Twitchen House woolacoombe

Twitchen House must have been a family home one time, a huge beautiful family home. It’s a breathtaking Edwardian building and still looking grand today. It is part of the Woolacombe Bay  holiday parks and this is our second visit to Twitchen House as last year we stayed at Golden Coast.

Since our last stay Twitchen House has undergone a massive £2.5 million renovation in keeping with the manor house and surroundings they have done a fantastic job.

This time we took our caravan for a five night stay and we can’t wait to return, see why …

twitchen house outside pool

Journey

Half term week is the busiest week to travel but we decided to leave at 6am and journey down on the Tuesday. This proved to be very successful as we arrived at Twitchen House around midday. To get to Woolacombe you use the Barnstaple ring road which is very straightforward, we drove along the A361 which is a great road only travelling through Broughton at peak times can be slow.

We turned into the B3343 to Woolacombe, again no problems towing the van. After about 2 miles you have to turn right towards Mortehoe and this is a small country lane with hedges either side. The only hiccup we had was when the Woolacombe Bay double decker bus was travelling in the opposite direction, it made for some very slow manoeuvres inching past each other but it can be done and we all arrived safe and sound with the caravan intact.

twitchen house outside pool

Check in

Very simple and very quick, check in is in Twitchen House. You are assigned your plot, given a map and told directions. It was very easy to get to and on booking there are three pitches to choose from, Basic, Electric and Super. We chose a Super Pitch which has the following amenities

A concrete hard standing or all weather base:

  • 16 amp electrical hook-up
  • Awning space
  • TV aerial point
  • Drinking water
  • Waste water drainage
  • Night light
  • Parking on your pitch

We were given a pitch in H field which has a fabulous play area in the centre for the kids however our plot, H49 was placed right by the grass area so we were right behind the kids goal when they were playing football, the ball did hit our van a couple of times so it might be worth taking note of that.

making friends in the park

Park Facilities

The newly revamped centre is gorgeous, a lot of thought has gone into the design and architecture, you won’t be disappointed. There is a a lovely all day cafe/restaurant area, where you can also buy food to take away – the chips were delicious! There is also a soft play area so easy to leave the children playing and have a coffee watching them.

twitchen house all day cafe

There is a club house with a stage, lots of seating and balconies opening up if you want to sit outside too

On the lower level which can be reached from outside you will find the site supermarket which is very fairly priced and holds everything you will need.

Twitchen house facilities

There is also The Art Shed and on a rainy day this was our saviour. A genius idea where you choose a piece of pottery from the many available, plates, bowls, mugs, princesses, robots and dinosaurs to name a few.

art shed twitchen house

On each table there is a centrepiece of paints, brushes and clean water. Each painter has a tile on which they squeeze their chosen colours and off you go.

the art shed twitchen house

It took us over an hour to complete our princesses, the girls loved it and there is also a bar where you can order tea, coffee or soft drinks too. Your finished piece will go in the kiln and will need 24 – 48 hours before it’s ready to pick up so worth doing at the beginning or middle of your stay. It gets busy so the earlier you go along the better chance you have of finding your preferred pottery piece and a table to work at.

twitchen house art shed

There is a cinema showing 2D and 3D films an indoor swimming pool, an outdoor swimming pool with a great fountain area to play in alongside and a marvellous adventure playground.

twitchen house play area

For older kids the area EX34 will keep them amused

woolacoombe bay ex 34

As the four parks are connected it is also possible to visit other parks to use their facilities like bowling at the Golden Coast for example.

bowling woolacoombe bay

Camping facilities

These are superb and we were very impressed. The shower blocks are huge, I think I counted 26 showers, all large enough for an adult and kids to go in, with hooks for hanging towels and dry clothes, a small sink and a mirror. There were shaving plugs too.

There are two hairdryers available with mirrors and they are free of charge.

There is also a sauna and a steam room which are turned on mornings and afternoon/evening, free of charge.

There was a separate area towards the back of the building with lots of toilets in both mens and ladies and plenty of sinks.

Every time I visited there was music playing which I really liked, it was clean, often with the cleaner present and I never had to wait long for a shower to come free.

twitchen house

Surroundings

This is a beautiful part of the world and one we return to whenever we can. Our favourite places include

Coombe Martin

Watermouth Castle

Mortehoe

Berrynarbour

Lynton and Lynmouth

Ilfracoombe with a pretty harbour and Damien Hirst’s Verity, a controversial statue worth taking a look at.

