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Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Three

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Three

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

Falconry

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.

Mini-Golf

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.

Bella Italia

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?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Two

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Two

There’s nothing quite like waking up in the forest. The one thing that I can never get over when having a stay at a Center Parcs village is opening the curtains and staring into the quiet bliss of the forest around you. With the weather being glorious, I couldn’t help but open the patio door and embrace the cool September breeze – yes, it may have reached 26 degrees during the day, it was still cold in the mornings. I do miss that feeling each day but hey ho, I’ll be back real soon!

Tuesday = Running, Badminton & Waterpark

Morning run

2020 has pretty much changed the way I view health and fitness. I started off the year regretting all my food and fitness decisions from 2019 and I wanted to change. Lockdown happened which exposed me to finding more motivation to exercise including starting to run. Honestly, I didn’t think I would ever be interested in running as a hobby but never say never.

I knew before this staycation that I wanted to get at least 2 runs in. You may be thinking, ‘you’re on holiday? What the hell?’ Center Parcs is your own holiday. You can make your break as chilled or as exciting as you want it to be. I enjoy exercising and sometimes I feel a little sad when I don’t get my exercise fix in each day. Since I normally do strength/resistance workouts at home, I wasn’t going to continue this on my holiday. This is where running comes in.

The sunny weather was the best excuse to get out of the lodge first thing in the morning. Now I’m in no way saying I ran a 5k – that is a far off goal that I may not ever achieve. I did manage to reach near 4k but I was focused on doing run/walk intervals. Longleat Forest is very hilly in places so at times, I had to walk a bit longer up the hills. This didn’t stop me from running to the Sports Plaza area which includes a massive lake. The views around the forest and is one way to really see the whole village.

Badminton

After my morning run and spending a fair bit of time chilling out in the lodge, it was time to start off our staycation with a bit of Badminton. For me, it wouldn’t be a Center Parcs holiday without a Badminton session. With the current COVID situation, you had to wear a mask as you walked into the Sports Plaza. All equipment is loaned out to you for your session, located in a quiet corner where you won’t cross paths of other guests. You didn’t need to wear a mask as part of your session.

As I am writing this post now, you will be required to wear a mask during your activity – so please do read up on the rules before your session!

Badminton sessions are booked for 1 hour however 45 mins of play and then 15 mins required for essential cleaning. I did notice some other guests continued their activity past the 45 mins which was a bit disappointing to see. Badminton may not be everyone’s cup of tea however this does take me back to my PE lessons at secondary school. I’ve always been fairly good at playing at Badminton even if sometimes my coordination is out of place.

Subtropical Swimming Paradise

With the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, you will be required to book your 2-hour slots. I stayed for the midweek break (Monday to Friday) therefore I was able to book 2x 2-hour slots. I opted for the later sessions in the evening as I hoped it would be quieter and more opportunity to enjoy the night in the outdoor area. Nighttime does seem to transform the waterpark into a new experience. The darkness adds to the atmosphere and transform the slides/flumes into a thrilling experience.

The outdoor rapids as part of the waterpark are a highlight. I remember the ones at Longleat Forest being particularly fun and exhilarating. Again, another change that was implemented as part of COVID is the lifeguard will be in control of separating groups at the start of the rapids. Generally, you would be able to go in regardless of how many people are about in the area. Whilst I do miss seeing other people’s reactions and experience in the rapids, it was nice to have the Rapids to yourself as you could pretty much take over the whole space without worrying about bashing into someone.

A new experience for me was experience the 2 new slides, Typhoon (double raft slide) and Tropical Cyclone (the family raft slide). I thoroughly enjoy both, especially when you are able to pick your theme for the slide. The lighting package is fun but maybe I was expecting a bit more – guess looking at pro-slide POVs are spoiling me. They are both incredibly fun and certainly give you plenty of opportunities for water to rush into your face – still wonder how my contact lenses stayed in place! Overall, it was a really good first session and couldn’t wait to go again on the Thursday evening.

What is your favourite activity at Center Parcs?

Chilled out break or high impact break?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part One

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part One

It’s been long awaited but I finally went to Center Parcs in Longleat Forest. Originally I was meant to go in May 2020 but COVID-19 had other ideas so I was gutted. Especially when the weather decided to be heatwave weather back then. I didn’t have any issue this time round as the weather gods answered my prayers and gave me lovely weather for my staycation break.

Center Parcs has a lot of sentimental value to me as it was always a big holiday for my family when I was growing up. And Longleat Forest is only around an hour and a half away from my house so it’s my local Center Parcs. I couldn’t wait to get back and explore the village, see how it’s grown and expanded since my last visit in 2012 for my 21st birthday.

