Winter Wonderland Break at Centerparcs Sherwood Forest 2022

Booked a year previously as part of Sir’s 18th birthday celebrations, permission granted to take the kids out of school and myself to have time off work our long awaited Winter Wonderland break finally rolled round.

The last time we did one of these was in 2016 and a lot has changed since then. There is now an Enchanted Light Trail and a Winter Wonderland Village. There are Elves roaming round and Santa does a tour of the village. They have free entertainment like a choir and story time for kids. Best of all they have a Festive Fayre stall selling Bratwurst, sausage rolls, hot chocolate and mulled wine! You can sit in a fairy light bedecked Tipi to partake in them too.

We had a wreath on our lodge door, and upon asking Guest Services we obtained letters to send to Santa via a talking post box in the Winter Wonderland Village. This was a high point for Madam who was beyond excited at 6.30 am on the Thursday morning to discover a reply hanging on the front door handle. I must admit I was impressed by that too. Santa’s elves do not hang about apparently!

I booked this break thinking how quiet it would be, easy to get a parking space, the pool area would be peaceful. It was busier than I’ve seen it during school holidays.

We soon learnt though that with altering our own habits a little we could enjoy a quieter break. Most of the families had pre school kids so afternoons were a better time to visit the pool as the little ones were probably napping. We booked meals slightly later to miss the tea time rush. The best was when the England match was on, everyone was either in the Sports Cafe or their own lodges watching our team do whatever it was they did. I can’t remember. We however, sat drinking mulled wine in an empty Tipi and pretty much had the light trail to ourselves. The village square completely deserted. It was wonderful.

We ate out a couple of times and cooked some meals in the lodge. We felt this gave us more flexibility and cost less money.

They had a Christmas shop and as is traditional for us I bought some decorations.

We had a lovely time, everywhere looked so festive. Even better is that Centerparcs now leave their lights and village setting up until the end of February for Winter Light breaks and we are going back to see it!

My Thoughts On Gabriel Byrne: Walking With Ghosts Live Stream By Landmark Productions.

One of the few good things to emerge from the pandemic – and I grant you there are not many – is the rise of the Live Stream. How many times have you seen something advertised and thought if only I could see that. Well now you can. My ticket cost 25 Euro (about £21) which included a PDF program to download. A bargain I tell you.

Filmed during it’s run at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre and made available on demand worldwide -the last day is today, Walking With Ghosts is a one man play performed by Gabriel Byrne based on his book of the same name.

I have been a fan of Gabriel’s for years, however until now I have not been fortunate enough to see him outside of a film or TV show so here was my opportunity. My birthday is not far off so when my husband asked what I wanted I told him about this.

Before I get into the play itself, I must congratulate the people responsible for filming and editing the live stream. They did a magnificent job, made you feel as if you were part of the audience even though I was sat on my sofa at home.

The stage set consisted of a couple of chairs, a stool, a desk and a bench seat. During the play they become a baby’s crib, a knackered old van, a cinema seat and various other details in Gabriel’s stories.

The lighting is very clever, plunging the stage into darkness at several points during the performance, Byrne then reappearing in another spot. I did wonder how he manged that without tripping over something! There were also sound effects which added to the overall atmosphere, the wonder of a fair ground, prayers in school, paparazzi cameras and so on.

The running time is over 2 hours but honestly it could be half an hour, three days, a week even because I was so drawn into it I lost track of time.

Gabriel is a wonderful storyteller, he has you believing that all the other “characters” are there on stage with him, his mother and father, brothers and sisters, his granny, Titus the Liar, all gathered together. Each one is treated with a great deal of respect, even the ones we may think don’t deserve it.

It is full of laugh out loud Irish humour, jokes for “all occasions”, wry observations about the people he came across in life. There is pathos, sadness and a truly creepy retelling of the abuse he suffered whilst training to be a priest. You could have heard a pin drop.

