Spring is on the way! Ok well it might not feel like it but if the daffodils are anything to go by and they usually know their stuff then it’s only around the corner. With spring brings the promise of bank holiday weekends too.

If you are starting to think about family time and weekend getaways then look no further than the fabulous Geronimo family festival! This year it takes place on the late May bank holiday. The dates are 27th-29th May.

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This year its in a new home at Arley Hall estate in Northwich, Cheshire. With a great opportunity to spend the weekend together enjoying the spirit of family time.

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Last year was our first time at Geronimo and we came away wanting more. You can read about our adventures here. This year for the first time Geronimo is also offering the option to camp! With a whole host of options families can either bring their own tent, caravan or motor home or book one of Geronimos’ range of accommodation. These include Bedouin tents and Tangerine tents available to suit families no matter what their size!

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The theme of this year’s event is Princesses, Knights and Dragons families are welcome to dress up and join in the fun.

If you’ve got preschoolers then they are bound to love watching the stars of CBeebies on stage, famous faces such as Justin Fletcher, Mr Bloom (one for the mums!) and the stars of swashbuckle will all be there. Geronimo family festival caters for children of all ages!

For families that love music the music offering is second to none and includes the Voodoo Love Orchestra, Manière des Bohémiens an energetic and improvised Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli influenced Gypsy Jazz and Eastern European swing and Mr Wilson Second Liners – a New Orleans meets 90s club classics…a rave funeral without the body!

There is just so much going on this year at Geronimo you would be mad not to book while the second tier pricing is still available! Head to the official Geronimo website found here to book tickets and get the date in the diary!

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Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

In a nationwide search which assessed over 175 million reviews, Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club have been voted to have the best Breakfast in the North West by Hotel search website trivago.co.uk. This weekend we were invited down to taste the award wining breakfast.

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Weekend time is precious time in our home. We like to make the most of our time together. During the week with the rush of work, school and nursery we barely get any time to spend together where we can truly relax. So we were all very much looking forward to a weekend breakfast not far from home.

The Worsley Marriott Hotel & Country Club is set in beautiful grounds and as we arrived on Saturday we were greeted by the stunning sight of the sun rising above the frost covered grounds.

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We followed the signs to our destination – The Grill in the Park at the Worsley Park Marriott.

Worsley park Marriott

Worsley park Marriott

Grill in the Park

Bring in the Grill in the Park is like being in a log cabin, the decor is lovely and the soft wood theme and striped carpets make for a calm and quiet atmosphere. Breakfast at the Grill in the Park is a self service and contains a wide selection of cooked as well as cold options. Priced at £16 per person for the buffet or £12 for continental option. Just £10 if residents add breakfast with a  room at check in.

We were shown to our table and offered a hot drink which was brought out to us. If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know we are coffee lovers so there was only one choice for us!

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The boys were set on getting cereal to start their breakfast, as a special treat they chose coco pops.

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Worsley park Marriott

Worsley park Marriott

Even at this point Thomas was giving it the two thumbs up.

I went for a walk around all the choices to make sure I knew what was available. I noticed that there was a lovely selection for those people who need to have Gluten free. You don’t often see this at breakfasts so I thought it was a really great plus for the Worsley Park Marriott.

Worsley park Marriott

Breakfast Choices

I had a small bowl of steaming hot porridge with some fruit to start. I love having oats in the morning. Followed by some smoked salmon and scrambled egg. The eggs were some of the best I have ever tasted and highly recommended. There was yogurts and fresh fruit as well as sliced ham and cheese. With three choices of fruit juice alongside white and brown bread to toast.

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Hubby went straight for the recommended option of an omelette cooked to order by the chef at the hot breakfast selection. You can choose your own fillings and it’s cooked right in front of you. He chose Bury black pudding and blue cheese another recommendation.

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He said it was really nice. I’m not a fan of black pudding but I did taste the cheese with the omelette and it was very tasty. I did consider having one made with just the cheese but as I was already full I thought I’d save it for next time!

Finishing Breakfast

Whilst at the omelette station he noticed that there was a waffle iron too. Mentioning this to Thomas was a mistake as then he wanted one. He was already on his second course, local back bacon and sausage with a hash brown and scrambled egg. That boy can eat!

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We agreed that if he finished his food we would get a waffle to share. I can’t say I was disappointed or surprised when he finished, I wanted to try the waffle too!

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We shared it between the four of us (with syrup on) it was tasty!

