It could have been a nightmare – 3 kids, a car rammed full of kit, a boat on the back, 300 miles to travel, and a deadline to meet. This is the challenge our sailing Mum, Nia, faced not so long ago but she knew that Haven was here to help!
Off to Weymouth for Team GB National Sailing Squad weekend. Team Armstrong – Dan (14yrs) and Fin (12yrs) – brothers lucky enough to have been selected for the National Junior Sailing Squad, and 7yr old Emiah – their younger sister.
After several “memorable” trips up the motorway to Weymouth, I’ve quickly realised that the only way I’m going to keep my sanity is by making sure these sail training weekends are a lot more fun for little Emiah, the one who’s NOT sailing. It’s the only way to quieten the wailing protests from the back seat.
Thank goodness for Haven’s seaside locations! It didn’t take me long to work out the main advantages of staying on a Haven park – whilst the boys are over the moon to be sleeping in luxurious Haven beds, its actually Emiah who was most looking forward to arriving at Seaview – one of the Haven holiday parks in Weymouth. Her “perfect weekend” as she puts it.
This sailing adventure has been a massive learning curve for the whole family. Out of nowhere, the boys suddenly got into this new sport. We’ve had to learn about boats – in their case, something called an RS Feva, a double-handed racing dinghy with an asymmetric spinnaker. After only one year of sailing under their belt, the boys were selected for the UK National Junior Squad.
Being a member of the squad involves at least one weekend every month on the road travelling to events all over the country. With tales of boats being deposited on roundabouts ringing in my ears, the grown-ups had to quickly learn how to secure and tow a boat, without ruining any roundabouts along the way.
But we’ve also had to remember that Emiah needs entertaining too – it’s not just about the boys! Which is why staying at Haven is such a brilliant solution for us.
Having left straight after school pick-up, it’s really late when we get there, but we are met on arrival by friendly Haven team at Seaview, who passed us our keys to our holiday home ….with its own parking spot! Oh the joy of not having to find a parking place for a boat in the middle of the night! I’m not sure how many boats they have had to park before, but the team could not have been more helpful.
Emiah meanwhile could not take her eyes off the trampoline with the bungee trapezes which immediately overtook Pool Party on her “must do” list for the Haven weekend.
Everyone was of course “starving” despite having eaten nonstop in the car. There is nothing like arriving in our sparklingly clean caravan and cooking dinner whilst admiring the sea – yes, it’s true – Seaview literally has an amazing seaview and whereas not all caravans have them, ours did!
Arriving late as we did it was fantastic to have the option of a quiet meal in the caravan rather than taking tired and emotional children into a restaurant. In no time at all I was admiring the outline of Portland and realising with shock that not only were all my children in bed asleep but I actually felt relaxed, sipping a chilled glass of wine on the verandah. Against all the odds, I was actually feeling very much like I was on holiday. The Haven effect, as I’ve come to call it.
One of the other things I’ve had to learn is how to feed the “future Olympians” (the end aim of the National Squad) – the National Squad is taught nutrition and race psychology by Team GB Olympic coaches. And so now I have got strict instructions. So much easier with self catering holiday homes at a Haven park- the well-equipped kitchen is a doddle compared to trying to find a healthy option in a hotel restaurant. It also means that I can cook pasta for their packed lunch, not only a healthier option but also a cheaper one than using the Yacht Club café.
The boys’ diet has to be high in “slow-burn carbohydrates”, protein and loads of fruit and veg. Inevitably, while I tried to bring most of the food for the weekend in the car, I never quite remember everything – again, its just so easy – at the Haven park they have everything in the shop by reception. Joy – no need to spend the entire weekend taking Emiah to Tesco’s.
Instead, she was on a packed-agenda at Seaview – two days really wasn’t long enough for Emiah’s wish list. We made the pool party at Seaview and I lounged in the warm pool whilst Emiah bounced around to the disco music with floats. We did try the bungee trampoline (“awesome, mum”) but didn’t have time for the water walking zorbs or the aquagliders (“mum, can we go next time the boys are sailing ?”).
In the evenings, all three of them loved scootering around the holiday park and with the low speed limit for cars, I did not acquire any extra grey hairs. Luckily the Haven shop also stocked flip flops (don’t ask me how a child can leave home without any shoes??)
Outside the sanctuary of the holiday park, the boys sailed at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. Weymouth was the home of the 2012 Olympic sailing events and hosts many of the National Squads training events but it is also the ideal place to learn to sail. The sheltered harbour and weak tides provide the perfect environment for the novice provided that they do not get distracted by the backdrop of the Jurassic coast, a World heritage site! Interestingly, The Andrew Simpson Sailing School is opening in May 2014 – in memory of an Olympic sailor – and will run introductory sailing and windsurfing courses for kids of all ages and adults. As I looked out onto the calm blue waters I was almost tempted myself. Almost. But I think I prefer the Haven Pool Party.
The boys returned each day from sailing exhausted ready to eat the contents of the fridge and collapse. Emiah made it through most of her wish list and even before we left wanted to know when the next sailing trip would be.
And me? Well I felt for the first time I had managed to balance the requirements and demands of ALL three children (well ok, Haven had) and against all odds, I departed for home feeling relaxed… Looking forward to the next one!
Here at Haven we love helping kids to become more active, that’s why we have so many activities available on our parks! We may even have helped many kids, like Dan and Fin, on their way to being Olympic heroes. You can also read Hannah’s blog about how Haven helped her discover her Archery talent!
Has this insprired you to try something new? Let us know in the comments below!