Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Tots 100 Xmas Party Weekend

In my post All I want for Xmas isn't lettuce , I did have a bit of a moan about the vegetarian food served by Turners restaurant at the Tots 100 Xmas Party. This was not a reflection on the weekend, which was fabulous.

We decided to go the whole hog and stay 3 nights at the Butlins resort and take the opportunity to visit my in-laws in Brighton whilst we were down there on the South Coast. As it turned out, my mother in law's hip replacement operation was scheduled for that same weekend which gave us an even bigger incentive to want to see them and offer whatever support we could.

We arrived quite late on the Friday, settled into our hotel, The Shoreline, which was very nice and went for a little wander around the resort.

The Skyline Pavilion from our Hotel window

Things have changed a lot at Butlins since I used to spend family holidays at Barry Island as a child some forty years ago. Back then it was all row upon row of slightly shabby looking chalets and a very 'school dinner' approach to the catering. Now it is clean hotels with much attention to detail (I particularly appreciated the fluffy white towels folded to look like various animals [we had a crab, a dog and an elephant] which made my feeble attempts at napkin folding seem quite insignificant) and eateries to suit a variety of tastes and budgets.

The schedule of entertainment was very impressive and although I usually prefer my holidays to be more about the natural beauty and attractions of the location, I was happy to throw myself into the Butlins way of life and 'be entertained'. My kids loved the fairground rides for little people and the soft adventure play areas and I had an amazingly good time on the first night watching A Beautiful World perform their set in celebration of the music of Take That. Marvellous! I had packed swimming costumes to try out their Splash Waterworld but after two separate people told me that the water tempertaure was uncomfortably cold, we decided to give that a miss. We were already struggling to fight off the winter colds without being reckless!

Enjoying a book with Grandma
On the Saturday, my husband took both children to Brighton for the day to see Grandma before she went into hospital and to catch up with some of his old friends. It felt very strange for me to be in such a family orientated environment without my little ones but I spent some time time with my sister, Wendy, who was also there for the party and enjoyed some rare me time. At two o'clock we met up with the Tots 100 bloggers for coffee and mince pies and a rather bizarre competitive christmas tree decorating hour. My team won, mostly thanks to the painstaking efforts of Squidgyboo to thread fresh cranberries onto cotton to make a fairly juicy garland, but I like to think the friendly face I made out of baubles, a cracker and a santa hat contributed in some small way to the overall effect. I touched base briefly with my family before heading off for Christmas cocktails and dinner at Turners restaurant. It was lovely to get dressed up (although the heels I planned to wear stayed in my suitcase as I opted to stick with my trusty Doc Martens),  meet fellow bloggers, enjoy some kid free time and be thoroughly looked after. Heartfelt thanks to Sally Whittle for making it all possible.

We spent some time enjoying the resort on Sunday morning before heading off to Brighton again for lunch with Grandpa and then to Haywards Heath to visit Grandma who was recovering nicely from her operation. I am so glad that we had booked the extra night at Butlins because we had already spent a lot of time in the car and I, for one, was feeling shattered. Takeaway pizza and a lazy evening in our hotel room was just what I needed.

We made the most of our last few hours of holiday on Monday morning. When we normally would have been on our way to school, we were on our way to the Skyline Pavilion for some fun. It was relatively quiet meaning very little queueing for rides which equates to LOTS of riding.

Taking the teacup ride very seriously

I had one heart-stoppingly horrible moment. Adrian was playing in the soft adventure play area. I was sat in sight of the entrance with a cup of Costa coffee while my husband and Dylan were watching Fireman Sam and an enthusiastic red coat entertain the masses. I was enjoying just sitting and watching the world go by with regular glances into the labyrinth of padded obstacles to reassure myself with a flash of Addy's blonde hair or a glimpse of her stripy jumper. She was having a wonderful time exploring and clambering. As time went by, I felt a growing sense of unease that I hadn't seen her for a while. I had sickening visions of her lying injured, out of sight in the deepest bowels of the soft play area or lured away by some predatory monster. Was it possible that she could have just slipped out unnoticed? I kept thinking that I would spot her smiling face at any moment but when that moment didn't come, the panic began to set in. Maybe by some telepathic link or coincidence, my husband turned up. I explained the situation and he set off in search of her. I stayed where I was in case she was still playing happily in a dark corner.

The whole episode probably lasted no more than five minutes but they were five impossibly long minutes before the sight of my husband returning with my baby girl, unperturbed, held high in his arms, allowed time to pass normally again. She had indeed slipped out of the play area in search of new thrills. She was sitting in a coin operated vehicle pressing buttons without a care in the world when he found her. It was a sobering reminder that life can take unexpected horrifying turns.

By now it was time for our visit to see Santa. Santa's Grotto, set in an enchanted forest, was quite magical. Addy took one look at the rosy cheeked, white bearded gentleman and fled in terror!

It was a great weekend and the Christmassy-ness of it all with fake snow, lights, bauble clad trees, festive songs and the man himself (even if he did frighten the life out of Addy) has been a delight. Back home now to a mountain of laundry and a Christmas day to prepare for.


  1. Aaahh looks like you enjoyed a lovely time xx

  2. It was a team effort! I don't think we would have won if our tree was uuuuugly but for some cranberries on a string! Was great meeting you!

  3. That Skyline Pavillion photo is simply stunning - like a fairy tale.
    You should link this post up at the Tots 100 blog


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