Search results for 'center parcs'

Home-made ice lollies – a Center Parcs Challenge!

25 Jul

P1030565We love making our own ice lollies, so when Center Parcs challenged us to make some we jumped at the chance! There are lots of tips for making lollies here.

I had seen some great recipes just recently in The Daily Telegraph so I thought we would try the Minted Milk Lollies.

Here is the recipe we used:

30g fresh mint leaves (we used all the leaves from a plant that we bought at the supermarket)

450 ml whole milk

250 ml double cream

125g granulated sugar

To make the lollies:

Crush the mint in a bowl with the back of a wooden spoon. This will help the flavour of the mint to seep out.

In a saucepan heat the milk, cream and sugar until almost boiling.

P1030570

Remove from the heat and add the mint. Leave this to cool and infuse. (We left it for about 4 hours but you might want to leave in the fridge overnight)

Strain the liquid to remove any mint and pour into your lolly containers.

Freeze and enjoy- preferably in a secret den on a hot summers day!

lollies-den

Check out our recipe for Blackcurrant Lollies. Great if your children won’t normally eat Blackcurrants!

‘I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and have visited Longleat village with my family. If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how

 

Advertisements

The great outdoors – Center Parcs Challenge

24 May

Our camera is always full of photographs and I can only hope that I will eventually get around to downloading and saving them. I really need to be more organised with this so that I can find them when I need them.  I will add it to my list of things to do!

Anyway, I wanted to share these sunny shots that I took in the beginning of May. As I sit here writing this the rain is coming down like stair rods and I have my big woolly jumper on. We certainly have some changeable weather in the UK! I am linking this post up to the Center Parcs May Challenge. Entrants can win a holiday to Center Parcs by entering this challenge. Head on over to the entry page to have a look.

Apple Blossom is always a welcome sight  after a long wet winter

Apple Blossom is always a welcome sight after a long wet winter

 

Talking of apples ... look at this one that we spotted at Cotehele Mill!

Talking of apples … look at this one that we spotted at Cotehele

 

Our Wisteria has had the best blooms ever this year.

Our Wisteria has had the best blooms ever this year.

 

One of my favourite flowers

One of my favourite flowers

 

Another favourite of mine!

Another favourite of mine!

 

Hellebores

Hellebores

 

One thing I really love about late spring is that it gives us the most amazing light. Perfect for capturing those shots that we want to keep in our minds forever. This is another picture take at Cotehele, I love the light in this one and the cheeky look on my little man’s face!

Tom Tom

 

‘I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and I visited Longleat village with my family in March. You can see my review here.  If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how http://bit.ly/1okzxJv

Center Parcs Challenge – Easter Nests

26 Apr

cake-one

 

This month’s blogger challenge from Center Parcs is to create your own Easter nests. Ooh, this got my taste buds going I can tell you! Cake sprang to mind pretty quickly (as it usually does!)

There are lots of tips for making Easter nests over on their challenge page.

I decided to make some gluten-free Easter nests so that I could eat them too! We practiced making some birds nests in the garden before hand, using some grass, leaves and sticks. We talked about the kind of colour that birds nests can be and we decided that if the birds used lots of moss then the nests would be mainly green. (Thank goodness as I didn’t have any brown food colouring!)

Here is the recipe we used. It only made 7 cakes so you might want to double up on this.

4 oz butter or margarine

4 oz caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

4 oz Doves Farm Gluten Free Flour

Butter Icing

Green Food Colouring

Chocolate Strand Sprinkles

Cadbury’s Mini Eggs

Method:

Beat sugar and butter together, gradually add the eggs and then gently mix in the flour.

I used silicone bun cases to bake these. They take 15-20 minutes at 190 degrees Celsius.

Whilst they are cooling down, add some green food colouring to your butter icing and spread this onto the cakes. Add chocolate sprinkles and mini eggs and there you have it!

If you take part in this Center Parcs challenge you could win yourself a holiday to Center Parcs!  If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how.

 

 

 

 

cake-two

 

Center Parcs Longleat. Our review in pictures and video!

17 Apr

Title

As you may have seen in an earlier post, I was chosen to be a Center Parcs Family Blogger for 2014. This was such a privilege as we LOVE Center Parcs! Earlier this month, we visited Center Parcs and were asked to review our holiday. Firstly, here is a quick 2 minute video of our top tips!

The children did not know that we were going until the day we were leaving. We picked them up from school and told them that we were on our way to Longleat. The excitement was pretty full on, I lost track of how many times we heard “are we there yet?”