With full tummies having enjoyed a tasty start to the day we were finished. It really was delicious and I have to say the lovely serene atmosphere was an added extra. The Worsley Park Marriott is a beautiful hotel set in stunning surroundings. I can understand why it has been voted the best breakfast in the North West. It is by far the best breakfast we’ve had out as a family for a long time and we have already said we’ll return.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and there’s no better way to start it than with a fabulous breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel and Country Club, we can’t wait to go back!

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Googly Eyes – Game Review

Thanks to University Games for sending us a sample of their latest release Googly Eyes to test out this week! Here’s what we thought it –

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Googly eyes

 

The game is called Googly Eyes by University Games. Its a team game for 4 to 16 players who form up to four separate teams. As we had 4 players (2 adults and 2 children) we made two teams with a grown up on each.

The aim of the Googly Eyes game is to be the first team to get to the finish on the board, but the fun you have on the way is hilarious!

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Each turn involves one person on the team having to draw something and the team members guessing what it is correctly before the time is up. However its not a simple as drawing, you have to wear funny glasses with differing levels of hilarious distorting lenses according to difficulty. The harder the lenses is to see through the more time you have to draw the picture and the team to guess.

There are three different lenses to pop in the Googly eyes frames , easy, medium and hard.

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Game Summary

Things we loved about the game:

It was funny to play, and we did laugh…a lot!

I can see it being a hit in the Christmas season if you get a group of adults together who are enjoying the Christmas spirit (and a little mulled wine!)

It brought the teams together

There are lots and lots of different cards for variety so it’s unlikely in the course of a game or two you’ll ever get the same thing to draw again

It’s an easy game to understand you don’t have to keep referring back to the rules

The game says ages 7 and above but the 5 year olds had no trouble (if they like drawing that is) even if they can’t read the game card words (which ours could) then an adult could help them with that part

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In trying to write a balanced review the only thing I could think might be a slight negative is you have to keep changing the lenses in the glasses which can sometimes be tricky if they don’t click in first time then can fall out when you draw, once you’ve got the knack of it though its not so bad. Also sometimes the timer is incredibly short (15 seconds) so when we were playing with the young ones we allowed a little more time for them!

Printworks

When hubby and I first started dating around 11 years ago, our first date was spent in the Printworks Manchester, back then if I remember correctly the Printworks to me seemed to be full of bars and clubs, with a couple of restaurants thrown in as well as the Odeon cinema. I wouldn’t have thought of it then as a family destination. Todays trip has changed my perspective. Having spent most of our day there today has defiantly changed my mind and I’m grateful we got the chance to go and have a family day together.

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Family Time at the Printworks

Printworks

We started the morning with a trip to the Odeon cinema to watch the new Angry Birds Movie which was just released the day before we visited. It was Flixsters first time at the cinema so it was exciting for him to be having a ‘first’ too. Although he had been before when he as only a few weeks old, he was fast asleep in a sling on my chest so that doesn’t count! This time he had his very own seat and his very own childrens snack box. I wasn’t sure what to expect with a film based on an app but the film was pretty funny in parts, even for adults!

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I really like going to the cinema on a weekend morning as it’s usually full of other children so you know you that even if your little one talks it won’t be disturbing other peoples film experiences which is great as most people there will be understanding and have children themselves. The boy has been going to the cinema on weekends with one of us since he was about two and a half so he’s very used to sitting and enjoying a film, he takes after his dad who’s film mad!

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The family snack deal went down very well with everyone and at £9.99 for two childrens packs (with popcorn, snack and drink), a medium popcorn and two adult drinks I thought that was pretty good considering what you would expect to pay normally for each individual item.

Towards the end of the film I did take Flixster out for a little walk and then we watched the very end of the film from the exit corridor so that he wouldn’t be disturbing people, but it was only the last few minutes of a 90 minute film for someone who’s just turned two I don’t think thats bad. For the rest of the film he mostly sat watching and enjoying the big screen, it went far better than I had expected!

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After the film i could tell he was tired as it was hitting nap time so we popped him into the buggy and off he went to sleep as we had a little walk before lunch.

Lunch at Frankie and Bennys

Lunch was booked for Frankie and Benny’s which in the Printworks is almost opposite the cinema entrance. All the restaurants in the printworks look nice but I picked Frankie and Bennys as its somewhere I’ve not been for about 10 years. When I was dating hubby we went a few times but it never seemed to change much so I guess it sort of fell out of our radar. The boys had never been to Frankie and Bennys either so it was a nice treat for them.

