Tips for booking a short break to Disneyland Paris

I took my 2 and nearly-5 year old sons to Disneyland Paris during February half-term. It was a sort of birthday party for my eldest. I figured it would be much more fun and only slightly more expensive than inviting the whole class to a village hall for a couple of hours!

However, I had never been to Disneyland Paris before and I had no idea what I was doing. It was fine, but it turns out, if you’re only going to spend a few days in Disneyland Paris, you need to have a game plan. Otherwise, you’re going to be wandering around, getting stuck in crowds and queues, and end up wasting an awful lot of your time.

My time and money has already been wasted by my lack of preparation, but it’s not too late for you! Over the next few weeks I’m going to be sharing some tips I learned from experience to help you have a cheaper, more efficient, and more fun-filled trip to Disneyland Paris than I did. This first post focuses on the booking process, and you can come back later to hear more about organising your time in the parks, where to eat and where to stay.

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Think hard about how long you can go

We chose a 3-night break mainly based on the fact it was cheaper than a 4-night break. But between recovering from our journey and just getting our bearings, I really do think we could have used that extra night. It was time to leave just as we were getting into the swing of things. So if you can possibly afford it, book 4 nights. It will probably only cost a couple hundred pounds more and will at least double your enjoyment of your break.

Consider the pros and cons of different accommodation

Well of course you COULD stay anywhere … you don’t have to stay at a Disney hotel. However, it is completely false economy to stay elsewhere. If you don’t stay in a Disney hotel, you will waste time travelling to and from the park, you will spend €20 per day on parking, and you won’t have access to Extra Magic Hours.

The Extra Magic Hours alone are worth staying in a Disney hotel. These allow you to enter the park at 8am, while the rest of the world can’t get in until 10am. I will explain in a future post just how valuable this privilege is if used in a shrewd fashion.

Any of the main Disney hotels that are walking distance from the park are a good choice. However, we stayed at Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch. It has all of the perks of an official Disney hotel, but it’s a 15-minute drive away. It was by far the cheapest Disney hotel, and it was great for us because you stay in a static caravan with plenty of space for the family. I’ll write a further review of this hotel in a different post.

Booking the extras

At booking stage, Disney offers you a few things you can book in advance as part of your booking. They have different discount offers at different times, so there will be different bargains to be had at different times. Here’s my perspective on whether you should bother with some of these extras.

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show

We didn’t actually go to this. The reason why is because we were there with a 2-year-old who almost certainly wouldn’t enjoy sitting still for a live show like this. You should definitely consider whether your kids would enjoy a show like this and whether they would cope for the 90 minutes of the show. However, I hear that children aged 3+ do enjoy it and that the food is pretty good.

Also be aware that unless you are being offered a special discount at booking stage, the only reason to book the show at the same time as booking your holiday is for convenience. You could either book directly through Disney at another time, or you may be able to find cheaper tickets through a third-party site.

Disney Photopass

The Photopass is a way of prepaying for any/all photos you get professionally taken with characters in the parks, or on the few rides where they snap you as you are on it. This is only worth the money if you are really into having pictures with Disney characters, and are happy to spend about 45 minutes queuing up for each character. For us, we would rather go on rides during our short time there. We did sign up for the pass and got precisely one decent photo of us all with Mickey, and a less than flattering picture of me on Buzz Lightyear’s ride. This was not good value for money for us!

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Disney Character Breakfast at Cafe Mickey

Breakfast at Cafe Mickey is a perfect way to get pictures with lots of characters without the 45 minute queue per character. But these pictures are not included in the Photopass – you have to take them yourself. And the lighting is terrible. Also, the food at Cafe Mickey was THE WORST we had. It was a poor breakfast buffet touted as American, but there were no American pancakes or waffles. It just had dry French pastries, insipid soggy scrambled eggs and the usual French continental breakfast stuff (salami and cheese bits).