Finally we arrived and were given a very warm welcome at check-in. We were directed to our gorgeous 3 bedroom woodland villa. It was way out on the edge of the park which we loved. On a previous visit we stayed much closer to the plaza which is great BUT we saw very little wildlife. This time we saw lots and lots! We also got to make good use of our bikes which the children loved. You feel as if you could be anywhere, with the Giant  Redwoods and Conifers towering over you. It all feels very Scandinavian.

wildlife

Our villa was just perfect, very spacious and it had everything we could possibly need. We also received a complimentary grocery pack which was great. It meant that we didn’t need to pack tonnes of food as all the essentials were already there. The children loved the huge blackboard on the wall and spent lots of time recording our daily activities and our wildlife spots!

blackboard

One of the things we love most about Center Parcs is the ability to let your children run free. You don’t need to worry about cars and there is so much space! When we were not in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise the children explored the area, climbed many ancient, twisted trees and tackled the numerous adventure playgrounds that can be found all over the park. They were basically in heaven!  We loved cycling around from place to place and spent most of our time on our bikes (although there is a land train which runs very regularly). We were a little worried that our five-year old may not be able to cope with cycling the quite long distance from our villa to the plaza but he did really well. The cycle routes are really well thought out so that they are mainly flat and easy to navigate. There are some fairly steep hills on site so you might want to check this out when booking your accommodation.

Loving the great outdoors!

Loving the great outdoors!

As part of our family blogger experience, we were able to choose a complimentary activity  from one of the numerous ones available on site. It was very difficult to choose as there really is something for everyone. We decided to choose the ‘outing with owls’ as I just LOVE them. Their huge big eyes and heart-shaped faces just fascinate me and I think my love for them has rubbed off on the children.

I am so glad we chose this activity, it was amazing! We all got to fly two different types of owls and the lovely Clare was so knowledgeable about them. She obviously genuinely loves them and is so enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge with others.  I would definitely recommend this activity and I’d even consider doing it again if we were to go back. The look on the children’s faces when they got so close to these amazing birds was just priceless.

owls

It is very tempting to eat out every day at Center Parcs. There is just so much choice and everywhere is child friendly. It is not particularly cheap though so I would recommend making the most of your lovely villa to self cater if you are on a budget. If you do decide to eat out I would highly recommend Hucks. This has a play area at the back of the restaurant which is made to look like a pirate ship. It is all designed quite cleverly so that you don’t really notice it is there when you are eating. There is a buffet option for the children with all the usual foods that they love. Adult portions are huge! There is a good selection of cocktails and we just had to sample a few of these! My only negative point about Hucks is that since our last visit, they have installed computers for the children to play on at the back of the restaurant. I imagine most families go to Center Parcs to escape the pull of games consoles and to re-connect as a family. Having computer games in a family restaurant kind of detracts from that ethos.

Nachos

Look at the size of these Nachos!

If you visit the Pancake House, I’m sure most children would love the chance to ‘decorate their own pancake’. They have the option of gluten-free pancakes, which for me was a huge bonus! The food was lovely, good-sized portions and I think, one of the cheaper options for eating out at Center Parcs.

pancakes

The Subtropical Swimming Paradise is just amazing! We love everything about it and our children would happily stay there all day until they are  little shriveled up prunes. I do wish they could extend the outside pool area a little though, it can feel a bit of a squash and a squeeze at busy times.

If you are holidaying at Center Parcs try to make the most of your time there. You may not be able to check into your villa until 3pm but you are welcome to leave your car and luggage in the car park and enjoy all the facilities until your villa is ready. Likewise, on the day you check out, you can depart your villa and take your car to the car park but stay until the end of the day.

Would we recommend Center Parcs? Most definitely yes! If you can visit outside of peak times then the prices are pretty reasonable and you will have an amazing time.  If you would like to be in with a chance of winning a trip to Center Parcs then head over to their challenge page to find out how.

Have you visited Center Parcs? What would be your top tip for getting the most out of your visit?

end

 

My perfect day at Center Parcs

25 Jan

This month Center Parcs are challenging bloggers to describe their perfect day at Center Parcs.

For my family, this would most definitely involve a lot of time in the sub-tropical pool. We LOVE the pool at Center Parcs, especially the outdoor area, the lazy river and the wave machine. My children would happily spend the whole day in the pool but we do tend to leave before we turn into a family of prunes.

Whilst watching the family videos on the Center Parcs website I heard one family refer to a ‘Baby Owl Handling experience’ Twit… Twoooo.. yes please! I would love to do this as I am crazy about owls. My husband would probably be very happy to have a go at the Aerial Adventure and my daughter may even give this a go too, depending how brave she was feeling. The thing we really love to do is to explore the park, either on foot or on our bikes. We love being at one with nature and making our own fun (although admittedly we do have to stop at EVERY playground that we come across!)