It goes without saying that Gabriel is a very talented actor but this performance is incredible. It is nuanced, measured, not a double, treble or quadruple take is wasted. He moves from over excited little boy at his first cinema trip all the way through to being drunk with Richard Burton seamlessly. Suddenly sobering to tell the audience “We were both lying” regarding their alcoholism. Sitting on the stage as he talked of his own battle with drink brought an even more intimate and honest feel. As if he was stepping out from the play for a moment.

I have watched it twice now, even though I *knew* what was going to happen somehow Gabriel still managed to surprise me. Walking With Ghosts is one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen on a stage. Gabriel has the presence, gravitas and charm to hold an audience in rapt attention for however long he sees fit. He could indeed go on stage and read a take away menu. We’d all pay to see it and enjoy every moment.

At the end, a well deserved standing ovation from both myself – good job my curtains were drawn- and the theatre audience. I don’t know if Gabriel intends to tour with this production but I would first in line for a ticket to experience it live.

Normally at the end of reviews people put their rating out of 5 or 10. There aren’t enough numbers to rate this. It is above being rated. You can’t put a score on this kind of performance. It is a real masterpiece.

Word of the Week 15/1/2021 Me Time #WotW

“How are you?” Sir’s teacher asked me during a teams session this week “no one ever asks about mum” I laughed and told her I’d be fine when my wine order arrived 😀

I’ve spent a lot of time mulling over how I can change my job, should I change my job, what do I do instead? Eventually I realised that leaving my job is really not a good idea at the moment. I’m here for the kids, it’s an hour or so a day, I’m a permanent member of staff, I get paid every month, I get paid for some school holidays, I get paid during lockdown, it’s near home.

But I wasn’t happy.

Which brought my second realisation. I can’t change work or lock down or home school or the other stresses, but I can change things I do. I can make time for me. No I’m not selling a book or a lifestyle and neither have I bought into one. I did read a few articles I noticed here and there but mostly it’s my own thinking.

One podcast I listened to said along the lines you can’t do everything every day but you can do once or twice a week. That struck a chord with me. Now I read once or twice (or three times if I’m lucky) I listen to a couple of podcasts – mostly gardening, a little meditation. I watch some TV, I’ve stopped trawling social media every spare minute I have. I’ve actually got more done. I’ve done house work, kept the washing up to date, done the food shop. Took Madam to the dentist – though we were nearly late.. I’m sleeping better too. I’m getting my pj’s on whilst Hubby is getting the kids to bed – Sir still has a bedtime routine. I started a journal last year and I make sure I get five minutes to write in it daily, even if I do nothing else.

I didn’t pick complicated things – mostly because anywhere complicated is shut! lol! but easy stuff. Things that don’t require expense or more importantly massive outlays of energy.

I’m aware I sound like a smart arse. I hate it when people start with “I’ve done this.. that.. the other” and I’ve barely managed coffee. However it’s been a bit of a revelation to me and I wanted to share. To put my thoughts on “paper”.

So light that candle, pick up that book/magazine/blog article, hide in the loo for five minutes, buy a houseplant or a herb for the kitchen window, have that coffee, take that bath, use the fancy bubble bath, have that glass of wine. Shut your eyes and just breathe.

Am I stress free? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! No. Does all this help a little? Yes.

2020. The Year The World Stopped.

Or at least that what it seemed like. All was sort of fine until March and most of the planet went into lockdown. Schools shut, home learning was hastily arranged. Spare rooms, dining tables, broom cupboards became makeshift office space and people queued to buy loo roll as if it was the latest greatest gaming console. Making sourdough and banana bread was the new going out. We actually had to spend time with the family we live with and discovered they were actually quite nice people. Zoom ruled the internet, daily commute reduced to crossing the landing or going downstairs.

Some were not so lucky, unable to visit loved ones in care homes or hospital. Not able to say goodbye.