Plus, the atmosphere is atrocious. The cafeteria-like space reverberates with ear-splitting Disney adverts sporting that overly peppy instrumental background music. The restaurant is packed full to the brim with as many punters as possible, and there is a long queue for the food. I got yelled at by the restaurant staff when I tried to fill more than one plate of food at a time – so that I didn’t have to queue 3 times to feed my 2 kids and myself.

We had booked this as a special birthday breakfast for my son, and it nearly brought me to tears. I found it so disappointing. However, my son did love seeing all the characters. We had Mickey, Goofy, Smee from Peter Pan, The White Rabbit, and Pluto.

The people in the character suits were very kind. My son missed Pluto at first because he was going to the toilet when Pluto came to our table. But when Pluto saw my son crying, he came back and gave him an extra special cuddle. That absolutely saved the whole thing for me.IMG_20170217_102526.jpg

Disney meal plan

We had a standard full board meal plan included as part of our booking. It was a special offer. However, even if meal plans aren’t on special offer when you book, I highly recommend a meal plan. Even the buffet restaurants cost around £20/adult for a single meal, and generally on the meal plan that will cover an adult’s food for the entire day. Plus, you can also use the standard meal plan vouchers as a cash credit in restaurants not included on your plan.

Importantly, the buffets at Disneyland Paris are nice. I mean knock-me-over-with-creamy-patisserie nice. I generally hate buffets, and expected the Disney ones to be no different from those you find at cheap all-inclusive resorts in Benidorm. But the variety, type, and quality of the food everywhere we went (except Cafe Mickey) was amazing. I’ll write another post about the restaurants later.

There are a staggering and intimidating amount of different meal plans to choose from. I suggest checking out DLP Guide’s page for the clearest explanation.

Planning your transportation

If you aren’t into driving, you could take the Eurostar straight to Disneyland Paris. Disney even has a special service to help you with your luggage (if you’re staying at a Disney hotel). You could also take a plane, and even then rent a car from the airport if you like.

But my family loves to drive to our destinations. It’s so much easier to just throw all the crap in the car, and you can bring a lot more crap than you could without a car. If you decide to drive, you need to choose between taking a ferry across the Channel or the Eurotunnel train.

I highly recommend the Eurotunnel. It can sometimes be a bit more expensive than a ferry, but it is so much faster. Just 30 minutes and you are across the Channel. On our trip, we took the train there but took a ferry back because it was the cheaper option. The ferry got caught up in heavy fog and it took us over 4 hours to make our crossing. In future, it will be Eurotunnel for us every time.

But is it really worth it?

I’ll be honest with you. There are some people who are absolutely Disney addicts – adults who just love it and will put up with anything for the magical bits that you get. I like Disney, but I am not ardent about it. There is a lot about a Disney trip with young children that is purely exhausting. And when it comes to Disneyland Paris, it really isn’t as good as Disneyworld in Florida (sorry).

However, if you live in the UK and you have very small children, like we do, it is truly worth it. It’s much closer and cheaper than Paris – you wouldn’t be able to go all the way to Florida for just 3 nights. The trip wore me out and tested my patience, but my children were SO happy. The light in their eyes after each magical ride was worth every aching muscle I had later.

Pop back to my blog in the coming weeks for some more info on how to plan your time at the parks, where to eat and a review of where we stayed.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

A Shrek Adventure with my big boy

Earlier this week I took my son on a day out in London on his last day before starting school. It was such a treat to go to London with just one child who doesn’t need a pushchair, bibs, bottles, purees or any other heavy equipment in order to enjoy the day.

The main attraction of the day was our trip to Shrek’s Adventure, and I thought I’d write a little review in case you’ve been wondering whether it was worth a trip.

The background

As you may know, the Shrek franchise is part of the DreamWorks film company. They are your leading alternative to Disney movies, and they do it well. I have loved Shrek since the first movie came out in 2001 – well before my kids were even a glimmer in my eye. I love the moral that you don’t need to be beautiful or popular to be a hero. And the snappy one-liners.

