Posted by: mummystuff | March 16, 2012

Center Parcs – A Review

Last year, we decided to take a short break in January and opted for Center Parcs in Elveden Forest, Suffolk.

We chose Elveden because it isn’t too far from home (around 70 miles). We’re a family who love to go away, but we also like to be close to home because I am somewhat of a worrier and panic being too far away incase something happens back home and we need to get back quickly.

Anyway, we stayed in January 2011, in a ‘New Style Executive Lodge’. This was absolutely amazing. It was a 3 bedroom lodge and it had a bathroom for each room. One of the bathrooms had a whirlpool bath and the other two had rainfall showers. They all had in-built speakers so you could listen to the TV from the adjoining rooms. Brilliant!

Outside there was a patio area with a BBQ and on this occasion, we had a sauna. All (New Style) lodges come with built-in dishwashers and, in my opinion, a brilliantly modern kitchen.

We loved this holiday so much, that we decided to go back at Christmas and spent a week (Monday – Friday) taking part in everything Christmas related. It was absolutely amazing. The area was lit up from the car park to the village. There were lights on all of the trees and many activities for the kids. It was certainly a holiday to remember. Again, we had so much fun, we opted to book again as soon a we got home for a month later in January.

January is a bit of a sad time for us. We lost our dog, Barney in 2010 and it hit us hard, so we like to get away and do something on that date. Therefore, we booked for the weekend of 13-16 January. It was cold and frosty, but for us, this just added to the magic of being at Center Parcs because we love winter and we love being wrapped up and out in the cold.

We stayed in another New Style Executive Woodland Lodge. It was a 2 bedroom lodge with all the usual amenities. There is nothing about the lodge that I could complain about. It was clean, the beds were really comfy and it had everything we needed from hairdryers to a vacuum cleaner. When we go away, we always take some essentials with us, such as knives and Luke’s melamine plates and bowls etc, food wrap and cloths. You never know what might be missing and I am rather particular about kitchen utensils, but there was no need at Center Parcs. The lodge that we stayed in was fairly new. Elveden are currently renovating their lodges and we were in ‘Maple’ where building work has been taking place.

We always hire bikes at Center Parcs. We do have our own, but it just makes it easier for us to hire when we get there. The bikes are decent and they give you locks. Cars are not allowed within the village once everyone has unpacked.

Now, with a 3 year old, you always need to have some activities arranged. 3 year olds can become bored very quickly and even the shortest walk through woodland can turn into a real drama. Therefore, we booked several activities for Luke, including ‘Messy Play’, ‘Knights In Shining Armour’ and ‘Dinky Dinosaurs’. We also booked an early morning ‘Woodland Awakening’ which started at around 8am. We met Ranger Pete and made our way through the Parc and woodlands whilst he pointed out many different species of bird, taught us about wildlife habitats and plants and much more. This activity was round 2 hours long and Luke got very cold and fed up half way in. We wanted to make it to the end and get our money’s worth, so Daddy ended up carrying him (whoops) and we both had to remind him about his cake at the end. Fortunately, we saw some ‘Gaston’s’ (ladybirds – blame Ben & Holly) which caught his attention for a little while. The walk ended with a very welcomed hot drink and pastry in the Sports Bar. I’d thoroughly recommend this to anyone who books a holiday at Center Parcs. It is really quite invigorating on a cold morning and I would imagine it would be even more amazing on a Spring or Summer’s morning because the wildlife would be out in full force.

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We did take further treks through the forest over the course of the weekend, intermingled with bike rides and playtime for Luke in the park. We saw many deer, ducks, birds and rabbits and of course, hundreds of squirrels which are just brilliant to watch. You do find that within the forest, the animals are very comfortable around humans, because they are used to us, so they can be quite cheeky. A rather funny moment upon arrival at our lodge was when Luke and I were eating a sandwich and the ducks were literally battering on the windows with their beaks because they wanted to share.

We were fortunate enough to have a lodge that looked out on the lake. The previous lodges we had stayed in were surrounded completely by forest, which is lovely, but the lake just added something more to the view. It also presented us with more wildlife than we had seen at ‘Cedar’. The beauty of the lake being frozen due to the -10 weather we were experiencing was not only mesmorising, but also much fun for all of us. We headed down to the lake in our sturdy walking boots on several occasions and skimmed stones across the ice which we later found to be about an inch or so thick. There was one point where I lost my footing and almost fell in the icy water but managed to save myself at the last second. It made for a heart pounding but amusing memory.

