Me and Sean are both big fans of getting away on holiday. But it’s certainly not easy taking a toddler abroad, let alone a toddler and a newborn baby!
So, when Haven invited us to enjoy a few days on one of their holiday parks, we jumped at the chance!
We chose to go to Thorpe Park in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, as it was only a couple of hours drive away, but in a part of the country we’ve never really been to.
We left Friday afternoon at around 12.30pm. It was great timing, as we were all fed, and both girls usually nap at that time, so most of the journey was spent with both girls fast asleep!
When we arrived, we were able to check-in straight away, despite our original booking giving us a 4pm check-in time. It took no time at all, and we were given a site map, with the route to our caravan mapped out by the lovely girl checking us in!
We decided to bring Ned, our Westie, with us for the holiday. He is part of the family after all! So, it was great that most Haven holiday parks allow dogs in some of their caravans. It would seem wrong to go for walks and to the beach without Ned!! This meant we stayed in a standard plus caravan, which allow dogs. While there are more prestigious caravans available, this more than met our needs.
The caravan slept 8 people, having three bedrooms, one double and two twin rooms, and a sofa bed in the lounge. There was a kitchen area, attached to the living room, with a dining table and four chairs. Plus, a bathroom with toilet, shower and basin, and another separate toilet with a basin. Our caravan also had a verandah, which was beautifully positioned, giving us a view out across the beach. You can see more images of a standard plus caravan here.
The kitchen was equipped with crockery, cutlery, pans and baking trays. You do need to bring along your own dishcloth, sponge, washing up liquid, tea towel, etc.
There was a TV and DVD player in the lounge area. Unfortunately, the remote didn’t work, and we didn’t find the buttons on the TV itself to turn it on until the Sunday morning. Actually, this probably worked out better for us, as we had a break from the TV and spent time talking and playing while in the caravan!
A travel cot was provided for Sienna. This was brought to the caravan after we arrived. As we knew how to put it up, we just took it straight from the staff member who brought it. What we hadn’t considered was how we would fit it in the room! It would require both twin beds moving on their side. So, instead, we decided to put the travel cot in the lounge, and push the two beds together and create a safe sleeping space for Sienna on the beds.
This worked out well, in that we had somewhere to put Sienna down in the caravan during the day in sight of us, which was safe from Ella! I was a bit anxious at first about not sharing a room with her at night, with her being only 5 weeks old at the time. But, leaving our door open and her door open in the room next to us meant I heard her as soon as she stirred! In fact, on the second night, she had her longest stretch of sleep to date! The sea air must agree with her (if only I could bottle it!!!)!
I wish I’d realised that we could also have hired a bed guard for Ella’s bed! It was her first time in a normal sized, as opposed to toddler-sized, bed and she did fall out of it a few times!! I was anticipating it, so we had set up a landing pad for her!!
I was concerned before getting there about how toddler proof the caravan would be. Ella quickly got in to the bathrooms and enjoyed messing with the taps in the sink! But we discovered a little trick of locking the door from the outside with a 2p! We also had to tie the gate with the dog’s lead to avoid Ella running off while the caravan door was open! Where there’s an opportunity to run off, Ella will take it! Other than that, there were no issues! She didn’t even attempt to open the cupboards or drawers in the kitchen, which surprised me!!
Haven holiday parks are brilliant for adults and children alike. The adults more so because the kids are entertained! We didn’t leave the holiday park much at all for the weekend we were there.
In the entertainment complex, there is a pub/restaurant called the Mash and Barrell. This had a soft play area in the corner, which Ella loved! So, it meant we could enjoy a drink while Ella was entertained too! We went there each afternoon for a drink, while Ella played! We also ate there on our last day. The food was ok, typical pub food offering.
There are other options for food onsite. There’s a fish and chip shop, which we bought our dinner from on the first day. The fish and chips were really nice! Proper seaside offering! And Ella absolutely loved hers! There’s also a Burger King and a Papa Johns, which we admittedly ordered a pizza from on the Saturday night when both girls were asleep, as they deliver to your caravan.
There is of course the option to cook your own food in your caravan, with an onsite Spar shop providing all the necessities. We called here each day for a few bits, and didn’t shop anywhere offsite as it was so convenient. The prices were slightly raised, but not so much to bother heading in to Cleethorpes to shop.
Also within the entertainment complex is a mini fairground. Ella loved having a go on the Helter Skelter!
