My top 10 tips for Center Parcs

My top 10 tips for Center Parcs

  • We love Center Parcs and have been quite a few times with Finn. I think we love it so much because Finn is in his element with the swimming & exploring the forest. He’s always shattered at the end of the day so we then get a chance to relax. I know people say it can be pricy but we try to keep the costs down. Hopefully these tips will help.
  • Go Swimming first
  • We always pack a bag for swimming and keep it handy for when we arrive. That way we can park up, get some lunch & go swimming. I think we make the most of the first day then & avoid the car park queues. The gates open about 3.30 for you to drive round to your lodge but we find it really busy at this time & you just waste your time queuing. I think its better to go swimming then wait for the queues to die down and drive straight round. We do similar on the last day but pack up, park the car and then go swimming and make the most of our last day.
  • Take Supplies & Shopping
  • The Parc market on site can be quite expensive. We usually bring things from home & go to the Aldi close by (Whinfell). We take our own fire logs, toilet roll, dishwasher tablets, snacks drinks etc… to keep costs down. Stock up on alcohol as well as this is expensive in the Parc market.
  • Pre Book your activities
  • Once you’ve booked your break you can start to book activities. I try to spread the cost of these by booking one every few weeks or one a month. That way you don’t have to spend a big amount when you get there. You can also pre book restaurants with a deposit. I use the app to book all my activities and you view your itinerary on here to see what you have booked.
  • Cook in your lodge & eat out at lunch.
  • We find eating out at lunch time a lot cheaper as a lot of the places have set lunch time menus. It’s also easier for us with Finn as we can then relax in the evening. We cook a few nights & just take easy to make things that way we can keep the costs down.
  • Look around for the cheapest weeks
  • We find staying Monday- Friday in term time a lot cheaper than a school holiday break or a weekend one. Also when you go to book you can scroll through the weeks to find the cheapest ones. If you’re not too tied down to set dates it’s definitely worth searching to find the cheapest week for you.
  • Pick your lodge for your Budget
  • We’ve stayed in the apartments, executive & the more basic lodges and I think they are all really nice. The executive are obviously nicer but if you are doing it on a budget I wouldn’t be put off by going to a more basic lodge. You can pay extra to stay in a central location but we never bother with this and don’t find it too much of a walk.
  • Take your bikes
  • You can hire bikes there but it can be expensive. We always take Finn’s bike or scooter, there’s plenty of bike racks so take a lock.
  • Make use of the free activities
  • There’s plenty of free things to keep you occupied there’s swimming, a beach & sandpit, parks and a massive forest to explore. We make sure we take advantage of these. We go for a walk through the forest each day and we’ve done bug hunts ( take a cheap magnifying glass) or a nature hunt. I also love the bird hide as well so we always have a walk to that. There’s a few soft plays as well so usually we go to the lakeside inn and have a drink while Finn plays in the play area.
  • Take Snacks/ Lunch for around the pool
  • Now Finn’s getting older we can definitely spend more time round the pool so next time I will take some snacks or lunch a few days so we can make a longer day of it. The subtropical swimming paradise is heated to about 29 degrees and has plenty of places for you to sit.
  • Plan your day around the quieter times
  • The pool is always busier first thing & after lunch so where possible we avoid these times. We also try and avoid the restaurants at busier times as well just to make it a bit more relaxing.
  • I hope you find these tips useful and I’d love to hear yours in the comments below.
  • Jodie. X
  • My top tips for self care

    My top tips for self care

    I’m sat writing this when I’m currently out of action with a sprained knee. I’m off work, Stu & Finn have gone out for the day and I can’t do my usual cleaning & tidying. My initial thought was honestly to panic, what on earth am I going to do for a whole day when I can barely walk. It really made me think how my whole life is defined as a wife & Mum. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love that this is my world and there’s nothing I love more than a family day. It’s really made me think though about making time for myself and remembering all the things I love to do outside of family time. It’s so important to make time for yourself, it’s a proper cliche but the saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup is so true. You need to make time for yourself so you can be your best self for your family & most importantly you. I’ve made a list of some self care tips that will hopefully benefit me & you. I’m not really a shopper & I like to save all my money for holidays so I’ve tried to keep these tips as budget friendly as possible.

