A mini-break to Centerparcs, and a long overdue update

It’s been a long time since I last wrote in this blog, and I’m long overdue to say something amazingly insightful about parenting or life, but instead, I’ve just put together a collection of thoughts and a trip report from our recent trip to Centerparcs in Penrith.

Since I last updated, I’ve gone back to work part-time, and I’m actually really loving the work-life balance it offers me. I loved being at home with Eloise, but after around a year, I felt that it would benefit my mental health and wellbeing to do something for myself outside of the home. I fully admire and respect Mums who work full-time, or stay home full-time, but working part-time has offered the best balance for our family. I work close to home, and Eloise goes to nursery just across the road, so I know I can always go and pick her up if she takes unwell or anything goes wrong.

Eloise celebrated her first birthday in September, and she’s moving closer towards turning two. She’s toddling around and loving life, and her language has improved within quite a short period of time. She is an active, kind and strong-willed tot, and I love her to the moon and back.

We recently came back from a lovely four-day-stay in Centerparcs Whinfell Forest. It’s around a two hour drive from Glasgow, and they have lots to keep the kids amused in beautiful, peaceful surroundings.

Monday

We arrived late afternoon and checked into our apartment. It was a bit of a hassle getting into the forest, as we got stuck in a long queue of traffic, all aiming to check-in around 3pm. Eloise had woken up and started crying, so I sang endless tuneless ‘Wheels on the Bus’ refrains until we got to our apartment. We booked a studio apartment, which is good value for money, especially in the off-season, but larger families would benefit more from a lodge, and there wasn’t much difference in cost. After we’d got settled, we walked to the village centre and ended up grabbing a quick meal in the Sports Café. Eloise was enthusiastic about walking around the village and this was one of her favourite things to do over the course of the holiday.

Dinner at the Sports Cafe and getting into holiday mode.

Centerparcs is pretty good at catering to dietary requirements. We brought a lot of our own food but were also able to eat out. It’s not the cheapest to eat there, but we did have some nice meals. The Sports Café has a vegan section on the menu, with a few options. If I remember correctly, I ordered a pasta, Bob got some kind of delicious-looking falafel flatbread, and we just got a kids’ cheese pizza for Eloise, who is vegetarian at this stage, rather than vegan. Everyone enjoyed the food and then we headed back to the apartment for the night.

Tuesday

On Tuesday morning, we took Eloise to do an activity we’d booked called ‘Fun Pots with Tots’. This is a pottery session aimed at young kids, and they are given a piece of their choice to paint for an hour. Eloise chose this Wonder Woman figurine (YASS girl power!), though we only really got about fifteen minutes good painting time before she got too restless and wanted to go. Still, I think it was worth it for the finished piece, which I will show you all later!

After pottery painting, we realised Eloise needed to burn off some steam, so we took her to a play area in the Sports Centre called ‘Tots’ Fun Zone’, which was just over £4 for two hours play, and kept Eloise amused for a long time! We ended up going back there repeatedly over the course of our trip, because Eloise would drag us down there before we even had a chance to say otherwise.

Tired parents will be pleased to hear that there is a Starbucks just upstairs from the Tots’ Fun Zone,  so you can grab a coffee to take in with you while you watch your kids play! After Eloise had burned off some energy, we headed back to the apartment for lunch and a nap. In the afternoon, I made the executive decision to go back to the pottery place and do some painting of my own, as I’d really enjoyed it, and wished Eloise had wanted to stick around for longer! I chose a mermaid to paint and spent a blissful hour and a half painting by myself, while small children convinced themselves that I was a mermaid, due to the fact my hair is currently dyed bright blue and purple. I painted my mermaid’s hair to match,

Overall, I thoroughly recommend the pottery painting studio as a great way to spend an hour or two. Our finished pieces were sent off to be fired up so that we could collect them 24 hours later. Here are the pieces we ended up taking home with us.

For our last activity of the day, we went swimming. The swimming pool is completely free to enter, and they have lots of little baby pools for the kids to splash around in. Eloise was uncertain at first, but quickly took to it and was splashing around quite happily. Finally, we all went back to the apartment and made some fajitas for dinner. All in all, it was an excellent day.

Wednesday

In the morning, I headed to Aqua Sana Spa on my own for a facial. It was expensive but definitely worth the money just to zone out for a while and relax. While I was being pampered, Bob took Eloise to a storytelling session in the Green Room, which was quite cheap and seemed to keep Eloise amused for a while. We ate lunch at the Sports Café that day. Bob and I ordered two different vegan sandwiches and shared them, and Eloise loved the kids’ tomato pasta. The Sports Café has a small soft play area that was good for keeping Eloise busy while food was being cooked, and I ended up chatting to a fellow Scot about parenthood. After lunch, we went over to the Beech House to meet some baby owls. This is an activity Bob and I had enjoyed before having Eloise, but it’s definitely geared towards families with kids, so we were pleased to take Eloise along with us. She absolutely loved getting to meet all of the owls, especially Dumbledore, who nibbled on her fingers.

Of course, we didn’t last long before we were back in Tots’ Fun Zone that afternoon.

We finished the day off with a delicious meal at Bella Italia, including vegan lemon cheesecake. Bella Italia also has a small soft play area, which kept Eloise amused between courses.

Thursday

We got up nice and early and went swimming first thing. We actually got there before the pool officially opened at 10am, but they’d opened the baby pool, which was ideal as we were able to take Eloise in before it got too busy. After swimming, we made a stop at The Pancake House for some yummy vegan and vegetarian pancakes.

I got the vegan all day breakfast pancake.
Bob got the French one with carmelised onion and rocket, and Eloise got the cheesy ranger without ham.

Everyone loved their pancakes, but Eloise’s emotions got too much for her after she’d eaten, and I had to take her out for a walk in her buggy, where she went for a nap straight away. Swimming is tiring work! When Eloise woke up, it was time for her to check into the creché. We’d booked her in for three hours to allow us a little break from childcare. I seriously recommend doing this if you can manage it. We dropped Eloise off in a big room with lots of Peppa Pig toys and snacks, and went for a pint at the Sports Café. The weather was glorious so we sat in the beer garden and soaked up the sun for a few hours with some Czech beer.

That night, we ate dinner at the on-property Indian restaurant Rajinda Pradesh. Bob and I both had amazing curries, and Eloise mainly ate poppadoms and rice. On the way there, we took some final photos to celebrate our amazing holiday together.

If anyone is thinking of taking their kids to Centerparcs but not sure if it’s worth it, I absolutely would encourage you to take the plunge. If you are able to go during term time, the price can be very reasonable, and while most of the activities cost extra, you don’t need to do that many of them to make the holiday worthwhile.

That’s all from me for now. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Are you considering a trip to Centerparcs? Have you visited already? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Author magicalmummy

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