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
  • 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.

    HD Beach Resort, Costa Teguise Lanzarote

    HD Beach Resort, Costa Teguise Lanzarote

    We have just returned from a fab week at the HD resort in Costa Teguise Lanzarote. I thought I’d do a quick review of the hotel, we really enjoyed our stay and I’d definitely recommend this hotel to anyone looking to stay in Costa Teguise.

    HD Beach Resort Lanzarote

    HD Beach Resort Lanzarote HD Beach Resort Lanzarote

    The first impressions of the hotel were really good, it was really bright & modern and on a beautiful beach front location. The Staff were all lovely, especially the staff in the restaurant they were so friendly & spent time chatting to us and made a big effort with Finn.

    HD Beach Resort Lanzarote

    HD Beach Resort Lanzarote

    We stayed in a Junior Suite with sea view, I always get a sea view where possible as I normally find I’m up before Finn in the morning so it’s nice to sit out there and have a coffee & it’s nice at the evening as well if he’s in bed. The views from the balcony were amazing and really peaceful. The room was really big with a double bed and pull out sofa bed. There was a fridge, kettle, toaster, coffee machine & microwave so everything you needed even though it’s all inclusive. The bathroom was big as well with a large walk in shower & 2 sinks.

    HD Beach Resort Lanzarote HD Beach Resort Lanzarote HD Beach Resort Lanzarote HD Beach Resort Lanzarote HD Beach Resort Lanzarote

    The hotel was is a good location right on the beach and about a 10/15 minute walk down the prom to the main centre with bars & restaurants along the way. There was a few supermarkets & shops close by as well. One night we got a taxi to the centre as well and it was only €3. There’s a taxi stand right by the hotel on the main road. It took about 40 minutes on the transfer bus to get to and from the airport but if we we were to go again I’d just get a taxi as I found out when we were there that it’s only €21.

    HD Beach Resort Lanzarote HD Beach Resort Lanzarote

    We stayed all inclusive and on the whole really enjoyed the food but we did eat out 4 of the 7 nights. We do this anyway when we go away as we like to try the local restaurants, especially in Spain as Spanish food is our favourite . The restaurant was on the ground floor and was quite big, there was a section with a semi open room so if felt a bit more airy. I think my one disappointment with the hotel is there was no outside eating area which is a shame given the beautiful views. The food was good with loads of choice, the breakfast was really good with plenty of fruit, cereal, pancakes, pastry’s, hot & cold items. Lunch there was always lots of choice of salads, paella, meat fish etc.. The evening meal was similar to the lunch & had different themes, as I say we only ate there twice So I can’t really comment, but Finn loved the chocolate fountain. We also ate in the A la Carte one evening which was really nice. There was a good choice of drinks as well with juice, fizzy drinks, wine, beer, spirits, cocktails & cava. There was a self service bar around the main pool.

    HD Beach Resort Lanzarote HD Beach Resort Lanzarote HD Beach Resort Lanzarote

    There was 2 pools which Finn loved, there was a big pool with a smaller kids pool this pool had lovely views out to sea. There was also a splash pool with slides and sprinklers. The only downside to this pool is there was minimum seating around it. The pools were quite cold but the adults seemed to mind more than the kids. There was also a park & pool table.

    HD Beach Resort Lanzarote HD Beach Resort Lanzarote HD Beach Resort Lanzarote

    We didn’t really go to the entertainment but there is a kids club & mini disco and various acts on each night. We just preferred to go for a walk in the evening but the bits we did see looked really good.

    HD Beach Resort Lanzarote

    All in all we loved our stay and would definitely return it’s a perfect hotel for families in a fab location.

    HD Beach Resort Lanzarote

    Disneyland Paris, the best rides, attractions & shows for a 3 year old

    Disneyland Paris, the best rides, attractions & shows for a 3 year old

    Finn was about 27 months the first time we went to Disneyland and turned 3 the second time we were there. These are the main rides, attractions & shows he loved & were the most suitable for his age.

    Alice’s Curious Labyrinth- We all loved this where you work your way around Alice’s labyrinth to get to the Queen of heart castle. The view from the top around the park are amazing.

    Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast- Finn’s a big toy story fan so this was one of his favourites. The queues can get quite big so we went in this using a fast pass and during extra magic hours.

    Cars quatre rallye- Finn loved the cars theming of this one, I get quite travel sick so sat this one out. Queues were normally about 10/15 minutes.

    Casey Jr. – this is a lovely little train ride, It was really quiet whenever we went on this.

    Disneyland Railroad- We loved this, we went all the way round the park on it and you get some really good views. You can also use it to get to the different areas of the park. It always seemed to be really busy even in quiet times but we went on first thing one morning and the queues weren’t as big.

    Dumbo- Finn loved flying round on the elephant, the queues never seemed to be really big for this.

    It’s a small world- My favourite, even though you end up stuck with the tune in your head for days. The queues were never massive but if you stand near here to watch the parade you get a good view for that & can then walk pretty much on it’s a small world.

    Le Carrousel de Lancelot- a traditional merry-go- round, Finn really enjoyed this and there was rarely a big queue.

    Flying carpets over Agrabah- this was in the Studio’s you fly on a magic carpet on an Aladdin themed rides. It can get busy.

    Mad Hatter’s tea cups- this was another of Finn’s favourites, the cup of tea ride he called it. This was another quiet ride.

    Orbitron- Here you can ride in a rocket, the queues for this one always seem longer than they say so be prepared to wait but Finn loved it.

    Peter Pan’s flight – this is a lovely ride but can get really busy. We got fast passes for this which I’d definitely recommend doing.

    Pirates of the Caribbean – I was really nervous about this one as I though Finn would be scared but apart from a few drops it was quite gentle & we all loved it. We were quite lucky to just walk on this a few times.

    Ratatouille- this was another favourite of ours, it gets busy but you can get fast pass. There is WiFi in the studios so we used the Disneyland app to check wait times and managed to just walk onto this one day.

    Slinky Dog- Finn loved this being a toy story fan and we managed to just walk on it quite a few times. I suffer with motion sickness and this did make me feel a bit sick.

    Thunder Mesa riverboat Landing- I loved this boat ride & definitely recommend you go on this. It’s a lovely little ride round which you don’t expect & has loads of little things to look at.

    Toy soldiers parachute drop- I thought this would be really scary but we all loved it, you also get a fab but quick view of the castle! It can get busy.

    Moteurs Action Stunt Show- This was a massive hit, Finn’s face when lightening came out was one of the highlights of our trip.

    Mickey and the Magician- This is a lovely show and definitely worth going to if it’s on, true Disney magic.

    Mickey presents Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris- a fab show located on the stage near the castle. Finn loved all the Characters and them all waving.

    Disneyland Paris, My top 10 tips

    Disneyland Paris, My top 10 tips

    The first time we went I read loads on Facebook groups and got advice of people who had already been. It can feel really overwhelming before you go as you want to cram everything possible in. Here’s a list of my top ten tips, there’s probably loads I’ve not covered but it’s just a few things we found useful.

    Parade – the best place we found to stand for the parade Is outside the Pizzeria Bella Notte in Fantasyland or near start of the parade near it’s a small world. That way once it’s finished you can get on a few of the rides in Fantasyland with no queues. I think it’s absolutely worth getting there just one day 30/45 minutes early to get to the front as you get brilliant interaction.

    Illuminations – Again I’d say just one day get there 30 minutes or so early for the fireworks just to get the best view. We sat on a bench just behind the statue of Goofy & Pluto and had an amazing view. We were there about 45 minutes early but Stu just took Finn off to a ride & for popcorn so he didn’t get too fed up. Another good spot was by the rope near the castle stage.

    Snack packs/ drinks – we took quite a few snacks with us & little things for Finn to have in the queues. We also took water bottles to fill up as drinks can be quite dear. We took little sachets of coffee to have in the room as well as there’s none provided. Things we took for snack packs were crisp,cereal bars, raisins, little sweets, mini cookies, individually wrapped brioche etc.