    Have a bath

    One of my favourite things to do is have a long bath, when I say long I can literally sit in there for hours if I have the time. I love to read in the bath & feel like I can totally switch off. Definitely something I’m going to make more time for.

    Reading

    I love to read but this definitely took a back seat when I became a Mum. This year I am attempting the 52 book challenge so am trying to read 52 books in a year. I’m not sure if I’ll manage to complete it fully but it’s definitely made me fall back in love with reading. Reading makes me completely switch off and I think I sleep so much better if I read before bed.

    Get an early night

    This is something I definitely don’t do enough and I really need to do more. I think by the time Finn’s in bed we’ve had tea & tidied up I then feel like we need a few hours to catch up on TV or I spend my time blogging or editing videos. Or even more annoying I spend ages scrolling through my phone. I’m going to make a conscious effort though to go to bed before 10pm at least once a week in the hope of getting more than my usual 5/6 hours sleep.

    Go for a Walk

    Last year I made an effort to get up early a few mornings a week to go for a quick walk before Stu went to work. I used to love it, I’d listen to a podcast and enjoyed the quiet time. Definitely something I want to start incorporating into my day again.

    Have a pamper

    I don’t necessarily mean an expensive spa day or treatment, unless you want to but it’s definitely nice to make a bit of time to pamper yourself. I try and do a face mask or hair treatment every now and then, it’s nice to just switch off from time to time.

    Make time to watch your favourite film/ series

    Me and Stu are definitely guilty of sitting down to watch something together and then both scrolling through our phones. I’m going to try and make more time to catch up on the things I enjoy.

    Have some phone free time/ social media free time

    I’ll be the first to admit I’m a phone & social media addict but there’s definitely some benefits to having some phone free time. I also delete or hide people from my social media that are negative or make me feel bad. I think it’s nice to make your social media a positive space.

    Have some time with your friends.

    It’s so important to make time for your friends, I feel so much better after a catch up. A lot of my newer friends I’ve met or grown closer to since having Finn so it’s nice to spend time with these away from the kids.

    Blog or write a diary

    I know a blog isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I feel so much better after writing things down. Even if it’s just something you do for yourself it’s worth a try. One thing I also like doing is a gratitude journal, this helps me to feel more positive. Just writing down a few things that are positive in your life write now can make you a whole lot more grateful.

    Mindfulness

  • Something I like to do when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed is use a mindfulness app. I love Headspace, it helps me to feel a lot calmer and have a much better sleep if I use it before bed.
  • I hope you found these tips useful and I’d love to hear yours in the comments below.
  • Our Weekend Camping in Anglesey

    Our Weekend Camping in Anglesey

    We have just come back from a 3 night stay in Anglesey camping, I’ve not been to Anglesey since I was younger and I loved it. There’s so many beautiful beaches & towns and we will definitely be back soon. We stayed at the Golden Sunset in Benllech. The Campsite had amazing views out to the Irish Sea & there was plenty of families there with children so Finn was in his element. You can also go crabbing on the rocks right by the campsite which Finn really enjoyed. My only criticism would be that on the Saturday night it was really noisy with some groups being quite rowdy but the Sunday night was lovely once they had gone. Finn’s a heavy sleeper so it didn’t wake him. There was plenty of showers, just no electrical hook up so bear that in mind. We walked the coastal path to Benllech, which was beautiful but a bit rocky so not really suitable for prams. We didn’t eat in Benllech, other than the chippy near Tesco the golden fry which was lovely. The Tesco is open till 11pm each evening which is handy.

