With the Easter break fast approaching and a forecast of hot weather, we decided to make sure of the time and take a short break somewhere in the UK that would be at a suitable location should I be required for work purposes. We also wanted to keep within a low budget so we would still go away during the summer so we plumped for a last minute caravan based stay at the Haven Church Farm Caravan Holiday Park. The Park is based near Chichester, which provides for a reasonably short drive to Brighton if I were to be called into a work office, and being on the coast meant we had easy access to the beaches at West Wittering and East Wittering.
We arrived at the Park in some trepidation since Mrs danyul had never stayed in a caravan before and things didn’t start well when we found that the lock was broken on our caravan so were not even able to get in. However, the on-site staff were fantastic and they quickly replaced the broken parts so we could unload the car and take a look round. My last caravan park stay was at least fifteen years back and the size and quality of holiday caravans had changed during that time. The caravan itself was large enough to include a living room with kitchen, two bedrooms (one with en-suite bathroom), and a separate shower / toilet room. My memories of staying in a caravan with my grandparents was of a tiny living room area that became my bedroom at night, a small kitchenette with cramped dining table, and a small bedroom at the end. Back in the day there was certainly no bath or shower, let alone a toilet, and all amenities were provided through a shared block.
The site itself included a small supermarket, some sports facilities (bowls, archery, and small football pitch), an indoor swimming pool, an outside swimming pool (sadly closed for our visit for an unspecified health and safety reason), and a bar / cafe / entertainment complex. During the check-in process we were advised to visit the sports booking area because a lot of the organised activities had limited places available so it was recommended to go book places straight away. Good advice but it turned out that nearly all the pool based activities were already booked and we were only able to get a single place on organised pool session (aquajets), which turned out to be the last available place.
With glorious sunshine waiting us as we woke on the Saturday morning, we grabbed our bags and set off for West Wittering in the car. However, it seemed that all the surrounding area had the same idea as well as hundreds of people from not quite so near so we were soon stuck in a snarling traffic jam that queued miles from the actual beach. Fed up with inching our way to the beach we instead turned off and followed signs to the less popular East Wittering. Less popular than its neighbour since it has stone covered beaches rather than miles of soft sand but we soon realised that we’d discovered a gem of a town. Mrs danyul was soon off checking out the local shops (i.e. looking at estate agents to see how much houses were worth and if it might be possible to invest) while I took MiniMe around the town and along the beach. We discovered an equipment hire shack next to the beach and, although they had run out of our preferred twin canoes, we rented out a paddle board for a couple of hours. MiniMe took to it like the proverbial duck to water and I walked or swam beside him as he paddle around the calm water. With the evening creeping slowly into focus we boarded the car and headed over to West Wittering for a walk along the sands just as the majority of people were heading home for the day, which just showed the advantage of staying locally as we could stay out late and still get back to make dinner.
We had enjoyed going to East Wittering so much that we decided to forgo going to the beach at West Wittering during the day and decided to head back to East Wittering and rent a twin canoe for several hours. MiniMe took his seat at the front and with me sitting at the back we paddled our way out to the boats anchored out at sea, which formed the furthest boundary as stated at the hire shack, and then paddled back to shore. MiniMe wasn’t so sure about being so out to sea so we then spent the rest of our time paddling as fast as we could onto the waves hitting the shore and quickly picking up speed before turning to the side before we hit the beach. Again, we headed to the sand at West Wittering in the evening as the crowds were again leaving and we went for a stroll along the beach as the sun set.
MiniMe enjoyed the activities back at the Park and each morning I would take him to the sports hire / booking facility just as it was opening, allowing Mrs danyul an opportunity to get some extra sleep, and we’d hire out a peddle kart for an hour and then ride around the Park. Our first foray out on the kart was on a shared vehicle with both of us peddling (or actually just me for most of the time) but on the second day we hired a small kart each and toured the Park again. MiniMe particularly enjoyed the road section near the car park as it had a speed warning system to warn drivers they were going above the Park speed limit by flashing up their speed. MiniMe took that as a challenge for us to measure how fast we were going and to then see which one of us could record the fastest speed.
The only pool activity MiniMe could book a place for was aquajets and he loved every minute of it. The inside pool was closed except for the small group of kids and each was given a face mask, a snorkel, and a motorised aqua jet (like the one pictured here). They were all soon zooming around the pool and taking part in games to race the length of the pool, to dive underwater to pass through hoops, or to retrieve items thrown to the bottom of the pool. It was a shame that each and every pool activity had been fully booked because MiniMe would have loved to have taken part in another session on another day. I did take MiniMe to the open sessions at the pool each day and he had a great time with me swimming around and using the water slides although at times it did get very busy in the water due to the amount of people.
It was soon time to pack our things and drive home but we had a great mini-break where we really enjoyed ourselves. We didn’t make use of the entertainment complex on the site, primarily because the immediate entrance took you through all the slot machines and arcade machine and we had no interest in those. We knew that MiniMe would be enticed by all the noise and flashing lights but we have no interest in exposing him to the gambling machines on offer. The surrounding area offered lots of places to visit so we did also take several drives around the scenic water side towns and villages as well.
In terms of the Haven experience? We enjoyed ourselves but decided that we probably wouldn’t go back again. The staff were really nice and helpful, the caravan was large and had everything we needed, and the site had lots of activities of offer if required. However, we found that the entertainment complex had lots on offer at night (disco, show etc) that meant lots of people were wandering back to their caravan late at night while making noise. There’s nothing wrong with that in the grand scheme of things but it’s not something we’re interested in and we found the noise of the revellers woke us up, especially the young kids who were being allowed to stay up late and were still running around the site still.