Category Archives: Days out

Our first family holiday – Butlins Bognor Regis

So our first family holiday has now happened! We’ve taken George on several holidays since his birth, but these have all included other members of mine or hubbies family. Mums, dads, nans, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles. Whilst group holidays are a nice way to spend some quality time together, I have found since having George that these type of holidays are hard work. You would expect that they would be easier and more relaxed as the baby sitting duties can be shared. This hasn’t ever happened though and to be perfectly honest I’ve never wanted it to. I’ve just spent nigh on 30 years holidaying by myself and 16 of those with hubby and I as a couple. I love the notion of having child friendly holidays now that we are parents. Doing all the silly activities we haven’t done since we ourself were children. This is something I find is near on impossible when you have a string of family tags on with you. All with their own needs, wishes and desires. Some can’t eat past midday, some can’t walk too far or detest kids play places, others have their own small children with their own nap times, likes and dislikes, then there are the fellas who would rather just slowly navigate from pub to pub. Overall, since I became a mum I find myself becoming exasperated with trying to fit in with everyone else’s requirements.

So imagine my extreme excitement when myself and hubby booked a tots week to Butlins, Bognor Regis for our first holiday as just the three of us, just a few weeks shy of George’s second birthday. It also included Thomas and Friends as the live show, which I knew he would love. (One of the reasons I booked this specific week.)

We arrived on a Monday and was greeted with a friendly reception team and directed towards our children’s themed hotel room. The corridor leading to the room was carpeted with fish pools and life saving rings printed onto the carpet. Your entrance and exit to the elevator was via a ‘walk the plank’ effect vinyl flooring. Each room had a pirate ship steering wheel and navigation board as well as a large octopus cushion and octopus feet sofa. George’s bedroom was a double bunk room complete with porthole effect lights as well as a soothing soft coloured night light built into the shelf above the wardrobe. The room also had a small flat screen TV. The ship/sea theme continued throughout the room with smart captions on the drawers and a fishy poem with pictures printed on the the bath area wall. We were impressed. It was clean, comfortable for us and exciting and novel for George. 

After unpacking our luggage we decided to go on a quick walk around the Butlins site to check out the facilities. We had been previously but not for three years and hadn’t stayed during a tots week before. As we walked around we made a note of all the shows and activity timings that we would be interested in throughout the week. George was running around at high speed in complete awe of everything on offer, including the huge expanse of amusement arcades. We did note however that there were quite a few older people without children, as well as a very large group of adults with carers. Many had a mental disability or cognitive disorder or down syndrome and it was apparent they needed an intense level of care. Their family didn’t appear to be with them, they all had a minimum of one to one care. I thought it strange they was on a tots week but mentally and emotionally many of them were behaving as children do so thought this may be why. We also couldn’t find anywhere advertising the live Thomas show. 


Arriving back at our hotel reception we were informed that it wasn’t Just For Tots week and it wasn’t the Thomas live show week. Feeling deflated, we got the reception staff to check for us. One call to the manager later and we were informed that it wasn’t our mistake. The website clearly had sold us a Just for Tots weeks but it wasn’t in fact on until the end of the month. The manager gave us complimentary tickets to a 3D Dino babies cinema experience to the value of £10 but given we had spent £262 on a break that was meant to be specifically aimed at toddlers we were less than impressed but felt helpless as really there was nothing anyone could do. Seeing George’s excitement continuing to build and the amazing  smile he had on his face helped us to realise that in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter. He was completely oblivious to what could have been. We chose to plough head on into our week of fun, despite the fact I couldn’t shake the feeling of disappointment. Having informed all our friends and family of our plans to commemorate George turning two, I felt a bit foolish realising it wasn’t going to fully be the experience we had hoped. A quick Facebook update to friends and family helped alleviate this. I also sent a tweet to Butlins to vent my disappointment, along with a screen shot of the misleading website booking. I’m yet to receive a response from them. 