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We were seated in a booth which was great for the children as hubby and I could block the exits and easily stop them from running around, sometimes when you sit at a table I seem to spend the entire meal repeating the words “please sit down”. The staff were very accommodating with the buggy too which was lovely of them, so we were able to have Flixster asleep next to us at the table whilst we had some food. He did wake later on in the meal and helped finish the chips and the dessert.

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The boy was super chuffed at his childrens menu, he loves being able to make his own choice of food and I love that he can feel grown up by reading and making his choices.

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Our waiter who if I remember correctly was called Janis was great with the boy, he really made him feel welcome which is lovely when you have children, you feel more relaxed about the meal and get to enjoy the family time together.

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As we were there at lunch time we choose our food from the lunchtime menu, I went for the fish with salad as I’m following a health eating plan at the moment and hubby went for burger. The boy also went for the build your own burger choice and decided to have it with cheese , bacon, ketchup and some fries and beans as side orders. We also ordered a starter of dough balls to share.

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I’m glad we did share them as there were lots to go round. Sometimes with dough balls at other restaurants you’d don’t get very many but I think the portion at Frankie and Bennys was just right.

My food was lovely and the salad was nice and fresh which to me is always a good sign, hubby said his burger was yummy and the boys plate was gobbled up pretty quickly and finished off by Flixster when he awoke from his nap! thankfully the soft drinks were unlimited refill which I prefer as you don’t have to worry about the cost or how thirsty you get, you know what you’re paying up front and theres no hidden extras when you get the bill!

The childrens’ meals came with a choice of drinks and as milk was on the menu thats what the boys ordered, milk lovers the both of them as they don’t like fizzy drinks.

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I skipped dessert but there seemed only one obvious choice for the boys to share and my boy had already spotted it on the menu! It was the Ice Cream Candy Shop, you do pay a little extra for it as its not part of the kids included desserts but   having seen the enjoyment my two had with it, I’d would treat them to it again next time. It does say great to share and I would say it was two much for just one of them so I’m glad they did share it between them. It came in a little wooden crate with a bowl of ice cream and various sweets to sprinkle on as well as a little jug of chocolate sauce. Upon seeing it for the first time the boy exclaimed “This is the best day ever!” which made me laugh quite a lot!

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It even came with a little paper bag to take any remaining sweets home which was a nice touch!

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Hubby choose the waffle and ice cream on recommendation from our waiter, he was not disappointed, I could smell how nice it was from across the table and sadly he had already tucked in before I got a photo!

By the end of the meal we were all perfectly satisfied and came out having had a lovely family day together, the trip has proven to me that the Printworks is much more a family destination now, and I look forward to more days out there together in the future to try out some of the other restaurants although the boy is already requesting to go back to Frankie and Bennys!

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Thanks from us to the Printworks for inviting us to come and enjoy some family time together!

 

 

 

Last weekend we packed up the car with all the paraphernalia you need for a day out with small people and headed to our local ‘Pumpkin Patch’. We’ve never been before. My beautiful American friend Jenny from Let’s Talk Mommy has a yearly tradition with her children and when she was young of picking pumpkins. I guess over here in England its never been that popular before. When I was young pumpkins were of course available in the shop to carve and I remember buying one sometimes to carve. There was one year that my dad carved the pumpkin and my mum made a pumpkin pie…it was awful! I have since found out that pumpkin pie is in fact a delicious dish so I have no idea what my mum did that year!

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Before we had children I used to dread halloween, I hated being disturbed by trick or treaters so we’d always just go out instead to avoid it all! However once again children have changed me and I now look forward to the night. I love putting up the decorations and getting ready for all the little ones who come to our door to trick or treat. So this year I wanted to start a new tradition for our family and head out to the pumpkin patch. It was also a fab chance to get some snaps of the children. We have an SLR camera which I have mentioned before but we don’t use it half as much as we should so I jumped at the chance to take it with us a practise my skills (of which I have very little!).

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I love this shot of the boys going through the Maize Maze together, I try to get the boy to hold Flixsters hand more often now when they are walking, I especially love how Flixsters pointing at something in this shot.

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We loved spending time looking at the pumpkins growing in the field. Flixster mainly just loved the mud, touching the mud on the pumpkins and walking in the most mud possible. But he is only 18 months old!

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The sun was shining and he was enjoying himself!

There were quite a few rotting pumpkins which the boy loved, being a boy anything gory seems to fascinate him.

