Center Parcs with a toddler {Longleat Forest}

With the Barge trip a triumph, we re-grouped for an on-land staycation.

Center Parcs!

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*might as well have been an over seas vacation at those prices*

We booked a midweek break (Monday – Friday) for the 6 of us (Our little family, my parents and the dog) to Longleat Forest (back in October) *that was long winded*.

About a week before the trip, we found out that my Dad would only be coming mid-mid week, leaving Luke and I to do the packing and planning. Low and behold, we packed last minute, didn’t forget anything and got there pretty seamlessly. However, we got there midday – a lot earlier than our cabin check-in – which was at 3.

Turns out, everybody else had the same plan or encouragement email from Center Parcs; meaning it was HeCtIc.

Here’s the low down on what happens when you arrive early on your first day:

– You queue alongside hundreds of families to check in.

– They ship you into the main car park, to which your car is locked in until 3.

– Everywhere is packed. The main strip was filled to the brim with families and cyclists going in all sorts of directions. Luckily Fe was oblivious and was having the time of his life walking Ali through the mania.

– Once you’re unpacked, you have to return your car to the car park and make your own way back (the dog friendly area being the other side of the park). Hiring bikes saved our biscuit here.

This wasn’t a bad start to the trip, but a memo for future reference. The first day is completely taken up by getting there and getting in.

Negatives aside, the rest of the trip was amazing!

We had pre-paid to have breakfast out every morning, so every day had those real holiday feels. And despite the cost, we ate out at every dinner too. Due to Felix’s routine we had the restaurants virtually empty at every meal time, which made it all the more special. Surprisingly, Felix loved this too. He’s not usually much of the ‘wine and dine’ type, but rather ‘high chair and cartoons’.

Midday on day 2, my dad arrived. Just in time for us to ‘Geocache’. We booked this in advance as there weren’t many activities we found to suit an under 2. Geocaching is essentially a simpler version of orienteering, and we were rubbish at it! Mostly because the dog and toddler wanted to play on everything we passed.

We ended up spending the whole time at the beach by the lake, where Ali could dig and Felix could play with his bucket and spade. Heaps of ducks and ginormous fish were on the shore, so Felix stood there throwing sand and teasing them. It was lovely. Not quite the geocaching experience we had planned for, but genuine family time.

The pool was probably our favourite part of the whole park. Luke and I went on the first night after Fe went to bed and it was the best way (in our opinion) to experience the pool (family aside). The water was warm and the outside is all lit up. It was also the only time the pool was virtually empty.

We dedicated day 3 to taking Felix to the pool, and wished we had done it sooner. Felix LOVED it. There is a huge baby water park full of things for them to do; his favourite part was the water slide… that never got boring.

I also need to mention that they provide life vests for babies and small children, which was a thousand percent appreciated.

One thing we did notice about being at Center Parcs was the amount of normal families there. And by normal I mean, all the mums weren’t Instagram ready, everyone understood Felix running around like a loon and no-one gave us bad looks for it.

We genuinely felt like it was a family environment, and were a lot more relaxed for it.

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Not forgetting that all of the dads were out in force, cycling their kids around the park. After two rides on the land train we realised that Felix wasn’t having any of it, so Luke rented a bike for each of us and a trailer for Fe. Out of everything, this is probably what we miss most from the trip.

On our penultimate day, my dad had to leave around 4 o’clock so we wanted to try and fit in a few last activities. We started off by playing crazy golf, with a toddler?

By the end of the course he was chasing the balls down to the hole and throwing them around. To him, this was the best thing ever! We eventually admitted defeat and took him back to the pool. My heart is going crazy just thinking about how cute he was!

We only had a few days together, but so much fun was had it felt like much longer. Luke, myself, my Mum and Felix all went out for dinner after my Dad left. A sort of comradery ‘we started this together, lets finish it together’ kind of thing.

Something I have yet to mention is the amount of alcohol we consumed on this holiday, especially after Luke and Mum bought us all ginormous gin glasses. Therefore it was only right to finish the holiday with a fishbowl.

By the time we got back to the cabin, Luke and I were a little bit done and Felix was completely clued up on our incapability. He went straight to my mum and asked her to help him into his pram, to fall asleep. Poor baby!

Check out was just as disorganised as check in, but it didn’t matter. We are definitely going back at some point. Maybe after winning the lottery.

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