By Derren Howard
It turns out you don’t have to go that far to relax and get away from it after all.
After a hectic week chasing deadlines, listening to our noisy neighbours and then hearing chapter and verse on the inconclusive general election result - I was more than ready for a few days away.
From Eastbourne, I tapped TN35 4SB into the Sat Nav and in just 40 minutes my wife and I, along with Barney our Cocker Spaniel, arrived at the Dreamlodge, Woodlands Park near Westfield.
We stayed in one of their Signature lodges for three nights and it was tucked away in a quiet corner of a small and well-maintained park.
There are 70 lodges on site and ours, number 11 Lakeview, had a sizable terrace which had views to the trees and the fields beyond and the bonus of a secluded hot tub. The lake was just about visible through the trees and would be more so in late autumn and winter once the leaves fall.
Inside, the accommodation was light, spacious and open planned. It had a master bedroom with ensuite and the guest room also had its own well-appointed bathroom. The kitchen was equipped with everything you need including a dishwasher and washing machine and the comfortable lounge had Freeview, a DVD player, an XBox and even a video player with a selection on VHS movies just for a touch of nostalgia.
We used the lodge as a base to explore a few High Weald walks in and around Westfield. From Vicarage Lane, a quiet street just before the St John The Baptist Church, a walking path takes you into the forest where you can follow tracks that are ideal for running or just walking the dog.
You can also pick up the path from Cottage Lane and turn left to follow the 1066 Country Walk. The route will take you across fields and woodland that skirts the village of Westfield with views down valleys and across fields and then alongside Forge Stream.
Rye, Camber Sands and Hastings are close by and if you wanted to go slightly further afield Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest or Bewl Water, the largest stretch of open water in South East England, are within comfortable driving distance.
The Plough Inn Gastro-pub, The Wild Mushroom restaurant and the New Inn are very close but on the way back from our walks we’d pick up supplies for the BBQ from Freshfield Farm Shop.
Even with my questionable skills over the hot coals the sausages and steaks turned out pretty well, testament to the quality ingredients despite my best efforts to cremate them.
We were lucky with the weather and the terrace proved a real winner. The sun hit the breakfast table in the morning, it shone on the terrace throughout afternoon and the last of the evening rays filtered through the trees at the back and set on the hot tub.
Even if the British weather does turn for the worse the living space, which has central heating throughout and a fine looking heater that perfectly imitated a log burner, is so comfortable that pottering around, reading, playing their board games or just eating and drinking is far from a chore. It was a relaxing experience for all and Barney certainly made the most of the dog friendly environment.
He looked well at ease as he rolled on to his back, let out a big sigh and then fully stretched out on the chaise longue in the master bedroom - it’s a tough old business being a Cocker Spaniel on a mini-break at Woodlands Park.
Derren and Maria Howard were guests of the Dream Lodge Group, Woodlands Park.
The Dream Lodge Group has been a family run business for 50 years. They have eight parks throughout the UK, covering Devon, Cornwall, Cambridgeshire, Berkshire, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and East Sussex. Two more are on the way as one will soon be in the Brecon Beacons and the other is due for completion shortly in Exmoor.
The lodges come in four different styles from Luxury, Deluxe, Signature and the top of the range Autograph Lodge.
The Signature features Egyptian Cotton sheets and super king size beds, making the stay all the more comfortable.
Lodges at Woodlands Park start from £587 for a *break, based on 4 people sharing.
*Break prices are for either a 4-night midweek break, or a 3-night weekend break. Check in times 4pm – 6pm.
**All lodges come with: fresh pillows, linen and towels; iron and ironing board; Freeview TV; DVD Player and DVDs; BBQ; central heating; vacuum cleaner and mop; outside furniture; kitchen, utensils, crockery and glasses; car parking.
For further information on Dream Lodge Holidays and to book, please visit www.dreamlodgeholidays.co.uk or call 01279 905 881