For the past couple of years, Martins parents, brother & his family and our family have been lucky enough to go away on holiday to Butlins in Skegness for a week. It’s always a fun-filled week, with plenty to do for the kids and us adults too! This year the weather wasn’t quite on our side (typical British Holiday weather!) but we didn’t let it hinder our fun too much!
In true man fashion, Martin decided Monday morning at 8.30am he would start on taking the tiles off our bathroom wall ready for my dad to come and re-tile later in the week. I’m not sure what possesses men to do absurd jobs such as this on days when you’ve clearly got plans! But we finally set off Monday morning – not without stopping off for a full-English breakfast beforehand! Lily had already decided she wanted to travel with Nanny and Grandad (and who are we to argue with a 6 year old?!) Amazingly, we (I) managed to fit everything into our little Almera – it was a bit like playing tetris, nothing was coming out until we were unpacking at Butlins. We don’t live too far from Skegness, so the journey was only just over an hour or so, and William was a saint and slept virtually the whole way there! Once we arrived, the men & kids went off to find the apartments – leaving us ladies to stand with the unlocked cars with all our luggage in…(man logic.) Eventually they returned and we all took a stroll to the Pavilion as we had arrived earlier than the time for checking into the apartments.
If you’ve never been to Butlins, it is quite simply a multi-complex of activities with accommodation on site; so you never have to leave the site if you don’t wish to! From a fairground to indoor table tennis, there is bound to be something for you to enjoy. We made a pit stop at the fairground for tots as we had to pass it to get to the Pavilion. (Which is all included in the price of the holiday, so no paying for each ride; it’s just jump on and go!) Here, William had his first ever go on a ride – ever – and without me or daddy holding him! He sat next to Lily, and his cousins behind him. At first I think he enjoyed it, but as the ride went on he wasn’t so sure haha – thank god for safety straps! He then decided that one ride was enough for him and didn’t go on any more. We continued down the fairground and Lily found a few more rides she wanted to go on, and at the end was a little park play area where the kids had a run around and a play on the see-saw, and then we made it to the pavilion.
The Pavilion: It’s big, loud and packed with entertainment. In the centre is a big stage, with lots of tables and chairs in front of it on a raised plinth, and at the back of the plinth is a milkshake shop! Whilst us adults sat and enjoyed a drink, the girls went down to the dance floor and started showing off their moves, when out of nowhere the Skyline Gang showed up! (The Skyline Gang are basically the mascots of Butlins; they are unique to Butlins and put on shows throughout the week for the kids!) They were brilliant with the kids, playing games and entertaining them! Once they were finished, we headed back to the apartments and started moving in! (with the amount of stuff we all took, that’s exactly how it felt!)
Our apartments were lovely! With there being 10 of us, we had two apartments next to each other. Martin, William & I shared with Nanny & Grandad, and Lily shared the other apartment with Ella & Thomas and Aunty Jo & Uncle Scott. We even had back doors that led out onto an enclosed square of grass which was perfect for the kids as we could let them run around out there whilst we busied ourselves in the apartment. My only downfall for the apartment was its location. We were quite far out from the pavilion compared to other years when we were literally a stones throw away, but that’s just me being idle and lazy! Once we were all unpacked and settled, we freshened up and headed back to the pavilion for dinner. This year we opted to go for the premium dining at Butlins: and it didn’t disappoint! All you can eat breakfast and dinner buffets with a wide variety each day just made it that much more of a holiday; No cooking or washing up each day, winner!
On the first night, the Skyline Gang were back in action with a show which the kids thoroughly enjoyed! Jo and I stayed with the kids whilst the others went to play a game of pool in Hotshots. Nanny bought the girls a flag each with their favourite Skyline member on, and at the end of the show the Skyline Gang were on the floor ready for a meet & greet session, where the girls got their flags signed and photos taken with them! – Even William got to say hello! We then all regrouped in Hotshots, where I totally beat Martin at a game of pool (to which he will deny as he potted the black ball – BUT he hit my ball first! Auto win to me right??)
Back at the apartment, I didn’t think much to the beds either. They squeaked, creaked and made all sorts of sounds every time I rolled (which was a lot, finding a comfy position to sleep in whilst pregnant isn’t the easiest of things!) however we had William in our room, so I was consciously trying not to make too much noise as to wake him, but by 4am every morning he’d joined us in bed anyway. The curtains were amazing though! They kept the room in a state of darkness really well. I’m definitely going to be buying blackout curtains!
Even with the amazing black out curtains, every morning William was up by 7.30am. We’d make our way into the living room so as to not wake Martin up, and make a cuppa tea for me and a bottle for William to keep us going until breakfast. (With there being 10 of us, trying to get everyone ready by a certain time wasn’t always simple!) On Tuesday, we’d all decided to go swimming, so we packed our gear up for that and took it with us to breakfast to save time traipsing back to the apartment afterwards! Once we’d had breakfast, we let the kids have a quick ponder around the arcades and have a go on a few of the little rides to let breakfast settle before swimming when the Skyline Gang showed up again! The kids once again had brilliant fun interacting with them, to the point where I think Lily thought they were all BFF’s!
