So, our recent holiday didn't go quite as planned. For too many reasons to go into here, it ended up being me and our three, and my parents and my two nephews. Fortunately we were next door to each other at Center Parcs, Longleat.
Last September we had visited Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest. At Sherwood Forest we went with my parents and all stayed in a Comfort Villa. Not knowing any difference we loved it. It was a bit cramped with two cots in our room, but the boys were still sleeping with us so that's the way it was.
This time we stayed in a Comfort Plus Villa, and it was just me and my three. It was far better. I managed to rearrange a twin room so we could fit two cots in, and Squeaks had her own twin room. It meant the boys could be next door to me, I know in the Comfort the room next to the double had been bunk beds so this wouldn't have been a good arrangement as the boys usually need to be pacified more than Squeaks.
When we visited Sherwood we booked lots of activities, this seemed to dictate the holiday, although we did book loads. We decided not to this time as Squeaks would have her cousins for company, and the twins are so easily and happily entertained we didn't need anything for them.
This turned out to be the right decision. Unlike Sherwood Forest much of Longleat relies on the landtrain. It probably doesn't for most people, but with three little people we couldn't expect them to walk everywhere. The added complication was having a twin pushchair- which would have been a nightmare to get on the land train so I was reliant on my dad pushing the boys places whilst my mum and I took the three little people on the train. This was a real down side for me, although I completely appreciate it is temporary. We are going back in November as a family, and with the hope that the boys will be walking confidently and we'll hopefully invest in some form of double buggy the land train might be more realistic. And before we know it walking will be an option (or getting accommodation nearer the activities!) but for now, Sherwood is better from this perspective.
As it was, we did two activities. We visited the Pottery Studio, and the three little people made fantastic gifts for their parents. We fortunately turned up at a quiet time when we were accommodated despite not booking, I am really looking forward to doing something involving footprints with our three in November.
The best thing about the whole week for me was taking my three swimming, for the first time ever. I will be honest this was a bit naughty of us, we had five children to three adults. I had phoned Center Parcs in advance about their policies and they were clear. From chatting we agreed that it would be ok for the three little people to be accompanied by two adults. We did this and loved every moment.
We also discussed confining ourselves to the baby pool and the seating area, where fortunately Center Parcs were flexible. What this meant for us was one adult was able to supervise three little people going down the slide whilst two adults looked after the babies at the bottom of the slide, and then when the three little people went into the big pool with two adults the babies could go with the adult into the playpens in the seating area. It worked perfectly. And it made my holiday complete. I have to say the safety at the swimming pools at Center Parcs is second to none, as the pools we take Squeaks to, there was permanently a lifeguard at the baby pool as well as the 'junior pool'. We didn't get the opportunity to explore the other pools, and the big slide but our memories had been made.
Other highlights of the holiday included a visit to the beach and the Pancake House for my dad's birthday. I think he enjoyed himself.... although I am sure he would have been tempted by the offer of peace, quiet and a newspaper!
The Pancake House was fantastic. The 'decorate your own pancake' was the perfect distraction for little people exhausted from a morning at the beach!
As must be a tradition at Center Parcs, we had plenty of wildlife visitors keeping everyone entertained (especially as it turns out I don't make the boys breakfast as well as daddy so that kept landing up outside!). And, in the one dull moment we had, my BritMums Live Banagrams purchase kept everyone entertained!
I have to be honest, I didn't come back feeling like I had benefited from a holiday. I came back shattered.
But! this holiday has created the most amazing memories for me and three wonderful children.
Gone are my holidays of the sun, sea and well, baby making if the last were anything to go by.
Welcome to chaos, laughter, mayhem and happiness.
Disclaimer: This is a personal review and has been written simply due to us having a wonderful holiday.