IT’S the end of a long week. The kids are wiped out and we are trying to juggle work with a hectic round of school and after-school events. So the thought of chilling out in a deluxe lodge is a welcome one.
I tell the kids and the first thing they say is: “Is it far? Do we have to sit in the car for ages? Is there a swimming pool?” The “No, no and yes,” are met with cheers – from all of us.
We throw a few things in the car late Friday afternoon, take off down the A1 and in under an hour I have a glass of prosecco in my hand while my other half has cracked open a beer and the kids are playing outside on the deck. Despite Thurston boasting a bustling leisure park, the lodges are situated down a steep country road that leads to a secluded glen surrounded by woodland with a lake at one end. It’s a striking setting and, despite its close proximity, Edinburgh seems a million miles away, which suits us fine.
WINING AND DINING
The three-bedroom lodge we stay in has a spacious, well-equipped kitchen in one corner of the open-plan, high-ceilinged living space. There is a dining area with a table and French windows leading directly out to a deck that wraps around two sides. On the deck is a picnic table and benches for al fresco meals, and coffee and cake in the sunshine. Although we catered for ourselves, there is a bar and restaurant close to the reception area serving breakfast, lunch and evening meals, as well as offering a takeaway service.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
The lodges are situated in a boutique setting – well-maintained, peaceful, in a rural spot away from the main leisure park, although within easy reach of its facilities.
The lodge is spacious and comfortable. The high ceilings in the master bedroom (complete with wall-mounted TV) add to the sense of space, with a closet/dressing room leading off it through to an en-suite shower room. There are two good-sized twin bedrooms, plus a bathroom leading off the hallway to the main living space. There is an electric fire in the living room, with radiators elsewhere, making the lodge cosy even on a damp day, and a wall-mounted TV with DVD player above the fireplace.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
This is a great location with trout fishing in the on-site lake plus woodland walks on the doorstep. Close to the coast, Dunbar, North Berwick, Haddington and East Linton are all nearby. We spend one morning at the rocky fishing village of St Abbs, dipping into the friendly visitor centre with its fascinating history of early sea diving and local fishing families, as well as its gift shop, which called out to my two young daughters in much the way I imagine a mermaid’s siren call would have to sailors. We walk up the steep wooden steps that lead past quaint gardens and take in the views, imagining a hard life lived off the sea as the wind blows the cobwebs away, and enjoy plates of chips (I blame all that sea air) followed by tea and cream scones at a café by the small harbour, sitting outside in the bracing air. Further up the hillside, situated by the footpath to St Abbs Head, you’ll find Number Four, a contemporary art and craft gallery (www.numberfourgallery.co.uk) that is well worth a visit. From here we head off down winding roads to the tucked-away Coldingham Beach, which is popular with families and surfers alike, and where the kids “paddled” waist-deep before landing another haul of shells and sea glass.
There is a heated swimming pool, as well as a gym and sauna, plus kids’ play areas and an on-site shop. You can also book in for a massage or beauty treatment.
The deluxe lodges offer a real escape, a rural setting close to towns and beaches with plenty to do – or not – depending on how you feel. This is the kind of place you can simply chill out in and spend some quality family time, or use as a base for exploring the scenic local area. We managed a bit of both and left feeling rested and revived.
• Thurston Manor Leisure Park, Innerwick, Dunbar, East Lothian EH42 1SA (01368 840643, www.thurstonmanor.co.uk). There is a range of luxury caravan and lodge accommodation available for hire – short breaks this autumn start from £129. For purchase, pre-owned caravans start from £9,995; new caravans start from £29,995. Pre-owned lodges start from £49,995; new lodges start from £99,995.