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REVIEW: Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest.

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Location: Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest.

Length of stay: Monday-Friday, May 2013.

Lodge: New Executive Lodge, 653 (Cedar).

Number of people: 6 Adults, 2 Children, 2 Infants.

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Back in May we went on our first family holiday to Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest. There was a total of 10 of us going so stayed in one of the New Executive Lodge’s, 653 in Cedar to be precise. We were overwhelmed by just how cool the lodge was when we pulled up outside it! My OH’s family have been visiting several Center Parc’s locations since OH was VERY young. But they all confirmed that this was “the very best lodge we’ve ever stayed in!” as soon as we were through the door.

Once inside the door there is space for coats and shoes; plus space for 2 (large) prams to fit in nicely. There was also a huge broom cupboard to house all our suitcases and umbrellas, plus additional bedding, hoover, dustpan and brush, iron, ironing board etc.  There was a dining table to seat 8 plus we had 2 high chairs brought to the lodge in advance. The highchairs were the same as the ones we found right across Center Parcs in the restaurants and places. This meant we didn’t have to figure out how to use a new highchair every time we went somewhere new, but it also meant that Eli knew it was dinner time as he recognised the highchair. This really helped with consistency. The highchairs are all easy clean, but the tray cannot be removed, or even moved closer to your little one. So there was quite a lot of space between Eli and his tray. He managed ok though. We had maid service who replenished bedding and towels and cleaned the lodge daily.

SO! A little look around Lodge 653…

There were 2 double bedrooms and 2 twin bedrooms. We were brought 2 good size cots for the baba’s too. Albeit, we had been told by friends to take our own cot bedding as this is not provided.

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Bedroom’s were very nice sizes, lots of space for a cot. Not a lot of hangers in the wardrobe though! But we made-do. Would have to mention here that the bedding was atrociously LOUD! Never ever tried sleeping in anything like it! The bed was really comfy but the duvet sounded like crisp packets, every time you BREATHED! Huge let down as it looked wonderful! After the first night we ended up taking taking the sheets off the duvet and slept in those instead. Would recommend taking your own sheets/blankets.

Each bedroom has it’s own en-suite, which is absolutely perfect when sharing with so many people! We had an amazing shower in ours. Upstairs, there were also two balconies off the bedrooms, complete with bistro set, overlooking the woodland. The living room was just lovely, huge ‘L’ shaped sofa, that I fell asleep on every night. It was just so comfy! We also had an open fire, which marked my first experience with a real indoor fire! OH led the log-burning ceremony every night. We weren’t blessed with good weather for the duration of our stay (in true British fashion!) so the wood burner was well-used! The kitchen was really spacious, with ton’s of cupboards and two fridges, an oven, hob, microwave and even a dishwasher! You are provided with a tiny amount of washing liquid, so best to take your own too. There was also a really nice breakfast bar, that the kids loved sitting at!

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We had a great patio with dining set and BBQ – we also had regular visits from the local wildlife too! We were lucky enough to have a Lodge with not only it’s own Games Room (PERFECT for the kids and Grandad!) that had a Pool table, huge TV with PS3 and a ton of board games; but we also had our own Sauna! Bliss!

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Eli is such a water baby it’s untrue – he LOVES his swimming. The Sub-Tropical Paradise was amazing. Loads of slides and play areas for children of all ages! We’ve never seen Eli happier than when he was splashing about in the baby pool. He absolutely loved it! OH and I also frequented the Rapids and new water slide. We had a particularly wonderful moment, when we were all in the outdoor pool and it began raining so so ferociously. The water in the outdoor pool was steaming hot and the rain droplets were ice cold. Very memorable and VERY refreshing! This may also have contributed to the Post-CP cold we all had! oops….

I’d also point out that you cannot take a pram or buggy into the swimming area. Eli will only sleep in his pram so this was a huge downside for us, plus our iCandy Strawberry was not cheap! We did however purchase a padlock and locked our pram in the outdoor buggy park. We purchased the padlock for £3 at the Bike Hire shed. I keep the padlock in Eli’s changing bag now, incase we’re ever faced with a similar situation anywhere else. There are ‘cots’ (more like play pens!) for your children but we struggled to get Eli to sleep in one. Could have been that it was so warm and noisy in the Dome too.

