02/04/2019
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Stratford Parks - Leisure lifestyle beside the Avon

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Just a mile from Stratford-upon-Avon and with a water taxi to take you there along the River Avon, you’ll discover Stratford Parks offering a wide choice of types and styles of holiday home.
There are three parks which adjoin, linked by a footbridge over the Avon which runs through the parks. This location provides a multiplicity of attraction. Theatres, restaurants, events the year round and river boat trips at Stratford-upon-Avon; the villages of the Cotswolds a few miles away, golf courses, stately homes and gardens. This region has it all in spades. You could spend all of your leisure time here and go to a different place every day. Or you could relax and unwind at your holiday home on one of the Stratford Parks (Riverside, Avon and Rayford), go river fishing, perhaps, or take a walk into Stratford – or just sit on your decking enjoying the mild weather for which this central-England location is well known.

The parks have a spectacular hub of activity, constructed from Russian timber and of a design inspired by watercraft, incorporating prows, portholes and beams. This is the restaurant and bar complex, called the Riverside. Within it, the main restaurant is called The Galley Kitchen and there’s a newly refurbished bar delightfully called The Muddy Oar. Outside, on lawns that border the river, there’s a summer eaterie-bar, called On the Banks, open from May; paninis, ice creams and snacks are on the menu here. A programme of entertainment including live music goes on during the main season in and around this complex. 

On the day of our visit in March, though, The Galley Kitchen was the main attraction and it was lunchtime. We picked beer battered cod and chips and tuna and red onion pizza. We could have had ribeye steak or asparagus and pea risotto or swordfish steak among the many other temptations to spoil us for hoice. Eating overlooking the river and the lawns, this elevated restaurant creates a feeling that you are on a boat. It’s smart, rustic and has a lively atmosphere.We are here not just to munch lunch, though, we’re here to talk to some of the couples who own holiday homes here.

Sue and Paul Currall
Sue is here to talk to us; it’s a Friday – Paul’s working so will be joining her for the weekend. They live at Tamworth, barely an hour from the park. I wanted to know how they came to buy a holiday home here. “Our niece bought a lodge here and invited us to visit. We fell in love with the park. That was three years ago. Then we stayed for a weekend in their lodge and decided we wanted to buy a holiday home too.” The process began…

“All the lodges were sold at the time but we saw a holiday caravan we liked on the parks’ showground. We also saw a plot we really liked. The caravan that was on that plot wasn’t as nice in our opinion as the one on the showground. So the park team moved the caravan off the plot – and the one we wanted onto it! That was two years ago.

“My only regret is that we didn’t buy sooner,” says Sue. Incredibly, until Sue and Paul discovered Stratford Parks, Sue had never been to Stratford.
“Now, we’re here every weekend. We’ve made friends easily and this place is so relaxing.
Paul has a new hobby; he rents an allotment nearby, Sue explains: “It’s only £34 a year! He grows broad beans, tomatoes and all sorts of other vegetables.

And Sue has discovered that she loves Stratford. “We take the river taxi, or sometimes walk into the town. There are lots of festivals and markets – among them a motoring festival, Victorian market, and Christmas markets.
Sue and Paul’s holiday home has become a family focus. They have three daughters and a grandson all living in the Midlands and they love to visit. “Anyone thinking of buying a holiday home just needs to come to this park and experience what it’s like. Spend a weekend here (you can rent holiday homes). That’s all it takes to get you hooked.

Alan and Gail Street  and son Ryan
A lot of owners are within an hour’s drive from the park and the Street family is no exception; they live at Great Barr in Birmingham. They’ve grabbed a long weekend here because it’s an inset day at Ryan’s school. This is their second year of holiday home ownership here and it all happened because of some paving stones. Alan explains: “Gail’s aunt has a holiday home here and we came to lay some paving stones for her.”
That day set the buying process in motion for Gail and Alan and a  BK Bluebird caravan became theirs in no time. They were lucky to find a pre-owned home – these get snapped up quickly. 

“We come here as often as we can,” says Alan. He is a keen fisherman and the couple also enjoy walking (or taking the park’s river-taxi) into Stratford to explore the many bars and restaurants. “The park has all the facilities you need and Stratford is a mile away for everything else,” says Gail. “Last year, our first year here, we did a lot of work outside the holiday home, making it our own,” says Gail. They lead us outside to see not one but two patios – one at ground level. (“That’s the barbecues patio!”) and another on raised decking; that’s the sun terrace, with smart rattan seating and a table. Their plot is on the edge of the park, backing onto fields: “It’s secluded and quiet – our very own bit of paradise.”

Barry and Lynn Fulford
Bournville is home for Barry and Lynn and they’re in their fourth year of holiday home ownership at Stratford Parks. “I retired seven years ago,” says Barry. “Lynn’s favourite place is Stratford and we started talking about getting a caravan. “We had a week in a rental lodge here to try it out.” 

“The following year we decided this was for us,” says Lynn. The holiday home lifestyle is far from just relaxing for the Fulfords. Barry is a fisherman – indeed, an expert, having won river championships. He doesn’t fish competitively at present; simply enjoying the excellent Avon fishing. Barry has bought a kayak and goes far up the Avon in search of fish and also, in the silence of this quiet stretch of river, observes kingfishers, herons, cormorants and more. Lynn goes to exercise classes at Stratford Leisure Centre and they both play table tennis there. “We spend more time here than at home,” says Lynn.

Contact Stratford Parks 01789 790400
stratfordparks.co.uk 

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