Ilfracoombe Other Criteria Damien Hirst

Woolacombe Beach and town is beautiful. I love eating at The Red Barn and we always stock up on pasties from the local shop. Woolacombe is a surfers paradise, the girls had lots of fun belly boarding in their wet suits in the sea.

woolacoombe beach

A bit of history on Twitchen House

In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Twitchen like this:

TWITCHEN, a parish in South Molton district, Devon; 12 miles NE of South Molton Road r. station. Post town, South Molton, North Devon. Acres, 2,918. Real property, £1,889. Pop., 227. Houses, 45. The manor belongs to Lord Poltimore. The living is a p. curacy, annexed to North Molton. The church, excepting the tower, was rebuilt in 1848. There is a Wesleyan chapel.

Cost

We paid £170 for five nights in June half term week 2014. There is no disclosure as this isn’t a requested review just one I wanted to share with you because we loved it so much.

twitchen house

I’ve been very quiet this week and I have a very valid reason too. Last week, half term, we took our caravan down to Devon, we left at the crack of dawn to avoid heavy traffic and it worked, we had the awning up and everything in place to enjoy this beautiful sunset. Devon excelled in every way but the internet connection was dire, hence I’ve had my head down this week catching up on work.

Woolacombe in caravan

We stayed at Twitchen House, one of Woolacombe Bay’s four parks and it has recently undergone a massive facelift which is pretty impressive, future post on its way because we loved it and I want to tell you all about it.

the art shed twitchen house

One of the new activities we discovered was the perfect solution to a rainy day, The Art Shed. A huge room kitted out for painting pottery pieces, all kinds of pieces – my girls chose princesses! Tables are laid out with separate tiles for your splodges of paint, paints, brushes and you can even order a coffee. We LOVED it and would have definitely returned if the weather hadn’t have picked up.

crabbing coombe martin

Devon is an old stomping ground for husband and one of his favourite things to do in this part of the world is a beach crawl or a trip back in time to see the places dear to him. One of those places is Coombe Martin where many a childhood holiday was spent. On our visit the skies were grey and there was a chill in the air so we dressed accordingly and tried our hand at crabbing. A LOT of fun was had but nothing was caught.

berrynarbour village

One of my favourite visits this year was to Berrynarbour, a tiny inland village which has won plenty of flower prizes for the prettiest village but what is even cuter are the flowerpot men! Can you spot the two flowerpot men in this photo? Separate post to follow on our walk around the village but it was a lot of fun!

Towards the end of the week the sun shone and husband took the girls belly boarding whereas I took a walk along Woolacombe beach almost to the end and it was fabulous. Quiet, beautiful and deserted.

woolacombe beach

To finish off half term we celebrated my brother’s 40th with an amazing Sunday roast at The Laughing Gravy in Blackfriars, London. If you are in the area pop in to this amazing restaurant.

Happy 40th Dom ;)

caravan

Yoohoo! It’s nearly time to take our caravan out of storage and get it ready for what will be the third season with us. There is great excitement amongst the troops starting with Dad himself.

He’s been scouring t’internet for his next caravan convinced this will be our last year with our current one. He’s found bunk beds for the girls, fixed beds for us, awnings and all sorts of delights. He also wants me to check on Every Single Van he finds, which is very tedious as we’re not buying one yet. *sigh*

Anyway, it’s time to give our current wagon a good scrub after this long wet winter. We went down to check on it a couple of weeks ago and discovered the huge ‘coat’ we had covered it with in early November had been ripped to pieces by the strong winds and was lying on the floor. Needless to say we opened the door a bit worried about what we would find but luckily there was no damage in sight. No damp, even though we had placed a few bowls of salt inside before wintering it just in case and no overpowering bad smells, mind you I had left quite a few of those Magic Trees in there.

olpro melamine dining set

We reviewed the beautiful melamine set from OLPRO last year and also their fabulous wind breaker which was a real godsend as it creates such a lovely sitting area outside and stops the wind just like is says on the tin. Isn’t it gorgeous?

OLPRO windbreak

Well they also have an excellent range of cleaning caravan products. The OLPRO cleaning products take into consideration the space challenge in a caravan and also the need for environmentally friendly solutions that are Formaldehyde free.

OLPRO cleaning products

They’ve sent us their 4 products to review with the note 

These products are the only chemicals your Caravan will need Inside & Out, Top to Bottom to keep it Fresh & Clean throughout the year.