That must be Lord Farquaad’s castle … Do you think he’s maybe compensating for something?

Other DreamWorks films include Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and (more recent but less well known) Home. All of them have great modern soundtracks and clever dialogue that the parents can enjoy too. One of my favourite ever film lines is from Kung Fu Panda:

There is no charge for awesomeness. Or attractiveness.

So this was one of those days out that was (selfishly?) just as much about me as it was about my son. I was giggling like a little girl the whole time.

The practical stuff

It is a bit expensive, but you can save money if you book in advance online. The online price is £18.90 per adult and £15.30 per child. shrek portraitThis is about on a par with other London attractions though, and well worth it considering the quality of the show.

I highly recommend booking well in advance if you’re going during half-term or other busy times. I had tried to go last half-term and there were no tickets available when I went online to book the day before. However, today, as some kids were already back to school, it was virtually empty – which was awesome.

It’s in a great location on the South Bank, close to Waterloo Station and next to other attractions such as Sea Life, the London Dungeons and the London Eye. If you want to see more than one thing, you can save money buying combi tickets.

The best bits

I obviously won’t give away all the details, as that would ruin the fun, but here are a few of our favourite bits.

The show starts out with a 4D bus ride. In case you’re unfamiliar with 4D, that’s where, on top of the film being in 3D, they do other stuff to make the environment seem realistic, like squirt water at you if you’re being splashed in the film. It wasn’t just any bus ride – it flies through the air from London to the Kingdom of Far Far Away. My son thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Rather than landing in Far Far Away, you crash there – for reasons I’ll keep a surprise – and then you are sent on a quest to find a way back home to London. Obviously, well-known characters from the Shrek franchise will be there to help or hinder you.

You wander through a series of realistic fairytale sets, and actors play the Shrek characters. There is also a bit of direct audience participation, and it’s all very silly with lots of gross-out humour. It really is entertainment for the whole family.  It’s a little piece of theme park magic.

At the enPhoto with Shrekd of your quest, you get to meet a real live Shrek and take pictures with him using your own camera. This is so nice because it would be very easy for a place like this to insist the only photos you get are the ones they try to sell you.

The staff were so lovely as well. When we got to the Shrek photo opportunity bit, my phone (which I’d turned off because I <always> follow the rules) was taking AGES to boot up. I went to the end of the photo queue and it was still booting when I got to the front. The woman working there let me stand off to the side for as long as it took (it must have been at least 15 minutes), and then come back when I was ready, so we wouldn’t miss out. This was beyond the call of duty and I really appreciated it.

While we were waiting, a giant King Julien (from Madagascar) had a dance party with my son.

I like to move it, move it!

After we finally got our Shrek photo, we came out into an area that had loads of bits from the other Dreamworks movies, with cool things you could pose with for photos, and a Kung Fu Panda computer game. We stayed in this area for ages and, again, no one rushed us along, which was great.

kung-fu-pandaFinally, we came out into the bit where they try to sell you pictures they took of you during the show. These had been taken in front of a green screen and they were actually really good quality. I have to admit to being suckered in.

We got a ‘Far Far Away travel journal’ with all of our pictures in, and stories and activities related to the movies. It also came with a keyring and magnet with our pictures in, and you are able to download the photos for use online. It was £25, but it was a really special day and I’m happy with spending this for the memories. My son has wanted to read his travel journal before bed every night.

The verdict

I think this is the most exotic adventure you can have with a young child in London. The website says children under 6 might be too afraid at this attraction, but my son is 4 and is very sensitive, and he was totally fine. It’s definitely worth a visit if you like theme parks, Dreamworks movies and/or adventure!

For the avoidance of doubt, this is not a sponsored review. I paid my own way!

The Pramshed

A day at Shanklin Beach, Isle of Wight

A family day out with possible abseiling and a race against time

Getting there

When I go on holiday, I’m usually a stickler about doing my research. I buy a guidebook and read stuff online, and any day trips are carefully planned. However, this time I was all tired out from planning the umpteen million things I needed to pack to keep my kids happy. So when we decided to go to the beach, I said, “I heard Shanklin’s good”, and blithely chose a Shanklin car park on my sat nav.