Monday = Check-in Day

Like a big kid, I was very excited to get on the road and head on over to Longleat Forest. Check-in time was 2pm which was painless for us however I do miss having the opportunity to arrive at Center Parcs early and explore the village on the first day of your stay. Understandable given they need to monitor numbers of people within the village.

Quick and easy, you’ll drive towards the Arrivals Lodge and meet your first friendly member of staff. Simply tell them your booking number and they hand you over your wristbands for your stay and a Village map. Then it’s the drive to the car park to park up and depending on what time you arrive, wait until the barriers are open for you to drive up to your lodge or park up and walk into the village to have an explore.

Check-in time for the lodge was 4pm. As expected with pretty much every Center Parcs stay I have had, there’s always a busy queue to get into the village. We may have waited 10 minutes but security were very efficient in getting us through the barrier to drive to our lodge. As we were located right near the Plaza area in Longleat, this was a quick 2 min drive therefore we were all unpacked quickly.

Once unpacked, we did pop into the ParcMarket in the Plaza to get some more food bits, mainly frozen and chilled food. We went to Morrisons in Warminster prior to arriving at Center Parcs for the bulk of our shopping. Lodges are self-catering so it’s a great way to save some money if you don’t want to eat out all the time at Center Parcs.

1 Bedroom Executive Lodge Tour

So, originally our booking was to stay in the Redwood Apartments. However with COVID closing Center Parcs, we had to move our booking to a later date and they gave us an extra £100 towards our booking. This extra money meant we were able to upgrade our stay to a 1 bedroom lodge. And boy was it the best decision we made.

For a couple, this lodge was the perfect size for us. From the pictures below, you can see that we had plenty of space in the kitchen and lounge, a nice outdoor seating area and the bedroom was very sizeable! It really felt like having a little house in the forest. Perfect.

Amenities we had:

  • Basic kitchen appliances (microwave, cooker, kettle, coffee machine, dishwasher)
  • TV with Blu-ray player
  • Wine/Bottle Cooler
  • Basic washing equipment (dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid, tea towel, oven gloves, kitchen cloth)
  • Hydrobath
  • Separate walk-in shower

Evening entertainment

We’re not real party animals but we did book to eat dinner at Huck’s, located in the lower section of the Plaza. Serving all kinds of American food like burgers, ribs and chicken. There’s something for any fast food fanatic. As with most restaurants in the current COVID situation, the menu was limited but for what they had on offer, it was perfect for everybody.

Staff were very friendly and accommodating. You do have to book your restaurant reservations so there are no walk-ins. One thing we did find is that they were strict with their timings so if you arrive early for your booking, you will have to loiter around the Plaza area until your time slot is available. This may be an annoyance to some people but it was understandable given the current situation.

Another thing to remember is that within any indoor areas, you are required to wear a face mask (unless exempt or under the age of 11 I believe this was at the time we went). Plus there are one way systems in place both outdoors and indoors, depending on how wide the pathways are. From what we found, most people were compliant without any issues which was great to see.

After stuffing our faces in Huck’s, we decided to take a slow stroll back to our lodge and checked out the Rapids in the waterpark. Longleat has a walkway out of the Plaza which runs alongside the Rapids – the recognisable sound of the water flowing through really bought back a lot of memories for me. I was very happy to be back!

Has anyone been to Center Parcs before?

Which village is your favourite to visit?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

My top 5 most anticipated Intamin coasters

My top 5 most anticipated Intamin coasters

From my top 5 most anticipated B&M coasters, I bring to you the next blog instalment featuring one of the more ‘out there’ and experimental type of rollercoaster manufacturer in my eyes: Intamin. With the likes of Taron and Expedition GeForce as key coasters I’ve loved along my travels across Europe, I can’t help but want to explore more of the Intamin offerings around the world. Whilst I will always remain a faithful fan of B&M, I can’t help but find Intamin’s latest creations grabbing my attention.

So, which Intamin coasters are my most anticipated?

Note: this list is in no particular order.

Taiga, Linnamäki

After riding other Intamin Blitz coasters such as Taron and Cheetah Hunt, I’ve always been fascinated as to what the next instalment of Blitz coasters could become. Taiga came along in 2019 with its gorgeous blue track and unique style train design. Located within Linnanmäki in Finland, it’s definitely given me a good excuse to get a trip sorted back to the Scandinavian countries. Plus reading the reviews from several people within the theme park realm just makes me want to find out what Taiga is made of – wonder if it’ll make it into my top 10?

