Sunday, 26 June 2016

Sutton Vale Country Park

We stayed at Sutton Vale Country Park for one night this weekend, to test out our camping gear before our week in Dawlish in the summer holidays. 


It did feel a bit strange packing the whole car up to camp 17 miles away from home, but living in the Garden of England means the scenery of the countryside and the fun of the seaside is always on our doorstep. 

It was also our first camping trip as almost-vegans. This wasn't a big deal of course, but the smell of bacon sandwiches made on a tiny stove on the grass the morning after a slightly damp night in a tent is how I remember so many of my childhood holidays. So to make it special for us, I bottled up some vegan pancake mix and enjoyed those for breakfast. I'm hoping we've started our own family camping tradition!


The camping field was surrounded by countryside with lovely views. There was a road behind the field so you could occasionally hear passing traffic but it wasn't very busy and we hardly heard it.


The pitches were well spaced and there was plenty of room for the children to run around and play. We were allocated pitch no. 31 which was in the middle of the field. At first I was a bit disappointed as I liked the sheltered feel of field-edge pitches that back on to hedges, but actually being in the middle meant we had lots of space all around the tent and we were able to park next to our pitch which was very handy. 

Archie had loads of space to fly his kite!




There were lots of other families staying in the same field as us and most pitches were occupied, but it didn't feel crowded at all. Archie made friends with some other boys and played football with them. He asked me to go over with him to ask to play which was really sweet, it's not often it feels like he needs me anymore! 

The ladies' loo block was a bit dated but very clean (I was impressed!) and perfectly usable. Nice hot water, hand soap and paper towels. Nick said the men's could have been a bit cleaner, and there was some water puddling on the floor. 

Whilst Wales v. Northern Ireland was on I took Archie for a swim in the Park's indoor heated pool. It was a little shabbier than I was expecting from the pictures on the website - think a big farm shed with corrugated plastic roofing - and the inside of the pool probably could have done with a lick of paint as the chipped blue it was painted gave the water a slightly green tinge. It definitely wasn't as 'polished' as it looks on the website, but it was still a massive bonus to have a warm swim on a rainy day at a UK campsite! And there were changing cubicles, lockers and hot showers at the poolside. Fine for a splash around!

In the evening (and during the huge downpours throughout Saturday!) we played Charades for Kids which was hilarious (particularly Archie trying to make himself look like a chair!!) and Archie and I read six chapters of Mr Stink by David Walliams. 

The sun did come out sometimes! 
To top things off, the staff were very friendly and the permanent residents of the site were also friendly and welcoming - they chatted to Archie whilst we waited to be checked in. The drinks were reasonably priced, too and Archie was very happy to spend 50p of his pocket money on a bag of sweets at the bar!

All together we loved Sutton Vale and think it's great value. We'd recommend it for families and despite it being really close to home (so not much reason to go back) we probably will head there again if we fancy a camping trip without having to travel for hours!



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