Towards the end of last year John won an award at work which meant he got some vouchers to spend. We decided to put those vouchers towards the cost of a holiday at Haven in Caister-on-Sea. At the time of booking there was a half price offer on so we managed to get a Monday to Friday break for quite a bit less than £200. I had never stayed in a caravan before so I had absolutely no idea what to expect.
Before our break we received an upgrade from a standard caravan to a Prestige model which meant our check in time changed from 4pm to 2pm. On the day our holiday started we actually arrived at Haven at just after midday and went straight to reception. We were able to give our phone number so we could be called when our caravan was ready. We were hoping Erin would have fallen asleep but she woke up just as we were getting off the bus and she was too excited after that. As we don’t drive we were told we could store any cases at the Hire Center for 50p each but we decided to just take them with us to the nearest park.
Our caravan ended up being ready by about 1:30 so a bit earlier than we had expected. We stayed at 25 Thurle which is closer to the beach than the main complex and was maybe a 10 minute (maximum) walk away from reception.
As soon as I opened the front door to the caravan I was really impressed. There will be a full review in a couple of days so be sure to keep an eye out for that. The caravan was super modern and the grey/ yellow decor was lovely. The twin bedroom was a little small but perfectly fine for Erin and with lots of storage space. The master bedroom had an en suite toilet and was huge! I couldn’t believe the space in the room. Overall, I was really happy with the caravan and it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be.
After getting unpacked and settled we decided to go for a quick swim before dinner. The swimming pool was again, a maximum 10 minute walk away and really easy to get to. The swimming pool entrance and changing rooms were so clean and you have to take your shoes off before you can even get changed to make sure it all stays clean. Lockers are available for a returnable £1 coin. There is an area for spectators to sit and also somewhere to store pushchairs/ prams before you go through to the changing room.
The pool was quiet when we arrived and there are varying sections/ depths for different ages and skills of swimmer. Erin loved that she could walk into the pool and also use the spa pool which she hasn’t been able to before. The pool was staffed well and even though it was quiet, the large slide was opened at a few different times for people to go on. Erin went on with John and loved it!
We didn’t stay swimming very long because Erin was exhausted and we were all pretty hungry. We decided to go to the Mash and Barrel for a pub dinner. John ordered ham, egg and chips while I had hunter’s chicken and we had a coke each. I knew Erin wouldn’t eat a meal so she snacked on a bag of crisps. This all came to roughly £25. The food was standard pub food really but it was quick to arrive and it was nice enough to eat! Again, there will be another post about the food here at Haven soon!
Day 2 – Tuesday 12th June
Our second day was a bit strange. I didn’t sleep too well because I was too hot so I think I got out of bed at around 8am. John and Erin had already been up for hours and were bursting to go out and do something. The strange thing about Haven is that although a lot is aimed at children, everything opens quite late. The arcade is the earliest thing open at 9am, with the soft play area opening at 10am. Of course, the parks are open all of the time but this day was quite cold and windy so we wanted to do something indoors.
Erin had a blast in the arcade but like probably any child, she wanted to go on all of the rides rather than stick with the 2p machines. Luckily, still only being 2 we can get away with moving some of them around ourselves to keep her happen. It would have cost us a fortune otherwise and it was the first time we went! We were at the arcade for an hour and then headed straight to soft play when it opened.
No one else was there when we arrived so Erin and John had loads of fun climbing around the larger area (there is a ‘baby’ area too). We both got a bit annoyed though because no one bothered to say anything about John being in there for ages, as well as another man and his son, but when more people turned up he got told off and made come out of the area. The woman told John Erin would have to go in the area for the tiny ones. Erin is 2.5 and certainly not small any more. The smaller area only had a ball pit, some soft play shapes and 1 piece of climbing equipment with a slide that wasn’t actually a slide and Erin got stuck down it.
Being a manager of a play area before I was really shocked that adults weren’t allowed in with their children. There was signs but we didn’t realise. The nearest staff member was half was across the room doing pottery with some other children so there was no one nearby where they could even half see what was going on in there. We left soft play pretty quickly. Erin couldn’t play in the small area because there was barely anything to do and she couldn’t play in the large area on her own so we left. Luckily, there was a sensory session going on in the Live Lounge at 10:30 so we had something else to go to.
The sensory session is free to attend for ages 0-4 and is actually called Anxious’ Sensory Morning, which is held in the Live Lounge. The staff member running the session, along with Anxious the Elephant, sang songs before the children were able to play in the 3 sensory areas. Children were only allowed about 5 minutes in each area and then encouraged to move on to the next one. The whole session is only 30 minutes long though and is finished off with another song and photo opportunities with Anxious.