Flying Aces, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

So, fun little back story. I didn’t really know much about the Dubai parks until my brother took a trip out to Dubai a few years ago and decided to take a trip to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. Me being a typical theme park geek was extremely jealous and ever since, Dubai/Abu Dhabi has been on the bucket list for a very long time. So it’s not surprise that Flying Aces and Formula Rossa are included on this list. Flying Aces has one hell of a quirky layout that looks to throw you all over the place. Bring it on I say.

Formula Rossa, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Top speed of 149.1mph in 4.9 seconds… Fastest rollercoaster in the world and I WANT IT. Is it bragging rights? Maybe. Is it a bucket list coaster you want because your brother got the cred before you? Yes. I’m not even ashamed to say that. Of course the coaster itself looks insane and videos don’t really do it justice in my eyes. I want to be there and experience the sheer speed of Formula Rossa for myself, just might take me a few years until I can get a Dubai trip penned in.

Maverick, Cedar Point

Cedar Point is top of my list of US parks I want to visit. Whilst the number of coasters is a huge draw to up my coaster count, there’s a couple of coasters here that have been on my radar for a few years. Maverick is, surprise surprise, an Intamin Blitz coaster that’s been highly regarded within the theme park realm. So it’s not a surprise that I’ve added this to my list. Maverick has a cool layout but looks pretty relentless with some fast transitions.

Velocicoaster*, Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

*Not the confirmed name as I write this post.

This coaster went up real quick ey?! Following the construction of this new coaster on YouTube and Twitter has certainly given me lots of excitement for next year’s trip. And it’s definitely helped to beat some of the boredom with the 2020 lockdown. Some of the inversions and transitions that you can see during the construction look insane, this is one coaster everyone needs to watch. Plus once all the theming pieces are in place too, I think we’re all excited to see the finished product.

I’m also going to make a special mention to the new coaster coming to Walibi Belgium in 2021 too. That thing looks bloody epic and I hope to have a Belgium trip planned next year – provided COVID-19 behaves and doesn’t disrupt plans too much.

Which Intamin coasters are on your bucket list?

Have I missed any notable Intamin coasters?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

My top 5 most anticipated B&M coasters

My top 5 most anticipated B&M coasters

Since travelling abroad has become a somewhat far distant reality for me (and many others) at the moment, I can’t help myself from pining for new theme parks to explore. From staring at Coast2Coaster looking at the next cluster of parks I want to travel to, there’s always a bucket list of coasters that I want to add to my coaster count.

So guess who thought it would be good to write up a little series on my blog about my 5 most anticipated coasters – segmented by coaster manufacturer? Yep, that’s me. My blog has slowed right down at the moment due to no real travel plans, so it felt right with my 100th post to start up a little series of blog posts.

B&M has to be the first manufacturer since I’m a sucker for their coasters. They’re smooth, fun and photogenic – I could spend a long time taking photos of stunning B&M coasters, hello Fenix! Not only that but I’ve always had a big infatuation with their rides since I was a kid. Nemesis at Alton Towers has always played a big part in my journey to hitting up the ‘big boy’ coasters.

There are also some great hidden gems in the B&M world which provide a punch. No matter what, I’ll always have a soft spot for B&M and nothing will change that.

So, which B&M coasters are my most anticipated?

Note: this list is in no particular order.

Alpengeist, Busch Gardens Williamsburg

This B&M invert has been on my mind ever since I discovered B&M inverts existed so effectively after I rode Nemesis for the first time. I’ve seen a lot of good reviews of Alpengeist and can’t help myself from swooning over this coaster. Not only does the layout look exhilarating but the colour scheme is great for the theme of this coaster. Hopefully I’ll have a US road trip booked so I can head on over to Busch Gardens Williamsburg over the next couple of years.

Daemonen, Tivoli Gardens

Now I wouldn’t normally go for a Floorless B&M as one of my most anticipated coasters but this one in particular intrigues me. Not only is Daemonen located at Tivoli Gardens, my most anticipated park that I want to travel to in Europe. It also has some stunning photo opportunities that make me want to get my Canon camera out and spend so much time photographing the coaster.

Mako, Seaworld Orlando

As soon as Mako was announced I wanted to head back to Orlando in a hurry – obviously I decided to hold fire since there’s been so many fantastic new additions within the Orlando parks. I loved Shambhala at PortAventura so it’s no surprise that I eagerly anticipate this to be the same or better. Roll on next year when I should have the chance to ride Mako (provided the COVID-19 situation improves!)

