A birthday weekend treat to Center Parcs

I feel like the last three years have simply flown past. My youngest baby, Little Man, has recently turned three. I think I am a little in denial about the whole thing to be honest. His cheeky personality has really started to come through this past few months. In his true style he waits before doing something and then does it all at once. He's now talking and has just begun his potty training journey. 

We decided on a joint celebration, not only celebrating Little Mans birthday but also my Mum's retirement. We needed somewhere that would accommodate the needs of both adults and children and we decided upon Center Parcs at Sherwood Forest.

Center Parcs was somewhere we visited quite a lot as children. I think the last time I went though was 16 years ago and that makes me feel rather old. I was interested to see what had changed and what had stayed the same. A long weekend was booked and my girls were very excited.

The day arrived and we travelled straight from school, slight problem with this was I totally forgot to then pick up shoes for the girls. My eldest was OK as she had had PE and was in her PE trainers but my youngest only had school shoes. Total Mummy failure. A quick visit to the sports hall and one of the friendliest staff members I have ever met working in shoes and the issue was resolved.

After shoe sorting, dog walking and unloading and unpacking it had gotten quite late so there was only one thing for it. Well, my kids are bad sleepers anyway. We headed to the swimming pool. The vast majority of the pool hasn't changed since I last visited. Rapids are exactly as  I remember them, so is the outdoor pool and there are still the two blue slides inside. The spa has moved and that is now a pool but it closes at 7pm and we arrived at 7 so too late to check it out. New water slides also close at 7 so again we didn't get to go on those. The advantage of turning up after 7 though was the pool was lovely and quiet. Little Man loved it.

I was surprised I managed to get a jacket on him as he is very particular about routine, but I said swimming coat and he held his arms out ready. The wave pool is the same and we spent some time playing in there before heading out to the new toddler area. It had opened this weekend and I was really impressed. Apart from one lifeguard saying different from another. First he was too small for the slides, then he could go down one but not the other, then he could go down the other but with me and finally he was big enough to go down both on his own. We just played anyway.

The late night meant that the birthday boy did not want to get up and so I snuck out with my eldest daughter for the nearest parkrun.

The closest parkrun is 3 miles away, Sherwood Pines. Had I known it can be reached all on traffic free paths I would have rode my bike there. It was really easy to get to and a lovely route suitable for bikes and pushchairs. We ran walked it to the start line and bumped into the Gruffalo.

J had joined us and we ran the three of us the one lap parkrun course. I have to say it was really beautiful and a really lovely course to run, certainly one I want to do again. The cafe after was great too and so we grabbed some breakfast before walking back to Center Parcs.

We made it back and birthday boy had just woken up. My eldest and I got changed and we headed straight out again to go bowling. J on the other hand curled up in his bed, after running nearly  10 miles he was rather tired.

Little Man absolutely loved bowling. He didn't quite understand taking turns but loved the opportunity to play. His sisters, for the most part, were really good and let him 'help' them. My shoulder was not up to bowling, I can barely lift a cup let alone a bowling ball, so I helped Little Man with his turns. Bowling is still in the same place as it had been years ago but it has had a make over!

Our next activity wasn't the best to do in the rain, Geocache. We were given some clues to locations and a GPS device with waypoints stored in it. Using the device and the clues we had to go and find the hidden letters and unscramble them to make a word. Now this is quite tricky when the smallest member of your group gets fed up and wants to just splash in puddles or when the girls get tired and just want to go back and get warm. We continued however and did our best. After collecting the letters we unscrambled to solve a hidden word and took out paper back to the desk. 

Shock then took over as we only went and won! A certificate and a voucher for a free game of bowling!!

It was time for a rest before we headed out to find dinner. The plan was to have pancakes but it shut at 6pm and we arrived at 5.55pm. Never mind we found somewhere quick to eat and then spent the rest of our evening swimming.

Our final full day and I started the day with my eldest and a run around the park. J decided to try and chase all the squirrels and rabbits so it made for an interesting experience! It was interesting to see how the park has changed over the years. There are now two story villas, treehouses and what look like actual houses to stay in! A lot of development. Over near the country club there are now nature walks and lots more to do. I don't remember the tennis courts but I guess they must have been there?

Given the disappointment from missing pancakes for dinner we had to venture to the pancake house for breakfast. Surprisingly we were one of the first through the door. Everyone ordered the same a New Yorker. Well what's not to love about bacon, pancakes and maple syrup! The rain was coming down quite heavy now and with a tummy full of pancakes it was time to venture to the other side of the park for our first activity.

We had lots of activities planned in today, starting with archery. 

My eldest decided to pair with me and my youngest daughter paired with her Dad. Now my sporty competitive eldest child picked up archery really quickly. She was actually really impressive. I on the other hand am not that great. It goes without saying her competitiveness took over and she got rather annoyed with me. On the Lowest scoring game I hit the bulls eye twice and in the highest scoring game I kept missing the target. At one point I hit the board, split the top of the board and the arrow shot straight up into the air, over the safety netting and into the farmers field behind. Whilst it was good fun, my eldest was less than impressed at how useless I am at archery!

A quick walk through the park for a spot of lunch and to meet some friends who happened to be staying in Center Parcs. It was lovely to see them as it has been rather a long time. The kids all had Robin Hood hats from archery and we wandered through the park as Robin Hood to our next activity.

Pool football was our next activity and something non of us had done before. Basically pool but with footballs. It was lots of fun, and even Little Man waited patiently for his turn. It was lovely to play all together and involve Little Man too.  I think we shall be booking it again.

The girls then moved on to climbing. This isn't an activity for me, given I really dislike heights. The girls started off slow, I think testing limits and making sure the ropes worked. It wasn't long though before they were challenging their uncle to a climbing match.

My youngest daughter also made it all the way to the very top before shouting wee and jumping off.

There was a quick change after climbing before our final dinner at Center Parcs. We booked into Hucks. The kids absolutely loved having a buffet and picking bits for their dinner. Little Man found this utterly amazing. He had had enough once he had finished eating and starting asking for the toilet every 10 seconds which meant I had to take him every 10 seconds. He seemed to calm down once his ice cream arrived.

Our weekend had flown past. We had packed it full of activities and certainly made the most of our time away. 

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