Last weekend we overloaded the car, piled in four children, two adults, lots of wine and headed off to center parcs at Longleat. The children were that excited as they have been on a count down for the past two months. It was their second Center Parcs break as we went last year just before Erin’s operation. Therefore they had high expectations and couldn’t wait to try even more activities. We were hoping for sun as it rained non stop last time, not that it spoilt the fun.
On arriving at our accommodation the older two stripped to swim suits and were out the door before we had even unloaded (this is an advantage of having teenagers). Waiting for us in our lodge was a family hamper welcome pack. The hamper was full of more than just basics, it included eggs, sausages and all the trimmings for a fry up. We had welcome drinks including wine, beer, squash, fizzy and water – everyone was catered for and I was rather surprised by the vast amount included. Bread, crisps, cookies and made up our lunch time snacks before the planned meal we had booked for Saturday night. I had cooked up a big bolognaise that just needed to be reheated for Friday’s meal which I recommend as it means less cooking to do on your break. We had chosen to take Northern Mum as our plus ones! Like us they have had a tough year health wise and lots of playing and fun for the children was just what the doctor ordered. Therefore we grabbed extra chairs from their lodge and eleven of us tucked into a lovely meal – even if my portion control was a bit generous. I have no idea how much pasta eleven people need!
Pre cooking also means that you can have a treatment booked for when you arrive! I slipped off and had my pre arranged lime and ginger scrub. My legs haven’t yet left the comfy confines of jeans this summer. Therefore having my lovely therapist sloughing off the dead skin was lovely. I felt really refreshed afterwards and couldn’t believe what a difference it made to my skin. I did see comment about not drinking for six hours after treatments to get the best results – I failed on two accounts as I was given a glass of champayne after my treatmet and invitied to relax in a soft room adorned with loungers and blankets – a little slice of heaven. Secondly Jane met me walking back to the lodge with a large glass of prosecco in hand!
The evening brought lots of giggles, drinking and a very late night! The children enjoyed chilling out – the littles loving the chalkboard in our lodges. However we up at a decent time for a fry up cooked by Jane before we all headed off swimming. Swimming with so many children was fun and they whooped down the rapids and even jumped in the freezing plunge pool. Dylan gained confidence in the water and was soon swirling around in the rapids and even trying the slides. Then it was a quick lunch before dropping the two littles off at the princess party that was going to entertain them for three hours. After filling in the medical forms (we had alot to write) the girls were settled whilst we drove down to the farm for our horse riding adventure.
The horse-riding was quite relaxing once we had gotten over the initial nerves of getting on a horse. The kids thought it very funny when Liam’s horse decided to have a massive wee! Although we did enjoy the riding I think next time I would choose something a little more adventurous. The horses just walked on in single file for half an hour before turning back. We were beginners but there wasn’t much challenge – apart from getting on and off the horse! Having done the aerial challenge last time I should have stuck to something more adrenlin based!
Once back we collected the girls who had had the best time. Both left with party bags, faces painted and were tired out. Erin had won a dancing competition too. It was heartwarming to see two little girls who this time last couldn’t walk due to DDH and operations, together they held hands and kept saying that they were best friends. They even compared scars – not too competitive then!
We then went for our evening meal at the Grand Cafe which was divine. There was live music playing and the playground next door meant the kids were able to nip out between courses. The menu had something for everyone – although the adults all went for a fillet steak. There was a children’s menu too and they were happy for Dylan to eat off the children’s menu but have a starter off the main menu too. The puddings were lovely and the drink kept flowing. I have definately discovered that fizzy rose or prosecco keeps the hang overs away – another top tip!
After a slightly earlier night, we woke up (with no hangovers – result!!) and Jane and I were so kind as we gave the men full responsibility ofall the children, allowing them to spend some quality time with their children on Fathers Day whilst we swanned off to the Aqua Sana for three hours. It was pure bliss as we tried out all the different experience rooms. The steam rooms were well fragranced, there were heated beds and also water beds in which I could easily lost total track of everything and slept for hours!
We all met up again at the pancake house as I promised the children we could go again after sampling them last year. Then it was time for a quick play in the adventure playground before packing up and heading home. The adventure park bought out the child in all of us as we all tried the zip wire. Obviously I fell off which was luckily not captured on camera! Due to teaching were we not able to make use of the last night but it didn’t really matter. It was great to have the lodge all day Sunday and not have to pack up until we were ready to leave.
We absolutely had a blast at Center Parcs as the pictures show and I am so glad that through Tots100 I was selected as an ambassador. I think it is an amazing place to spend time with family and friends. I just wish we could do it all again!
Disclosure: The visit to center parcs was complimentary for the purpose of the ambassador programme.