Thunderbird, Holiday World

So who else in 2015 was curious when B&M announced a launched Wing coaster? Cause I certainly was. The colour scheme is so cool – that orange track is the perfect contrast against the teal-style blue & yellow train. Again another coaster located in the US that is on the bucket list so no surprise that I’ve included this coaster on my most anticipated B&M coasters list. Plus the way Thunderbird winds through the landscape, it’s only made me more excited to see how this rides.

Katun, Mirabilandia

Finally, Katun has certainly been on my list for a fair few years. The Italian parks have always been on my radar when looking at cred road trips, just a shame they are all far from each other so takes some extra planning. I’ve read reviews from people saying Katun is intense and a pretty cool B&M invert. Since this type of B&M coaster is my favourite, I really hope to see how well it rides when I get the chance to head over to Mirabilandia over the next couple of years.

Which B&M coasters are on your bucket list?

Have I missed any notable B&M coasters?

What type of B&M coaster do you like?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Beaulieu: Sunshine, Gardens and Cars Galore

Beaulieu: Sunshine, Gardens and Cars Galore

July was the month we were all waiting for. Lockdown restrictions easing meant the travel & leisure industry could start to pick things up again. The pro of that being us avid travellers could start making plans to fill our weekends – within reason and following the Government guidelines. This led to me wanting to return to a place I haven’t been to since 2011. Beaulieu National Motor Museum.

If you are based down South, especially within the Hampshire/Dorset area, you may be aware of Beaulieu. Known for being the home of the Montagu family and houses a very impressive collection of cars, both old and new. Some people may not feel like Beaulieu is on their list of places to visit because they have a lack of interest in cars. I concur as it’s more than just the motor museum.

Note: You don’t need to wear a mask when visiting Beaulieu. All staff had face coverings and kept their distance from guests. Honestly, with the capped capacity, it almost felt a bit like normal despite the social distancing measures in place.

So what else is there to see and do?

Beaulieu Palace House

One of the standout attractions at Beaulieu is the beautiful Beaulieu Palace House, home to the Montague family. Anybody who loves stately homes will adore this. The building itself has some stunning gothic architecture, overlooking the Beaulieu river millpond and vast Garden area. With the new Government guidelines, they have implemented a new one-way system which worked really well. Certain rooms with public access were restricted to one household (due to entry and exit being via the same door).

The staff were happy to help answer questions about the home and provide some interesting facts. Most of the artwork, paintings and needlework on display in the house has been created by Lord Montagu’s mother, Belinda. I do enjoy walking around a stately home and seeing history unfold as you walk through the different rooms. Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to live in such a grand place as your home.

Beaulieu Abbey Ruins

Am I the only person that loves wandering around some ruins? Not only is it the perfect way to take some creative photographs but discovering the history surrounding them makes it more fascinating. The 800-year-old Abbey has an interesting history behind it including being the home to monks, a falconry, destroyed by Henry VIII in 1538 and so much more.

Not only do you have the Abbey ruins, there is a working Parish Church (closed during our visit) and one of the buildings decked out as an entertainment venue for weddings etc. I can see why many people would want to get married here – the setting is just too perfect! So make sure to walk down towards the Abbey ruins and explore this area.

Beaulieu Gardens

As you make your way towards the bottom end of the grounds, there are some beautifully stunning gardens to enjoy. Photographers will enjoy spending time taking photos here – especially when playing around with manual mode like myself. A nice feature in the gardens which I haven’t seen before was a topiary set-up to Alice in Wonderland, based off the original book by Lewis Carroll. It’s a nice way to break up the day as you take in the flowers, fauna and see the monorail going past above you.

Lots of Vroom from the past and present…

Motor Museum

Most people will know Beaulieu for its extensive collection of classic cars, motorbikes and more – there’s at least 280 different models. Most cars within the motor museum are part of the main Montagu collection however there have been many donations over the years. Once again there was a one-way system in place so guests can maintain social distancing. The museum is fairly sizeable therefore you won’t feel concerned about getting close to other households. Before you enter the museum, you are also given the option to use the hand sanitizer provided.

Once inside, you can follow the whole museum round, exploring the many different types of cars on show. My main focus and fascination here has always been with F1, Le Mans etc. since my brother and dad are into their motorsports! There were some new additions for this year including The Bear motorbike that’s been ridden around the world. A great way to spend a couple of hours seeing the different cars throughout history – it’s amazing how much cars have changed.

World of Top Gear

Top Gear is well known amongst motor enthusiasts. At Beaulieu, you have the opportunity to see some of the most notable creations from the show from both the old series with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and the new series with Matt LeBlanc, Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris etc. I may not be a die hard fan of the show but it’s actually cool seeing the cars featured here – some are the actual cars from the TV series. You’ll also have the chance to see The Stig too. As per the new rules and regulations at the moment, select ‘selfie spots’ are closed off to the public.

