Favourite City Breaks

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There are so many truly amazing cities across the world that I would love to visit, each one with its own delicious food, stunning architecture and amazing people. Sadly, I have not visited many cities across the world, only Cairo (for a day trip to see the sights), Paris and London so far. The latter two cities both are fabulous and exciting, and places I would happily return to again. However, one city I would love to visit is the ‘big apple’ itself, New York. 

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Some Of My Favourite Places In North Devon

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I consider myself really lucky to live here in North Devon, especially now I have children because we really are spolit with places to visit and have some outdoor fun. I know I did not appreciate it when I was a teenager and made my mind up that when I left home for university I was NEVER going to come back….EVER! Of course, I did and the rest of my life is history because now I love the area and would not want to live anywhere else (for now at least!).

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Exploring Butlin’s, Bognor Regis

Exploring Butlin’s, Bognor Regis

When you go on holiday I think it is natural to want to take things easy, afterall that is essentially why the majority of us have a holiday to relax, unwind and not have to rush around as we do normally in our day-to-day lives. However, when you go away on holiday with  3 and 4 year old boys, holidays are still as fast paced as our time at home, the only difference (and major plus point!!) for me is that someone else cooks the meals and does the housework!

During our stay at Butlin’s, Bognor Regis at the start of May, we were on the go a lot  although we did  chillax over lunch, as we would  take some snacks back to our room in the Shoreline Hotel and have a couple of hours of down time, where the boys would play with the games/toys they brought with them, or do some colouring. Asides from that, the rest of the time (well, ok apart from bedtime!) was go, go GO!!!! The best thing about a Butlin’s holiday is that it is perfect for families because it is geared up for children so brilliantly, and the majority of it is free because it is all included in your holiday. So never a dull moment !

Here are some of the great activities on offer which my family enjoyed doing

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We took our bikes to Butlins and ventured outside the gates and along the seafront down to the pier to check out what Bognor has to offer asides from Butlin’s. The seafront is littered with souvenier shops and cafes, ice cream vendors and fish stalls – very much a traditional resort and the kind of one which reminds me of my childhood holidays. It was a blustery but sunny day, and no one was in the sea, but the beach, a shingle one, was very quiet and perfect for skimming or throwing stones into.

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Bike riding in Bognor deserves a well earned ice cream although sadly for Jenson he just missed out, preferring a little nap instead.

Burton tried zorbing – or water walking as it is called at Butlin’s and had a whale of a time ahem* – as you can see from the photos he tried to stand up and managed it twice I think, but laughed a lot and it was well worth the £5 charge because it is something he has never done before.

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Even when it rains (which it did, heavily, all day on our final day) it does not matter because the Skyline Pavilion contains a lot of undercover activities to amuse and entertain children – softplay, performances on the stage with well known TV characters and the Skyline Gang, arcade machines, ten pin bowling, shops, a softplay for babies, a crafty room and of course the rides.

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Not forgetting of course the fantastic swimming pool, the Splash Waterworld, with its slides, wave machine and tots play area.

You can also take in a show while at Butlin’s from seeing Mike The Knight, Thomas The Tank Engine and Barney live on stage (and being able to meet the characters after each show too). Plus this year Butlin’s are showing a live Scooby Doo show which was great fun and both boys enjoyed the performance (and again free because our admission was included as we were guests at The Shoreline Hotel)

It is lovely looking back at all of our holiday snaps – such happy memories of our little family getaway.

A Butlin’s holiday is perfect for a family like ours because of what it has to offer in the way of entertainment, activities and food. The staff are so helpful and friendly which makes them very approachable and it feels safe on site, which is such a lovely feeling. AND Burton and Jenson were never bored because there was always something to see or do, which made for a happy (if tired!) Mummy and Daddy, because amused children makes for happier children, which of course makes us happy parents! This ultimately equals a happy holiday!

I have written this as part of my role as a Butlin’s ambassador, where my family and I stayed for 4 nights on a Butlin’s break at Bognor Regis staying at  The Shoreline Hotel. Despite my role and my free holiday, all thoughts and comments about Butlin’s are my own and completely honest. I re-applyed to be an ambassador for a 2nd year because of how fantastic their holidays are, and all that they offer families, and wanted to help spread the Butlin’s word .

