23 November 2020

Why the mountains are so special for our family...

Mountains hold a special significance to our family in many ways. In fact, without mountains our family would not exist, so let me tell you a little story... 

There once was a girl who dreamed of a gap year by the sea on a surf board. Alas, she didn't manage to gather a travel fund until November, thus decided snowboarding would work just as well. So she went, enjoyed the snow and the mountains, and kissed many frogs along the way, before returning home. 

There once was a boy who found his dream job working in a music shop, but then found an even dreamier job of playing in a band in a ski town. So he went, enjoyed the snow and the beer and the music and the mountains. 

la rosiere

me at slopes

husband at slopes

And the girl felt the itch to go back to the mountains once more, met up with many old friends and made some new friends and went up the slopes again with them all. It was freezing cold, and snowing, so when a boy with a funny hat next to her in the ski lift tried to engage her in conversation, she burrowed her nose deeper inside her jacket and said... not much. "Rude", he thought, and started chatting up a much more agreeable Scottish girl sitting on the other side. 

As it happens, beer and music are a winning combination so all the friends alike found their way to the apres ski, and sat down to eat some chips. It was cozy and warm, and the boy and the girl got chatting, and chatting and chatting, and chatted some more the next day, and went up the slopes together then next day, until... they shared a kiss!

And skip a few more years, a wedding, couple of holidays in the mountains and a couple of babies, and here we are!

ski in snow

sipping coffee at slope cafe

reading a ski slope map

me and david at la rosiere

Mountains hold a special significance for us as a family - without them we would never have met and had a family together! I loved my ski seasons, and a summer season in Chamonix, France. I snowboarded, and learning to ride in deep powder snow was fun and took many many nose dives. I bought myself an off-piste guidebook and set out to explore some places with friends. I snowboarded down the Vallee Blance all the major routes at least once, and a fair few other off-piste areas. 

In the summer I learned to rock climb, and enjoyed long hikes and the stunning scenery. I had always dreamt of a dip in one of those incredibly clear and blue mountain pools, but every time I hiked to one of them, the reality and the cold hit me, alas I never did. But I did see many spectacular sights and marmots and chamoises, and touched the glacier tongues and I did dip my feet at least in those ice cold mountain pools.   

You get used to having stunning scenery everytime you look outside of your window - I used to see Mount Blanc from my bedroom. When I finally left, the strangeness of everything being so flat and being able to see miles out was surprising. I missed it dearly, but life moves on, and there are new places to explore... Yet still, I still often long to go back to the mountains. It is a great life, outdoorsy and fun. 

After those ski seasons in Chamonix, we went to La Rosiere on our late honeymoon (where the pictures in this post are from!), and have been to Levi, in Finland as a family of three.  There are so many great things kids can do when at the mountains. In winter it is skiing, walks in the snowy forest, making snow angels and snowmen, enjoying warm drinks outdoors, and tobogganing. In the summer it is little hikes in stunning scenery, biking, climbing, picnics in the valley, and enjoying the nature trails. There are so many special things children can do - it is not a holiday destination for just adults. 

Since having our youngest one, we haven't been to the mountains with her yet, so hopefully we soon get to introduce her to mountains as well, and that they too become very special for her. 

You might also like: How to have a fun family holiday in Levi, Finland

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26 October 2020

Need a full and honest review of Butlin's Bognor Regis?

It has been a while since we were to Butlin's. Last time we visited was in 2017, and we went to Butlin's Minehead for a press visit. I wanted to share a quick review of Butlin's Bognor Regis in 2020, and some helpful tips for anyone visiting the resort. If you are looking for information specifically about the coronavirus safety measures at Butlin's and how to book shows and entertainment check my post about Butlin's new measures in 2020 - this post right here is however Bognor Regis resort specifically. 

butlins bognor regis skyline

Overall impression

It was nice! Clean and well maintained, with lots of activities. A real kids dream place with plenty of easy to access entertainment, and an amazing waterpark (of which more in the next section). There were crafts, fairground rides, shows, swimming and different sports activities and an animal experience.  Unlike Minehead the arcade game area and the penny pusher area were small and tucked away, which is my preference anyway. The kids loved Bognor Regis, us adults thought it was quite hectic as it always is with kids. Our accommodation was OK, although there were a couple of issues. 