On Screen Cars

Famous cars from some of your favourite movies and TV shows are also featured here at Beaulieu. This include Mr. Beans, Only Fools & Horses Van, the Ford Anglia from Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets plus many more. It’s nice to have this feature here as it provides a nice bit of nostalgia. Whilst this is only a small area next to the World of Top Gear, it’s worth having a little wander inside. Again, as per Government guidelines, this is also a one-way system.

Other attractions that I haven’t mentioned above include:

Monorail

The monorail that takes you from the entrance area near World of Top Gear down towards the Gardens/Palace House. There are normally 2 monorail stations so you have the opportunity to get off at each stop however due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, they’ve closed off one station therefore you take one lap around the grounds. A quick 10 minute journey that is perfect for the whole family.

Little Beaulieu

New for 2020, this play area has been created for the whole family to let off steam. What is great is that the architecture has been inspired by the real history of the Beaulieu area, including a nod to the Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey. The whole area looks great and features a perfect sitting area for adults to keep an eye on their little ones. Unfortunately the site was closed during our visit but Beaulieu are making plans to get the area ready to re-open under the new Government guidelines. Keep updated on the Beaulieu website.

Have you visited Beaulieu?

What is your favourite attraction here?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

The 5 Interesting Rides at Skyline Park

The 5 Interesting Rides at Skyline Park

Skyline Park was a park that presented itself as something that could’ve been built in RCT. It was spacious. There were 7 creds to grab plus some other flat rides to explore. This was the next park on our German road trip in June 2019. I didn’t have high expectations but after visiting Bayern Park, I was expecting something on the same level. I was very wrong. Sometimes a little research does help!

Before I begin this post, when I say interesting rides, I mean memorable but maybe not for the right reasons.

Overall park expectations

As I said above, the park layout reminded me very much of a RCT park. The rides and coasters are all spread out across a big space. Our plan of attack was to head towards the back end of the park where Sky Dragster was and work our way back to the park entrance. This definitely worked well for us as the longest queue of the day was for Sky Dragster – low throughputs so it was a painful wait.

The park is split into different sections with a small cluster of rides but generally, there were no trees/fauna dotted about the park. When you’ve travelled to Bayern Park first, it can feel a bit like a downgrade. Unique creds and rides can be a good way for a park to bring in the guests but if you leave out theming and landscaping, they may be left disappointed, in my eyes.

Whilst I am all for parks having their unique style, open plan theme parks can look a tad bland. Adding a bit of theming can bring some atmosphere to an area. I view theme parks as a place for escaping reality and placing a bunch of coasters/rides into a open plan space will only do so much. Skyline Park has more potential with the unique creds it has in the area. And here are five in particular that I remember well.

Sky Rider

This was a popular ride that would feature in my RCT creations as a kid. Why? Because it’s rare and unique. Caripro coasters are few and far between. The only other Caripro coaster I’ve ridden is a BatFlyer at Plopsaland De Panne in 2013. It’s been a while but I remember Vleermuis being fun and somewhat awkward to get in and out of the ride.

Sky Rider is a fun experience where you sit on the ride inwards. Not sure why but I’m not a huge fan of this seating arrangement. Yes, it’s a rarity but I don’t feel there is any real benefit to the ride experience. Caripro are renowned for their unique style of coasters but I wish they thought more about the logistics of riders getting in and out of the ride train.

Ghost Train

The Ghost Train. Oh boy. Where do I start? I’ve ridden a fair few ghost trains over the last few years. Some have been good. Others, not so much. This one on the outside, had a lot going for it. It looked big and a little daunting. So you’d be right that I was a little bit nervous as I stepped aboard the ride vehicle.

Well… it wasn’t scary. It wasn’t thrilling. It was disappointing to say the least. It was coming to the end of our day at Skyline Park so I was hoping this ghost train would give us a good final farewell. Sadly, that wasn’t meant to be. For a large ghost train, I was expecting more to it including some actual jump scares. Disappointment galore.

Sky Dragster

Following on the list of ‘unique’ creds at Skyline Park, we’ve got Sky Dragster. This Maurer Spike Dragster coaster is the only one of its kind in the world – although I believe one is being planned (or built) on a cruise ship. Do correct me if I’m wrong. Since there’s not much talk about this coaster, I had no idea what to expect.

First off, it has VERY slow throughputs. It says a lot that this was the first ride of the day and we queued for around an hour if I remember correctly. It may have been less but effectively, the park was dead and pretty much all rides were walk on… apart from Sky Dragster. I wouldn’t say I came off the ride feeling anything other than, ‘well, that’s different’. It’s okay and definitely a rare cred to have on your coaster count.

