Grannies Heilan Hame from Parkdean, near Dornoch, Scotland
With images of gorgeous beaches, sunshine and fun holidays, Parkdeans Grannies Heilan Hame boasts an entertainment schedule that will keep the kids amused and happy for days on end. We’ve been here before and I have mixed feelings about it, but for the sake of the kids, I psych myself up once a year or so for my personal hell which is the holiday camp.
In previous visits, we’ve either been in cheapie accommodation or taken our own van. At this time of year, it’s usually been freeze in April in a cheap van, or keep warm in our own van but sacrifice on space.
This year, we splashed out. Our own caravan hasn’t been dewinterised yet and I refused to go in the cheap freezing accommodation that we’ve experienced before. It was miserable being cold for a whole week. The cheaper caravans say gas fire in lounge and heaters in bedrooms, but in reality, if it’s snowing and cold, they don’t even take the edge off in the bedrooms. Three years ago we went to Dornoch and were lucky enough to get the last heater in a hardware shop to top up the heat (it was really bad snow in April that year). We didn’t go up for the next year.
I was a little worried as we popped off to stay in the most expensive caravan Parkdean were renting out.
The lounge was comfortable and the kitchen was about the size of the one in our last house, so that was all good.
On first impressions, I sighed a relief at the central heating in the van, the huge fridge freezer, the lovely clean smelling beds, sheets and pillows, a decking with patio and chairs and an unforgettable sea view. Actually, it was more than a sea view as we were literally just a few feet away from the breaking waves when the tide was in.
When the tide was coming in, the sea was very close indeed. Literally about 20 feet from the decking.
Was the accommodation worth it?
To me, it was. I spent quite a while just watching the waves, the sea and I’d forgotten how much I used to take a sea view for granted when I was growing up. Our first night was windy and snowy and I loved watching it over the waves while nice and toasty in the van. I’d have to say the view was my favourite thing of the whole week. I grew up next to the sea and spent a fair while offshore, so the noise of the sea was calming and aided sleep for me, but it kept everyone else awake as they’d never experienced the roar.
The kids liked the arcades and I managed to avoid going to the entertainment for a few nights and just curled up in front of the view with a hot drink and my kindle app for company. That’s my idea of bliss.
Middler loved the Sid and Lizzie kids entertainment, but he seemed to be much more aware of the size difference between himself and the little ones bopping away on the dance floor. He wanted to join in with the little ones as that’s where he is emotionally but his growing awareness of his difference is becoming more obvious. The evenings are what evenings are in entertainment centres. A bit of singing, some wobbly sozzled folks, a bit of kids shows and some disco stuff in between visits to the arcade. It’s not my cup of tea, but the kids love it.
The kids did enjoy running about and the arcades easily swallow more change in an evening than most people earn in a month, so they had to be rationed as an activity.
Being right on the beach, middler could potter among the rocks in front of us when the tide was out and be in complete safety.
We could watch him from the van and shout if he got too close to the water. It was perfect. He was a little overwhelmed with going down the steps on his own, and was back at the van every 5 – 10 minutes to make sure we were still watching him.
Littlest and elder spent much time playing footie at the goals behind the sales caravans and made friends with kids from Embo who walked through to use the park.
Eldest met a girl from his year at school and arranged a date for the first week home. How they grow up so quickly I have no idea, but it didn’t stop him helping his brother and digging for hours in the sand.
We didn’t eat in the entertainment centre as we made food in the caravan most of the time unless we were out and about. We did use the fast food place once, but it wasn’t terribly good. I think we suffered on the eating out score this week, but the restaurant we visited in Ullapool more than made up for it as that was excellent.
I didn’t like the swimming pool last year as it was filthy (old photos on Instagram if anyone wants to see those) so we didn’t venture in this time round. There were a fair few improvements to the bar and the entertainment centre looked in much better condition than it was last year. There were some more things in the kids play area and the space for kids to play in around the vans and at the park and beaches knocks the socks off the space they have to run around in on the Nairn site.
The arrival sheet said that beds would be made up on arrival as a new service, but it wasn’t done. I didn’t read that until after I had made the bedding up, so it was no bother really as I wasn’t aware they should have been done.
The view and the placement of the van this year really made it worthwhile for me. I’d have been happy to be there without the entertainment centre, but it did come at a hefty price of £499 for the week to get a caravan with double grazing, central heating and a great view.
Would I go back – maybe not next year as I’d like to do more of the West of Scotland next April, but yes, I would. I’ve been spoiled view wise this time round.