A great British seaside holiday

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The Modern family recently went on a British seaside holiday on the Sussex coast. We stayed in a caravan at the Bunn Leisure Holiday Park, built sandcastles, and ate fish and chips!

 A great British seaside holiday at Bunn Leisure Holiday Park in Selsey

The beach. The seaside. I love it. I was born in California not far from Santa Cruz and grew up making sand castles and running through freezing Pacific Ocean waves. As a teen, I went through a period of being a surfer girl, which meant I got on a surfboard a few times and wore white Vans. I also had a Hang Ten bikini with a cutout of the logo and in the sun the famous two feet were tanned onto my thigh. This is the closest to a tattoo I have ever come.

When I moved to England nearly 20 years ago, I missed having the beach less than an hour away which is funny because England is an island and is surrounded by beaches. Years ago when I first moved here, one sunny bank holiday Monday we made a pilgrimage to our closest beach – but when we got there – after hours in traffic — we were rewarded with a thin rocky strip. Ever since, I’ve been on the lookout for the perfect British seaside holiday.

Since having kids, this has become even more important since the seaside can be a source of the best childhood memories. But where? We’ve found a few favourites places in Cornwall, but unless you live in the West Country, Cornwall is a trek. From the Thames Valley, we can reach the south coast in under 2 hours.

 

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The private mile-long beach at Bunn Leisure is now bigger thanks to a £17 million coastal protection scheme.

 

Bunn Leisure invited us to try out a short break in one of their family owned holiday parks on the Selsey peninsula, which is just a little south of Chichester. It’s a massive 5-star holiday village, winning Holiday Park of the Year for three years running. You can stay in caravans or cottages, and there are four parks to choose from, each with their own personality.

We stayed in West Sands, the largest of the parks and near the 1-mile privately owned beach which has recently a redeveloped £17 million beach. It hosts the Waterfront complex, the centre of activity, with the Oasis swim centre with megasplash waterslides and a lazy river, restaurants, arcade and all the entertainment and kids activities.

 

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These beach front caravans are at the very top end of accommodation at Bunn Leisure, which ranges from a simple caravan to the works!

 

Our 3 bedroom caravan slept six and was decorated to a very high standard and was surprisingly spacious and meticulously clean. The sitting area had a comfortable wraparound sofa, electric fire and television (which I banned, I know mean mummy). The kitchen table sat 4, but there were two stools you could use to make up the six.

The kitchen itself had everything; gas oven and hob with extractor, kettle, microwave and plenty of cupboards and counter space. As I was looking around the caravan, opening up all the drawers and seeing what was there, I noticed how clean it was – stacks of  matching white china and rows of drinking and wine glasses. I started to worry when under the sink I found a tub for washing up, but I didn’t see any Fairy liquid. As it dawned on me that I perhaps I should have read the fine print and have brought a few household essentials, I found a little welcome pack with bin liner, washing up liquid and the critically important loo roll.

The rooms were compact, but comfortable. If I bought one (you can, and it will cross your mind over the weekend, they start at £37k) I would put a mattress topper in the master bedroom. Each room had its own heating, which if you’ve stayed in a caravan before you’ll know is very important. Our accommodation didn’t have any outdoor seating, which would have been just awesome because the weather was fab and we wanted to spend all out time outdoors.

 

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The inside of our caravan at Bunn Leisure was decorated to a high standard and very comfortable. It was like a mini apartment.

 

I’m not a huge fan of public swimming pools, but the Oasis pool complex was very clean and the girls loved it. At first glance they were disappointed (we had just been across the channel in Brittany to a caravan park with a very large pool complex). But after an hour they came back to me very excited. Apparently the lazy river was THE BEST and EVEN BETTER than the one in France (though the liked the water slides in France better.) Note children under 12 require a parent/adult supervisor with them in the pool.

