual, we wandered into the little souvenir shop which sold an array of goods from toothpaste, biscuits and newspapers, to mugs and soft toys. We bought magazines and I bought some real liquorice. The rain didn't stop and by the time we could go to our chalet, at 3:00pm as it turned out, we were feeling quite chilled.
Our chalet was an upstairs one and this surprised us as we had assumed for some strange reason that all the chalets would be at ground level There were six sets of 16 chalets in a semi circle around the main complex, with 8 upstairs and 8 downstairs. We parked our car outside the set near the main road (Oh no, traffic noise at night!) and carried our cases up the wooden stairs to our chalet which is basically just a large room. This was clean with a very large double bed, plenty of wardrobe and cupboard space,an en suite bath/shower/toilet, tea/coffee making facilities and a TV. Oh, yes, and a heater which we turned on at once. This turned out to be handy for drying trousers and jackets wet from the rain. Last year we'd paid extra (£6 per day I think) for an upgraded room which was a little bigger and included a bowl of fruit, a small decanter of sherry and a small box of Belgian chocs.
We both had a bath to warm up and rested until time to get tarted up for dinner. We walked the short distance to the main building and took our seats at the table for two, number 6, which had been assigned to us. There wasn't much space between the tables and the tables were very small, so that we felt somewhat jam-packed. Our neighbours informed us that this table would be ours for the evening entertainment also. I don't know how we would have known this otherwise.
We have had very pleasant experience of the Warner cuisine, but here we were disappointed. The menu was not terrifically exciting, although there were the usual three courses. I had a small Italian Panini with a piece of lettuce for my starter, and a cold meat platter for the main course. This consisted of a piece of quiche and a couple of slices of turkey. I helped myself to the small selection at the salad bar. Sam had the carvery which was lamb. He found the vegetables overcooked and soggy. I had a small peach flavoured cheesecake for dessert. Our previous meals at Norton Grange had been excellent, so this was a huge let-down.
After the meal there was a single game of Bingo, then music from the resident band, who were very good. We drank double vodka/lemonade, double rum/coke at £8.00 a round. Couples, including us, danced smoochily or energetically depending on the particular 50s or 60s music being played. At 10:15pm Susan Maughan appeared complete with sparkley dress and blonde wig.Her personality sparkled as much as her dress and this was by far the highlight of the night, and indeed, the whole weekend. She was very professional, friendly and polished and we enjoyed this part of the evening immensely.She laughed and joked with the audience and sang many 60s songs, often off the cuff, without music. We left after her performance, around 11:30 although the resident band continued to play for those who wished to dance. Thank goodness the rain had stopped and we both slept well, with no interruptions from the traffic noises that we had expected. The bed was very comfortable indeed and the room was warm and cosy.
Breakfast was much better than dinner, with a "help yourself" style "Full English" or kippers, boiled eggs, waffles, yoghurt, fruit, cereal etc etc, along with as much toast and tea/coffee/fruit juice as you could handle. We ate so much we did not envisage needing lunch at all!
As we were close to Lowestoft we decided to spend the day there rather than enjoy the table of daily activities which included Quizocche, (a combination of quiz and darts), line dancing instruction, pool competition, horseshoe hurling, etc. You have to be in the mood for this sort of communal activity, and we weren't feeling silly enough or high-spirited enough. We enjoyed the trip to Lowestoft (did some clothes shopping!) and Wroxham Barns and returned in time for dinner.
Unfortunately, I had misread the leaflet giving the meal times and we very nearly missed dinner as it had started at 6:30 this evening. We duly arrived at 7:15 for 7:30 and ate as quickly as we could. The salad bar had already been packed away, but to give them their due, when I asked for salad, I was brought a huge plate full of everything available. I left most of it! The meal was so unmemorable, I can't recall what we ate.
We played the evening Bingo game as the single prize was over £100 so worth winning......unfortunately we didn't. There was a presentation next for the winners of the various games and contests and then taped 60s music was played while people danced. I thought that the quality of this music was atrocious, and it was a repeat of the tape played the previous evening as a "fill-in" between live acts.
At 10pm or thereabouts, the substitute band, The Earl Jackson band, started. To say that they were loud would be an understatement. Remember that most of the audience were of retirement age. This band consisted of a young Chuck Berry lookalike complete with low slung guitar and long red coat, a drummer, double bass player and saxophonist. The vocalist kept adjusting the controls on his equipment but this seemed to make it even louder. People started moving away from the dance floor, where they had set up their equipment, and quite a few people left the building altogether. After a while we had to admit defeat and also left. I had been looking forward to 60s music, but this wasn't anything I recognised.
The following morning, after breakfast, we packed and left. The compere had been quick to tell everyone the previous evening that they had to be out of their rooms by 10am, and as breakfast was at 9, it didn't leave much leeway. We could have booked and paid extra for a Sunday lunch with cabaret, but we passed on this. We could have paid extra and stayed Sunday night to see Jethro, but as some of the other residents had informed us that they booked last week and got three nights for £75.00 each, it would have been the last straw, after paying over £90 each for two nights, to have to pay even more just to see the performer we had originally booked to see!
All together the most disappointing weekend break we have ever had, and just like the "holiday camp" regime of old that we had dreaded the first time we tried Warners. I'd say this may be the cheapest Warner resort, but it feels like it!
Although we vowed never to return, I was once more tempted by an E mailed newsletter advertising the wonderful Chas 'n Dave performing at Corton over the weekend of 22/23rd September this year. (The phrase "glutton for punishment" springs to mind.) Still, it was my 59th birthday on 23rd September so I booked us a 2 day break for £206 which included an internet discount of £30.
We arrived on Friday 22nd in torrential rain again.....what?
This time our chalet was on the ground floor. No change to the style or comfort level but the weather was warm so we didn't need the heater this time.
The published entertainment for Friday night was cancelled and a substitute comedian and band performed. The comedian, John Cassidy, was hilarious, our table was on the dance floor close to the entertainment and we sat next to a couple who were excellent company...she danced with me to all the 60s music (Sam will only do the smoochy ones nowadays!) so we had a great evening.
The evening meals weres as unexciting as before but adequate. The breakfast were as good as before.
We went shopping in Lowestoft again on Saturday and prepared for the main event. I arranged a "charge card" for our drinks as I suspected that I'd been overcharged on Friday evening.
After dinner we listened to a mediocre performance by an unknown band and, as on the Friday night, the room became uncomfortably hot. (Perhaps to increase the drink sales!)
Chas 'n Dave started performing at 10:15pm and ended at 11:30pm. Short but very, very sweet. Our table had been decorated with balloons, chocs, party poppers etc (costing £9.95)for my birthday and I had a request played by the performers. We were close enough for Dave to speak to us and personally wish me "Happy Birthday baby". He also posed for our camcorder whenever we were recording. After the performance, he came over and presented me with his plectrum as a memento. He later gave me a kiss and a cuddle also recorded by Sam on our new camcorder.
So, the evening was a resounding success thanks to Chas 'n Dave...........and, yes, their musical performance was great too!!
We had a wonderful time and I had a wonderful birthday, but I consider that this happened despite, not because of, the efforts of Warners.
We won't go back to Corton and only went this time to see Chas 'n Dave. I'm still waiting to see what Warners intend to do about the blatant overcharging on drinks on the Friday evening.
Chas 'n Dave definitely recommended........Warners Corton definitely not, though Warners elsewhere in Britain seems to be vastly superior to this resort.
British holidays are expensive. If they are cheap, they are inferior.
Thanks for reading.
I wonder how many people remember as I do the Great British Holiday? Ive put it in capitals because at one time travel abroad was limited to the middle classes and above. There was such a tradition about the British seaside at one time many years before I was born when all classes of people stayed in guesthouses or hotels leading to the wonderful Victorian architecture that some seaside resorts still boast today. I was born in 1952 and still remember when some resorts had their traditional pier for the ladies and gentlemen to stroll along but alas these are now crumbling as more and more people take their holidays abroad.
I had my very first holiday when I was ten years old at a little place called Newton just a few miles from Porthcawl. In those days it had a big sprawling campsite called Trecco bay where the miners spent their two weeks annual holiday. Nowadays its been updated and is a very popular site for people from the Midlands to visit.