Hubby, aware of how easily my mood shifts (we suspect I’m suffering a mild bout of depression) tried to boost my spirits by pointing out continually how happy and unaware George was. We threw ourselves into making it as memorable week as possible for us all. Clapping, singing, dancing and just generally being as silly and enthusiastic as the entertainment team on site as we went. George fell absolutely head over heels with the two star characters featured at Butlins, Billy Bear and his girlfriend Bonnie Bear. We watched and got involved in so many shows, we really did have a blast and the shows are really high quality. Unlike other holiday camps there are regular children’s shows and activities from 10am through to late at night including puppet shows, putting Billy Bear to bed, and live shows of their favourite TV characters. This week features angelina ballerina, bob the builder and fireman sam. 

The biggest negative of the week was the attitude and terrible customer service we experienced at some of the onsite food establishments and bowling alley. In the first day alone we walked out from the Papa Johns after being seated but no service. Three places couldn’t make the cocktails I requested from the menu due to lack of ingredients or “technical difficulties” as I was told. One restaurant charged us £22 per adult for an all you can eat buffet, failing to tell us they were stopping it no more than 10 minutes after we arrived. Realising they were clearing the food away whilst we were eating our dinner, we had jump up and grab deserts mid way through our dinner. The waitresses also didn’t ask if you were finished before they cleared your plate and had already made George cry when we visited for breakfast as they removed his food before he had finished. After complaining to management they couldn’t offer any compensation or refund. We also visited the bike hire to enquire if we George was suitable to sit on the front of a family bike, which he was. Leaving saying we would return the following say as we had a show scheduled, we returned the following day to find they only had two bikes and they have to be booked in advance so none were available. Probably things that are common sense to some but we didn’t realise and wasn’t informed. The bowling alley didn’t appear to be manned when we visited and it was a huge effort just to try to track someone down to enable us to book a game. Overall though we had a fabulous week and George fell in love with the place and we are crazily considering returning next year. 

I would recommend it as a concept but I’m eager to try one of their other resorts.  And I can’t reiterate enough that the shoreline hotel staff and all the entertainment crew were incredibly friendly and always gave us a warm welcome. And I will say that if you went self catering and didn’t visit any of the restaurants then you would probably write a rave review. 

Having now tried a bog standard mid week break, as well as an adults only themed weekend, I am eager to try a just for tots week (although obviously this would be ticked off my list by now had the booking website not been inaccurate!) I would recommend booking over the telephone as the website is quite evidently poor. 

 
Just to top the week off nicely we were surprised with a massive load of vomit from George on the car journey home. Something I wasn’t expecting as it’s only the third time in his life he’s ever been sick and I hadn’t experienced the previous two times as they happened at nursery. Thankfully we had a car full of spare clothes and towels but I have a car seat to deep clean now. Oh the joys of going on holiday! (She’s says gleefully)

Until next time……..

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This is my church – football from a woman fans perspective

I’ve been a fan and regular season ticket holder of my ‘local team’ (despite relocating 30 miles away) for at least 14 years. Given this, I feel I just about qualify enough to be able to give my perspective of the wonderful game. 


Now please don’t mistake me for a fan of all football. Unless hubby is playing or its my beloved team then I am more or less clueless. Or rather I don’t give a shit! I’m happy to also admit that despite spending almost every Saturday for the past 14 years watching the mighty Daggers, I am still often none the wiser as to what is going on. Often spending most of the games unashamedly admiring the players and not for their footwork. But my favourite football match pastime is to actually watch the fans. I love nothing more than a bit of people watching. Something my son seems to have inherited, the telltale sign being we regularly frequent toddler play places only for him to want to sit and watch what everyone else is doing and comment on it, rather than participating himself. 

Please don’t get the impression I’m some pathetic woman that doesn’t know what she’s talking about when it comes to football. I don’t always feel confident enough to argue my case with hubby, but I like to think (and many silently agree I’m sure) that I view the game clearer than most of my fellow fans of the male variety. And why is this? Well for starters I refuse to accept the pair of rose tinted glasses invisibly offered to me at the entrance gate. I see the game for what it is and not what I believe it is. 