The park invests £1.5 million each year in a star-studded line up of free entertainment from bingo to live shows, bands, comedians and big name artists. The Embassy Cub seats up to 2,000 people, and we had the option of an Olly Murs tribute, Georgia on My Mind (celebrating the music of Ray Charles) and Abba Fever. There are kids discos and karaoke. The whole holiday park seemed to take this very seriously – with women arriving in high heels, a funny site in a holiday park. We opted to eat most of our meals in, but there are plenty of catering options on site, including the Smugglers Restaurant which overlooks the Solent and has views of the Isle of Wight.

After fully enjoying swimming and the beach (and having a slushy) we took a few trip outside the park and explored Selsey (5 minutes), the RSPB Pagham Harbour Local Nature Reserve (10 minutes away) and West Wittering Beach (about 25 minutes away). We had a wonderful time on the South Coast swimming in the Solent, making sandcastles and eating fish and chip. As we drove home, a little sun kissed and buckets full of rocks and shells in the boot, I thought there is really no other place to be than beside the seaside!

Things I wish someone had told me to bring: Toilet paper, paper towels, beach towels, bath towels, beach chairs.  

 

baguetteMy 10-year-old’s perspective I really liked the swimming pool at Oasis Swim Centre because of the lazy river. There is a really strong current and it’s in a circular shape, so you can go round and round and round. The beach at Bunn Leisure was really goo as well especially when you bring fish and chips from the Real Fish and Chip Company. The slush puppies were good as well.

 

 

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The new breakwaters at Bunn Leisure are from a quarry in Norway and in addition to protecting the beach, are excellent for rock scrambling!

 

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Just five minutes drive will get you to East Beach in Selsey. Take a walk on the waterfront, visit the RNLI shop and museum, and Julie’s Hut for fresh shell-fish.

 

This place is AWESOME! At Julie's Hut in East Beach, Selsey, you can get freshly caught and dressed Selsey crab for £5.50 and eat it on the beach.

This place is AWESOME! At Julie’s Hut in East Beach, Selsey, you can get freshly caught and dressed Selsey crab for £5.50 and eat it on the beach.

 

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West Wittering is about 25 minutes away by car. It is hands down the best beach on the South Coast.

 


domaine des ormes 9My 9-year-old on West Wittering
West Wittering is the best beach in the UK! It’s as nice as California. It’s a beautiful sandy beach that stretches for miles and the sea is blue and sparkly. It was warm too. I went swimming in the sea and for the first time and loved it. Once you get used to the water and start swimming it is really great and warm. If you stand still it is cold. It’s really fun. I also made a sand castle.

 

 

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Our stash for the weekend! We opted to eat most meals in but there are several eating options at Bunn Leisure, including the Real Fish and Chip Company.

 

IF YOU GO:

Bunn Leisure Holiday Park Selsey, West Sussex www.bunnleisure.co.uk +44 01243 606080. Stays at Bunn Leisure for a three-night weekend or four-night midweek break for six people start from £99.  A week in a bronze standard caravan for 6 people is £230 (low season) to £827 (high season). To book or for more information see www.bunnleisure.co.uk or call 01243 606080.

The Real Fish and Chip Company Located at the entrance to Bunn Leisure West Sands Holiday Park, right by the windmill. The best fish and chips. Grab a few orders and eat them on the beach. Perfect.

Julie’s Hut Hut 10, Fisherman’s Wharf, Selsey, PO20 0SY, West Sussex  +44 01243 603378 Fresh fish and seafood, landed, cooked and sold on the beach. Go through the really smelly fish alley and it’s the last hut on the right. We grabbed fresh dressed Selsey crab for £5.50 and a fork and ate it on the beach.

The Landing thelanding.co.uk Pound House/Pound Rd, Chichester PO20 8AJ +44 01243 513757 Pick up a specialty sandwich or salad at this cafe/deli and eat it on West Wittering beach. You may as well get a bottle of cider too.

West Wittering Beach www.westwitteringbeach.co.uk SatNav post code is PO20 8AJ. Possibly Britain’s best beach. Certainly one of my favourites. On a sunny day, you would think you were in California (plus the cute pastel-coloured beach huts). Parking is steep, with tiered pricing through the day (from £8 to £3 in high season).

