It’s winter. It’s dark, gloomy, wet and cold. But winter is my favourite season. I love waking up to a fresh frost and crispy grass. I long for the snow (despite only having had decent snowfall twice in the last 5 years) and making snowmen with my kids. But, at the same time I can’t stop my mind wandering off and daydreaming about the summer days.
I am itching to get back out into the garden again. We grow lots of fruit and vegetables over summer, so my family tend to spend most of our waking hours outside during the spring and summer months. My greenhouse fills up with tomatoes, potatoes swell below the ground and my courgette plants go crazy. We eat courgettes pretty much daily due to a bountiful supply, packing out our freezer!
But HOLIDAYS! Oh, those glorious beautiful holidays. We don’t like to travel abroad, preferring to stay closer to home and choosing special locations within the UK. In the last 3 years we have visited Scarborough, Clacton, Cornwall and Whitley Bay. Each trip has created the most wonderful memories, without breaking the bank.
For 2018, I have some holiday wishes for our family.
Go back to Cornwall
We LOVED Cornwall. It was a 5 hours drive (about 7 hours by the time we had made 1,000,000 stops for wee breaks) but the drive was beautiful. Passing Stonehenge and absorbing the stunning scenery as we drove south.
I found Cornish beaches so clean and golden. Dogs and children enjoyed splashing in the sea. The views are just incredible, and we spent many many hours beach combing and building sandcastles. Having had 4 kids, I may have to treat myself to a flattering new swimming costume! Hitting the beach can be scary when you have a mum-tum as wibbly wobbly as mine, but luckily I find when shopping for ladies swimwear that full bathing costumes are very much on trend… bye bye bikinis!
There are lots of lovely little local shops to visit too. Many selling wonderful unique gifts, that you would struggle to buy anywhere other than from Cornwall. Unfortunately we didn’t get time to visit the Eden Project when we were on holiday, but I am so desperate to go. Visiting the amazing Eden Project is my priority number 1 on my ‘to do’ list.
Honestly I could rave about visiting Cornwall until the cows come home… It really is my favourite family holiday destination.
An Over Night Stay at The Golden Fleece In York
I have been luckily enough to visit York many times and I have lots of fond memories of the beautiful Yorkshire city. As a kid, I visited many times for weekend breaks with my nan. It was also after a trip to York that my now-husband proposed to me. I’ve been to gigs, pubs, ghost walks and museums all in York, and every visit is just as special (and emotional) as the last.
York has a very special place in my heart. But, there is one place I want to stay. The Golden Fleece pub. Said to be THE most haunted pub in York, and featured on Most Haunted anyone who stays over night at the pub has to be brave AF. Check out this Most Haunted episode all about The Golden Fleece.
Built in 1503, the public house stands proudly just across the road from the famous shopping street The Shambles. They serve food, ales and offer an over night stay in one of their spooky bedrooms. I’ve been luckily enough to have eaten and shared a few beers in The Golden Fleece with a few family and friends, but I am desperate to spend a night there!
Obviously this isn’t a trip for the kids, but an over night stay with my husband sounds perfect. At least I’ll be hiding under the duvet with him… IYKWIM. For more information about this unique (and rather spooky) pub, check out their facebook page here.
Center Parcs Woburn Forest
Just a 20 minutes down the road from my home is the all new Center Parcs Woburn Forest. The magnificent 365 acre forest boasts a subtropical swimming paradise, Aqua Sana Spa, 200 indoor and outdoor activities and beautiful guest lodges.
This all new Center Parcs is the perfect family holiday, with something to do for the whole family. For us, we only have to pop down the road, eliminating that dreaded long motorway drive that we would normally have to endure to get anywhere else. As my kids are aged 5, 4 and 2 there are even special activities just for pre-schoolers. We can even leave them with Ofsted registered staff, so we can enjoy some special time for ourselves.
Some of the 200 activities at Center Parcs Woburn Forest that I would love to get stuck into include:
High ropes challenge
Where would you like to visit in 2018? Are you keen to stay in the UK for your next family holiday or are you a fan of boarding a plane and jet setting off around the world? Let me know in the comments!