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I really loved the visit, being outdoors with the boys, running around, taking photos, looking at all the pumpkins. I think it’s something I’d really like to do every October to kick off our halloween celebrations. A new tradition in our house has started.

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boys

Sometimes just sometimes I wish there was more time. I know more time is never going to happen but I can carry on wishing for it. I probably spend too much time doing meaningless jobs around the house and not enough time noticing the world around me.

I don’t spend enough time with the boys.

I’m guilty of spending too much time cleaning the house but in the moment I’m doing yet it feels important to me.

I’d love to have more time to spend exercising and pursuing hobbies or painting, reading or drawing but those times never seem to come.

Other days I just want to turn back time to see your children as little babies again, to relive our wedding day or to speak to people that we have lost. But never a truer word has been spoken when it was said that tomorrow never comes and yesterday is the past. There is only one day and that’s today, so I need to stop wishing for more time and try to make every minute meaningful and have purpose.
I’m back at work doing my usual hours now and have made a real effort to throw myself into every opportunity that comes my way. I want to do as much as possible to be helpful at work and make a change. This has had the surprising effect of making me enjoy work so much more. I’ve turned positives into even more positives.

We are already in May now, this year  is flying by. As a family we are still so undecided about holidays for this year. I know I need to make a decision soon though or it’ll be too late.

Holidays are a luxury and I fully appreciate that even to be able to consider going away is something that most people can’t afford to do. So I do consider myself lucky that its something we may be able to do. We haven’t been abroad as a family of 4 yet. The boy is 4 in August and Flixster has just turned 1. We have gone over and over many different options and can’t decide which one is going to be right for us.

Before we had children we were lucky enough to be able to go on holiday each year, some time several times. We would frequently go to Walt Disney World which we adore.

Since the boy came along we have taken him twice to Florida, once when he was 16 months and again when he was just a little over 2 years old. Both times we had a fantastically wonderful time. Memories were made for us all. The boy does seem to remember some of the second visit, if that’s down to photos and videos I’m not sure but I know he can’t wait to go again.

However a holiday like Florida needs lots of planning and I’m not sure I’m comfortable booking something so soon with such little time to plan the logistics.

Recently we’ve been looking at package holidays through tour operators. Having never really been on a beach holiday I’m not sure what to expect. Would the boys have enough to do? They are both pretty active and we as a couple can never really sit still and relax. We’ve come to expect lots to do and see on holidays. Our boys are early risers (like 5am risers!) so saying in bed in the morning is sure to be a no-no! We need somewhere that’s going to have lots of things to do and see, that’s very family friendly.

I always prefer recommendations so love reading reviews. If anyone has any ideas of where to start looking then please feel free to comment. I’d love to read some other posts about family holidays too!

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Dear Boys,

We’ve had some pretty busy weeks lately. With Grandma on Mondays, breastfeeding group Tuesdays and me back at work for my 3 full days Wednesday to Friday the weeks are passing by in a blur. I can’t seem to find time to get the house straight let alone write a blog post. I have however promised myself to find more time from now onwards. I don’t want to miss any special moments or firsts in your life.

Flixster I’m going to start with you as we’ve reached a very special milestone in your life. One year ago you came to join us to start your life here on earth. I remember it like it was yesterday and still love to relive your birth story. What an amazingly special time it was.

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This was you just moments after you joined us as I sat back to admire your face and start our journey together.

This is you just last night in the bath, gosh how you’ve grown. We’ve had our ups and downs. Mostly up’s but I do wish you’d starting liking your sleep more! Mummy and daddy are pretty exhausted now!

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You are defiantly a happy little man, always smiling (unless we’re trying to get you down for a nap, then its screaming!) but on the whole a contented little man. You’re in nursery 3 days a week now and I think you are getting more used to it. I try to take a peek through the window before I enter the room to pick you up and 9 times out of 10 you are ok. I know the ladies look after you there and they have told me you’re ace at giving hugs. I attribute that to all the carrying you’ve had.

IMG_3384I love how you’re face lights up with excitement when the boy enters the room, he is your absolute favourite person. In the mornings when he comes to join us in bed I sometimes think you’d explode with happiness the amount of screaming and dancing you do when you first see him.

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On your birthday itself we didn’t really celebrate as we’d all been so poorly with a tummy bug, so we postponed the celebration to coincide with our wedding anniversary. Of course we let you have your presents’ on your birthday though as the boy was dying to play with them. For months he’s wanted to get you (really him too) some Toot toot toys, and form the moment he knew we’d bought them he kept asking if he could have a ‘little’ try!