Off we all went swimming. I absolutely love the swimming pools at Butlins! There’s a few to choose from and 3 slides to go down too, not forgetting the rapids! (Which I sadly didn’t go on this year.) There is a speakerphone system which the lifeguards use to alert swimmers of lost children or for adults to go to specific areas etc…It can be hard to hear at times as it is so busy and loud in there! We were having a whale of a time, and then everyone was asked to get out of all the pools as there was a missing child. Presumably the noise was just too loud to hear the speaker, or the child was just having too much fun! But within 2 minutes we were allowed back into the pools and resume play. I was amazed at how quick and efficient this was, kudos to the lifeguards on that day for their communication!
For Martin and I, that was the only time we went swimming during the week. Lily and her cousins went a few more times, but we were happy to wander around and amuse ourselves & William with other things Butlins had to offer! Thanks to Nanny and Grandad, we also managed to squeeze a date night in and watch the new Transformers film at the cinema on site.
On Wednesday, it was awful weather. We actually drove from our apartment to the breakfast dining area! (Being so far away, we’dve looked like drowned rats before the had begun!) This day just became a write off to be honest, we spent so much time aimlessly wandering and saying “what shall we do then?” that before we knew it, it was almost dinner time. Still, we watched a few performances in the pavilion; there seemed to be a lot more ‘interval acts’ in between the main stage shows which was lovely for the kids to be kept entertained. Lily went swimming again with her cousins, and Martin & I took William to one of the arcades. We played bingo – which had been revamped and updated to electronic systems this year! (A little saddened by this, it was always the same man before calling the numbers!) & then we let William play a few ball games too. – He wasn’t very happy when the games ended and the balls didn’t return back…
The best day of the holiday for me was Thursday! We took a trip off site to Fantasy Island which is literally a 5 minute car journey away. Fantasy Island is a little theme park with rollercoasters and all kinds of other rides, with an indoor attraction area too with more rides, mini-golf, arcade games – the lot! Not only is it a theme park, underneath the rollercoasters is a market! This is what we’d planned to come for. Unfortunately Jo and the kids stayed at Butlins, so they spent the day amusing themselves on site. At the markets, Lily had her own pennies to spend which she did in record time (as any 6 year old would!) She returned with 3 teddies, a bag of sweeties, a hair clip, a hair bun-roller and twisty bobble AND a dream catcher. At first she wasn’t keen on coming, because she thought it was going to be like the local market we get at home; but once we explained what was there she was just as excited as we were!
We watched Martin and Uncle Scott go on some of the big rides and rollercoasters, and whilst they went zooming off, Lily played a game of ‘hook-a-duck’ where she won a pretty big koala teddy! – I was really surprised at the toy because usually you get really pants prizes that are half the size and shoddily made, so I was more than happy to take this one home and not ‘lose it’ on the way (heh.) Lily even asked to go on the log flume with Uncle Scott! Which, for Lily was a big moment as she is the biggest wuss going when it comes to trying anything new which is why I’m not 100% she realised that it went up and splashed down…Her face was priceless! (I’m so glad I recorded it!) But even so, I was so proud of her for going on. We left the big kids to play, and wandered into the indoor amusements where Lily and I played a game of mini-golf. I’ve no idea who won because we gave up counting and had more fun trying to hit the balls into the holes! – It was themed around dinosaurs, and they had models of dinosaurs all throughout the mini-golf area with a recorded sound of what the dinosaur would’ve made…A word of warning, they are loud and unexpected. One of them made Lily jump so much she started to cry (which, as the good parent I am, had me in stitches!) we laughed it off and I managed to pre-warn her of others up ahead. We then had a few more goes on other indoor rides and regrouped with Martin & Scott.
I managed to bag myself a new top and cardigan from the markets, and a few new towels for home too (they’re so soft!) It was an awesome place to visit, and I’m contemplating even heading up there again just for the day to peruse the market stalls again later in the year. Once back at Butlins, we chilled out in the apartment for a bit and Lily coloured in a picture Martin had bought for her just as we were leaving. We all regrouped for dinner, and by the time we finished Lily, William and I managed to catch the 2nd half of the Skyline Gang’s new Pirate show. Afterwards, Jo and Ella met us and the girls got to meet the gang again and get a group photo!
Friday morning saw us packing up the apartments and playing tetris with the cars again. We drove the cars down to the dining room again as we didn’t stay after breakfast, and so it would’ve been a pointless walk back to the apartment when we weren’t going back there anymore. Lily drove home with Nanny and Grandad, and both her and William zonked out minutes after leaving Butlins!
All in all, our week away was definitely needed and well worth it! Yes we took Lily out of school, but in my eyes she gained new experiences and put into practise what she was being taught at school; i.e. money value, so it wasn’t detrimental to her education. It’s also allowed us to spend quality time with the whole family in a great environment.
Bring on next year!
Do you go on family holidays? Have you been to a Butlins resort?
*note: This is a personal account of our holiday, I had no endorsements or payment for my opinions/reviews*