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The food was great at every restaurant we visited. The staff at all restaurants really went out of their way to accomodate us, it was an absolute pleasure to eat out! I can really recommend the French Onion soup from Cafe Rouge – I had it twice, it was so good! Equally, their English Breakfast went down a storm as we prepared for the big drive home on our last day. The ribs at Huck’s American Diner were melt in the mouth, just so tasty. I’d also recommend the Indian take away. BEST Indian take away I think we’ve ever had. Very low-cost too!

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Mid-week, OH and I indulged on our first night out since welllllll before Eli arrived. We had a few drinks at the Lodge and then went onto Strada. The manager even brought over a glass of Prosecco as it was almost my birthday! Such a lovely touch. Our table overlooked the Dome, which was just incredible by night with all the trees and tropical plants lit up in the dark. We then went onto Cafe Rouge for a glass of red outside, under a heater. It was so so lovely to catch up with OH and have a proper date night. It was long overdue. We then went for a few cocktails and to the ‘adult disco’. We thoroughly enjoyed dancing to the horrendously cheesy (mostly 90s) music, it was great fun!

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We all had an amazing time at Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest and would go back in a heartbeat. There is a TON of stuff to do, especially if you have a family. There’s also a spa, if you’re in the mood for some R & R. Center Parcs is great if you’re thinking about planning a family break, I seriously cannot recommend it enough!

I have just noted a few things that might come in handy if you’re going to visit a Center Parcs soon…

– Take your own food and drink. The Parc Market is a little bit more expensive than your usual supermarket. You can easily add £1-£2 on the price of what you would pay at home. But, of course, the Parc Market is great if you do forget something – it’s VERY well stocked.

– Take washing up liquid, especially if you’re still washing umpteen bottles like us!

– Take your own cot bedding.

– Likewise, take your own bedding if you don’t want to be disturbed by the crispy sheets provided!

– Be prepared to leave your pram/buggy outside in the Buggy Park. If you have an expensive pram, take a padlock with you so you’re not worrying the entire time about leaving it!

– Would really recommend the Dine In service. The Indian take away was just amazing. SO authentic, so tasty. Very affordable.

– Aside from the take away service, you must book all restaurants and any other activities you’d like to do on your trip. You also need to hand over a £5 deposit, per person, for every single restaurant reservation. This came out quite costly when we booked all our meals all at the same time. The deposit is deducted from your meal however, Bare this in mind if you want to dine out or partake in any activities. At Sherwood Forest, you make your reservations at the desk by the Bowling alley.

– At this particular location, we found that the Family changing cubicles were very few, so had to wait quite a while for one to become available. They were hit-and-miss on size too. We struggled at times with Eli; the changing ‘area’ for babies is made from quite a hard, evasive material, almost like concrete, so not particularly comfortable or easy on the eye. This definitely upset Eli, he didn’t like the cold concrete or the look of it, I don’t think! The entire changing experience wasn’t great, the lockers by the Family changing were miles away from the showers and were also quite far from the pool entrance. The changing area is a MAZE.

MM.

I was not endorsed for this review in any way. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

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Coping with this heat (!!!) at (almost) 31 weeks pregnant.

Well, I complained more than enough about the April (into May) showers this year… and craved nothing but natural Vitamin D from sitting in the sun. But not that the sunshine is here, I cannot cope. It’s horrendously hot. I have no suitable clothing and is it even worth buying Maternity Summer dresses now? At almost 31 weeks pregnant? So no such natural Vitamin D for me… YET.

How are you coping/did you cope with intense heat during your pregnancy? I’m finding the commute particularly difficult – even though I’m sat down, it’s too hot on the train with absolutely zero breeze coming through the windows. I don’t suppose it helps that the train goes too slowly to even get a draft going! I’m finding the people standing up around me make me feel increasingly claustrophobic too… (This really was not meant to be such a moany post) Albeit, I do only have 14 (non-consecutive) days left at my desk. So only 14 more commutes.

Please send your tips my way, I fear I’m about to set on actual sodding fire melt.

MM.

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Merry Easter!

Wishing you all a very merry Easter!

I’m not a massive chocolate fan, so didn’t receive any chocolate or sweetie related Easter gifts. I did buy OH a Creme Egg Easter egg and obligatory Lindt chocolate bunny of course 🙂

I am currently roasting up a lovely piece of lamb with rosemary and garlic instead, while OH bakes a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall Apple and almond pudding cake.

MM.

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AlexandAlexa: Win a trip to Disneyland Paris!

