Sunday, May 20, 2012

Marton Mere Touring Site review

We've stayed on a couple of Haven touring sites before and been happy with both of them. Out of season, or I should say outside of the busy school holidays they have some excellent offers for both touring caravans and rental holiday homes. We've stayed at Filey in Yorkshire both in a tourer and last year in a satic and in Wales at Hafan Y Mor on the Lleyn Penninsular and had a good time at them all.

In April this year we had booked a 4 night break at Marton Mere Holiday Village in Blackpool staying on the touring site with our campervan.  A couple of nights before we were due to go I googled the site just to refresh on the details of arrival time etc. As you know when you start typing words into google other stuff comes up - like reviews. Oh well, may as well have a quick look. Wished I hadn't in the end.  There are some unfavourable reviews of Marton Mere, some criticising   the touring section, others the site in general and many not happy with their rented holiday accommodation. We weren't too sure after reading all the doom and gloom of what to expect when we got there.

Space at a premium

We needn't have worried. We arrived around noon as you can't go on to the site until 12.00. We were directed to the touring site by security on the gate, you then book in at the arrivals office. First impressions were that it looked neat and tidy and the statics were all attractively laid out with extensive landscaping.  Yes you could see that there was ongoing work being carried out, which was one of the complaints on the review sites, it did look a little untidy in that there were large statics apparently abandoned by the roadside, somewhat in the way but it's obviously not their intention to leave them there indefinitely. A couple of times when we went out a road that we had been up the previous day would suddenly be shut to allow them to carry out work and an early warning sign or a diversion sign would have been really helpful but it wasn't a big inconvenience. I certainly wouldn't describe it as a "building site" as one of the reviewers put it.

After booking in and being handed our information pack we went off to find a pitch. We had a super pitch booked but there were also premier pitches. Apparently a premier pitch has 20% more space than a basic pitch, although they do seem to call them Euro pitches which actually includes a TV hook up too.  I don't think the Premier Pitches at Marton Mere have the TV hookup but they have a nice little fence around the pitch for demarcation and just generally look more attractive than the super pitches.  Unless you have a large caravan or motorhome I wouldn't have thought it was worth the extra pitch fee - if you want a fancy fence stay at home.

On a Super pitch you get a hardstanding for the caravan or motorhome and a gravel section next to it for your awning. Wasn't entirely impressed with the dirty looking gravel but I suppose if you don't have a ground sheet which we never do it's better when the grounds wet than soggy grass. With a Super pitch you get 16amp electric hook up, your own water tap (yay, no trailing across wet grass looking for a tap in the dark) and your own grey water disposal point (a grid). The lap of luxury for us really.

There were criticisms on the reviews I read that the pitches were too small and there was very little room between pitches. I have to agree with this. For us it wasn't too much of a problem, our campervan is easy to get in and out on the pitch and our awning isn't that big but for anyone with a biggish caravan who isn't that confident with manoeuvring you're going to struggle a bit. You also have to make sure you stay on pretty good terms with your neighbours, you'll be bumping into them quite literally whenever you step out the door.

Superloos - cosy too!

There is a brand new toilet block specifically for the touring site complete with undercover and sheltered washing up facilities. The washing-up sinks are massive. Make sure you take your washing up bowl with you as it would take you forever to fill up the sink, they're big enough to have a bath in. When we were there they were always clean and tidy, none of other people's dredges of fried egg and cabbage loitering around like you tend to find on other sites. Who eats cabbage on holiday anyway? The toilets have a secure code entry gadget thing on the door so you need a 4 digit code to get in. I think it's a good idea. It means you don't have people using the toilets on the way back from their evening entertainment to their static caravans and is probably also designed to stop children messing around in the toilets on their own. Why do children find toilet blocks such a magnet, they always seem to end up playing about round toilet blocks on caravan sites. Reviewers have found fault with this idea though. Some people are just not happy unless they have something to complain about. It is a bit of a pain when you first arrive because until you've learned the number you have to remember to take the number with you otherwise you can't get in. They're lovely and warm, clean and have about 3 or 4 showers. Sadly though around the sinks there is nowhere to hang anything, sometimes you just want a quick wash rather than a shower. There are blown air hand dryers and a dispenser for antibacterial hand wipe which magically dispenses when  you stick your hands under it - no need to touch anything which I thought was a really good idea and went that extra mile to avoid spreading germs.


I can't comment on other facilities on site such as entertainment, shops, cafe's etc because we never had time to take a look. Touring site reviewers again commented on noise from the club at night. I did notice it, it was a little intrusive, mainly you could hear the base beat from the music which was quite loud but it did finish between 11.00 and 12.00pm. I wouldn't have thought it would disturb children's sleep but adults who like an early to bed, early to rise regime might be a bit irritated by it.

Marton Mere
All in all we enjoyed our 4 nights there and would definitely go back again. It's handy for Blackpool, there's a supermarket up the road, a pub within easy walking distance and apparently Blackpool Zoo and Stanley Park are just around the corner. On the site itself is Marton Mere, a Nature Reserve and lake of special interest to bird watchers which used to be the town's tip and has footpaths and birdwatching hides. Not to be confused with Martin Mere (I always thought they were one and the same) which is actually near Southport.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Outlook unsettled

St Annes
Oh dear, I've been a bit neglectful of this blog. Apart from a few days of lovely warm sunshine in March the weather since then has been rubbish. Snow at the beginning of April followed by rain, followed by some very unseasonal freezing cold temperatures.  18th May and we've had the heating on most of tonight with a temperature of 7 degrees (feels like 2 !) So no great incentive to get out and about.

Back to mid April though, and we did have a few days away in the van. I booked the time off work back in February when I realised it was our 30th wedding anniversary in April.  And where did we choose to celebrate this great achievement? Blackpool. Again I booked this break back in February through Haven Holidays.  They have some good out of season offers on and where can you get a super pitch these days at £10 per night including electric and awning. It was an offer too good to miss and fitted in with the week I booked off work and our wedding anniversary - sorted.

Now when you're booking your time off in cold and windy February you do expect things to have warmed up a little by April. When the time finally arrived I was seriously beginning to regret the whole idea and wished I'd spent a bit more and booked somewhere warmer and drier. However I had paid for it so we thought we may as well go as Blackpool is only 50 miles away and we could always come home early if it was too wet, boring, freezing or all three.  This is in fact a lesson to be learned. Had I not paid for it, in all likelihood we wouldn't have gone anywhere and I would have been cursing the waste of a weeks holiday from work. As it was we had a really good time and stayed for the whole 4 nights, which just goes to show you should always take a chance.  Sitting around waiting for perfect weather to turn up before you actually go anywhere is as good as watching your life pass by, perfect weather just never happens any more.

So to follow in a further couple of posts:

Hopefully by the time I've finished writing those, things might have warmed up a bit and we could be off on our travels to pastures new.