The caravans themselves were tiny, cramped and lit by Calor gas with the site amenities being Spartan to say the least. Still, there was a certain charm about those holidays that remained in my mind long after I started to take holidays abroad.
So about twelve years ago when the Daily newspapers started to offer cheap caravan holidays in Britain my friend Ann and me decided to try one out. Our first trip was to North Wales where we stayed at a Pontin's site. We enjoyed the five-day break but the chalets had hardly been updated since the sixties so for our next years holiday we tried for an off peak holiday in Cumbria called Lakeland, a British Holidays site. It was my first caravan holiday for about ten years and I was amazed at the difference in the quality of the site itself and the caravan.
Lakeland is situated near Grange-over-sands in an ideal position to tour the Lake District. We had booked a ten-day stay in September for about £120 for the accommodation booking our leisure passes in advance, which made a saving of £2 per person. For this we had unlimited access to the clubs, the swimming pool and some of the outdoor activities that were still open. The park was clean and well laid out with plenty of space to park the car next to the caravan. Ann was then partially disabled so the flat surfaces were ideal for her. The town itself was charming and we spent our first full day there just getting used to the place and recovering from our long journey (we both live in South Wales).
Our trips took us to Lake Windermere where we spent part of the day looking around the town and towards evening we went on a cruise around the lake watching the sunset cast its magic over the lake and dapple it with a warm red glow.
Arriving back at the caravan it was a bit cold so we put fire on and decided on a take-away meal for that night. One thing that did surprise us was that our modest 4 star caravan had been updated to the Gold Olympic, as it was easier for the staff to keep one section fully booked up than to open up different caravans here and there on the site. Our luxury caravan had two double beds and a bunk room, all the linen including warm duvets were supplied free of charge. We had a full stove and a microwave, a shower with a toilet and a separate toilet. Our colour TV, hairdryer socket, lighted make-up mirrors and full sized wardrobes were like home from home, we even had some knick-knacks scattered around and a drawer full of leaflets to plan our trips.
The weather stayed fine so we went out on a dinghy on one of the lakes, had a picnic lunch by the lake and then bought some incredible food in Kendal for a special treat. Pheasant in a rich sauce, real round Cumberland sausages, meaty pies and succulent desserts.
Most nights we were too tired to go to the club so micro waved our food and shared a bottle of wine. The day before we left we played bowls on the campsite green and bought some souvenirs in the village. That night the club were hosting a sixties/seventies night so we treated ourselves to a steak meal and enjoyed the show.
It came as a surprise in the following January when we got the British Holidays brochure sent direct to both of us with a letter saying we had accumulated bonus points towards our next holiday. The offers were really good as well, take one week in April our May and get a week in September at half-price. Or use our bonus points, pay a deposit by February and get two weeks in September for the price of one with an automatic upgrade to a gold status caravan.
Over the next few years we had holidays at most of the sites in the brochure, two weeks in Scotland, a week in Tenby, Poole in Dorset, Blackpool, Great Yarmouth, Burnham-on sea and finally two weeks at Quay West in Newquay , Pembrokshire.
This was to be our final real holiday as Anns health was then declining rapidly with ME. We always chose out of the main season, as Ann couldnt cope with the heat and having a lot of children around her. By now she was beginning to use an arm crutch and it made her feel self-conscious. The added advantage of going early or late in the year was that we always got an upgrade on our caravan saving us a lot of money and allowing Ann to have a double bed to herself.
Quay West was a wonderful site but it was a bit hilly for Ann especially as she requested a sea-view this time. Also we had asked about disabled parking before we booked so she was allowed to park anywhere on the site as long as she wasnt obstructing any other drivers access. This was a godsend as the campsite is large and getting to the chip shop took too much walking. For the first time we had a beach we could walk to, it was a bit steep but only 200 yards away so we did spend a fair amount of time on the beach itself.
Newquay is situated on Cardigan Bay and is home to the bottle nosed dolphins but we only caught a brief glimpse of them now and again. You can take a boat trip but knowing that Ann was tiring quickly we didnt make the trip this time.
There is so much to see and do around this area and we wanted to do as much as we could. For Ann this was tiring but still we did we did our usual things. Both of us loved to find little deserted beaches and there are plenty in this area to find. We both wanted to do the railway trip to Devils Bridge a steep gorge in the hillside with wonderful waterfalls and the famous Devils Cauldron. Against my advice Ann tried the steep walk down and I had to run back quickly to ask the railway driver to wait for her, fortunately the other passengers were great sports and cheered her as she slowly made her way to the train.
In between trips we pottered around Newquay visiting the tiny craft shops and eating enormous portions of fish and chips sat on the sea wall. Sometimes we visited the club for a meal and a show other times we had a leisurely swim in the indoor pool.
Once we spent a whole day at Cenarth Falls supposed to be one of the most breathtaking sights in Wales although it doesnt quite have the grandeur of Swallow Falls in North Wales.
But the highlight of our holiday was the wonderful atmosphere of this site, its quiet but still has plenty to do and the beach is clean and clear. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, the club is never too noisy and the caravans are clean and fully equipped to make your stay as relaxed as possible. Each night we slept to the sound of the sea as it washed up on the beach gently lulling us into sleep. One lovely evening we sat outside the caravan and read our books just chilling out with a snack and a glass of chilled wine.
Newquay is very much a resort for families, older people and single people like us to use as a base for touring or just relaxing. There are some nice restaurants in the local town but not much nightlife. So far I have given you my own experience but there is plenty of things for families to enjoy. Oakwood Theme Park is Wales largest theme park with Europes largest wooden roller coaster. Children will love the railways that abound in this area and parents can relax knowing that the children are in safe hands with British Holidays full programme of entertainment for kids of all ages.
For nearly ten years I have enjoyed staying at the various sites this company has to offer knowing that the accommodation is the best you can find all over the country. Its rare to find a company that caters for all age groups and it will come as no surprise to find that many sites have residents living here for most of the year.
I could say a lot more about the facilities and the fun and games in offer but you can easily pick up a brochure to read about it, what I am giving is first-hand experience from a single womans point of view, if I can happily share a caravan site with families then so can you.
I had my brochure in January of this year even though I havent had a holiday with them for many years now. If I had booked a holiday before 28th February 2005 I could have chosen any of the special offers.
One was 50% off selected sites (14 in all), on top of this you can get further discounts for special dates, 10% off the total if one of your party is over 55, Whit sun specials and many more. Paying a deposit on booking or paying the full price gives you an Early Bird offer of up to £120 off a weeks holiday. Other offers include 10% discount with National Express and low cost cover for a one-off Car breakdown and recovery.
Want to save money on boarding kennels? Some sites allow you to have pets for an additional charge, guide dogs are accepted free of charge. Disabled accommodation can also be arranged even for wheelchair users just ring up and learn more.
British Holidays have just teamed up with Haven Holidays giving you even more choice of sites. Missed out on the bargains? Look again; visit www.british-holidays.co.uk for last minute bargains.
Would I recommend them?
Without a shadow of a doubt. Forget the offers in the papers, most of them are run by either British Holidays or Pontins and I know which one I would choose. Forget about trying to get your chosen site or dates visit the web site or order a brochure, the newspaper promotion is to get you interested, I did a quick check one year and found the prices almost identical. Still not sure? Ill give you an example from my own brochure but bear it in mind that had I booked before the date I mentioned the price would be 50% less.
20th May to 26th May, 7 nights at £176 for a 3 star caravan sleeping six. Bronze Olympic 3 bedroom sleeping 8 £206. Three star accommodations allow you to bring your pet and bring or hire your own linen. Bronze Olympic also welcomes pets offers 20% more space than the three stars includes linen and a microwave oven. All caravans include all gas and electricity fees, vat and each has a shower room/WC, colour TV, Gas fire, and fridge, pillows and duvets, fully equipped kitchen.
Many families still prefer to go abroad but children really love the change of sleeping in a caravan. Take away the stress of long queues and aeroplane flights, the heat, the noise, upset tums from foreign food and the beauty of our own country and you have a recipe for a happy holiday.
My review is meant as a taster introduction to British Holidays, rather than concentrating on one particular site. For that reason I havent given details of all the clubs for children and the organised activities, but it was a pleasure to see the children running about, playing on the climbing apparatus, acting as children with hardly a computer game in sight. Maybe Im old-fashioned but I like to see them enjoying outdoor activities.
