Sunday, 25 March 2012

Back from our holidays!

I'm back from my first ever visit to Center Parcs.  I'm always honest on my blog (and on yours, when I comment) so I'll start by saying that I really wasn't expecting much from the place.  I imagined an overpriced Travelodge in Nottingham with a sports centre attached.  

I loved every minute.  Of course, the weather helped - we were treated to beautiful spring sunshine every single day.  

We hired bikes as soon as we got there (£25 for the week - take your own if you have them!) and I loved the simplicity of travelling everywhere by bicycle.  (Although I did discover that my cycling skills are not quite so sharp in the dark after a few glasses of wine and a huge plate of nachos in the pub-style Sports Cafe...)

We played badminton every morning and followed it up with a Starbucks coffee on the terrace with the sun on our [red/sweaty] faces, listening to the birds sing and watching the grey squirrels go about their business.  

We were on holiday with my parents, my sis, her husband and my adorable little niece and we all shared a lodge.  It was newly decorated (I think, actually, it was newly built) and a really good size.  There were four bedrooms each with its own flat-screen TV, wooden balcony with furniture and a decent en-suite with double sinks, jacuzzi baths and monsoon showers.  Our particular lodge also had an open fire, a mains-fired barbecue on the terrace and our very own outdoor sauna!  We had a games room, too, with a pool table and PS3 which came in handy for the evenings if you fancied staying in*.  

I loved being Auntie Nicki for the week.  Particular highlights (that all Mums probably take for granted) included snuggly cuddles at 6am each morning, hiccuping giggles at the silly jokes I made and her absolute, unwavering concentration on our little game with the Sylvanian Families toy that I took as a mid-week surprise for her.  Cute as a button.

Part of the wall in our lodge painted with blackboard paint  - a bowl of coloured chalks was provided.

We also played a fair bit of table tennis.  The husband was chuffed (and surprised) to discover that I'm a bit of a demon with a ping pong bat.  I did beat him at a game on our honeymoon but he considered that a fluke.  Drew is amazingly good at table tennis so I didn't beat him but I put up a bloody good fight and felt a bit like the cool girl in the K-Swiss ad.  Ha!

Of course, Center Parcs is well-known for its swimming facilities.  I did give the rapids and one of the slides a go but, to be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed.  The wave machine was tame and the slides were short and, dare I say it, a bit boring.  However, we paid for a cabana for the afternoon which gave us our very own wooden little hut with sunloungers, magazines, TV, fresh towels and cold drinks.  It was lovely to have somewhere to escape; to dry off, relax with a coffee and a waffle and watch Baby Jake...   Also, my Mum's experience of the rapids will stay with me for the rest of my life.  She was hilarious.  Very embarrassing but hilarious too.  She disappeared for ages - my Dad had to go back to fetch her and the lifeguard had to yell across the pool to her (he called her 'my love' which tickled me; he was about 19!).  I stood by him laughing my head off, almost to the point of wheezing, when she blinkingly emerged from the final - quite fierce - waterfall, very panicky with puffed out cheeks and her hair pasted down to her forehead looking exactly like a hairy swimming cap.  Makes me laugh just thinking about it - sorry Mum.

We girls spent Wednesday afternoon at a willow weaving class**.  It was ace.  In an hour and a half we each made a willow teepee for the garden.

We did manage to whack each other a few times with unruly bits of damp willow (it is soaked in cold water for a few hours before the class to make it malleable) and my Mum was embarrassing yet again when she accidentally whipped the oldest lady in the class (who let out a surprised yelp) but all in all it was a very civilised activity and I can definitely recommend it.  In fact, I'm up for doing more of it.  I'd like to make hearts and wreaths next.  

Izzie had a fantastic time. The place really is great for kids and families (I know, that's the point). 

She took part in tots bowling and tots tennis whilst we were there and then went on a pedalo with her dad on the lake.  There are parks a-plenty and a little man-made beach which was quite popular.  (It was packed out and this was March.  I imagine it's horrendously busy in the summer.)

So, a fab time had by all and I'm hoping it will become an annual event.  I've come home looking and feeling much healthier and fresher - I feel as though I've blown the cobwebs away ready for spring.  

Have a great week! 



*These lodges are quite expensive in the school holidays but because we stayed off-peak and shared the cost between three couples we managed to get amazing value for money.  

**You do have to pay for activities when there so it's worth bearing this in mind before you go - the willow weaving class was £16.  I thought this was pretty good value for money but I do think that to properly experience Center Parcs you should really pack in the activities, which obviously mounts up.  Definitely take your own bikes when you go - it's super-safe to cycle around as no cars are allowed in the park except on the two changeover days.  Next time I will be trying the watersports - the double kayaks look like fun - and I'll take my tennis racquet too.  


  1. Hi Nicki! Wow what a lovely week you have had! I've really enjoyed reading your post - and it really has changed my image of Centre Parks; - i too have always thought the same as you before reading your post, i will certainly be showing my hubby this tomorrow and looking in to it as we are looking for somewhere this year which has everything on site so we won't have any traveling around, as our little boy will only be 9 months old. I'm sure our 7 year old daughter wil love it! I love the idea of the willow weaving class, and the little touches like the blackboard in the lodge..just lovely! xx

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  2. Glad you enjoyed it! It's a great place to just escape for a while.