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You can see my review of Butlin’s, Bognor Regis newest restuarant The Diner here

When Burton and Jenson visited Parkdean Sandford Holiday Park (Flashback Friday)

When Burton and Jenson visited Parkdean Sandford Holiday Park (Flashback Friday)

A couple of weeks ago we stayed at Parkdean Sandford Holiday Park for a weekend break  which was honestly really great. There was so much there to keep the boys occupied : an indoor and outdoor pool (with lifeguards), a nature trail and walk, outdoor adventure playgrounds  (3 in total) and kids entertainment clubs. The OH and I were very impressed by the quality and amount of play equipment available for children on site and how clean and well maintained it was too.

 For the 2 days we stayed the boys just loved exploring the site and trying out all of the play equipment – and it was wonderful to watch them play so nicely together, without too much arguing! Burton really helped Jenson with his climbing, and when they came down the slide together  – it was the cutest thing! They also befriended some other children on the pirate boat play equipment, and they were all playing hide and seek together and racing down the slide with one another.

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After all that fresh air the boys were very hungry and the childrens menu in the Arena Bar & Courtyard Restaurant offered a great choice of meals for both younger children and older ones, from just £4.25. The fact that both my children actually ate pretty much ALL their food and a pudding, just goes to show that it must have been tasty, as my two are fussy when it comes to eating! And I think all that running around they did all day definately helped them to work up an appetite for tea!

Parkdean have their own mascots Sid and Lizzie who run the kids activity clubs inside the Star Plaza. Each day special activities are on offer for children from pre schoolers up to senior aged children. Then every evening, well early evening, there is a children’s disco and stage show featuring Sid, Lizzie and their assistants. Entertainment passes are included in your stay at Parkdean.

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Our weekend break at Sandford Holiday Park in Dorset, was a real eye opener into what facilities a Parkdean holiday can offer a family here in the UK, and I have to say that we were very impressed and enjoyed ourselves a LOT.  Great  food, friendly and helpful staff , amazing accommodation and two boys who smiled the whole time we were there – *that* is the sign of a fantastic holiday.

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We were fortunate to have had a complimentary weekend break at Parkdean Sandford Holiday park for the purpose of a review, which included free entertainment tickets and a free meal on our first night.

This post was brought to you as part of Flashback Friday

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Remember – a flashback can be from any time whether it be yesterday, last week, last month, last year or yesteryear! It can be a flashback of your own, your children, your partner or your friends.



Parkdean Sandford Holiday Park (A review)

Parkdean Sandford Holiday Park (A review)

A couple of weekends ago we were lucky enough to stay at Parkdean Sandford Holiday Park in Dorset in their Ashmore Plus D28 luxury caravan. Now I have stayed in a few caravans in my time, but I have never been fortunate enough to stay in one as comfortable and as warm as this – I felt utterly spoilt! In fact when I woke up on our final morning, lazing in the double bed feeling all warm and cosy, I happened to read a facebook message from a friend saying how she had barely slept all night as the caravan she was staying in (in Cornwall) was freezing, and wondering why modern caravans did not have heating! I could not help but feel a little smug at this status of my friend,  as I lie looking at a radiator in my room!

During my stay I took a lot of photos and therefore I am going to write two posts covering our weekend break at Sandford: this one being more of an over view of the site, the accommodation and facilities and the second one will be about what Burton and Jenson got up to while we there, so more of a focus on what a parkdean holiday can offer children.

As you can probably already tell the caravan was just amazing – seriously it was modern, comfortable and warm (yes I keep on refering to that but it does make a BIG difference to me as many a previous caravan holiday I have spent trying to keep warm at bedtime/in the night and when I needed to use the bathroom!). The Ashmore Plus D28 is the park’s newest caravan for 2014 and can sleep 6-8 people with its 3 bedrooms and space in the lounge. It comes with double glazing and central heating which made it ……well warm!

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What struck me as soon as I entered the cararvan is how contemporary it is in its fittings and design and  also how well equipped  it is too.  It really is like a home from home and offers a well thought out self catering accommodation which has a roomy kitchen for cooking and prepping family meals, a large dining table and a big stand alone fridge/freezer – not the under the counter type with a top shelf freezer drawer which I have only ever seen in previous caravan holidays. And check out the extractor fan and hood – again excellent as it means that you can diffuse the singed aromas and smoke from a cooking with the fan and not with having to open all the doors and windows!!

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The sitting area was very inviting and the boys soon made themselves at home! We had no need to use the fire but again I was impressed by how modern it was as again, reverting back to my previous caravan holiday experiences, the fires were very old fashioned and had fake black coals or logs with a mantle shelf!! There were a lot of curtains to open and close, but I just brushed that off as some arm exercise (any excuse to eat some chocolate biscuits *ahem) !!

