Where do you go if you’ve got three days off, you need sunshine, sea, lots for the kids to do and fun for adults too?
Parkdean Resorts, on the Isle of Wight.
It was a mini holiday to kick-off the half-term and we were all excited.
Until we saw the forecast for a bank holiday washout.
Cue disappointment all round.
There wasn’t much incitement to get up at 4am to catch the ferry Gunwharf.
We loaded up the car with tired, tetchy children, waterproof macs, wellingtons and countless board games to entertain us for three days away in a caravan in torrential rain.
But, miraculously, as we arrived at Parkdean’s Lower Hyde Holiday Park, in Shanklin, the clouds parted and signs that perhaps the forecast was a bit off, began to appear.
As did the smiles on everyone’s faces.
The girls bounded out of the car to the caravan, which was more like a hotel suite – with plush furnishings, a dining table, two bathrooms, a double room and a children’s room.
Waiting for us were cupboards filled with everything we needed for our stay – tea, coffee, bread, milk, even biscuits and a huge jar of sweets.
Towels and toilet tissue were provided.
It felt like a very fancy home away from home.
The children devoured the entertainment guide – you name it and it’s on there. From quizzes, to dance and pop shows.
Add to that the fantastic indoor and outdoor pools, basketball courts and a huge play area and they could do activities all day long. Most of it is free but even the paid-for sessions only cost a few quid.
The sun continued to blaze so all of Saturday was spent in the outdoor pools at Lower Hyde and the sister resort, Languard.
You have just a 40-minute session each when it’s too busy. But we managed to sneak in a few back-to-back sessions.
On Saturday night the onsite restaurant was so busy we couldn’t get a table at 7pm so we ventured out into Shanklin for some pub grub before making our way to see the delightful Shanklin Chine to see the illuminations.
It was a really magical experience and we used an app to identify some of the thousands of plants and trees there. The girls were captivated by the parrots which greet everyone with a squawky ‘hello’ as they arrive.
A perfect first day.
After a really comfy night’s sleep in the caravan we set off in the blazing sun to The Needles. Despite being just 20 miles from the landmark it took more than an hour. There are no fast roads on the Isle of Wight, but it was lovely just to take in the beauty of the island along the winding country lanes.
There is so much at The Needles for the whole family. A boat trip around the famous lighthouse was a joy, then there was the terrifying chairlift with a view across the glistening Solent.
The girls loved the 4D Jurassic Park ride and the water walking balls. We could have been there for hours more but they were desperate to get back to the park and dive into the pool.
That was followed by fun in the arcade with an inordinate amount of time on the 2p machines. It’s amazing the things that can amuse children.
The next day was lunch in the onsite restaurant, The Barnhouse, which we all enjoyed. There is a very wide selection of meals which cater for all tastes.
After breakfast the girls headed off to the showroom for a chocolate tea party – which involved, you guessed it, lots of chocolate games. Then it was wizarding school where they learned how to fly, sort of, and a range of spells.
And in the evening the whole family visited the showroom for Madness ‘n’ Mayhem. The noise was incredible as the room was split down the middle for the red and yellow team to play off against each other.
In one of the competitions the captains had to see how many pegs they could attach to their faces. It had to be seen to be believed, and the whole family were laughing about it for days afterwards.
Our fears of a wet and dreary caravan holiday were allayed with a sun-soaked, fun-soaked weekend at Parkdean.
We were all sad to leave on Monday morning but we’ll definitely be going back.
Summer holidays break: Arriving Friday, July 20 for three nights, priced at £349, staying in a two-bedroom Yacht caravan which sleeps up to six
October half-term break: Arriving Friday, October 26 for three nights, priced at £219, staying in a two-bedroom Seagull chalet which sleeps four
Book at parkdeanresorts.co.uk or call 0330 123 4850.
Find out more about Parkdean Resorts’ Coastal Adventures campaign at parkdeanresorts.co.uk/amazing-memories/coastal-adventures-britain/