It’s always discouraging when you are driving in beautiful blue skies and you can see the gloom ahead. We checked the weather for our weekend getaway to Whinfell Forest Center Parcs and sadly it didn’t look promising but we were not about to let that ruin our very anticipated family weekend together.
As with all our travels we like to make the most of it right from the start. Our vacations start the moment we step out of our house not when we arrive at our destination. So we had heard of this fabulous service station called Tebay Services, on the way and had to stop for a look around, let the kids run wild around the mini lake with the ducks, and of course enjoy a nice latte and shop in the process.
The gloomy clouds started to move in but we drank our coffee, watched the ducks, and did a little shopping in their amazing farm shop too. I got the kids some amazing wooden toys for Christmas presents and if you follow me on instagram you would have saw my love for fox mugs at the moment and they had plenty to choose from. Even though we just had breakfast before we left, it was hard not to drool over all the amazing food they had in their cafe. I may have scarfed an Anzac Biscuit dipped in Chocolate all by myself. I was on vacation why not?
The kids were doing great in the car. We are a very singing kind of family so as long as we were singing along to various favorite songs they were happy. We don’t live far from Whinfell Forest Center Parcs so it wasn’t too much for them.
We even all squealed when we saw the wooden sign. It was great because my husband nor my mother-in-law had ever been so it was a first for all of us. We didn’t know what to expect or what to even pack and not pack. I am pretty sure I brought half the house. It was amazing though to all experience it together for the very first time. It didn’t disappoint.
I extremely apologize for all the grainy, dark photos, first and foremost. I like to only share bright and breezy, great photos on my blog but our first whole day was very dark and gloomy with rain and my big camera was packed away in the car until we were able to get in our cabin at 3:30 pm. So these are all from my iphone but I didn’t want to not share our amazing first day!
We bundled the kids up nice and warm. I was lucky enough to get this old tatty Maclaren stroller off ebay for £25 because we knew it would get muddy, and weathered quickly. I wouldn’t recommend bring a very nice stroller if you want to explore. This one was great for the big hoods it had so it kept the kids out of the rain without having to have a rain cover. I hate those things.
Since we were waiting to get into our cabin and it was raining we made the most of our day checking the place out, finding our way around Whinfell Forest because it was huge. There may have been a little shopping and I scooped up some amazing Christmas ornaments I can’t wait to put on my tree.
Buba was absolutely in love with all the light up reindeer throughout the woods. He kept naming them as we went along. I don’t know how he remembered who was who. Young brains, I am so jealous.
The Village Center was decorated with amazing winter wonderland scenes all around us. I wish I could have captured it better for you all to see how magical it looked and felt. The roof is all windows and the gloomy rainy day didn’t help with the light. I know excuses as always.But it was magical. I felt like I stepped into happyland. It was so cheery and full of everyone having a blast. I may have paid too much into the wishing well too but I love those things. The kids were mesmerized by the larger than life Christmas baubles on the trees.
We sat down for a nice family lunch. Buba had his very first hot dog. I know 3 years old but I was too scared before with his allergies. He didn’t know how to eat it and it made us all laugh in hysterics that he started in the middle like a sandwich. Missy Moo couldn’t believe her luck with her very own basket of french fries. She doesn’t like eating them but she held onto that basket for dear life. The kids made lunch so entertaining as usual. I love eating out with them. I was also in heaven with my sweet potato fries and steamed chicken sandwich.
Overall we were really impressed with the food at Center Parcs both for the kids and for us. The service was friendly and fast too which always helps when you are vacation with little ones.
Then it was Mr P turn to be in heaven. The candy shop! He hmmm and awed over all the amazing sweets. That boy has the biggest sweet tooth I have ever seen. Lucky enough my kids still don’t know what candy is yet as they are too young but I am sure kids go wild for this yummy shop!
I always see these coin machines in England and in uk friends photos but I never knew what they were. Missy Moo was just as intrigued as I was. I can say I wasn’t very good at them though. I have a black rabbit’s foot. It’s best if I stay clear of games like this. Mr P on the other hand always makes a bundle.
And of course, we had to let kids be kids and hit the arcade. Buba loves his cars and I think at first he was a little scared that the doors shut and he was on a virtual race track but he loved it in the end. But you can definitely see who is the bigger kid here!
I can walk away from the candy shop without a glance back but daily this beautiful display of ice creams shouted at me, called my name and I couldn’t resist them.