    Golden Sunset, Benllech
    Sunrise at Golden Sunset Benllech
    Benllech Beach

    On the second day we headed to Beaumaris which is a beautiful coastal town, the views over the Menai straits to Snowdonia are amazing. We had a walk around the town & Finn loved the park near the castle. The highlight for me was the boat trip out to Puffin Island. We used Seacoast Safari’s and the whole experience was fantastic. We saw puffins, oyster catchers, seals & plenty of sea birds but the absolute highlight for us was seeing Dolphins. It really was an unforgettable experience. The captain was brilliant sailing round in search of them and even stayed over our cruise time so we could get a good look at the Dolphins. Even without seeing the Dolphins I’d recommend the cruise we really enjoyed it.

    On the Sunday we went to Southstack lighthouse, just past Holyhead. It was beautiful with amazing views and a lovely little cafe with a play area. It’s an RSPB centre so it was nice to go in there and chat about the wildlife. Finn enjoyed using the binoculars in there to see what he could spot. You can pay to walk up the lighthouse but I wasn’t sure if Finn would manage the steps, we’d definitely do this next time though.

    After this we headed to a beautiful little beach, we didn’t even know the name but there’s plenty of little coves dotted about so definitely stop at a few If you can.

    We then went to the Oyster catcher in Rhosneigr the food was really nice and it had a quirky outdoor seating area. I think if we went again I’d try and book for inside as there was a limited menu outside.

    We finished our trip with a visit to Newborough Beach, this beach is beautiful with amazing views and a lovely walk through the forest. It costs 5 pound to park for the day, there’s toilets in the car park. There’s a few little food trucks but I’d definitely say take supplies if you’re staying all day. We walked to the lighthouse which was really nice with more beautiful views.

    I’m definitely in love with Anglesey and we will be back soon, what are your must. Visit places? I’d love to know.

    Miscarriage and my Mental Health

    Miscarriage and my Mental Health

    We’d been trying to conceive for about 5 months when I fell pregnant. Sadly this pregnancy and my pregnancy the cycle after ended in miscarriage . I then didn’t know that that this would lead to a further 3 years of trying to conceive.

    The time that followed my miscarriages was such a dark time & I definitely felt there was a stigma around it! I even had some idiot boss at work say ‘ I did say you were telling people early’ as if this made any difference. I became really withdrawn and angry. I was definitely angry at the world, my situation, life. I’d completely take my mood out on my amazing husband Stu, it was so easy to forget he was grieving too.

    I think because of the perceived stigma I found it so hard to speak & reach out to people.

    I fell pregnant my following cycle & was given an early scan which shown a heartbeat hadn’t developed. I went to my doctors quite clearly upset and my nurse told me 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage so it’s really common . Yeah it’s common, but that doesn’t make it any easier or less painful. The best way I’ve ever seen it summed up is a post by Jason Mandord after Gary Barlow’s baby Poppy was still born. If you’ve not read it definitely have a read, he sums it up perfectly. It’s the hopes and dreams from the minute you get that positive test that are suddenly shattered. Feeling like it’s a taboo subject at a time you really need to talk to people can make you feel even lower, I’ve definitely learnt to speak about it more.

    For me I can’t really say when I started to feel better emotionally & even now 6 years later I still get sad when I think about that time & the months that followed. It even made me a bit wary of trying to conceive a second baby incase it happened again. The difference now is I feel emotionally stronger & feel like I can be more open. I hope by talking about it others can feel this way too but I know how hard it is to talk about it.

    The TWW when trying to conceive

    The TWW when trying to conceive

    Some of you maybe looking at the acronym TWW wondering what on earth I’m going on about. Those of you who have been on the whole trying to Trying to Conceive (TTC) rollercoaster will probably know that I mean the two week wait. The two weeks from Ovulation to your period due date. I’m sure I’m not alone in being drove absolutely mad in this time and feeling every single symptom possible. We are about 10 months into trying to conceive this time around and it was about 3 years with Finn so I’m experienced with the TWW.

