Haven LR


By Tim Saunders

“You can’t let that little kid tackle you.”

So says a boy, considerably older than Henry (6), to a boy, who is taller than me, during a match on the all weather pitch at Haven Thorpe Park in Cleethorpes. They’re all much bigger than Henry and some of them don’t take too kindly to his relentless attacks. He watches the ball and fearlessly goes for it, no matter who has it.

We weren’t expecting our break to involve much, if any football but when Henry discovers that there are daily games in the morning and afternoon, he quickly makes for the AstroTurf pitch. The more goals he scores the more new friends he makes. It’s lovely to watch.

Back at our six-berth static caravan, Henry then discovers a television show following young footballers through the arduous Crystal Palace training programme, which he enjoys watching but is surprised by how intensive it is.

Although his sisters, Harriett (11) and Heidi (9) both play some football during the stay, it’s not all football focussed. Each evening we go swimming, down the pink outdoor flume (there’s another higher one for older children), through the winding river and in the indoor pool. It does make us feel fitter and the children grow in confidence. Bungee trampolining and archery further fills their schedule. Harriett, who has done archery before, hits a bull’s eye and Henry and Heidi soon get to grips with their bows and arrows, too. We all play crazy golf and ride some go karts that allow us to pedal round part of the site. The train takes us round the rest of it. We enjoy a stroll to the nearby beach, which is really picturesque. And there’s family entertainment, too; our favourite day time show being about dinosaurs, which is informative and fun. All of this creates some wonderful memories.

We can see how working at a holiday park is a great summer job for local school children of the right age; a place for them to be trained about delivering customer service. Some are really keen and enthusiastic, really enjoying what they do, like Chloe, the football coach, who Henry takes an instant shine to.

When we arrive at the site we park next to our van and have very little need to drive again until near the end of our break, which in itself is greatly appreciated after the long journey.

We are blessed with spectacular weather during our stay and so walking everywhere is a joy. Self-catering is as easy as it can be for a young family and it helps that there is a dishwasher. The children enjoy their new surroundings and Henry and Heidi particularly love opening the doors of the van and running round the decking. Children… There’s not a huge amount of time for Caroline and I to sit down and the holiday flies by.

Cleethorpes itself has an award winning beach and pier and we take a ride on the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway, taking in the scenery from our carriage while tucking into our packed lunches. At the seaside Henry loves covering himself in wet sand and throwing himself on the beach. It’s not always appreciated by his sisters, especially when they’re making sandcastles… and the way the tide is so far out leaving plenty of pools of water behind makes for perfect moats.

Twenty minutes away at Market Rasen is Nicky’s Nice & Naughty, a bistro with a welcoming arty atmosphere run by helpful, attentive staff. It is so very refreshing when we are greeted by happy, smily co-owner, Tammi. Caroline has sunstroke and Tammi kindly gives her some ice cubes to relieve it. A simple offering but a very thoughtful one. “I know what it’s like because I’ve had it,” sympathises Tammi. “We have to turn customers away,” she admits. “We’re looking at a new, larger premises, nearby.” I tuck into a scrumptious full English breakfast complete with Lincolnshire sausages while the girls have panninis and Henry gets to make his own pizza, which he really enjoys. The business has been trading for over four years and Tammi and fellow co-owner Nicky have long been friends. It is possible to do art and craft activities here including decorating pots and they also deliver their homemade meals locally. England needs more independent businesses like this.
Tim Saunders on Facebook
Tim Saunders on Twitter
Tim Saunders on LinkedIn