Supermarket workers, delivery drivers, school staff (yes they were open, I worked all through) volunteers joined beleaguered NHS Staff on the front lines. Unprecedented Times was the new buzzword. Every CEO of every supermarket emailed me to say so.

But what of us, as a family? Well I count us as being amongst the very fortunate. Hubby set up stall in the spare bedroom, in August he paid a visit to the office and gathered up computer screens, an office chair and various other bits. I cleared my unused dressing table making it a desk for Mummy school, home admin and charging various devices. I have a new stool now!

Thankfully we were blessed with good weather throughout April and May. Like many others I took to gardening, attempting to grow various vegetables and a few flowers too. My new mini greenhouse got put to full use. Now I’m planning what to grow next year! We sat out at night, we ate outside, I even managed a couple of coffee mornings outside when the restrictions eased a bit..

Holidays were cancelled. Centerparcs became Home Parcs, whilst I didn’t go so far as to turn the bathroom into a tropical swimming paradise and we don’t have a fish pond to use a boating lake, I did cook meals at home that we would have probably eaten at the various restaurants there. Hubby took a week off, we even managed a walk in a forest thanks to discovering a nature reserve literally across the road from us.

I also made bread.

Come the summer and we were let out of our houses, we got hair cuts, some went on holidays, we went to Non Essential shops and in September, much to their delight (and mine) the kids went back to school. Admittedly it was nerve racking hearing how this year bubble had popped or that school closed. Fortunately mine managed to stay in school until the last week of November. Madam had to isolate due to a case in her class, fortunately none of us showed any symptoms.

In October we got a holiday! by the skin of our teeth but still, a much needed break to Centerparcs was ours, and it was lovely! The staff were as efficient as ever and we felt completely safe.

During the summer Madam turned 13 and Sir 16. We went out for a meal to celebrate all our birthdays 🙂 I blogged extensively about the forms, admin and phone calls generated simply by Sir having a birthday. I am pleased to say that:

I got him his school transport and have not had to pay for it (yet)

I renewed his passport so he’ll have a proper form of ID not because we’re planning a holiday.

I opened him a bank account and he is now the proud owner of a “green card”

I applied for Personal Independence Payments and got it

I have been to look at a local college that has provision for young people like Sir

Christmas has been an odd affair, but again I feel lucky that we got to see both sets of parents on The Day and met with my parents at a social distance in a local park on Boxing Day. Others had the same idea, some were exchanging gifts.

Other bits that happened this year

I watched the Les Mis Staged Concert on Amazon. Best 2 quid I’ve spent this year.

Ordered pizza to make at home from Birtellis in Leamington Spa. Look them up.

Learnt more maths than I did when I was at school.

Accidentally made a border on the edge of the lawn.

Gardener’s World has been my weekly slice of normality and peace. RIP Nigel.

Started writing a daily diary – and stuck at it.

Learned to make use of the things I have in the house, be it food, craft supplies, bits found at the back of cupboards or old decorations.

Made video calls on Facebook and been in a Microsoft Teams meeting.

Bought a Nespresso coffee maker and a fancy milk frother

So as I said we are very fortunate and I am very grateful for all the good things that have happened in this crazy year, however I shall be stopping up till midnight not to see in 2021 but rather to make sure 2020 leaves….

Even though we are ending the year as we started it, Tier 4 and told to stay home I hold out hope that next year we will eventually see some sort of normal come back to our lives.

Ready for Christmas

I write this whilst the fruit is soaking for the whiskey cake and we await the arrival of the gas man. When the cake is in the oven I’m going to prepare the Christmas Eve bags.

The presents have been wrapped, the food and drink have been bought, the house looks like Blackpool, and Hubby has finished work. Aside from a drip in the garage emanating from a heating pipe and a broken tumble dryer door handle, everything is ready for The Big Day.. abet slightly downsized this year.