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The sleeping quarters and two – yes two – bathrooms were separated from the livng area of the caravan by a door which was great as it made the caravan more homely still, being able to shut the two areas off from each other. It also means anyone who retires to bed early, can shut out the noise from the TV more easily too. The bed was comfy and roomy for two and there was plenty of cupboard and wardrobe space in each of the three bedrooms, oh and they were warm too! The boys enjoyed sharing one of the twin bedrooms and neither of them fell out of bed while we stayed! Plus I was also very impressed with the large walk in shower  (which easily accomodates two boys!) and  based on previous occasions, I was expecting the water to be a bit tepid and the water flow a bit weak I was very pleased to be able to shower in hot and fast flowing water!! Towells and bed linen are supplied which saves on luggage space.

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The caravan also has a decking area which allows for an outdoor dinng area perfect for some al fresco eating, and the table and chairs can be located through the french doors leading out from the lounge. Each caravan also has a parking space right outside, so you do not have far to carry all that lugagge!

Sandford Holiday Park is set wthin a country park and it feels like you are miles from anywhere to be honest, with the greenery all around and I was struck by how peaceful it was too. During our short break, as we walked around the site I saw a couple of squirrels and the boys spotted some rabbits!

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The site is big and holds various models and types of caravans (aswell as lodges and a camping site too) and there is a caravan for every budget. The site is well maintained and looked very clean and tidy, and the staff were friendly and extremely helpful. The site is well equipped with an on site shop which is well stocked and was not over priced, two swimming pools (an outdoor and indoor one) which are manned by lifeguards, an amusement arcade, a fish and chip shop and plenty of outdoor adventure playgrounds for children, which again were well equipped and looked clean and well kept. The Star Plaza is where you will find the reception, bar, dining and entertainment areas and the best chance of wifi signal too!

We were impressed by the range of food available at the Arena Bar & Courtyard Restaurant . As we were only staying the 2 nights we decided to eat out both nights – I mean we were on holiday afterall and also more practically,  I did not see the point in buying a load of food to cook with for just a weekend (although I did cook a brunch Saturday morning and we ate breakfast in our caravan both mornings). There is a fantastic kids menu (more about that in my next post) and the OH and I were impressed by all the starters, mains and desserts on offer and all reasonably priced too. The restuarant staff were attentive, helpful and welcoming too. Based on two kids meals, a starter, two mains and a dessert our evening meal for 4 cost us approximately £35, and it was really nice too – even the boys ate all theirs which is quite rare on meals eaten out of home (and in the home to be honest!).

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We actually stayed on site for the day and a half that we spent at Sandford Holiday Park and found lots to do to occupy us and the boys, and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Day or night there is entertainment on site with a kids club and offering activities in the day time and a show each evening (more about this in my next post), and for adults there is a late bar with bingo, live music and such like.  Of course being based in Dorset there are planty of amazing places to visit outside of the holiday park too, various National Trust owned sites, Peppa Pig World, beaches, wildlife centres and so on. More information can be found here. Had we been staying longer we would have explored the area more, in particluar for me Weymouth, Lyme Regis  and Corfe Castle places I used to visit a lot as a child. However, having just spent all day Friday at Paultons Park (aka Peppa Pig World) the boys were quite tired on Saturday so we just spent the day swimming, cycling (we took our own bikes with us), going on a nature hunt and the boys enjoyed playing in the adventure playgrounds.

I know that my stay at Parkdean Sandford Holiday park was a review trip BUT nevertheless it has opened mine and my OH’s eyes up to the possibility of staying on a caravan holiday. I have to be honest it has never occured to us to do so before, but we both agreed that we were impressed by the site and how much we all enjoyed our stay. Therefore, we would (and hopefully will!) book a longer holiday ourselves because it was just brilliant! Oh and did I mention how warm and cosy the caravan was……..??!!

We were fortunate to have stayed in the Ashmore Plus D28 at Parkdean Sandford Holiday park for free for the purpose of a review, which included free entertainment tickets and a complimentary meal on our first night. I can honestly say that our short break was superb and I really do reccommend it (and I am not just saying this because this is a review).  I have  in fact been reccommending Parkdean to my friends and family since we arrived home, because it really was a great place for a holiday. Therefore, all comments made here are my own and completely honest. 

You can also find a pinboard about our holiday on my pinterest
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