OLPRO Bottom and Top, All in One toilet fluid – listed as an essential product by Practical Caravan for 2013 it is now the number one selling product. Now there is only need for ONE product for keeping the toilet clean and bacteria free, add to both the top and bottom and hey presto, job done.

OLPRO Inside and Out, 7 in 1 caravan cleaner – This formula replaces the need for 7 different products. Inside & Out cleans every part of any caravan or motorhome. Use instead of Caravan Cleaner, Black Streak Remover, Glass Cleaner, Wheel Cleaner, Bathroom Cleaner, Hard Surface Cleaner & Fabric Cleaner. Pretty awesome don’t you think?

OLPRO Fresh and Clear – Now this one is one I’ve been thinking about as the caravan has been standing in storage for 6 months now, this product cleans the water pipes that serve water through the taps and takes the waste away. Therefore I can be sure that they are clean and therefore safe. It removes limescale,unpleasant tastes from waterpipes and cleans pumps. “If your caravan or motorhome as been standing for a while then run FRESH & CLEAR through your pipes to clear of any bacteria.”

OLPRO Winter Long – Heavy duty exterior protective coating over your caravan during storage. It protects against Algae, Dirt, Excessive water, Bird Mess, Tree Sap, Traffic Film. Biodegradable and Environmentally Friendly. This one will come in very handy in the autumn when it’s time to put the caravan in storage again.

OLPRO Sanidry Humidifying Tray – a semi-rigid tray containing a highly hygroscopic product able to absorb humidity present in the air and condense it into the tray – Exclusively sold by OLPRO in the UK

I feel as if I have this spring cleaning task covered now.

camping la briquerie, normandy france

Having bought our first caravan on eBay last year we were determined to get the most out of it this summer. After a successful tow to Devon in June we wanted to travel further afield for our summer break but not too far. With that in mind we decided on campsites in Normandy, France about a 3 hour drive from the EuroTunnel.

TIP – If thinking of visiting the continent book your EuroTunnel VERY early on to assure of best crossing times

Our criteria was a campsite with a swimming pool – one with chutes and slides to keep the girls amused, a bar, shop and evening entertainment and close enough to the local beaches.

Paul searched Visit Normandy and using their camping tab he came across Camping La Briquerie. A click on the website proved to tick all our boxes so we booked for 3 weeks in August for the amazing price of circa €850.00 on a pitch with 10 amp electricity connection.

camping la briquerie normandy

Our journey was longer than Google had decided due to towing the caravan and I wish I’d printed off the last part of the journey in more detail as Google maps took us through the busy centre of Honfleur much to the annoyance of tourists, locals and a wedding party of about 10 cars bibbing their way through the bustling centre!

honfleur france vieux bassin

TIP – Print off a detailed map of the last stretch of your journey and look for the simplest route for towing a caravan

 

We arrived on a busy August day with the season in full swing, check in was simple and quick with a request of a €10 deposit for the bands allowing entrance to the swimming pool. Having paid our 30% deposit on booking we’d settle the bill at the end of our stay.

curly chute

Our pitch was fantastic, hedged on three sides giving just the right amount of privacy. Each area has it’s own fresh water tap and drain for throwing waste water away plus the electric hook up

TIP – Don’t forget to buy a continental adaptor for your electrical hook up

Shower blocks are a few pitches away and are cleaned twice a day but they do not supply toilet roll. The showers are individual units, each with a ‘dry’ area for changing before and after. Each cubicle which is fully closed off has hangers to hang clothes on and a shelf for your products. The showers were a good blast on a timer but long enough for rinsing and washing, the water was also the perfect temperature.

I understand from other Brits we got talking to that the second block on the campsite has been completely renovated and they were very impressed with them.

poolside camping la briquerie

Swimming pool

Excellent, two indoor pools which are heated, a child one and a larger one for swimming lengths. An outside pool with a fabulous curled chute leading into one end and two more bumpy slides with a separate landing pool – plus cute lifeguards as eye candy.

camping la briquerie, Normandy

There is a bar selling soft drinks, ice creams and accessories all reasonably priced too.

