Independent CentreParcs Review

So we bit the bullet and booked a last minute deal at CentreParcs in Elveden for a short holiday break with friends (who also happen to have twins – 3 year olds – eeek, double headache!!!).  We packed the car to within an inch of its life and set off not really knowing what to expect as we had never been to a resort or “village” (as CentreParcs like to use) that is solely for families.

When we arrived I felt like I was at a modern day version of Kellerman’s (that’s the family resort in Dirty Dancing – as if you don’t know this. Don’t lie! Of course you do!) Which isn’t bad, it’s just different for me.

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The resort was well laid out with lovely contemporary wood lodges and the environment was teaming with wildlife. The amount of activities that you could pre-book was amazing (which is where you spend the money) and you don’t need to hire bikes. We didn’t and we were able to walk from the furthest set of lodges to the main centre with the restaurants and swimming pool within 10 minutes.   Might take you a bit longer if you have toddlers that what to stop and explore constantly.

We booked a Woodland lodge for Fri – Mon about 3 weeks before the date we were going. This enabled us to get a last minute bargain.

So lets begin with the negatives:

  • We ordered an extra cot before we arrived so there would be 2 in our lodge for the girls to use. When we arrived we found them in a cupboard and 2 single beds in a bedroom. Mr G had to spend the first 15 minutes of arriving to take the mattresses and duvets away from each single bed and balance a cot on each base. If they go to the trouble of asking and charging us for the cot then why not ask where they are to be set up? (Yes this may sound really picky but this is supposed to be a relaxing and ‘easy’ family  orientated holiday.) 
  • Our wood lodge had an overly sensitive fire alarm. It would go off when we open the hot oven door, that had no food cooking inside it and all the windows and doors open. This obviously went off every time the children were in bed! Story to follow below regarding fire alarm and oven!
  • Supermarket on site was over priced. Try and pack everything you need and bring it with you and use it as a last resort.
  • Cars were to be placed back into the car park so that it was a “car free zone” after you unpack. But some people chose to ignore this and kept their car parked at their lodge which spoilt the view through the trees and the feeling of being surrounded only by woods. These cars were left a notice on their windscreen telling them they will be written a ‘strongly worded letter’ if they don’t move their cars. Well whose going to be afraid of a ”strongly worded letter’?! Obviously these cars didn’t move so I say FINE THEM!  Make some money from the lazy so-and-so’s who can’r drive 5 mins to the car park. Every car license plate is taken before arriving at the resort so it is very easy to know whose car it is and charge the card!
  • There needs to be more family changing rooms at the swimming pool because when it gets busy it is hard to entertain a grumpy tired cold child when you can’t get into a room.
  • Pancake house restaurant was AWFUL! I ordered a banoffee pancake that was £7.80 – which in my opinion, is very expensive but the photo looked like it was worth it and I ADORE pancakes. When it arrived it had barely a strip of half a small banana, no sprinkles of flake, small scoop of ice cream and lots of cheap aerosol cream. When tasting the pancake, it had a metallic chemical after-taste that was so bad I ate the ice-cream only and left the rest. We commented to the waiter that all the food was bad and she could see how much food was left and we didn’t even get a discount! Oh and it took AGES to arrive at our table and there was only 6 tables out of a possible 20 (?) in the whole place that had customers! AVOID THIS PLACE!
  • Centreparcs is expensive. Be selective on how many activities you book to watch costs and eat back at your lodge as much as you can.
  • No washing machine in lodge.
  • Wifi didn’t work in our lodge which was supposed to. This is a pro and a con. I like things to work when they are supposed to but on the other hand I like being off the radar on holiday.

But now for the positives:

  • Easy walking access to everything.
  • Wood lodge well equipped with fire burner, tv , dvd, tvs in bedrooms and 2 fridges (even though they didn’t get very cold).
  • Ooodles of wildlife that came up to your living room door that excited and amazed the kids.
  • Lodge well laid out (even though they are a little dated) with “wings” that contained the bedrooms. They were far enough away from the living room and each other as the kids all went to bed at different times.
  • Every restaurant on site had ambles of space between each table, which meant we were never in anyone’s way with our double buggy and had loads of manoeuvrability.  They all had a “baby station” which consisted of a microwave and bottle warmer for you to use.  And most had a soft play area for the kids or access to an outside adventure play area.
  • Swimming pool facilities were amazing. It has everything you need and more by the pool side from cots (YES COTS!), buoyancy aids, chairs, an air tap to help blow up your inflatables, zoned areas for different aged kids with water as hot a bath and a room big enough to fit everyone’s prams. All of this is free!  Food/drink places are also inside the dome without getting dressed/undressed so you could really spend all day there.
  • Zoggs baby inflatable seat was an excellent buy. The girls loved sitting in them and just floating around – it also meant our hands were free and we had more control and stability. We were able to enjoy the big pool, wave machine, lazy river, lagoon pool and adventure cove. We also found that placing the Zogg on the floor in the changing room and positioning a girl on top in the seat without their legs through provided an extra safe pair of hands when we had to dry/dress ourselves or the other sibling.
  • Mr G gives a big thumbs up to the water slides!
  • You are still allowed to use facilities all day on the day you check out so the day is not wasted.