    I honestly drive myself absolutely mad every month, feel slightly sick that’s it I’m pregnant. My boobs are sore, definitely having a baby (lets all ignore the fact I’m poking them a million times a day to see if they are sore). Feeling tired, better get that Mothercare shop in. I joke because that’s my way, stiff upper lip and all that, but the pain is real. Each month seems like a little reminder of the agony & when my period does arrive it often brings a few dark days for me. I do try to be a positive person generally but it can be so tough when something is out of your control. Let’s not even start on the tests, your a true member of the TWW club when you know internet cheapies ( 15 for Β£3.50 off Amazon anyone?) are you new best friend. I have to ban myself nowadays as that one little line can set me on a downward spiral.

    I’ve developed a few self care mechanisms now to help myself through the TWW and when my period arrives. I really think having these in place can help your state of mind. There’s the obvious usual ones; a nice bath & pamper, an early night with my book., going for a run/walk. Or I even sometimes manage to plan a nice Meal with a Few gins out or at home. Might as well make the most of the gin while I can hey. Also never discount the cathartic effect of a good cry & a rant. It’s a proper rubbish situation and letting it all out is healthy. I try my hardest to be strong for Finn but I’m human so there’s nothing wrong with a good old moan.

    Does anyone else suffer during the TWW what are your coping mechanisms? I’d love to hear some.

    First Doctors appointment for Secondary infertility

    First Doctors appointment for Secondary infertility

    I’ve recently had my GP appointment to see about getting referred to the fertility department at the hospital. I also wanted to ask about what happened during my c-section as I was told one of my fallopian tubes got cauterised due to a burst cysts. Obviously I wasn’t really ready to take it all in post birth so I’m not exactly sure what happened. My GP said she couldn’t see anything on my notes about this so she will write to the hospital.

    She said my symptoms definitely sound like PCOS (irregular, heavy painful periods, facial hair etc..) I already knew I had this as I was diagnosed about 10 years ago but my symptoms do seem to be a lot worse lately. My GP said you can actually go through cycles of it being worse then better which I didn’t really know before.

    One symptom of PCOS is that you may not ovulate every cycle so I am going to do Ovulation kits & BBT ( basal body temperature) to pin point ovulation. For those who don’t know BBT is where you take your temperature every morning before you even sit up. A surge of at least 0.3 degrees for at least 3 days means you’ve ovulated. I use an app called glow so I can track my cycles.

    My GP also recommended I loose weight, this will help with my PCOS symptoms & help me to conceive. I’ve started a healthy eating plan to help me.

    The outcome isn’t really what I wanted in the sense that I’ve not been referred to fertility but I am having an ultrasound to check for cysts etc.. she has then said we can take it from there, hopefully then we can get answers.

    I’d love to hear from any of you with PCOS and what you found helped with your symptoms?

    Amsterdam in 28 hours

    Amsterdam in 28 hours

    I love Amsterdam and have just returned from my fourth visit to the city! It’s got such a chilled out vibe & it’s so pretty. I think I could go over & over again and never get bored. This time I went for one night which I have done previously, I don’t mind this because the flight is so short but if it’s your first visit you might be better doing 2 or more nights.

    We landed at about 9.30 am and flew back out at 6pm so we had time each day to explore. I always get the train from Schiphol to Centraal which takes about 25 minutes and is around €5 single. There’s ticket machines near entrances to the platforms.

    We stayed at ClinkNOORD hostel which is in a fab location, you get a free ferry from just outside central which only takes a few minutes. The ferry runs 24 hours a day every 5 minutes or so. This is my second time staying here and I’ve always booked a private room with bathroom. I think for location, price & cleanliness you can’t beat it. I was put of a hostel at first but you barely spend any time in the room & I’d definitely look at staying in more with a private room.

    I love walking around the Jordaan, the canals are beautiful & there’s some lovely bars & shops. It’s a lot more peaceful than other areas so I’d definitely recommend a wander round here.

    We then did a boat tour with Friendship Amsterdam, I’ve done tours with them twice before and have always really enjoyed it. It’s €15 for an hour canal cruise and the staff are really knowledgeable & friendly. You can get drinks onboard and it was perfect having a local Gin on a sunny day.

