After being picked as Center Parcs bloggers for 2013 in the Center Parcs Tots100 Challenges, we had a great weekend away last October. We wrote up our review straight away (you can find our review here). But we wanted to write more about the family we met up with there. Center Parcs was great. We'd never been before and were very pleasantly surprised by the accomodation, facilities and everything available on site. But one thing we hadn't bargained for was it being twice the fun being there with friends.
As much as I like the idea of going on holiday with other families, when it comes to the crunch, I know that I like my own space and I that I can be a bit difficult to live with at times (hubby and kids are nodding at this) and so we usually holiday alone. So when Center Parcs invited us to choose another blogging family to join us on our break, it absolutely terrified me. Even though each family would stay in their own separate lodge, I still worried. Would we get on? How would J cope? He struggles with holidays at the best of times so what would it be like spending time with a family we'd never met before.
Apart from anything else, we had never even met another blogger in real life at that time. Who would we choose?
Well there was one family that came to mind immediately. We'd both been Nuby bloggers and so knew each others blogs a little through that. But we had never met and reading someones blog could turn out to be a whole lot different from actually meeting someone.
We remembered their kindness towards us when they surprised us with a gift parcel once they heard that we liked Miffy. We remembered their kind words and messages whenever we were going through a rough patch.
We eventually made the final decision in a bit of an odd way but that's another story. Even as I sent the facebook message to find out whether it was even feasible (bear in mind that I didn't even know where they lived at this point!), I wondered whether friendships made online could turn out to be true friendships in real life.
We were so pleased when they said YES! Pauly, Laura, Seth and Opeie from Gifts from the Pirates would be joining us for our weekend at Center Parcs.
|Could this be the UK's loveliest family!|
On our first evening, when they arrived, they so very kindly gave us an amazing hamper of goodies. It was filled with all our favourite things. It was like something that someone who has known you all your life would put together especially for you. They had chosen some lovely art and craft items for the children, some fabulous Dick Bruna books (for me!!! - the kids will have to fight me for them), a Dr Seuss book which soon became essential bedtime reading for Miss T (as she grabbed it to read it every chance she got), popcorn (which sustained us for our journey home after our holiday), wine and chocolates - it really was the perfect hamper and so very generous of them.
Next morning was bowling time.
And that is when we started to realise just how well the kids all got along. D tends to make friends easily and gets along with everyone but J finds things harder because of his Aspergers. Social interaction is far from his strong point, but Seth and Opeie were so great to be around that J really enjoyed their company and got on well with them.
The kids friendships grew and grew over the following hours and day as we spent more time together.
We had meals together...
And made memories together...
As soon as I met Pauly and Laura, I felt so silly to have ever had all those worries about 'would we get on?' 'would the kids get on?' 'what if they don't like us?' and so on and so on. They were so easy to chat to and be around.
Laura was like superwoman in the kitchen rustling up quite literally a feast from 'leftovers'.
Natural.Vegan.Eco.Mom. It turns out that she knows lots about food and healthy eating and has an incredible story to tell having gone from a size 20 to a size 10 in under a year. If you're looking for some 'get healthy, lose weight' type inspiration then her blog is the place to start!
And if you want to spend hours inspired by creativity, art, toys, games and family fun, then you simply must check out Gifts From the Pirates too. I find myself captivated by their ideas like their amazing book day costumes each year, their LEGO ideas, and after seeing this bunting idea, I will never again throw out an old book. I love reading about how they make family time so special and you can't get more special that an engagement like this (that post still makes me want to smile and cry at the same time each time I read it).
So although this blog post is long overdue, I hope I've given a glimpse into just how special it was to us all to have met such a lovely family who we now consider to be true friends. Our weekend at Center Parcs was our 'today' in the Dr Seuss quote at the top of this post. I very much hope we get to meet up again soon for our 'tomorrow' with Pauly, Laura, Seth and Opeie.
If you fancy becoming a Center Parcs blogger this year, the Tots100 Center Parcs monthly challenges are in full flow. Find out more about this month's here.