    Gemma x

  3. You really did have gorgeous weather for it! x

  4. It sounds like you had an amazing time Nicki, and yes absolutely gorgeous weather for it! I've only ever been to Centre Parcs on a day trip but have maybe thought about going for a longer stint. It actually looks fab, will have to look into it a bit more. Jenny xx

  5. It looks like you had a lot of fun and of course the weather was brilliant for outdoor fun. x

  6. Wow this looks fantastic! I have always heard of people going to centreparcs but never tried it!

    Can I be very cheeky and ask how much the lodge came to per adult? xxx

  7. Its sounds really fun. I have to be honest I alsways imagined them to be like Butlins with dodgy accommodation and iffy activities. I would like to give it a go. Did you get your sleep patterns sorted out? Lily. xxx

  8. Glad you had a great time :) Been to a couple of Centre Parcs over the years and enjoyed our visits too :) love your shoes sweetie, have a great week

    Bee happy x
    Have a delicious day!

  9. nice blog dear!!!follow u!!!i've a new post on my blog...i hope to have your opinion...kisses

  10. you really did enjoyed your holiday here....


  11. It sounds wonderful dear!!!! My folks live right by another Center Parcs, so I've never bothered to go. Also because of the cost. But it looks and sounds like it was amazing. Your little niece is such a pretty girl. She reminds me of Mary in Three Men and a Little Lady (this is one of my and my sis's fave films which we quote too much!!!)
    So glad you had fun, willow weaving sounds right up my street.
    Welcome back, we've missed you!!
    x x x x

  12. Sounds like you all had fantastic fun - you really can't beat a multi generational family holiday! Linda xxx

  13. HEllo :o) welcome back!
    Sounds like you had a fab time, the willow weaving class looked and sounded fun too.
    oh your poor mum ;o)
    love jooles x

  14. hey Nikki
    We LOVE center parcs - no cars, worn out boys, den's not to like? (cleggy would add 'too many other people' to that rhetorical question...but you can't have it all Cleggy.)
    It can be expensive (especially if you go for the posh lodge!!!) but we've always felt we've got our moneys worth.
    I love the story of your mum. Last time we went we had my brothers pregnant wife with us - who had been advised not to go on the slides. As we were relaxing by the pool we SAW HER on a slide. With our own eyes. She denied it completely - and I love her for that!
    nice to see you over at mine...Ned is a big climber - the baking trays were small fry! Found him in my handbag yesterday... thank goodness I hadn't picked it up and taken in out!
    fee x

  15. Sounds like a perfect place for a family holiday...lots to do and plenty of fun and laughter!
    Enjoy the wonderful sunshine while it lasts. :0)

  16. What a great holiday, and how lovely that you all got to share the experience. I just wish Center Parcs had been an option when my big kids were littlies, but if there were any then I hadn't heard of them. Now it's just the two of us and the dog's holidaying - we've been far too embarrassing for our lot to want to holiday with us since they were 16 or so, I mean we still hold hands in public, gross ;D - we like quiet little self-catering cottages in out of season Suffolk. But I can see that Center Parcs may well be in my future when I eventually hit granny-hood - eek, scary thought!

  17. hi looks like you had a lovely time , we have a centre parcs about half hour away my daughter has been a few times and loves it ,i have been for a spa day and really loved that and your niece looks so sweet and looks like she is having a great time agree with gem looks like mary from 3 men and a little girl xx

  18. Ahhhh Nicki, that sounds as if it was a real tonic! We've never ventured to Center Parks either... for exactly the same reasons as you. We're not exactly sporty either so this has put us off but I do think we should give it a go one day. I did giggle at your Mum in the water thingy-me-jiggy! That would be me! I seem to be a constant source of embarrassment to my two girls... but I must admit I quite enjoy it!! Teehee! I love your laces!! So nice to have you back posting! We've just got back from a long weekend so it is lovely to catch up on blogland this evening :D especially my fav ones...yours being one I rush to read first! Lol

    Hope you have a great week lovely x

    Jo x x x

  19. Glad to hear you had a good time there!
    It really is a good place to go and relax!
    Ahhh so funny about your mum in the rapids, I'm presuming she didn't return to them? Reminds me of when I was there and the wave machine was turned on and I had no idea, before I knew it I was under the water with my hands flapping about in the air for a good few minutes, catching a breath every now and then. My friend then pushed me closer to the edge where I could reach the floor but before I knew it, she pulled me back in, explaining the waves had moved my bikini top out of place and I had to sort it out before I got out the pool. MORTIFYING. Oh God, never again.
    I only took part in one activity while I was there, but reading your post makes me want to do a few more if/when I do go back :)
    Your teepee looks really good as well!

  20. I am yet to venture to Centre Parks, this is a lovely review!

    Your accommodation sounds amazing! I have heard it is very expensive! Obviously pays to go out of season!

    By the way your niece is adorable!

    Glad you all had a good time!