I was delighted to return to Center Parcs in Elveden Forest. The last time we came here was in 2017.
The biggest difference for us this time was that we went during winter, so the area had a Christmas theme. The central Parc areas were covered in twinkly lights while the shops looked warm and festive.
I was impressed with how much thought and attention had gone into the decorations and lights. It really looked magical.
My son Zack enjoyed seeing all the lights and Christmas trees. Alas… while he had a good time, it was also a somewhat difficult time.
He’s in his ‘terrible twos’ phase so he is prone to tantrums. Additionally, he is going through a jealousy phase because he sees his younger sister (who is only three months old) being carried around by mummy and daddy.
So he has reverted back to wanting to be carried everywhere. If you’ve ever been to Center Parcs, you’ll be aware how of the distance between attractions when walking on foot. Now imagine walking between them while carrying a two-year old who throws a fit as soon as you put him down. I tried to get him to use his scooter, to walk by himself, or to ride a bicycle with a trailer behind it. But nope… it was Carry or Bust.
Needless to say… I was exhausted! On top of that, both my son and daughter were sick with a cold and temperature. So even after a physically draining day… sleep did not exactly come easily.
Zack was so tired himself from a disturbed night that he fell asleep in the middle of an exceptionally loud panto.
Nevertheless, despite the on-going challenges of parenthood, we did have fun for two major reasons. Firstly, much coffee was consumed during this trip.
Secondly, Center Parcs is brilliantly designed for families, both in terms of layout and activities to do.
Something we always enjoy when coming here is pottery painting.
It can be messy but it really sparks creativity and imagination.
There was a baby sensory session for my daughter Robyn and an elf party, which included dancing, games, arts and crafts.
Everything looked festive and inviting.
I took Zack to a football session. We thought he would love this as the first time we tried something like this, he absolutely loved it.
However, this time we didn’t enjoy it at all. Instead he just threw another tantrum. I can’t be certain why, although perhaps his illness played a large part in it. So instead he took hold of a Cozy Coupe car that was stored away and drove that.
Once the other children saw what he was doing… that was it! The organised football session quickly became a driving session. I apologised to the event organiser but he was a nice guy and didn’t mind as long as the children were all having fun. He did eventually coax all the children out of the cars by saying if they scored a penalty against an open goal, they would win a bag of Haribo.
This worked on every child except Zack… Instead of kicking the ball into the goal, he hit it with the car and scored! I felt such incredible paternal pride at his act of rebellion. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did!
There were a plethora of other festive activities. The children met Santa in his grotto and received some presents. There were animatronic reindeer singing barbershop quartet versions of Christmas songs. They were Zack’s favourite thing about the trip.
There was also a snowy wonderland in the grounds around Santa’s grotto, which looked lovely.
Zack enjoyed seeing it when it was dark, when the lights were most prominent.
There was a shack here selling festive food and drink. While I’m not overly fond of mulled wine, I was delighted to try their warm plum cider. It was delicious!
My favourite meal of the trip was the date night Elle and I had booked. Our parents looked after the kids so we could enjoy a nice dinner at a cosy and inviting restaurant called Rajinda Pradesh.
While the service could have been a bit better, I have nothing but great things to say about the food! It was warming, comforting and utterly sublime. The chicken jalfrezi in-particular was exquisite.
I’m still thinking about how good it was. It was a far cry from the bland and corporate-feeling experience we had recently at The Helix restaurant.
The lodge we stayed in was spacious and comfortable. Each room was en-suite, which is incredibly useful when you have four adults and two children staying under one roof.
I particularly appreciated the separate fridge for wine and beer!
The lodge also afforded us a view of the seasonal fireworks without going out into the cold, dark woods. It was the perfect way to wrap up our stay at Center Parcs.
Overall, it was a great trip in spite of the parenting challenges. I definitely want to return… although perhaps next time will be during warmer weather. And fingers crossed that none of the children will be sick 😛
Thanks for reading, folks 🙂