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.

    Costa Teguise, Lanzarote- The restaurants we loved

    Costa Teguise, Lanzarote- The restaurants we loved

    We have recently come back from a week in Costa Teguise and we went to some amazing restaurants. There was such a lot of choice & they were all really reasonably priced. We love Spanish food so we’re absolutely spoilt for choice.

    El Navarro

    We went here after a recommendation from a friend & reading good reviews on both trip advisor & Lonely Planet. It was a bit of a distance from our hotel but definitely worth it. When we first got there I thought it didn’t seem very child friendly but I was wrong, the staff were brilliant with Finn. I went for the prawn, spinach & ricotta ravioli to start followed by hake & mussels in a butter & lemon sauce. Both were amazing! I love mussels & I’d say these were the freshest & tastiest I’ve ever had. I had a creme brûlée for dessert which was lovely as well. Stu had the porks cheek & really enjoyed it. This was the most expensive meal we had at around €80 but was so worth it.

    El Navarro, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote El Navarro, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote El Navarro, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote El Navarro, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote El Navarro, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote

    El Navarro, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote

    La Tabla

    I found La Tabla on trip advisor & it was highly rated for Tapas. Again we weren’t disappointed. It’s on a little courtyard tucked away but it was lovely & peaceful. The tapas was brilliant value at €21 for 7 dishes and we enjoyed them all. It was so busy with people being turned away on a Tuesday evening so definitely book (the number is on trip advisor and you can send them a WhatsApp).

    La Tabla, Costa Teguise, LanzaroteLa Tabla, Costa Teguise, LanzaroteLa Tabla, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote La Tabla, Costa Teguise, LanzaroteLa Tabla, Costa Teguise, LanzaroteLa Tabla, Costa Teguise, LanzaroteLa Tabla, Costa Teguise, LanzaroteLa Tabla, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote

    La Aulaga Casa Felix

    Another tapas restaurant we found on trip advisor, although they did a wide range of meals here which all looked really good. This was again excellent value with each Tapa priced at €3. This is some of the best tapas we’ve ever ate and we are big Tapas fans.

    Casa Felix, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote Casa Felix, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote Casa Felix, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote

    Casa Felix, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote Casa Felix, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote Casa Felix, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote

    La Pardela Restaurant

    We fancied Paella one night and La Pardela came highly recommend on trip advisor. We opted for the seafood & it was amazing, packed with fish & seafood. The staff were brilliant with Finn and really made you feel welcome. We had starters as well but really didn’t need them as the paella was massive. It’s in a lovely location as well over looking the sea.

    La Pardela, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote La Pardela, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote La Pardela, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote La Pardela, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote La Pardela, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote La Pardela, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote La Pardela, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote

    Beach Bar Melia Salinas

    We never ate here but I’ve got to mention the Beach Bar, we loved it. Perfect surroundings, amazing cocktails & chill out music. We loved going at nap time and some evenings with Finn as he loved playing in the sand.

    Beach Bar Melia Salinas, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote Beach Bar Melia Salinas, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote Beach Bar Melia Salinas, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote

    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.

    Fuerteventura- Finn’s  first holiday abroad

    Fuerteventura- Finn’s  first holiday abroad

    We took Finn on his first holiday abroad to Fuerteventura when he was Just over 7 months old. We went in September for a week to Caleta de Fuste and stayed in the Barcelo Thalasso Spa.



    As I have mentioned previously I am a massive overpacker and worried we wouldn’t have enough for Finn so I did take about 4 spare of everything clothes wise, about 40 nappys etc… But when we were there I had a look around and everything was cheap enough to buy.

    Finn enjoying some melon round the pool
    I have covered the flight and airport separately in a previous blog Baby Flying tips.

    We got a taxi from the airport as I had read on trip advisor that they had car seats and it was only a short transfer. This was the easiest option with the pushchair and all the luggage.

    Finn loved the Pool

    The hotel was beautiful with plenty of facilities. We had decided to go all inclusive as we thought it would be easier with Finn being new to food we could just pick bits up for him whenever. We also wanted a little bit of luxury with it being our honeymoon. The food was really good but we did eat out quite a few times for a change  at tea time as we knew we would  get bored of just one buffet. The breakfast was lovely with lots of choice. Lunch suited us as there was a snack bar so we could just get bits of food during the day. We had chosen an upgraded room and it was huge, with a beautiful sea view. We All all the rooms looked lovely though. There was 2 big pools, with one really shallow bit which was ideal for a baby. He loved splashing in the pool or floating in his rubber  ring.



    My big worries were keeping Finn cool and food, which after speaking to a few friends about going abroad with babies this was their main worry too. I will briefly cover some tips I picked up.

    Food– As I’ve mentioned previously in blog posts we did partly Baby Led Weaning so at this stage Finn was happy to eat a variety of food. There was plenty of salad bits, fruit & pasta for him. Plus he was happy to try bit of what we were eating. I do think all inclusive was perfect for a baby at this stage of weaning . That said I did take a lot of ready made food & snacks. I ordered pouches and packets of baby snacks to Boots at the airport , just so I knew we would definitely have something for him.

    Heat- We have the the Armadillo City and this was perfect as it has a really large sun canopy. We also kept Finn in the shade whenever we could  apart from in the pool. He lived in swim stuff in the day as it was too hot for anything else. One thing he loved and kept him cool was a blow up paddling pool under an umbrella, we filled this up with pool water and bought a few toys to go in it. He really enjoyed this.

    Siesta in the Shade

     View from our room

    The area was really good for children, we didn’t venture really far as we just wanted a relaxing holiday. But around the hotel there was plenty of parks,play areas and child friendly places to eat. One restaurant I would definitely recommend is La Taberna del Capitan, this is probably the best tapas we have ever tasted! From the outside you wouldn’t think so but this place is amazing. We returned twice something we don’t normally do on holiday but it was that good. Fado rock was  another restaurant we loved as well, I had a beautiful   seafood mixed grill. We never really stayed out too late but early evening all of the bars were child friendly and reasonable prices.

    We would definitely like to return to this area one day.