There’s a climbing wall, a zip wire, adventure golf, target shooting and kart hire, none of which we took advantage of, having two small children with us. Plus, there are fishing lakes and a golf course within the park vicinity.
There are also a couple of outdoor play areas for the kids. One with the usual swings, slides, etc. and the other a sandpit with a climbing frame and slide in. This is just outside the Mash and Barrell, so we did enjoy our drinks outside one afternoon, while Ella played in the sand!
And Ella and her dad had great fun in the swimming pool on both the Saturday and the Sunday! Me and Sienna sat it out, as she’s still a little young for the pool. We did watch on from the Mash and Barrell on the Sunday though, which overlooks the pool! I enjoyed a hot chocolate, while watching Ella and her dad have loads of fun in the pool! And Ella loved going down the small indoor slide. There’s a large water flume for the older kids and adults, and an outdoor lazy river too!
We didn’t really get involved in the amusements much, as they’re not really our thing. Just a quick go on the 2p sliders, and a ride in a submarine!
On the Friday night, we took the girls to the showbar. Up to 9pm, the entertainment is children focused. There was a sing along and a disco. All of it is run by fun characters! Our disco was with Anxious the monkey, who admittedly did make Ella a little anxious at first! I took her up to the dancefloor, and she wouldn’t be put down. But she soon found her confidence and danced like no one was watching!!! For older kids, it’s definitely an opportunity for them to be entertained while the adults enjoy a drink. Ella was just that bit too young to go up on her own and be out of our sight. Though I admittedly enjoyed the dancing too!! And Sienna slept throughout it!
We decided against the showbar on the Saturday night, as Ella was shattered from her busy day and we wanted to get her to bed at her usual bedtime. It meant we had a really nice evening, looking out from our caravan over the beach, enjoying the peace and quiet!
As well as all there is to do onsite, the beach was only a 5 minute walk from our caravan. This had a path alongside it, which was great for talking Ned and both girls for a walk. Much easier to push the buggy on than sand!
And the Saturday morning, the weather was beautiful and perfect for the beach, so we spent a good while there! Ella and Sean had a paddle, and Ella and Ned loved playing in the sand! The beach is really sandy, and wide too, so it feels really quiet, despite there being quite a few people there!
We went in to Cleethorpes on the Sunday morning. There was a military airshow on that day, but we were there too early. It was rainy and drizzly so we didn’t stay for it, though did see some of the planes later from our caravan. Cleethorpes is a typical British seaside, with amusements and food! Probably a bit too tacky for us, but it did have a lovely beach!
There’s also Pleasure Island, a theme park, right next to the park.
And, in all honesty, we didn’t really need to leave the caravan park. We were only there until Sunday evening (though we didn’t need to check out until Monday morning but Sean was back at work first thing), and the short stay meant there was plenty to entertain us on the park. The weather was lovely for most of the weekend, which really helped us enjoy our mini holiday. And I loved that we didn’t need to leave Britain! The beach and the views and the entertainment for the kids rivalled going abroad, without the need for messing about with airports and entertaining the kids on the plane!
Plus, it’s much more affordable. To book for the same weekend next year would cost us only £192.88!
You can buy a caravan at Thorpe Park, which I think is a lovely idea to have a home from home to go to at the weekend. Particularly if your journey is not that long. There is an owner’s lounge and sun deck, where you are welcome to free tea, coffee and juice. There’s a small gym, sauna and steam room for owners, and a separate changing room for the pool. Plus owners are entitled to 15% off all tills at the park. There were lots of owners’ caravans around the one we were in, and you could see they had furnished them with the likes of outdoor furniture, and were set up to enjoy being away from home with your own home comforts. And of course, you can rent out your caravan to make some return on it. You can find out more about holiday home ownership at Haven parks here.
We absolutely loved our first holiday as a family of four. It was the right holiday for us, with a newborn and a toddler, and showed us how great holidaying in Great Britain can be!
- Easy to travel to
- Ella was kept entertained
- We could bring Ned
- Easy with a newborn
- Drinks and fun for adults too
- You didn’t need to leave the park
- Home from home
- Beach location
- Close to home if any problems
- Caravans lack some toddler proofing
- The sofa had been cleaned and was wet for our first day there, so we were unable to sit on some parts of it
- Travel cot was not set up when we arrived (although we did check in early!)
- Our holiday information arrived in the post while we were there!
- TV remote not working (though this might actually be a pro if you ask me!!)
- Not many at all! We loved our stay!
Thanks to Haven for inviting us to stay for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.