11 November 2007

Center Parcs

Is it really a week since I last posted here? Holidays always go so much quicker than a normal working week!

Monday: The drive down to Suffolk was much easier than I had feared it would be - the fog had all cleared by the time the sun came up and the traffic, although very heavy at times, was a lot kinder to us that I had expected. The journey took us just over 3 hours but that was mainly due to a traffic jam on the last couple of miles of the trip. As luck would have it the traffic hold up was a blessing in disguise as we ended up following Neil, Susan and Chloe into the car park.

Once we had parked the cars, we all set off to explore the village and to find our home for the week. That’s when we hit the first minor problem - the villa we had been allocated was still in use! Back to the reception desk to find out what was going on. After a short delay we were informed there had been a mix up with the bookings and that we were now in a different villa - the new one turned out to be in a much nicer location too.

Our home for the week.

As we couldn’t get into the villa until 3:00PM, we had plenty of time to look around the village square, fit in a second breakfast and try to get a feel for the layout of the forest trails and walkways. By the time darkness fell, I just about had the place worked out.

In the evening, Lynda and I ate in the covered courtyard outside the Italian restaurant - a pasta buffet consisting of four different pasta courses and a whole load of salad. I skipped the seafood dish! (Fish needs to be wrapped in batter, have a heap of chips next to it and some mushy peas for me to be interested!) To finish off a rather nice meal we forced ourselves to have a huge slice of Coffee and Walnut cake each! Once back at the villa it was time for another couple of beers before heading off to bed.

Tuesday: Started the day with breakfast on the go - a gorgeous sausage cob for me and a bacon and cheese wrap for Lynda, both from the supermarket in the village square. By the time we had polished off breakfast it was straight into the swimming dome! When we had first arrived we didn’t think that the pool area looked too big compared to the Sherwood Forest village, thankfully we were wrong. The main pool was a good size and there were also two outdoor pools, two waterslides, the outdoor rapids and a single short, but very fast, straight slide. With all that lot to go at we spent most of the day in the swimming dome!

Inside the swimming dome.

We did manage to drag ourselves out of the water by late afternoon and then, after a quick shower and change of clothes, we headed back to the “beach” by the main lake for the evening's firework display. The whole village square was in party mode for the evening - there were stilt walkers, a Samba band and dancers, stalls selling glow-sticks, soup, a hog roast, an outdoor bar (I didn’t need that - I took a few cans of beer with me!) and a noodle bar. I can’t comment on the quality of the pork cobs as we didn't try them but the chicken noodles were great! Oh, and the fireworks were pretty good too!

Fireworks by the lake.

As Neil, Susan and Chloe hadn’t eaten at the beach we all headed off to Huck’s, the American diner, after the fireworks had finished. They all had a full meal whilst Lynda just had a pudding! I somehow managed to fit in a huge plate full of potato skins and chilli, and a few more beers! Lynda took the opportunity to have a cocktail, something she always does at least once at Center Parcs.

Wednesday: A slow and relaxing day. Lynda had a “Frangipani Body Nourish Wrap” at the spa! It sounded like something you’d eat to me but I’m told it was a beauty treatment that involved Lynda being coated in scented oils and then wrapped in tin foil! A bit like a Christmas turkey but without the oven I guess! Whilst Lynda was marinating in oils, I watched Chloe on the indoor climbing wall.

I met Lynda in the Country Club after her treatment where we had coffee and cakes, or in my case two cakes. Most of the afternoon was then spent chilling out in front of the TV. Neil, Susan, Chloe and I had an hour or so in the pool area in the early evening before we all went to Hugo’s restaurant at night. I think this was the best meal of the week - excellent food, pleasant relaxing atmosphere and a very nice bottle of wine.

Thursday: I was out of bed long before everyone else so I took myself off for a full-cooked breakfast in the Sports Café. I chose the café as it was by far the nearest place that was doing breakfast - big mistake! In the time it took to have my order taken and the food brought out to me, I could have walked all the way to the Country Club, eaten breakfast and walked back again! To me, an hour to get a cooked breakfast is pushing it just a little too far - and it’s not as if they were busy as there were only four tables seated including myself! Lynda and I then spent the whole day in the swimming dome.

Me, being a big kid!

Another little tradition that we have picked up over the years of going to Center Parcs is the pick and mix sweets - we always bring a big bag home each. This year was no exception and we somehow managed to both finish up with £4.37 worth of different sweets - I still have plenty left, Lynda has eaten all of hers!

Now, Thursday evening’s meal. We had planned to eat in Bella Italia but after waiting for almost an hour and still not being seated, and also seeing just how slow the table service was, we decided to go to Huck’s Diner again instead. We started with a plate full of potato skins to share and then it was a case of burgers all round and boy, were the burgers round! Once we had finished them we were all close to bursting! By the time we got back to the villa it was getting quite late so it was a case of a quick beer and then off to bed.

Friday: As this was our last day the first thing to do was get the cars packed and then go in search of breakfast. No mistakes today, it was straight to the Country Club! The service was very fast, the food great, so no problems there. Next stop was the swimming dome and we all spent the morning on the water slides, rapids and just messing around in the main pool.

In the afternoon Lynda and I had to say goodbye to everyone else as we had a three hour spa session booked - the perfect way to end the week! The favourite rooms for me had to be the Turkish Hammam and the Balinese Multi Steam Bath. The rest of the spa was great but those two just had the edge. Lynda found the water bed very much to her liking and I think she would be there still, if I hadn’t fetched her off it!

That left us with just one last thing to do before we set off for home - The Pancake House! By now, it was almost 5:30PM and we were getting hungry. There was no way we would be home much before 9:00PM so a meal before we left was a priority. One large size savoury pancake each, followed by one slightly smaller sweet pancake each and we were ready to hit the road!

So, we’ve now visited all four of the Center Parcs villages in the UK. Would I make the long journey to Suffolk again? Maybe, but not for a few years. As Sherwood Forest is less than an hour away I can’t see the point in spending all the extra time driving, and the extra fuel money, on going anywhere else but Nottingham for a while. It was a great week though!

More photos from the week HERE!


  1. Monday-
    Why did you have to mention mushy peas. I can't get them anymore. I think this whole blog may make me hungry.
    The pool sounds exciting as does the hog roast. Is that make-up I see on Chloe? I told you they grow up fast.
    Wed- I could have gone for a body wrap but I'm suprised Chloe didn't get YOU on the wall.
    Thur- It should take only 5 minutes for your server to notice you and get your order and 20 minutes TOPS to get your food. Breakfast doesn't take long to prepare. I hope no gratuity was given.
    Fri-3 hour spa session. When do they plan on expanding in the US?
    Glad you had such a wonderful time. I may not get to go on many holidays but I do enjoy reading about them in your blog.


  2. I have Also been to Center Parcs - both Sheerwood Forest & Whinfell Forest. Personally i preferd Sheerwood , as it was not all compact into one biulding ,but was equally spread out accross the village( which i liked better) , i agree ,sheerwood does have a bigger pool. Your experiance sounds great especally at the spa. i personally haven't been there but i am this year in December 2009. Did you try starbooks over there, as it has newly been added? .
    i Also spend most of the time in the pool , i LOVED the river rapids , in sheerwood better comaperd to whinfell , i felt safer , and that i was having more fun. Did you try the plunge pool , if you think its cool , in summer , try it in cold winter lol. ave only ever been to sheerwood once when it snowed , although it was cold it was still and exelent experance.
    next time you visit , why don't you try Fri-fri , its more expepnsive , but longer , and better in the long run as you can enjoy you well ernt time , raither than running about becaue you only have 5 days?.