So I’m not sure what other people’s sat navs are like, but mine loves going off the beaten track. I have troves of holiday photos of roads that end abruptly in the middle of a field of sheep or that require me to ford a small stream. I therefore should not have been surprised when my blithely chosen car park did get me near the beach. It was just a quick abseil down a massive cliff to get there.

So we tried again and figured out that we wanted the Shanklin Esplanade. This is the bit where you can actually get to a beach without mountaineering equipment.

Our second mistake was deciding we’d turn up at the beach “just in time for lunch”. There were loads of car parks on the Esplanade plus parking along the road, but every single last spot was full. It was an exceptionally nice day, but this was still on an off-season weekday so I wasn’t expecting the busyness. We wasted quite a bit of time driving up and down, stalking pedestrians who might be returning to their car, in the effort to find a spot. We finally gave up on parking on the Esplanade and drove back up the hill, where after a bit more stalking we found a spot. It was a parallel parking sort of one so it’s a good thing my husband was driving. I’m so bad at parallel parking we’d probably still be there, going back and forth, trying to get closer to the kerb.

TOP TIP: Either go early to nab a parking spot or plan to drop your family and beach kit on the beach while the unlucky driver parks the car wherever he or she can.

So we piled all of our stuff out of the car at the top of the hill. And we really brought a lot of stuff. A tent, sand toys, swim kits & towels, a very large changing bag packed to the brim with things I’m sure I couldn’t have managed without … It’s a good thing we have a big pushchair with all-terrain wheels.

However we had foolishly retired the double-buggy extra seat, thinking 4-year-old could now manage without. Not very long after leaving the car and really quite some way from the restaurant we wanted for lunch, my big boy started doing some of his very best whingeing. First it was just “my little feet are tired” and “I’m hungry”. But then he uttered the phrase that strikes fear into my heart: “I need the toilet”.

I learned something on this day. I will go a long way to avoid a public toileting accident. Ever since my son in younger years made a trail across the church hall which the vicar then cleaned up. I guess I was traumatised. So as soon as he uttered these words, I scooped him up and began carrying him as fast as I could to the nearest toilet. However, it seemed everywhere that looked like it might have a toilet either didn’t or required you to queue up with the customers and get a key. So I ended up carrying him (along with the overstuffed changing bag) about half-a-mile all the way to restaurant, sweating and puffing while my son whinged about his bladder and the haphazard way I was carrying him.

TOP TIP: Later in the day, I learned that there were public toilets RIGHT F__ING NEXT TO where my son had first announced his toilet emergency. Near the entrance of the Esplanade near Pirates Cove Mini Golf, which looks awesome, btw. In fact, I’ve later realised that my son often says he wants a wee when he sees a public toilet sign, so that’s probably all it was in the first place.

Lunch at The Waterfront Inn

Chosen via an extremely brief and careless Google search, mainly based on its location, I was happy with my lunch there. To be honest, after our mad dash for the loo, the most important part of my lunch was the beautiful cold pint of cider.

But the atmosphere was great. There was terraced outdoor seating at the front of the restaurant looking out towards the beach, and most of it was in the shade. You have to order at the bar, but there were still plenty of smiling and helpful staff about to get highchairs, advise where to park the buggy, etc.

View from The Waterfront Inn, Shanklin, Isle of Wight

I ordered the seared tuna with salsa verde and husband had mussels in a Thai-flavoured sauce. There was a lot of variety on the kids menu. Older boy had lasagne with garlic bread and youngest had fish and chips. The kids food was very good quality (I stole a lot of it), and they ate as much as they usually do when the food in unobjectionable (i.e. not a whole helluva lot). Husband seemed to enjoy his mussels too. My only complaint is that my seared tuna was fully cooked through. I thought seared tuna meant it was a bit raw in the middle. But it was still perfectly edible and I cleaned my plate.