Shop

A tiny shop onsite which also sell drinks, ice creams, crepes made to order and has a selection of necessities but with a hypermarket within walking distance of the campsite open  7 days a week you are never far from stocking up your supplies

briquerie shop

TIP – Hypermarket closes Sunday afternoon at 12.45

Restaurant and Bar

There is a restaurant onsite which also serves take away food, we tried the pizzas and chips on our first night and were very satisfied.
The bar is also where the evening entertainment is held, the mini disco doesn’t start until 8.30pm and is followed immediately by the adult entertainment. The entertainment is mainly in French but a huge effort was made by the team to include us and other non French speaking guests. A lot of fun and very French.

take away menu - france

Mini golf

If you’re a competitive player this is not for you! An old set up where some of the pitches are broken or don’t work at all but we took the girls on a couple of occasions and they thoroughly enjoyed it. We were asked to leave a €50 deposit for the clubs which was returned but we thought was a bit steep after seeing the state of the course.

Musculation – fitness

I knew that at some point musculation would become a word and I found it here at Camping La Briquerie! A centre with a good collection of varying weight machines. The site also has a jacuzzi and a sauna.

musculation

Washing machines

A clean room with washing machines and dryers, I used machine 3 which required a €4 token bought from reception

TIP – Pack washing powder and fabric conditioner for one or two washes rather than having to buy large packs

WiFi

Camping La Briquerie has Wifi which should cover the entire site. It is free of charge, you ask for a password and login details at reception which is given for your entire stay however I was only able to use this on our pitch a few times as connection was very temperamental, I had much more luck logging in around the swimming pool, in the games room next to the reception or of course at the bar; ‘Un cafe au lait s’il vous plait madam’ ;)

Kid’s club

We didn’t use the kid’s club until our last week as more often than not we were out and about but once we started we wished we’d used it more often. The girls loved it and each day crafts were done. They came home with masks and pretty coloured salt bottles too. I’m wondering if these are the moments (plus the swimming pool) that the girls will remember most when we talk about France?

masks

What to do and see in Normandy?

Honfleur – beautiful coastal town with fabulous market 10 minutes
Trouville/ Deauville – Very popular beach towns 20 minutes
Arromanches/ D-Day beaches – 90 minutes
Giverny – Visit Claude Monet’s home and gardens 100 minutes
Bayeaux tapestry
Caen
Rouen
Mont St Michel –  3 hours

I will add links as I write the posts up for more information

Last weekend we invited my brother and his children down to the coast to spend a weekend with us camping in Thanet. We took our caravan and they brought their tent and we booked two pitches next to each other, ours with electric hook up. I was delighted to try out my gorgeous OLPRO windbreak for the first time – it looks really cool doesn’t it?

OLPRO windbreak

One note to make is Manston Caravan park only has a 5 amp hook up which means the kettle will blow your connection every time. Annoying but can easily be worked around with a trusty camping kettle.

This beautifully kept park is very spacious with ten acres of perfectly kept fields lined with hedges to provide shelter from any strong coastal winds. It’s a well established park with well maintained gardens, one thing you most definitely won’t be here is cramped, there’s plenty of room for everyone.

Onsite facilities include washrooms, showers and a laundrette.

There is also a great adventure playground for the kids that’s also not on top of the pitches but within sight of all.

bbq food accompaniments

My OLPRO melamine set came in real handy too as you can see above, nothing broken and very easy to clean too.

family camping Manston caravan park

Manston Caravan Park is all about tranquillity, there is no entertainment onsite and no club house, you will also be asked to turn any music off by 10pm which is fine by us as we spent a really peaceful evening chatting, laughing and catching up on family news with nobody overhearing our conversations as we were all so spread out.

olpro windbreak

If you don’t want to cook your own meal The Jolly Farmer is within walking distance and has an excellent menu catering for all types, in busy periods it might be worth reserving a table, especially for large numbers.

thanet map

The caravan park is ideally situated for visiting Thanet, including Margate, Ramsgate, Broadstairs and other Kentish seaside towns. The Turner Contemporary Arts Centre in Margate is well worth a visit, they are celebrating their millionth customer this summer so you could be ‘One in a Million’ too.

one in a million turner contemporary

A view of the downstairs at Turner Contemporary with the current Curiosity exhibition

turner contemporary

Margate Old Town which is enjoying a fabulous revival and a joy to walk around is also full of pubs and eateries where you can sit and catch up on Facebook like this guy is maybe is?

the hoy margate

Our verdict: Excellent site for a peaceful stay with plenty to do in the surrounding area to let off a bit of steam. It has to be mentioned that Manston airport is close-by and we could hear the odd aeroplane taking off but not so many as to disturb our stay.