Week after week I listen to these silly boys…… yes boys, as soon as they enter those gates they checkout from manhood and revert to being eleven year old boys again! …..So I listen to these silly boys goading the lino and the referee…. 

Sorry let’s pause for a moment. If you are reading this and have no clue what these terms are then sorry this is not a “How to understand what happens at a football match” post. Maybe you should opt out of reading this post if that’s the case. 

(Fellow bloggers shudder in horror!)

“Did you see? She just told readers to stop reading her post!”

Anyways getting back to what I was saying….these silly boys, wearing their rose tinted glasses, standing there telling the lino’s and the ref and the bloody players how to do their jobs! Yeah, yeah I get that because you paid your entrance fee you feel it gives you the right to do this but no! You are paying to spectate! You wouldn’t pay for a plumber and then stand there screaming that he’s unplugging your blocked drain incorrectly. Or pay to watch a show where you don’t think much of the acting so you decide to start screaming that they should be acting in a different manner! So who agreed this is what should be acceptable at a football match? And it’s not just friendly advice, you actually believe you are experts on the matter. Though your fickleness fails you as I am there watching you taunting a player….
“You’re supposed to jump! That’s why it’s called a header” “Shoot!” “Chase it!” “Oh your crap!”
Only for me to find you minutes later clapping and cheering the same player as he celebrates the goal he just scored! I have no words (places head in hands).

I actually wanted to be a female footballer but my body let me down. Despite knowing what I should be doing and understanding the game, I couldn’t get my body to be any good at it. I remember trying out for the after school girls football club. The tutor, exasperated by my lack of skill, decided to try me in goal. I was pretty good in that I saved the goals, but usually with my face. Ending up laying flat on my back with everyone cheering around me, my face throbbing from the ball I’d just saved. No I’m much safer in the terraces sadly. 

My beloved George was equally content in his first year at football matches. Snoozing, having his milk and clapping along whilst people watching during the 90 minutes. This was when we paid extra to be in the seated area of course.  As the new season approached along with George’s impending second birthday, we decided to take advantage of the special offer for standing terrace tickets. Taking George to his first terrace game, we stood at the far end so he had his own play space and escape from the crowds if he so wished. Within 5 minutes the first chants and goads began. I hadn’t quite realised how aggressive these men can sound to a young toddler and being a hot day we thought his ear defenders would make him too sweaty so had left those at home. After 10 minutes of trying to move him away from the noise and him still being completely inconsolable, I left and haven’t returned with George since.  Hence why he now stays at Nanny’s house whilst me and hubby have some quality couple time, at a grubby football ground, surrounded by smelly shouty men (rolls eyes, yes I’m an easy to please date). George’s preference of sitting in the quieter, pricier seated area of the stadium just goes to prove he has inherited mummy’s expensive taste. 

So getting back to he wonderful game, if you are one of the poor souls I get chatting to over there (mainly because my husband doesn’t talk during the game, fabulous date I know) then you will know that players tend to become my favourite if they have an obvious haircut/colour. This allows me to identify them easier. I knew our team backwards and forward years ago but having missed a few seasons due to George’s arrival I now struggle to get to grip with who’s who. Why won’t they just stand still for 5 minutes! (Laughs whilst all the ‘fans’ shake their heads in dismay). Football matches are great places to learn about Geographical facts too. For instance, I recently discovered that Wrexham is in fact in Wales! I mean I would have never have guessed. Places like Maesteg, Caernarfon, Aberystwyth….they all sound Welsh. Wrexham! Well it just doesn’t does it! Sorry. 

There’s no knowing how much longer I’ll continue to be a season ticket holder but what is always a given is that I shall always be a Dagger. I’ve been there through promotions, relagations, cup ties and end of season fancy dress piss ups. It’s a part of mine and hubbies history together and something we will always speak fondly of together no matter who plays for us, who owns us, who stands next to us or puts us down. They are our team and nothing will ever change that. 

What love do you and your partner share? Are you footie fans? Would love to hear. 

Until next time…….