Splash Waterpark

This was the real highlight of our trip. Splash Waterpark has been recently remodelled and it was looking really spick and span. There were all kinds of slides and pools suitable for a variety of ages. A deeper pool for swimming, bubbly ones, wave pool and two splash pools with a variety of very small slides and water play areas suitable for the littlest ones. It was really fantastic for little ones, and for the bigger kids there were cool slides too and of course the wave pool. The wave pool was operational when we went, although the website currently states the wave machine is off. The Helter Skelter slide was closed.  

We had two sessions in the pools. Because of a reduced capacity for the most part the queuing was very quick and we managed to try all the slides. We went for the morning sessions which are likely to be most popular with families, so I found the splash pools were busy but the most slides had hardly any in them. You could pretty much just walk to some of them which was great and we ended up doing so many slides. The longest queues were in the Seaside Garden Rapids and Family Raft Ride, so I'd recommend doing them as the first thing before queue builds up. Seaside Garden Rapids was a very slow ride, but my daughter enjoyed it a lot and the Family Raft Ride was a ring slide, fun but a bit scary when your back was facing down the slide. 

The family changing rooms were great and finally big enough for a whole family! The session was organised quite well, and only some rows of the changing rooms were open to use. When the next session was due to come, they are directed to the closed off sections, and the previously used changing rooms are deep-cleaned. It was very clean when we went. The only issue was at the lockers area where people congregated as there was so few available - for the lockers bring a pound by the way!  

Despite the reduced capacity, at times it was difficult to comply with social distancing, especially at the toddler splash pools. These were very popular and kids of course run all over the place. Other than that it was great. 

bognor regis cut out

family on a merry go around

girl on a merry go around

flying on a fairground ride


We stayed in New Style Silver apartments. These are mid-range in Butlin's accommodation range, so not the most basic but not the fanciest either. It was a two bed apartment, so a room for parents, a room for the kids, and a living room with a small kitchen. My kids loved it, thought it was the most luxurious place ever ha ha, us parents less so, but it was nice to have the extra room. 

If you are self-catering, you will be pleased to know the kitchen was perfectly adequate, with a toaster, an oven fridge-freezer, utensils, cups, glasses, plates, chopping board, knives, pots and pans and an oven pan. You also got a small dishwasher soap, sponge, a reusable wipe, and a small tea towel. What I would say though, is that bring an oven glove, cling film, some additional tea towels, kitchen spray, and also a pan and an oven pan. Our oven pan was fine, but the frying pan was very worn down. 

There were a couple of issues with the accommodation though. Minor issues were the safety lock at the door was yanked so nearly fell off the frame, and the fridge which had a broken section so milk bottles kept on falling out. Major issues were that the sink was nearly blocked when we arrived, and eventually did block. Second major issue was the very serious mold issue in the bathroom shower enclosure silicone. Never have I ever seen such aggressive growth of mold - it spored within an hour of wiping it off.

To Butlin's credit, when I raised the issues with housekeeping they were dealt with very quickly. They did offer to replace the fridge, but since we were leaving soon we said it's OK. The other things were fixed and/or cleaned, although I have to say the mold grew back soon, the sink became poorly draining soon again and the safety lock was again yanked nearly off by my toddler.  

So I'd say good on effort, execution hampered by having to do quick fixes, and the accommodation was passable for the short amount of time we spent there. 


We were mostly self-catering, so had breakfast, lunch and some dinners at the apartment. There are big supermarkets in town and a 5 minute drive away, so best thing is probably to come in to the resort, get your bags unpacked and then go do a big shop if you are self-catering. There is a small shop at the resort, which is very convenient but a bit more expensive, and personally, I didn't think the ready-made lunch options were appealing at all. We did get little snacks and drinks from the resort shop though. 

