We have had a fantastic time at the New Forest, as guests of Shorefield Parks. It has been eventful, with a quick trip to A&E thrown in. It has also been exhausting, in a lovely way, as we dashed from one activity to another, ensuring we were all finished and ready for the children’s entertainment in the evening.
My three loud, excitable offspring had an incredible time. They have loved every activity, joined in every game, and looked crestfallen at the thought of leaving.
Our palace for the week came in the form of a caravan, a brand spanking new caravan, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a spacious lounge/kitchen. The kids declared it the best place to live ever. I even found my eldest girl flicking through a sales brochure with hopeful eyes.
What we got up to
An easier answer would be: what didn’t we do.
The children’s activities at Oakdene are exceptional. With active classes running through the day and a full disco and games show on in the evening, the kids were never short of options. BB opted to join in the themed activities and spent her days dressed as a pirate and a cowgirl, hunting for treasure and singing songs around the park. The twins, being more mature, aged 8, took on more adventurous pursuits. Firing arrows at the archery range, flying up on a trampoline at Aeroball, scoring goals at Panna Soccer.
The three leaders who organised and ran the events were fantastic, they were great with the kids, relaxed them, got them to join in if they were overcome by a rare bout of shyness, and left them longing for more.
The activities had a maximum number of attendees, so pre booking is essential. Limited numbers meant each kid was properly looked after and had wonderful fun.
When we weren’t busy learning to hit bullseyes, or trying our luck at Crazy Golf, or exploring the forest for nature. We were swimming. Oakdene has a cracking sized pool, where you can actual swim (they have adult only times). BB splashed away in the smaller pool, whilst the twins raced up down the full length of the pool. We all rode the slide, and thankfully we all survived.
I also tried out the sauna, steam room, and Jacuzzi (for the purpose of the review *cough*), each were deliciously silent and sumptuously hot!
I even sampled the gym – which had a great range of machines and weights – my aching arms are proof of that.
As darkness falls, Oakdene doesn’t sleep. You can catch a top quality meal at the central cafe. I would recommend the steak, then you can head over to Oak Suite for the kids entertainment.
Sometimes, when away at a family orientated resort, the kids entertainment can be a little overwhelming. I found Oakdene had a decent balance. The kids were kept amused for a couple of hours, playing games, dancing to a disco and trying to win prize Bingo; however it didn’t infringe on my ‘grown-up’ conversation, and the children were kept in one place so we didn’t have to battle sobbing, lost children.
My usual rule applied – when the kids were happy, then I was happy.
Out and about
The New Forest is a beautiful location to spend time in. The sprawling moors are a delight to walk across, the wild ponies are a joy to behold. The village of Burley is a great place to catch a pub meal and a drink with plenty of local activities to join in with.
We also got adventurous and set sail for a while on Beaulieu water.
And we visited Beaulieu Motor Museum; a fabulous place to spend the day. Car enthusiasts will adore looking at the fine collections of historic automobiles. As a Top Gear widow, I loved the Top Gear show and chuckled as I walked around the display of cars that have survived their exploits on the popular TV show.
But Beaulieu is not just about cars, it is also home to Beaulieu Abbey, the Palace House and some beautiful gardens. The children delighted in dressing in vintage clothing to ‘ride’ the cars, and eagerly threw themselves into making their own balloon propelled vehicle with straws and glitter wheels.
The go carts were a real treat at the end of the day. I drove half terrified, half exhilarated, with my co pilot being three year old BB.
I relaxed by wandering around the picturesque gardens that offer comfort for the soul.
We also took a drive to the nearby town of Poole, and took the boat around Brownsea Island, happily looking at the impressive houses on Millionaires Row.
Poole is great place to spend the day. The harbour is extensive, with some superb yachts to feast your eyes on. We snacked on flapjack and people watched for a while, before heading back to Oakdene.
And if that wasn’t all….
We finally managed to squeeze in a day at Paultons Park, a great theme park based 30 minutes drive away from Oakdene.
We all arrived with different motives.
BB was itching to go and see Peppa Pig and her friends in the fun filled Peppa Pig’s World, and my older children were desperate to get me on as many scary rides as possible.
Was to simply survive.
We all achieved our aims (me – barely).
Would we recommend Oakdene?
Without hesitation. The site is smaller that some we have visited previously and this is a real bonus. The kids are looked after and given plenty to do and the whole resort has a great family feel to it, without it all being too much. The accommodation was first class, and the food and drink on site was lovely.
The surrounding area to Oakdene is filled with plenty to do, or you can take a more relaxed approach and simply enjoy the tiny villages and breathtaking scenery.
Not forgetting to say hi to the locals….
If you are looking to book a short break at a child orientated, active, family resort, then in our opinion you cannot go far wrong with Oakdene.
We were invited to review Oakdene and received a complimentary meal, and tickets to Beaulieu, Paultons Park and canoeing. All opinions are my own.
For more details on Shorefield holidays please have a look at their site to see the different locations and park styles they offer.