IF you head to a holiday park that's gone into administration, you
might expect to find it all doom and gloom.
But that wasn't what I found at all when I took my boys to check out
Billing Aquadrome near Northampton, which has been running for almost 80 years.
When the park announced it was up for sale after going into administration in July, it assured caravan owners and holiday-goers
that it would be business as usual this summer.
The administrators at Grant Thornton UK LLP have said they are confident to find an way to keep the site going, and having spent a day seeing all it's got to offer, I'd be surprised if it's not snapped up,
You get a great family break for not a lot of money.
A glamping pod for four costs less than £100 for a weekend later this
month, while caravans and lodges start at around £265.
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But day visitors can just pay £5 for car parking and enjoy the site's amenities, as most of it is pay-as-you-go.
Our first stop was the small indoor soft play inside the entertainment
It's free to use and gives parents a chance to have a drink or a bite to eat while the kids play.
There was a free exotic animals session taking place while we were there and there's usually music at the weekends, as well as special seasonal events like fireworks or a Santa's grotto.
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Circus skills, kids' shows and bingo are among the activities on offer.
Then we went for a wander around Willow Lake, enjoying ice creams from the small onsite convenience store as we strolled past the crazy golf, which costs £16 per family of four.
It was lovely seeing families passing us with their fishing rods and youngsters on their way to the playground.
Hitting the funfair, we found it to be good value – £30 will buy you
20 tokens, which works out at £1.50 a ride, and there's plenty to
choose from, including trampolines, a rollercoaster, a waltzer and dodgems, as well as kiddie rides for the under fives.
It kept my three boys entertained for an hour or so and there's also an arcade and a miniature train that runs around the lake.
The campsite was packed with tents and caravans, so it's still proving
popular despite the news about the site going into administration.
The onsite pool looked good but wasn't open to day visitors when we went, as it is only for holidaymakers in the peak summer season.
The rest of the year, you can pay £15 for a family of four to have a splash about.
Billing Aquadrome became a holiday park at the end of WWII, less than 10 years after Butlin's established the first British holiday camp in Skegness.
We've often driven past the signs on our way elsewhere and I've always wondered what it was like.
With free entertainment and soft play, it's good for families on a budget as it seems like the kind of place where you can spend as much or as little as you like.
My friend who was staying on-site used to come with her family when she was growing up and despite decades having passed since then, she says the family-friendly feel really reminded her of brilliant childhood breaks.
If a weekend away at the seaside isn't on the cards right now, this site in the centre of the country might just be the next best thing.
A spokesperson for Billing Aquadome told Sun Online Travel: "The park is currently being run as normal but in administration.
"We are moving forward to refinance and take Billing Aquadome back into the fold as part of a full restructure."
A spokesperson for the administrators at Grant Thornton UK LLP commented: "Shortly following their appointment, the Joint Administrators commenced a sales process for the sale of the Billing Aquadrome.
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"Numerous parties expressed an interest, and we are in discussions and negotiations with a shortlisted few.
"The Joint Administrators remain confident of achieving a positive outcome for stakeholders and it remains ‘business as usual’ for the sites involved."
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