I felt a little bit of a cheat telling the kids we were going on holiday when it was only going to take half-an-hour to get there.
But they’re only little so they didn’t question it when we arrived at Bunn Leisure in Selsey before they’d had the chance to ask: ‘Are we there yet?’
Maybe I shouldn’t have said ‘holiday’. Marketers would prefer it if I referred to a ‘staycation’ – one of those awful words invented to describe a phenomenon that already existed before it had its own buzzword.
As a young child, most of my holidays were spent in holiday camps, being allowed to stay up for the disco and being entertained by people in coloured coats.
At Bunn Leisure, you’d be forgiven for thinking that things hadn’t changed much in the intervening three decades. And don’t get me wrong – this is a good thing.
On the one hand the complex is one giant caravan park, spread across three ‘villages’ each with its own character – and each with rows and rows of cream and brown static holiday homes.
But it has two things going for it that lift it to the status of Great British Holiday.
The first is its location – a pebble’s throw away from a glorious beach that will be even more stunning once a multi-million pound coastal protection scheme is completed. The main purpose of that work is to save the holiday park from the encroaching tide – but a decent side-effect will be the introduction of half-a-million tonnes of sand and shingle to turn the rather stony shore into somewhere you’ll want to pack a bucket and spade for.
Beach equipment stayed in the car for us, though, since we chose to go on the windiest weekend of the year.
We arrived on the Friday night that England played Sweden, and the coastal gales howled so much around our caravan that you could barely hear John Terry swearing above the noise.
It’s a tribute to the effectiveness of whatever they use to ground a static caravan that we woke up in the same place in the morning ready to take in all the holiday park has to offer.
And that’s the second major plus – when it comes to the classic holiday camp experience, Bunn Leisure leaves no box unchecked. Kids’ disco in the evening? Check. Bingo? Yep. Great swimming pool with slides and eagle-eyed lifeguards? You bet.
There are an endless stream of tribute bands and visits from old favourites (a version of The Supremes were due on the Saturday night I was there). There are friendly, smiling entertainment staff who might be in a Take That tribute show one minute and leading the kids’ club the next. There are playparks, line dances, children’s craft workshops, climbing frames, ball pits, sticky pick ‘n’ mix, burgers and arcades with penny shove machines.
There’s even a funfair – it’s a bit rough round the edges but after noon a £10 wristband for unlimited rides is worth shelling out for.
And there are, of course, mascots – in this case, two six-foot tall rabbits called Bella and Buster Bunny. It’s fair to say that my girls loved those bunnies. They live in the windmill at the entrance to the park. They know all the coolest dances.
It appears they can’t see very well but if you’re five and you pose for a photograph with them they ruffle your hair and make you laugh and it’s the best thing in the world.
If you want to go upmarket, then more expensive parks are available. But if you want a value British holiday full of fun and charm, then Bunn’s the one.
Bunn Leisure is easy to get to – for sat navs use the postcode PO20 9BH. From the A27 join the B2145 to Selsey – it’s well-signposted from there.
Caravans are self-catering so you’ll need supplies. There is a well-stocked shop on site but you might want to bring essentials with you.
Part of the beach is a bit of a state at the moment while the works are carried out, but there is plenty of it that’s accessible so pack the sun cream in hope.
There’s nightly entertainment which starts with a kids’ disco, goes into bingo and then carries on with shows and a disco into the night. There is a supervised kids’ club for parents who want to leave their children while they enjoy the entertainment.
Summer holiday prices start at £299 for a three/four-night break, but it’s cheaper off-peak. See bunnleisure.co.uk or call 01243 608080.