Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

At the Center of Everything for a Family ; AMANDA CROOK Enjoyed the Creature Comforts - Literally - of a Midweek Break at Center Parcs' Lake District Retreat

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

At the Center of Everything for a Family ; AMANDA CROOK Enjoyed the Creature Comforts - Literally - of a Midweek Break at Center Parcs' Lake District Retreat

Article excerpt

ON the first day of our holiday we were up at the crack of dawn, nothing unusual in that, our two-year-old doesn't like to lie-in or 'lion,' as she calls it.

Strangely though, we weren't alone - and our early morning visitors didn't include any of the army of over-excited toddlers we had seen the day before.

Instead, we were joined by ducks, pigeons and even a couple of braver squirrels, who came right up to our lodge and demanded their share of Weetabix and toast.

Much to the delight of our little tearaway, the animals at Center Parcs were so confident they would eat from your hand given half-a- chance - even the hands of a little person far too hyper to stay still. Although the lodges were mostly attached to each other and within a few metres of a dozen or so neighbours, Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, near Penrith, is set out in such a way to ensure that you feel you are holidaying in the middle of a forest, far away from your nearest neighbour.

But although you can grab a few moments of splendid isolation at Whinfell Forest that is not really the point - it is like living in a huge adventure play park where everything is designed to delight and intrigue youngsters.

The 'enormous' swimming pool is actually a whole series of pools, the central one which has waves every half-hour but there are also hidden peaceful spaces where children can perfect their new swimming skills or laze in Jacuzzi baths.

For the older and more adventurous there were rapids, with water jets to propel you round a circuit, there was an outdoor section where you could swim next-door to the ducks on the lake. And there were slides - a huge selection ranging from tiny ones suitable for those barely able to stagger around on their chubby legs to the truly terrifying.

In truth, the fabulouslywarm pool would have been enough entertainment on its own, an hour-and-a-half of furious doggy paddle and sliding left most of the toddlers we met barely able to make it through lunch before collapsing into sleep - even those like ours who had long-ago consigned afternoon naps to a fond memory. But there were dozens of other activities to try - one of our favourites was an activity play session with all the soft play equipment you can imagine, giant connect four style contests and such a large selection of ride-on toys even the most cantankerous toddler would have struggled to pick an argument over one.

Although we visited in the first week of March we were blessed with the mild temperatures and winter sunshine which out-of-season visitors to the Lakes normally only dream of - and which makes Center Parcs such a popular year-round destination - and we tried to spend as much time as possible outdoors.

Our daughter was a huge fan of the outdoor play area, which had all the usual slides, swings and equipment but set in peaceful woodland, which seemed to have a calming effect on even the most excited visitors. …

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