Thanks for reading.
Its around this time of year when I begin to think about booking a holiday and the type of holidays I prefer are the self catering kind.
I dont like to be in a hotel or bed and breakfast place where you have to be in at certain times for the set meals, after all you might want to visit other places and stay out for your meals or pack a picnic and sit by the beach, but when you have paid for one or two weeks full or half board somewhere or for bed and breakfast you feel obliged to get your moneys worth.
So, to avoid all this hassle I like to book a week or two in a caravan at one of the Park Resorts.
The Park resorts are situated around the coastline of British Isles. There are twenty three parks to chose from depending on how far you want to travel and which areas youd like to holiday at.
I have been to two in Wales and the one in Devon, my next venture is to the Isle of Wight as I have always fancied a holiday there.
The areas you can choose from are:-
Scotland - Sandylands
Yorkshire and the North East - Sandy Bay, Whitley Bay, Cayton Bay and Barmston Beach.
East Anglia - Heacham Beach, California Cliffs, Breydon Water, Kessingland Beach, Naze Marine, Highfield and valley Farm.
Kent and Sussex - Ashcroft Coast, Shurland Dale, Romney sands and Camber Sands.
Isle of Wight - Lower Hyde, Nodes Point and Thorness bay.
Devon - Bideford Bay.
Wales - Carmarthen Bay, Brynowen and Ty Mawr.
At the parks you will find a good choice of prices, caravans, bungalows, apartments and chalets as well as good entertainment for both adults and children. All are near the beach and even if your self catering there are shops and cafés on most of the parks for eating out or buying in.
With the situation of most of them by the local town its easy to pop out for meals and there are bars onsite if you want to relax at the evening.
There is a good choice of accommodation to suit all pockets, Im not loaded and have been able to afford both caravan and chalet at different times of the year as I like to get away both at summer and in the winter months to break up the dark nights of winter. It never seems as long then if you have a short break.
The accommodation available is split into four categories, gold, silver, bronze and value. I usually go for the silver as I find it is adequate for our family and is also still in the reasonable price range for my pocket. In the winter months when the rates are cheaper we go for gold, but to be honest the silver accommodation is of a good standard.
In all the accommodations grades you get a free electricity and gas and you also get the bed linen too but if like me youre a bit fuzzy about sleeping on strange bedclothes then you can just chuck your quilts into the car before you set off.
All the cutlery and crockery , pots and pans are in with the price and you have a fridge and microwave too.
In the bathroom there is a toilet, either a bath or a shower but usually the more expensive grades have the showers, but as long as you can have a bath who cares. You can hire cots for the babies and in some grades pets are allowed. Youll have to check with the park your interested in to find out if they take pets. Most do.
In a typical silver caravan you can book a three or two bed roomed caravan sleeps 6 to 8, there are also two bedroomed chalets on the parks in the Isle of Wight and Devon and there is also two bed roomed apartments at Carmarthen Bay.
They do have bungalows at Camber Sands if you prefer this kind of accommodation. All these are in the silver grade and also available in the other grades at different parks.
You can get a brochure from your local travel agent to find out who has what or you can log onto www.park-resorts.com its a great web site for having a look at the parks, accommodation and what entertainment is available, as well as being able to book online and look at the resent offers.
Its always a worry taking small kids on holiday, you think about if they will get bored and what they can do on a caravan site and its good to know that on the park resorts they will find plenty to get involved with and the chance to meet other kids their age, as well as giving you a bit of peace and quiet to enjoy your own space whilst on holiday.
The Sparky Krew is for kids aged between five and eleven and they can take part in fun and games, competitions, sports as well as watching special shows.
For the kids aged 12 to 16 theres more great entertainment on offer, I think its this age group which get bored the easiest but at the park resorts they can join the Mix. The mix is a place where kids of this age can hang out, make music, do stage work, or join in any of the other activities on offer, from swimming competitions to table tennis and darts.
Some of the parks have sports facilities and there you can take part in the aqua fun, this is where you can join in with snorkelling and scuba fun, as well as getting involved in other sports like soccer, archery, five aside football, fencing, darts and pool.
For those of you who love the night life there is dancing, stage shows with magicians, cabaret and comedians. Again you can check the brochure or online to see which entertainment is available at which park resort.
The prices vary from grades of caravans, chalets apartments and bungalows, as well as from which time of year you book.
I like to take my holidays when its not so busy so here is a typical time and pricing for what I would pay.
We go on holiday with myself , my husband and my daughter and one of her friends. Being the last child at home we always pay for a friend to come with us as she gets bored on her own and likes the freedom to go out with her mate instead of tagging along with us. Not to mention we also get some chill time on our own.
So, we usually book a silver category caravan which sleeps up to six people.
The price for a holiday in mid June would be £237 to £246
A holiday in May would cost £166.
One in October would cost us £166.
Which for four adults with electric, gas and all the equipment thrown in is very reasonable. As well as a summer holiday we also book one in October.
This is for the park resort at Brynowen in Wales and other parks are slightly dearer and others are the same price.
Again you have to check the brochure or online if your interested.
This is easy you can either book online and check the availability of the dates you want to go on holiday, or you can ring the park direct and book over the phone. You can pay by credit card or cheque and you can even spread the cost of your payments over the year by paying instalments through the paypoint scheme. Youll have to ring for advice on how to do this way as Im not sure.
They also accept leisure vouchers as part payment and you have to leave a deposit of £40 to secure your chosen holiday.
The balance has to be paid eight weeks before you due to arrive, you can of course pay in full when you ring up or go online.
I prefer to do this then I know my holiday is booked and can then relax and look forward to going.
If you go to the Isle of Wight they pay for your ferry and you have to pick up your tickets at the ferry port 30 minutes before departure.
WHAT I THINK
I love the choice of resorts and the way they are situated near the beach, I like the freedom to come and go as I please and love the way I dont have to worry about the kids getting bored.
We just pack a bag each and put it in the car the night before setting off, get up in the morning make a few sandwiches and a flask, pack the toiletries and throw in the quilts, then set off down the road.
Quick, easy and stress free. All you have to do is collect your key from the office when you arrive and unpack, chill out with a brew before shopping for the week, then begin to enjoy the holiday.
Meals when you want or meals out, entertainment on resort or laying on the beach, or in the local town, sightseeing in the area and kids not bored or tagging around you, I love it.
The parks are clean and the staff are friendly, booking is easy both online and over the phone.
You can even take your own caravan at a cheaper price rate.
Id recommend one of these holidays to you.
Having spent time visiting Turkey, Rhodes, Thailand and Jamaica before children my husband and I decided that for a child friendly holiday nothing could compare to the good old English holiday park.
When our eldest daughter was only 2 we took her to Butlins but have to be honest due to premature arrival of twin daughters the holiday was a bit of a wash out. We also found Butlins to be very regimental. They organised teh same entertainment on Saturday as maybe Tuesday to ensure that Monday arrivals saw the same as Friday arrivals - as Butlins does cater for shorter breaks.
When looking for a holiday earlier this year, we discussed the possibility of going abroad as the holidays are so much cheaper but then thought about all the downsides. None of the children has a passport - we would have to take a double buggy, as not many resorts cater for twins, the suitcases (of which we could only have had 2 for 5 people) would have been full of nappies, changes of clothing, suncream, sun hats, colouring books, books, crayons etc. There are also no guarantees that the children would have beenable to cope with the temperatures as they are all blonde and fair skinned, and would they have liked the food - they do not have a problem with food tehy eat everything - that is the problem.
Therefore after much debate we decided to settle for a holiday in the UK.
Looking through the brochures for Pontins, Butlins, Haven we finally found British Holidays ( a partner of Haven). My husband would admit that he has not been a great fan of caravan parks but then this holiday was for the children and not for us. So after much deliberating we decided on the holiday park at Burnham on Sea, Somerset as it is an area of the country we have not visited and there was plenty to do nearby.
This holiday park is set around a lovely fishing lake in beautiful landscaped gardens, close to a wide sandy beach.
CHECK - IN
Its essential to carry your confirmation with you, as you will not be able to get into teh park without showing the documentation at the gate. The check-in times vary depending on the accommodation you have booked ranging from 1.30pm - 4.00pm. Having a large family does have its advantages as we had to have larger accommodation which meant we were 1.30pm arrivals and the queues were not too bad. Once checked - in you receive a map of the park, key to your caravan and are directed to linen where you collect the pre-ordered cot sides, and linen needed.
