With daylight diminishing over Nottinghamshire, at 15mph we entered a forest domain made famous by Robin Hood and his band of merry men. I’m unsure what they were merry about, however I’m pretty sure it wasn’t with anticipation of utilising zip wires, bicycles, ten-pin bowling, pool slides or a Bella Italia meal, like fellow visitors to Center Parcs and me were.
Incidentally, the above adrenalin boosting activities are merely the tip of pursuit and eatery icebergs available to these residential park frequenters. However, if I listed all verve augmenters it would detract from the narratives flow… Plus, I can’t be bothered to regurgitate the company’s website verbatim when you can go look for yourself… I’m a creative writer not a bloody member of Center Parcs’ marketing team.
Anyhow, as dusk fell Friday evening my partner Sarah, her dog Zella and me arrived at the Sherwood Forest lodge which would be our weekend home. A residence we were sharing with her daughters Kayleigh and Katelan, their partners Liam and Simon, along with their delightful kids Rory and Gracie.
Upon arrival, while Zella made several failed attempts at catching forest squirrels, Sarah and I emptied the camper van. A vehicle I’d taken as a contingency garrison should Sarah’s legendary flatulence render base camp uninhabitable.
Actually, that’s not true, the Ossett lass’ toxic gasses were released with the unwelcome frequency of her habitual (but thankfully more redolent) vape smoke, however I remained lodge in situ throughout… Masochistic behaviour of the highest order I’d submit!
Katelan, Simon and their enchanting three month old daughter Gracie were already at the lodge when Sarah, Zella and yours truly entered the lair. Incidentally, I’ve included the youngest family member’s age as a reminder for Katelan who, as she can’t count past two, often gets confused about her daughter’s age.
Sarah’s youngest daughter dubs my prose as “absolute shite.”, I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s a fair review of my literary wares. In my defence, though, I’d argue as she doesn’t understand half the words I use in narrative, how the f*** would she know if the essay is bab or not!
Simon is the far more pragmatic and level-headed member of the partnership. A horticultural engineer by trade, he possesses a wealth of knowledge about many subjects; and to his credit one or two of his anecdotes are nearly interesting. His ‘riveting’ yarn about the day a Skelmanthorpe garbage wagon was 15 minutes late going down in West Yorkshire folklore.
When Sarah and me arrived with the pooch, Kayleigh, Liam and young Rory were still in transit. Kayleigh is the brains of the three Brook girls. Don’t get too carried away, though, Kayleigh; it’s not a vast accolade. After all, if Mr Bean was in your family he’d be second brainiest clan member.
Liam is a reserved and undemonstrative fella who is harder to read than the rest of the brood. That being said, he seemed to enjoy the weekend. This despite being barred by the clan from bringing his beloved dressing gown, which he ordinarily adorns on a daily basis. A garment last washed in 2007 which, due to never being run over by a bus while donning it, he claims is lucky.
Saturday morning started with a hearty sausage sandwich courtesy of Simon’s fair hand. The Skelmanthorpe lad proving a whizz in the kitchen, although I’ve gotta say it’s the first time I’ve seen anyone defrost sausages with a steam iron… Perhaps, oven cooking or grilling meat will be a speedier option next time, buddy… That being said, the resultant flat sausages were significantly easier to keep in-between bread slices than their sphere shaped cousins.
Following our troughing of oblate hot dog sandwiches, the four adult ‘children’ picked up their hired bikes and Rory’s cycle seat. Sarah and I taking Gracie for a walk in her pram; our mission to scout out the pub we’d booked for Saturday’s evening meal.
Little Gracie, the most placid and hungriest child I’ve ever met, slept throughout the lakeside stroll. Sarah pushing the pram while I manfully restrained our German Shepherd, Zella, who was once again being antagonised by mischievous squirrels.
Zells clearly frustrated she couldn’t snare the creatures when floor bound… Or indeed capable of climbing the tree they’d hared up when confronted by the hairy hound.
Sazington and me spent part of the afternoon riding two of the four bikes Kayleigh, Katelan, Liam and Simon had picked up that morning. Although, you’d probably already guessed my beau and I hadn’t ridden all four bikes…. As you were!
Despite skid risk consequential of rain swept roads and fallen leaves, it was fun cycling for the first time in around ten years. Sarah also suffering the jeopardy of a different kind of skid risk from relentless flatulence as she pedalled… A habit which gave me all the incentive I needed to pedal fast enough to cycle in front of her.
Saturday evening saw the family and Sazza’s unsettled gut refuelling at the aforementioned pub. With it not adding to the narrative, as with the full list of Center Parcs activities, I’m not going to list what we all ordered… Was that a collective “Phew!” I heard from my beloved readership.
The food, which turned out to be palatable (which I was assured wasn’t defrosted by steam iron), delivered punctually by staff who displayed excellent customer service skills throughout.
Sunday saw Katelan challenge Kayleigh to a game of Air Hockey in the Garden Des Sport. Her poor counting skills meaning she lost track of the score at 2-2. Simon and Liam watched on, with the former filling in time by teaching the latter how a swap out a Valtra tractor piston.
Making the most of the mild autumn day, Sarah and me took both kids and the dog for a stroll around the lake. Zells buttons pressed yet again by speedy, tree-dwelling rodents.
Afternoon saw a return to Jardin Des Sport where Kayleigh had booked a badminton court for us to test our skills with shuttlecock and racquet. An eventful hour which saw Sarah pee herself after I fell over attempting to retrieve the shuttlecock mid-point.
Simon, a competitive chap, remaining undefeated throughout. He seemed particularly pleased to beat me, leading yours truly to grumpily point out “You must be very proud to have beaten a men nearly 40 years your senior!”… Dickhead!! 😉
Due to work commitments, Sarah, me, Kayleigh, Liam, Rory and Zella left a day early. Simon, Katelan and Gracie choosing to take advantage of the pre-booked third night in the lodge.
It was a fun weekend in Sherwood Forest. A time when I got to understand why Robin Hood and his men were so merry… I’d suggest it was because they didn’t have to listen to Simon bloody bragging about his badminton skills!!