In an era where package holidays and foreign trips are more desirable, a trip to a caravan park can seem unfashionable. But my recent trip to Shell Bay – the award-winning Elie Holiday Park in Fife, Scotland – reminded me of the magic that can be found in the smaller, underrated places.
I’ve always had a soft spot for this particular caravan park. As a child I came here all the time; it never occurred to me that there was another, better way to spend a family holiday. We loved everything about it: the trip to the beach – come rain or shine – until we were frozen and had to return, playing bingo with our grandparents, the disco, and even the caravan itself.
I grew older and discovered the joy of hotels and sunshine abroad, but with my grandparents buying their own stationary caravan on the site, I find myself – sometimes with my family, my sister, or my boyfriend, Gerry in tow – returning to the site whenever we have one of those rare free weekends. Last weekend Gerry and I travelled up to join my grandparents for a real dose of holiday nostalgia.
It was starting to get late by the time we got there. But even with the sky growing darker as we drove down the single-track road into Shell Bay, a collection of fluttering flags gave us a welcoming wave. The live music coming from the site’s Ruddons Bar invited us inside, and the smell of the sea flowing through the air reminded us that we were, in fact, on a holiday of sorts.
In minutes we found our caravan perched at the back of the site. Unlike most, our caravan is simply stunning: it’s spacious and inoffensively decorated in neutral shades, three bedrooms, a well-equipped kitchen and a bathroom. It’s almost like a miniature house with a panoramic view with everything from the caravans to the sandy beach in our sightline.
We joined my grandparents in the Ruddons Bar after we parked up, and enjoyed a night of live entertainment, drinks, and the nightly bingo session before heading back to our caravan. The choice of entertainment on offer at Shell Bay is astounding, with something different on each night for both kids and adults.
During the day children can explore the fun in the Robinson Crusoe Adventure Park as they recreate scenes from Disney’s Peter Pan, as well as the Smugglers’ Cove Games Room, which is fully equipped with dance mats and air hockey tables. The adults can escape the madness by enjoying a football game on the BT Sport Big Screen and live entertainment complete with a pool table.
Gerry and I wake up late and decide to go for an afternoon stroll along the beach through one of the site’s many costal walks, which – on a nice day with a slight breeze – is something you can’t beat. We return in the late afternoon to head for an early dinner with my grandparents in the Upper Largo Hotel Restaurant (only a 10 minute drive outside the site) before returning to the Ruddons Bar to watch the Scotland v Slovenia game on the BT Sport Big Screen.
Sitting there with my family and Gerry it occurs to me that this is what a holiday, whatever length, is really about. Spending time with those you love in a place that’s beautifully simple, wholesome and fun. If you want a real dose of holiday nostalgia, head over to Shell Bay where I’m genuinely happy to discover live acts and bingo are still on the entertainment bill.