In the resort there are Burger King, Beachcomber Inn (pub grub), fish and chips, Papa Johns for pizza and The Diner for American type meals. You could also get Costa coffee in the Skyline Pavillion and of course drinks from the bars. We did take advantage of the 2 cocktails for £10 deal a fair bit - they weren't that amazing if I'm honest, so eventually we moved to draft beers and cider bottles. We had breakfast at Beachcomber Inn, which was nice, a very typical English breakfast, and dinner at The Diner. The Diner milkshakes and freakshakes were amazing. The food was OK - my husband wasn't keen on it but I thought it was pretty typical of these types of restaurants. 

There is of course the premium dining and food court dining too, but we didn't use them this time.  

I've seen recommendations for some restaurants outside the resort in and around Bognor Regis. Some places that have been recommended are Oystercatcher, Lobsterpot, Clock House cafe, Syrup cafeBrewers Fayre and The Hatters Inn (Whetherspoons). We did plan to go to Lobsterpot originally as the menu looked nice, but kids eh... Easier to stay on resort. 

green teletubby with family

kids crafting at butlins

toddler crafting

girl holding a snake

snake slithering on the floor butlins

snake at butlins

skyline gang show

Shows and entertainment

The shows and other entertainment options of course change regularly. When we went there we saw the Little Mermaid panto, Paddington, Paul Zerdin ventriloquist, Blues Brothers, and of course Skyline Gang, twice. The kids liked everything of course. 

My opinion is that the Little Mermaid was great - lots of effort in the costumes, great drag performance, actually funny acting, and Skyline Gang are of course one to see always - energetic and fun, although I have no idea what their shows were as I was concentrating on my coffee I for once got to drink hot! Paddington seemed nice for the younger kids. I'd skip Blues Brothers though - it was a bit of a tired performance of two blokes in black suites... The back up singers were great talent though, shame they were just back up.  

The fairground was great, although due to cleaning the queues could build up a fair bit. The queues were very long especially at the indoor fairground where there were lots of little ones but very few seats available. Outdoors fairground also has a late nigh on Thursdays and Sundays, which was fun with light and smoke effects!

There were workshops like craft workshops and different sports, like climbing. I found that the sports (except toddler football) were very quickly fully booked and I would have hoped more session would be run, particularly as the attendance numbers per session are so limited. We went to a free craft session for 5 to 8 year olds, which was fun and suitable for any age really. Our seven year old joined with the crafting and our toddler free-styled with the material.   

One highlight of the trip was the Animal experience. This was not the Animal FX show, which is animal puppets I believe, but actual real animals. As far as I'm aware the animal experience is available at Bognor Regis only. There were snakes, creepy crawlies, hedgehogs and so on. We got to pet and hold a python and it even slithered on my feet while I was standing around, which was great fun, and we got to see several other small animals. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for. 

toddler at bognor regis beach

bognor regis beach

family at bognor regis beach

Top tips

So my tips for people coming to Butlin's Bognor Regis would be:
  • For details on booking experiences and the new safety measures check this post
  • If self-catering, bring an oven glove, cling film, some additional tea towels, kitchen spray, and also a pan and an oven pan.
  • If self-catering get a big shop in from a local supermarket
  • If you can't get tickets to shows, any of the shows in Skyline Pavilion you can see from the sides fairly easily. Skyline Gang was one of the shows there!
  • Splash Waterpark is great, but do the Family Raft and the Garden Rapids first as they gather the longest queues
  • Animal experience was wonderful, definitely worth keeping an eye out for as there are very limited sessions
  • There is a lovely beach right in front so worth having a little walk - you can even find London clay fossils if you are lucky! (I found one small one, which I then accidentally broke ha ha)
  • If you have issues in your accommodation texting the number at the back of your key card gets you in contact with the housekeeping team. I found waiting on the phone was really difficult with kids so this helped. 

I hope you have fun - overall we had a great experience. 

What tips would you give for coming to Bognor Regis Butlin's?