    Layers/ waterproofs – This obviously depends what time of year you go but we went in April & January and have had really changeable weather. At one point in January it was warm enough for just a jumper. Definitely take plenty of layers as it can get hot in queues if you’re all wrapped up and take waterproofs. The ponchos they sell are really expensive, we took Finn’s puddle suit.

    Rough plan/ list – some people say go without a plan but I found it useful to make a note of what shows I wanted to see and the times. Also what rides we wanted to do in each of the different lands or areas of the studios so we wasn’t doing too much walking about between rides or meet & greets.

    The picture – I’d seen loads of people getting a picture of the castle & an empty Main Street after the illuminations and was desperate to get one. We hung around after the illuminations had finished for about half an hour and just went in the shops. We were then able to get the picture.

    App- the Disneyland app was brilliant, we were able to check the queue times and a few times just walked on the main rides.

    Take fancy dress from home – we took all Finn’s costumes from home as they were so much cheaper than buying them in the parks. You also get brilliant character intervention when they are dressed up and all the cast members make a fuss. It’s also fab for pictures.

    Personalised autograph book & pen- I ordered Finn a personalised autograph book from eBay and it’s lovely to keep for the memories. Take your own pen as well as these were expensive on the parks, a sharpie is easier for the characters to hold.

    Spare battery for camera & a portable charger for phone – I took millions of pictures so made sure I had a spare battery for my camera & a portable phone charger was really handy as we spent really long days in the park.

    Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt at Erddig Wrexham

    Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt at Erddig Wrexham

    We recently joined the National trust hoping to have lots of family days out. We are quite lucky that we are within an hour of some amazing National trust properties. We are also planning some U.K. breaks this year so it will be handy to take our cards with us incase there is any properties close by.

    I joined by Direct Debit so pay £10 a month for a family membership, I like this option to spread the cost & knowing we can always have a free/cheap day out.

    Over the Easter Weekend we decided to do the Cadbury’s Egg Hunt at Erddig in Wrexham. This is the first time we have visited and we loved it. We were with friends so had a few children in the group so just stayed in the ground. The gardens are beautiful with loads of trees, flowers & a lake. The kids loved running around and it was all really safe for them.

    Our favourite bit was there 2.5 Hectare natural play area the Wolf’s Den. It was brilliant and I reckon we spent a good hour in there, we could have been there longer as well if we didn’t want to finish the egg hunt. There’s den building, loads of stepping stones, a wooden play shop, a rope swing & plenty more. They run activities in here throughout the year like tree climbing & den building so we will definitely be back to try some of these.

    We didn’t get a chance to try any of the cafe facilities (except for a coffee, which was a good strong coffee) but we will definitely be trying these next time we are back as they looked really good.

    We all really enjoyed the Easter egg hunt, we were given a map and had to follow the trail looking for signs of Spring. At the end they kids were all given a full size Cadbury’s egg.

    We really enjoyed our visit to Erddig and will definitely be back soon to make the most of our membership.

    In the Night Garden Live

    In the Night Garden Live

    We had an amazing day at In the Night Garden Live at the Trafford Centre. Finn was so excited as soon as we got in the Showdome, As there is projections on the ceiling of the Ninky Nonk. It ran really smoothly getting to your seats and there was a countdown to the show. The seating is  steps with plenty of room so he could move around. 


    The show was brilliant and it was lovely to see how excited all the children got as the charachters came onto the stage. 


    We bought Finn an Iggle Piggle teddy and a balloon which came to £17.50 expensive but probably about the same as similar attractions. 

    ​I’d definitely recommend booking the meet the character experience Finn loved meeting Iggle Piggle. You choose one character and the time slot  is in order of who booked first. We booked last minute so had about an hours wait. You get a text with a link  so  you can track how long is left. 

    I’d definitely recomend for any In the Night Garden fans, we had a lovely day. ​

    Dr Dawn’s Guide to Toddler Health 

    Dr Dawn’s Guide to Toddler Health 

    I recently reviewed Dr Dawn’s Guide to Your Baby’s First Year which you can read  here.