    After the boat we headed to The Museum of Prostitution, Red Light Secrets. It was fascinating to hear the story from the point o view of a prostitute , and what it’s like to Work in the red light district. Definitely an eye opener and worth a visit.

    Before we headed home the next day we went for Brunch at Bakers & Roasters, not far from the Heineken experience. The food is amazing here & all the staff are really friendly. It just has a lovely vibe to it. I had the Huevos Ranchos & a mimosa. I also had a coffee which was really good. I like strong coffee & it definitely is here. Well worth a visit.

    I’d love to hear your favourite places to visit in Amsterdam as I’ll definitely be going back again.

    Secondary Infertility

    Secondary Infertility

    The pain of secondary Infertility is something that’s crept up on me. We had years of trying for Finn & I had a few miscarriages so was in a quite dark place and thought when I had Finn it was all behind me. Without sounding flippant I was in a newborn bubble so it’s just not something I thought about until he was a few years old. During my c -section I had to have one of my tubes cauterised due to burst cysts but I didn’t really even give this a second thought as I was too engrossed in my new born. Now the time has come I’m starting to wonder what effect this will have along with my existing PCOS.

    Recently (well the past 9 months or so) we’ve been thinking about a second baby and have gone with the whole ‘we’re not trying we’re just seeing what happens’ approach at first. I suppose it’s inevitable though that it soon becomes all consuming. All the sadness of first time round has come rushing back and I find myself endlessly on conception forums and doing my BBT before I’ve even opened my eyes in the morning (if you’ve been on the rollercoaster you’ll know.

    I know we’re really lucky as I’ve friends struggling to conceive their first child so I know just how lucky we are to have Finn this time round. Despite this It just doesn’t stop the pain though and it’s the whole thought of not giving Finn a sibling which is hard, it’s such a special bond and I’d love Finn to experience it. I’ve had all the heartless comments as well from ‘You can’t let him be an only child it’s selfish’, ‘he’s started pre school now don’t you think it’s time you had another’, ‘ are you not getting on with another yet’ to the most annoying ‘just relax it will happen’ yeah okay you put yourself in my shoes and relax.

    I’m also really conscious this time around that I want to be really positive for Finn, last time I could wallow a bit in self pity but it’s harder to take time out now. For now though I’m putting my positive head on and awaiting a referral to hospital, I’ll keep you updated on that whole process. I know this is really garbled and rambly but I wanted to get it all down. I wish I would have wrote about it first time round and I hope this will not only help someone else but help me to get all my thoughts out and in one place.

    I’d love to hear from anyone with fertility issues whether first, second or more times round as I really do think as a society we should be a lot more open about it.

    52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge

    52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge

    Before I had Finn I used to be a real bookworm, I’ve managed to read 10 books on a 1 week holiday before now. I even queued at midnight on the nights a new Harry Potter book came out. A combination of being a busy working mum & a social media addict though has meant that I barely make time for reading anymore, so this new year I set myself the target completing the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge to hopefully find my love for reading again. I’m currently reading book 16, so I’ll talk you through the ones I’ve read this year.

    Currently Reading

    ‘The Power’ Naomi Alderman

    This has been described as a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale & The Hunger Games so I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into this.

    Read

    ‘The Life Changing Magic of not Giving a F*ck’ Sarah Knight

    I really enjoyed some elements of this book and will definitely be taking on board not worrying so much and deciding what’s important. I think it’s a book you dip in and out of rather than get really stuck into.

    ‘The Goddess Revolution’ Mel Wells

    I really enjoyed this book & it’s a refreshing approach to always being on a diet & tied to the scales. I loved Mel’s honesty about her own struggles with her weight, body image & mental health.

    The Other Child’ Lucy Atkins

    This was a bit of a mixed one for me, really gripping in parts & a bit slow in others. There was a lot of unanswered questions. I wouldn’t really rush to recommend this one.

    Baby Doll’ Hollie Overton

    This was quite a gripping read and a good book for holiday when you’ve got time to read it quickly. I really loved Room by Emma Donoghue and this reminds me a bit of that.