Sky Wheel

My first view of this coaster was dread. When I see a coaster that not only looks different from your traditional style coasters, I can’t help but find myself thinking the worst. I had no idea how this was going to ride or whether I would enjoy it. Safe to say, I did not enjoy it. I’ve never ridden a Maurer SkyLoop before so I had no idea what to expect.

The ride effectively starts by ascending up towards the first ‘corner’ – say hello to major hangtime which I despise! – and then gravity takes hold as it winds along the track back towards the station. Sometimes it does go through twice – depends on which SkyLoop you ride, there’s 10 to choose from (according to RCDB) including Sky Wheel.

Log Flume

Wherever I go travelling, I’ll always make sure to give any local log flumes a go. They’re becoming a dying breed in the UK, especially with the loss of Loggers Leap at Thorpe Park and The Flume at Alton Towers. This Wildwasserbahn was impressively long and a fun experience.

I believe this is a travelling model (correct me if I’m wrong.) The experience as a whole was fun. Plenty of lifthills and drops to keep you feeling the anticipation of getting soaked. Located next to Sky Dragster at the top end of the park, I’d certainly recommend giving this a go when visiting Skyline Park. It’ll be one of the only ‘good’ rides at the park.

Have you visited Skyline Park before?

What rides & attractions are you wanting to try out?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Bayern Park: 350th coaster and Bavarian beauty

Bayern Park: 350th coaster and Bavarian beauty

On Monday 10th June 2019, Jared and I started off our German road trip with a visit to Bayern Park. Whilst trip planning, we wanted to tackle the southern German parks with the help of Coast2Coaster. I didn’t do much research into the park itself and to be honest, I’m glad I didn’t. Bayern Park has a lot of German beauty that makes this a quiant place to visit when in the Bavaria area.

First impressions

As we drove towards the park from our hotel in Munich, the entrance is very understated. First impressions for me were: ‘Hmmm, I’m not sure I’m going to like this park.’ Little did I know that there was a lot more beauty to the park once you set foot inside. Sometimes the phrase, don’t judge a book by its cover runs very true. A park with a understated entrance doesn’t mean this is going to be a ‘disappointing’ park.

As you walk inside, the entrance area has your typical shops – perfect for nabbing guests to spend more money on gifts and merchandise before they leave or enter the park. Great sales ploy. Anyway, onwards to the park.

The park overall in terms of beauty & landscaping, it’s up there as one of the most beautiful parks that uses the natural landscape so well. It looks understated but honestly, the rides work so well within the trees/fauna. It’s nice to step away from a park that uses themed buildings to create a more closed in atmosphere. And let’s not forget about how beautiful German architecture is.

First stop for us was to grab the creds. The park is currently home to 5 creds – depending on what you class as a cred. There are 2 Butterfly creds, 2 Zierer Tivoli coasters and a Maurer Launch coaster. Since I was going to be getting my 350th coaster here in the park, I wanted this to be Freischütz. Okay, sometimes it’s fun to let your key ‘milestones’ be random but not for me. Besides, 350 isn’t a big milestone but I’ll still shout about it.

Cred grabbing

Butterfly coasters are renowned in European theme parks. I don’t really see the appeal other than to tick them off as a +1 for my count. These are self operated by simply closing the gates, sitting inside the ride, pulling down the bar & pressing the start button on the ride itself. You go back and forth until the ride comes to a stop. Simple & easy creds to grab without queuing too long. Yes, Jared and I did get some strange looks from the locals but we didn’t care.

Why the park needed two Butterfly coasters? I’ll never know. One is big model & the other is your traditional small model that you’ll see in other parks around Europe. The big model was located inside a building, ‘themed’ to space so I guess it had that going for it. And aptly named ‘Star-Shuttle’. Otherwise, it was two creds to easily grab within the first 30 mins. You’ll also be pleased to know that these are located towards the front end of the park.

Next up was to tick off the two Zierer Tivoli coasters. Again, the park seems to like having a ‘big’ version & ‘small’ version of the same manufacturer. The small version, called ‘Froschbarn’, is a standard layout that’s perfect for young kids. If you’ve been to Paultons Park, the ‘Dino Chase’ coaster is the exact same layout. Short but sweet little cred that’s hidden in the trees. Must admit, the natural vibes of this park were very welcome.

One thing to note about Bayern Park, it’s hilly in places. As you travel downwards, you’ll find the second Zierer Tivoli coaster. Again, the ride blends in well with the natural landscape. I don’t know if it’s just me but I love being surrounded by trees & natural fauna when visiting a theme park. Don’t get me wrong, buildings can work well to disguise open spaces but I love a natural landscape. You can guess that I was the player of RCT that liked planting bushes and trees wherever I could.