At British Holidays, the caravans are divided into 3 different categories:
Older model 10ft wide caravans, basic mod-cons but in some parks you can take you pet with you if you book these caravans.
Top of the range 10ft wide newer caravans - no pets, but with these you get your linen included.
20% bigger than the star range and includes a microwave oven and is furnished to a higher standard.
20% bigger than the star range and includes a microwave oven and is furnished to a superior standard
20% bigger than the star range and includes a microwave oven and television and is furnished with top of the range fixtures and fittings, these caravans are no more than 3 years old they all have heating in the bedrooms and bathrooms.
WHAT IS INCLUDED:
All caravans have a colour TV and gas cooker and fire, fridge, cutlery, utensils and glasses, which were all reasonably new and clean. Theres also a small shower room with toilet. Our carvan had three bedrooms each with a wardrobe and the main bedroom also had a dressing table.
Then second and third bedroom had twin beds. Theres also a sofa bed in the lounge, so a 2-bed caravan can actually sleep 8 people! There are also two entrances, so if you have someone sleeping in the living room, you can come in through the back entrance without disturbing them.
Convenience store and Gift Shop This sells groceries (canned goods, bread, frozen foods, newspapers, toiletries, alcohol, cigarettes) It wasnt expensive, very handy for essentials but would suggest you visit a larger supermarket for your larger shop. The Gift Shop was full of Haven ornaments, cuddly toys, confectionery etc. The shop opened early enough in teh morning to be able to get milk for cereal and a newspaper.
On site Day time entertainment
Paws Club for 1 - 4 year olds. Musical instruments, wet play, painting, messy time, games all aimed at children aged 1 - 4.
Rory and Bradley's Funtime for 5 -11 year olds. Competitions, arts and crafts, sports, musical fun time, arts and crafts.
T-Co for 12 - 16+. American Pro sports, air hockey, amusements, discos, water sports etc.
If you don't want to join in the clubs you could go swimming in either of the two pools - one is outside. The heated indoor pool has a waterslide.
Take up the Pro Football challenge, rent a bike or pedal go kart around the park., play tennis, go to the childrens play area, take a football and play on the all weather sports court, walk through the nature reserve or go bowling.
All the entertainment took place in the Entertainment complex right in the middle of the park. Theres something going on all the time, so it is useful to keep your whats on when pack with you. Whether it was wrestling, circus acts, childrens pantomimes or comedians their was something for all age groups. There are gaps however between the daytime events and evening events to gibve you time to return to you caravan for meals. Remember to get back early if you want to ensure that you get a good seat as the complex soon gets full. Bingo is played most nights and is quite reasonably priced. Theres also cabaret, discos and various acts. One night was an outside stage group who performed Aladdin for the children in the afternoon and then a different sho in the evening. The entertainment overall was very good.
Each evening starts with the bingo followed by the kids party with cheesy dance tunes before Bradley bedtime although children do not have to retire themselves. It is not unsual for children to be wandering around at 10pm in the evening.
PLACES TO EAT
There is a restaurant which serves all meals from roasts to snacks but we catered for ourselves each day to keep the costs down. We did however visit the fish and chip shop a couple of times after leaving the entertainment complex at 11.00pm.
Although we had an all inclusive fee for our holiday some caravans have to pay an optional fee for their entertainent passes. WIthout these you can not use the pool, bars, restaurant etc. there is also an extra fee for lauderette, ten pin bowling, amusement arcades etc.
All in all, we had a great time. The children had a memorable holiday which they still talk about today and yes we have booked for 2005. This time we are going to Thorpe Park, Lincolnshire as it is nearer to our home. We never left the site all holiday so the need for outside entertainment is not necessary. We may however venture into the theme park next door if the weather is OK.
This Summer I have mainly been...Working at a holiday park! Yes indeedy if anyone has been wondering where old Weasey has been then you?ll be pleased to know that she was in fact whiling away those glorious summer days as a lifeguard at a holiday park in North Wales! Greenacres Holiday Park was in fact established more than 30 years ago by Mr Graham Bourne. Who I hear you cry? Only the founder of the multi-billion pound corporation "Bourne Leisure". Once again who I hear you cry? Only the company that owns the likes of Butlins, Haven, Warner and British Holidays! The latter now owns the park and caters for more than 100,000 holidaymakers each year. Now Weasey is here to tell you a little bit more about the park and what those holidaymakers get up too! ***The Park Itself*** Greenacres is reached by a two-mile trip through countryside from Porthmadog (Gwynedd, North Wales) into scenic Morfa Bychan (pronounced More-vah Buck-ann). Morfa is little more than one street long, at the end of this street you will find not only the beach but also the park! A long driveway sets it back from the road and immediately leads you up to the security box and the main complex, as well as the car park and naturally one or two caravans. On first impressions the park is very prim and peaceful, especially when compared to other parks I have visited! Greenacres is well landscaped with trees, flowerbeds and ornamental rock work (such as the infamous "Greenacres Henge" found in Rose Court). Although older areas such as "Badger Court" and "Otter Lane" are laid out in blocks most other areas are spread out in fan shapes. I found the layout worked really well - you felt your "road" really was your little area and you could forget about just how many other caravans were so nearby! Accommodation areas are grouped into several areas. For instance along "Tree Walk" you can find the likes of "Fir
Court", "Hazel Lane" and "Birch Avenue" whilst "Bird Way" takes you to "Robin Lane", "Gull Court" and "Puffin Grove". I think this is a great idea as even if you get a little bit lost - as I did on one or two occasions whilst trying to take a few shortcuts - you at least have a rough idea of where you are! Don?t worry there are also plenty of park maps on hand! Although the park hosts quite a few caravans it is a nice size - even the slowest of walkers can reach the complex from the farthest part of the park ("Larch Grove") in under 5 minutes. It is basically a square shape and leads straight onto the wonderful Black Rock Sands beach - 4 miles of lovely flat sand! The complex itself is around 10 years old but still looks fairly modern and well kept. ***Caravans*** The park hosts around a thousand caravans and chalets. Of these around half are privately owned - the others are all British Holidays hire fleet! You can either hire directly from British Holidays or contact the park and arrange to rent a privately owned caravan or chalet. The caravans come in many varying styles from the very basic right up to soopa doopa - mini apartments - known as "Vogues". These are beautiful! They have such luxuries as balconies and en-suite bathrooms! The prices you can expect to pay vary from £300 right up to £1000. Although special deals can be had e.g. £40 for a week in October!! All have basics such as plates and knives but most need to hire linen or bring your own. The more expensive models have linen and TV's included. ***Touring/Camping*** Tourers are very popular at Greenacres and the site has a large flat field for them right next to the complex. All have electric hook-ups etc as well as access to a lovelybut small shower/washroom/toilet block. There is also a warden on hand 24hrs. Prices vary on your length of stay, time
of stay and type of tourer - you're looking at say £30 a night on average. ***Complex*** The complex is home to reception, Owner's Exclusive, Essentials mini-supermarket, 3 bars and a restaurant, the entertainment suite, SpashZone, Arcade, hire shop and launderette. Hire Shop - Open daily from 9-5 and run by the lovable Viv and Bob the hire shop acters for your every need be it extra linen, hair dryers, a cot, sporting equipment or a television for your caravan they can help. Just pop in and see what's available. When closed reception can also help with emergency items e.g. returning golf clubs! Launderette - Where would we be without it?? Machines work with cards which can be bought from reception. A washer card cost £3 for 2 washes and a dryer card costs £1.50 for 2 washes. Tablets and powders etc are available in the mini-market. Indoor Play Area - A multi-level soft play area for all young children! An excellent place to pop them while you sit and watch and enjoy a drink from the bar! Outdoor Play Area - This offers a bit more adventure for the older child with slides, rope ladders and bridges - what more could they want!! F.I.Z.Z. Board - This is situated just opposite the indoor play areas and the meeting point for all organised sporting activites. It also tells you what events run each day. Pass Desk - While the complex is open the pass desk is permanently manned by one of four loveable security staff - Dee, Harold, Stan or Gerallt. They check your pass on the way in and are always available if you have any queries! Cash Point - Situated just next to the pass desk is an ATM. It charges £1.25 per transaction and after abusy weekend it sometimes runs out of money. Your best bet is to get some cashback in the shop when you buy something (minimum spend £0.01p!!). The other features will be covered later on in the review. To enter the complex you will need a