20 October 2020

How I found the Jump-In trampoline park!

Last week I took my daughter to Jump-In trampoline park in Enfield for a review visit and to check out their new coronavirus safety measures - I was given a gift card to cover the ticket cost. I have been to this trampoline park a couple of times before, but never did do any jumping myself - but this time I was determined I'd join in. I booked us a Toddler Time ticket, where your kid (5 years old or under) and you can jump to your hearts delight. Later in the week I also attended a trampoline fitness class. 

There are several of Jump-In trampoline parks across UK - Aberdeen, Camberley, Edinburgh, Elstree, Enfield, Ipswich, Shrewsbury, Slough and Warwick. They are huge halls filled with different type trampolines and obstacles, and a wide variety of other things, such as a soft play, climbing (Aberdeen and Enfield only) and soft mats and trapezes, foam pits and so on, although not all features may be available due to current hygiene measures. There is also a cafe with drinks and food served. 

We visited Enfield and here is what I thought about the trampoline park, and how the coronavirus safety measures worked. They will be similar across the locations, so even if you visit another location this review will help you. Overall we had a great time, and both me and my daughter loved our Jump-In experience, and I had fun on my fitness class too. 

jump in trampoline area

side trampolines

Booking tickets

This was incredibly easy. You have to book tickets before visiting, and then you sign all the waivers and watch an introduction and safety video online before arriving. This is really handy and makes the arrival a lot quicker and smoother - and allows you a bit more jumping time too! If you visit the venue often, your waiver is valid for six months so no need to sign it each time. 

After booking and paying for the tickets you get an email with the QR code, and show this to staff at the entrance, and they will give you jump socks and your allocated table for changing / sitting / cafe. 

New hygiene measures and coronavirus safety

You get new socks each time you jump. Previously you had to pay for the socks, and regular jumpers would usually bring their own socks. However, now due to hygiene you don't pay anything for the socks and they are included in the ticket price. 

There is regular cleaning, and I found the venue to be very tidy and clean. Bathrooms were very tidy and overall cleaning seemed top notch.

Mask wearing is encouraged when moving around the area, although you don't have to wear them while jumping. All the staff were wearing them, and clients mostly. There is also a one way system for the entering and exiting, and for the bathrooms, and the side doors were kept open for fresh air. 

There are allocated seats for changing. As I mentioned you get an allocated area for yourself for changing and sitting down. Mind you, our allocated "table" was just two chairs, so I'm not sure if this is different during weekends when there are more jumpers. This was perfectly adequate to change socks and leave jackets and things over, but if I had wanted to eat or snack it would have been tricky. 

Drinking fountains are closed off due to hygiene reasons so remember to bring a bottle, or get a drink from the cafe!

safety bubble trampoline park

enfield trampoline park cafe

reserved seating arrangement with two chairs

dodge ball area of trampoline park

toddler about to jump on a trampoline

toddler running to a trampoline

Eating and drinking

It was very handy to have a table service, and to be able to order food and drinks on my smartphone. I was surprised to see that there was hot food (pizza and hot dogs) and also a variety of snacks available. I bought us drinks and was pleased to see the order process went smoothly and the table service was very quick. 

What was the jumping like?

We had a great time! As I took my daughter on a weekday Toddler Time, we had unlimited jumping from 10AM to 1.30PM on the main court. Weekends Toddler Time is limited to the first one hour session of the day. We got to jump together for £9.95. This was a fantastic deal and one that I'd love to go for again. 

My 2.5 year old daughter, who is quite a physical child, loved jumping and got really into it, whooping and hollering away. I really enjoyed it too, and there were different trampolines to try, from normal trampolines to slightly curved and really long ones you could run on, and a balance bar. It was fairly quiet, especially early on, although got busier as the day progressed and older kids starting coming in too for the Open Jump - Open Jump is for any ages and is on the main court.

Jump-In Enfield has a big softplay for 5's and under as well, and a dedicated jump area for the little ones - you as an adult can't jump there though. It looked great, and I am sure we will try this too in the future. To get to the softplay you have to buy the Jump&Play ticket.  

