Campsites are quite literally my favourite places in the whole world to hang out, I love the freedom of being outdoors and sitting out under the stars drinking wine and eating chocolate and I want my children to love campsites too.
However, because Edward has autism, it sort of throws a spanner in the works and makes camping holidays all the more challenging. He is likely to run off, have a meltdown and throw himself on the floor in a public place and not do anything that he’s told. As autism is a hidden disability it makes it difficult for people who haven’t had experience of autism to understand their behaviours and it often gets mistaken for naughtiness. Ever since I started writing this blog I have wanted to raise more public understanding of the condition so that families can feel comfortable when they go out and not feel that they have to hide away for fear of being tutted at or shushed.
For the May Day Bank Holiday weekend we spent it in a static caravan at Hendra Holiday Park in Newquay, Cornwall in return for a review of their provision for families of children with autism.
First up was the check in process, I walked into the reception armed with my confirmation email and I was handed the welcome pack, the keys to caravan and the receptionist took time to show me on the map how to get to our caravan.
We located our caravan easily, it was a Porthminster three bedroom static caravan in Cherry field. The caravan was modern and spotlessly clean with a large living area. This was a five minute walk away from the facilities but as the weather was good and we had a toilet, shower and a fully equipped kitchen in the caravan it didn’t matter.
On the Friday night we didn’t arrive until 7.30pm as we had all been at work and school so we dumped the bags in the van and went out to explore. The first thing we found was the new Jolly Henry pirate ship play area….I think this was Edwards favourite part of the holiday, all day he would ask to go to the park and when he woke up on Saturday morning the first thing he said was ‘I stuck in the park!’ He must have been dreaming about it.
Whilst we were in the park my husband went and bought a portion of chips from the on site chippy so we sat in the park and ate them and they were hot and gorgeous. I believe I am somewhat of a chip connoisseur so if I say they are good chips then they are definitely good chips. By now, it was starting to get dark, so feeling obliged to try out as many of the onsite food establishments as possible we ordered a Pepperoni pizza from Marios and took it back to the caravan.
On Saturday afternoon we tried out the Oasis fun pool. We handed our passes to the check in desk and they gave us a receipt to hand to the lifeguard when we entered the pool. This was somewhat a bit of challenge, trying to hold onto Edward, have a pre swim shower whilst trying not to get the paper receipt wet…..
There is a large Unisex changing area with plenty of large family changing rooms. The swimming pool water is lovely and warm and as Matthew is prone to getting blue lips when he gets cold this was much appreciated. We have always exposed Edward to as many different things as possible and we believe this is why he can cope with lots of noise so he was quite happy in the swimming pool. Others with autism may find the noise of the swimming pool overwhelming so perhaps a quiet hour in the pool would be a lovely idea.
Edward actually asked to go down the water slides so my husband took him up. He said that as they were walking up the steps Edward said ‘I’m very scared.’ But he still went down the slide with my husband and he absolutely loved it and wanted to go again and again and again and again….
After swimming we visited the onsite shop to buy something for tea. Easy for us, we picked up pasta and a jar of sauce….but Edward won’t eat this. A lot of children with autism have a very restricted diet and will only eat very plain, beige stuff. Edward’s culinary delights include porridge, weetabix, beans and mash, sometimes a cheese and tomato pizza, a bread and butter sandwich, yoghurts and cake (but without jam).
Saturday evening came along and it was time to check out the evening entertainment. Matthew loves bingo so that’s what we did but we didn’t win anything. When the bingo finished it was time for the Henry the Hippo party, again lots of noise but Edward loves a party so he was fine and very excited. Edward has the concentration span of a gnat so one minute he’s watching the party then all of a sudden he’s had enough and has made a run for it out to the amusements. As we were stood by the side of the dance floor we knew what he was planning so we were able to catch him before he disappeared. Some children with autism would find this noise too much so it would be nice if there was a quiet sensory room in the complex where children to go to calm down.
Sunday was another lovely sunny day and we went to the pool again, Edward couldn’t wait to go down the slides and even Mummy Square Peg went down the slide too.
In the afternoon we went out to explore the local area. We decided to visit Crantock beach which is only a 5 minute drive from Hendra Holiday Park. We walked along the coastal path from Crantock Bowgie out to Crantock beach. Stunning turquoise sea and soft golden sand, what’s not to love?
Before we left on Monday we decided to check out the Playloft, the soft play area. The part that makes this a fab soft play area is the fact that there’s a cafe and somewhere for the parents to sit.
If you are wanting to take your square pegs on holiday then staying in a static caravan at Hendra holiday park is a great idea. I would also take Edward camping at Hendra, there are lots of flat pitches and hard standings with electric hook ups and plenty of toilet and shower blocks. If you don’t like sleeping under canvas then Hendra also have wooden camping pods that look like Hobbit houses.
For more information check out their website here https://www.hendra-holidays.com/