    I have also read and loved Dr Dawn’s Guide to Toddler Health. This book follows a similar format and offers brilliant advice for parents of toddlers. 

    Like the First Year book, this book gives you a timeline of childhood checks and milestones. I love this section as it is really useful to refer to as your child reaches each stage.  It offers you reassurance. 


    The Potty training section is really useful as I know this is something a lot of parents struggle with or worry about. We aren’t at the potty training stage yet so I will define refer back to this. 

    I loved the section on your Toddler’s Medicine cabinet, I like to be organised so find this list really useful to refer to. I feel reassured knowing I have the essential items. 

    The A- Z of toddler ailments is something I know I will definitely keep looking back at.  It is useful to know if you need to seek medical advice or you can treat at home. 

    There is also a section of first aid, something which is essential for all parents to know. 

    Like with the Baby’s first year book I would definitely recommend this to all parents and feel I will refer to this constantly throughout Finn’s childhood. 

    Strawberry Picking at 

    Strawberry Picking at 

    On Sunday we visited  a lovely Farm, Claremont Farm about 20 minutes away from Chester. 


    We loved the strawberry picking, the farm shop and the cafe. 


    Finn had so much fun Picking the Strawberry’s and really got involved hunting for the best ones. There was a free tractor ride around the field which he loved. 2 big punnets came to just under £6, they are really tasty. 


    The Cafe was lovely with an outside seating area.For a coffee, tea, 2 cakes and a Cookie & Milk it was £12. We all enjoyed it and you could tell they used quality ingredients. 


    They host regular events like art class, cooking workshops and creative writing classes. They also hold a parent and toddler cooking class that I really want to try out. 


    This is a lovely place to visit if you are in the area, I’d definitely recommend you check it out even if it’s just for the cake. 


    We finished the day with an afternoon in the garden & setting up Finn’s swing. 

    Picking the Right Nursery 

    Picking the Right Nursery 

    I’m not sure about anyone else but I found picking the right Nursery for Finn quite stressful. It’s scary the thought of leaving your baby with someone else. I couldn’t be any happier though with the choice we finally made for Finn. He has been at his current Nursery since he was 10 months old. I visited lots of different nursery’s and fell in love with this one. I just knew it was the right one. These are the tips I picked up from our experience or speaking to friends. Sorry this is quite a long one but hopefully you will find it useful. 

    Show up unannounced  – always show up unannounced. That way you know they aren’t putting on an act. Any nursery will be happy to see you. I liked the fact they shown us round all the rooms and we’re happy to answer any questions. 

    Menu’s & Food – This was really important to us. We are keen for Finn to try a wide variety of foods so I wanted the menu to be varied. I asked to see a sample menu when we visited. I loved that they served healthy snacks and encourage the children to be adventurous with food. 

    Free Flow Play- Unless the weather is really bad the children are allowed to choose if they want to be out or inside. I love this as Finn loves playing outside and I think it is so important. 

    Quality of toys- Learning through play is so crucial in the early years. I checked there was a wide variety of clean, safe and exciting toys. 

    Routine- We mainly follow a baby led routine when it comes to naps and weaning. I visited some nurserys that insisted  on set nap times. I wasn’t keen on this as I prefer to just pick up on Finn’s signals that he is tired. Our Nursery were prepared to follow this. They were also happy to support us in Baby Led Weaning. 

    Settling in Sessions- these should ideally be free while you see if the nursery is a good fit for you all. We had 2 settling in sessions which made me feel really happy about leaving Finn there for the first time. 

    Feedback to home- I love that nursery give us a journal at the end of the day with what Finn has ate, his naps, what he’s drunk, nappy changes & what he has been up to. It’s lovely to know what they have been doing while they have been at nursery.  

    Ofsted- I read the latest reports of all the nurserys I planned on visiting. I know a lot of it is just a snapshot of that day but I felt it was important for the nursery we picked to have a good rating. 

    Ask Friends & Family- I asked around for any recommendations. A few people recommend the nursery Finn currently attends. It makes you feel more reassured knowing other people are happy. 

    What would be your top tips for picking the right nursery?