Over 4 days, we’ve just taken part in a Falconry display, played beach cricket, learnt to fence, had football coaching, met farm animals, learnt to street dance, gone swimming, dug sandcastles on the beach, played mini golf and beach volleyball. Exhausted? Yes! But everyone is full of smiles and new experiences as we’ve just got back from Butlin’s in Bognor.
We’ve visited Butlin’s three times now, once for the launch of the Ocean Hotel when K was just a baby and once just over a year ago in February half term. This is the first time we’ve stayed in an apartment and the first time K has been old enough to take part. In contrast to our February half term visit, our long weekend was unremittingly sunny and felt more like August than April.
In the past we’ve made the most of the making and craft activities, but this time D, 9, was old enough to do a few more independent classes which came under the name of Club Red. After an introductory club meeting, she could choose from a couple of club sessions each day: we simply dropped her at the meeting point and left her to it. For a 9 year old who gets a bit fed up with doing things with her family all the time this was ideal.
The boys each took part in football training: J’s group met both mornings, while K had one afternoon session. They both loved the football based play and activities and enjoyed the ceremony on the Sunday night where they received a certificate and badge or medal.
Highlights for me were the falconry and the meal at the new Brian Turner restaurant. The falconry display was simple but designed to be very family friendly. We all got a chance to hold a bird: it was fabulous being so close up. Then the handler brought all the children who wanted to take part on to the pitch and arranged them so that the bird flew right in front of them a number of times which was really breathtaking. Although we were on a breakfast and dinner inclusive package, we took one night out to try out Turners. It is a lovely place to eat, with beautiful quality ingredients – I could have easily eaten K’s battered plaice pieces! The smartly dressed staff made you feel you were dining somewhere slightly exclusive, but in fact it was a very friendly and accessible place for all the family with lots of high chairs and a menu based on doing excellent versions of British classics but with the best ingredients. We paid £70 for a meal for five, including three children, which I think may deter some families.
Alongside all this, the kids loved the shows, met the Skyline Gang and Billy Bear, enjoyed eating ice cream, playing on the beach and doing mini golf. In its 75th year, Butlin’s has still got it when it comes to action packed family holidays.
Disclosure: Our accommodation and some meals were paid for by Butlin’s