I spent last weekend at Center Parcs with my in-laws, which might sound like some people's idea of hell but I had a great time. Kate's family are Center Parcs veterans of 20-odd years and introduced me to it for the first time a few years ago.
I must admit that I was sceptical at first, thinking it was a slightly posher version of Butlins and I'd be taking part in a knobbly knees contest before I knew it. However, after a lovely weekend of cycling, swimming, watersliding and other healthy pursuits I was converted and much looking forward to our break last weekend.
We arrived on Friday afternoon and had a hearty lunch at the Pancake House before collecting our bikes and checking into our villa. We then headed to the 'Subtropical Swimming Paradise' which lives up to its names with wave pools, wild water rapids - aka 'Jungle River' -, jacuzzis and waterslides galore. Kate and I then hit the gym, a slightly disappointing room with approximately six fitness machines (we spent some time searching for the 'proper' gym before we realised that was in fact it).
Dinner was lasagne in our villa followed by a game of Articulate, where Kate's dad and I lagged behind the girls due to my inability to differentiate Bob Dylan from Bob Marley. On Saturday, there was more gym, more swimming and a bike ride. In the evening we donned our special shoes for a trip to the bowling alley followed by dinner at Cafe Rouge before Kate and I introduced everyone else to the joy that is ITV's Take Me Out.
On Sunday Kate and I battled it out over the badminton net before heading to the spa for the afternoon. There were numerous rooms with fancy names and themes - Japanese Salt Room, Balinese Steam Room, Tyrolean Sauna and so on – which as far as I could tell essentially boiled down to 'hot, dry room' and 'hot, steamy room'. The best was the Aqua Meditation Room which wasn't hot at all but had a sort of laser light show on the ceiling and lots of people asleep and snoring in it.
On Monday there was time for a quick game of crazy golf where I was delighted to get a hole in one on my first shot (some may say it was a fluke but I can tell you it was pure skill). After returning our bikes and having a quick lunch it was off back home. Roll on the next trip!