Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Ocean Hotel, Butlins

Those lovely people at Butlins invited me and mine, along with some other British Mummy Bloggers, journos etc to the launch of their new hotel, The Ocean in Bognor.

Never one to pass up a decent freebie, we jumped at the chance. It was a great end to
our camping holiday in the Witterings, and the sun continued to shine for us. That's nearly a whole week of golden rays for us. Mmmmmm.

Before the launch, we were put up at the Premier Inn, where Els beat J in a pillow fight and we laughed our socks off to Ice Age 3 in the cinema near the hotel.

The Ocean hotel was GORGEOUS. Really funky, bright and modern (see Els' Pop Art style room in the photo). And they have a 'no monsters under the bed' guarantee with underbed lighting. Nice touch.

The redcoats were positive and helpful without being annoying or insincere. I was impressed. Really impressed.

Kitschy disco lifts, complete with UV lights and funky '70s sounds, had us grooving with strangers whenever we left our room. In
fact, during the tour our group included the Mayor of Bognor Regis in full bling, er, regalia and I'm sure I detected a little wiggle from her on the way up (to Disco Inferno).

By some clever trickery with lights and sensors, an interactive-seeming floor kept Els amused making the fish swim away from her feet.

Kids clubs and various on-site entertainment are included in a Butlins stay. Shame you had to pay extra to go into the lovely spa. But hey, at least there was a spa!

I thought around £100 per night for a family of four (midweek low season) was a pretty good deal considering our room at the Premier Inn was £84. Although I guess we're in high season now so I'm probably not comparing apples with apples.

I think a 3-night stay at The Ocean in high season is £800 for 2 adults and 2 kids. I'd rather take myself off scuba diving in the Red Sea for a week, and take Els camping on my return for that budget. But that's a personal choice, I'm sure many of you would disagree.

Anyhow, the Premier Inn didn't have a Bob the Builder show, huge soft play contraption or fairground rides thrown in. Butlins certainly did.

And some amazing circus acts.

I wasn't too keen on the plethora of sweetie machines and crappy gambling/arcade games in the main entertainments hall though. Cue much wheedling and 'it's not fair'. You'd haemmorhage money if you stayed too long in there. Probably best to pull the little dears swiftly past the tat and towards the swimming pool which was fab. Whirlpool, jacussi section, little slides, flumes..

One teensy criticism of the pool though - Els isn't a small 6 year old but still was too small for all of the flume rides. Even if she had made the required height, we wouldn't have been allowed to go on them together - unlike the flume at our local pool - so that would have put her off anyway.

All in all, we had a lovely time. The Ocean Hotel certainly changed my perceptions about Butlins.
Not just mine by the looks of things: Ocean Hotel Reviews.

P.S. NixdMinx's miniminx is adorable, And one more makes 4 I really enjoyed our chat and meeting your lovely family!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Thank you for Waiting

Back Soon
Originally uploaded by redcrayon
Camping in the Witterings; having my perceptions changed at Butlins; increasing two cup sizes on my birthday; reviving my natural healing abilities; falling back in love with my husband; being a reflexology case study.

Normal blogging service will resume shortly. We thank you for your patience.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

It's a Girl!!!

I took Stripe to the vet's today to have his claws clipped. He's so wriggly, it was quite a task.

The vet looked at his records, checked out his undercarriage and then said to me "You do realise Stripe's a girl, don't you?".

Ah. That will explain the lack of testicles - we just put that down to Stripe being young. It also explains why she hasn't chilled out yet.

Male rats are more laidback, actually lazier, than their female counterparts. We purposefully asked the pet shop for a male rat, knowing he would turn out to be more of a lap rat than a girlie rats who tend to be more active.

El's with her dad until we go camping tomorrow. I called her this afternoon as soon as she finished holiday club. She was as incredulous as me at the news.

Somehow, and this is wrong of me I know, I love Stripe all the more now that he is a she.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Time for a Lie-in

A lovely thing happened today. Something beautiful and rare.

Ella woke up at seven this morning as usual, and stayed in her room for half an hour until it was the official 'wakey up time'. What's my secret?


Last night we finally got her new alarm clock out and played the Teach Me Time Game. Ella got to level 3 and was chuffed to bits.

I then programmed it to go off at 7.30am, and explained that now she is a Grown Up with her own Alarm Clock it would be lovely if she played in her room and only woke Mummy when the clock went off.

It was a long shot, I really didn't think she'd do it.

But she did.

The Teach Me alarm clock has now risen to Top Birthday Present ever in my book.

When I ordered it I was a bit unsure as it's quite pricey for a teaching toy which at the time (scuse the pun) I wasn't sure if she'd use much or not. But it's clearly worth its weight in gold.

We're off camping soon and I can't wait. Going to Wittering with friends as Part 1 of my birthday celebrations - see here for the rest. Not sure I'll get away with keeping Els shushed up in her partition for another lie-in as, in my experience, kids+camping=much excitement and early waking.

Still, there's enough kids going that I can just chuck her out to play with them in the mornings and stick my ear plugs in for maximum snooze time. Bliss.

A couple of friends have gone to the campsite already. The first report is very promising. Sarada's text last night said:

'It's fab! Rain stopped and blue skies emerged as we were arriving - amazing nearly full moon lighting up the sky! Still settling down the kids (at 11pm). They're so excited. If we're quiet we can hear the sea - I love that sound. So we're all looking forward to a wonderful weekend.'

So am I!