pass. These cost around £15 for the week and you will not be allowed in or served at the bar if you do not have your pass with you. This is just to prove that you are a "member" and haven't just walked in off the street! If you don't wish to make use of the facilities then you do not have to buy a pass. You can still access the shop, reception, launderette and hire shop ***Bars*** The complex features 3 bars - Aqua Bar, Show Bar and The Clubhouse. Drink prices are quite high and not of particularly good quality (you would have thought for £2.30 you would at least be getting Carling Extra Cold!) as shown by the examples below: - * £1 for a pint of squash * £1.10 for a half pint of post-mix Pepsi (you couldn't even get proper Coca-Cola until Burger King opened!) * £2.15 for a pint of Worthington Creamflow * £2.30 for a pint of Carling * £2.50 for a pint of Grolsch * £3 for a bottle of Reef or VK Also served are the usual spirits as well as Guinness, Red C Cider, Strongbow, Newcastle Brown Ale and Bass Mild. Bar snacks such as crisps and nuts are also available at average price. Prices are however sadly the same at all British Holidays parks so please don't complain to the staff - write a comment about it on the feedback form instead! The staff have the same problem when they drink in the bars and there is little they can do about it! I feel you wouldn't mind paying so much if you were getting a better quality of drink e.g. £3 for a bottle of say Smirnoff Ice would still be extortionate but more acceptable. This is where Bourne Leisure's true colours show through - emphasis on the profit, quantity of customers who come not quality of experience they have! But hey I guess it is the same in most places these days and if it's any consolation on the whole the staff want you to enjoy your holiday and will try and maximise your experience! The Aqua Bar is your open all day
family bar. It opens at 11am and shuts at 9pm daily. As well as serving the selection above it also serves childrens Slush Puppies and Ice Blasts - it is cheaper to get childrens drinks from Burger King during the evenings!) The Show Bar as you would expect is where all the evening entertainment takes place. It is open from 6pm each night until midnight (1 on Fridays and Saturdays). It offers the above selection of drinks and slush puppies as well as shot drinks Screamers and Corkys - once again ridiculously priced! The Clubhouse is basically an over 18's sports bar. It's opening times vary depending on the time of year. In the summer you can expect to see it open from midday until midnight (once again with the extra hour on Friday and Saturday) but in September it may only be open between 7 and 11. It features a large screen television and a normal television - usually showing sport or music. Special requests are always taken into account. There is also a snooker table (£1 for 30 mins) and a pool table (£1 per game). It also sells the same stock of drinks as the other bars. The ambience in Clubhouse is lovely with dimmed lighting a little background music/sport (not too noisy, not too quiet) and plenty of good pub banter. Of course it's also nice to get away from the kids once in a while! If you fancy heading elsewhere for a drink there is only one pub in Morfa Bychan - The Glanaber.. there are various shrotcuts from the park but they're only if you know where you're heading as they involve dark, hidden paths and bushes! In the day time a good way to reach it is to walk onto the beach (best way is through "Larch Grove" then head left, after a few hundred metres there is a road leading off the beach, head up it and you're brought to the pub. It has a good selection of drinks and is more reasonably priced. It also features a childrens play area and games room. It can also be reached by road - best at night
time... turn out of the park and head towards Porthmadog and Spar. Take the road on the right which is immediately before Spar (big brown sign pointing to beach and Traeth - beach in Welsh - directing you down it) and follow it down! Porthmadog itself features a good array of pubs. ***Fun Shop*** Open between 6 and 10 every night the Fun Shop is aimed at kids. It sells "glowies" (glow in the dark items such as flashing headsets, necklaces or even swords), sweets, popcorn, toys and some fancy dress items. It's reasonably priced and what you would expect from a shop of its sort. You can also redeem any "tokens" you may have won in the arcade here. ***Burger King*** This was newly opened in July 2003 to replace Bourne Leisure?s "Foodworks Fast Food". Sadly it?s only a franchise of Burger King - just like those found at many motorway service stations. Unfortunately this means that the full BK range isn?t available and you?ll miss out on some special offers and milkshakes. However, the main menu is available so you won?t miss out on any classics such as the Whopper, Chicken Royale or Bacon Double Cheese Burgers! Prices are pretty much the same as the high street and it?s open every evening. ***Oasis Restaurant*** Situated in the Aqua Bar the Oasis serves food right through the day 9-9 in peak season and at main meal times in the lower season. The menu practically mirrors that of J.D.Wetherspoon's offering a good range featuring such dishes as Curry, Spagetti Bolognese, burgers and salads. The food on the whole is good but nothing special and fairly expensive. A meal for 4 will set you back around £25. They do have special dishes varying daily and also feature a range of themed evenings. Monday night is Tex-Mex night, Wednesday night is Chinese night and Thursday night is Curry night! Childrens meals are also availble complete with toys and colouring sets. Morfa Bychan hosts 2 other ea
teries - the fish and chip shop next to Spar (open around tea time) and The Glanaber - typical pub food at quite a hefty price e.g. £7 for scampi and chips!!! Good portion sizes though. A trip into Porthmadog in the day time can offer you no end of fish and chip shops or fast food takeaways along with a few cafe's - notably Jessie's on the High Street - or The Australia and The Ship & Castle offer typical new age pub grub - filled Potato Skins/Fajitas/Nachos etc as well as a range of older classics! In the night time the only real restaurant is the Indian on the way over to Morfa Bychan - quite nice and reasonably priced with no real need to book in advance. ***FunWorks Arcade*** Ah, what holiday would be complete without an arcade! This features a full range of fruit machines - from the "Tupenny Nudger" and 5/10p players with a £5 jackpot right up to 25p players with a £250 jackpot! There are also other classics such as the "Dance Machine", "Virtua Fighter" and "Air Hockey". Prices are average - generally £1 per game - they do run special offers where a certain machine will be reduced to 30p for a week. You can also collect "tokens" from some machines - like the "Penalty Shoot-Out". These are exchangable for prizes at the fun shop. Prizes start at around 30 tokens and lead all the way upto 10000 (for a glass chess board!). ***SplashZone Swimming Pool*** Aha, at last! Having spent six long months working as a lifeguard in Splash, I have come to know the place inside out, so therefore please forgive me for telling you every single eeny weeny teeny fact about the place! The SplashZone consists of 3 areas: - the main pool, children?s paddling pool and the outdoor fun park (new for 2004). The main and children?s pools are both indoors and accessible from the complex. Sadly, due to a lack of forethought a few decades ago - when the then outdoor main pool was simply cov
ered over by a large roof adjoining it to the rest of the complex - swimmers walk straight through the doors from the arcade area and onto poolside rather than walking through a changing room first. This creates two serious problems; a) occasionally young, unsupervised children run straight through the doors and head for the pool - luckily the first lifeguard position is right next to the door so there is always someone on hand to stop them (it?s disgusting how many parents actually let their young children who can?t swim run around the pool on their own!) and b) customers often walk onto poolside with their shoes on having ignored all the signs requesting shoes are removed! This may sound a little pernickety but consider where most peoples shoes have been and then think about whether you want to be swimming in water that these people have walked through. All it takes is for one person to walk through with muddy shoes, and once that floor is muddy everyone else has to walk through it too! The lifeguards do appreciate you may not want to get your feet wet if you are not swimming so shoe covers are provided. Once you have taken your shoes off and are in the pool you will find 8 changing cubicles at the side of the pool. All are family sized and accessible to wheelchairs. Toilets and showers are situated nearer the deep end so close supervision of none swimmers is essential. The actual pool measures 18m by 10m although it is essentially in the shape of an egg timer - narrowing in the middle. This sadly makes "proper" (lane) swimming very difficult. Another hindrance in the matter is the pool markings. The floor is pure concrete - lacking in tiles - and therefore lane markings. I often found that I would be swimming along and all of a sudden I was at the wall with no warning! The pool is 1 metre deep in the shallow end sinking to 2 metres in the deep end. There are depth makrings on the poolside every few metres and a red line marking the mid
