After a hard term at school for the boys, non-stop for me and Jane at work/home, we were all ready for a break. We had all been counting down to our break at Haven Haggerston Castle near Berwick-upon-Tweed. All was prepared last week. The food was bought, the clothes were packed, and by Monday morning, the car was loaded, and we were off!
With two ASD boys in the back of the car, we had our set routine. First of all was the mandatory stop at Ikea Edinburgh for breakfast. The first time we wondered through the store, the boys were surprised it actually sold furniture. They were convinced it was just a restaurant. The food isn’t too bad though, and its great value for money. Four large cooked breafasts (omelette, bacon, sausages, beans and hash browns) and drinks for less than £10. Oh, and an ice cream when we were leaving! Once we were re-fuelled, we were off again. The drive to Haggerston isn’t too bad. Its just 8 miles past Berwick, so its only a few hours from home, even accounting for the Ikea stop.
We arrived at Haven just before 130pm. Although it wasn’t quite check in time, I popped into reception to see if maybe the keys were ready. A few taps on their computer, and yes, they were ready. We had booked a mid-range caravan, but were surprised when the girl behind the desk said we had been upgraded to a luxury lodge by their golf course. Was that ok? Oh yes! So, by 135, we were at the lodge and inside enjoying the space and warmth! It didn’t take long to unpack, and by 3pm, the boys were wanting to go for a swim. The pool at Haggerston is superb, and the boys were so keen to get there. To get to the pool, you need to go though the Fun Works amusement arcade, so cue a stop there! Daniel was desperate to play a jet fighter game he loved at our last visit to Haggerston at Easter. Matthew was desperate to win some tickets that can be exchanged for various toys, sweets, small appliances, etc – if you amass enough tickets. A quick 10 minutes satisfied them, and it was off to the pool. Daniel’s swimming continued to improve, and Matthew’s water confidence also is better, although he wasn’t keen to actually swim!
Come the evening time, it was off to the entertainment centre for more video games and ticket winning, and more importantly, the kids show in the Live Lounge. The show is put on by the Seaside Squad (Haven’s characters) Roary the Tiger, Bradley Bear, Greedy the Gorilla, Anxious the Elephant, DJ Ned and Polly. The boys were captivated as usual. The Fun Stars (entertainment crew) were – as usual – incredibly professional.
They are superb with the kids, and can pitch their humour at the grown ups too. Fun Stars Ryan and Hannah were loved by the boys. Ryan loved Daniel’s Star Wars t-shirts. The height of the evening entertainment came on the Tuesday night when Daniel and I were “invited” onto stage by Ryan to play one of the games during “Go Live” Daniel loved that, as it involved putting a dozen pairs of pants over my trousers before I had to do a catwalk strut! Jane and Matthew were in fits! It was all worth it for the boys, and the Fun Stars were brilliant.
There were the usual range of daytime activities put on by the Fun Stars. They are so engaging with the children, and deal with them superbly. Matthew and Daniel were so comfortable with all of them, which says a lot about the Fun Stars. They gained the boys’ trust so quickly and made the sessions so enjoyable for them. Matthew was so proud that he learned how to hula hoop! He’s now convinced he’s the “Hula Hoop King”!
It was magical to see the Fun Stars give a little boy so much pleasure and confidence. Matthew was so good though. He’s a shy boy, and his autism prevents him from trusting easily. To get him up on stage at Roary’s lunchtime picnic party was amazing. He was sung Happy Birthday by all in attendance. He did brilliantly, even though there were tears afterwards. Circus skills also were a big hit with the boys – again thanks to the fantastic Ryan. Even off duty (Daniel met him in the shop) he was mobbed by kids, but was superb with them even in his time off. He’s a huge credit to Haven.
Its not just the Fun Stars, although they are the public face of Haven, that made the break so good. The pool staff were fab with Daniel, and saved our lives when Jimmy (Matthew’s red bear) went missing. The relief on Matthew’s face when they took him out from behind the pool front desk was amazing. It kicked off an emotional reunion after 2 hours apart. Credit also goes to the amusement centre staff, the catering staff and the cleaners for making sure everything was absolutely fantastic. Haven know how to treat their customers, and their staff at Haggerston are a huge credit to them. The boys had a wonderful time (as did we!) and they have demanded we return to Haggerston at Easter. I have a feeling we’ll be giving into them quite easily!
For a great family holiday in the UK, Haven are so hard to been for a guaranteed good time. We can’t wait to come back – see you soon!