I was impressed with so many playgrounds around the parc both big and small. I only wish the it hadn’t been raining the first day so the kids could run off some necessary steam. Being strapped in the car and then strapped in the stroller most of the day isn’t a great combination but they were happy enough to explore the grounds with us.
Then it was a waiting game. I can see why they need a 3:30 pm check-in time but it would have been nice to be closer to 2. The kids were too excited and had very little naps in the stroller. The weather was getting worse so we headed to the Sports Center so they could run around inside and be free. Missy Moo loved the big couches and pretending she was reading. It was so cute. I enjoyed a glass of wine with my mother-in-law and we all just relaxed. It was a great part of the day just sitting around in big cozy couches with all the decorations around us, laughing and having family time. It really felt festive!
I finally got my camera out and then by habit just handed my phone to someone to take a picture of us. Shame as the brick was a beautiful red here. We were on our way to our cabin and wanted to peak at the Lake Inn.
The pathways were truly magical. I keep saying magical because I have never been before. I am sure those that have been before know what I mean. I was just in awe of all the decorations and lights they put throughout the woods not just in the main areas. It really did light up the night so beautifully. The kids loved the extra sparkle too. Every bridge and passageway was wrapped in twinkling lights. Buba kept calling them the sparkle tunnels! In true vacation style we lit the fire, pour a nice glass of bubbly and got out our books. With no wifi in our cabin it forced me to learn to relax. It forced me to sit and just be. Something I really, really struggle with on a daily basis. I go a hundred miles an hour and have done most of my life but it was refreshing and after a night or two of it I found that I just sit by the fire and read a magazine and let everything else go!
It was a lovely first day at Whinfell Forest Center Parcs. I hope you enjoyed my family vacation album here even though the photos are grainy and horrible. It’s the memories that count and I love sharing our family memories with all of you.
Check out Part 2… we went swimming!
Laura Evelyn Bee says
Looks like you had such a lovely time. Will stay tuned for part two!
Thanks i hope to share better photos and a lot of fun in part two and three. Lol
Lovely post, we went to center parcs sherwood forest last May for our first family holiday so it will always be close to my heart! Im looking forward to reading part 2!
Thanks Becky. We had such a great time. I can’t believe I didn’t know about it soon. Great place to have your first family holiday for sure.
Nicola Johnston says
Looks like you had such a wonderful time!
We were there just a couple of months ago, as we only live 30 minutes away from Whinfell! It was lovely, I bet it all dressed up for Christmas looked incredible 🙂
Can’t wait to read part 2!
It does look magical – and it looks like you had a really lovely weekend despite the gloomy weather – hopefully the sunshine followed you up the motorway!
No such luck on the sun. It was gloomy, cold and rainy the whole weekend. But we didn’t let that stop us at all. We enjoyed it to its fullest. Sat & Sun got even better stay tuned.
This looks like a really lovely Center Parcs. We’ve always planned to go here but somehow ended up in the Elveden forest one which is also really nice. They didn’t have a cosey fireplace like this though. Hmmmm….it may be the perfect little getaway for us in the new year!
Verily Victoria Vocalises says
As you may know we absolutely love Center Parcs in our family – Longleat twice and Elveden once but I would love to visit Whinfell as that area is one of my favourites. It looks like you all had a wonderful time and I look forward to seeing your next instalment (the swimming pool is Grace’s utter favourite!). I would also like to make Center Parcs around Christmas one year 🙂 Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo 🙂 x
Yes do, Christmas was amazing there. Winter wonderland was amazing. We were all in awe adults too. I have never been before but it won’t be our last. The kids loved the pool. I bet it will get better and better as they get older.
Coombe Mill says
Looks like a great start to your holidays, I love the look of that service station with the mini lake! Bubba naming all the light up reindeer is super cute. Thanks for linking up with Country Kids.
Thanks for hosting. I will be center parcs spamming you for the next two weeks. Sorry. Hahaa so many outfoor adventures.
Katie @mummydaddyme says
Ah it sounds like you had a really fantastic time- we love Center Parcs but have never been at winter, it looks magical with all the lights and christmas stuff. And those sweet shops are amazing aren’t they? Buba looks so cute eating his hot dog- my two would never eat something like that, they are so fussy! x
Thanks katie. I am dying to go in summer sometime. I look forward to february too. It’s going to be so much fun. I only wish my photos were better.
We are going here in a couple of weeks so reading for a bit of a nosey at what to expect. I am so excited! It’s a five hour drive for us though…! x
Oh you will absolutely love it. It’s one of our favorite places so far to take the whole family. We can’t wait to go again maybe later in the year.