We have a plan for Christmas Day that will allow us to see both our parents individually and stay within the rules. It means dinner will be in the evening but that’s no hardship. We had intended to meet my parents for a socially distanced walk on Boxing Day but I’m not sure that will go ahead now..

My brother is going to drop presents off either today or tomorrow and that is probably all I shall see of him over the festive period.

At the moment it is raining, I actually wish it would snow, I think that would bring some much needed cheer – and anyone who knows me will tell you that is NOT my normal opinion of snow!

We plan to catch up with some ( a lot) of TV programmes that are stacked up on the satellite box, play board games, eat too much and drink too much, listen to music and chill. I find I am not missing the last minute dash to the shops, though I shall miss my in laws coming over on Christmas Eve.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas no matter how small or short, as long as it’s safe.

Love Me, Hubby, Sir and Madam xxx

A Quieter Half Term Holiday at Centerparcs Sherwood Forest.

Lockdown has made a mess of everyone’s holiday plans this year. Our two visits to Sherwood Forest (one in April and the other in June) both cancelled and rebooked. I thought by moving one of them to October half term we’d stand a chance of having a break this year. More lockdown chaos meant we spent the week before wondering if this one would be cancelled too. It wasn’t, so we packed the car up and off we went.

To limit the number of people on site Centerparcs asked guests to arrive after 2pm with the villas being available from 4pm. We got there at 2.30pm expecting a long queue. There wasn’t one. We drove straight up to the arrivals lodge, checked in, got our fancy wristbands and headed to the car park. We found a space in our preferred spot with ease, this is not a normal occurrence. As we walked to the village in search of coffee, the normally teaming pathways were deserted. The phrase “I can’t believe it’s so quiet” became our mantra!

The villa was spotless, it even smelt clean. A few things had been removed but all the utensils, towels etc were still there. The TV remotes were packed in little plastic bags, presumably to indicate they’d been cleaned too.

Swimming pool access had been restricted to two, two hour slots to be booked prior to arrival, again in order to control numbers and be fair to everyone. You were allocated a changing room at the start of your session, which was a very refreshing change from the normal scramble. During the first lockdown Centerparcs had obviously taken the opportunity to get the changing rooms updated and expanded, with the lockers now operated by your wristband. I love this idea, the new changing area had more space, was spotlessly clean and had an army of staff to keep it that way. It was lovely not to have a crowded pool area, though whilst I think they may keep the pool slots for a while yet, it would be nice if the time was extended as two hours is a little short. As the park was so quiet they offered us the chance to book an additional pool slot whilst we were there. We went three times in all.

We ate out a few times during our stay, Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge. There was no problem with booking a table. We even went to the Leisure Bowl for a drink a couple of times. Loved the drinks ordering app – bit of a faff to download but aren’t they all- table service in the bar is something they should definitely keep.

They were in the process of getting everything ready for their Winter Wonderland breaks, so Christmas lights adorned the trees, as well as several other light displays. The singing reindeer arrived whilst we were there, though they remained shut in their stable! I really really hope they are able to re open in December as it would be such a shame if no one got to see it after all the hard work we saw putting it together.

For us, having two kids with Fragile X, the quieter atmosphere was a refreshing change, though of course I’d rather it was busy and there were no lockdowns.

I would like to say a big Thank You to all the staff at Sherwood Forest who worked so hard to keep us all safe and socially distanced.

A trip to see Disney On Ice

Last Sunday Madam, Mum and I went to see Disney on Ice at the newly renamed Resorts World Arena (formerly Genting Arena, LG Arena.. NEC?)  anyway.. there. Madam took her ear muffs with her as she doesn’t like loud music – unless it’s her’s..

I drove, parking was easy enough although the kiosks on the car park are now closed and you have to either pay online or at a machine inside. Fortunately there wasn’t a queue for the machine. Afterwards I even managed to find my way back out the same way I came in – go me!

