What is better than a spontaneous mini break? … A spontaneous mini break with a group of fabulous bloggers to Centre Parcs of course!
I was the late comer to the group as someone had to drop out last minute. Lauren over at Blonde Vision who is also the mastermind behind LDN Meetups (if you don’t know what this is you should definitely get involved) contacted me and asked me if I would like to join. After (not a lot of) debating I threw caution to the wind and said “Yes please!” and thanks to my awesome manager I even managed to wangle a last minute day off work.
The fun began before we’d even arrived. Packing four bloggers, their supplies for the weekend, enough junk food to feed a platoon for a month and enough booze to make a family of elephants paralytic, into a Clio is a task and a half.
I’m not kidding, we went to town on the supplies. Although, big shout out to Asda for the world’s most affordable shopping trip!
After getting stuck behind traffic trailing past Stone Henge because people alway slow down to take photos (which we moaned about for half an hour and then stopped to take photos), we finally arrived!
I expertly navigated us through the maze of lodges to our new home for the next few days. All of the lodges at the Longleat Centre Parcs have recently been refurbished so are all modern and equipped with everything you could need – including hairdryers which is a big plus when you have six girls sharing a lodge!
Then disaster struck, as I tried to turn on my camera to get a few snaps before we wrecked the joint, my screen displayed a “lens error, please contact Nikon” message. NOOOOOO. My camera, admittedly had not been very well for a while now, it has been getting temperamental and unreliable and I’ve been revving myself up to invest in a replacement but did it really have to die when I was going to be spending the whole weekend somewhere beautiful with a group of people who are not going to judge me for being a complete shutter bug? Life is a bitch sometime. So just as a warning – the photos in this post are going to be a mixture of bad quality ones I was able to get on my phone (my phone camera also hates me) and any snaps the other girls have been kind enough to let me use (with proper accreditation of course!)
We got settled, unpacked the shopping and created this beaut of a snack cupboard stacked full of sweets, biscuits, chocolate, cookies, crisps, popcorn… you name it, we had it.
We all then went along for the ride to drop the cars back at the car park. If you’re not aware of this, you are not allowed cars on site at Centre Parcs, you are only allowed to drive to your lodge to unload. Which, although may seem inconvenient, I’m completely on board with. It meant that come late Friday night when everyone was settled for the weekend, the cars all disappeared making the forest seem even further removed from civilization and helping you get into the full atmosphere of the rural retreat. It also serves the dual purpose that the roads are all completely clear so pedestrians and cyclists get full run of the roads without the worry of vehicles.
We made a boo boo and missed the opening times on Friday to be able to collect our bikes so planning returned to the lodges to make a late dinner and get ourselves acquainted with the rest of our holiday companions.
Saturday morning began lazily with bacon sandwiches. Our plans of going to collect our bikes bright and early were slightly misguided and we ended up having to get ourselves straight to the lake so we didn’t miss our canoeing time.
I hadn’t been canoeing in YEARS.
To our surprise, the staff down at the lake were super chilled about the whole thing, they just dished us out life jackets and basically told us to help ourselves to boats, bizarre! Someone did however take pity on us and help us set sail. I teamed up with Lauren who was among the group who were staunchly against the possibility of capsizing so I promised I’d behave myself!
(Canoeing photos by http://www.thatgirlbehindhermask.com/)
Although we got a good rhythm going, Lauren and I weren’t the most adept at the whole steering thing, preferring the weaving and spinning around in circles approach. Laura C and Laura H however were absolute naturals and made the whole thing look incredibly easy to the dismay of the rest of us.
We finished canoeing and finally made our way to the Cycle Centre all feeling a bit on the damp side and not relishing the prospect of cycling back with soggy bums.
After a lunch pit stop we got changed and cycled round to the plaza to hit the pool! The pool complex at Longleat is amazing. Its got a full indoor pool complete with wave machine, a big heated outdoor pool with Jacuzzi and whirlpool, slides and the best bit of all the outdoor rapids course.
In the evening we all went out for dinner at the American Diner restaurant in the Plaza. It was nice seeing everyone out of their soggy activity clothes and we all immediately started on the cocktails. I had an apple martini that just tasted like apple juice, deliciously deadly.
I also had an epic burger because what else is there to order at an American Diner really?
After dinner we headed for our next activity, ten pin bowling! None of us were what I would call experts on the bowling front but we did have some interesting techniques.
After bowling we headed back to our little humble abode to continue the drinking and the games. This descended into Ring of Fire, Beer Pong and Vicky showing us her rapping skills.
Needless to say, Sunday was not an early start by any means. We eventually surfaced and managed to gain enough enthusiasm to go out for a bike ride.
Fresh air in the lungs did wonders or the hang over. We headed back to fire up the BBQ for my last meal with the girls.
Good food and good chat was a lovely end to an absolutely fantastic weekend. Centre Parcs was way more fun than I even thought it was going to be. Even though it is a great place for families and couples it also caters well for groups of friends, or even a group of people that you’ve never met before but by the end of the weekend you have the privilege to call them friends.
My new blogging buddies from left to right
A massive thank you to Lauren for organising the holiday and inviting to fill the gap. If you want to get involved in bloggers events then you should definitely follow LDNmeetup on twitter, the Big Blogger Conference planned for August promises to be excellent.
After conquering Centre Parcs, I wonder where the bloggers will invade next…