I have to give a special mention to the prompt response we received when our oven stopped working. Our friend burnt dinner and not only did we have the fire alarms going off, thick smoke filling the lodge and surrounding woods but the oven then stopped working completely! We thought it was down to the burnt spillage on the bottom of the oven but when we rang services for assistance, we had two lovely men arrive within 15 minutes on a Saturday evening. We were most impressed and even more so when it turned out the fault on the oven not turning back on was nothing to do with burnt dauphinoise potato but a part that happened to stop working at exactly the same time this calamity occurred. They had it all repaired and fixed within 15 mins and were on their way. Now I did not expect that excellent service, at that time, and so swiftly!

If you are going to go to Centreparcs, either book a year in advance or very last minute as I do not feel it would be worth the same at full price. I feel paying the discount price is actually the right amount to pay for this place but I would definitely go again. In fact we have already booked up for a week next year and I can’t wait.

Double Buggy Chaos

Choosing a double buggy has its own unique problems. You look at double buggies and suddenly the price rockets and you don’t get anything thrown in, you have to pay for ALL the extras. It’s like the “w” word – as in ‘Wedding’. When you buy anything under this category it shoots the price up. Same with the word ‘multiples’ or ‘twins’.  Shops sell an all-in-one ‘travel system’ (pram to you or me) that can have an interchangeable seat / car seat / crib / bassionet to use from newborn until they are 18 years of age (or near enough), with rain cover, foot warmer, kitchen sink and bathroom all rolled in for a reasonable price of under £200.  But do you get offered this fantastic package deal for twin buggies? No. Just a bog standard pram that sits 2 chairs side by side all for around £600 (!!!) AND then you have to buy the rain cover, foot warmer and every other bit extra. (Why????) Anyway, we chose the smallest side to side double buggy on the market.

Mr G and I didn’t want to choose who sat behind the other with no view but the back of a seat so decided side by side seats were for us. I do love it but it does cause getting around a bit of a challenge. My local shops are as you would expect, small and perfectly formed. Which means I cannot get in or out of them. I think I could get into most doorways but then I would be stuck and feel a bit like a cork in a bottle – can’t physically move and block everyone else coming or going. In the early days I was out walking and wanted a sandwich so headed for the nearest Cafe. I naively entered with gusto as I was glad to be out and about but ended up hitting and dragging so many chairs and tables with me that I gave up 4 foot in. I then didn’t want to look even more of an idiot (!) and just back out and leave as the grand entrance of chair legs screeching on the floor had caught everyone’s attention into staring at me open mouthed, so I shouted my order from the door as if that was my intention all along. At the time, in my head, I think I styled it out but looking back, I don’t think I did.

On another occasion when out and about I desperately needed some water but knew the local shops were not big enough for me to get the buggy through the door. So my creative side came out and I drank the left over water the girls had in their Tippee cups! Meeting up with people who choose and decide on the venue is another issue.  No one thinks like me with a double buggy. I worry whether we can get through the door, whether we can manoeuvre when inside the venue then whether there be enough space beside the table we will be sitting at to park the buggy or will it be in everyone’s way? If I have to park the buggy in a different area to where we are sitting what do I do when the girls want to sleep? Do I stay with the pram when the girls sleep, therefore leaving our guests or try and get the girls to sleep in our arms – which is another challenge in itself. There are so many factors to think about it gets quite stressful before I have even left the house!

Don’t even get me started on the day the rubbish men arrive! It’s like running the gauntlet along the pavement. Not only do I have to contend with bags and bins but also trees, tree roots, cars overhanging their drive onto the pavement, and overgrown hedges.  A day in the life of a double buggy is certainly eventful.