The imaginative name of ‘Achterbahn’, the ride layout is a fun layout winding through the trees. The perfect next step up for young kids/thrillseekers. Zierer Tivoli coaster may not be my most favourite coasters but I have a small soft spot for them. I grew up with riding The Stinger/Cat-O-Pillar coaster at Paultons Park so Zierer Tivoli’s were a huge part of my young coaster enthusiasm.

Last but not least, my 350th coaster cred was… Freischütz. Surprisingly, this Maurer X-Car Flying Launch coaster was very enjoyable. The launch packs quite a punch, especially when sat in the back row. Not gonna lie, I don’t like the actual cars/seats themselves as they are ridiculously big and the restraints are super heavy to pull down yourself. I saw many people struggle to pull down their restraint so don’t feel embarrassed. The ride staff will help you out.

The music in the station was funky as hell. If there was one thing I could take away from the ride, it would be the music choice in the station. Random, I know. This park is very pretty yet it doesn’t have any true ‘stand out’ coasters in the park. Freischütz is fun with a great launch but nothing to shout about. Before I forget, the ride entrance is very well hidden. More so if you are located at the bottom end of the park near Achterbahn.

The park is almost split into 3 sections. Upper, Mid & Lower sections. The upper section houses the 2 Butterfly creds and a couple of flat rides including a beautifully decorated chairswing. The mid-section houses Freischütz (this is where the ride entrance is) & Froschbarn. Finally, the lower section houses several rides and attractions including Achterbahn, a Wiegand powered coaster (something we missed entirely!), log flume, rapids and more.

Noteable mentions

Considering we weren’t planning to spend all day at Bayern Park, I’m glad we did. Despite the humidity being ridiculous, we had a great day with some funny moments. One particular moment was riding the log flume. This was your standard travelling log flume layout that takes on the same style as Raging River Ride at Paultons Park or what you may commonly find at funfairs. The ride was not overly wet but as we plunged down the final drop of the ride, we almost capsized!

And with this, both Jared & I got more than we bargained for. More so for Jared who ended up getting soaked on his left side. Yes, I was wetting myself laughing. It happened so quickly that we didn’t know why it happened. Either we put too much weight on one side of the boat or the run off from the final drop was shorter than anticipated. Who knows? It was hilarious.

Next up was the Rapids ride. Again, another travelling style water ride that picks up a fair amount of speed as you travel along the trough. Fun with a few splashes here and there. Not a soaker even though on this particular day, we’d love a splash of water to cool down. Plus, in the station area, your bags are put onto a conveyor belt so as you exit the ride on the other side of the station, your bags will be there ready for you. I think this is a genius idea and more parks should use this for bag storage.

Granted we didn’t really explore the park to its whole extent. The lower part of Bayern Park doesn’t just have rides. There are animals too. From lynx, deer, pygmy goats & so much more. Gutted would be an understatement but this proves that some research may have helped. This would’ve helped us to understand more of the layout of the park too. Planned out what rides we wanted to do etc. Obviously our original intention was to grab the coaster creds, who can blame us right?

Aside from missing out a fair chunk of the park, we had a lovely day out at Bayern Park. Would we visit again? Probably not unless they build another coaster to a similar scale of Freischütz. The park may not be large in size but it’s a great park to include as part of a large road trip within the Bavaria area of Germany. This is how we did it and we don’t have any regrets going. Overall the park is beautiful and has some fun rides within.

Have you visited Bayern Park?

What are your favourite rides/coasters at the park?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Life in Lockdown: Seaside Visit

Life in Lockdown: Seaside Visit

It’s June. Time has flown by for me. With the glorious heatwave we’ve been having in the UK, I decided to head on down to Southsea last Thursday. I wanted a little break away from home & my local area. Honestly, it felt like there was no pandemic. Everyone had come down for the same reason as me. To enjoy the beach in the glorious sunshine.

Social distancing is a struggle when you can’t control everybody’s movements. Okay, it was nice to see people with smiles on their faces. Plus some were social distancing with their friends & families. But I think it’s crazy to forget that the coronavirus is still out there. It’s not going to go away in a hurry.

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A short walk along the seafront

Seeing the sea for the first time in several weeks gave me a good boost. I love living near the sea – especially when the weather is a glorious as it has been. It almost gave me a sense of peace. Well, when I took the time to forget about the mass crowds around me. Maybe there was some hope on the horizon (or in the literal sense, the Isle of Wight).