To complete the perfect day I would like a lovely meal at the Hucks Restaurant or The Pancake House. Both serve amazing food and are excellent at catering for coeliacs like myself. Just thinking about it is making my mouth water!

Back to the villa for hot chocolate and stories. On a perfect day the children would go to bed with no trouble at all and hubby and myself can sit back and enjoy a glass of wine or two….

‘I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and will be visiting Longleat village with my family. If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how http://bit.ly/1gvBHBB

Day 2 of the Center Parcs #CPGift Christmas Competition

5 Dec

As a Family Blogger with Center Parcs I am so excited for their Christmas competition! Every working day from 4th December to 19th December you can enter to win some lovely Christmas goodies and one lucky person will even get the chance to win a break at Center Parcs.  To enter you will need to follow @CenterParcsUK on Twitter. Every day for twelve working days a clip will be released by Center Parcs and you need to guess what Christmas gift the clip is referring to. The competition is an exciting glimpse of what is to come in their brand new Center Parcs advert which will be aired on television on Christmas Day.

The good news is that Center Parcs Family Bloggers like myself are going to help you out by giving you an extra ‘riddle clue’ to help you solve the clues. Today is my turn to provide you with a riddle for the prize featured on the Center Parcs competition page on Thursday 5th December.

So are you ready?  Here goes….

2 Center Parcs Christmas Riddle Clues_Green Mums Blog (1)

So do you know what it is now? Head on over to the Center Parcs website and have a look at the video clip. You can view the full terms and conditions of the competition here.

Good luck and I hope you manage to win some of the lovely Christmas goodies on offer!

prize image 3 (1)

Boat Building! A Center Parcs challenge

30 Aug

I was quite excited to see the latest competition from Center Parcs, in association with Tots 100. The idea is to make your own boat and be as creative as you like.  This was perfect timing for us as our four year old son is CRAZY about boats at the moment.  On a recent camping trip to Cornwall, we hired a little motor boat and whizzed around St Ives harbour. It was the most fun we have had in ages and the children loved taking a turn at steering the boat.

Sailing in St Ives

Sailing in St Ives

So, why a boat competition for Center Parcs? Well, at Center Parcs ‘water’ is a big part of the holiday experience.  There are a variety of watersports available including scuba diving and sailing. Exactly which ones are available will depend on the site that you visit.  Of course, there is also the fantastic subtropical swimming park which is what we love best!

When challenged to build our own boat we came up with lots of ideas as a family. This actually led us to build quite a few boats! Some were more successful than others….

P1020210 (2)

Our prototype was easy to make. Just paint a little pot, stick a lollipop stick through a slit in the top and attach a flag with glue.  However in water it was about as much use as a chocolate teapot.  It was top-heavy so kept tipping over and for some reason I used poster paint instead of acrylics (doh) so it all came off in the water.

Our next attempt was at building a little raft using simple bits and pieces like some corks, some string, a cocktail stick and some paper. This was pretty effective and the children had fun floating it in the sink but it wasn’t quite exciting enough to hold their attention for long.

Our little raft reminds me of Robinson Crusoe!

Our little raft reminds me of Robinson Crusoe!

Next up was a home-made house boat fashioned from milk cartons! I love these and the children do too. Initially we just cut them out and painted them with some acrylic paint to see if the idea would work.

P1020214 (2)

Once painted, we took the boats out to a little river and road tested them (or rather, water tested them) to check that they floated and that the paint stayed on. It was a success! The little ones loved floating them around and storing them in the harbour whilst we had our lunch.

P1020218 (2)

P1020219

boat-collage

I love the idea of these little boats. I’ve always fancied owning a houseboat so in some small way I am living my dream! Thomas calls his, “The Rosie and Jim Boat”  for obvious reasons.  We couldn’t just stop here, we had to decorate them and add a few little improvements!

We gave them another coat of paint and also painted the top of the boat a different colour. The piece which we cut out of the boat was inverted into the inside of the boat and attached with my hot glue gun. This made a handy little seat and every piece of the carton was used.. ooh I do hate to waste anything! We then added some curtains and we planted up some cress seeds in little yoghurt pots which could sit proudly on our rooftop garden. Unfortunately these needed a few more days of growing before I took the photo but you get the idea! Next we hunted through our Playmobil toys to find some little bits and bobs we could add. We found pot plants, deck chairs and of course some little people to holiday in the houseboat! The results kept my little people amused for well over an hour, which after 6 weeks of summer holidays is a big thumbs as far as I’m concerned!

Chugging along on the old rag doll.....

