|Don't be fooled, the sun didn't stick around........|
So that's that then . . . .
Center Parcs 2012 that is, our holidays over for another 'summer' (and I use that particular word loosely).
The experience as exhausting as ever (there is nothing that leaves a person longing for a rest quite like a short break CP-style) it's good to get home for a rare sit down and a nice cup of tea.
That doesn't mean that a good time hasn't been had . . . .
Far from it, in fact.
Dr Z and I have the aches and pains to prove that recent days have been spent engaged in activities eclectic and, in the main, excellent.
Here is the official @homedad account, the Center Parcs Chronicles . . . .
DEPARTURE DAY: This long awaited, following a protracted countdown on the kitchen chalkboard.
The B: "Hooray, it's Center Parcs Day!"
Short silence as The G digested this information.
The G: "Hooray, it's Center Parcs Day!"
Me (to The G): "What's Center Parcs?"
She thought about this for a moment.
The G (as honest (and confused) as ever): "I don't know . . . ."
THE JOURNEY: Problem-free, non-eventful. Just over 88 miles, a shade under two hours, the excitement mounting with each wheel turn.
The B: "How big is Center Parcs?"
Me: "I can't remember exactly, but it's pretty big."
The G: "Is it normous?"
For the record, it is normous. This I know because much of its 457 acres has been covered either on foot, scooter or horse during the last eight days.
THE ACCOMMODATION: The lodge and I have much in common. On the surface, the accommodation is decent enough - well presented and, in parts, rather stylish. Look hard enough though, and a little like me, it's a touch on the tired side, not fully functional and showing signs of wear. Our lodge was frayed around the edges, and had seen better days, but then haven't we all?
THE FOOD: Mixed bag, but in the main, decent enough. Much Mövenpick and plentiful chocolate. The G alternated between baked beans and nothing, whilst The B, having eaten mostly meat, appears to have put himself on some kind of Junior Atkins Diet.
THE WILDLIFE: Plentiful. Official sightings (only animals spotted from the lodge itself, or in its immediate vicinity, can be counted): Pheasants 10, Red Squirrels 4, Rabbits 17.
On the first day, The B, a little breathless in his excitement, informed me that he'd spotted two peasants out back. It pained me to correct his pronunciation.
On the second day, The G discovered a small hole in the forest.
I asked them both what might live in it.
The B: "A mouse?"
Me: "Something a little bit bigger, I think . . . ."
Pause for thought.
The G: "An elephant?"
THINGS I DIDN'T NEED TO PACK: Sunglasses. Sun cream. Sun hats.
THINGS I SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT: Extra socks for waterlogged feet.
THE WEATHER: See above.
THE COST: Rather steep, but often it's worth paying a little extra. Let's face it, a cabin, in the forest, all mod-cons, wildlife all around, a 10 minute stroll to Sub-Tropical Swimming Paradise, shops, restaurants and activities on tap - it's not going to come cheap . . . .
THE ACTIVITIES: Too many to detail at length, but the highlights include . . . .
Swimming: Six pool visits in eight days. In itself not so strenuous, but consider all the slides, flumes, canyon rides, rapids, waves, bubbles, currents and tunnels and this becomes an impressive feat of endurance. It's the stairs that do for you.
Pony trekking: Beyond wet, but fun nevertheless. The B's ride was called Freddie (quite apt given his love of Queen), The G's Eric. The B stayed awake on his horse. The G did not.
Fencing: I'd imagined this to be little more than The B&G whacking each other with foam swords, but it turned out to be a proper lesson in the basic principles and techniques of the Olympic sport. The G took to it in some style, The B, outfought throughout, less so.
Teddy Bear Making: The G created Princess Mabel Cat (pink, of course). The B made a dinosaur called Tbepjptyyy (this moniker the result of him not thinking of one before he started to write his new toy's name, as requested, on the 'birth certificate').
Adventure Golf: Just like at home (The B is a talent, The G just tiresome).
Throw in a treasure hunt, teddy bear's picnic, soft play, dancing (The G), jet skis (The B), tattoos, a pedalo (I even got a little assistance from Dr Z on the pedals this time, making for a much-improved ride), a wooden owl hunt, learning about and handling a bird of prey and various farmyard animals (the first time anyone has ever asked me 'would you like to tickle his dangly wattles?') and much, much more, and it's no surprise that we've all returned home so tired. In fact, I think I need a holiday . . . .
AMUSING FOOTNOTE: Upon approaching the house this afternoon, The B looked out of the car window and realised that, after almost two hours on the road, we were back on familiar ground.
He smiled and gave a contented sigh.
"Back in England," he said . . . .