This year we decided to split our holidays between April and October and skip summer (all bar our one aborted camping trip!). Although I do sometimes yearn for a proper summer holiday, now we are forced to take our breaks in school holidays at the very least most leisure parks and attractions are geared up for kids at these times and no more so than in the Halloween half term.
As I mentioned before we were lucky enough to be able to get a substantial discount on a ‘static caravan’ at the five-star rated holiday park ‘Shorefield’ in Milton on Sea, in the New Forest. From looking at their range of accommodation online it would appear that the place we stayed fell about in the middle of the basic-luxury spectrum – what they call ‘Select Plus’.
Having been to this park previously back in 2010 when JJ was a little 20 month old and stayed at that time in one of the most basic types of ‘supersaver’ chalets, I definitely found this accomodation to be very comfortable and attractive in comparison. Although the bedrooms/bathroom are relatively similar to what you would expect in any caravan (narrow twin beds, etc.) the living area is where it came into it’s own and made it feel like a home from home with a lovely open plan kitchen/dining/lounge area, a beautiful glass dining table and everything you could need in the kitchen (bar the usual washing up liquid, tea towels etc).
The park itself offers a relatively nice indoor pool with sauna and Jacuzzi for adults only, plus a restaurant/bar (which we never sampled – other people who had previously commented in our visitors book had warned against this calling it basic pub style food at over-inflated prices and I feel this is always going to be the case at any park like this). Unlike our stay at the Cherry Trees caravan park in Norfolk we managed to avoid the arcade area here (hence saving a fortune!) as it was tucked away in a room of its own.
The one thing we did sample from the entertainments offering was the children’s evening disco/meet the mascots (two giant red squirrels called Cyril and Sybil). We made the mistake in Norfolk of attempting to stick to normal bedtime routines and EJ essentially made it hell for us – staying up and being very demanding up to gone ten some nights and leading to us heading home a day earlier than planned. There was also no wifi network in the accommodation at Cherry Trees and the TV reception was patchy so our evenings were not much fun at all!
Anyway we decided to be more flexible this time round and I was hoping that the kids disco would wear him out. In the event he didn’t want to go on the busy dance floor at all, not even with his brother, and all he really wanted to do was meet the squirrels who didn’t hang around for very long! To be honest I think this kind of entertainment is good if you have gone on holiday with friends but it wasn’t for us -I took the boys down on my own two out of three nights and it was tricky and I couldn’t even get myself a drink as the tables in the room were very sought after and you had to queue up to get one anywhere near the dance floor. The entertainment team were OK but I did think they all seemed to have taken training from someone who told them that children would only respond if you talk like Frank Spencer!
Having said that it was a good base for days out – we went to Bournemouth, Beaulieu (you can buy discounted tickets from the Shorefield reception) and into the New Forest a couple of times.
The Park has a decently stocked Spar shop, a Costa Express Machine and the hubster particularly liked the gym there which was a definite bonus for a place like this. There is a guest wifi network and we were able to use our laptops in the accommodation and there was also a nice big flat screen TV so we were well catered to in the evening without having to leave the caravan. Mobile reception can be a bit patchy though.
We would definitely go back if we could stay in the same accommodation again -I would prefer to go in Summer in order to get some use of the outdoor pool and playgrounds plus the local beaches and other local outdoor activities
Look out for some posts to follow on how our days went, the Beaulieu experience and general best and worst bits of an eventful week!