Everyone in my house is awfully excited. Next week it's half term and we are making our annual pilgrimage to Centerparcs. We've been almost every year for 12 years and each time we have a better holiday than the time before. In the intervening months, things have always moved on. This time there has been lots of progress. Our youngest has learnt to swim and child number three has become competent on a bike since the last trip.
Centerparcs is a strange holiday destination for a family like us. Generally, we are almost entirely self sufficient. Our summer holidays tend to be spent in an isolated villa miles from anyone and that suits us just fine.
Centerparcs couldn't be more of a contrast. There are people everywhere. The houses are all built on top of each other. There is an unbelievable number of organised activities and a wide variety of restaurants at which you can have anything you like as long as it's chips.
But surprisingly enough, it's none of these attractions that keep us coming back time after time. Of course we love the tropical paradise, the crazy golf is really good fun and kayaks on the lake are a scream. But the best bits for us are going everywhere by bike, playing hide and seek in the woods and generally spending time outside. There's only terrestrial TV or the badger watching channel ( on which I have never seen a badger) so no technological distractions. Basically, our breaks at Centerparcs offer us the lifestyle that we would love to have if every day stuff didn't get in the way. We get to be together without interruption. We can go back to basics, as it were. Enjoy the great outdoors, the simple pleasures in life.
I know that we should be able to achieve this at home. We are surrounded by beautiful countryside within easy walking distance from our front door. But somehow days pass by and we rarely make the time to stop and take stock. When we are at Centerparcs we have no car, no technology and spend most of our time outside and we love it. It's ironic that we have to go to a holiday camp to find those qualities but if that's the way it has to be then so be it. Perhaps this year we will remember to bring a little bit of the forest back with us.