Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us
Butlins turned out smiley
THE Easter long weekend loomed and the weather forecast was for rain – but we didn’t care, we were off to Butlins!
Bognor Regis is officially the sunniest place in Britain, but even Bognor couldn’t shed the gloom of the rain clouds that bombarded the country this Easter.
Lucky then that my tribe were off to the town’s Butlins resort, where they promise all the fun you can cope with under a giant, all-weather pavilion.
We’ve been to Butlins before – last time we stayed in one of their plush new hotels.
But this time we had a Gold apartment, which I frankly preferred.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the ‘all mod cons’ feel of the hotel’s family rooms, with their flat screen TVs and Ikea-style interiors. But after a hard day’s play, it was great to put the girls’ to sleep in their bedroom and relax in the cosy lounge with his and hers leather couches.
The stay started well – the girls were thrilled to find little chocolate eggs on their pillows – and we jumped headfirst into the fun.
When you arrive at Butlins you are handed a planner which details all the shows and events, from the Lazytown stage show and Beauty and the Beast panto, to the numerous kids’ art classes, dance classes, character photocalls and evening entertainment.
Your biggest challenge is to make sure you don’t miss anything – (like the Bob the Builder photocall – sorry about that Mya!) This is a little easier said than done, because around every corner there is a new distraction for your little ankle biters, from free fairground rides, to climbing frames, puppet theatre and a sweetie shop as big as Blackwells!
Studying the planner in Costa coffee shortly after we arrived I was joined by Todd, one of the famous Butlins Red Coats.
You can tell a Red Coat a mile away; They have smiles wider than the Firth of Forth Bridge and they all wear a red coat...
I took the opportunity of quizzing Todd about his uniform.
“The last time we visited”, I told him, “the ‘Reds’ were wearing hideous outfits with long jackets and unflattering wide-leg, cream trousers which made even the slimmest of the girls look chunky.” If Todd was flustered by my rudeness he didn’t show it, he just flashed that smile and launched into some witty banter with my two and five year old – who promptly went completely gooey over him.
We had self-catered on our last visit, but this time around we had ‘premier dining’, which meant breakfast and dinner in one of the resort’s huge restaurants.
This turned out to be a great option in all ways but one.
Our host showed us to our table on our first evening via the dessert station – a glorious collection of cheesecakes, gateaux, tropical fruit, cheese and biscuits and beautifully iced cupcakes, every colour of the rainbow.
Noticing our distraction she smiled as she told us to “pace” ourselves. It was good advice.
Starters were three different salads and two different soups and mains – well, there was chargrilled chicken, burgers and pasta dishes cooked to order, then there were pies, fish and chips, a mouthwatering carvery with all the trimmings, curry and poppadoms, a stir-fry station complete with prawn crackers, a vegetarian section, and even a special child-friendly counter featuring Annabel Karmel meals.
Oh, did I mention the ice-cream machine complete with five kinds of sweets to decorate it with?
The problem was what to choose.
An hour later and with our table struggling to hold a gluttonous number of empty plates, we made our way out of the restaurant – and looked forward to breakfast!
Thankfully there are lots of ways to work off bulging tums at Butlins.
Splash! is Butlins pool, but it’s not just any pool. This pool has slides, rapids, a kids section, a wave machine, whirlpools and even a dinghy ride which whips you around the roof of the pool before dumping you at the bottom again, whooping and laughing your head off (or was that just me?).
We also enjoyed crazy golf, time on a family bike, playing at the numerous climbing frames and a walk along the beach – Butlins Bognor is on the beach front.
After dinner each evening we made our way to the pavilion for the junior disco. An opportunity for the kids to run about before bed and for the adults to show they still know the moves to the Macarena and the Timewarp.
This was followed by the eagerly awaited – and our two girls’ favourites - Skyline Gang.
Candi, Mimi, Pip, Spout, Bud and Dude, dance and sing, delight the little ones and have you singing their songs in your sleep.
In fact, two weeks on from our visit, I can still recite ever word from “Hey! We’re the Skyline Gang” – something I’m not entirely happy about.
But hey! While it continued to rain, on and off, all over Easter, we had a fab time and when people complained about the ‘wash-out’ weekend we remembered a fab few days in the sunniest place in Britain.
Prices at Butlins Bognor Regis start from £60pp per break based on four people sharing a Silver self-catering apartment. To book a Butlins break call 0845 070 4730 or visit www.butlins.com (The maximum call charge is 2p per minute from a BT landline. Calls from other networks may vary)