Due to space limitations some slots may be fully booked so you have to pre-plan! I found especially Jump&Play (this is a soft play and dedicated jump area for 5 year olds and under) to be very popular during weekends and early sessions on weekdays. Open Jump sessions (for over 5 year olds, on the main court) were also very popular during weekend afternoons. 

I also attended the evening time fitness class and it was great fun. Very intensive bouncing for the first 20-25 minutes, after which we started to wind down a bit with other exercises and stretches. It was a very good work-out, and I definitely want to try this again. 

jump in trampoline park climbing area

The new thing at Enfield Jump-In - climbing!

I've promised to take my other daughter to Jump-In soon, and I am very keen to take her for the climbing session. A new feature in the Enfield Jump-In is the climbing wall. There were a variety of fun features, like a speed climbing wall, and pillars, alongside more regular climbing, and it looked like it would be awesome to do. You can book tickets for climbing only, or a combined jumping and climbing deal - we are sure to visit this wall soon!

So in summary - we had a great time. I felt the coronavirus measures worked really well, although some clients skipped mask wearing outside the jumping areas too. I'm keen to go back and try climbing next time, that should be fun! 

You might also like: One of the best kept secrets of North London - Forty Hall Estate! and London with kids: Best kept "secrets" locals recommend

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16 October 2020

Did my toddler like the Peppa Pig electronic learning toy range?

Who loves Peppa Pig? Well, my two year old certainly does - anything Peppa Pig is guaranteed to be a firm favourite of hers. Thus, she was very excited to be my blogging assistant and help me review two new toys (PR samples) from the Peppa Pig electronic learning toys range - Peppa Pig Count with Peppa and Peppa Pig Laugh & Learn Laptop. These are available at various retailers, such as Argos to which I've linked. 

And by the way - you can win the Count with Peppa on my Facebook page, so pop over there if you want to try your luck. But now, let's see what the toys were all about...

girl playing with peppa pig laptop
Add caption

two peppa pig toys in a box

girl playing with peppa pig laptop

Peppa Pig Laugh & Learn Laptop 

Peppa Pig Laptop is a brightly coloured and easy to use toy laptop. This toy retails at at £17.  It has a portable handle and a light-up screen, and so far, seems to withstand fairly robust use by a two year old. There are four different activities (these can be selected with a sliding sorter on the right hand side) that help kids learn about letters, numbers, objects, colours and musical instruments. 

In the quiz mode Peppa asks you to find something, such as a colour, or the character. So far she finds this tricky - I don't think she quite understands the concept yet. She much prefers the music mode, where she can press the buttons and make her own music with the piano notes, and listen to the six fun tunes and other funny sounds. 

My two year old enjoys playing with the laptop, and pretending to work just like mummy. In fact, she is very proud to show everyone her own laptop. 

close up of peppa pig laptop

toddler smiling with a peppa pig laptop

Peppa Pig Count with Peppa

Peppa Pig Count with Peppa helps the child develop counting skills and colour and picture recognition.  This toy retails at £20. The toy comes with ten interactive play coins. These coins are numbered from one to ten (on the opposite side of the coin the same number of items to count), have different colours, and have a different character on each. The toy also includes a Peppa shaped money box. 

There are eight different activities that encourage the child to learn about different numbers, colours and pictures. Peppa asks the child to find, for example the colour purple or the number two, asks you to insert it into her purse, and recognises when the said coin is inserted and responds accordingly. It also plays three songs from the TV series.  

