Center Parcs, forests full of life, a place where a gentle, calm and relaxing atmosphere can be created for everyone to unwind and enjoy themselves as they appreciate those around them.
On Friday the 30th of June, I woke up at my then boyfriend’s house at around 8AM looking forward to the long weekend ahead of me. It wasn’t quite chaotic as everyone was packed and ready however, the stress to remember everything was there. The 3-hour drive from a small village in Northamptonshire to Longleat Center Parcs was full of excitement as we drove, me going between talking to Cameron and his little sister about various random things and playing games on my phone; this journey being the longest time that I had spent around Cameron’s family, it was odd at first but I soon got comfortable and I enjoyed being around his family as always! Once arriving to our location at around mid-day we had to wait until 3PM before we could enter the place we would call home for the 4 days of being there, so as not to waste time we went straight in to enjoying our holiday, going swimming for a few hours where we could soak up the sun or make a splash in the pools and water rides; making sure we did everything there at least once! When we were finally able to set foot in our villa we were greeted with a spacious area, a large corner sofa facing the glass backdoor so we could view the forest, a dining table for 6, and a modern style kitchen and once upstairs me and Cameron were greeted with the comfiest double bed in a decent sized room with an en suite bathroom attached and a beautiful view of the tall trees to wake up to; every morning I would have to force myself to leave the comfort of the cloud-like mattress.
The only problem with our villa was that it was fairly dark downstairs as most of the natural light was blocked and the bubble feature in mine and Cameron’s bath was broken!
I don’t know if you have ever been to Center Parcs but their pools and water rides put every other pool to shame. We went swimming at the subtropical swimming paradise everyday for hours, from the day we arrived to the day we left; every time we went there we would do everything at least once and we never got bored with what they had to offer! With their pools surrounded by subtropical plants it set the feeling of being far from England, there was no such thing as being cold while indoors and even when outside you were still warm due to the thankfully great weather (which is fairly rare, even in the summer). The rapids were by far the best despite the first half of it being closed due to maintenance being carried out on it, the thrill of being carried around by the current and over the drops made you go back for more
even though it ruined both of my swimming costumes by putting holes in the bottom; the 2 racing slides and both flumes offered the same excitement however, the lazy river is my personal favourite as me, Cameron and his little sister were able to mess around in them, giving each other piggy-backs and attempting to float or swim around the narrow river-like pool. I think it is safe to say that the pools at Center Parcs have ruined every other pool for me as all others now seem boring!
As a food lover and a member of the group of people who’s body can’t agree with gluten at all, it is important to me that food tastes great and looks great. On the day of our arrival we went to Las Iguanas, a beautiful little restaurant in the heart of the plaza that was surrounded by subtropical plants, stone and little ponds of goldfish ; our table was located on the island where we would eat surrounded by a pond of goldfish and watch children lean over the edge of the ponds, wondering how long it would take for them to fall in (none of them did however, we did see the interesting diet of Nacho crisps and fries being fed to the fish by the children). Las Iguanas thankfully offered a wide range of gluten-free food, I went with the gluten-free mild chilli con carne and oh my days did I get a lot! The chilli con carne was almost perfect, the only thing that stopped me from making it my favourite meal of the trip was that there wasn’t enough rice with it- call me picky but I prefer to have a perfect balance between the two! On Saturday before swimming we had a BBQ, although I didn’t eat too much as the heat makes my appetite disappear I managed to get a burger and a hell of a lot of potato salad down me and trust me, Cameron’s parents make the best potato salad that I have ever tasted. On Sunday (my 17th birthday) I chose where we were going for dinner and I instantly went for Bella Italia for one reason: the gluten-free carbonara. Carbonara is my favourite dish by far and, while Cameron’s Mum’s carbonara is the best that I have ever tasted, the carbonara at Bella Italia was a close second,
I mean it was a little sloppy but the sauce soon solidified as the dish cooled down. Bella Italia was a cute and chilled restaurant (and by far my favourite) with a very slightly rustic feel to it, the staff were friendly (as were they in every restaurant) and me and Cameron’s little sister played a fun yet frustrating game of ‘guess who our waiter looks like’ (I still haven’t decided who he looks like, I’m getting a Pirates of The Caribbean vibe). On Monday for lunch we all went to Huck’s after a morning of swimming, this American diner shocked me a little as I have personally never seen a restaurant with a row of 5-8 Apple Mac computers sat in front of a decent sized play area. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my burgers however when ordering a double-double burger I did not think that it would come with 2 burgers that are 2 centimeters thick with tons of lettuce, tomato, and onion; the burger was so thick that it had to have a kebab skewer through the middle to stop it from falling apart, this burger defeated me and I left the rustic American themed diner feeling as if my stomach was about to burst! Each restaurant had great staff that were polite and friendly, this may be because they want a good tip however, it still made the experience a good one.
