Happy Monday! I’ve been a bit slack on here for the past week. What with juggling work and half-term, it meant that something had to be sacrificed and it was this! Hopefully you’ve kept up with me on Instagram instead.
Leicestershire have their half-term a week before most of the other counties I think and we took advantage of this and headed to Centre Parcs in Sherwood Forest for a Monday – Friday break. Its just a little cheaper on off-school holiday weeks. We’ve been visiting the holiday park since Amy was tiny as its close by, there are lots of activities to try and it still feels like a ‘proper holiday.’
Before that, we headed down to London to visit family and took advantage of the National Rail 2 for 1
offers to gain cheaper entrance to The Globe. This is a great place to visit – really easy to get to and the tour/exhibition is fascinating. Top marks for being ready for children – they have a children’s audio guide and exhibition trail which meant Amy was able to take the tour at her own speed.
We definitely want to head back there when she’s older to watch a play.
On Monday, we packed the car and headed to Centre Parcs. We were going with my parents and had booked a 3 bedroom lodge. We opted for a lodge that was close to the main central area (near the pool and playgrounds) but one that hadn’t been refurbished so it was still a bit cheaper but the edges let’s say on the lodge were slightly frayed.
Here are my tips for getting the best from Centre Parcs:
- Take your own food. They have a great supermarket but it is expensive – £3.98 for a carton of Tropicana. I plan with my mum the meals before we go and split who is bringing what.
- If you do want to eat out in the evening, then book ahead. Lunches (expect on change over days) are normally less busy and this year we had a great breakfast at Cafe Rouge where we didn’t book at all. We were then given a 25% discount off our next meal – which we used on the Friday before heading home.
Take your own bikes or at least a bike/wheels for the children. I’ve rented bikes in the past when we didn’t have a bike carrier which is fine but bringing your own wheels is more economical. Also bring portable bike locks and carrier bags as seat covers if it rains. No soggy bottoms here!
- If you want to play a sport then take your own racquets. We booked to play badminton and it was an extra £1 per racquet and then a take home shuttlecock for another £1. Its not a massive extra spend but you could use that saved money for something else.
- Don’t rely on the online booking system as there are plenty of deals to be had during your week there. I popped to their brilliant spa – Aqua Sana when we arrived to see what on the day and weekly specials they had running. I was able to book a last minute Twilight Spa session for my husband and I which was cheaper than online due to cancellations. (Take your own flip flops to wear during your session!)
You can gain access to the park from 12pm on your day of arrival. We got there a little after 1pm, parked the car outside our lodge (this is rare – normally you park in car park and then drive round later) and went straight away to explore. You don’t feel like you are wasting your first day there. Likewise on the Friday morning, we packed the car up and then went onto activities. We eventually left just after 2pm. I do know families that stay for the whole of Friday but we needed to pick up our dog!
- Bring a bag that is dedicated to the pool – swimsuits, towels, entertainment etc… as you can spend your entire day in there. Keep it separate from the rest of your stuff. I saw a family bring their cooler box with a picnic! (note to self – do this!) £1 coins are required for the lockers.
- Explore the whole park – there is so much to see away from the central village – birdwatching dens, golf-putting, a nature reserve – lots to see and do. Easy to do by bike! You don’t have to pay extra for the playgrounds or the walks. Plus there is so much going on, that it makes great entertainment too – horse-drawn carriages clip clop by and the beach by the lake is great.
- For the evenings, I took a selection of dvds to watch (you get a dvd player in the lodge) and each family member got to choose one each night. You are allowed to take Crackle logs with you (or purchase them at CP) and we were very cosy with a fire and a film each evening.
- Sounds silly but enjoy it! We saw a few families there that were booked on an activity or two every day. I enjoy a slower break – a mix of scheduled activities, messing around in the pool and pottering around the park.
To sum it up, I love Centre Parcs! It is expensive to visit but again you can make it work for you – decide what your priorities are before you go and then just enjoy every single minute. It is always super clean, kind staff and they are brilliant at fixing anything that doesn’t work. Brave CP!