And now to the actual beach…

The beach is all sandy and beautiful and there were plenty of places to “cop a squat“, as they say in Pretty Woman.

Now, those of you, dear readers, who grew up in England may be no strangers to pitching a tent on the beach. I suppose the weather here often necessitates that sort of thing. But I had never before had a tent on a beach. I grew up in the USA where I’ve never seen that done. But, boy am I converted. We had shade, a place to hide our stuff where it wouldn’t get blown away, and best of all a place to change without seeking out a changing room. I am never going to the beach without a tent again. So worth carrying THAT down the hill.

So we pitched our tent and we all changed into our swim kits INSIDE THE TENT. Okay, I’ll stop going on about it.

It’s simply a brilliant beach. The English Channel water is really freeze your arse off cold though. And if you can handle the cold, be sure you wear some aqua shoes because even though the beach is sandy, it’s very rocky once you’re inside the water. But other than that it’s clean, sandy, spacious and scenic.

It was my youngest son’s first time at the seaside. He hurtled himself towards the water yelling “Sea! Sea! Sea!”. While my oldest dug himself a hole full of water to make a nice safe paddling pool. Good times.

The verdict

I reckon if you’re visiting the Isle of Wight during beach sort of weather, Shanklin Beach is a must-see.

ShelliconShelliconShelliconShellicon4 out of 5 shells (I had to penalise them one for the parking fiasco, even though it was mostly my fault)

Red Funnel ferry to the Isle of Wight

Enjoying the Solent crossing with snacks and pretending to drive the boat.

My last post was about our Isle of Wight holiday and this one gives credit to an important part of us getting there. Should you wish to visit the Isle of Wight, I highly recommend Red Funnel ferries.

The boats were spacious with plenty of air-conditioned indoor seating and outside deck seating. There were several different places to buy food. We had coffee, juice and cake during our outgoing morning crossing and ice cream on the way home. There is a special pet-friendly lounge if you’re bringing your dog, and more importantly a child-friendly lounge featuring a giant computer touch screen with games. It also had a little table for playing trains, although unfortunately people had stolen all the trains. Nevertheless, my 1-year-old enjoyed pretending the train tracks were bricks and climbing over and under the train table.

Best of all, if you ask nicely and the weather is good, you can visit the bridge and meet the captain. My 4-year-old asked to meet the captain and so the two of us crept up the narrow stairs to the bridge. My son got a little intimidated once we were there and didn’t want to sit in the captain’s chair, but he did begrudgingly accept the captain’s binoculars. I restrained myself from sitting in the captain’s chair despite desperately wanting to.

I totally geeked out asking the captain how he drives the boat and “what does that do”. He was very kind and informative, and even posed for a picture with us. I didn’t ask him if I could post his picture so I’ve just posted a picture of boat-driving wheels and walkie-talkies. Well, I found them exciting.

The crossing takes about an hour and it costs us £65 round trip for our car with roof rack, using a Sun newspaper discount that came with our holiday. The Solent crossing is well-known for being the most expensive crossing in relation to distance, but at least the boat was good.

The verdict

This was the best short-haul ferry I’ve ever been on.

ShelliconShelliconShelliconShelliconShellicon5 out of 5 shells

Thorness Bay Holiday Park, Isle of Wight

A review of Thorness Bay Holiday Park, Isle of Wight

How did we end up there?

So I have a confession to make before we even get started. I love going on so-called “Sun Holidays”. And by that, I don’t necessarily mean holidays in the sun. I mean holidays purchased through The Sun newspaperNow I don’t personally read The Sun at all, and my husband claims to read it “only for the sport”. So for me it is a purely mercenary relationship. The Sun offers extremely discounted holidays to caravan parks in the UK and parts of Europe, and at the prices they offer, you really can’t go wrong. You usually have to collect vouchers by buying the paper a few days in a row and then book online.