I found that it could be tricky for my two year old to push the coins in - they were a bit stiff - so the toy encouraged motor skills development too. I also found that when Peppa asks her to find a certain coin, it was far too quick for her to follow and insert the coins in before Peppa would start again, and needed a fair bit of help from me to manage this. That said, she enjoys just pushing the coins in and taking them out again, and just playing with the Peppa Pig as a doll. She will probably get more out of it when she is a bit bigger and faster in her reactions. 

toddler playing with peppa pig counting toy

count with peppa toy close up

toddler playing with peppa pig counting toy


Another toy in the range you might also like the look of is the Peppa Pigs Phonic Alphabet. this retails at £19.99 and helps develop basic knowledge of letters, numbers and colours, and provides an early introduction to phonics and spelling. The idea is somewhat similar to the Count with Peppa - Peppa asks the child to find the correct answer, except instead of coins you have cubes, and you insert them to the front of Peppas dress. 

So definitely - if you have a Peppa mad child (like so many of us do) pop by Argos to have a look at these, and if you fancy it, try your luck in my Facebook giveaway!

You might also like: Should you go see Peppa Pig: My First Cinema Experience?

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23 September 2020

How to deal with all the new measures at Butlin's 2020

We visited Butlin's Bognor Regis at the beginning of September. Butlin's 2020 is quite different from what it has been in the past. There are several new coronavirus measures and social distancing measures, and I wanted to share my thoughts on them as well as some quick tips on how to navigate them and have as good a Butlin's holiday as you can - even if it is 2020 ha ha!

Last time we visited was in 2017, and we went to Butlin's Minehead for a press visit and wrote a review of the resort. It was a fantastic visit, and we loved it. We stayed in the chalets, had a premium dining plan and enjoyed just wondering about without really booking anything, and doing whatever caught our eye. I've also written a post reviewing Butlin's Bognor Regis, so if you are looking for specific information about the resort head there. 

This time we visited Bognor Regis, stayed in a new style silver accommodation (which equates to mid-level in Butlin's terms), and were self-catering and had to do lots of pre-planning because of the coronavirus measures. During our visit I got a good understanding of the new style safety measures (which are similar across all three resorts), and wanted to explain them to you too. Hopefully it will help in either deciding whether to visit, or if you are already booked for a visit, on what to expect and how to navigate the measures. 

There is lots of information on Butlins page on reopening, but personally, I've found it useful to read experiences from other people too. The latest resort updates on lockdowns and so on are available on their website too. 

kids in front of butlins bognor regis skyline

Things are not the same

It is going to be quite different from previous years. For example, due to social distancing character meets are more like a photo opportunity, shows and all the activities need to be pre-booked well in time or you run the risk of not being able to get in, and some restaurants may be closed. 

One thing I loved about Butlin's was that you could just wander about and do whatever looked interesting, so you didn't have to do much planning and just turn up. Now I had to start thinking about what shows we want and when we might want to go swimming and plan that with the other activities well ahead of arrival. I also really loved that the Redcoats were so great with kids, making them laugh and smile, and this time they were lovely as ever, but so busy with crown maintenance and checking names off a list they couldn't interact with kids as usual. 

Then again, now with the corona restrictions there is less capacity, so less people. Day tickets aren't being sold, and overall there is just less people in. This made the resort feel less crowded than usually, and we got to do quite a lot of the activities and at shows we got tables which made things certainly easier with kids. 

Overall, we had a really good time and enjoyed doing all kinds of activities, and saw lots of shows and went swimming twice. There was more waiting and a lot more pre-planning, but other than that it all went very well. 

But let's explain the measures then!

seal on the door from cleaners at butlins

kids in a teacup fairground ride

butlins indoor fairground

Drive-through check-in

Before your arrival you get an email with the drive-through details - you need to drive to the right entrance and then follow the signs to the right check-in spot. A staff member will give your keys in a sealed envelope. Resort opens at 1PM and you can enter the room from 4PM (unless priority access / hotel guest, who enter from 3PM). 

This went really well, even if the gate information we got was a bit confusing. We got to the wrong gate at first, but were quickly directed to the right place. 

Cleanliness and the new coronavirus safety measures

Lots of new safety measures were in place. There are lots of notices about social distancing, wearing a mask and hand sanitising. All entry and exit point there were big hand sanitiser stations, and reminders to use them. There are no temperature checks, which makes entering a bit faster.