On Sunday (July 2nd) it was my birthday, and it was by far one of the most amazing birthdays that I have had. Thanks to the cloud-like bed I managed to sleep in until about 9 after a night of uninterrupted sleep, waking up to one of the most important people in my life putting a smile on my face. As Cameron showered I opened the card and gift that he had given to me, smiling like an idiot as I opened my ‘sassage’ card and unwrapped a beautiful print of a fox from the Canadian artist Ellen Jewett (Explore Ellen Jewett’s work here!); this print was framed as soon as I got home to my Mum’s and now lives happily on my windowsill in my bedroom until it can be hung on my wall. Most of the day was spent at the pool, messing around with Cameron and his little sister in the water and creating memories that shall stay with me forever; me and Cameron went to the spa the evening before so we were both still pretty floopy and relaxed which made it hard for my small 5 foot 3 frame to battle against the currents, leading me to hold on to Cameron in the wave pool and lazy river. After swimming we all adventured over to Leisure Bowl where I enjoyed a melted ice lolly mocktail to quench my thirst before having an intense game of air hockey with Maia (having played an equally intense game of air hockey with Cameron the night before)! As I have previously said, this birthday was one of the best and more than likely my favourite thanks to the amazing people who I spent it with.
As a birthday gift from Cameron’s parents and sister, Cameron’s Mum booked me and Cameron in for 3 hours at Aqua Sana. I had no idea what to expect as I had never been to a spa before but after this trip I would love to make spa trips a regular thing (this may take a few years though as we all know how bad part-time jobs pay), I have never, ever came out of somewhere feeling so relaxed, soft and tired. The changing room was a little awkward for me, walking in from the reception after checking in and being greeted with the sight of half-naked women was the last thing I expected; with the only private changing room occupied, I changed in a toilet cubicle as I wasn’t comfortable enough to strip in the middle of the room! After struggling with the locker and waiting for Cameron to come from the male changing room, we walked across the cafe (which felt a little odd to me as I’ve never walked through a cafe without shoes on!) and into the treatment area where we were hit with the refreshing scent of lemon; the first thing we did was go to the pool which was amazing, set in the centre of the spa with an open roof, surrounded by glass so you could see the inside of the spa as you stared upwards in to the blue sky and decorated with hanging plants from the roof. I don’t think me and Cameron missed anything at the spa, the Japanese water meditation room being my favourite with me and Cameron nearly falling asleep as we sat on big cream coloured leather chairs, listening to the running water as we sat in the dim pink, orange and yellow lighting. Leaving feeling dopey and tired and smelling of various herbal and fruity scents, me and Cameron trotted our way to the plaza for a drink at the Leisure Bowl before retreating home and watching the last half of Fantastic Beasts before bed.
The worst day of all arrived too quickly because on Monday, it was time to leave. As we had to leave the villa at 10, we woke up at 8 to get dressed, washed and packed. I think everyone was a bit meh at the thought of leaving, Center Parcs is somewhere I could happily live; the large forest and chilled atmosphere is something that I could never turn down.
Center Parcs has become one of my favourite places, I shall miss it until the next time I get to go. I am grateful that I got the chance to spend 4 days with an amazing family in a brilliant place, I shall never forget the great time that I had there.