We’re just back from a lovely week in Filey (North Yorkshire). I grew up in a family where traditional Great British holiday’s were the norm. Other than the exciting trips to Mallorca or Spain most holidays were a large family affair (grandparents came on every holiday that I can remember) in a chalet or caravan; at one point my parents even owned a caravan in Scratby. For me a caravan holiday is a ‘proper’ family experience with lots of sugar and amusements for the kids and beer for the adults after the tots get tucked into their bed.
I don’t fancy travelling abroad with two little children – I don’t have the patience to manage two tantrumming children on a plane for three hours after a long wait in the airport, with the even longer wait for the luggage and transfer to a hotel ahead of me. With this in mind I prefer a caravan holiday. Back in January I convinced hubby that we should get a caravan near Scarborough for a week – I argued that it wasn’t going to cost too much if we booked in advance and that we could do it on the cheap if a permanent job hadn’t materialised for me by September.
Our trip started last Friday with the mammoth drive from Bedfordshire to North Yorkshire – it’s not that mammoth a drive unless you have two young boys and a husband who never seems to get that when a woman says she wants to leave at a certain time – it means she actually wants to leave at that time. We eventually left the house 40 minutes past my draconian leaving time.
A quick stop at Donnington services broke the journey up and my poor husband had to do all the driving. I’m not lazy – it’s just that he prefers not to be a passenger when I am driving for health reasons (excessive stress and in his opinion impending doom!). We eventually pulled up at Blue Dolphin caravan park just outside Filey.
I was happy with the site – friendly staff, an ice-cream van, Burger King, Papa John’s and three different bars (a wetherspoons ‘esque’ bar; a ‘family bar – complete with e-numbers and sugary snacks to keep the kids active through the disco; and the adult Show Bar) an indoor pool and various sporty and child friendly activities.
Our caravan was adequate. Lets be honest, no matter how much you pay a caravan is always a little small and never as luxurious as your home; I do strongly recommend paying to upgrade as much as possible. The extra width, heating in the bedrooms and nicer furnishings stop the caravan feeling oppressive with two pre-schoolers (caravans get cold in the evening – even after a warm day so if you have young kids I think the extra heating is essential).
We decided to get a naughty Burger King for tea as it was six by the time we had found our caravan (Blue Dolphin isn’t well signposted and mistake on my part led to poor hubby walking up the open door of another caravan – blushes all around!), unpacked and walked Ben down to the ice-cream van. Ben was very excited to be having Burger King (one of his favourite places) and as hubby and I munched on our burgers we made the kids share a portion of the weird chicken popcorn things and chips. Even the man at Burger King was friendly and kindly went to the main restaurant to get us a high chair for Ciaran.
Dinner was finished up with a look around the amusements – Ben played a punch a duck game – you know it’s a good holiday when you are given ice-cream, burger king and the chance to punch ducks all in one afternoon.
We pulled one of the beds out of Ciaran’s bedroom to make room for his travel cot and one of the site staff obliged us by taking it away (and re-assuring us that the knob for the grill was supposed to be at a different angle to the others, Ciaran hadn’t turned the gas on). Ciaran wasn’t very impressed with the sleeping arrangement, being tired and grouchy after a day of travelling to a new place and after a few hours of screaming (with Ben and I going in periodically to cuddle him) went to sleep with Ben getting into his bed just as his Daddy returned from an ale-run into Scarborough.
Over the week I had expected to be forced into the children’s day time activities (which included a cooking session that sounded quite fun) but the weather was excellent so we didn’t spend as much time on site as I had expected. We did have plenty of walks through the park to the cliff tops to get some fresh air and look at the sea (Ben and Ciaran were kept away from the cliff edge by a fence and strategically placed stinging nettles). Up near the cliff top there were no caravans so there was plenty of space for the children to run and let off steam and a lovely view of the coast and Scarborough for hubby and I.
Ben and I had one trip to the indoor pool, it was fine, warm and not too crowded, my only problem was getting the little blighter out of the pool. We used the Mash and Barrel bar a few times to eat and the Family bar for a couple of crazy evenings out (I can’t get agadoo out of my head and am proud that I managed to not give in a feed Ben the food colouring and sugar concoctions on offer in the family bar).
The family bar brought back memories of my childhood in similar caravan sites – school dining room style tables and upholstered chairs with a smell that my dietician sister described as diabetes paradise. There was a lot that we didn’t do on site that we would have loved to do – bumper boats, go karts, climbing wall (me) and laser quest (hubby) but so little time.
The only things that let the site down were that the caravan wasn’t as clean as I would have liked it to be, when we turned on the ceiling fan a cloud of dust flew off it; and the TV only had (prepare yourselves) analogue channels. No CBeebies, Dave or Gold for a whole week. We dug deep and coped with a few hours of CBeebies in the morning (thank you BBC2).
I loved the site but let’s be clear a caravan holiday is not going to be your cup of tea if you’ll worry all holiday about the type of people within ear shot who your child is listening to (there were a few choice expletives). Admittedly hubby and I would have liked to be in a Sandals resort lazing on a hot beach with five star food and cocktails I am sure that there is nowhere on earth a pre-schooler would rather be than a site with bright lights, amusements and lots of sweeties and for me that was the joy of the holiday seeing my boys enjoying honest, simple pleasures at the seaside.
PS. To find out how my poor long suffering husband fared on the holiday hop over to see his take on things at http://www.anirishdaddy.blogspot.com/