All the camping gear

Hokey Cokey on the way to Centre Parcs

It didn’t start well. We knew that this particular trip was going to have, shall we say, logistical issues, about two months after we booked it, but we didn’t imagine getting to our weekend away would be quite so difficult.

Earlier in the year we’d decided to go with some friends to Centre Parcs Whinfell at Penrith on the last weekend of the October half-term and a short while later I’d been booked to work away that week. Luckily I was working in Windermere, so it seemed like it shouldn’t be a major problem. Just the small issue of how to get The Tinies to their grandparents’ house for the week without taking two cars, but we soon got that sorted.

I finished work on the Thursday evening and stayed in Windermere that night. Husband had stayed at Mum & G’s and was to bring The Tinies up to Penrith train station to collect me.

Unfortunately a short but severe snow storm had caused a trail of destruction on the M6 and it was closed both ways just one junction after Husband got on it. Although the southbound side was relatively quickly opened, Husband and The Tinies were well and truly stuck in traffic. And then Buddy announced he needed a wee.

With traffic not having moved for 30 minutes and things in the back seat apparently getting more desperate, Husband decided he’d let Buddy wash the car wheel. Unfortunately Buddy had other ideas – perhaps it was stage fright – but no waterfall was forthcoming. Ten minutes later and the car still not having moved, Buddy announces he definitely wants a wee. And so to a repeat performance of last time, Husband pleading with a bare-bottomed Buddy in the middle lane of the M6 to please wash the wheel. No deal.

I understand that this particular comedy of errors took place no less than four times in the intervening 20 minutes. If Buddy thought he was doing the Hokey Cokey he’d missed the important component that would mean he had to “shake it all about”. Still, from the sniggers and grins on the faces of people in the other cars, it was at least doing something to relieve the boredom.

By then it was nearly 12 noon, and finally the motorway was reopened and traffic started to move. Husband was able to come off at the next junction and use the services to both avoid any further toilet problems and get The Tinies a snack so that World War III didn’t break out in the back on the remainder of the journey.

Meanwhile I’d arrived at Penrith train station and texted Husband to say I’d get the bus to Centre Parcs so he could go straight there. Unfortunately he hadn’t got the text so turned up at the train station just as I had trudged the 10 minutes across town to the bus station.

Luckily he called me before I boarded a bus and I trudged back (up hill this time) to meet them. I was later pretty grateful for this change of events, given the length of the driveway that leads into Centre Parcs from the road. I wouldn’t have fancied doing that pulling a week’s worth of luggage behind me.

Despite its inauspicious beginning we had a fantastic time that weekend. We shared a newly-renovated forest lodge with some good friends, the children got along famously and the weather, although cold, was mainly dry.

Children holding hands as they walk along a path

Buddy makes friends

We had great fun in the swimming pool and spent some quality time decorating pottery with all the children. Me and C even got Sunday morning off from family duties to spend a few hours in the spa – which I have to say is one of the best I’ve been to.

Pheasants greeted us at the front door on Sunday morning and we warmed ourselves by the open fire every evening. Buddy even spotted rabbits playing at the back of the lodge and the children spent a few quiet minutes staring out of the patio doors watching their frolicking.

The weekend was topped off by a spectacular fireworks display over the lake. The children appreciated the fireworks set to music and it’s the first year that Buddy hadn’t jumped into my arms and begged to go home at the first fizz-bang.

Centre Parcs is definitely not the cheapest of weekends away – especially compared to those under canvas – but it was wonderful for a treat and to catch up with some good friends. Now to plan what to do together next year once it’s too cold (by my standards anyway) for camping.


3 thoughts on “Hokey Cokey on the way to Centre Parcs

  1. Phil Daniels

    Brings back memories of long car journies when my children were young, and a stay at Centre Parcs Sherwood Forest in the early 90’s. My oldest son, then 15, learnt to sail board and has been doing it ever since. My younger son, then 13, tried canoeing and has stayed on dry land ever since! My tomboy daughter, then 11, decided she wanted to try horse riding. Everything was going great until the horse got fed up of her trying to make it go faster and threw her into the lake! A great holiday though!

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