    ‘While My Eyes were Closed’ Linda Green

    I really enjoyed this thriller, you are kept guessing throughout. Lisa closes her eyes while playing hide & seek with her daughter. When she opens her eyes she finds her daughter gone, it’s really gripping and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happens.

    ‘How to Stop Time’ Matt Haig

    I absolutely loved this book, so beautifully written, I fell in love with a lot of the characters. Matt Haig is brilliant writer who links the whole story so cleverly. I’ll definitely be reading some more of his books.

    ‘The Rules Do Not Apply’ Ariel Levy

    I started reading this on the plane on the way home from holiday and really got into it, but then was a bit slow to finish it when I got home. I enjoyed her story & writing style but just felt like she jumped from different aspects of her life for me. Still worth a read but not my favourite.

    ‘ The Keeper of Lost Things’ Ruth Hogan

    I really enjoyed this book, the relationships & friendships that develop are lovely and it’s a heartwarming story. I did find the whole twist to it a bit strange though.

    ‘ Mum Face Grace: The memoir of a woman who Gained a baby and lost her Sh*t’ Grace Timothy. I loved this book it was the perfect mix of funny & serious. It was like having a chat with a mum friend you can be perfectly honest with, all the things new mums are scared to admit.

    Kevin & Sadie series Joan Lingard this series consists of 5 books The Twelfth Day of July, Across the Baricades, Into Exhile, A proper Place, Hostages to Fortune. I loved these books and read them all over a few days. We were in Belfast when I started reading them and wanted to learn more about The troubles. These books are all about Sadie a Protestant & Kevin a catholic and the difficulties they face trying to have a relationship in the North of Ireland.

    ‘Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine’ Gail Honeyman

    This is a beautiful book & one that will stay with you for a long time. It really brings home to you the importance of kindness & compassion, Eleanor is a character I think we can all relate to in some ways.

    ‘The Trap’ Kimberley Chambers

    This was a really easy but gripping read, based on 2 brothers in the East of London in the 60’s & 70’s who run a gang. I’ll probably read the rest in the series.

    Our April

    Our April

    I’ve recently seen a few people do the month in review Blog Posts and I love the idea. It’s so nice to have a record & see all the things you have got up to. All the little days out get forgotten so it’s lovely to look back on.

    We started the month with Easter Sunday, we had dinner at my Mum & Dad’s and a park trip to burn off the millions of eggs Finn had ate.

    We then had an amazing swimming lesson from Finn, which was a big turning point. He was really nervous and held onto his teacher when he first started but this was the point he slowly began to make progress and gain confidence m.

    We had a trip to Bents Garden Centre in Warrington which Finn loved, there’s a fab park & a lovely cafe.

    I then ended up in hospital for 2 nights with tonsillitis, I think though I was really run down. I’d been working loads & doing a lot of late nights & early starts. Luckily a few days later we went on our Amazing holiday to Costa Teguise in Lanzarote. We stayed at the HD Beach resort which you can read about here.

    When we come home we met my Mum & Dad in Chorlton & went for food & a play in the park.

    Another day another park visit, followed by Finn’s favourite coffee & cake.

    We went to Messy Mallie’s which is about 20 minutes away from us in Buckley. It was brilliant and Finn loved painting his own money box.

    After the Easter holidays we were entitled to more hours at nursery. I was sad in one way as Finn stared doing more days so we lost a day in the week together. It’s meant though that I’ve gone from doing 4/5 late nights a week to 1/2. I’ve loved the little things like us having tea together as a family & doing bath, story & bed time.

    Finn’s first go at Crazy Golf, followed by a Wagamama’s.

    A visit to Little Al’s Urban farm in Eastham. We love it here.

    Yet more amazing swimming from Finn, he’s managing to swim now with just the woggle & not holding on to his teacher.

    Finally a zoo trip, we are members of Chester Zoo so we go all the time. This time Finn played in the sand & water for over an hour.