AlexandAlexa.com

Win a trip to Disneyland Paris with AlexandAlexa.com! Plus, £1, 000 to spend on the perfect holiday wardrobe!

Just head to AlexandAlexa.com/Disneylandcompetition to enter!

The prize includes two nights accommodation at a Disney Hotel to celebrate their 20th Anniversary with continental breakfast plus travel up to the value of £250 and tickets to both Disney Parks for the duration of your stay.

Good luck!!

MM.

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Lifehouse Country Spa Resort – long weekend away…

 

So, Lifehouse Spa!

We had booked this little break away after having all the scans and tests a few weeks ago. We’d decided that we would need a relax after such a rollercoaster couple of weeks…

Being 19 weeks pregnant, we jut wanted to go somewhere where we could relax and chill out for a few days. Get away from it all. A spa was perfect. I literally spent 3 days alternating between the swimming pool and jacuzzi (Hydrotherapy Pool). Unfortunately, all of the treatments were too expensive for our budget… in fact, they were just overpriced in general.

I’m well aware that this review is just going to sound like a right moan! It was our first trip to a Spa though, so we would have expected a bit more in some areas. Albeit, we had a wonderful time and would return tomorrow! But with hindsight of course ;o

Pro’s

– Drinks were relatively cheap.

– Comfortable bed.

– Contemporary room with lovely bathroom and great views of the gardens. Usual coffee and tea making facilities.

– Lovely staff – all very polite and always had a smile.

– Easy place to relax.

– Food was great, restaurant quality.

– Great swimming pool and hydrotherapy pool. Can’t review the Steam, Sauna or Salt Inhalations rooms as I can’t use them being pregnant… but DP absolutely loved all three. So they kept him quiet! 😀

– Loved the Orchids Bar area too… must recommend the bread and olives. Best olives I’ve ever eaten! Amazing! Just £2.00 too!

– Very very nice gardens… it was absolutely blowing a gale outside and raining but this did not deter us! We borrowed some Hunter wellies from reception and had a great walk right around the gardens.

 

Con’s

– We weren’t given a ‘welcome’ note or shown around the complex. So didn’t know what facilities we could and couldn’t use.

– Because of the above, we didn’t know we had a safe in the room, until we were messing on with a rather ambiguous looking drawer underneath the TV!

– Again, because we weren’t given a ‘welcome’ note, we didn’t know that you could order Room Service.

– Couldn’t lock the door to the room.

– No bath in the room – albeit, the shower was incredible. I still could have done with a soak before bed!

– Treatments are expensive and need to be booked well in advance. Many people were left disappointment upon arrival when all appointments were booked up.

– Pregnant ladies cannot use Sauna, Steam room or Salt Inhalation rooms as they raise the body temperature too much.

– Packages that exclude food are very expensive. A lunchtime meal (main and starter) will be around £45 for a couple with one wine and one soft drink. An evening meal is per the set menu, £35 for 3 courses or £28.50 for 2 courses.

– Menu’s left a lot to be desired for someone who is both pregnant and doesn’t eat fish or mushrooms! I ended up having the same evening meal on both nights of our stay because the menu didn’t change… and the Duck dish was the only one that didn’t contain fish or mushrooms! There was also a £3 additional supplement on this.

– There were no decaff teabags! I also wasn’t given an alternative… would have definitely thought there would be decaffeinated everything with it being a health spa!

– No soft drinks menu! Just Wine and Cocktail lists… which isn’t great when you can’t drink! Imagine if you’re an alcoholic visiting for a detox!

– Restaurant was basic-looking; for such an ambitious menu, it was a shame that the restaurant was more like a canteen in a Sainsbury’s with cheap chairs and tables. The chairs of which offered zero support for a pregnant lady.

– There were no bottles of water for free, or even for sale! So it was a case of having to get up every 5 minutes to go to the water fountain in the corner of the ‘Wet Area’. Which is quite annoying when you’re pregnant and just want to lay down, but of course, you need to keep hydrated.

– Although this spa is relatively new, (about a year old), we did notice lots of signs of wear and tear. I actually stood on a piece of broken glass in the Hydrotherapy Pool! Turns out, upon further inspection, lots of the mosaic tiles were cracked and broken, but glued back together. Again, when looking up from the jacuzzi, the ceiling paint was peeling…

It was such a shame there were these little niggles – we really did enjoy ourselves though! Honestly! And we would go back… just hopefully when they have a different menu! 🙂

 

MM.