Friday, 16 August 2013

Dear Billy Butlins... Look What You Did to Us! #Butlinscomp

Childhood Holiday Memories that will Live on Forever!

Frugaldom was invited to share a special childhood holiday memory that still gives a bit of sparkle, so my mind had to regress some years - 40ish years, to be more precise!

I've really surprised myself with this one but, unfortunately, I don't have access to any photos that there may have been - I don't ever remember anyone having cameras, which I find strange. Anyhow, a lifelong friend found this photograph and it's the hand-knitted white cardies and hand made floral outfits that awoke a very vivid memory of one particularly fantastic holiday.

We used to go away to a caravan but I can't remember much about that, other than the year we went and said caravan had been destroyed in a huge storm. It must have been in the late 60s, because I don't ever remember youngest sis being there. It was a few years after that when we visited a magical holiday resort. I remember it was near the beach, but we had so much fun on the site that we hardly ventured near any sand or sea.

We stayed for a week in a chalet; there was mum, dad, my two younger sisters and I in one chalet and aunt, uncle and two cousins in another. The sheer novelty and exhilaration experienced by us children just at being able to walk (or run full speed, as the case may be) to meet up with one another unaccompanied by parents vividly sticks in my mind. So, too, does my first ever experience of a donkey derby! 'Kid in candy shop' does not come close!

I remember the funny little saddles with the loops across the front for holding on tight, the throng of cheering parents, the flags, donkeys going everywhere except in a straight line, fun, laughter and not a lot of pace from our long-eared furry, friends. That race day has stuck with me ever since then! In fact, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that it helped shape my entire life. Now it's not every day you can define such a moment, especially when it involves a donkey! I actually had this drawing commissioned in 1998; it makes me think of that holiday park from all those years ago - how strange the way the human brain computes!

The holiday club at the park was fantastic - we were allowed to go there without the adults! Shiny paper, glitter, glue and stars - I always remember the sticky stars and learning to make paper curls using plastic scissors! Memories are flooding back as I type this... a vision of my youngest sister, then almost two, dancing and jumping up and down on the wooden slats of the veranda outside the chalet!

The fancy dress party! That just sprang to mind. We weren't prepared for that, so the thrill of being plastered in mum's make up and dressed in an odd array of clothing, flip flops and beach towels made it all the more fun. As for the treasure hunt, well... I remember searching in vain for an acorn and having the freedom to run around what seemed like an entire fantasy world, following clues that involved death-defying search techniques that could have ended in finding a unicorn rather than an acorn! And then the final night party! Awesome! I loved it! I absolutely loved it!

And now you know why absolutely everyone I can think of loves a particular movie! Yes, 'that' movie! The one with the holiday of dancing.

It was set in a holiday park and it involved fun and music and dancing - and a whole load of other stuff that faces us as we mature into adults, But these holidays stay with us forever and can be experienced again and again and again at any age, each visit bringing something new and exciting, especially when sharing your holidays with friends and family. My belief is that without people such as Billy Butlins, great American movies wouldn't have been half as great when they reached our shores.

Wonderwest World photo from Wikipedia
In the late 80s, we of the Scottish west got our very own holiday park makeover within easy reach of home. This fun, colourful and exciting new place became known as Wonderwest World! I even know people who went on honeymoon here!

A few years after that, a group of us girls took our own children to a similar park a little further afield ... the east coast of England!  Youngest sis was with us for that trip, too, along with her then 2 year old son. We all had an equally fantastic time - pony trekking, swimming, pedalling boats around the lake, exploring the leafy tracks on big tricycles and sitting gazing in awe at a man dressed as a huge teddy bear, reliving our childhoods and watching our own children doing the same as we had done all those years ago.

Looking back, I am so glad that I have these great memories and that I later took the decision to offer such an experience to my own kids. Not so long ago, my daughter introduced her children to the thrill of a holiday resort, so love them or loath them, these holiday park vacations seem to have much more meaning in our lives than many would give them credit. To be honest, they would never have featured on any 'places to go' or holiday list I ever wrote, until now! Now I want to go and find out for myself what a modern-day holiday resort is like. Perhaps it could become a new challenge for Frugaldom, or something else to add to the bucket list.

Once again, apologies for lack of photographs, but imagination alone should be sufficient to conjure up the magic, colours, fun, music and laughter associate with an amazing summer holiday loved by a bunch of under 10s.

Did the sun shine? I haven't got a clue! We were too busy enjoying ourselves to notice or even care. I may have sat on a soggy donkey for all I know - it really didn't matter because nothing spoils a happy childhood memory.

This blog post is my entry into a competition sponsored by Butlins Holiday Parks, helping your family make memories.


  1. My brother went to one, with a deal from a news paper. He upgraded slightly after being told by a friend that he would regret it. he took his boy. And he said it was great fun for them both. the evening entertainment wasn't up to much but they were so tired from the days on the beach looking for fossils that they were in their beds early.

    I hope you win. good luck

    1. I think it's the 'bus trip to the seaside with the lager louts' stigma that got attached to these places and I still do think of bingo and fish suppers, despite my last visit not being in the least like that. I seriously do think I should go back and find out what they're like in the 21st Century. :)

      Many thanks for reading and commenting, it's greatly appreciated.

  2. Oh yes great memories similar to ours and that film is an all time favorite of mine;-)
    We went in April and had great fun:-)

    1. There are several that I've heard about that sound like great fun for a short break, even for (very young) grans like me. :)

  3. These are so great for children, you are right. They get great levels of freedom and plenty of stuff just for them. It's the holiday where you do it for the kids. For me ? Centre Parcs Monday to Friday the cheapest week of the year, for my grandchildren? Any Butlins!

    1. I've never been to Centre Parcs or Flamingo Land! Just remembered the excitement surrounding the opening of that place! A quick search shows me it had a makeover last year, too.


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