Like many parents I’d been keen to get away since holiday restrictions were lifted. But I was also concerned about how safe the campsite would be and how much we’d be able to relax while constantly trying to social distance from anyone outside our household group.
Feeling slightly apprehensive I parked up outside our home for the next three days – a spacious “prestige” caravan with a decked veranda.
My fears didn’t last long as our holiday home was pristine. As we entered, our feet sunk into the lush carpet and the fittings and appliances looked brand new.The sinks and toilets (there were two bathrooms) were spotless, the bed linen clean and crisp and even the rattan outdoor furniture on the veranda gleamed.
I was staying at Haven’s Church Farm Holiday Village in tiny Pagham on the Sussex coast, along with husband Tim and our children Rosie, 14, and Freddie, 11.
All Haven’s parks are now open but certain facilities and activities remain closed to comply with governmentimposed restrictions and to keep things as safe as possible.
As of this weekend the outdoor pool is open as well as the restaurant and bar. Evening entertainment was off during my visit, but Haven is now holding acoustic performances outdoors, weather permitting, along with pre-recorded kids’ entertainment in the afternoons.
The amusement arcade, pitch-and-putt course, tennis courts and multi-sports pitch were all in use during our stay and the onsite supermarket and a takeaway fish and chip shop were also up and running.
During the day several children’s activities were available to book including junior Segways, archery, target shooting, bug hunts, den building and fire lighting. Early booking – via the HavenWhat’s On app or in person at reception – was essential as the activities were popular; we tried and failed to do archery and shooting but did manage to hire a four-man go-kart for a fun-filled hour (£16).
The go-kart provided the perfect opportunity to explore the vast park.There were few outward signs of the pandemic that’s changed so much of our lives.
A member of staff reminds customers to sanitise their hands before they enter the supermarket.The takeaway fish and chips have to be ordered online in advance, to be collected at an allocated time.
There are a few painted footprints outside key areas to remind people to social distance. Reps wipe down the go-karts with the now-famous anti-bac before and after each use. It’s clear much work has gone on behind the scenes to make the “new normal” holiday experience as smooth as possible.
Holidaymakers are given a half-hour arrival slot to help prevent queues and a rep comes to greet you so you can stay in your car. Keys and welcome packs are left inside your caravan to minimise contact.
Each caravan undergoes a deeper clean than normal – apparently cleaners are in there 20 percent longer – with particular emphasis on surfaces that are touched the most. A supervisor then inspects the unit before giving it the seal of approval – literally – on the front door.
Our three-bedroom caravan lay at the back of the holiday village in a quiet area. A nearby path led past a pretty lagoon and an RSPB nature reserve to a shingle beach and a stretch of sea that was as clear as glass.We liked the beach most in the early evening when the sun had warmed up the water. But even on a hot day it wasn’t busy – perfect for social distancing.
If you fancied a stroll, Pagham village, with its fish and chip shop, cafe and ice cream shops, is about 15 minutes away along the coast. For a change of scene we drove to Bognor Regis five miles away. It is classic seaside resort territory with plenty of amusement arcades, rock shops and fairground-style stalls. We enjoyed a couple of rounds of mini golf on the seafront – the course was good fun and immaculately kept – then popped into Pinks Parlour for homemade ice cream.
Back on the park it was business as usual.The play areas were busy and children – including Freddie – gathered as normal to play football in the multi-sports cage. Families and friends relaxed outside their caravans with barbecues and beers.
We all missed the pool – but at least we had the sea on our doorstep.The atmosphere was laidback and the “C-word” was rarely mentioned! I felt I was in a safe environment; it helped that the holiday village looked immaculate, inspiring confidence about cleanliness.
When it comes to enjoying holidays, it seems the “new normal” isn’t much different to the old one.
Four nights at Haven’s Church Farm Holiday Village starts from £197, arriving August 30, in standard accommodation (sleeps 6). haven.com
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