Balls Holiday Centre, Nr Fordingbridge, Hampshire (Self-Catering)
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Balls in Hampshire,
facilities and the
beauty of The New
Forest on your
LAST AUTUMN WE FOUND OURSELVES in a handsome new Nissan 350Z Roadster heading
down to The New Forest in torrential rain perhaps not the best
way to start a well-deserved and much-needed mini-break, but who cares when
you have such a cool, sporty convertible to take you there and a cosy Rustic
Retreat lodge at Sandy Balls Holiday Centre to look forward to.
Oh... the name! Sandy Balls can be traced back to the reign of Henry VII when
it appeared on maps as 'Sandyballas', referring to the dome-shaped sand and
gravel outcrops on the Western boundary of the centre that were formed in
the Eocene era between 54.8 to 33.7 million years ago.
The estate was bought by Ernest Westlake in 1919 and the Westlake family still
has a connection with Sandy Balls today. It was Ernest's aim to conserve areas
of fine woodland and make it accessible to those who enjoyed visiting places
of natural beauty. Sandy Balls is in a perfect location, set in 120 acres
of woods and parkland within The New Forest National Park. The first chalets
were erected in 1934 so there is plenty of experience on hand to help you
to create your perfect UK holiday.
Our detached four-berth Rustic Retreat was a delightful two-bedroom pine cabin
with a spacious bathroom fitted with a free-standing bath and a shower. The
large living room has comfortable chairs, a dining area and a fully-equipped
kitchenette there's even a dishwasher. But that's not all. Each cabin
has a generous-sized verandah with good quality wooden garden furniture and
a small lawn with a barbecue and picnic bench along with plenty of space for
parking one or two cars.
We settled in right away. The cabin was pleasant and easy to live with and
the beds firm but comfortable. Everywhere was freshly cleaned a personalised
note from the 'chamber maids' (a nice touch) lets you know who was responsible.
Bed linen, fluffy bathrobes, towels and tea towels are provided with the Rustic
Retreats and the kitchenette really does have everything you need for self-catering.
There is a television with DVD player (DVDs can be hired from a good selection
at the Country Store) and an electric mock 'wood-burning stove' that adds
to the rustic appeal and provides a warm focus to the living area of the cabin.
The low-noise policy after 11pm means that you're assured of a good night's
welcome pack includes helpful advice, including details about the on-site
facilities, ideas of where to go and what to do in the area and a list of
on-site activities for the current week of your stay.
getting up close
(but not too personal!)
to the local wildlife,
and a gentle stroll
along the banks
of the River Avon...
Everything is geared up for a stress-free break. Being spoilt for choice is
something of a tradition it comes with the territory. From the very
warm welcome as you drive through the gates to the beautifully-presented accommodation
and helpful staff, Sandy Balls is worthy of the accolades the holiday centre
has already received: The David Bellamy Gold Conservation Award; English Tourism
Council 5-Star Award; The Rose Award from the AA and The English Tourist Board;
Tourism Excellence Award and the Green Tourism Gold Award. Sandy Balls is
also the only holiday park in the country to have twice been awarded Caravan
Holiday Park Of The Year.
Fancy dining out on-site? You can walk to the bistro for breakfast, coffee,
snacks, afternoon tea or an appetising, Mediterranean-inspired meal using
locally-sourced fresh ingredients. You can also eat at the The Woodside Inn
or enjoy quiz nights, discos and family entertainment. Try the reasonably-priced
and very satisfying breakfasts; wholesome pub-style meals; local ale; or a
well-chosen takeaway that includes pizzas, curries and burgers. On brighter
days you can eat alfresco in the courtyard or pack a picnic to eat at the
Riverside Recreation Area. Or you can chill out on your decking, have a barbecue
then watch a movie in your own private space. Even rainy days can be fun!
