Saturday, 3 June 2017

This Surrey Mummy Travels To Butlins...

Back in a rather dreary January afternoon my email inbox was brightened up significantly by the offer of four days away in May half term at the seaside. I love a British seaside. Rock, fish and chips, cheap arcade style machines and of course ice cream - who doesn't?

Butlins - the ultimate seaside British family break. Butlins was born eighty one years ago when a certain Billy Butlin (I know what a name!) changed the face of British holidays. He wanted to make British seaside breaks accessible to all. He wanted to create a "place of colour and happiness" where quality activities and entertainment went hand in hand so that families could really enjoy their time together.

Mr Butlin not only pioneered a whole new way for British families to enjoy a seaside break but he was breaking boundaries in customer service which is still very apparent today. Families continue to be looked after and cared for and he set the standard for excellent customer service. 

We arrived at Butlins Minehead with four children under six and four adults in tow all ready for some good old fashioned family fun. We were lucky enough to be staying in the recently renovated Lakeside Villas which are situated towards the back of the complex. The Lakeview Chalets have their own designated check in and separate parking area. Scooters and board games are available to guests here at no extra charge as well as maid service and free wifi.

Our chalet (no. 9) has two large bedrooms, one with a double bed and one with two singles, well appointed and on trend bathroom, a large open plan kitchen living dining room and double doors out onto the large terrace area which over looked the lake. To be honest I think the description of lake is a little, how do I put this, optimistic, I would say large pond, but nevertheless the trickling of water was a pleasant feature. 

We were booked in on the Premium Dining Option which includes breakfast and dinner. For lunches we opted for Ludos (Italian) and the brand newly opened Fish and Chip shop. Now it is worthwhile noting here that the restaurant food is exceptional. The pizza and fish and chips were some of the best we have had an very reasonably priced. The buffet dining for breakfast and dinner was a little bit hit and miss but given they have to cater for such a large number of guests we were happy to let this slide to a certain extent. Breakfast is definitely a highlight. Huge options of choice for families and even our fussiest little peoples palate was catered for. Dinner we were not so massively sold on but having said that each went home each night with full bellies.

What does stand out is the entertainment and the Red Coats in particular. The Skyline Pavilion is the centre area where a lot of the entertainment is displayed. Our kids loved this area and spent many an hour watching The Skyline Gang, Mr Men and The Teletubbies perform and even got to touch a Baby T-Rex! We were able to sit and enjoy these shows too as we lounged on deck chairs sipping some afternoon beverages all of which were very reasonably priced.

The resort as a whole is immaculately clean and our chalets cleanliness you could not fault. The one thing that I felt let the complex down was that there were clearly areas where they had spent a lot of money, the chalets, the Skyline Pavilion but then there were other areas which I felt needed a lot of investment. On one of the days we hired these great four people Dino cars which you can pedal around the complex on. Not being on foot and being able to cover more distance we saw areas of the complex that we would not have ordinarily seen. There are some very run down parts of the complex but could not comment on the state of the interior. That said the amount of time that we were actually in the chalet was not a long time so if you are looking for exceptional value for money than these types of accommodation certainly offer that.

The Splash Pool is great with a huge amount of changing rooms and even when the whole world and their wife turned up at 10am opening time it didn't feel over crowded. I was a little disappointed that this as well as a number of other attractions closed between 4pm and 5pm, we were quite looking forward to a pre dinner swim. 

The kids this week have definitely broken out of their comfort zones and I put this down to the fact that they felt very safe at Butlins. There were happy faces all around us. People were laughing and joking and I don't think that I have laughed that much in a long time than when we were hurtling around the complex on our dinos! The kids tried rock climbing on the climbing wall, rolled down grass verges, ran freely laughing and squealing and whilst like all kids they had their moments they genuinely seemed relaxed and happy which lets be honest if they are happy it makes you break much easier!

Now, if like me you have been to the likes of Center Parcs and Bluestone it would be foolish to let you think that this break is anything like that. It's not and if you go with expectations that it will be I am sorry but you'll be let down. It's very different. Firstly only a handful of activities will see you putting your had in your pocket which is great as it really means that if you are on a tight budget you'll be able to gauge just how much your break will cost you. This really is what I would describe as a good old fashioned family break - no frills and no bells and whistles. Whilst the chalet accommodation is spot on from the exterior the other accommodation is not so up to scratch which will be reflected in the price. Unlike Center Parcs these breaks are smack back on the sea front so forget all the green leafy walks and bike rides. There are people everywhere. Entertainment going on everywhere which we thought was fab as it meant we rarely if anytime had bored kids on our hands. 

The Billy Butlin Fairground is just brill. Our kids could go from ride to ride as many times as they wished without us ever having to dip our hand in our purse, this is a real perk. The rides are by no means like Thorpe Park or Chessington but they are old fashioned traditional fairground rides which provide you with the very same squeal of pleasure and excitement.

We had a great time at Butlins and are grateful for our friends there for having us stay the week there. 

I think that as they continue to renovate large sections of the complex the whole place will have a new feel about it, but if you are looking for a Centre Parcs style holiday this isn't it, BUT if you are looking for a great value British family seaside break I think you'll be hard pressed to beat a Butlins break. 

If you fancy checking out a Butlins break for you and your family why not visit www.

Nathalie x

Disclaimer - This is a sponsored post with Butlins who gifted our accommodation and meal plans but the views above are entirely of This Surrey Mummy. 


Thursday, 1 June 2017

Jazzing Up Lunch With Crosta & Mollica...

I don't know about you but I am never terribly creative when it comes to lunchtime meals. Both my kids are catered for Monday - Friday and given I am not a massive weekend lunch eater lunch normally falls by the wayside so when our friends at Crosta & Mollica, the Italian baked goods company got in touch saying that they had a sure fire way of jazzing up our lunchtimes I was all ears. Now I love so many of their products, my favourite being their fig jam which is just like the one they serve at Carluccios!

Lunch on a Saturday usually consists of a sandwich with some pretty standard fillings, ham, cheese, you know the usual, my kids are not very wild when it comes to sandwich fillings but this weekend we tried Crosta & Mollica's new 'Piada' range.

Now "whats a piada" I hear you call. Well a piada is an Italian style flatbread made with extra virgin olive oil, upon first appearance one would mistake it for a tortilla style wrap but a piada (Italian style sandwich) is in fact folded and not rolled.

Charlie naturally opted for the white classic piada whilst I delved my toe with a wholemeal number. They look very much like a wrap but the texture is flakier and definitely thicker and richer and when warm is actually quite tricky to roll (old habits die hard!) but folded a treat! In order to make them extra yummy you warm them in a dry frying pan for 30 seconds or so each side. 

Charlie was feeling a little more adventurous and went with a chicken goujon and garlic mayo piada whilst I pushed the boat out and went for fried halloumi and sweet chilli.

Now the piadas itself have a distinct olive oil taste but it's pleasant and not too over powering. The challenge that Charlie found was eating it like a sandwich but rather preferred to pick the chicken out and eat the heated piada separately - so not the way I know!

We really liked the piadas and would definitely buy them again, they were also especially nice on their own, toasted and dipped in humous!

If you fancy trying a piada for yourself you can buy the Crosta & Mollica ones from Waitrose, Ocado, Tesco and Morrisons.

Thanks to our friends at Crosta & Mollica for jazzing up our weekend lunch!

Nathalie x

Disclaimer - This is a sponsored post with Crosta & Mollica to promote their Piada range - all views are This Surrey Mummy's alone.
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