Last week we took a much needed family break. 5 days (which turned into 6!) at Whitley Bay Parkdean Resorts holiday park. Whitley Bay is just 10 miles outside of Newcastle and situated on the north east coast. There is plenty to see and do for all ages and despite it being a 5 hour drive away, we knew we made the right location choice for our first family holiday in 2 years. Here is our Whitley Bay Parkdean Resorts Review.
We took the trip with Nanny Doodif (Judith) and Granda’ Simon. They had booked their own van so we weren’t quite so crowded. Judith is from Whitley Bay and was destined to be our tour guide for the stay. It was our first holiday all together, and we were all excited.
Whitley Bay is situated on the north east coast and offers long seaside walks, rock pool-ing opportunities, plenty of sand to play in, a stunning lighthouse, seal spotting and even an ice rink! The town is easy to find, very clean and full of friendly faces. There is plenty to do for small kids and old folk alike… especially if you fancy a nice long walk along the sea front.
It rained the entire time that we were away. We arrived on Monday at midday and the clouds were rolling in. We took a walk along the seafront, watching the beach combers and taking a stroll up to see St Mary’s Lighthouse.
The views were stunning, even more so when we took a break in a hide and watched the seals rolling around playfully on the rocks by the lighthouse. I managed to take a very wobbly picture through the binoculars on my mobile phone. The kids were most happy!
We checked into our caravan at 4pm and it rained from then… right up until Saturday morning. The day we checked out. Typical British weather.
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Parkdean Resorts Whitley Bay
Parkdean Resorts is a UK holiday resorts provider and has 73 resorts across the UK.
On site is an indoor swimming pool, a shop, laundrette, restaurant, entertainment area, play park and amusement arcade.
The swimming pool has something on for everyone, including relaxing swim sessions for adults in the morning and Aqua Paddlers in the afternoon for children aged 3-8 years. The pool is always open during the day with different sessions for the whole family to enjoy throughout your stay. The pool is just 1 large pool, and does not have a separate toddler area, so make sure you have all eyes and arms ready to hold your smaller children.
The water is nice and warm (I hate cold pools!) and the changing rooms are very clean and large for families to all fit into. The pool area was overall, very nice but in an ideal world I would like to have seen a small baby paddling area.
All day and night the stage and entertainment area is packed full of things to do. While we were on site I noticed so many activities for the kids all day, every day. Jewellery making sessions, ballet and cheerleading lessons, chocolate tea party, farmyard fun and garden fun (to name a few). The days really were packed with so many activities to keep the kids busy. I did spot families staying on site for the whole holiday and choosing to not leave the park because there was so much to do.
In the evening we enjoyed Starland Krazy, an action packed evening for the kids. The park presenters played games, handed out prizes, welcomed Sparky Rabbit and crew, sang songs and danced. Perfect for wearing out the kids, at the end of a long day. Our kids slept so well all night, because they were exhausted from the evening entertainment.
Each night the park hosted a few bingo games. The parks all play a link-up game together, playing for lines and a full house and the prizes are high value. A few of the prizes were over £1000 in a couple of the games! Great fun, and the kids are welcome to stay on site while we play.
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After Bingo the evening entertainment begins. Kids are welcome to stay, but in reality we found that they were too tired and we only stayed for a short while after bingo. The adults get to have a few drinks and take part in some (rather embarrassing gameshow style games, watch live bands or dance away the night to the park DJ.
Every second of the day there was something going on. We would loved to have seen more during our stay but we were so busy wandering around town to stay and watch it all. By night time we were all so tired that we didn’t see much of the evening entertainment. My husband and Simon did go down too the club a few nights without us women and the kids, and they enjoyed a few pints watching the entertainment. 4 pint pitchers were £12… I suspect that’s why they were in no rush to get back to the caravan!
From the moment we arrived at the park, I could not fault the staff. Every member of the team were professional, friendly and welcoming. Each member had a huge smile on their face and were happy to help, no matter how small the problem.
Our middle daughter Olive, was feeling the cold after our seafront walk and sat in the buggy looking a little frozen. A member of staff quickly offered a cup of warm milk for her to enjoy, on the house! I was blown away by her generosity and I couldn’t thank her enough. Such a small act of kindness that really made Little O feel a lot better!
Our first impressions of the park was certainly a good one. Not only had the staff made us feel welcome from the start, but the park itself was clean and presentable. Every day, we could see gardeners walking around making the place look fab.
