What we did on our Holidays

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One of the odd things about single parenting is how easy it is to forget your loser status. It’s actually pretty normal to see kids with one parent – at school, at birthday parties, on play dates.

Holidays, though, are a bit different.

Single parents almost always pay more for holidays than their married chums, and when you arrive, you’re almost always the ONLY single parent in sight. This makes you vulnerable to well-meaning old people, who will invite you to sit with them at mealtimes, when you’d really rather be reading your copy of Vampire Diaries (don’t judge, I know you’ve all done the crap book thing on holiday).

Then there’s the fact that the only person having an actual holiday is your offspring – you’re just shattered from being on duty 24×7, and being responsible for everything from driving the hire car to putting up the travel cot.

If any of this sounds even remotely familiar, I’d suggest checking out Keycamp, who kindly invited us to take a holiday with them this half-term.

The company offers discounts to single parents, and has sites all over Europe. If you don’t have a destination in mind, I have to say their staff were brilliant at taking my pathetically vague, “Erm, can we go somewhere really near a beach where I don’t have to drive, and with a great pool please?” and coming up with the perfect location – St Jean de Monts in the Vendee region of France.

 

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We arrived at the Clarys Plage resort on a hot, sticky Friday morning to find a really laid-back parc centred around a pool with a kids pool, a family pool, an indoor pool and a great selection of slides and water chutes. Flea was out of the cab and in the pool before the courier had even given us the keys to our accommodation!

Just five minutes walk from the parc is a beautiful, wide sandy beach with rocks for climbing and amazing views. Basically, the perfect spot for a week’s swimming and hanging out on the beach. There's a breeze, which makes it a great spot for flying kites, and stopped us from getting too hot and bothered. Many sandcastles were built, there was paddling galore, and Flea judged the pool to be “completely awesome”.

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This probably isn't the location for you if you want loads of organised activities or entertainment – there's a very simple bar serving snacks but most of our cooking happened on the barbecue, and in the evenings I settled down to watch a DVD once Flea was in bed. The local area is also pretty low-key – there are a handful of simple restaurants but you need to travel further afield if you want to do any sightseeing. But if you're after a simple, no-thought-required break with children, then St Jean de Monts is perfect.

What makes Keycamp particularly brilliant, I thought, is the entertainment for kids. When we arrived there was a mini tent already put up outside our mobile home, which Flea thought was brilliant – and we got to bring it home. Even better, included in the price of the holiday is the Fun Station – games and activities for kids, run by experienced childcare workers, running for two sessions each day on the parc.

During our week away, Flea played football and cricket, took part in weird balloon races, made animal masks and learned loads of new team games. The sessions are run on a drop-in basis, meaning your kids can go to as few or as many as you choose.  Flea went to four or five sessions over the week, giving her the opportunity to have fun and make friends, and giving me some precious time to relax and enjoy the weather. 

I often come back from holidays feeling like I need another holiday, but for once I feel like I’ve had a complete break. Just what the doctor ordered.

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PS – I'd like to apologise to the steward on our flight to Nantes for Flea's minor meltdown when we landed. I don't imagine your friendly thankyou and goodbye is often drowned out by a four-year-old shouting at you: "You said we were going to France. THIS ISN'T FRANCE, IT'S JUST AN AIRPORT."

Sorry about that.

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.

19 Comments

  1. 7th June 2010 / 9:42 am

    Great to hear about your successful Keycamp holiday. We have been on a free Eurocamp holiday this week. My review of it is a tad long so have only posted day one so far – we had a dodgy start but thankfully things improved!

  2. 7th June 2010 / 9:50 am

    It sounds like you had a great week. I can totally relate to the single parent on holiday thing!

  3. 7th June 2010 / 10:22 am

    Sounds like a great break, I am completely in need of some sun but don’t think I’ll be getting a break this year, to anywhere hot anyway 🙁
    Flea’s little remarks make me laugh x

  4. Rachael
    7th June 2010 / 10:48 am

    Oh that sounds lovely. Just as I’m about to write a moaning blog about how holidays with toddlers (he’s just under 2), really aren’t worth the effort! Hmmm, feeling very jealous.

  5. diane
    7th June 2010 / 2:02 pm

    Love the pix of Flea, sounds like a great time. 🙂
    But Vampire Diaries is SO rubbish! (I prefer a nice Elmore Leonard, or even a John Grisham.)

  6. 7th June 2010 / 6:48 pm

    Sounds as though you had a really wonderful time. Keycamp – of you are reading this, pretty please, we would love to go on a holiday with you and blog about it too!!

  7. 7th June 2010 / 6:59 pm

    We went to St Jean de Monts many years ago with Keycamp and it was as good then as it sounds now. We loved it. I’d definitely go back, next week preferably!

  8. 7th June 2010 / 7:40 pm

    I read your review and you’re SO RIGHT about the pillow cases – we had the same thing and so did other families I asked – it must be a company policy – two pillows, but just the one pillow case!

  9. 7th June 2010 / 7:40 pm

    We had a great week, and my top tip now is to take the spare laptop and a DVD box set – I had uninterrupted time to watch season 1 and 2 of Mad Men, which was great!

  10. 7th June 2010 / 7:41 pm

    Oh no, fingers crossed something last minute comes up for you!

  11. 7th June 2010 / 7:42 pm

    I know what you mean, though. I took Flea away when she was 12 months to Greece and that was fine, but when I took her to New York when she was 20 months, it was HORRIBLE. Jet lag and toddlers are a lethal combination.

  12. 7th June 2010 / 7:43 pm

    We’re off for our first visit to Center Parcs later this year, and I remember reading your post about it last year and thinking it looked great – thanks for the inspiration!

  13. 7th June 2010 / 7:43 pm

    Sounds (and looks) like you had a lovely time! Interesting to see there are lots of Eurocamp vs Keycamp blogs out there at the moment – would be interesting to see how they stack up against each other, or if this sort of experience is pretty similar irrespective of operator (think some of them even use the same campsites, if I am not mistaken?)

  14. 7th June 2010 / 7:43 pm

    Call me lowbrow but I don’t count Elmore Leonard as lowbrow holiday reading. But yes, it was crap. Well, I say “IT” was crap – I read three of them. They were all crap. Hey ho.

  15. 7th June 2010 / 7:45 pm

    It’s a really lovely spot, we’d definitely go back – I might even drive next time, after speaking to other families who’d done the journey by car.

  16. 7th June 2010 / 7:51 pm

    I believe Eurocamp and Keycamp are the same company, but from what I’ve heard Eurocamp targets families with older kids while Keycamp provides lots of extras aimed at younger children and families.

  17. angelsandurchinsblog
    8th June 2010 / 12:12 am

    Sounds a blissful holiday. And had you holidayed in the airport, I suppose you could have told Flea that, ‘Well, at least it’s not Luton’!

  18. 8th June 2010 / 12:17 pm

    And don’t forget that Center Parcs isn’t just in the UK. We went to Les Bois-Francs in France. It was lovely, just better for an older child. Like Flea!

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