Mask wearing is encouraged, although I did note that as the weekend wore on, less and less people wore masks. Overall, the capacity seemed reduced, so it was possible to socially distance in most situations, although there were a few times when I felt the seating arrangements in shows were a bit close to other tables. 

Resort was very clean. Between each show the areas get cleaned, and at the fairground the equipment gets sprayed and wiped between each ride. There was a reduced capacity for rides, so empty seats and rows between people. This meant that the queues for rides were a bit long sometimes. 

Accommodation cleanliness

When you get to your accommodation you will note it has been sealed with a red sticker. This shows that after the cleaners have been, no one has entered the accommodation. I found the cleaning was very thorough, absolutely no complaints, but I did for my own peace of mind spray all touch points and handles with an antibacterial spray. Our apartment had a few other issues though, but maintenance came to deal with them quickly. 

One difference is that in accommodation where you have housekeeping - now there isn't any. This is to avoid anyone coming into the room while guests are staying there, and cross-contaminating rooms. Also, again, not all accommodation includes towels, but if yours does and you need more, you will have to request new ones from guest services. 

watching butlins skyline gang show

teletubby character meet butlins 2020

skyline gang show butlins

two kids crafting

kids wearing skyline gang costumes at butlins

You need to pre-book activities

You need to pre-plan and book activities before going if you want to ensure you get to do everything you want. There are two main ways of doing this. 

1) Plan my day website for swimming, shows and crafts. You will get an email with this link when the booking for your holiday opens, about a week before the day of arrival. This will allow you to book two slots for swimming and one slot for each show (craft slots are updated a day or two before arrival). 

Book as soon as you receive the email, as if you leave it until the last days you may find all the slots are taken. In fact, check the website about 8-9 days before your holiday in case it has been updated ahead of the emails. For example I checked the site on Thursday evening, and booked all my swimming and show slots then, and already some puppet shows and Animal FX show were "sold out". I got the email with the link the following day.  

2) Butlin's app for a variety of paid activities - these are things like climbing, go karting, rope activities, pottery and such. My app didn't allow me to book anything or let me even do an itinerary, so it might not work for everyone. So instead of the app, I had to go to Leisure Hub to book additional activitites. 

3) On arrival go to Leisure Hub (or another booking point, check with staff where it is) and book your activities, shows or swimming. There should hopefully be some reserved places for swimming and shows available for people that don't have internet or haven't been able to book anything. You can book all the paid activities through the Leisure hub too. 

When you arrive to your pre-booked activity, either show a screen shot of your booking, or give your name to the Redcoats who will check you are on the list. If you are late for shows your reservation may be given away. In fact, you are told you should arrive 15 min before the show to guarantee your space won't be give away, although we arrived just a few minutes to spare to our booked activities and they hadn't started giving slots away yet. 

What if you haven't managed to book anything?

Yes, so you may have left it too late, or forgot, or want to do something else instead. That's OK. It happens. Turn up at the allotted time and join the left hand side waiting queue. Once all the people on the list have entered (they use the right hand side queue), permitting capacity restrictions, they will start letting other people in. 

We didn't queue for anything, but I am pretty sure that for nearly all of the shows we went to, those people that queued would have got in, although the seats they would have got weren't necessarily ideal. I saw people queueing for swimming too. I've heard some people have managed to go swimming three times doing this (you can only book two swimming slots). 

Lots of people book the free activities and then don't turn up, so it is worth trying for them regardless! Obviously don't big them up for your kids in case they are full, but it is well worth trying. For example, for the 5-8 years old crafting there were 12 tables set up, and only five families turned up. 

Also worth it to check the app and the Plan my day site during your stay as people may release slots they have decided not to take afterall. 

b serve app sign

little mermaid panto at butlins

watching a show at butlins

paul zerdin show butlins

Socially distanced shows and table service

After queueing, there is hand sanitiser to use, and you have to use your mask when walking to your table and if you need to go to the bathroom. While sitting you can take the mask off. Tables are set apart, and each table has five to six chairs. Kids can get up and dance, but should stay in front of or next to the table. There were some in-show jokes about social distancing, and characters would socially distance - good reminders for audience! 

