Thursday 21 June 2018

A Half Term Break at Butlins Minehead

Our first family holiday to Butlins was back in 2014 - Elliot was a cheeky, wobbly toddler and the Just for Tots break was a perfect introduction to the quintessential British caravan holiday!

We've been a few times since then but recently we returned for the May half term holiday - it was our first time visiting in the school holidays and I was interested to see how it would differ from the term time breaks. (Aside from the price which was a very obvious difference!!)

Here's what we got up to...

Day 1

After packing what feels like 1,456 bags into the car, we leave Poole just after 10am in glorious sunshine and are on our way to Minehead. It's a clear run down and we arrive in Blue Anchor just in time for lunch. It's a bit of a tradition, we always stop at the Driftwood Cafe for lunch on our way down but it wasn't to be today - everyone else had the same idea so the cafe was packed! They were so busy that they'd actually stopped taking orders so we headed back up the coast to The Blue Anchor pub which had amazing views across the beach. It wasn't the best meal - we had to wait over an hour for our food and they got the order wrong about 4 times but they got there in the end! 

If you can't wear matching t-shirts on holiday, when can you?!
After a quick stop at Morrisons for some supplies, we picked up our welcome pack at Butlins and found our accommodation for the next 4 nights. Usually we stay in a private caravan but our usual one was booked so instead we opted for one of the log cabins next to the lake - so glad we did, it was lovely! We find it's much quieter staying here rather than at the hustle and bustle of the Butlins chalets and apartments. (Details of the private caravans and cabins can be found here

The view from our cabin - the french doors opened out onto this decking, what a lovely view!
After a quick unpack and change we headed back out and up to the entertainment complex. The weather was so hot, it actually felt like we were abroad and not in Somerset! 

Elliot couldn't wait to hit the arcade - he loves the grabber machines! My Dad had given him 5 bags of 2ps (one for each day) so he was itching to spend these in the 2p machines. Erin was just excited to be out of her buggy - and funnily enough she made a beeline to the puppet show which is exactly what Elliot did when he was that age! 

We spent the rest of the evening in one of the clubs. There was a Justin Fletcher disco thing with the redcoats so the kids had a whale of a time on the dance floor. Erin didn't sit still - she was chasing the lights on the floor! 

We stopped for a quick photo at the giant deckchair on the way back to the cabin and even at almost 10pm, it was so warm still. The kids certainly slept well that night :) 

Day 2

Today was all about having fun and not making plans! I'd like to say the kids had a lie in but they were up at the crack of dawn ready to go...thank god for CBeebies is all I can say ;) 

We headed up to the main complex and that's pretty much where we stayed for the rest of the day! What I love about Butlins is there is so much to do for the kids and you don't even need to spend any money if you're on a tight budget. We started off at a children's fencing lesson which was also included in the price of the holiday. Elliot's never done fencing before but he loved it! 

From there we headed to the fairground which is brilliant fun  -Elliot's favourite is the helter skelter and he made a beeline for this. All the rides are free too so the children can go on again and again. We also spent some time in the little ones fairground which is located inside. All the rides are suitable for smaller children, even Erin was able to go on. Not that she enjoyed it - her face is a picture in all the photos!

Soon our tummies were rumbling so we decided to eat at The Diner. Last time we ate there, the servers would get up and sing but unfortunately it looks like they don't do that anymore - a pity because it made for an entertaining lunch! Still, the food was really nice and Erin devoured a kids meal - I swear she eats more than her brother! 

The afternoon was spent playing in the parks, eating amazing ice creams from the ice-cream parlour, attempting to win on the grabber machines, meeting Teletubbies, watching puppet shows, more fairground fun and generally just having a lovely time. 

Scoops do THE nicest ice cream!
We rounded off the day by watching Dick and Dom's Circus Showdown which was pretty good - Elliot kept calling them Dick and Dong though haha!

