A much-needed break

Things have been fraught recently; I hate this time of year finding it really depressing, life has been monotonous, we've been knackered, and our summer holidays seem such a long way off in the future. I declared that we needed a break and investigated a couple of different options. I have only once been to Butlins (Pwllheli, Noth Wales) when I was in Year Six and I am sure that it has moved on a great deal since 1988, but I looked on TripAdvisor and was not overwhelmed with the standard of accommodation, which was a shame because the entertainment looked fabulous. Centre Parcs was the obvious choice but not at £800 for 3-night weekend break!

Then I remembered that my brother had been to a Forest Holidays site in the past. The one at the Forest of Dean opened in September 2010, and being only an hour away seemed ideal because The Boy is like his mother and does not travel well. We booked a Copper Beech cabin for the tidy sum of £250!

Today was the day for our mini-break. We've never actually been away as just a family before. We've been away with my parents, but not just the three of us. We finally managed to pack everything into the car and I withheld The Boy's sleep so he could doze off on the journey. Did he? Did he heck! He normally sleep for two hours during the day, he had 16 minutes in the car. He was distraught, I was distraught, hubby wasn't happy either!

We rocked up to the Bracelands site mid-afternoon. Check-in isn't normally until 4pm, but we were there an hour earlier and they were happy to hand over the keys. The cabins are at the top of a hill nestled into the middle of a forest which has carefully been cleared in strategic places to make way for 77 cabins, a Forest Retreat welcome centre and a few gravel tracks connecting them together.

This is the main difference between Forest Holidays and Centre Parcs; there is no swishy swimming pool, no soft-play, no chain-restaurants, nothing like that. There is a reception centre that has a mini-mart and there are the trees. That's it! Make your own entertainment together as a family. And this is exactly what we need.

We've already made a start at having fun together, just the three of us. The Boy has already experienced something new: splashing in puddles. Don't get me wrong I have taken him out but puddles in tarmac aren't quite the same somehow. He has thoroughly embraced the concept and we almost had to drag him away from them! The Boy was absolutely captivated with the cabin and the whole idea of trees being right outside. From the moment that we pulled into the space outside our Copper Beech cabin and opened the door, all that could be heard was the rain falling through the canopy of the evergreen forest and the birds singing in the trees. He was enthralled! It's due to rain tomorrow, but it's not a problem; we've got our wellies and waterproofs.

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    • TheBoyAndMe says

      Ack, the journey was only bad because we ballsed up the timings of his sleep. If he hadn't choked in his sleep he'd have managed longer. It's all good so far though!

  1. says

    Hope you enjoy your break and manage to feel happier and get some rest.

    This has been really helpful to read, so thank you!
    We are planning a break exactly like this in October(ish) this year. Center Parcs Longleat is our normal port of call but we just can't justify the price anymore, with the cost of Diesel on top of the cabin price we are looking at well over £1000 before we've even left!

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      Seriously consider this place; yes you have to make your own entertainment but family-time is the important thing. And you don't need to have some clown providing messy paints to have a good time, there's mud and nature outside the door!

      I'm going to be doing one or two more posts about this, including things to see and do, and any tips for staying here.

      We'll be coming again!

      • says

        Can't wait to read the follow up posts. We don't normally bother with the activities at Center Parcs, we just like the being surrounded by trees, mud and nature.
        Have told my husband about your blog post, he wants to look into it.

        • TheBoyAndMe says

          Got one lined up with positives and negatives, I'll post it Monday. I already want to come in the Summer or Autumn. It is excellent here. And if you love the mud and nature, this is all you could want, apart from then coming into a lovely warm house with under-floor heating, a well-equipped kitchen and a really fabulous shower (and yes there's a bath).

  2. says

    Ah that brings back such happy memories for me, most of my childhood holidays were taken at The Forest of Dean or at the New Forest. Fabulous camping holidays just me and my Mum. Thank you, just the sort of memories I need today. Hope you have a wonderful break and manage to recharge your batteries (apart from maybe the Boys because it sounds like
    Qybe his are charged enough) x


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