After starting off the day on Tuesday with a run, I wanted to have a chill morning since I was on holiday. Whenever I reach that midway point of a holiday, I always want to make the most of my time because time flies when you are having fun. The Center Parcs lodges are the perfect way to enjoy a cosy break away from the bustle of activities. As always, the beautiful sunshine meant I spent a bit of time enjoying the outdoor area of our lodge – listening to the birds and peaceful breeze through the trees.
Wednesday = Falconry, Mini-Golf & Bella Italia Dinner
I was so excited to have this booked. It’s been on the bucket list and I was a little concerned that COVID was going to ruin my original plan. Thankfully, with the new COVID measures in place, they were able to continue the Falconry. Before the session started, you had to sanitize your hands and there was a total of 7 people in our group. It was the perfect size as we were all able to be included in the experience without feeling concerned about social distancing.
The session lasts for 1 hour and includes a brief introduction to Falconry followed by at least 45 minutes holding a variety of birds. I couldn’t wait as I’ve always been fascinated by birds, especially birds of prey and owls. We were all given an official Falconry glove to wear and had the opportunity to take photos – be mindful that some of the birds do fidget a lot and burst mode can be your best friend!
As a group, we held a Kestrel, a hawk and Laughing Kookaburra. There was also the opportunity to see a Vulture up close too but learning about their personalities, this guy in particular was named Scratch and enjoyed nipping people’s ankles when standing up, so we were asked by the instructor to sit down.
Honestly, the activity is pretty pricey (£45 per person) depending on what your budget is however, I think it’s worth it. It was truly fascinating and something unique to add to your Center Parcs break.
After Falconry we decided to head on over to the Sports Cafe in the Sports Plaza for some lunch – well, I already had a spot of lunch at the lodge but that didn’t stop me from consuming an ice-cream sundae and cheeky cocktail. As with most restaurants around the village, you will need to book a slot for a table – make sure to keep your email confirmation if booking on the same day! Once seated at a table, you can scan a QR code and order your food & drinks via your phone. Not gonna lie, I really hope this becomes the norm once COVID settles down.
After filling our faces, we headed over to our next activity for the day, Adventure Mini-Golf. Mini-golf is the perfect pastime for families, couples and friends. The mini-golf at Center Parcs is a good way to spend some time outside that isn’t too strenuous, especially when the weather is nice. Located right near the lake, you have a really nice view. The course is split into two 9 hole courses and we decided to pay for 18 holes so you have the chance to play both courses. There are 2 themes based around fantasy which is great for the kids to get involved – they even have small golf clubs for them which was so sweet.
Last time I was at Center Parcs Longleat, the main Italian restaurant was Strada. It seems like the contracts have changed over to Bella Italia since my last visit. I wasn’t complaining since I do enjoy a good Pizza. In the similar way to Huck’s, you will be shown to your table once your time slot has passed. You will need to keep a mask on as you walk through the restaurant, which can then be taken off once seated. One thing I did notice was how the staff asked if we preferred our waitress to wear a mask or not. In our case we said the waitress didn’t need to wear a mask but it was nice of the team to ask.
My standard order at any Bella Italia is pretty plain and simple. One Margherita pizza followed by Tiramisu for dessert. Honestly, it was the perfect meal and we didn’t feel rushed at all. The food was cooked to perfection and came in good time, probably waited around 20 minutes if that after placing our order. There was a little issue with the card machines – who else remembers back in the 90s having to impress a debit/credit card onto a cheque like system and fill in your details/sign the paper so that a card payment can be made. It was surreal but the waitress was very apologetic, fantastic customer service from the whole team!
With Bella Italia being near the main pathway out of the Plaza, we enjoyed a slow stroll back to our lodge. With the warm weather, this meant the evenings were clear and you could see the stars in the sky. And it’s not every day you can wander through the forest, staring at the stars above you. A truly magical moment that you can’t find anywhere else.
Is anyone planning a trip to Center Parcs in the next few months?
Are staycations the way forward for the time being?