We had a fantastic holiday at Center Parcs last week. We went with Rob's parents, though not in the same lodge. We are too noisy and messy for them I think, and it all gets a bit fraught if we're sharing a space for more than a couple of days. It's easier to respect each other's rhythms too, and we met them later in the morning or at lunchtime most days.
I was slightly worried the lodge would be chilly, like a caravan, but we were toasty warm. We had brought those fire-in-a-bag things, which do burn for 3 hours or so but look a bit rubbish! But Freddie thoroughly enjoyed finding every scrap of paper and cardboard to burn, so it was worth it for that alone.
We were unbelievably lucky with the weather. It could have been pouring down, windy, miserable. But we had blue skies every day, bright sunshine, cold and crisp. It was beautiful.
It was the first time we have visited during the Winter Wonderland season. There were lots of christmassy activities that we didn't do because, well, it's November. But it was magical walking back to the lodge in the dark, us with torches and fairy lights in the trees.
They have fireworks every Wednesday evening by the lake, and it was a great display. All three kids had ear defenders on (so relieved I remembered to pack them).
I had been looking forward to being in the swimming dome in the dark. I assumed they would light it quite brightly inside, but they kept the lights quite dim, and it was excellent! Almost other-worldly.
We went swimming every day. Freddie, at 8, is old enough to be left alone, so between us everyone could do what they wanted. We swapped back and forth - me with Meg in the under 8s bit, Betsy with Rob on the water slide, Freddie in the pool for the wave machine; then me and the girls on the boat water slide, and Freddie and Rob in the outside pool. And so on. Meg can do all but one of the slides now, and we had so much fun!
We had £50 of vouchers, and spent them on a mini jet ski session for the girls, and aqua jetting for Freddie. They loved it!
We had prebooked two other activities - birds of prey for Freddie and Betsy, and baby owls for Meg. It was wonderful to watch them doing something they enjoy so much.
The kids also enjoyed spending time with their grandparents. Betsy spent literally hours doing drawings with Granny.
The weekend was spent catching up with laundry. Oh well!
Today we went to Crocodiles of the World in Oxfordshire. It's a great place to visit, with more than 80 crocodiles to see. We had a talk with one of the staff, who was lovely and not at all fazed by the huge age range he was working with! Never mind KS1 and KS2, try 1 - 12 years old! All the kids could hold a young dwarf crocodile. They have a couple of species of large crocs too, one of whom kept jumping up to the glass when the kids got too close. Very scary.
The zoo is oddly placed in an industrial park, next to a car repair garage and a polythene factory. They're moving early next year into a much larger purpose built building. We'll go and visit there with Rob, as I think he'll love it.
Freddie was there too, but I didn't see much of him as he was with his friend Moss. He held the crocodile, and picked up lots of facts about them. I was surprised to learn that only 1 in 100 crocodiles makes it to adulthood. Not great odds!
It was another bright a sunny day, and after a couple of hours the kids headed outside for some fresh (i.e. freezing!) air.
Home now, the fire is roaring,Meg has crashed on the sofa, Betsy is playing Plants vs Zombies, Freddie is at Jarvis's. Time for a cup of tea.