On the final morning, I got up early, just as the sun was rising, as I wanted to try and get some decent pictures of the frozen lake and the sunrise. I wasn’t disappointed in my view. I took what was left of the animal feed that we had bought from the well equipped Parc Market and fed my fellow early risers their breakfast.

My overall opinion of Center Parcs is AMAZING. I would certainly give it a good 9/10. I’m not sure where they could improve if I am honest, but there’s always room for improvement somewhere so I shall hold back with that final point.

I think that Center Parcs has now become somewhere that I and my family will return to, year after year, in winter. I say winter because as I pointed out, we are people who embrace this season more so than summer and personally for me, I don’t do well with bees and wasps and other creepy crawlies, so the thought of being in the middle of a forest in summer is horrifying. I’m sure though, that it is a beautiful place in summer as everything will be green and pretty and the sounds of the birds singing at dawn would be heaven on earth.

If you ever get a chance to go, do. I thoroughly recommend it.

Posted by: mummystuff | March 15, 2012

My Birthday Meme – August 10th

I was tagged again today by OneDad3Girls (I think he has it in for me) 😉 in this Birthday Meme. It’s one of the more difficult ones because you have to look up historical events and try and make it interesting even if it isn’t. (I’ve not done a very good job of that here!).
Anyway, here goes…
When is your birthday?
10th August (Somewhere in the 1970’s)
Pick three people who share your birthday and share what you know about them.
Jon Farriss (1961) – Drummer for INXS. Was one of Michael Hutchence’s best friends. He’s very well known.
Charlie Dimmock (1966) – Gardener and TV presenter. Starred with Alan Titchmarsh and Tommy Walsh. She designed some well known gardens in a shopping centre not too far from me in Spalding.
Antonio Banderas (1960) – Actor. Director. Producer. Singer. Real name is José Antonio Domínguez Banderas. wanted to become a professional football player until a broken foot sidelined his dreams at the age of fifteen. Starred in Once Upon A Time In Mexico with my favourite actor, Johnny Depp.
Is anyone listed as being born on the same day as you (ie the same year). If so, what do you know about them?
Yes, a wrestler, but I know nothing about him.
List three people who died on your birthday and tell us what you know about them?
Isaac Hayes (2008) – Well known for the voice of ‘Chef’ in South Park. Suffered a stroke in 2006 and eventually died from a massive stroke in 2008, aged just 66 years old. The treadmill he had been using was still running when his wife found him. Very sad.
Tony Wilson (2007) –  English record label owner, radio presenter, TV show host, nightclub manager, impresario and journalist for Granada Television and the BBC. Developed renal cancer and died age 57 in 2007.
Rin Tin Tin (1932) – It was the name given to a dog adopted from a WWI battlefield that went on to star in twenty-three Hollywood films. He apparently died in the arms of American actress, Jean Harlow.
List three notable events that took place on your birthday.
1792 – French RevolutionStorming of the Tuileries Palace – Louis XVI of France is arrested and taken into custody as his Swiss Guards are massacred by the Parisian mob.
1993 – An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale hits the South Island of New Zealand.
2003 – 2003 – Yuri Malenchenko becomes the first person to marry in space.
Tell us about a holiday that falls on your birthday.
Declaration of Independence of Quito, proclaimed independence from Spain on August 10, 1809, but failed with the execution of all the conspirators of the movement on August 2, 1810. Independence finally occurred on May 24, 1822 at the Battle of Pichincha. (Ecuador)
Now to tag a few of you;
@TheBoyandMe
@SAHDandproud
@Mummy_Ethal
@susankmann
Posted by: mummystuff | March 15, 2012

My First Ever Q&A – I Was Tagged!

I was tagged in a Q&A post by OneDad3Girls

I’ve never done one of these before, so apologies in advance if I don’t quite get it right. Here goes!
First the rules….

  • You must post these rules.
  • Each person must post 11 things about herself on their blog.
  • Answer the questions the “tagger” listed for you in her post, and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
  • Choose 11 people to tag and link to them in the post.
  • Let each blogger know that you have tagged them

Here’s my Q&A from OneDad3Girls;

1) If you could change your name what would you change it to?

If I could change my name to anything, it would be ‘Princess Consuela Bananahammock‘ because I loved it in the ‘Friends‘ episode when Phoebe changed her name and her husband, Mike freaked out and retaliated by saying he was going to change his name to ‘Crapbag‘.

