Monday, 21 February 2011

Butlins or Bridleways?

We came back yesterday from a lovely relaxing weekend with Nana Lovelygrey who lives in a village on the edge of Exmoor just a few miles from Minehead. Whoever thought I'd be writing a post about a trip to Butlins but Saturday began wild and woolly. As Louis and I fancied a swim we thought we'd visit for the day primarily to check out Splash Waterworld at the resort. I have to say, though, I much preferred my walk on Sunday morning on the beautiful wooded paths to the north of the town and accessible by foot from Nana Lovelygrey's house. However Louis begs to differ.

Now I thought I'd hate every minute of the 'dry side' experience during my first ever visit to a holiday camp. To be fair it wasn't as bad as I expected. We saw an enjoyable magic show, I had a reasonable cup of coffee while Louis played in a massive soft play area and we both had fun on a rickety selection of fairground rides. Alton Towers it isn't!  Staff were friendly and the buildings were clean and mainly modern.  The pool, by the way, surpassed our expectations. It was huge and well supervised and we had a lot of fun playing in the long meandering lazy river, the wave machine, bubble pool and hair raising flumes.

What surprised me though was how many of the attractions cost extra. Louis wanted to play crazy golf which, in the spirit of a Hi-de-Hi type of bracing wholesome activity, I thought would be free. In fact it would have cost £4.50 were I not a tight-assed Mama who refused to fork out any more money. These extra costs could soon mount up on a family holiday at a resort where a family of three could already have forked out nearly £3,000 for a week's half board stay in the most luxurious accommodation. That's a lot more than 50% of the total cost of our recent dream holiday in the Rockies!

I didn't feel a single day ticket was particularly good value at £18 for adults and £14 for a child as frankly there wasn't shedloads of things to do that were inclusive in the admission fee. However I felt annual passes for locals and people who can visit the areas often at £50 and £25 respectively are reasonable. I've coughed up the extra so we can gain free admission on the days when day visitors are allowed on site in the 2011 season. We'll plan future visits to Nana Lovelygrey to tie in with these so that we can swim again. She was also interested to hear that the annual pass for a senior costs just £25. After all Minehead is a town that, shamefully, no longer has a municipal pool so this restricted access goes someway towards meeting a local need and represents pretty good value for regular swimmers.

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