Back to the show though. I am a big kid at heart and I love these kind of things 🙂

They packed an awful lot in to the show Frozen, Lion King, Aladdin, Toy Story, Snow White, Tangled, and The Little Mermaid plus Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck and Goofy.

The big numbers belonged to Aladdin, Lion King and Frozen.

There was also a big skate round of all the Disney Princesses and their respective Princes. Madam got a wave from Belle (Beauty and the Beast) which made her day.

Our seats were really good, I took some photos and videos – the security guy said take whatever you want as long as you don’t use the flash.

Madam had a fabulous time ( so did Mum and I)

Merchandise was expensive and someone needs to take a serious look at the sizing of the t-shirts. A 14-16yrs shirt that wouldn’t fit an 11 year old is not good guys..

We bought the tickets ourselves.

2018 Round Up.

I can’t honestly say this year has been better or worse than any other, however there is a lot to be said for years that just tick over.

The Big Thing of the year was Madam starting high school, she has settled in so well, I’m really happy that she’s in the right school for her.

We’ve been lucky to have three holidays to Centerparcs at Sherwood Forest, April, July and October – of course we plan to go back next year!

I went to a couple of concerts, Il Divo and Michael Ball, Joe Bonamassa and saw Talon twice. I have a raft of concerts and theatre booked for next year too! My M&G with Il Divo was definitely the high point though ❤

I took up gardening and grew a few vegetables, with various degrees of success! I shall definitely do that again this year, home grown is so much better. I’m going to try and get the kids to join in more with it too.

I had a small bump in the car at the start of the year (not my fault) and unfortunately I had another at the end of the year (which was my fault) no one hurt, the insurance is sorting it out and I’m trying not to think about it.

I don’t make resolutions, I don’t think they work, rather I have ideas about what I’d like to do and I shall endeavour to do them over the course of the year.

I’d like to wish all those who stop by here a happy, healthy and peaceful 2019 x


Half Term at Centerparcs Sherwood Forest @CP_UK_Sherwood @CenterParcsUK

Our last holiday of the year, we’ve managed three visits and each one has been different. This time our usual lodges weren’t available, someone had the nerve to book them! How dare they!! LOL! So I picked another in the same area. Imagine my surprise when we got to it and discovered it was one that had been done out AND THERE WAS A COFFEE MACHINE!! A COFFEE MACHINE! WHOOOP!

The view from the living area and the bedroom that Sir bagged for himself was lovely.

As we were so close to the water, we had an array for *visitors* each morning, knocking on the patio door!

The weather was really nice considering the time of year. The Winter Wonderland breaks were starting the week after we left so there were Christmas lights already up which was really nice.

We went to the pool most days, Madam and I went on the Grand Cascade, and she being the brave young lady she is went off on all the water slides. Sir preferred more sedate activities 😀 We ate out most evenings, but on the Tuesday we stayed in the lodge for food and then went to the pool early evening when it was dark. It was all lit up inside, it looked lovely and the kids thought it was brilliant.

We booked a table at Hucks (an American style diner) for Halloween, neither of the kids are fans of Halloween, but the atmosphere, fun/friendly rather than scary meant that we had a lovely time and no meltdowns. So thank you Hucks for one of the nicest Halloweens we’ve had in a while.

Needless to say we’ve already booked to go back next year!

*we paid for the holiday and any activities/food ourselves. I just like writing about it!



Simple Autumn Decoration

I don’t normally do craft posts so this is a bit on an experiment!

I found this idea on Pinterest and decided to have a go myself. Now, I’m going to tell you where I got some of the stuff from and how much it was but this post is in no way an advertisement or endorsement of those places, neither have they asked me to write this post it’s more to illustrate how cheap and easy it was to do.


You need:

a basket – I already had that.

pine cones – £3 for a bag of snow sprayed ones from Hobbycraft, they do various sorts.

string lights – £1.50 for 20 from ASDA, again they do various ones

Basically you arrange your lights and pine cones in your basket till you are happy with how it looks et voila! that’s it!