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Now that you’ve had your birthday presents off the family too you’ve got quite a collection, I’m not sure where we are going to keep it all!

Boy – we’ve just had a big milestone in your life too. We know now which school you’ll be attending in September. I’m so grateful that we were offered a place at our number 1 choice of school. I am extra grateful given that I know if lots of mummies who were disappointed with their allocated placements. It’s our nearest school too which is only a few minutes walk away. The thought of school for you fills me with both excitement and dread. I’m excited that another chapter of your life will start, but you’re just so young still. You will have just turned 4 when you start. I hope you cope ok with 5 days a week, the structured learning environment and the large mix of people.

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I’m trying my best to prepare you for whats to come, I mention school a lot and talk about where you will be going in September. We have talked about uniforms and classrooms and having lunch there too. The other day I noticed that they publish the plans for the term ahead on the website so I’ll have a look and see if there’s anything we can do to prepare. I’m not asking you to be top of the class or super clever, I just want you to try your best in everything that you do. To be kind to everyone else and to listen carefully in class. I hope that for the first term at least we won’t have to let you go to after school club as that’s a bus ride away but I’m not sure yet how we are going to sort out school pick-ups. It’s just another hurdle that we will learn to cross.

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You have been really loving with Flixster from the start but I can see now that he’s more mobile he just wants to do everything you’re doing. I know this is annoying you at times but I’m trying to teach you to share with him. I know he must irritate you when you’re trying to do something but honestly he just loves you so much that he follows you everywhere. He’ll soon be talking like you and I hope that you will be best friends together. OF course I know it won’t be plain sailing all the time but as long as you’re there for each other when it matters that’s all I ask.

I hope that despite our busy lives we can continue to have adventures together and make some fabulous memories this summer, it’s already shaping up to be a good year. Being a family of 4 is fantastic and I look forward to our up coming adventures.

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Please always remember I love you unconditionally ……..forever.

Love Mummy x

As a family we are currently counting down the days to our much anticipated trip to Center Parcs. I can’t wait to spend precious time with my family and especially my husband as we rarely seem to get quality time together. The time we do have is spent tidying up or passing each other on the way to the gym or work. I’m really hoping that this trip will give us the break we need and time to reconnect.
We’ve had this trip booked for quite a long time, it was first booked for last April before we knew that Flixster was growing inside me so having realised the trip would coincide with his due date we had to rearrange. For a small admin fee thankfully it was no trouble so that put my mind at rest. So fast forward another year and we are now just weeks away from going.
Travelling with a young family is daunting, just the sheer amount of things I will need to take for only a few days seems like a mammoth effort! I’m thinking of doing a blog post just listing the things I need to take as a helpful guide to other families who may be travelling with small people for the first time. Now that Flixster is on complimentary food as well as breastmilk the list just gets longer!
I have been to Center Parcs before and so know roughly what to expect from our break, but of course having to small people in tow changes the focus of the holiday. Before my first visit to Center Parcs about 7 years ago I wasn’t sure if it would be for me but having been a few times now I can say that it most defiantly is. It’s a place for everyone. No matter what kind of group you are travelling in, all adults or adults and children you will be able to find something to do.
This trip we are taking my mum and dad too which will be nice. I am desperately hoping that I will be able to have some time away from my beautiful babies with my mum. I hope that we will be able to visit the spa and perhaps have a treatment there. Something which at the moment seems impossible! I’d love to spend some time with my mum as although I see her on an almost weekly basis she lives about an hour from me so going out in the evening together is pretty impossible even if I didn’t have the Flixster permanently stuck to me! Plus when I do see her we always have both the boy and Flixster so holding any kind of adult conversation is tricky as anyone who has a chatty preschooler will know all too well! I’m also hoping that perhaps one night the hubster and I can get out together to perhaps have a meal or just go for a swim. I’d love to get him in the spa but I’m not too sure if he’ll be up for that?!
I hope to that I can write a few blog post about our experience at Center Parcs so that anyone who has not been will be able to see why so many people rave about the place, and why when you have a young family it can be a great short break destination.
For this trip we are visiting the Whinfell situated in the Lake district, it’s about 90 minutes to 2 hours drive from us with no stops so I’m going to allow at least half a day for travel with frequent toilet and food stops!
So let the endless list making begin and the countdown start, Center Parcs here we come!