My kids (aged 8 and 5) and I don’t always agree on the definition of ‘fun’. For example, this morning over breakfast, their idea of a good time was to rank in order each of their ‘Plop Trump’ cards, to discover which animal had the highest scoring poo: “Hippopotamus wins overall and has best length, but Lion and Leopard get full marks for smelliness and yuck factor!” Meanwhile, I was trying not to barf into my bircher.
And much as I love my Pink House Husband, he and I aren’t always on the same fun wavelength either. Royal Wedding? He was to be found watching rugby on the iPad in a republican huff, while I sipped celebratory champagne, fawned over the spectacular bridal flowers and happily pondered Camilla’s pink hat.
With such differing approaches to good times, finding a holiday to suit everyone isn’t always easy. But find one we did, in the shape of our recent half-term week-long break to Mark Warner’s new Phokaia Beach Resort in Turkey, which was declared by every member of our family to be a resounding success (or, as the 8yo put it, “a well sick holiday”, which apparently is a compliment of the highest order).
Why was it so good? Well, I wouldn’t like to speak on behalf of my offspring or indeed PHH (heaven forfend), so instead I grilled each of them on their 5 favourite aspects of this half-term Mark Warner holiday, and you can read their answers – along with my own top 5 bits – below.
My 5 fave things, by Zac, 5
I loved the games. One of the games was called…toilet something? You know; that dodging game where you need to run to the other side without being hit. Like at Rugbytots? [Me: Bombs and tornadoes?] Yes. Oh and the volcanoes and craters game. There were cones and we needed to turn them into craters and volcanoes and whoever team did the most would win. And coach Leah was really nice. She teaches good stuff. I think I’m definitely a lot better at playing tennis now. I like doing forehand best. I’m going to do more lessons now I’m back home in London.
2. Making friends
Arthur was my friend that I met in kids club. He was just fun to play with. I played Incy Wincy Spider with him. He won first. I came second. I’m older than Arthur. He’s 5 too but his birthday is after Christmas. I don’t know what day though. And Henry. He’s in year 2. I liked playing football with Henry. It was always me and Henry against Oscar and Henry’s really good at football and I like the way he tackles.
I really liked sailing with the Mini Club – I was in the Sharks. I wasn’t scared. If you’re thinking of trying sailing you should defuntly do it. It’s really fun and you go so fast.
4. Chocolate pancakes
Best thing about breakfast was the chocolate pancakes. Actually that was my favourite food I had when I was there. Sometimes I had red pepper with the pancakes too. And the fish fingers and chips were really good too. And the pasta. And the ice cream…
5. The swimming pool
I liked the little pool where I played dodgeball with Oscar and Henry. And I practiced swimming with Daddy in the big pool. In the little pool when I was playing dodgeball Jeff the inflatable crocodile was homey.
My 5 fave things, by Oscar, 8
I’d never done it before and then Coach Apple taught me to windsurf very well. He gave me lots of details. He was a professional windsurfer so he really knew what to do and was really patient. I only fell in once out of 4 times going windsurfing. When I fell in it was cold, salty and annoying. When we went windsurfing we usually brought Nutella pots from breakfast and used our finger to scoop the chocolate out of the little pots. I would have three.
Two things. One: pancakes with chocolate sauce and sugar. And the other thing was eating meat for lunch. Like chicken and beef. I also quite liked the fish as well. I’ve forgotten what it was called but it was fried. Oh and the puddings. Definitely. There were so many to choose from but I really really liked the chocolate mousse with sprinkles. One night I had 4 desserts. Three ice creams and a cake at the BBQ. Afterwards I felt…tired. And a little bit sick. But happy.
I liked my private lessons with Leah – that’s L E A H. She explained everything very carefully and when I did something slightly wrong she wasn’t bossy – she just reminded me how to do it properly. I liked the volleying match. That was fun. I won all three sets.
4. Kids club
I liked it when we played rounders – it’s like baseball. We played that on the grassy area near the pool. We won; I think the score was 4 – 3. But I’m not sure. I liked the swimming too. We did water polo – I’d never done that before but I scored 5 goals. And I made some new friends – we all played together in the airport on the way home which made the journey more fun.
5. Electronic devices
Playing iPad in bed before you and Daddy woke up. We usually played Ski Safari or Footie Golf.
My 5 fave things, by The Pink House Husband, 40
1. Peace of mind
Knowing I can chill out while boys are at the clubs. The kids' clubs are really impressive.
2. Windsurfing with Oscar
And discovering he was better at it than I was. [Me: You were pretty good too] I was, wasn’t I!
3. The sea and the swimming pool being just metres apart
[Me: Why?] Just because it was good. You don’t have to choose between them. The swimming pool's fun but the sea’s the sea and it’s more...it’s real...it’s natural. So doing activities in the sea is more of an intrepid thing. Don’t write any of this down. Are you writing this down?
4. The food
I thought the food was really good. Apart from the strawberries it was all very fresh. There was good variety without it all being too weird. [Me: What was your favourite food?] It wasn’t the soup. But we all know how I feel about soup. I’m quite particular. Hmm, the fresh orange juice machine; being mesmerized by it. And the juice itself was very nice too.
5. Meeting people
It was just easy to be friendly and chat to interesting people, without feeling you were having to commit to some sort of new friendship. That makes me sound like a w**ker doesn’t it?
My 5 fave things, by me, 40 (though I’ll be turning 39 next birthday)
1. The sunbeds
Seriously impressive sunbeds – and loads of them too. Depending on whether I fancied being poolside, or having a birds-eye view of the boys, or just staring out to sea, there was a pretty, padded, canopied sunbed flanked by additional loungers and handy little drinks tables just waiting for me.
2. The resort landscaping
God, I sound so OLD. But the fact is that the grounds of the resort were a delight – loads of greenery, well-kept palm trees and pretty little meandering paths linking the beach, swimming pool, kids clubs and accommodation. The kids found a good-sized patch of grass behind the tennis courts and spent hours there playing football with their new friends while we sat on benches in the sun and chatted to their parents. And drank wine.
3. The Jetty Bar
I only discovered the delights of the sea-front Jetty Bar during the fantastic Thursday BBQ, but that was probably just as well otherwise I’d most likely have spent the whole holiday propping it up. It has an almost Caribbean vibe, with relaxed seating and straw-thatched parasols. The perfect place to sip a G&T and watch the sun set.
4. The food
Yes – I too was impressed with the food. There was such a wide choice at the buffet, meaning our fairly picky kids always found something they were happy with – and even better – could help themselves to without having to order then wait around while they became hungry and irritable. I really liked how traditional Turkish dishes, with plenty of fresh salad and vegetables, were on offer alongside your standard chips, sausages and lasagne. My favourite food? It’s a toss-up between the rice pudding and the grilled prawns at the BBQ. The Lal rosé was really good too.
5. The evening kids’ movies
This is just genius: the kids club offers two movies (split into age groups) and childcare from 7.30pm till 10pm, allowing the kids to watch films they genuinely enjoy under supervision from the lovely staff they’ve gotten to know during the day, all included in the price of your holiday. While they were watching Boss Baby, me and PHH enjoyed a leisurely dinner, avec pink wine and sans progeny, just as Mark Warner himself intended. So everyone’s a winner on this holiday, and not a hippo turd in sight.
This post was sponsored by Mark Warner, who gifted me the holiday in exchange for a review – you can also see video of our holiday on my ‘Mark Warner’ Story highlight on my Instagram feed HERE. (you can only access Story Highlights on a phone). For more information on the Phokaia Beach Resort and how to book, click HERE