GUEST BLOG: Center Parcs (by Grandad)

If you go down to the woods today….

Do bears actually live in the woods? They do if you take them there and that’s just what we did when we took our very own Sophie Bear for a family break at Whinfell Forest Center Parcs recently.

Surrounded by woodlands, wildlife and luxury lodges our two-year old ‘princess’ had a glorious time, mostly entertaining and tiring her nearest and dearest along with her enthusiastic Gran and Grandad (Ruthie and me).


The intrepid party’s plucky pair of pensioners – over four days and nights – swung between swimming, water slides, tennis, badminton, table tennis, adventure golf, high ropes challenges (where a 68 year old crazy guy undertook a ‘leap of faith’ involving a 12 metre wobbly pole and distant trapeze . A once in a lifetime experience and I tell you what ‘never again!’) and countless uphill walks from our lodge to the Village Centre.

Up the hill...again

Up the hill…again

That really is Grandad all the way up there!

That really is Grandad all the way up there!

Amidst all of this gruelling activity a tiny tot loomed larger than life – our resident Sophie Bear took us to Baby Dolphins, an Adventure Tots Playtime, a Mini Tree Trek experience complete with roped-up tears and a comforting soft toy squirrel (Sammy), a rain soaked dash to the Pancake House for a carbo-loaded cream lashed feast AND a Toddlers Disco Party afternoon with chocolate buttons, balloons and dancing PLUS extra sub-tropical Swimming Paradise sessions with regular whirlwind circuits of the rapids thrown in.


Playing at the Toddler Hour


A very 90s Toddler Party

On top of that we had encounters with owls Bobby and Barney the products of a master whittler, a face off with a duck at the door…

Grandad, there’s a man at the door with a bill. Don’t be silly Sophie, it must be a duck with a hat on…

…along with Floppy the horse, who ‘pooed on our path.’ That’s one energetic bear cub, take my word for it!

Curiosity killed the cat they say, but what about their distant cousins, bears? My over-riding memory of this relaxing woodland holiday – once I got my breath back – is of being grilled by our very own intrepid bear – Bear Grills?

“What’s Gran doing? Where you going Grandad? What’s Grandad doing? Where’s Flopsy (Sophie’s go-to source of soft toy comfort). Why you eating that Grandad? What’s Gran got, Grandad? Where’s Mummy gone, Grandad?” – She’s (understandably) escaped to the Pamper Spa Sophie – “Why, Grandad?” When it comes to interrogation skills, she’s up there with MI5, CIA, Jeremy Paxman and the rest – and she’s still wearing nappies.

Be warned, Sophie’s language skills have come on leaps and bounds and she’s an excellent mimic – be careful, she picks up barely audible sentences and thought patterns and isn’t afraid to repeat them – “Sophie wants a beer” for example!

After four wonderful days spent with our bear we all returned south from Cumbria but get this – we, the ‘spent force’ grandparents – were left holding the bear as Mummy and Daddy retreated to Manchester to enjoy a peaceful night of rest and solitude. ‘Bear-faced cheek’ if you ask me. Daddy did remember to call back for her the next day.

That said, it was wonderful and a privilege to look after the precious toddler.

We all had a wonderful time at Center Parcs and beyond, didn’t we Sophie?

‘Sharp it, Grandad!’ whatever that means!


  1. Sounds like you had a great time. Centre parcs looks like it has everything you could possibly need to entertain a toddler x

    • Joe

      June 13, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      It does although she was a bit small for some of the things. We tried out a mini ropes thing with a harness and everything but she hated the restriction. Cue mass meltdown! The reward of a cuddly squirrel turned everything around though. The swimming pool was amazing and so much going on. She loved it and is still shattered now. x

  2. More like Goldilocks and the two bears

  3. ‘Five Have Fun at Centre Parks’
    A new title to revive the series with which some of us grew up (or didn’t grow up)!

  4. Mary /Maurice.

    June 14, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    So pleased you all had a great time especially Sophie bear .It sounds a fabulous place and plenty to do for children .x x 🎄

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