RSPB Pagham Harbour Local Nature Reserve www.rspb.org.uk A big sheltered inlet that fills and empties with each tide, and sheltering a myriad of wildlife.

West Sands Fun Fair. At the entrance of Bunn Leisure Holiday Park. £10 gets you unlimited rides at this cosy seaside amusement park.

Note: Our accommodation was provided by Bunn Leisure for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and my family’s.

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23 Comments

  1. 19/07/2014 / 09:44

    I am ashamed to say that I barely know the coast even though I grew up in W. Sussex and Hampshire, my parents recently moved to the coast, how lovely it is. (Stubbington, Hants). Your visit sounds lovely, I hope it was good weather for you.

  2. 15/07/2014 / 15:35

    That looks amazing and definitely something I would enjoy 😉

    I live two minutes away from the beach and we don’t go enough – we’re so lucky but I think we take it for granted a little bit!

    • 16/07/2014 / 05:51

      You’re so lucky! You can take advantage of when all the tourists are not around. Enjoy.

  3. 15/07/2014 / 10:13

    I’d love to live on the coast and my dream is to own a beach hut. This looks like a lovely place for a family trip and West Wittering beach is great. There are lots of other fab beaches in the UK too, honest!

    • 16/07/2014 / 05:51

      I believe you, honest. x

  4. 14/07/2014 / 19:59

    This looks like a beautiful place. Having grown up by the sea, I’m happiest when I’m at the beach, so this would definitely be a holiday to my taste. Love the girls’ views too and your union jack towel on the beach – great photo!

    • 16/07/2014 / 05:51

      Thanks Carolin. We had a great mini holiday.

  5. 14/07/2014 / 19:00

    How lovely and we love that area and chichester especially. Beautiful part of the country.

    • 16/07/2014 / 05:52

      I had realised how nice it was in that area. Definitely going back.

  6. 14/07/2014 / 16:34

    Can’t beat a good old fashioned British seaside holiday! Those beach huts look gorgeous love that pic!

  7. 14/07/2014 / 14:07

    Dorset beaches are next on my hit list …

  8. pennyalexander
    14/07/2014 / 13:48

    What a lovely review, love your children’s perspectives too. We had friends in West Wittering when we lived down South, lovely place!

    • 14/07/2014 / 14:05

      We come upon West Wittering by chance, and what a find!

  9. 14/07/2014 / 13:18

    What a good, thorough review. It’s so good to get back to get away from technology and get back to basics sometimes isn’t it? Looks like a lovely spot.

    • 14/07/2014 / 14:06

      We really enjoyed it and sometimes we forgot the kids really enjoy simple pleasures like making sandcastles (and eating fish and chips). x

  10. 14/07/2014 / 13:03

    Bring on the summer I say! Love those images and the caravan sounds fabulous, hardly a caravan at all

    • 14/07/2014 / 14:07

      It’s amazing how far along caravans have come. They are really like small but perfecting formed little apartments.

  11. 14/07/2014 / 11:51

    Sounds like a fab holiday, I love the British seaside, but being a Dorset girl I am biased and reckon you should come and check out our sandy beaches – beautiful!!

  12. 14/07/2014 / 10:00

    The beach looks amazing. I can never get over the fact that you left California for the UK, but you’re right, if you search hard enough, there are some beautiful locations on the english coast. Sounds like a great place for a quick break x

    • 14/07/2014 / 14:09

      …and on a sunny day … there is nowhere nicer!

  13. 14/07/2014 / 09:25

    Sounds like you had a good time and were so lucky with the weather! I love the beach, we’re only 20 miles from the coast here, but I prefer it in the winter – empty beaches, crashing waves and the wind in my hair! Never really been down to the south coast, we’ll have to go and investigate!

    • 14/07/2014 / 14:09

      How lucky you are to be so close! A holiday town in the rain and off season is really special.

  14. bavariansojourn
    14/07/2014 / 09:12

    That sounds pretty much perfect, and the sun came out for you! So funny the things you miss as an expat, a British beach is one of my things, and I can’t wait to introduce my children to one properly one day! Sounds like a great place! 🙂