2) If you knew today was your last day on Earth, how would you spend it and why?

That’s simple. I’d spend it with my family, eating lots of ice-cream and having fun. I’d make sure it was a day that they would all remember and would cherish forever.

3) If you could have sex with any superhero, who would you choose and why?

Green Lantern. Well, come on, he’s Ryan Reynolds in disguise. That says it all, right?

4) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go first and why?

I’d go to Norway, purely to see the Northern Lights. I am a sky/space fanatic and this is a real dream of mine.

5) If you could have only 3 electrical appliances in your house, what would they be and why?

An Apple charger so I could charge my iPhone and iPad so I would have full access to the internet and be able to stay in touch easily.

The cooker. We need to eat.

My GHD’s. I couldn’t go out looking like a frizz bomb. It’s inexcusable.

6) Which 3 famous people would you hate to be stuck in a lift with?

John McCririck – The man repulses me. He is disgusting with all the nose picking he gets up to. His sideburns make me want to hurl and he is such a chauvinistic pig.

Mariah Carey – She might start warbling and singing in her dolphin tones.

Kerry Katona – She freaks me out. She’s always high and mental. I’d be scared of those wide eyes of hers and that big mouth.

7) Whats your favourite season and why?

Winter! I absolutely love winter. I love snow. I love getting wrapped up to go out and I love the cosiness of coming home to a warm house on a dark winter night.

8) If you could live anywhere in the world where would you chose and why?

I’d choose here, where I live now, simply because it’s where all my family are. I could never leave them.

9) If you could appear in a sporting event which one would you chose?

Swimming. It’s about the only sport I’m any good at, although it’s been a long time since I’ve been.

10) If you was sent off to live on the moon what 3 things would you take with you?

A telescope so I could look back at the Earth. Photos of my family. A toothbrush. (I couldn’t live without brushing my teeth).

11) If you could play any musical instrument what would it be?

A guitar. I bought one several years ago and promised myself I would learn to play but never did. It’s on my ‘to-do’ list. My fiance plays and I envy him.

Phew, I hope I’ve done that correctly!

Now for my Q&A;

1) What’s your all time favourite movie?

2) What’s the furthest you have ever travelled and was it business or pleasure?

3) If you were a fruit, what would you be and why?

4) What is your perfect day out?

5) If you could morph into an animal, which animal would it be and why?

6) What was your favourite TV programme when you were a kid and what did you like the most about it?

7) Night owl or early bird?

8) It’s your last meal ever. What do you choose?

9) What do you like most about your life?

10) What do you dislike most about your life?

11) Your dying wish….?

And finally, those I shall tag (Sorry!)

@NotSoSlummy

@relucthousedad

@SAHDandproud

@JustVickiH

@ladyofessex

@TheBoyandMe

@MammyWoo

@Mummy_Ethal

@northernmum1

@helloitsgemma

@somethingblue_2

Posted by: mummystuff | March 6, 2012

Party Planning!

Luke turns 4 a week today. Yes, FOUR. I can’t believe that this time four years ago I was preparing to pop. Four years later, here I am with a cheeky little boy who is excited about his birthday party on Sunday.

We had decided that this year, his party would be simple. It would not be catered by me as it has been for the past 3 years as I feel I always miss out on at least the morning because I’m cooking and stressing away in the kitchen. No, this year it will be held at a soft play centre, they’d do the food and entertain and I’d sit by and smile at the kids all having a great time.

Then his Dad and I started looking at costs and decided that we’d only be able to allow him to invite around 15 friends (he has 4 cousins, 4 good (girl) friends and a 2 best friends, so that left only 5 from pre-school and since he has a lot of friends there, we wanted the opportunity to allow a lot of them to be invited to share his special day with him.

That’s when we ended up booking a hall and an entertainer. (We’re great at going off on a tangent).

So this weekend, we have a hall for four hours for a 2 and a half hour party, which will consist of lovely party food, pass the parcel, musical statues, pin the tail on the donkey and last but by no means least, Mr Fuzzy the entertainer.

It’s probably ended up costing twice what we would have spent at soft play now (not quite), but it means that Luke will be able to celebrate his birthday in style and hopefully have a party to remember. As his Dad says, “He will only turn 4 once.” He is a man of wise words.

I’m looking forward to the cooking part too as I have a whole day beforehand in which to prepare and his birthday isn’t until Tuesday so I don’t miss out on anything.

