October half term, in our house, has always been greeted with welcome relief. We've managed 7 weeks of ever darkening mornings, losing and reuniting errant games socks, ploughing through a never ending pile of homework, standing on freezing touchlines and dodging a plethora of Nerf bullets. We all needed to take a deep breath... and relax. We love the fact that our camper van provides us with the ideal base to regroup, explore and expand our, ever increasing, bank of memories.
Spurred on by some very good friends we took the plunge (not literally!) and booked our Stena Line ferry crossing from Harwich to the Hook of Holland and then a pitch on a campsite at the Dutch Holiday Park, Duinrell.
We were entering the unknown and it was with some trepidation that I boarded the night ferry, one husband , two children and a camper van in tow. However, any fears were quickly allayed and in no time at all we found ourselves chilling in the lounge, glass of wine in hand, waiting to wave goodbye to good old 'Blighty'.
As the stresses and strains of everyday life began to evaporate, and little heads started to nod, we wended our way to our cabins where we sunk into the surprisingly comfortable beds, complete with crisp white bedding, their own bathrooms and TV's. As thoughts wandered to our week ahead, and what it might hold, I drifted off into what can only be described as one of the best nights sleep I've had in along time.
An hour before we were due to dock gentle birdsong started emanating from within our cabin, followed by jolly, upbeat pop music. Not quite Chris Evans (my wake up call of choice), but not unpleasant either and equally effective. After a shower, coffee and a croissant we were feeling rejuvenated and refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Duinrell can be found just half an hour from the ferry, nestling in woodlands close to the pretty Dutch town of Wassenaar. The welcome was warm, the pitch well appointed and the shower block and washing up facilities immaculate. As the sun shone down, we set up camp and unanimously decided that this was a great place to call home for the next six days.
Everything you could want is on hand: we enjoyed beautiful, freshly cooked takeaway pizzas; we BBQ'd in the golden Autumnal evenings, making use of the great range of fresh meat and bread which the well stocked onsite supermarket had to offer; we devoured Dutch pancakes smothered in whipped cream and Nutella at the Carousel Pancake House; we also ventured into Wassenaar and found a smashing Italian where we enjoyed mouth watering home cooked pasta washed down with an obligatory Limoncello. Luckily this gastronomic extravaganza was well balanced with action packed days spent in the fabulous Theme Park, where we looped the loop on the hair raising Falcon, whistled through the tress on toboggans, shot down flumes and defied gravity on the Water Spin.
The highlight for me was the Tiki Bad Swimming Pool a veritable haven of watery adventures. Obviously to enjoy this swimwear is essential and it was on the first night that I noticed a slight 'school boy error' ... Paul was without his trunks. Being a 'cup half full' kind of girl, who is never adverse to a little retail therapy, I assured him this was a minor hiccup and promptly deployed him to the well stocked plaza, where I'd recalled seeing an array of suitable garments earlier in the day. On his return it appeared that his size was obviously very popular as the colour choice had been minimal. Suffice is to say the illuminous, voluminous green shorts meant we never lost him!
In the company of some truly fabulous friends our half term was everything we had hoped it would be and more. We laughed (a lot), the kids (screens relagated to the cupboards) enjoyed freedom, fresh air and the odd game of Monopoly. We unwound, recharged our batteries and made memories. A week later four smiling faces emerged from the ferry ready to hit the ground running!