Mummy puts in a ‘grievance’ to her children

Erin670:

This is brilliantly written – not by me unfortunately – so had to reblog it. Love the fact the kids haven’t replied as yet! :-)

Originally posted on Mummy to toddler twins!:

Mummy of toddler twins

At Mummy and Daddy’s house

Somewhere in the Countryside

UK

4 June 2014

 

Dear Harry & Lottie

Re: Grievance regarding my role as Mummy

I am writing to you (my employers) with regards to my role as Mummy, which I was successful in gaining in September 2012.

Although I was extremely happy and fulfilled in my role initially, since you have been approaching two years old there have been a number of growing concerns on my part. As you are fully aware I have tried to discuss these with you on numerous occasions, but unfortunately you choose to ignore me.

I therefore feel compelled to put my problems into writing. Once you have read them I would like to request a formal meeting (which I am happy to have around your craft table) at your earliest convenience, as I am mindful of your busy schedules.

View original 455 more words

Quads – could you do it?

Wow, just wow.

Watching the programme last night about the family with Quads was for me full of memories, joy and aspiration. There were similarities with mine as they were premature and they were both so tiny but that is where the similarities stopped. I had two, they had four.

I felt their exhaustion, stress, obsessing about their weight, relentlessness and days rolling into one all over again. I had complete empathy and awe for the parents.

Until you have more then one child you understand most but not all that multiple parents have to go through.

But a 3 day break abroad? I mean seriously?? I break out in a sweat trying to contemplate the logistics of a family of 4 but not 6?!?  And to top it all off their bags were lost – every travellers nightmare!  I would have had a meltdown – actually I would have had one in the beginning just trying to pack for the holiday (do you know how much “stuff” you have to take everywhere!)   They are very brave and a perfect family with the perfect attitude for quads.

Ultimately It put things into perspective for me. No matter how tough a day I am having someone, somewhere is having just the same or tougher and it’s not how you deal with it (my preferred tonic at the end of the day is red wine) it’s how you embrace it and deal with every challenge thrown your way.

The word of the month is GENTLE!

I love watching the girls really looking at each other and their surroundings. They are becoming more aware and curious of the world. I love seeing things through their eyes where everything is new and exciting and AMAZING.  To be a baby again and find a piece of paper the best thing in the whole wide world spend hours happily turning it over and over, examining it, mouthing it and ripping it. Oh the joy!

Every day they are discovering a bit more about the existence of the other. First it was just staring from afar and now it is by touch. I lay them down together to change their clothes and nappy in the mornings and little hands reach out. Sometimes they stroke, sometimes they pat, sometimes they grab and pull clothes and on one occasion I caught Miss P with her finger up Miss C’s nose!

They have increased wanting to touch and feel our faces but what with their little nails and the last second of grabbing means all I seem to be saying lately is GENTLE in many tones (mainly as a yelp). It fascinates me that they grab at each other’s faces and neither of them cry out. I know it hurts but they do not say a word, yet as soon as they flop backwards and miss the pillow that was placed strategically behind them, onto the soft mat, out comes the wail!

Each day their exploration gets a little bit more bold. Clothes are now being pulled until the other falls over. Each others ears, noses and hair are fair game to them to yank and their latest game is to grab each other’s hand in the high chair and pull as hard as they can. This makes mealtimes an already time consuming feat.

One of our poor cats actually sits and allows them to grab at him. They go ecstatic when they see him! His tail and ears are pulled, his hair comes out in large tufts and yet he goes back for more! I try and show the girls what a gentle stroke is but they are so excited that this furry ginger thing with whiskers and tail goes near them that its all grabbing, excited cries and flailing hands.

The only time this cat kept a wide berth from them for a least a day was when he slowly approached one on my knee when,….’BURP‘, the girl brings up some milk and it cleverly lands all over the cats head. I’ve never seen the old cat move so fast.

Keep Up Mummy!

As you’ve read before the beginning was tough and waiting for that first smile from the girls was the reward I was so desperately needing. And when they started to smile, boy, did they smile! They smiled for everyone but me. This went on for weeks! They smiled at strangers, they smiled for Mr G but never for me. I used to shake my fist at them and say “traitors“.

Of course, eventually they did smile for me and it made everything in the world better. No matter how tired I am or pushed to my limits, one look from them beaming at me just melts me. But then once the smiling started their development and needs started changing. Miss C is the one who always pushes for the next stage. Poor Miss P and I are left floundering wondering what we are supposed to be doing.

Our daily routine is my security blanket and when Miss C pushes us forwards, the routine has to change and I am left feeling a bit bewildered and lost. First Miss C refused me when trying to feed her. She spent the 40 mins that Miss P was feeding to scream the house down and kick Miss P in the head!  So I moved onto bottle feeding.

