Travel review: Butlin's Minehead
When I was a child I never holidayed abroad.
In fact, I was 24 before I flew anywhere.
Air travel wasn’t as affordable as it is today and people in general didn’t have as much disposable income - not to mention the endless lines of credit available today making sun-kissed destinations much more within most folks’ reach.
So my mum and dad took me and my two brothers to some lovely places in England and Wales.
Thirty-five years ago, when I was nine, we went to Butlin’s in Minehead and I thought it would be great to take my kids there to see what memories it brought back and how much it has changed through the decades.
We booked into the new West Lakes Chalet Village and set off bright and early for the long journey to Somerset.
Because of roadworks on the M6 around Birmingham we decided to use the A roads for the bulk of our journey and it took us a good seven hours, which included a couple of stops.
But my boys Jacob (14) and Ethan (11) were well-behaved (thanks to a multitude of electronic gadgets) and I shared the drive with my partner Natalie. The best thing about the journey ... there was absolutely no turbulence!
We arrived a couple of hours before the 3 o’clock check-in but were allowed to use the facilities before our key cards became active.
It’s fair to say my memory is a tad hazy of my Butlin’s adventure as a youngster, but one thing I did remember (as well as winning a spacehopper race and a restaurant with giant portholes in looking into a swimming pool) were the redcoats - still as cheery and chirpy as ever as they go about their business entertaining the little ones.
They didn’t half look young to me now, though!
We checked into our chalet and I was super-impressed with the accommodation.
A lovely two-bedroom modern and roomy apartment built into a brand new complex which surrounds a beautiful lake - and only a five-minute walk from the centre of the holiday park and right next to the old-style chalets.
After thumbing through a leaflet detailing all the things we could do for the weekend, the lads drew up a list including Splash Waterworld, go-karting, laserquest, aerial adventure, bowling, pool, the arcades, archery and peddle go-karts.
They also wanted to watch the wrestling show and America’s Got Talent winning ventriloquist Paul Zerdin.
Oh, and they wanted lots of food.
We had the premium dining option included in our package so breakfast and dinner were included - with two restaurants to choose from, The Deck and The Yacht Club, each boasting a multitude of different dishes offered up in a buffet-style format.
And everything I tried was delicious, particularly the vegetable curry and the chilli.
So with a packed itinerary for our three night stay we were all set for a fun-filled weekend.
Up first was Splash Waterworld, a huge indoor swimming pool complete with a lazy river, wave machine and four water slides.
And it was great - nice and warm, queues not too long and a constant current (lazy river) helping you drift round a huge circular pool.
The lads loved it and we spent a good couple of hours in there splashing around.
The longest queue for the most popular slide was around 20 minutes and it was “well worth it” according to Jacob, who left me and Ethan drifting round in circles and bouncing around in the wave pool to give it a try.
Dried off and fully fed we then ticked off our list the aerial extreme high ropes (too high for me), go-karting and pool, the lads loving them all and suitably pumped up and ready for the arcades.
There are arcade machines everywhere in the giant Skyline Pavilion and they all pay out in tickets which can be exchanged for prizes at the end of your stay.
So I became the twonk holding all the tickets while the lads ploughed what seemed like hundreds of pounds into the machines (it wasn’t thankfully). I looked like a mummy after an hour’s-worth of ticket collecting!
There are shows on each evening in the three main venues - the Skyline Pavilion, Centre Stage and Reds with some top quality acts.
The NGW wrestling was particularly good, though I managed to get poked in the eye with a foam finger, and ventriloquist Paul Zerdin was fantastic family entertainment.
We’ve been to Majorca and the Canaries quite a few times and the best compliment I can pay Butlin’s is that Ethan said his perfect holiday would be to “pick Butlin’s up and drop it somewhere hot.”
The weather was indeed miserable all weekend but it didn’t really stop us having loads of fun - peddle go-karts, laser quest and the fairground all added to our list of things to do conquered - and we were certainly sad to leave.
But before we did we decided to have a mooch outside the holiday camp and spent an hour on a lovely beach right at the front of the resort - which I can only imagine is gorgeous on a beautiful, sunny day.
To sum up it’s fair to say we had a brilliant, fun-filled weekend and Butlin’s is still up there with the best of them when it comes to providing affordable fun for all the family.
Visit butlins.com for details on all the different breaks.