Erin was a bit shy with the session to start with but she’s never done anything like this before. By the end, she went up on stage to have her photo taken and was dancing along!
After a lovely long nap we had the afternoon to fill. Erin was adamant that she wanted to go to the beach but when we got there she hated it because it was cold and windy and really not like the beaches we went to in Majorca. So, instead, we headed off for an hour at the park and then back to the caravan to chill out before bed. John and I ordered ourselves a Papa John’s pizza and it was delicious then settled down to watch a film for the night!
Day 3 – Wednesday 13th June
Thankfully, our third day was much nicer and much warmer, meaning we all to go wear shorts for the day and enjoy the warmth. I think this put us all in a much better mood overall and we set out at about 9am ready for a fun day!
With nothing else open we went to the arcade again first thing as Erin really seemed to love it there. We spent ages on the 2p machines and pretended to play with some of the bigger games such as the cars. Erin’s feet couldn’t reach the pedals though but she didn’t care; she just loved doing something fun as a family. We hung out in the arcades until about 10am then waited around for Greedy’s Tin-Pot Band. This was another of the character led sessions that was free to attend and it was held in the Live Lounge.
Erin seriously loved this session. Greedy and one of the entertainment staff sang at the beginning and explained what was going to happen in the session. Erin loved the gorilla so much and kept turning around to smile at me as she watched him dance around the stage. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on the tambourine and the pots and pans to join in and make loads of noise. The session only lasted about 20 minutes but there was a ‘Make a Mess’ session on straight after at 11am and Erin was adamant she wanted to stay for it.
The Make a Mess session was led by 2 of the entertainment staff and was more an arts and crafts type thing than anything else. The children were shown how to make fish out of card, hand prints and some other bits and pieces. This session was for children of all ages and the other children could easily do the craft. Erin, at 2.5 really couldn’t do much of it herself but she was happy enough to help me and to pick out some pieces to stick on the fish. After seeing her so happy and so impressed with the ‘creation’, I would definitely do more with her at home now.
We’d had an exhausted morning so we all went back to the caravan for some lunch and a nap and it was very much needed. Afterwards, Erin wanted to go swimming so that’s what we did. We had so much fun even though Erin seemed to want to play with me more than with John. I don’t know why because he’s much more fun in the pool than I am! Erin learned how to roll around in the shallow area and she also went right into the deep area with me too!
After swimming we had a quick play at the park along with a chippy dinner, then we headed back to the caravan for Erin’s bed time! The two days prior to this one, Erin had been miserable and exhausted by this time but today she was full of beans and told me ‘she’d had the best day.’
Day 4 – Thursday 14th June
Thursday was the busiest day for us as we had quite a lot planned in the morning Unlike the other days, there was 3 free sessions on in the morning in the Live Lounge. The first sessions started at 10:30 and this was Rory’s Sing Along. By this session, Erin was a lot more confident and wanted to run around and dance on the dance floor before anything had even started. It was so nice to see her having so much fun and not always looking back to make sure we were right there next to her.
Rory’s Sing Along only lasted about 15 minutes with photo opportunities at the end. However, there was enough songs to keep Erin interested and she loved joining in with the actions. Erin already knew all of the songs and actions so I think this really helped her to want to join in.
After this, there was the Pop Up Puppet Theatre Co. Erin had never seen a real puppet show before now and honestly, I don’t think she knew what to make of it. Unlike the other sessions, this one was aimed at children of all ages so Erin wasn’t really able to follow the story very well. Still, she sat through the whole thing and seemed happy enough to watch it.
We had planned on staying for another session after this one but Erin was far too tired so we had to head back to the caravan for a midday nap! Afterwards we went for our final swim and Erin had so much fun rolling around in the water again. Before going to the Mash and Barrel again for dinner Erin was adamant about going to the park so we had to give in!
Day 5 – Check out day
Haven’s check out time is 10am although if you don’t have a car like us you can store any cases in the Hire Center if you want to stay longer. Unfortunately, both John and I had come down with something the day before and we both felt pretty rough. Erin and John had a quick play at the park in the morning but we decided to just check out and leave at around 9:30. Check out was really easy as we were just able to leave our keys with the staff member at the entrance.
Fancy a closer look at our holiday? Watch the video here:
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Disclaimer: We received an upgrade to our caravan but we paid for the holiday ourselves. All opinions are our own.