For the first week of the Easter holidays, I took some time off work and the boys and I went to Broadland Sands holiday park.
We’re return visitors there – we’re lucky enough that my parents own a caravan on the site, so we can use it whenever they’re not. They purchased their first caravan when I was pregnant with Picklepot, so we’ve been going there for almost 7 years.
Over time, the site has changed hands several times, the company who own it now are obviously a much bigger corporation than previous owners, and they’re bringing it all in line with their other sites, with the entertainment centre having had a huge renovation last year, mascots providing children’s entertainment in the clubhouse in the evenings and mascot merchandise available for sale in the site shop. They’ve rearranged a lot of the caravans, and are building additional areas for caravans and lodges to be placed.
On our most recent visit, I was surprised to see the outdoor pool open, as previously it was only open during the main 6 week summer holidays, and it was still rather chilly at the start of April to contemplate an outdoor swim, but plenty of people were enjoying it. The pool passes can be obtained from reception, and must be valid if you want to use the pool. There’s a larger one, complete with big waterslide, and a smaller one for the kids (warmer and more shallow) Attached to the pool area is changing rooms complete with toilet and shower facilities, so if you want you can get ready / get dressed after your swim there, but most people walk over to the pool and back to their caravan or lodge in their swimsuit and a towel along with flip flops! You’re on holiday after all!
There’s a childrens park area on site, which we always spend a lot of time visiting, now Sunshineface is mobile he was able to enjoy running around there and playing too, unfortunately a lot of older children are left unattended by the adults they’re on holiday with so there is a bit of an issue with the older ones trying to take over all the equipment and scare off the little ones, but if you’re there with your kids all the time like I am then you don’t tend to have an issue.
The site could do with having a good clean up. I’ve not noticed it so much in previous years but there was a lot of rubbish in the carpark area next to the tennis courts, battered old caravans and broken bits and bobs, and around the site was a lot of old decking piled up, rubbish left abandoned and things just seemed generally uncared for. There are a lot of signs stating that dogs must be kept on a lead – apparently a lot of people can’t read, as we saw many dogs not on leads, running wild and causing a nuisance, as well as messing and their owners not cleaning up after them. There are areas where the grass has been re-laid and not watered, leading to big brown patchwork sections of dead grass. Broken signage makes the site look uncared for and signs telling you what number caravans are where work best when they’re showing the correct numbers in the correct place. The site maps given out to holidaymakers are also incorrect, showing the wrong number caravans in the wrong places.
The boys and I spent a day at the local beach, which is Gorleston. It takes about 10 minutes to drive there from Broadland Sands. It’s a lovely sandy beach, there’s a good size carpark with slopes and steps leading down from there to the waterside, and a very nice café which is open most of the year. (In summer they get very busy) We got an ice cream from the ice cream van parked by the car park, we made sandcastles, we had a lovely day on the beach even if it was a bit chilly. If you’re in the area I highly recommend this beach.
On our last night on the site, Picklepot wanted to go to the site restaurant for dinner. The kids meals were good - £4.50 for main meal, drink, and ice cream for afters. The meals were a generous portion – Picklepot had a cheeseburger and Sunshineface had chicken nuggets – and both boys meals came with a pile of chips. My meal wasn’t great. It cost £8.50 for spicy chicken burger and chips, I asked for it without coleslaw which I hate, and when it arrived there wasn’t even a bit of salad included. It was very basic fried chips and burger in a bun and looked like something I could have cooked myself in the caravan, not a meal I’d paid for, which was disappointing.
As we were finishing our meal the kids evening entertainment started so Picklepot was dancing and joining in with that, though Sunshineface found it all a bit much and wanted to stay away from the main stage where the characters were and the kids had all gathered to dance and scream. We didn’t stay long as it was very loud and lots of screaming, Picklepot found it a bit much after a short time too, so we headed back to the caravan. It was what I think of as typical holiday camp kids entertainment, though the meal was disappointing the venue has been done up very nicely and organised well.
I will continue to return to Broadland Sands but I don’t know that I’d get another meal in the restaurant unless they vastly improve the quality of the food, and I’d like to see the site cleaned up particularly once the summer season arrives.