16 January 2016

A weekend in Center Parcs

Last week we spent the weekend with our little ladies and family at Center Parcs Elvedon near Suffolk. My lovely in laws treated us as a Christmas present to a 3 night family break and what an amazing present it was. 4 days of wonderful family time, so many adventures for the little ladies and as much of a break as possible with three small children. 

We stayed in a 3 bedroom woodland villa which has pretty much everything you need, even so we had to take two cars to fit in all the little ladies stuff, pushchairs, scooters, outdoor clothing, swimming kit - the list goes on. The villas are designed with families in mind and consist of open plan self catering living. They are equipped with cots, a children's step to reach the sink/toilet and a high chair. They are spaced well amongst the trees in a beautiful forest setting making you feel that you have got away from it all. The villas surround the village centre, the heart of centre parcs where you'll find the base for most of the activities, the swimming pool and a supermarket, gift shops and whole host of restaurants. 

Check in to your villa is from 3pm but are welcome on site on the day of your break from 10am so we arrived just after lunch and headed straight for the subtropical swimming paradise (swimming pool!) the little ladies were amazed by it, shallow warm water, slides, a pirate ship and toddler splash zone with so much to explore. After 2hrs They didn't want to get out, even Miss Dot was super content. 

We headed to the villa and unloaded the car before tucking in to a yummy pasta bake that Nana had brought with her. After a lot of convincing the little ladies settled down for the night (they were sharing a villa and room with some of their cousins and it was very, very exciting!). We poured a glass of wine , lit a fire and collapsed in a heap! 

The next day we swam first thing in the morning and enjoyed a post swimming treat at 'The Pancake House'. The children's menu is good value. The little ladies had a stack of chocolate pancakes  each and a milkshake in a cute little milk bottle dusted with hundreds and thousands, they couldn't believe their eyes. 

On the way back to the villa we picked up a baguette from the supermarket. I brought lots of other food to make lunch with and snack on with us as it can be quite pricey as a family of 5 otherwise. (I'd recommend taking tea bags, coffee, washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, bin bags and extra toilet rolls with you as these are things you would definitely have to buy as what is provided only lasts the first day or two.) The little ladies were so exhausted from their swim in the morning that they ALL had a nap... And so did I! Something I never do at home as there is too much to do and it felt so good. The girls played with their cousins for the rest of the afternoon in the villa while we pottered around and relaxed. We took some toys and books with us but they were equally happy to sit and watch the squirrels and deer that kept wandering past the patio doors. We then got some fresh air and walked to the outdoor play area to let off some steam before dinner. Miss Dot was in her element and got lots of sling time! 

For dinner we had a family meal (all 16 of us!) in Bella Italia. The food and service were great and there were clean plates all round. There is a small play area in the restaurant which meant the children could get down from the table while we were waiting and then sat beautifully when we were eating. The children's menu had lots of variety and again was great value. It was blissful not to have to cook.

The next day we were back in the pool before lunch and then were treated to another triple nap from the little ladies. It was great to just sit and have a cuppa together when at home if this happened we would be running round like mad people doing jobs. We thought it would be fun to involve the children in some cooking as a bit of an activity, so for tea we made pizzas, everyone really got stuck in and enjoyed rolling their dough and decorating their pizzas. As a special treat we booked a bowling lane for after tea, It was the first time the girls had bowled and they were fascinated, particularly by their bowling shoes! 

It was lovely to see them cheering each other on as their bowling balls rolled at a snails pace down the lane. We had the lane for 45 minutes which was more than enough time. After bowling there as a children's disco which delighted the girls, they boogied away quite happily for an hour before practically falling asleep on the dance floor. There was no trouble getting them to bed and we settled down with Ice cream and a film.  It was a lovely way to spend our last evening. 

We had to vacate the villa by 10am which gave us plenty of time. You can stay and enjoy the facilities after you have checked out so that's exactly what we did. ANOTHER swim and lunch in the poolside cafe before heading home at nap time. We only scratched the surface of all the things a Center Parcs holiday has to offer, next time we go I'd love to try the in house dining takeaway service, the Aqua Sana spa and when the girls are older it would be great to hire some bikes and enjoy the fresh air and some of the other sporting activities, they would LOVE the pony trekking. There is just so much to do to suit everyone and you can do as much or as little as you like. We had the best couple of days making wonderful memories - what more can you want, family time, a change of scene, relaxation and fun for all. We can't wait to go back again soon. In fact at bedtime Miss Boo said 'when I'm a mummy I'm going to take my children to center parcs'; that in itself is review enough! 

Me x

*There are 5 Center Parcs villages across the UK, for more information or to book your break, visit their website HERE.*

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