This year we've booked up a week at Centerparcs in July. This left us with a little in the holiday fund, so we decided to take up one of the newspaper offers of a cheap caravan holiday. We booked up a 5 day (Monday to Friday) stay at Marton Mere caravan park in Blackpool for the first week in April. The Scottish schools were off this week but not the English ones, so it was nice and quiet. On the negative side it was freezing cold and Blackpool was pretty much shut.
After driving down, checking in (plus a free face paint) and finding our caravan, we just had time to unpack, take a visit to Tesco for the week's provisions and have a quick meal before the Haven evening entertainment began. This consists of sketches, music and dance by the staff dressed as Haven's set of cartoon characters: Rory the Tiger, Bradley Bear and so on. There's a different show on each night and the kids love it. The characters sometimes take a walk through the entertainment complex at random times as well, so there are plenty of photo opportunities.
After driving rain all Monday and a night spent with high winds and more rain, Tuesday was still not great for going out anywhere. Instead we spent the day at the park and booked up a few of the activities available. We started the day off with a dip in the pool, which was commendably clean and fresh. Then we went to the Circus Skills training, where we had a go at spinning plates, juggling and the diablo.
The two activities we had to pay for were archery and aqua gliders. These were both well worth the five or six pounds and the staff were very good with the kids at both events.
For the archery the kids were given a bit of tuition, then plenty of chances to try out their skills on the targets. At the end, each one was given a certificate.
We did venture out briefly during the afternoon and went down to the front. There was a lot of construction work going on to get ready for the summer, so bits of the prom and some of attractions were shut.
The second paid activity of the day was the aqua gliders. These are little inflatable boats with propellors underneath which the kids can pilot around the pool. They had great fun with these and had a chance to try out some hand-powered pedal boats as well.
Blackpool has a large indoor water park, called the Sandcastle, down at the front near the Pleasure Beach. We visited this on Wednesday morning and spent a good two hours in the wave pool, the rapids, on the flumes and generally having a great time.
Afterwards we came out to eat our lunch and had a walk/cycle along the prom. Unfortunately the tide was in so we couldn't go down to the beach. But we had a good bit of exercise chasing after Cate on her bike.
After our walk along the prom we made a little detour on the way back to visit Stanley Park. They have a good play park, but we didn't stay for too long. Tiredness got the better of us.
We booked tickets for the Pleasure Beach online, several weeks ahead, to save on the admission price. This meant that we were trusting the weather to hold up when it got to the day. Sure enough we had the sunniest day of the week and though it started cold, it warmed up later.
We managed to get on most of the rides which didn't bar Cate for height reasons. Cate revelled in the Big Dipper and the Avalanche, both "white knuckle" rides. But she didn't like the ghost train at all. Scariest for me was the aeroplane ride near the entrance. The planes tilt quite far and there's no safety harness.
We stopped for lunch but discovered a valuable lesson when I tried to fetch our packed lunch. They don't let you take food into the place. So we trooped out to eat lunch on the prom before heading back in again. Another go on the Big Dipper and a look at the builders behind schedule at getting Nickelodeonland open, then we tried the wet ride, Valhalla, to finish off. It was very wet, with a touch of fire, steam and ice as well. But mostly just wet.
The caravan park we stayed at is beside a small lake, or mere. We managed to get down there for a look around before we left, and it made a nice change from the amusements. Overall a decent holiday. I was quite impressed at the shows and activities put on at the Park, and the staff were very good.
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