I’ve already made up the party bags, ordered his cake, wrapped the pass the parcel prizes and shopped for banners, balloons and everything else that’s non edible.

Bring it on! I’m ready!

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Posted by: mummystuff | March 5, 2012

‘I Wrote My Name, Mummy’

Luke came running out of pre-school today, clutching two pieces of paper. One was brown and had been chopped up nicely with a pair of scissors, the other had his name written on it.

HE had written his name.

I’ve tried with him at home but he is like me and doesn’t have a lot of patience so we give up. Apparently at preschool he has the patience that he lacks here at home and has managed brilliantly to copy his name.

I’m extremely proud.

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Posted by: mummystuff | March 2, 2012

My Week In Pictures

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Posted by: mummystuff | March 2, 2012

Mummy’s Can Have Fun Too!

It’s my fiancé’s birthday today so he took the day off work. We went for a nice breakfast and then on to Big Sky which is an indoor soft play centre. It’s brilliant and has a massive bouncy castle, which I, the other half and my sister enjoyed VERY much!

Move over kids. The adults want some fun!

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Posted by: mummystuff | March 1, 2012

World Book Day 2012

Luke got to take part in his first ever World Book Day today.

He dressed up as The Gruffalo and headed off to school in his costume for a day of fun. They even had an indoor bouncy castle, much to his delight!

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Posted by: mummystuff | March 1, 2012

Cake

It’s a frikkin big donut!

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Posted by: mummystuff | September 7, 2011

STOP! Look and Listen.

What’s your worst nightmare as a parent?

Losing a child, of course.

I feel as though I came close last week and I can’t get the image out of my mind.

I was at the park with Luke and our friends, having a lovely time and everything was as it should be. We’d all been out in the sun for a few hours and decided it was a bit too hot for the kids so we would seek refuge in the shade and opted for a walk around the perimeter of the park which is nicely shaded by overhanging trees. I had a bag full of wet clothing and towels as the kids had been in the paddling pool, so popped back to the car to drop the bag off rather than having to carry it around as it was cutting into my fingers.

I was parked across the road from the park and my friend was parked on the opposite side.

Now, Luke has always been a child that has been quite ‘road aware’ and has feared the roads and insisted on being carried around to the car on occasion.

So I ask myself;

WHY on Friday did he decide to run from my side, straight across the road and into the path of an oncoming vehicle?

The answer is simple…

He saw his friends on the other side of the road and was excited and decided to run to them.

I can’t even begin to describe the horror of witnessing this. One minute he was standing beside me, after being told repeatedly to stand on the pavement by the car and wait. I went to take his hand and the next thing I knew, he was dashing out to the side of me. All I could do was SCREAM his name and watch.

Fortunately, and I can’t stress how fortunate I feel, the driver of the car was a lady with children who was obviously watching the road closely and not speeding and she saw him and stopped immediately. The car was literally a foot away from him and as I’d screamed his name, it was like something you’d see on TV where he turned to face the car and I just leaped towards him, scooped him up and almost crushed him by holding him so tightly.

The lady driver looked worried and apologised but I told her that I was the one who was sorry and made my way off of the road back to safety.

My friend had only seen what was happening once I’d screamed his name but once we’d reached the other side of the road where she was, I ended up crouched down, Luke in my arms and bawling my eyes out. He was upset because I had yelled so loudly as he ran. He just didn’t understand what could have happened to him. He just wanted to see his friends again.

When I went to bed on Friday night, I cried. I keep replying the image of what happened in my mind. I spoke to Matt about it on Saturday morning, and again, I was welling up.

I don’t think that you can appreciate it until it happens to you.

He was lucky. I was lucky. WE were lucky. Had it not been the lady driver and it had been one of the usual ‘boy racers’ that frequent those roads… well, let’s just not go there.

So now both Luke and I are nervous wrecks near roads. I cling on to him for dear life and he pretty much does the same.

Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. We’re teaching him the Green Cross Code and I’m going to introduce him to the online site ‘Children’s Traffic Club’ so he can understand more about road safety.

I’ve gone on to tell him about a little boy that I once knew, when I was a child, who didn’t pay attention whilst crossing the road, and who unfortunately lost his life. You may think that telling a three year old about someone who has died is a bit over the top, but by telling him the basics, and not going into gory detail, it’s got him thinking and made him more aware.

Last week, for a split second, I thought I might lose my little boy, or at least see him very badly hurt. If I have my way, it’ll never happen again. Ever.

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