Before I first went on one of these holidays, I scoffed at the idea, but have since been completely converted. Caravans offer loads of space in a quiet rural setting, while the park still offers many facilities you might find at a hotel, such as a swimming pool, bar and evening entertainment. With young children in tow, it’s great to have a kitchen to clean their special cups and bibs, prepare their snacks and emergency meals, and to keep some beer/wine/gin for yourself on standby. My husband and I also really love putting the children to sleep in their own bedroom and having adult time afterwards – something you don’t get in most hotels.

This holiday to the Isle of Wight is the first time in ages (and certainly since we’ve had kids) that we’ve had a “staycation” that didn’t involve visiting family. My husband is always keen to go abroad, but I want to see more of the UK because I grew up abroad and this country is just as exciting to me as anywhere else. So we finally agreed on the Isle of Wight because it’s <slightly> exotic, being an island and all. It looked to have nice beaches and slightly better than average weather for the UK.

My first choice of caravan park on the Isle of Wight was sold out, and I was offered two alternatives. I duly did my research and decided which of my remaining choices was better, and then accidentally booked the one I’d deemed the worst based on existing reviews. I wasn’t even drinking wine at the time. Like it or not, we were Thorness Bay bound.

Getting there

One of the great benefits of the Isle of Wight is that it’s quite a quick journey compared to some other popular UK destinations, such as Cornwall. I haven’t been to Cornwall for a long time, but I seem to remember 7-8 hours drive culminating in winding single-lane roads where you had to back up to let oncoming traffic pass. It took us about 2 hours in rush hour traffic to get to the Southampton Red Funnel ferry terminal from Surrey, plus another (pleasant) hour on the ferry. It was then only about 15 minutes, give or take, to the holiday park. I’ve written a separate review about the ferry crossing.

TOP TIP: The ferry docks in East Cowes, which has a river separating it from Cowes (I don’t know why it’s just Cowes and not West Cowes). There is no bridge. I hear that the islanders are generally opposed to bridges. So you can either drive round the river or take the chain ferry. The chain ferry comes (supposedly) every 10 minutes and costs £2.20 for a car (cash only; exact change recommended). You queue up and wait an indeterminate time to squeeze onto a tiny ferry that is propelled across the river on, um, a chain. My 4-year-old (A) enjoyed it. Generally, it seems faster to drive round unless it’s rush hour, and of course you can then avoid the toll.

The accommodation

We paid extra to upgrade to the platinum caravan, which gains you an early (1:30pm) check-in. The early check in pretty much buys you an extra day to enjoy your holiday. The check-in was fast and the service was friendly.

I absolutely do not regret a single penny of the money I spent upgrading my caravan. The platinum lodge (what people in my homeland, America, would call a “double-wide trailer”) was massive, spotlessly clean and shiny new. Check out the pics:

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We had a massive open-plan kitchen/diner/living room, a wraparound deck, 3 bedrooms, 2 toilet/shower rooms (one of which was en-suite to the master bedroom which also featured a walk-in closet), 4 TVs, a dishwasher and a washer/dryer! I have to admit that these facilities were generally finer than those in my own home.

I obviously cannot speak for the other ranges of caravans, but I’ll admit many of the others on the park looked old and tired, and had no decks, seating area or parking directly outside. To decide for yourself, see the Thorness Bay website.

The facilities

The park has a small indoor pool, a large playground, sports pitches, a Nisa shop, a bar/restaurant and a range of entertainment for kids and adults. It also has direct access to a shingle beach on the bay.

The pool was just fine for young families. It was just the right temperature with a standard leisure pool bit, a toddler pool and a small flume. The changing room was basic but clean and sufficient, and featured free lockers that didn’t even need a temporary coin insertion, which was a real plus for me (I always lose the coin). The lifeguards were very friendly and competent. Various bits of swimming kit were on sale for reasonable prices. Children have to be 1 metre tall to ride the flume and confident to go down on their own (no double riders). My eldest got up the guts to go a couple times but mostly just stood at the top holding up the queue and looking worried. The main unfortunate thing about the pool was its extremely limited opening hours – about 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon – although apparently these are extended in peak season.