There was no rubbish, the small amusements arcade was well manned and the restaurant was always busy with gorgeous portions of food served all day. We collected our keys at 4pm, which is check-in time, and were given a map of the park showing where our caravan was and a welcome pack. We drove to the nearest carpark to our van and started to unload our mountains of stuff (there were 6 of us after-all!). The park staff allocated our caravans right next to Judith and Simon’s caravan, which was handy. It meant we could let the kids walk from one van to the next by themselves, and easily watch them from the doorway.
In all honesty, our caravan took me by surprise. Previous caravan holidays have thrown us with some unpleasant surprises in the past (I once found a pair of dirty pants in a bedside draw at Camber Sands- grim) but our caravan was completely spotless! No dust, clean floors, it smelt of bleach and was a fantastic size. The grandparents van was exactly the same! No faults at all.
Our caravan had a double room, 2 twin rooms a shower/toilet room, huge living space joined to the kitchen and lots of storage space. I was a bit daft and packed lots of kitchen utensils and a frying pan, but none of them were needed as the caravan had it all. All of the utensils, pots, pans and oven were spotlessly clean.
Each bedroom was clean, with clean bedding. We took our own pillows and duvets as I do like to sleep with my own bedding, but the bedding provided was clean and good quality… no lumpy pillows or flat duvets to be seen!
The curtains in the caravan were all blackout too, making bedtime for the kids very easy indeed. Although the exhaustion from the day’s activities were probably to thank for that!
The living area had classic caravan seats, with lots of room for us all to sit and toys to be scattered around. There was a large TV, with built in DVD player and had lots of freeview channels with good reception. I did find myself watching a Geordie TV channel a few times… although I did need a Geordie translator to explain what the hell they were talking about most of the time. Ooops!
We did have a leak from the water pipe below our caravan. I popped into reception and told them about the issue. It was no way a complaint as these things happen, but the staff couldn’t stop apologising! Within 15 minutes the leak was fixed. I couldn’t believe how quickly they fixed the problem and with no fuss at all.
Due to the endless rain, the weather was cold. We needed up put the heating on each night to warm our caravan up. There was a gas fire in the living area, and hot air blowers in the bedrooms as well as a heated towel rail in the toilet, which doubled as a large radiator. We were never cold at all during our stay in the caravans, and we even moaned to each other that we were too hot!
The only negative point about or caravan was that the gas fire was quite old and well used. It worked perfectly fine, but it did take a ‘knack’ to get the ignition lit.
Dogs are allowed on the park, but you will have to pay a little extra to your bill. We didn’t take Scrapper with us, as he stayed at home with my brother-in-law but I will definitely take him next time we visit.
An Extra Day
On Thursday Judith and I decided to pop into reception and ask if we could all stay an extra night. We were due to check out on Friday morning, but figured an extra night would give us more holiday fun (and give the weather a chance to perk up a touch- WRONG). We half expected our request to be denied, but the reception staff were quick to work something out for us. In the end we managed to secure Judith and Simons caravan for the extra night. We had to check out of our van at 10am, and move straight into their caravan. Even with 7 of us all in one 6 bed caravan (the kids top and tailed in one bed to make enough room) the van still felt roomy.
We did pay a little extra for the extra night, as to be expected, but it was hardly any extra money. A cheap extra night, and valuable extra family time!
Overall, an excellent caravan holiday for the whole family to enjoy. The park was clean, staff were polite, entertainment and facilities faultless, and our caravans were brilliant.
We shall certainly be booking again very soon for another holiday with Parkdean Resorts Whitley Bay. Keep your eyes peeled for the park in any upcoming Sun newspaper holiday promotions (holidays from £9. This park is one of the parks available through the promotion.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see as much of the area as we would have liked due to the weather, but we still enjoyed fun packed days. Next time we take a visit, I would love to go see more of Tynemouth castle, Blue Reef aquarium, Cullercoats beach and caves, and Jarrow Anglo-Saxon Farm and museum.
Even with an extra day, I feel like we could have spend another week on site, seeing all of the goodies that Whitley Bay and the local area has to offer. A fantastic family holiday that despite the weather, we shall never forget as one of our best.