Chugging along on the old rag doll…..

Boat-one

Both boats

Lily says this is '"Mummy and Daddy having a nap". Chance would be a fine thing!

Lily says this is ‘”The Mummy and Daddy having a nap”. I think we need to get ourselves a houseboat!

Aside

Center Parcs Competition. I give you… Treefall!

24 Nov

I am sooooooo excited about the latest Center Parcs competition over on Tots100.  Anyone who read my review of our holiday there last year will know that I am a huge fan and would love to go back again.

Center Parcs have recently launched a fantastic new water slide at Elveden Forest and to celebrate ‘Tropical Cyclone‘ and also their 25 year anniversary, they are asking us to put on our thinking caps and come up with what we think would be our perfect water slide.

We put our heads together as a family and came up with what we think would be a pretty cool water feature.  I give you…… ‘Treefall!’

Image

We wanted this water feature to represent everything that we love about Center Parcs. You start your ride in the entry pool where you board your family dinghy which is actually designed to look just like a bird’s nest. The pool currents take you around the pool and into a lift area where your dingy is transported skywards using a technique similar to that you would see in a canal boat lock system. You are transported higher and higher up into the giant redwood tree passing some treetop creatures along the way!

When you arrive at your destination (an amazing treetop house), you choose which of the three slides you wish to go down by grabbing the ropes at the entrance to the slide and pulling yourself over the edge and into a super cool exhilarating ride. The slides each look like a tree branch from the outside so for anyone that has read ‘The Faraway Tree’ this will be just like the ‘slippery slip’!

When your ride is almost finished you will fly through some reed beds and finally, enter an underground cave where you can either depart the ride OR if you’re feeling brave, get right back on again!

Our Winter Wonderland holiday at Center Parcs

6 Feb

Happy Days at Longleat Center Parcs

This is a little belated, since it is now February but I just wanted to share  our Winter Wonderland experience at Center Parcs. This takes place from the end of November, up until Christmas.

Thanks to my lovely mum and stepdad we were treated to 4 nights here, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We were amazingly lucky and are so grateful for such a treat. We all stayed together in one of their Executive Lodges which were spacious, clean and provided everything we needed for a home-from-home holiday.

Having never been to a Center Parcs before I didn’t really know what to expect but it far exceeded any expectations I might have had. The children LOVED every minute of it. We spent the days swimming in the amazing water complex or riding our bikes through the vast woodland and exploring all the playgrounds and walks. If you’re a family that loves the outdoors, wildlife and nature then this is definitely a holiday for you. The magnificent giant redwoods create a magical canopy above you and the woods are home to many rare species.  I know people have had deer coming up to their villa doors looking for food and company!

No Winter Wonderland is complete without singing reindeer!

I thought being away at Christmas would be strange and I did wonder if it would even feel like Christmas but it all felt very seasonal. We arrived to find a Christmas Wreath on our villa door and a real Christmas tree inside (you need to remember to take your own lights and decorations). There are gorgeous twinkly lights all around the park at night and Santa’s grotto is just brilliant! You can even see his real reindeer waiting outside for him to finish his visits. My children both had a wonderful visit with him. You really can’t compare this to the grottos that you get springing up in garden centres and shops at the end of October…. It was so lovely I actually had tears in my eyes when we came out (ok, it doesn’t take a lot to start me off!)  It costs £10 per child but both children received a really lovely toy which  will last forever, not just some cheap plastic thing that gets forgotten about after 5 minutes.  We were not rushed at all during our visit and we received a wonderful photograph of the whole family with Santa.

We went to see the park pantomine while we were there, this was great fun and such a lovely atmosphere too. The children were right down at the front of the stage on a blanket and there were free mince pies and drinks for everyone. It was great that the children had such a great view of the stage, could jump up and down and shout and scream at the bad witch and really get stuck in!

There are always lots of other activities available at Center Parcs, for both children and adults alike. These are always charged extra and are not cheap! This is my only negative comment about a holiday here.  Even a basic holiday here is pretty expensive, especially in the school holidays. It’s a real shame that they can’t just throw in a couple of activities for free and I imagine that’s the one thing that might put people off a Center Parcs holiday.

The highlight of the holiday was swimming in the outdoor pool under the stars on boxing day evening. We could have been anywhere in the world, the water was so warm and the whole family were happy and relaxed.  I can see why people keep going back to Center Parcs, I think I am addicted now….

North Norfolk Adventures from Kelling Heath

17 Aug

kelling

Kelling Heath is in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the campsite is made up of 270 acres of woodland and heathland. Their website tempted us with the chance to spot wildlife, cycle and explore the beautiful Norfolk Coast. As ‘green parents’ there were so many things about Kelling Heath that we were drawn to, not least their 10 green reasons to visit, it really seemed the perfect location for us.