The shop had a good range of basics but we didn’t use it much. We were disappointed when it closed at one point outside of its normal closing times, supposedly to bring money somewhere due to an imposed requirement by the park. The park should stop doing that, if that’s really what was going on. We preferred to tour the various island supermarkets. There’s a decent Waitrose in East Cowes, a Lidl somewhere nearish to the park, and a Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s & M&S in nearby Newport.

The restaurant/bar had air-conditioned indoor seating and a lovely terrace overlooking the playground and the bay (pic of the view above). We had lunch there once and the food was fine. Kind of like what you get at your basic chain pub. Nothing special but just fine. The service was cheerful and friendly. We didn’t get round to seeing any of the entertainment but it looked like there was a good range for kids and adults. There was also an arcade attached.

The playground was large and beautiful. It had a range of equipment suitable for both toddlers and older kids. If you have older children you could easily watch them from the bar. Someday I will watch my children from the bar. The sports pitches looked good too but we didn’t use them.

The beach was much better than I thought it would be. There is a short, buggy-accessible walk down to it, or you could drive your car down as there is ample parking. There is a lovely grassy bit near the parking area where you could easily have a picnic or fly a kite. You could walk along the beach itself for many miles. It’s sandy near the top and shingle nearer to the water. When the tide is out there is plenty of scope for rockpooling, and there are lots of shells and rocks for the little ones to collect. The water seemed pretty safe and warmer than the English Channel water on the other side of the island, but you would probably need some of those swimming shoe thingies to save your feet from the rocks.

How much?

I paid £80 to book the basic “bronze” caravan. TripAdvisor reviews made me fear the bronze caravan, and so I upgraded to a “platinum” caravan for £145. I paid the optional bed making charge of £18/person (but you could bring your own sheets), a non-optional service charge of £7.25/night, and entertainment passes for £24/non-infant-person. I also paid £10 to borrow a travel cot. We then paid another £65 for the Red Funnel ferry (The Sun offers another discount for that). So for 2 adults, one child and one infant (under-2), it was £361.65 for a 5 day holiday in what can only be described as luxury accommodation. You obviously could do this for much cheaper than I did (no-frills at £174 or consider upgrading to silver or gold caravans).

The verdict

I enjoyed my holiday immensely, despite accidentally booking the park I didn’t think I wanted. It was basic in some ways but its location was a great base of for exploring the island. It was generally clean and friendly and their top-of-the-range of accommodation was worthy of the name.

ShelliconShelliconShellicon 3 out of 5 shells

I like to review stuff

On a recent holiday to the Isle of Wight, I was sat somewhere being bored. I can’t remember exactly what I was doing at the time, but it was probably while waiting for my children to do something. They like to take their time.

And then I started thinking about the holiday itself, and what I liked and disliked about it. I realised I had a lot of opinions and advice based on those opinions. And then I remembered that before I went on holiday I spent quite a lot of time trying to see what opinions other people had about things I was going to do on holiday.

And then I had an epiphany: I actually really, really like to review stuff. I spent some time as the editor of the arts & entertainment section of my university’s newspaper, so I’m not entirely new to reviewing stuff. But since then, my reviews have been confined to chats with my husband and friends, or the occasional TripAdvisor or Facebook review.

So I thought I’d have a go at telling the world my opinions about interesting things I’ve done. A lot of the things I review will be useful for people with young families. But I will also review the grownup things I (very occasionally) do.

I never thought I would be the sort of person to write a blog. But hopefully someone will find it useful. And if not, at least I will have a record of lots of things I’ve done and what I thought about them.

Watch this space for my first two review posts, which will be about our Isle of Wight holiday (which was mostly not boring – when I wasn’t waiting for my children to do stuff).