Day 3

We woke up to rain - boo! So what do you do on holiday when it rains? You head to the indoor pool! Along with hundreds of other families all doing the same thing! The queue for the pool was ginormous so we spent a bit of time inside entertaining the kids until we were able to swim. The pool at Butlins is fantastic and it's something we always look forward to. There's a lazy river, wave machine, slides, toddler pool and loads more to suit all ages.

Elliot went off with Paul to go on the water slides while me and Erin bounced around the lazy river - she loved it! She has been swimming since she was a few months old so is very used to the water - the waves and splashing didn't seem to phase her a bit. She was absolutely zonked after going crazy in the water so we got out to dry off while the boys had a bit more fun on the slides. Erin was asleep as soon as her bum touched down in the buggy! 

We stopped off for a late lunch in the Firehouse Grill which is very similar to Nandos - we always eat here and it's always really nice! We like to get one of the family platters so we can have a bit of everything - Elliot surprised us by taking a liking to the ribs. Erin was just happy with a plate of chips as per normal! 

We spent a couple of hours back at the cabin to shower/get changed/let the kids recharge their batteries and we headed back up to the main area for that evenings entertainment.....which was only our mates Andy and the Odd Socks!! As you can probably guess, Elliot was bouncing off the walls with excitement - and even more so when we ran into Andy and the band literally as we walked into the Skyline Pavilion!

I have to say a big thank you to Andy and his team who are always so lovely to us. Elliot was invited backstage to say hello to Andy and the band and it absolutely made his day when Andy agreed to record a little video for him to show his school! (I wish I could say the same for Erin but she started screaming the minute Andy walked around the corner...sorry Andy!)

The show was great as always, we know the songs like the back of our hands now! Erin was mega tired but she was bouncing up and down to the music. One of our faves is the Dinosaur Football Legend Megamatch song and the kids love seeing the T-Rex running around the stage kicking the giant footballs! One of the balls came towards us - my husband was so busy trying to get it back in the air that he spilt his wine, oops!

Day 4

We decided to head away from Butlins today and went for a walk towards the harbour, stopping off at the train station to spot the steam trains.

If you're visiting Minehead then I'd definitely recommend going for a ride on a steam train - there's some lovely little villages along the route such as Wachet and it's a really great day out. We did just this on our last visit! We decided not to go on the train today but instead followed the coastal path which took us up to a lovely pub called The Ship Aground. It was lunchtime so it would have been rude not to stop for some fish and chips!

And what a lunch it was! Amazing food, friendly staff and really welcoming to the kids which is so important. I'm sure we'll be back at Butlins next year so this is somewhere we'll definitely be visiting again. Especially we were too full to try the puddings!

We walked a little further and found a large pebbly beach which Elliot and Paul went to explore - thousands and thousands of smooth rocks, I wanted to bring a bag of them home with me to paint!

After a quick play in the nearby park, we thought we'd better make a move as the sky was looking ominous and we kept feeling spots of rain....which turned into a torrential downpour! Silly me hadn't packed any raincoats so we did get a bit wet - the good old British Summer eh!?

On our way back we went via the town centre - there are the usual array of tacky gift shops, arcades and pubs so it's nothing special but I did stumble across a Rolys Fudge shop. Rolys do THE BEST FUDGE so of course we had to stop and buy some!! We also stopped at a really nice little ice cream shop called Scrumdiddlyumptious that did all kinds of wacky ice creams - Elliot chose the "George Pig" but was adamant it was a rat and even asked for the "blue rat cone please!"

It was a particularly wet walk back to Butlins with the rain pelting down again - next time I really must remember to pack rain coats! Fortunately I had spare clothes for the children so I was able to get them changed once we were back at Butlins but Paul and I were very soggy. We made a group decision to head back to the cabin and call it a (wet) day. It may have been out last night but everyone was feeling a bit tired...and the suitcases weren't going to pack themselves :-/

Day 5

Check out time for us was 10am but Butlins let you use the facilities for a few hours after so it's not a big rush to leave. We packed the car and headed up to the indoor fun fair to let the kids have a play - it was a good time to go because it was very quiet and Elliot was able to go on the giant slide again and again without queuing!