dle of the pool - non swimmers are not allowed past this to reduce the risk of them getting out of their depth and into difficulties. The small pool is hexagonal in shape and measures roughly 5 metres across each way. At the edge it is 30cm deep, sinking to 70cm in the middle. It's use is restricted to families with very young children in order to further provide a safe environment for them to get used to the water. The pools generally lie between the "ideal" temperatures of 28°C and 32°C. As you can imagine this doesn't suit everyone, however, it does suit the large majority. The small size of the childrens pool means it is generally the hotter of the two - most parents don't want to get out! One problem with the small pool is the strength of the chemicals - however, the same problem is recurrent in most children's pools! Obviously all public pools require chemicals to sanitise them. You would not know the chemicals were even there unless they had an antibody (such as a germ) to act on. As they act on it to "clean" it they release such things as a smell e.g. chlorine. Therefore the more things they have to react on the stronger that smell will get. Obviously you get a lot of young children in the small pool ans theyaren't reknowned for their good hygiene - you do the math. So the chemicals are normally a little stronger. This means the water tastes REALLY yucky (not that I would advise drinking it anyway!) and it also sees off swimming costume material pretty quickly! Rules for these two pools include; 1. No DIVING - this is a policy Bourne Leisure have implemented throughout all of their parks and is strictly enforced. The main reason is the fact that 10% of spinal injuries in swimming pools are due to be diving. This can be through people using the wrong technique, not checking the water thoroughly and diving into someone, hitting the floor or a wall. If you do dive you will be caught
and dealt with. If you're a child you will probably be let off with a warning - do it again and you'll be thrown out. If you're an adult your fate will depend on the situation if you genuinely didn't see the signs (there ARE SEVEN of them in the pool!) and the pool is not busy you may be let off with a warning. I have seen people blatantly read the sign, then watch me to see if I'm watching them (if as a lifeguard I ever see them I purposely turn my head but watch out of the corner of my eye) then you will be instantly asked to leave the pool - refuse and you may have your pass taken off you. The lifeguards take the safety of the pool users very seriously and any breach will be dealt with - the signs are their for your safety and that of others - you may be able to dive correctly but others who cannot may see you and try to do the same thing - bare that in mind! 2. No large inflatables e.g. lilos and boats - this is due to the fact that should someone become stuck underneath the inflatable the lifeguards may be unable to see them. Acceptable inflatables include small rubber rings and beach balls. 3. No none swimmers in the deep end - it amazs me to see how many parents will happily let their non-swimming children jump in the deep end - are they mad! Non-swimmers should never be allowed in there even with a buoyancy aid - what would happen if those armbands or rubber rings popped???? 4. No hard balls - only beach balls are allowed in order to reduce the risk of injury from any stray balls. Balls are completely banned from the small pool - in order to maintain that safe environment. 5. Non-swimmers under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. This is a nationally approved rule to help provide enough supervision for non-swimmers. The lifeguards are not their to act as nannies they are there to supervise the pool - they must be able to watch all users without having to pay extra special attention to anyone group. 6. Child
ren under 8 must have an adult in the water with them. Once again children in this category do need supervision - the pool is a dangerous environment. Sitting on the side and watching is not good enough, you need to be right with them and able to maintain eye contact at all times. Drowning can occur in less than a few centimetres of water! 7. No acrobatics - this includes sitting on shoulders and bombing the pool. Once again for similar reasons to the diving rool - lack of control could cause a mishap with yourselves or other pool users. 8. No float throwing - have you ever been hit in the face with a float? It HURTS!!! Us lifeguards decided to try it before banning it and the bruises prove if a float hit you it cause an injury! 9. No running - of course that old pool classic! A poor floor surface means it is slippery - 90% of our first aids this summer were due to people running and falling over and grazing themselves. 10. Listen to the lifeguards!!! They are there for a reason and they're no just being nasty their is always a very good reason for them to give the instructions that they do. Some of these rules may seem a little over-protective but trust me if you have ever been a lifeguard and seen some of the things that do happen in swimming pools then you will fully appreciate them! The outside fun zone currently being built will provide such amusements as water cannons and pressure pad reactive fountains! It won't be lifeguadred - unlike the rest of the pool - as there will be no depth to the water. My only concerns are thoughtless thugs (unfortunately you find a few everywhere) throwing glasses into the area in the evening - management are currently thinking of plans to prevent this from happening (plastic cups could be the solution). The SplashZone is generally quite clean - once again the main problem people with muddy shoes ignoring the signs and stomping their dirt all over the floor! The main problem is t
he floor tiling around the main pool area. It looks quite pretty - with grate big jagged shaped slabs to match the boulders and plants surrounding the pool for that jungle feel - but dirt does get trapped between them. They also become quite slippy when wet. Management are currently looking at improving the surface. The pool water is of average cleanliness - as can be expected with any havily bathed public pool. The roof does so you can expect to find the other fly taking a dip. There are plenty of seats around the side for spectators too. The pool is essentially a "fun" pool during the peak season - Easter, Summer holidays and October half term - proper swimming is nigh on impossible as the pool is often very busy. Most people tend to opt for width swimming, but even that proves hard at busy times. If you do wish to swim rather than just splash around the best time to go is shortly after opening time or shortly before closing time. The pool manager is looking into a special lane swimming session for holidaymakers but due to the shape of the pool and also the availability it is hard to schedule such a session. Due to health and safety restrictions the pool can only allow in a certain amount of swimmers at any one time - this number is worked out through a number of calculations relating to the amount of space each swimmer must have and the size of the pool. The numbers for the Splashzone are 87 in the main pool and 26 in the small pool. However, due to the fact that it is nigh on impossible to prevent swimmers from moving between the two pools the doors are usualy shut when 80 swimmers are in the water. This could mean there are 75 in the main pool but only 5 in the small pool - however it is much safer this way. Lifeguards perform headcounts every 5 minutes and when this number is reached the pool doors are "closed". Swimmers then have to wait outside for others to leave the water before they can enter. The pool doors are &quo
t;closed" probably once a week in the Summer holidays - usually when the weather isn't very nice outside and people can't go to the beach. If you see it is wet outside and you fancy a swim then your best bet is to arrive at the pool around 10 minutes before opening time. When the doors do get closed at these times swimmers can sometimes unfortunately end up waiting for as long as half an hour to get. It can be frustrating to wait outside but the lifeguards cannot let anyone else in until swimmers have actually left the water. Sometimes people will be standing outside and people will leave the pool and they will try and come in. However, they have no idea how long those people have been in the water or whether they were even in the water and not just spectating... please be patient with the lifeguards they are counting the people in the water not those leaving the building. Sadly there are no flumes, Jacuzzis or Sauna but there is a sunbed! The fast tan upright booth costs £2.50 per 3 minutes. The maximum time allowed is 12 minutes and special offers run from time to time. Contact pool staff for more information! ***Sports Facilities*** The park has a fair showing of sports facilities as detailed below. Mini golf - Immediately to the left of the main drive (as you enter the park) is a 9 hole mini golf course. It is a very basic beginners course and quite a good laugh. Each hole is around 40 yards long. The fairways are in ok condition but the greens aren't too good (but then you wouldn't really expect them to be). The balls are low flight so as not to stray too far. The only problem comes when you hit your all into the rough - I spent many a happy afternoon scouring the gorse for my ball! Perhaps advisable to ask for a sapre to take with you! Equipment is available from the hire shop for a small deposit. The more discerning golfer may wish to apply for temporary membership at the golf club at the other side of Morfa
