When I retired in January 2020, I wanted to treat my family to a special holiday, so we booked to go to Las Vegas and New York. Sadly due to the pandemic, this got cancelled. After some discussion about waiting and rebooking, we decided that none of us knows what may happen in the future. With that in mind, we booked a break to Center Parcs, initially for February 2021, but this also got postponed and we finally managed to get there in October. I went with my husband, our eldest daughter and her friend, and our youngest daughter and her boyfriend. It was a brilliant weekend and well worth the wait.
An Afternoon Of Laughter
We arrived slightly late at Whinfell Foret, due to being stuck in traffic for a while. Once we had checked in, we were straight to the pool, as we had booked a session for the afternoon. The “tropical Paradise” is a large swimming area under a dome. There are slides and chutes, as well as a wave pool and a rapids area. We did spend a fair amount of our time in the outdoor pool, which is a tempting tropical temperature on a fresh autumn day.
We left the pool area a couple of hours later, as we could now make our way to the lodge. Some of us walked up, whilst the others went to bring the car with all our belongings. It seemed like a long walk on that first afternoon, but once we knew our way around the forest paths, the walk seemed to get shorter each time.
The lodge was absolutely spotlessly clean. we quickly allotted the three bedrooms and each one had a bathroom, so we all had our own spaces to retreat to. We unpacked some of our things and then it was off to our next activity – football pool.
The sports area was nice and quiet, so we were soon on the “pool table” and were told we were the last spot of the day, so could stay as long as we wanted. The object of the game is to kick a white ball which then knocks one of the coloured ball into one of the pockets. The same rules as normal pool, but using your feet instead. Sounds simple and in theory it was, but as some of us have no coordination, the ball was off the “table” more than it was on. We played in various combinations of teams and there was a lot of witty banter going on. I laughed so much my sides were aching.
It was then back to the lodge, where we cooked pizzas and snacks for tea, had a few drinks, then played Pictionary Air, which involves drawing items for your team to guess, with the added hurdle that you are drawing in the air and only your team can see what you are drawing. again we laughed all the way through.
It was then off to bed for some rest, ready for the activities the next day
Aerial Challenge And Bowling Fun
The following morning, after a freshly cooked breakfast, we set off to take part in the Aerial Challenge, which is an obstacle course high in the trees, ending with a zip wire back into the village area. we were all booked on to take part, but there was a massive shock for me. As you were being fitted for safety gear, you were then placed on the scales as there is a weight limit. It was here where I was told (thankfully very discreetly) that I was too heavy to take part. I was really disappointed, but also extremely angry with myself for once again allow myself to gain so much weight. However I pulled myself together and became the official photographer for the others taking part.
They all managed to complete the course and I was so proud of my youngest daughter who was terrified of being up so high, but managed to calm her nerves and terror with a little coaxing and encouragement. She was so pleased to have overcome her fear and not let it beat her. It was great to hear her screaming in triumph as she came down the zip wire.
We had a break for a coffee and a walk back to the lodge for lunch, before making our way back to the village centre for our ten pin bowling session. It is a while since we have been bowling, but we soon managed to get back into the swing of things and had an amusing afternoon, mostly taking the mickey out of each other.
We then had another session booked in the pool, so we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on the slides and in the pools
We went back to the lodge for a rest and a shower, as we had booked a meal that evening in the Lakeside Lodge. It was clear that there was a shortage of staff, but the service and food was pretty good, until a very large group arrived and we were virtually left in the lurch. As a result of this we didn’t order any desserts or further drinks and made our way up to the sports bar to play pool, this time on a proper table with cues (not that I’m much better at that)
A Not So Restful Sunday
On the Sunday morning, we had split activities at first. Some of us played table tennis, whilst the others went to the golf driving range. I was the only one that knew how to play and particularly how to score, so it was nice to show the young ones how to do it.
We were then booked in for an archery lesson, so we walked to the outdoor activity centre, where we were given an hours lesson in target archery. We all seemed to get the hang of it fairly quickly and took up the challenges set by the instructor, who pleasant enough, but not quite as funny as he seemed to think he was.
There were a few misses of the target by most of us, resulting in a search for arrows in the grass. There was one slightly hairy moment when the instructor shouted “stop”, just as I had pulled my bow back, and I didn’t know what else to do but let go. Luckily it was an amusing moment rather than causing any harm!
We went back to the lodge for lunch and a few games before a sauna and then getting ready for our evening meal. We had booked “Hucks” which was advertised as an American Diner. The waiter came and told us that we had to book everything on the app and then reeled off a list of things that weren’t available. The food was okay, but not very inspiring and definitely felt like it was mass produced. It was definitely overpriced and a little disappointing.
We then went to the bar in the village centre. I wanted to go into the amusements area, where all the coin operated games are (very childish I know, but I still love to do this). We ordered some drinks and sat in the bar, but it had a very different feel to the rest of our experience of Center Parcs and was more like being in a cheap pub, with children running amok whilst their parents drank and ignored them. We decided to go back to the lodge and have a few drinks in peace.
Swimming And Pancakes
On the Monday morning we had a quick breakfast and packed up our lodge, before heading off for another session in the pool. As it was the first session of the morning, it was really quiet, so we decided that we would try all the slides and rides before they got too busy. It was great to be able to just get on and off them as we wanted without queuing. We also managed to get in the jacuzzi whilst it was quiet. We ended the morning with a nice relaxing float in the warm outdoor pool.
We were all then really hungry. My daughter and her boyfriend were desperate to try the pancake house, so we sent my husband in to charm the hostess into getting us a table. He did a magnificent job and in no time at all we were sat enjoying the pancakes with gorgeous sweet unhealthy toppings.
We then went into the sports centre for a few games of pool before setting off home.
I had an amazing weekend and I am sure that the others enjoyed it too. It was so nice to spend time with our daughters and to see the young people getting on so well. The banter and laughter made the weekend so much fun. Despite it being such a busy, active weekend, I was really tired, but also felt refreshed by the whole experience. I feel so blessed to have these wonderful moments with my family and to make such great memories.