First stop was to walk by Clarence Pier. I wish it was open but as always, the rides were sat there. Waiting for the day they can open safely. Looked behind me and it was a surprise to see the local mini-golf was open. Yes, there were signs everywhere informing everyone of social distancing. All golf clubs & golf balls were sanitized. Staff members had masks & gloves. Screens were added to the till point.

It was surreal but I almost felt a sense of acceptance that this would be the ‘new’ normal. God, I hate that expression. But it’s somewhat true.

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With my new fitness regime, I wanted to get a good walk in. So my plan of action was to walk from Clarence Pier to South Parade Pier. And loop back down to Clarence Pier again. A good solid 4.5km(ish) walk in my eyes. Walking past runners, cyclists, walkers, party-goers, it was nice to take in the fresh sea breeze.

A couple of hours was all I needed to boost my spirits before I headed home. I did spot some new rides over at South Parade Pier – including a ‘new’ wacky worm cred & pirate ship. I can’t be sure if this is a new +1 for me since there’s been so many rotations of wacky worm coasters on the pier over the last few years. If anyone does know if this is a new cred for the pier, do let me know!

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I never thought 2020 would turn into a key part of history but here we are living it. Who knows what will happen in a months time? 3 months time? Or even 6 months time? I hope that we’re somewhat prepared for what is to come. Whatever that may be.

Hope you are all staying safe. Much love. xoxo

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Life in Lockdown: My Favourite Workout Moves

Life in Lockdown: My Favourite Workout Moves

Disclaimer: Please note that this is meant to be a lighthearted blog post. If exercise/fitness is a triggering subject for you, please do not continue to read my post below.

2020 has turned into the year of finding my love for exercise. In particular, it’s been a time to discover my favourite workout moves. I’ve been victim to fad diets and cutting back my daily calories without exercising at all. It wasn’t sustainable so there’s no surprise my weight crept back on.

This year I’ve made it my mission to start being proactive with exercise. I’ve increased my exercise regime and started eating a varied healthy diet. I started all this back in March and I’ve discovered exercise is enjoyable. All whilst staying away from the temptation of fast food & snacks. Maybe lockdown has had some perks, right?

My current workout stands as 3 days of cardio (mix of running & walking) & 3 days of resistance workouts. I like to focus on specific areas of the body including arms, legs & core. I’ll admit that working from home has given me the chance to add in more exercises. But this is still sustainable even when I get myself back to the office. So let’s crack on with my favourite workout moves.

Which are my favourites?

Russian Twists

These are a killer, not gonna lie. However, they are good at helping me to strengthen my whole core. The first time I did this move, it hurt like hell and I honestly wanted to give up with core workouts. Perseverance has shown me that it does get easier as long as you try to work through the burn. Now I’m loving this move and hopefully, I will start to see some results around my waistline over the next few months!

Mountain Climbers

There’s nothing better than getting your heart rate up with the Mountain Climber move. For me, it not only helps to build up my core strength but it also gives me a guide on how strong my arms are. It’s taken 2 months but I can comfortably do this for 30 secs for at least 3 sets, give or take.

Lunges

Forward lunges, I love. Reverse lunges, I loathe. So why have I collated the two? Simply because lunges are a great way to keep the legs toned and strengthened. Even though using my bodyweight seems easy peasy. Add a dumbbell and you’ve got more resistance to work with. Challenging but effective. Plus it’s been a real help for getting my legs into shape for my runs.

Squats

You see it everywhere. If you want to grow your booty, pack those squats in. Whilst I agree squats are good for helping the glutes, it’s also about strengthening your lower body. Compound moves such as lunges are perfect for toning and building muscle across multiple muscle groups. Again, I always add a dumbbell to the mix to make it more challenging & add more resistance to the move. I will be looking at using my new resistance bands to see how well I can work my glutes & quads too.

Shoulder Press

A killer move where I feel the burn every time. I like to start my arm workouts with this move as it gives my muscles a chance to get into the swing of things. Yes, my arms do start to feel like jelly but I’m always determined to finish the workout regardless. Building my arm strength will certainly help me when embarking on those Go Ape courses – last time I went an instructor had to help me up on the Tarzan Swing because my arms wouldn’t move lol. Embarrassing but bloody hilarious.

Tricep Extension

A simple move that can help to lose a bit of arm fat, or the ‘bingo wings’. Whilst this move may look easy to achieve, I try to add a heavier dumbbell to feel the effects on my tricep. I’ve always looked at my upper arms and think they could be more toned. This move helps me to target the triceps in the right way.

How have you been exercising during the lockdown?

What are your go-to workouts?

LOTTIE TRAVELS