The Country Store carries a good choice of basic groceries, fresh fruit and
vegetables, small household goods and a selection of frozen ready-meals to
cook yourself. Other on-site facilities include a gift shop, a leisure club
with a gym and swimming pool and a sensibly-priced beauty parlour offering
Why not hire bikes from The Cycle Centre? Or, for a reasonable price, 7 to
12-year-olds can take the Guided Cycle Experience. You can arrange guided
nature walks and horse-riding through the parkland or even kayak lessons on
the River Avon. If in doubt, the information desk next to the gift shop has
a plentiful supply of leaflets to inspire your outings.
Children are well catered for with a host of activities to keep them safely
occupied and a children's adventure play area, Toddler's Wood soft play area
for the under-fives and a Family Fun Room. During our week at Sandy Balls
there were various classes available on-site for both adults and for children,
including making beaded jewellery, painting, biscuit-decorating, basket-making
and drawing. Some are free and others cost just a few pounds.
Entertainment on the Piazza includes magicians, jugglers and story-tellers.
Children will love 'The Hamster Ball' sessions at the outdoor pool and dogs
are also welcome in some cabins there is a dog exercise area and pet-free
areas are well marked.
Every step brings you closer to a stress-free stay. Families at Sandy Balls
enjoy a unique and safe environment. For adults flying solo it is an ideal
base from which to explore the magnificent surrounding countryside.
We enjoyed relaxing woodland walks, getting up close (but not too personal!)
to the local wildlife, and a gentle stroll along the banks of the River Avon.
Even the rain didn't dampen our enthusiasm! There are many places of interest
within easy reach, including the coast, and large towns such as Portsmouth
and Southampton are close enough for major shopping expeditions.
The traditional riverside town of Fordingbridge is just a few minutes' drive
away and has antique and gift shops, a mini-market, a book shop, tea rooms
and a museum. Fordingbridge
Museum is small, but has some interesting focal points such as a large,
furnished Victorian dolls' house and famous ship's cat Able Seaman Simon,
the Hero of HMS Amethyst. The Royal Navy frigate was fired at without warning
by Chinese Communists in 1939 while patrolling the Yangtze River. The incident
was later made into the film Yangtze Incident. Find out more at The
Fordingbridge Museum. Leaflets on sale include a walk through the old town.
Within easy driving distance is the Heavy Horse Centre with farm animals,
snow dogs, pony rides and vintage tractor driving and a café and gift shop;
Breamore House & Countryside Museum (01725 512468) with a maze; Martin Down
National Nature Reserve guided walks (01980 620485), Rockbourne Roman Villa
(01725 518541) and The Wall Art Gallery (01425 654560).
Tickets for various attractions are available from Guest Services, including
Beaulieu Motor Museum, house and gardens
and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Spinnaker Tower. Or visit Corfe Castle
and steam railway just over the border in Dorset.
A warm welcome awaits you at Sandy Balls Holiday Centre, so if you want a
child-friendly, value-for-money holiday or a relaxing, get-away-from-it-all
haven from a busy lifestyle where you can tailor-make your holiday to suit
yourself, look no further Sandy Balls offers an amazing break away
for any season, in any weather. And no wasted, boring hours spent in airports
or currency fluctuations to mar your stay.
Drawbacks? We couldn't find any. Those we spoke to with children praised the
facilities, the location and the staff. For us, two adults seeking a haven
in which to escape our workload and recharge our batteries, it was perfect.
The icing on the cake was that while lingering around The New Forest on our
way home we found a lovely, friendly pub in which to enjoy a leisurely lunch
if you're passing, check it out yourself: the 15th Century Green
Dragon at Brook, Lyndhurst.
Sandy Balls is easy to find and accessible from almost anywhere in the country.
There is a good choice of accommodation the rustic retreats, holiday
homes, ReadyTents and even pitches available if you prefer to bring your own
tent or caravan. Or you can opt for the new Teepees and Tall Trees Experience
where you can spend the night under the stars in a Native American-style tepee.
How! Maggie Woods, MotorBar
Sandy Balls Holiday Centre is at Godshill, Fordingbridge, Hampshire,
SP6 2JZ | Telephone 0845 2702248.