We had one last go in the arcade to use up our coppers and then we were on our way. Everytime we visit Minehead we try and visit Dunster Castle and today was no exception! It's a lovely National Trust property with some beautiful walks around the castle grounds. It's not massively big either so it's quite handy for a quick stop off on the way home.

We had a late lunch in Dunster (I won't tag the cafe as it was very disappointing!) and then started the journey back to Poole. Unfortuantely we hit really bad traffic near Yeovil and what should have taken us 2 hours took almost 5!

We had a wonderful 5 days away and Butlins was fantastic as always. It was a lot busier going in the school holidays but we expected this and it wasn't really an issue. The only thing I would say is be prepared to arrive at the clubs a little earlier if you want decent seats near the stages for the shows - the Dick and Dom show was absolutely packed out at Centrestage and people were struggling to find seats!

I'd always recommend Butlins as a family holiday - I'm sure we will be back next year! 

Run Jump Scrap

Saturday 9 June 2018

Fantastic Family Days Out in Bristol

With the Summer Holidays looming on the horizon I've started looking at new places for us to explore and one place that keeps being recommended to me is Bristol. Just a 2 hour drive from us in Dorset, we have visited a couple of times before - including a day out at the Festival of Nature back in 2015.

There seems to be festivals on every weekend and so much to see and do for families - I definitely think Bristol will be on our itinerary this Summer! Groupon is a site I always check out before going anywhere and I was pleased to see that they have lots of exciting things to do in Bristol - .  The Summer holidays can get a bit expensive with children so Groupon is a great way of saving money on days out - it's also a fab place to get inspiration for new places to visit!

With this in mind, here are just a selection of some of the fantastic places you can visit in Bristol - with a little help from some fellow bloggers!

WE ARE THE CURIOUS (Formerly @Bristol)

This fantastic science centre is located in the heart of Millenium Square and is a must for anyone visiting Bristol. A state of the art visitors attraction, it features over 300 exhibits including an exclusive Aardman exhibition where you can become an animator.

It even has it's own planetarium which is housed in the amazing giant mirror ball. In her review, Lucy from Momma Mack talks about the space explorers show her family saw at the planetarium when they visited on a wet and soggy bank holiday Monday!

Bristol Aquarium

Chantele at Two Hearts One Roof visited the Aquarium with her family and it sounds like a brilliant place to visit with small children. I love the sound of the talks throughout the day - it's always interesting to learn about the creatures you are seeing on display!

Photo credit - Chantele Cross-Jones

Bristol Zoo Gardens

Bristol Zoo Gardens is the 5th oldest zoo in the world , and home to over 50 types of mammals and a brand new Goodfellows tree kangaroos enclosure. Sara- Jayne from Keeping Up With the Jones Family visited on a particularly wet day and it sounds like they had a brilliant day despite the weather!

Photo credit - Sara-Jayne Jones
I love the sound of Twilight World where night and day are reversed and you can meet animals such as the very cute Slow Loris and the fascinating blind naked mole rat.

Brunel's SS Great Britain

I didn't know too much about this attraction before writing this post but turns out it's one of the top places to visit in Bristol! Once the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 - 1854, she now resides in Bristol Harbour and is a museum.

Photo - Kate Hackworth
Kate from Veggie Desserts has a great review from when she visited with her family. I was interested to hear how child friendly it would be but it sounds like her children had a brilliant day - really useful to hear that it's accessible for buggies too!

 M Shed

Days out don't always have to be expensive - there are lots of free events and attractions that won't cost you a penny!

Situated on the historic Harbourside, M Shed is a free musuem which tells the story of the city and it's unique place in the world. There are three galleries to explore; Places, People and Life. There are also working exhibits which are some of the largest in the museum - or outside in some cases!

photo Credit - Bristol Museums
I wondered how suitable this museum would be for families but it looks like there are some great interactive exhibits that the children would love and I think it's great that there are exhibits outside to look at too.

Is Bristol on your bucket list? Or do you live in Bristol and have any hidden gems to share?!

*Disclaimer - This post is in collaboration with Groupon
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