A Family Holiday to Centre Parcs

We booked our annual holiday with Phil’s family many months ago.  Restricted by my need to stay near to Harefield Hospital, and the want of an easy week, we decided to go to Woburn Centre Parcs.  My first ever trip to a famous CP!  We were charmed by the website- a fabulous swimming pool, acres of forest land, eleven restaurants on site, hundreds of amusing activities.  To maximise time spent together, we opted for sharing a large executive cabin.  Three couples, a baby and a dog together under one roof.  It sounded perfect!  And we put the date in the diary with excitement.

Fast forward six months and some things had changed.  The quiet baby had grown in to a manic toddler, a brand new beautiful newborn had joined the fold, my father-in-law now required more support as his dementia was increasingly affecting his day-to-day life, and I was on my fourth week of a mystery illness.  It wasn’t quite the relaxing holiday we had imagined those many month ago.  But despite the extra obstacles, we all had a wonderful time. 🙂

Phil and I are not resort people, preferring to be independent and slightly roughing it.  However it was a novelty to be there.  A brand-spanking-new site, it was all shiny and clean and sparkly, with everything within a 15 minute walk.  Our modern chalet was positioned picturesquely under enormous tall trees, and had a backyard sauna.  The hub was an awesome swimming pool with rapids and flumes.  The family enjoyed some of the activities: Baby swimming lessons, craft days, ceramic hand prints, photo shoots, bike rides, spa days.  And even the forest was neat and tidy, with no mud or bushes or broken trees to climb (much to Lottie’s disappointment!).  In fact, the messy real wood surrounding the site was fenced off, to stop visitors exploring it.  It was a forest resort for people who want everything on their door step, and don’t like the smell and mud of the countryside.  🙂

Medically it was a tricky holiday for me.  I had been ill for the three weeks prior and although I was starting to feel a lot better, I’d not completely recovered.  On the first day, we had to drive to Centre Parcs via my doctors surgery, for more blood tests to check my immune levels again.  Due to the illness, I slept quite badly; awaking frequently as I tossed and turned and couldn’t breathe properly.  So throughout the holiday I was often exhausted on waking, as well as fatigued from my body struggling.  Normally I have 20 coins of energy to spend each day (see my blog on energy).  However that week I had only 15 daily, much less than normal.  And on the Tuesday I spent a lot of the day sleeping, as had a mere 10!  Consequently I had to plan what to spend my limited energy on… and my priority was my niece and nephew.  Washing and dressing was restricted, communal chores or resort activities were abandoned.  Unable to do even the sedentary activities on offer, I actually could have been anywhere.  I didn’t really experience Centre Parcs properly.  Each day, I spent hours resting in my room, whilst the family were enjoying the resort activities.  So when they returned, I could use my conserved energy on being with the little ones.

Phil’s family all live on the Isle of Man, too far from Harefield Hospital for me to visit these days.  Only when they make the long trek over, do I get to spend precious time with the youngsters.  However due to wonderful WhatsApp, we receive frequent photos and videos of them, so see their life from afar!  I hadn’t seen beautiful Mei-Yan since August, seven long months ago.  Now aged 21 months, she is a bubbly, energetic, adventurous toddler; always on the go, excited by life, causing mayhem!  Happily, despite not seeing me for so long, she was immediately keen to play.  She loves stories, and would waddle up with outstretched arms, dragging an enormous book to be read.  I’ve only been able to read aloud stories for the last six months, previously it made me too breathless.  However I spent a lot of energy that week reading to her!  She even had me singing nursery rhymes- again a breathless activity which I rarely do.  Mei-Yan is an adventurous spirit, just like her Uncle Phil.  Our gift of a balance bike was immediately climbed on, and despite it being a little big causing her to fall off, she persevered with a grin.  Outside she enjoyed riding on my mobility scooter, handy as the restaurants were a long way from our cabin.  Her gorgeous younger brother Joe-Yien was born in November, so this was my first meet.  Calm and chilled, with big inquisitive eyes, and an enormous smile.  Only 4 months old, he enjoyed being cuddled.  Perfect for someone with PH!  Occasionally Phil and I took him on our dog walks, so we could all escape the mayhem of the chalet!

With hindsight, our six bed chalet was a little too cosy for eight people and a dog!  Luckily we were rarely all in at the same time.  All human interaction costs energy, so I found it tiring living in close proximity with people for a week.  Even though I spent a considerable amount of time resting in my room, I could unavoidably hear family life just mere metres away.  And at night, we were occasionally awoken by the babies crying, or my father-in-law walking around.  In fact, one night he walked into our room by mistake at 3am.. and frightened us all!  And as each couple has their own rules and ways of doing things, it can be a little tricky living together.  However as our chalet backed on to woodland, we could sit outside in the hot sun, watching the squirrels search for food under the tables, whenever we needed peace.

Although I spent most of the week in the chalet, I did make sure I left the house every day: a dog walk in the sun, or a meal in one of the restaurants.  Our disabled chalet was actually at the far side of the park from the resort centre.  Lovely for peace and quiet, but a long energy-zapping 15 minute scoot every time we ventured over there.  One day we had a family photo shoot, the only activity I joined in.  It was quiet a challenge for the photographer to get both little ones smiling or even looking the right way at the same time, or to get Mei-Yan to pause for a photo, when she wanted to explore and cause mayhem in the studio!  The restaurant food was delicious, and I’ve now tried bacon and maple syrup pancakes, which has been on my hit list for a while!  On one occasion I had to make a hasty retreat from a busy bar as the noise and crowds were draining my energy.  But generally the resort was not busy, as we’d luckily been able to visit in term time.  On the hottest day, Phil’s aunts and uncles visited.  Happily it was also my strongest day, so I was able to join in the reunion.  Eating, chatting and drinking in the sun; I felt like my old self for a few hours.

So as I was still recovering from my mystery illness, it wasn’t quite the the Centre Parcs holiday I imagined many months ago.  However it was a lovely week of memory making with my beautiful niece and nephew, and the rest of the family.  They all love Centre Parcs, so maybe we will return again after my transplant, so I can really experience the resort like the others.  I’d love to try the rapids and the zip wire and the segways!  And I may even climb the fence to take Lottie to the real outer wood, so she can run around off lead in the mud!


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