Miss C then had another meltdown and refused a feed on the bottle. So I moved the feeding times from every 3 hours to every 3.5 hours. A few weeks later, Miss C did it again and I move the feeds from every 3.5 hours to every 4!  I have no idea how Miss P felt every time we did this. Luckily Miss P is easy going and has accepted everything so far. I seem to be the one who feels put-out and not able to keep up!

As for development milestones, that’s a tricky one. Miss P seems to do things first like roll from side to side and babble. But then stops.  Miss C does nothing and then does everything at once. She rolls onto her tummy, rolls back again, says da-da-da and other sounds. It’s like she bides her time and then goes…….”ta daaaa! – I could do it all along I just wanted to make a grand entrance!”  Miss C has a habit of rolling on top of Miss P and grabbing at her face which does not please Miss P one bit especially as Miss P hasn’t yet mastered the art of rolling away!  They both have an impressive skill (I am actually quite jealous of this one) which is sucking on their own toes! It is strangely hypnotic to watch yet so weird at the same time.

Both are sitting up with confidence now and they go rigid as a rock if you try and sit them up as all they want to do now is stand on their feet.  (Uh oh. Does this mean walking is round the corner?) Let me just put that to the back of my mind as the logistics of two of them walking is making me nervous and break out in a sweat.

At the moment they are more then content to sit beside each other and play with their toys. Which has recently turned into a battle of the wills as they want whatever toy is in each others’ hand.  Once, one had the head of a toy in their mouth and the other had the foot of the toy in their mouth. It reminded me of a scene with the spaghetti in Lady and the Tramp.

Other times it’s a lot of pulling and flailing arms with crying at the end. I don’t feel I should step in as they need to sort it out between themselves. They wouldn’t understand what I was saying to them if I did scold them. I sometimes just give the culprit a stern look and wag my finger and they return a wide grin back. A lot of the time there is pushing and shoving with the unlucky one losing grip on the toy and falling backwards with feet in the air and the winner having the toy smack themselves in the face. Who is the real winner then? All I know is that I wish I had filmed it to send into You’ve Been Framed!

Exploding poo

No one tells you about the poo. I mean the poo after the newborn bit and how it appears. You really are in for a treat. You are going to love how warm it gets too!

I had around 16-20 nappy changes a day at the beginning, not including when they go immediately after a nappy change. The exploding poo or worst poo incidents always seem to be at the most inconvenient time.

I’ve had poo dripping across the floor and all over the scales at a weigh-in with the midwife.

I’ve had poo land in my hand as I changed them. It looks like icing coming out of a piping bag! I always wonder how such a small baby could produce so much poo! Where are they storing it?

I’ve gone through 3, yes 3 nappies in less then a minute as the poo just kept on coming!

I’ve had poo cover the whole surface area of inside the nappy so when you take it off it looks like they are wearing a nappy made of poo.

I’ve had poo filling up the whole leg of a romper suit. I thought Miss C had hurt herself and her leg had swollen up but no it was full of warm gooey poo.

When they are on solids, the colour varies according to what they have eaten (which makes it very interesting) and is less runny and more firm like a poo you and I would do. I call these nuggets especially if they are small and perfectly formed. If I find one of these I consider myself lucky. I usually pick these straight out with a wet wipe and reuse the nappy. (I know what you are thinking. Seriously? Eugh! – But when you have twins and change as many nappies as I do everyday you look for short cuts – But I only do this if the nappy isn’t also wet).

Once on a play date, I was at an NCT ladies’ house and I changed Miss C’s nappy. It was a typical nugget as described above and instead of picking it out I thought I would be polite and just change the whole nappy as I was with company. But when I held the nappy in my hand and started to wrap it up, the poo fell out and rolled across her carpet…..I was mortified! Thankfully it was so firm that it didn’t do any lasting damage but coincidently I have not been invited back since!

My favourite is a sneaky poo. It lulls you into a false sense of security. You go for a nappy change,… you wait with bated breath as to what you might find,….you open the front of the nappy and see…. a pea sized nugget. Phew, what a relief. Quick nappy change here then……. or so you thought!  As you lift the legs up you see the nugget getting bigger and bigger and bigger and then you realise that it has been squashed all the way up the back. Brilliant. Not a quick nappy change as you thought but half a pack of wet wipes later and another change of clothes.

Its very rare a day goes by that you don’t find some clothes soaking in the kitchen sink but don’t even get me started on the day I came home to find Mr G had poo on his face!