Bychan (runs alongside main road so can't be missed). Tennis Courts - There are 2 courts situated just behind the main car park. They are fairly new and in good condition. Once again you can hire equipment from the hire shop for a small fee. You may need to book your court there too. Sadly there are no floodlights. Mini Tennis Courts - There are 2 floodlit courts situated within the complex area. These are ideal for smaller childrne fancying a knockabout. Again you can hire equipment from the hire shop or bring your own. Multi-Court - This is outside the SplashZone and is basically a tarmac 5-a-side football pitch. There are also basketball nets. It does have a problem with drainage so rain often spoils play in Spring and Autumn. Bowling Green - A carpet bowling green is situated just outside the Aqua Bar. Bowls are available for hire at a cost of a £1 per person. ***Evening Entertainment*** From 6pm until midnight (1am on Friday and Saturday) there is entertainment in the showbar. A typical evening runs as below: - 6pm: Quiztime 7pm: Bingo 8pm: Bradley Bear show 8.30pm: Funstars perform a show 9.30pm: Live Caberet 11pm:Disco Obviously the live acts vary from night to night and week to week, some are amazing, others are not so good, but you're always guaranteed to have quite a good chuckle anyway! Saturday night also sees live acts in The Clubhouse. This normally comes in the form of a late night singer but sometimes they have comedians or even a hypnotist - who is fabulous!! ***Extra Activities*** The park also features various additional activities throughout the day. Free sessions include a wide range of daily sports from basketball to uni-hoc, daily quizzes, David Bellamy Park Rangers (nature hunt), Paws/Tiger club (fun, games and face painting), T-Co (Teen games e.g. playstation tournaments) and party dances (learn to dance like the Funstars!). Other
sessions run at an extra cost: - Learn 2 Swim - The park runs 12 different certificates endorsed by the STA (Swimming Teachers Association). The certificates cater for the absolute beginner (the first certificate can be done in armbands!) right up to the budding club swimmer (25+ metres in all 4 recognised strokes plus basic water survival skills). There is no need for a parent to get in with the child, as there is an instructor in the water and qualified lifeguard observing. Lessons cost £4 per person and last for ½ an hour at a time. They run every lunchtime between 1 and 2pm. Sadly the pool?s insurance only covers students of age 4 or over. There is no upper age limit but if you are an adult wishing to take lessons it is best to chat to one of the lifeguards first so special arrangements can be made - they will most likely take you for a one on one session focusing on strokes rather than the certificates. Every successful candidate receives a free certificate and badge. Lessons are VERY popular in the Summer so it is important to book early. Wave Rider - If you fancy learning some basic life saving, body boarding and snorkelling skills then this is the session for you. All participants must be aged 8 and be able to swim at least 25 metres. All equipment is provided. It costs £4 and runs on a Wednesday night from 6pm until 7pm. Once again a very popular activity so booking early is essential. Sub Sea Explorer - This activity focuses solely on basic snorkelling skills. You learn about the equipment your using and also play a few games. The cost this time is £3 and as before all equipment is provided but participants must be at least 8 years old and able to swim a minimum of 25 metres. Scuba Diving - PADI trained instructors visit once a week during the peak (Summer/Easter) season. Sessions cost £6 for 45 minutes and feature a basic introduction to diving equipment in a pool environment. Again this is a popular activity with limi
ted places so don?t forget to book in advance! Professional Football Coaching - During July and the first two weeks of August coaches from Everton football club visit the park on a Sunday morning. For £5 your child - boy or girl, aged 5-16 - can take part in a two hour coaching session with them. The children are split into 3 age groups; 5-7, 8-11, 12-16 and learn tips, tricks, skills and play games. All participants receive a certificate and T-shirt and there's a chance to win a "Player of The Day" trophy too! Smartie Party - Tickets for this children?s event cost just under a fiver and include a goody bag as well as an afternoon of entertainment. All the sport/swimming related activites can be booked in the SplashZone. Smartie Party vouchers are available from the Aqua Bar. ***RopeWorks*** Although an independent company RopeWorks - a high adventure assault course - is situated within the park, just behind the complex. For £10 you can spend 2 hours in the excellent hands of fully trained staff on the course. It consists of a large artificial climbing wall... and rope assault course 40ft in the air, an ariel runway not to mention the 40ft swing and the "leap of faith" (climb up a wobbly totem pole then stand on the wee platform at the top before leaping off to try and catch hold of a metal bar!). All equipment is provided (including wet weather gear and safety helmets) you just need a sturdy pair of shoes or good trainers! All participants must be over 8. For more information check out their website www.ropeworks.co.uk ***Beach*** Black Rock Sands is a gorgeous beach with miles and miles of flat golden sand - perfect for a good game of footie! The sea is fairly calm and safe - although I did actually see a shark (Basking) not so far off the coast last year! Apparently the Irish Sea has one of the largest shark populations in Britain! If that hasn't put you off then the beach is an engi
ne propelled watersports person's paradise! It is very popular with jetskis and small speed boats - there are restricted areas though so as not to pose a danger to swimmers! The only problem is that if you plan on taking your car to the beach in the Summer months you may be chagred upto £4 for the day. Other great beaches nearby include the notorious "Hell's Mouth". It is a good half hour dirve just past Abersoch (surfers paradise) but features some awesome waves. I spent many a happy evening after work body-boarding there! The sea is quite cold though and wetsuits are recommended! ***Nearby Attractions*** There are loads of great attractions nearby: - * Snowdonia * Ffestiniog Mountain Railway * Mining Caverns, caves and museums * Numerous castles; Conwy, Caenarfon, Harlech, Criccieth * National Whiterafting Centre nr Bala * Mountain Zoo * Port Meirion As you would expect there are tonnes of brochures in reception so have a jolly good look through. The park is ideally situated for visits to Snowdonia though! ***Essentials Mini-Supermarket*** The shop stocks everything for your basic needs from newspapers and sweets to tin openers and dish clothes. It is however, quite expensive. It also sells a good range of gifts - local as well as general. ***Reception*** As you would expect reception is where you go to sort out any problems or queries. You may wish to order a new gas bottle for your caravan or find out the bus times. Whatever the problem reception are always happy to help! ***Security*** Ah the golden boys - Li, Tim and Don - are on call 24 hours a day. If you have a problem in your caravan - pilot light in the boiler gone out? - they are on hand to help you out. Whatever the problem give them a call and you will quickly see their little white Fiesta van outside! ***Owner?s Exclusive*** If you like Greenacres so much that you ch
ose to buy your own caravan then become part of the "Owner's Exclusive" club. This offers you many perks such as; * An extra hour and a half in the pool each day (8-9:30 is reserved exclusively for owners with the 8-9 session being adults only, a good time for lane swimming) * Half price snooker * Free tea and coffee in the Owner's Exclusive lounge * Loads of events throughout the year e.g. half price drinks nights, Chinese nights * A longer season - you can stay until December! * Access to the Owner's Boat Yard * End os season parties If you were going to buy a caravan somewhere I would highly recommend greenacres. More than half of the caravans are privately owned and the "Owners" have a good social society! ***Season*** The season runs from March - November. ***Car Parking*** The car park outside the complex is not very big and can only accomodate around 50 cars. There are, however, special spaces reserved especially for the disabled. There are parking spaces for at least one car outside every caravan. ***Length of Stay*** You can stay for anything from 2 days upward - tourers can stay for as little as a night! ***Weather*** During the Summer months this part of North Wales does get some glorious sunny weather - but when it rains boy does it rain!!! ***Language*** Yes of course you are now in deepest darkest Wales! This area of Wales does have a heavy population of Welsh speakers and around 50% of the staff in the park speak Welsh. The bar staff and lifeguards tend to be students from different parts of the UK and also the world (2003 saw it's fair share of Korean, German, Spanish, Brazilian, South African, Australian and French!). Everyone speaks English as well as other various languages so there shouldn't be any communication problems. Locals in Morfa and Port will often speak Welsh to each other but also speak
English... or broken English/Welsh... if you ever hear an argument it's quite amusing... one I heard between a girl on the bus and the bus driver went along the lines of "Blibbly, libble, bliibble, dubble, blubble, blibble F**K OFF blibble libble" (Blibble libble etc denotes Welsh speaking lol). ***Overall*** On the whole I think Greenacres is an expensive place to come for what it is - maybe cheaper for really large families. I personally would rather holiday abroad or camp if travelling in the UK. But if for some reason you have to holiday in the UK and choose a caravan park or wish to buy a caravan I would highly recommend greenacres as a place to stay. It is much more peaceful and amenable than a lot of other parks I have visited with a good share of local attractions!
