The Best Holiday We’ve Had Yet
Today’s post title is fresh from the mouth of Himself when we came home from our recent break at Center Parcs, Longleat. For once I agree with him and here’s why, it’s an unbiased account of our long weekend.
As Longleat isn’t too far from our home town, we left at about 10am and arrived at midday. We had booked an Executive two bedroom lodge which was situated slap bang in the middle of the site. As we have been several times now, I know roughly where I want to stay and spend a bit of time looking at the map and accommodation numbers when I book, so I get where I want to be.
You can’t access your accommodation until 3pm on arrival day but there’s plenty to do. We went to the small supermarket on site and bought a picnic lunch. Then we took the girls to one of the outdoor play areas for a run around. The Longleat site has a couple of good play areas with a range of equipment. Lala always like throwing herself at things recommended for children 5 and up because she doesn’t care about rules.
Just before 3, I went back to the car park and drove the car to our accommodation. You can park very close to your lodge and unload quickly. You’re asked to take your car back to the main car park afterwards. I like the feeling of leaving my car and knowing that I’m not going to be driving for three days.
Our lodge was a good size, open plan with a breakfast bar the girls loved, two en-suite bedrooms and small patio area with a barbecue. On the patio doors were sign that we were near open water so we took the girls for a little walk and found one of the many ponds and a pair of friendly ducks.
Much as I love my family, I had accidentally booked myself a massage at the Aqua Spa. It was an hour of bliss. My therapist asked me where my main areas of tension were and instead of giving me a full body massage, spent more time concentrating on my back and shoulders, perfect.
I’d like to say that following my massage and nice walk back to our lodge, my children had had their tea and went to bed like little angels! Err no, they were over excited and running wild as they had seen two deer on the patio. It took hours for them to finally go to sleep. (Note to self – children sharing a bedroom is not a good idea).
Woken by the girl at 5:10am! It was all too exciting. CBeebies isn’t on that early so Mummy had to resort to the electronic babysitter and her phone, whilst at the same time being grateful for free Wi-Fi. By 8am the girls needed to be doing something so Himself was ousted from bed and we all went to the park-with-the-yellow-slide. Mummy hates that slide because Lala made her go down the slide with Lala on her lap! Slide was not made for Mummy in a variety of ways. By 9.30am Mummy and Daddy were flagging so off to find Daddy a coffee and Mummy a bottle of coke (I’m one of those strange people who doesn’t drink tea or coffee).
10am, off to do an activity. This year I wanted a special memory for our family so we went to get our hand imprints cast. It didn’t take very long but Sue in the craft area was very chatty with the girls and made the activity fun. The girls chose the paint colours and frame and when we went to pick it up on Monday it looked very professionally done.
Our next stop that morning was the Pancake House for brunch. Pancake House is not for anyone watching their weight or diabetic, it’s a place to give in to temptation and go for it. Himself is a big fan of savoury pancakes; bacon and cheese. I like American stacks covered in maple syrup or the one with cookie dough in the batter covered in ice-cream, chocolate sauce and bits of flake. Just writing about it is making me dribble. Because the weather was so nice, we sat outside and looked over the tree tops enjoying the view.
Our second booked activity of the weekend was just for the girls; Crazy Science. We spent 45 minutes participating in a range of science experiments with a group of 10 children and their parents. We made our on snot and turned it into a bouncy ball, we stabbed a pencil through a bag of water without spilling a drop, we made our own erupting volcano and lastly the girls got to stand in a giant bubble. Lala managed to fall over during the bubble and get soaked from the waist down but you can’t have everything.
A massive draw of Center Parcs is the swimming pool, “you don’t have to pay you know”, is the first thing Bebe said to everyone when talking about it. It’s huge with indoor and outdoor pools, several slides and a café bar. Whilst we were there they were working on the children’s pool so we had to stick to the main pool with the girls and get them to wear the free buoyancy aids (neither of the girls swim very well yet as we haven’t gone in for swimming lessons). Bebe is a big fan of the wave machine and was very excited to be jumping in the waves.
Saturday drew to a close with a trip to Huck’s American diner. They have a children’s buffet which takes the stress out of ordering something for the girls. They had a choice of fish fingers, chicken nuggets, sausages, baked beans, peas, pasta and carrot and cucumber sticks. Most of the catering outlets at Center Parcs do meal deals for children that include a main course, dessert and a drink. Himself and I sat down to beer, wine, a giant burger and some tempura prawns.
Bed time was slightly less traumatic than the night before, as the girls were so obviously exhausted from all the walking and swimming they had done (yes I know you can hire bikes to get around but I like walking).
It’s not a day of rest if you have small children. Back to the park with the yellow slide for the kids, Starbucks for Himself. Mummy decided to risk some of the swings and slides again because, well, why not? And then Mummy went to buy donuts – they were Krispy Kreme so enough said.
Sunday’s booked activity was all about the girls again: Mini Trek. If I’m honest Bebe is probably only just short enough to do this but Lala loves it and so does Bebe. Mini Trek is a high ropes course for little ones. They get to wear a harness and walk around a course about a metre off the ground. As they go round the children collect pieces of a puzzle. They also get a prize at the end but this is a surprise. My girls are pretty fearless when it comes to climbing and balancing so this was good opportunity for them to test themselves and show off.
At lunch time Mummy sneakily went back to Aqua Sana to get her nails done. Mummy’s reasoning was that Daddy and the girls could have an ice-cream and another play at the park and by then Mummy would be done. And Mummy was right.
Back to the lodge and we braved the barbecue. We’re not barbecue people normally but our lodge had a small one, the supermarket sold disposable ones as well as giant marshmallows and chocolate to melt. We’re still not barbecue people, as my children pointed out, some of it was burnt, however I can toast a good marshmallow.
Afternoon and back to the swimming pool. Mummy is conned by the children into buying them goggles and then spends 90 minutes watching them not really putting their heads under, taking the goggles off and then begging Mummy to put them on again. Himself opted not to get wet this time so just got to sit on a chair and nod off (he might also have got a little bit of sun stroke, as it was a very warm day and he didn’t have a drink – oops!)
Bed time was not traumatic because Mummy and Himself had beer and ordered takeaway.
Going Home day 🙁 This is the point in any holiday where, even if your children have hated every minute of the holiday (which they hadn’t), they will then tell you that they absolutely do not want to leave. Cue tears and “you’ve upset me Mummy!” said with venom. I was consoled by the fact the boys in the lodge next door were doing exactly the same to their parents – we exchanged wry smiles as we loaded our cars.
As long as you vacate your lodge by 10am, you can stay on site for as long as you like. We went back to the park-with-the-yellow-slide for some more fun and burning of energy. Then we finished the holiday with a trip to buy a box of donuts to take home.
It was a great weekend!
* Please note this post is entirely my own views and I have not been asked or paid (sad face) to write this post. I know a lot of people feel that Center Parcs is expensive but we save up for this long weekend once a year, as we know our children will love it and have always asked to go back. Also Mummy had a nervous breakdown at a well-known large caravan site 3 years ago and has issues with them now. Center Parcs just has a greater feeling of space.