The best thing about the socially distanced shows was table service! Using the B-serve app you can order drinks to your table, which was a real treat with young kids. And slightly dangerous as we drank a lot of cappucinos and beers during our visit! You can use cash too, but then you have to go get your own drinks from the bar. Using the B-serve app is easy, you just need to book the right resort and restaurant, and the table number, and pay by using card. You can save your card details for ease.

What and where to eat

Due to social distancing measures and capacity limits, I've heard some people's dining plans have either been cancelled or downgraded. I tried to book us a dining plan, but was told it was sold-out. 

Thus - I have no personal information of the dining plan eating. However, I have read reviews and comments from others. There are different dining plan levels and restaurants, so it is difficult to draw a conclusive summary, but overall it seems that food court dining tends to get more negative comments on food quality, and premium dining is described as nice or good, but perhaps not as nice as pre-pandemic. The major differences are that now you request a staff member to plate up food for you, and you get salad, pastries, and so on in pre-packaged boxes. Cereal for example would be boxed per recommended portion, and would be quite small. It is a buffet, so you can ask for seconds, or thirds of course! It just gets plated and/or packaged up for you. 

If you have been booked onto dining and the quality does not meet your expectations, contact guest services and they should be able to convert your dining to vouchers to use on the resort - so instead of the dining you get to use the restaurants. 

All the resorts have restaurants and fast food (like Burger King) on-site, but due to capacity some may be closed or takeaway only. We ate in at Beachcomber Inn (pub grub) and The Diner (American style) - both decent options with plentiful portions, although I can't say either was anything special. We didn't have to wait for a table in either, and they were pretty empty when we ate in them, but Ive heard some people have had to queue at busy times. 

If you are self-catering, you will be pleased to know the kitchen was perfectly adequate, with a toaster, an oven fridge-freezer, utensils, cups, glasses, plates, chopping board, knives, pots and pans and an oven pan. You also got a small dishwasher soap, sponge, a reusable wipe, and a small tea towel. 

I recommend bringing an oven glove, cling film, some additional tea towels, kitchen spray, and also a pan and an oven pan. Our oven pan was fine, but the frying pan was very worn down. 

There is a small shop onsite, but I've found it is a bit more expensive than bigger shops, and if you are self-catering I'd recommend popping by any of the close-by big supermarkets for a proper shop with a better selection - they tend to be about 5 min drive away. 

kid at beachcomber inn butlins

diner burger at butlins

kids at butlins happy

So, my top tips would be:
  • Remember your masks, you need to wear them when entering Skyline, and arriving to any shows and the changing rooms for swimming. 
  • Check Plan my day website 8-9 days before arrival, or wait until you get the email with the link. Book all the shows and swimming you want to do as soon as possible. Butlin's app gets updated a day or two earlier with craft and other sports sessions. 
  • If you haven't managed to book via the Plan my day site or Butlin's app, pop by Leisure Hub when you arrive to try book slots. Also, check during your stay for released slots. 
  • If you decide to not go to a pre-booked activity, please release your slots so others can take them!
  • You can also queue for swimming, shows and other free activities by joining the left hand side queue. Most shows have some space leftover, and lots of people book the free activities but then don't turn up.  
  • Download B-serve app for table service at the shows - it is so good with kids!
  • If you are self-catering, I recommend bringing an oven glove, cling film, some additional tea towels, kitchen spray, and also a pan and an oven pan. You get a dishwashing pack in apartments.
  • If you are self-catering or need snacks, there is a small shop onsite, but I'de recommend doing a big shop in one of the nearby big supermarkets.  

All in all, it is a fun holiday, and overall I felt like the safety measures were well thought through and dealt with. You need to be quite organised with pre-booking things and turning up on time, but other than that it is great fun. Don't forget to also check out my reviews of the Bognor Regis resort and Minehead resort!

Is there anything else you would like to know?

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