On arrival at the site we were instantly impressed by the layout and the ‘safe’ feeling that the site has. The speed restriction throughout is 5 mph, the roads are wide enough to accommodate a car, as well as a family of cyclists. We felt very confident with our children cycling around the site and always used our bikes to go to the ‘village centre’ or the pool. For such a large site I think they have got this just right.

Beautiful views from Kelling Heath

Beautiful views from Kelling Heath

Our pitch was spacious and had electric hook up as standard. (Our first time camping with a real fridge.. yippee!) The shower block was always clean when we visited, even at peak periods and there were always cleaning staff around to check on things. They did a great job at a really busy time. The showers were hot and the cubicles were well thought out for families – plenty of space, hooks for your clothes and a little fold down seat/shelf. I can’t stand it when your clothes end up in a wet puddle on the floor due to lack of space!

To use the indoor pool you will need to purchase a pass for the Leisure Centre (unless you are staying in a lodge in which case you will get free membership for the duration of your stay). A pass for a family of four will cost you £32 per day which I think is pretty steep. You can also use the gym, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi but even so it is a lot of money.  If you are feeling brave, the outdoor heated pool is free for anyone staying at the site. We didn’t use it but I heard from other people that it was very cold!   As an alternative you could visit the Splash Leisure Centre in Sheringham.

The other facilities and activities on the site were great. There is children’s entertainment most evenings and whenever possible this is outside.  This pleased us because on a nice summer’s evening the last thing you want to do is to be sat indoors. The entertainment was of a good quality, they had a clown on a couple of evenings who brought along lots of activities for the children to try. There were all sorts of comical bicycles and children of all ages were having a great time attempting to ride them. Green Daddy also had a go but this was purely for research purposes of course….

There is a children’s assault course, adventure play area and playing field. Plenty to keep children of all ages entertained.  The site is perfect for cycling. Whether you want to stick to cycling through the woodland and heathland on site or venture further afield, there is something for everyone. We did a lot of cycling. One of our favourite routes was from Kelling Heath to Sheringham Park (via a 40 foot viewing tower!). For more information on cycling routes check out the Huff and Puff website. They are based at Kelling Heath and can also provide cycle hire.

cycling

Viewing tower at Sherringham Park

Viewing tower at Sheringham Park

The highlight of our holiday was definitely our day out on the North Norfolk Steam Railway. This railway runs from Holt to Sheringham and makes a request stop at Kelling Heath Campsite! How great is that?! We had a fantastic day spending the first part of the day in the lovely seaside town of Sheringham. I would definitely recommend the Whelk Coppers Tearooms which is down on the seafront. It’s a quaint little cafe offering home-made cakes, light lunches and smoothies. Really great atmosphere and friendly staff too. Also, don’t miss the Shell Art Gallery. You might think is sounds boring but it was quite an eye opener!

NSR collage

Other days out included the seaside town of Cromer. The lifeboat station and the Henry Blogg Museum are both located here and the children really enjoyed both of these.  The Henry Blogg Museum was really interactive and the dressing up was fun!

Dressing up at the Henry Blogg Museum, Cromer

Dressing up at the Henry Blogg Museum, Cromer

Felbrigg Hall is another lovely place for families. It is a National Trust property with a fantastic walled garden. The house had a really fun quiz for the children which really kept them interested and they enjoyed re-enacting the ghostly photographs that a past resident had produced!

Ghostly going-ons at Fellbrig Hall

Ghostly goings-on at Fellbrig Hall

There is a wonderful new nature centre at Cley Marshes. The staff there are very knowledgeable, you can get a wonderful lunch in the cafe and the gift shop sells excellent gifts for bird lovers and nature lovers.

saltmarshes collage

lily=hide

marsh

No visit to North Norfolk would be complete without visiting the seals at Blakeney Point. There are various boats which will take you out on the 1 hour trip. We chose Beans Boats but they all charge around the same price. This was a great experience and one the children will hopefully remember forever!

Blakeney Point Seals

Blakeney Point Seals

on boat

Kelling is a great site, the only negative point for us was that we were in a field with a group of around 25 people who were very noisy in the evenings and late into the night. This did slightly spoil our holiday, especially given that we had asked to be in a quiet part of the site.  I have raised this issue with Kelling and they have assured me that they are going to re-visit their policies around group bookings and noise levels.

Overall, we would definitely recommend Kelling Heath as a great location for exploring North Norfolk. Three out of four of us agreed that we preferred it to Center Parcs!