Friday 30 May 2014

Fun in the forest plus a new Center Parcs competition

On Saturday, it was my 30th birthday. Or rather, my pretend 30th birthday. It's been a tradition since I turned 21 to have more than one celebration as most of my friends are teachers and we can never seem to organise anything together actually on my birthday (it's 2nd July, for anyone who wants to take note...!).

We headed to Center Parcs Whinfell Forest in Cumbria to make the most of a the Bank Holiday weekend. Sadly, the sun didn't have his hat on for very much of our stay but the weather was generally fine and it didn't matter because we had the four F's - friends, food, forest and fun!

Hubs and I have visited Whinfell Forest once before, last Christmas, and we have also been to Longleat. No-one else in our party of eight had stayed at Center Parcs before however and I was so excited to see what everyone would think of the lodge, the village and the break as a whole.

I decided to give the weekend a bit of a theme. Any excuse with me! I sent invites to my friends two weeks before, which had three parts:

An itinerary for the weekend, dividing up the cooking between everyone so we could all have the chance to dish up dinner for the group.

A guide to Center Parcs and the various activities we could enjoy.

Details of a murder mystery game we were going to play on the Saturday night, with character information for each guest.

I wanted our mini break to be relaxed and my main priority was for us to spend some quality time together and escape the outside world for a few days.

On Friday afternoon, hubs, Ethan and I arrived along with our friend Bex and we quickly got settled into our lunch. Later that evening, we welcomed our other friends Lindsay and John then Nat and Stu with a welcome drink before a night of chat and nibbles.

Saturday started with a big breakfast cooked by Nat and Stu, followed by a walk to the village centre, a stop at Starbucks by the lake and an afternoon in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise. Ethan was exhausted by all the attention and the change of scenerio - including the regular visits from the local ducks, pheasants, woodpeckers and squirrels to our patio - so hubs and I headed back to the lodge with him to get the dinner on for our turn that evening.

We all got dressed up and whilst I served some tapas, we each took turns at making a signature cocktail for the group. After we had dinner, we got into character and played our murder mystery game whilst enjoying a few more drinks - it was a lot of fun and we were all shocked when the killer was finally revealed.

Sunday was another laid back day. A visit to The Pancake House gave us some much needed energy before we went for a nice stroll around the lake and through the forest then we had a pitstop at our lodge before another swimming excursion.

We checked out on Monday morning, packing up our things in our cars, before enjoying a breakfast buttie at Dexters Diner, a visit to the soft play area then another Starbucks by the lake.

Everyone was tired but we had all thoroughly enjoyed our stay and said they'd definitely come back again. We were rather sad to leave the lake and forest, as well as each other, as we headed off in different directions home.

Every time we go to Center Parcs, it gets harder to leave and I am so grateful that I will be going to the Sherwood Forest location for my real 30th birthday as part of my Center Parcs Family Blogger Club membership in just over four weeks time. If you want to get away from it all, this really is the break for you. What we love is you can do as much or as little as you like, in your own time and to suit everyone in your group.

But the best thing about last weekend? Realising I was still 29 for a few more weeks!

You could be visiting a Center Parcs village too if you enter their new #wincpbreak competition!

Now, I've told you why I love going to Center Parcs. Whether you want to cook in your accommodation, order in takeaway or dine out at the on-site restaurants, your wish is their command. If you want to take it easy or take part in creative or active pursuits, indoors or out, you'll be spoilt for choice. And if you enter their new competition, you could win a break at a Center Parcs Village of your choice up to the value of £1,500. 

Entry is super easy so you really have nothing to loose. All you need to do is a share a photo, or several if you like, on Twitter and Facebook that shows what you would be doing if you were at Center Parcs right now, being sure to use the hashtag #wincpbreak.  Your photo could be of an activity you're enjoying with your family, of a meal in your favourite restaurant or maybe you enjoying a spot of pampering. Just share what you would do if you could go to Center Parcs on holiday and tell everyone why you chose that activity in particular.

Toasting marshmallows in our lodge during our visit last Christmas

A Starbucks by the lake - what could be better?!

Recently, I went to the Aqua Sana Spa at Sherwood Forest for some much needed TLC with my hubs - highly recommended to anyone who is long overdue some 'me' time. During our break at the weekend, we had lots of fun with Ethan and our friends at the Subtropical Swimming Paradise and we both dined in and dined out during our stay, enjoying the best of both worlds. My favourite thing to do though is to enjoy the big outdoors. The blinds and curtains are open at the crack of dawn in our lodge and we love to go on walks around the forest to see what we can spot - we even managed to catch three badgers on the badger cam TV channel! 

We didn't plan any activities during our last visit as we had a lot of catching up to do with our friends and needed a nice quiet break but when we go to Sherwood Forest in a few weeks, we're planning a nice meal out at Strada for my birthday, Ethan will be making me a nice pot for my birthday in a tots paining class and we'll be enjoying clay pigeon shooting too. After all that excitement, I'll be popping back to the spa for sure! As Ethan gets older, there will be even more we can do during our stay, but that's the great thing - all ageas and interests are catered for and everything is really well thought out. 

So, to be in with the chance of winning your very own forest retreat to a Center Parcs village of your choice, simply share your photos using the hashtag #wincpbreak on the Center Parcs Facebook page or tweet them to @centerparcsuk  by midday on Friday 13th June - then keep your fingers crossed!
If you're near Waterloo train station anytime from Monday 9th to Friday 13th June, you may see your own photos flash up on their motion screen. Any of the photos submitted with the hashtag #wincpbreak could be used and as the screen is 40 metres long by 3 metres wide, your camera work will be showcased beautifully for everyone to see. You'll also have the chance to take part in fun activities such as virtual archery and zip wire so if you're nearby, be sure to pop in to take a look.
Find out more about the competition here and good luck! 


  1. I love centreparcs. We've not been to Whinfell. I'm glad you all enjoyed your "birthday" weekend.

    1. Thanks Caroline! I love it too - can't recommend it highly enough. Think it'll be a family tradition for us once a year now :)

  2. Wow looks like you had a brill weekend! We've never done centreparcs as a family, always wanted to try it though x

    1. We did Georgie :) You should totally look into it, there's something for everyone and you can do as much or as little as you like. We love it and it's turning into an annual tradition now.


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