I've decided to blog our holiday in detail so I don't forget it! We went to Butlins, Bognor Regis. I've always wanted to go to Butlins. As a child I winged about the fact that my parents took us to France camping, when all my mates went to Butlins.
So on Monday we left at 10 and arrived at Butlins at around 12. Greeted at the gate by very friendly redcoats - we parked and left our stuff in the car as we couldn't get into our flat until 4. Went into the Skyline Pavilion - the hub of the park really - checked in and had fish and chips. Discovered the free fairground rides for the boys which were fab, and the soft play centre nicely opposite the Costa Coffee! Had great fun exploring and got into our flat which was so much better than I'd imagined. A little kitchen and table, 2 little sofas (more like large armchairs), a small bathroom with shower and 2 bedrooms. All clean and nice. The oven door was broken and hanging off so I used the text service they have to send an sms with the details. In about 3 minutes there was a man at the door to fix it - excellent service.
We saw from our in"fun"mation guide that the show Oz really wanted to see - the Cartoon Network one - was on that night at 7pm in the main Centre Stage entertainment arena. We headed off there and Oz was in raptures watching 4 arms and a load of other characters he'd never seen up on stage. He refused to join in when asked by redcoats so when all the other kids stood up he stayed sitting down etc...but he loved it. Toby sat with us and insisted on a double parent headlock - as seen below - an arm around each neck and our faces squished together...We didn't realise how long the show would go on for. Both boys wanted drinks but the only non-fizzy ones I could find at the bar (aside from exorbitant J20 drinks) was a slush puppy. I stupidly bought them both one - pure sugar.
By the time we got back to our apartment at 9.30 they were over-tired, over-excited and hopped up on bright blue slush.....I thought they'd go to bed.....oh no......
We had a 2 bedroom apartment - I thought it would be nice for them to share for the first time. I also didn't think about the fact that Toby was going to be in a bed for the first time too. What the hell was I thinking? A night from hell ensued. We tried to get Toby down first. He was too giggly. Oscar joined him, we tucked them in, turned off the lights.....2 seconds later Oscar is urging Toby to get out of bed and open the door. Which he then happily did about 20 times. Threats, shouting, cajoling...begging.....nothing worked. Eventually we put Oscar in our bed. It's now 11.30pm.
I had to wait for Oz to drop off, then Rob put him back in the twin bedroom and we went to bed. Rob snored. So loudly it woke me up. I couldn't get back to sleep no matter which way I poked him to turn over. I even made him put a nose strip on and it didn't make a jot of difference. I ended up on the 2ft baby leather sofa with a cricked neck and legs hanging off from the knees over the edge. The seagulls then started up. So I got about 4 hours sleep in total that night.
Rob, bless him, took the kids straight out in the morning to the beach so I could have a couple of hours sleep but I was still a zombie all day. Both boys were tired and whiny....we stayed on the park playing on the fair rides and the climbing frames and then they were in the creche for 2 hours which they seemed to like.
When we got them we hit the pool. We had to queue for 20 minutes to get in and then wait for a changing room. It was insanely busy - I stayed with Toby who was obsessed with a baby waterslide and was going up and down it constantly. There were rapids, multiple slides, a whole construction of slides and sprays in the middle. It was noisy pandemonium. Then Rob shouted me and I turned to see him on the side with a bleeding Oscar.
Oz had run away from him, through the floor level rapids and fallen and gashed his head on the water pipe. The lifeguard took us into a faintly grubby first aid room and dabbed at it with a tissue while asking me to fill in a complicated form. I told her I wanted a butterfly stitch or bandage on it as it was a rip in his skin and wouldn't stop bleeding. She offered me a plaster and assured me she was first aid trained. Well so am I babe and I know that he needed a butterfly to hold it closed. All through this conversation, Toby was sat on Rob's lap shouting "bugger it" - words he's never said before.....strange.....
We had to get dressed - Oscar was in floods of tears because he didn't want to get out of the pool - Toby still screaming "bugger" at the top of his voice - walk over to Guest Services while they found someone who was a "a bit more first aid trained than our life guards"....the security girl they found was brilliant - taped shut the cut but then I had to fill out another A4 form. I was furious.
We went back to the flat where Toby started playing with his dinosaurs screaming "fuck you" as he bashed them into the sofa.
Now I'm quite proud of the fact that I control my potty mouth in front of my kids. I've NEVER said the f word in their earshot which is a fucking acheivement in 5 years. And after 2 hours in a Butlin's nursery, my son is fing and buggering all over the place.
I wasn't amused. We decided to skip any evening entertainment and chuck the kids in bed normal time (7pm).
Luckily they both slept through till 7am. Rob and I were in bed by 9 and did the same so Wednesday was a much better day!
We realised there was an under-6 only session every morning in the pool between 8 and 9. They didn't turn on any slides or jets so it was much nicer. No queuing, no waiting for a changing room - just swimming with the boys.
As we were walking back through the skyline we found the "opening ceremony" happening which is redcoats and some characters doing a sing session and then meeting and greeting the kids. Toby fell in love with Dino (of course) who was wonderful with him afterwards, bending down to cuddle him and patting him on the head, giving him high 5's and lots of attention. It made Toby's day!
So this became our routine from then on. Do LOADS in the day - swim first thing, meet the characters, do the shows, but forget the evening entertainment - be back at the flat by 7 for bed.
And it worked perfectly. We explored the seafront of Bognor to get away from the resort for a while.
We went to a local park and Oz had a go on a pedalo (he sat....Rob pedalled!)
We spent time in the excellent funfair - all rides free! I loved the carousel best but Oz convinced me to get on a tugboat ride....it was scarier than I imagined! He loved it though.Happy Mummy!Happy Oz and slightly queasy Mummy....
On the last day Oz worked out that there were people inside the character suits as he spotted a zip on Daisy Cow! Innocence lost!
Toby was still enchanted....
The boys and Bob!
Oscar's choice of going home present....
All in all a fun holiday - more for the kids than the adults. At Center Parcs there's more for the adults I think - and not as much stuff, certainly not FREE stuff for the children.
Next time I'd either like to go just for the weekend, or go with another family so the grown ups have eachother for entertainment and company. (I'm not being pervy with that statement - I meant conversationally).
It was brilliant. The Redcoats are amazing - they never stop smiling. Incredibly helpful staff (apart from the thick lifeguard) and fantastic facilities.
We nearly left on Thursday night - I had ideas that we'd stay as late as possible on our last day, meet up with some friends who were arriving for the weekend for lunch perhaps....said friend had warned me we'd be scarpering as early as possible and she was right! We were on the road by 9.30. In fact, Rob said, just as we were putting the boys to bed on Thursday night, that we should have left that evening and I almost wish we had.
I loved the holiday but it was bloody bliss to be back home - especially a spotlessly clean home since Milla had been after we'd left on Monday. Can't wait to have a bath and sleep in my own lovely bed with lovely clean sheets and my cuddly duvet. And my earplugs.