Our holiday with British Holidays was taken at Kiln Park, Tenby, Wales, on August 17th 2002. We stayed in a 6 berth Silver Olympic Caravan for 1 week. Caravan... We were able to book in from 2.30pm onwards. The staff were friendly and efficient, and 5 minutes after arrival we were in our caravan. The caravan itself was lovely. Very clean, plenty of room for us ( 3 adults, 2 young children ) There were 3 bedrooms, and a lounge area, so it was nice not losing the lounge at night. There was a shower / bathroom, and a seperate toilet, again, handy! The kitchen was very well equipped, and clean. In all, we were very pleased with our accommodation. Site facilities... We had chosen Kiln Park as it was classed as an ' all action ' park, with loads for the children to do. It didn't let us down... Our 2 loved the swimming pools...one indoor, one outdoor, both very popular! I liked the fact that they had very attentive lifeguards, so we felt very safe. The pool areas were well cared for, and often busy, but never over crowded. There was also a sports pitch, tennis courts, bowling green, hire shop for bikes etc and outdoor playground, but we never got round to using these. The Bradley Bear Club was the other activity that hooked the kids. They loved taking part in Bradley Bear activities, although we weren't so keen as you had to remain with the kids all the time. Each evening, starting at 6pm, there was a big nights entertainment in The Boardwalk, one of the 2 clubs on site. The entertainment had a definate family theme, and we had the pleasure ( or pain! ) of watching Keith Harris and Orville one night, Stars from the Moscow State Circus another night, and other various acts. They weren't brilliant, but certainly after afew drinks were watchable...and again..the kids loved it! The other club, The Pembroke, seemed more aimed at the parents who managed to los
e thier kids for a while. My hubby and I managed a couple of nights away, and found the Pembroke had bingo on offer, and entertainment ( cabaret style ) till midnight. It wasn't our scene, but not too bad. Supplies and foodstuff... There are 2 grocery outlets on site. Both were quite well stocked, and had all the basic supplies you might need on hoiliday. They even had special offers on products, like any other supermarket, so value wise, not bad at all. The site was not too good for getting a decent meal. They have a Burger King, Foodworks ( essentially a chipshop ) and a pub where meals are served. The pub meals were lovely, eg £5.95 for half a chicken and chips, but the wait was over an hour! The Boardwalk also served food, but again, the wait was over an hour. Maybe this isn't the case out of peak season, but it annoyed us :) I can say that he Burger King served the tastiest freshest burgers ever. There was also a gift shop on site that was quite good value for money. All the staff we dealt with were lovely...very helpful. polite and friendly...I couldn't praise the highly enough. What we found really amazing about this place was the scenery. Our caravan was next to a cliff. Huge seagulls that sounded like vultures circled our caravan day and night, screaming and screeching. Wild rabbits wandered the site after darkness....try taking a walk at 3am and you'll see them. The beach was a good 10 minute walk away, but was so worth it. It was beautiful, totally breathtaking. And Tenby was a short walk across the beach, with lovely shops and breathtaking scenery. We had a great holiday.
As a family we had never really bothered with holidays away from home, preferring to have the odd day out here and there until 4 years ago. We’d had a rotten couple of years prior to this and decided that we were going to push the boat out and go away for a week. No chance of going overboard in my family!! We decided on Dorset as our destination. I had spent a lot of time in this part of the country as a child and was keen to revisit some of the old haunts. Next we had to decide on where we were going to stay. We are not a conventional family in that we like to do things as and when we want, so a full-board hotel job was out of the question. I have always loved caravans and suggested this. Hubby wasn’t so keen, thinking that they were a bit basic, but I soon got my way!! Tee hee hee! We got hold of a copy of the British Holidays brochure and after a little deliberation we set our hearts on Rockley Park holiday village. We had experienced British Holidays before as my parents used to take the boys away to Hopton Holiday Village on the North Norfolk coast. They had always had a such a great time there so we figured, and hoped, that Rockley park was going to be of the same high standard, we weren't disappointed. There are several choices of accommodation available, caravans or chalets. We chose a Silver rated van, which had 3 bedrooms, duvets and pillows supplied (bring your own covers). Telephoned , paid the deposit and confirmed dates. All systems go!! I couldn’t wait!! I am easily pleased!!! It took us 9 hours to get there, no hubby isn’t a slow driver. I have to confess here that I wanted to go via Stonehenge (one of the old haunts I wanted to revisit). It was quite a detour from Essex but he took it, bless him! It was well worth it, even if I couldn’t get as close to the stones as I had when I was a child, I remember to
uching them. It still held the same fascination and air of mystery to me. I thought it was the well worth the detour, 3 bored teenage sons sitting in the car waiting for me to return didn’t have the same enthusiasm I am sorry to say. But anyway where was I?? Ah yes Rockley Park. We arrived and parked up, I went to sign in, which incidentally was fairly painless and rapid. I had visions of being stuck in the checking in queue for a long time. But they had it off to a tee. We were given the keys to our van, which had been up graded to a Gold rating as they had over booked the Silver ones. Hey we weren’t about to complain as we got a patio set thrown in and heating in the van. We were also given a map of the site and directions were clearly marked on it as to how to get to our particular van. The difference between this particular holiday village and the one at Hopton was simply the way the park was set out. Hopton is more like you would imagine a caravan park to be, with most of the caravans set out in nice neat orderly rows. not so Rockley park! We were absolutely thrilled with where our caravan was. One reason hubby’s not keen on going to this type of holiday park was the dread of having a caravan right next to the amusement arcades, the disco and the like. We aren’t partying people when we are away, preferring to be left to our own devices, we were. Our van was perched up high on a ledge with only one other one next to it, with perfect views right across the sea!! We loved it. The downside of this, we thought would be if you had small children. There were several steep steps up to the van and as I said before we were quite some distance from the centre of the “village”. Our lads were 15, 13 and 11 when we went so they were well able to go off and do their own thing. Rockley Park is set over quite a large area in little block
s of vans, our block was Pine View. The vans were not all neat and tidy like the aforementioned Hopton but somewhat higgeldy piggedly, which only served to add to its charm! Rockley park is odd to find, to me it seemed like it was in the middle of a housing estate!! It has most likely changed now. The site was very well appointed, with the usual shops. The food store was quite reasonably priced, although we did choose to do our food shopping at the local Co-Op, more choice and we did a lot of shopping. My lads have huge appetites! The gift shop on the site is great too, I could have spent a fortune in there! I love holiday souveniers..sad eh!!! There were 2 pools there one indoors and one out. The boys didn’t go in the outdoor one it was always too busy. They went in the indoor one a couple of times though and rated it “cool!” Other activities on the site included, tennis and football with various matches being organised for the kids and the teens. There was outdoor bowling too and we decided to play at being “proper” holiday makers for a change and have a game. I am sad to say that we were both thrashed by the 11 year old!!! I can’t really tell you all that much about the evening entertainment, we avoided it like the plague, hate those kind of things. However when the boys were at Hopton with my parents a few years prior to this they did go to the evening affairs and the videos prove that they had a good time, as well as confirming to me why we avoid them!! We did walk back from the shop one evening and the noise coming from the disco was deafening. We cringed and thanked our lucky stars that we were well away from that. We didn’t really spend all that much time on the site as we wanted to do lots of exploring. Places we visited included Corfe Castle. Now that was something else. We loved that and I may write another op one day
about that. The Naval base and HMS Victory at Portsmouth. Portland Bill and Chesil beach. Beware there, the waves can be enormous, as my youngest found out when he had to sit in the car on the way back in just his underwear with his sodden clothes wrapped in carrier bags! We did a lot of driving around finding little places here and there. And it never seemed like much of a drive back to the caravan site. It really is a beautiful part of the country. We had a great relaxing family holiday there and we were going to make a return visit the following year. There was an offer in one of the brochures we were given offering a reasonable discount of the cost of re booking for the following year. I did make enquiries about it. In particular as to whether it would be possible to have the same van. Alas they couldn’t guarantee this as a lot of the vans are privately owned and who is to know if the same van will even be there the next year. There are quite a few privately owned vans with phone numbers on them so that you could book direct with the owner. We did have a look at a few of them one evening but never came to a definite decision as they weren’t in the areas we would have liked. We weren’t prepared to take pot luck in booking up via British Holidays in case we got a van near the amusements. So as up to now I have not made a return visit to Rockley Park but not because I would not recommend it, I do. I would like to one day, probably when we are old and grey and knowing our luck we will either end up in a van near the amusements (hey we might be into bingo by then?) or one on a ledge like this one was and we wont be able to manage the steps! But..if all the British Holiday resorts are as well appointed as Rockley park and indeed Hopton then I don't suppose it will matter which one we choose to go and play bingo in! That’s it. You can wake up n
ow! I surely didn’t mean this to go on quite so long……. Thank you! Kazzie!!