How to carve the perfect pumpkin in 6 simple steps

Want your creation to stand out from the crowd? Follow our tips for pumpkin perfection

CPElveHalloween-150It’s that time of year again! Trick or treaters decked out in their scariest garb, legions of black cats wandering the streets and a candlelit jack o’ lantern in the front window of every home. If you want to be crowned as ‘Best pumpkin carver of [insert street name] 2014’, then you’ve come to the right place. You can even download our free templates to print off and use to create your perfect pumpkin.
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Quick and simple Halloween treats you can make together

halloween-treatsGet your family into the kitchen and have some fun making these simple but effective Halloween treats. After hours of trick or treating together with the onslaught of children’s Halloween parties, the mass of sugar, chocolate and all-things sweet can transform our little darlings into little monsters quicker than you can say “Boo!”

Check out these recipes for some ideas on how you can add a healthier twist to your Halloween treats this year. But don’t worry, they still taste terrifyingly tasty!
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Infographic: The making of Winter Wonderland

In little over a week, Whinfell, Sherwood, Longleat and Elveden Forest will be cast under a captivating spell. Starting on Friday November 7, step into our enchanted forest and you’ll discover snow-topped trees, festive family activities and, of course, a chance to meet the big man himself – Santa Claus.

But what makes it all possible? Our latest infographic sheds some light on what lies beneath the magic of Winter Wonderland because, let’s face it, Santa and his helpers can’t do it all. Can they?

WINTER WONDERLAND2

We’re 86 bites closer to revealing the new Huck’s menu

This month, Group Executive Chef James Haywood has been doing what he does best: cooking food for guests to enjoy. But we’re not just talking about a three-course meal, we’re talking 86 dishes to taste-test. Bon appétit!

Tasting team, from left: Eddie, Carol, Wayne, Megan and James

Tasting team, from left: Eddie, Carol, Wayne, Megan and James

As I sit and write this I’m contemplating adding another notch to my belt, which – thanks to my recent bout of menu development – acts as nothing but a reminder of how many dishes I’ve tasted, tested and evaluated.

Since my post last month, where I gave you all an insight into the new Huck’s menu, we’ve launched the updated Sports Café menu which has gone down exceptionally well. The allergen-friendly one has especially been popular with guests, and this is something we will introduce with every menu we bring in future. The Huck’s menu has also taken one step closer to completion, as we held a food tasting session at Elveden Forest last week.
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Would you say ‘I do’ to a Center Parcs-themed wedding? This couple did…

The happy couple, Emily and Steve

The happy couple, Emily and Steve

How much do you love Center Parcs? A lot? Quite a bit? Enough to theme your entire wedding on Center Parcs? Well one super fan, Emily Wootton, has said “I do” to just that.

Emily, 27, married her partner Steve, 33, on September 19 in a scene created from years of family memories accrued through a lifetime of short breaks.

Family tradition
Mum of three, Emily, says: “I’ve been coming to Center Parcs since I was two. My first ever holiday, with my parents, sister and grandparents, was at Sherwood Forest when it first opened. It soon turned into a tradition and we visit together every January.

“I introduced my now-husband, Steve, to Center Parcs and as our family has grown we’ve visited more and more. It’s just such a special place for me; it’s perfect for families and feels like proper time away. The thought of taking my children on a plane terrifies me, whereas Center Parcs is just a couple of hours’ drive and, most importantly, they absolutely love it.”

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Why we chose Center Parcs for our first family holiday

After visiting 54 times since she was a child, Center Parcs held dear family memories for Hannah Leber. So when – after years of fertility problems and IVF treatments – she had a beautiful baby boy, there was only one place Hannah wanted to have her first family holiday. And this time, she was bringing along a very special friend…

From left: Mark, Donna, Hannah and Grant

From left: Mark, Donna, Hannah and Grant

I love children and always wanted to be a mum. I met my husband, Grant, when I was 16 and we married when I was 21. After a few years of trying to get pregnant, a doctor told me that my fallopian tubes were blocked. In 2011, we went to see an IVF consultant. He advised me to join an internet site for people going through IVF, to share stories and get support. That’s how I met Donna.
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ABTA report reveals 68% holidayed in the UK during past year

Why go abroad? The beautiful lakeside setting at Longleat Forest

Why go abroad? The beautiful lakeside setting at Longleat Forest

The leaves are falling, the temperature is dropping and the daylight is dimming. This can only mean one thing: the results of the annual consumer survey by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) are revealed. Oh, and autumn has started too.

We’ve taken a look at the results, which are hot off the press, and I must say some of the findings sure are interesting. A nationally representative sample of 2,001 consumers – that extra one makes all the difference – was surveyed and the results show how you, our guests, choose to spend your free time. The most eyebrow-raising statistic that I noticed, was that a hefty 68% of those questioned had taken a holiday in the UK during the past year, while 41% had taken a holiday both in the UK and abroad.
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“Aqua Sana provides undoubted solace, both physically and emotionally”

Sadie and her husband, Matt

Sadie and her husband, Matt

In the spring issue of Village Life magazine, we gave readers the chance to win one of 10 Luxury Spa Days for two at Aqua Sana. The successful ten entries had to then report back on their experience, to give an insight into what others can expect.

Sadie Hayfield entered the competition on behalf of her husband, Matt, who had sadly lost his mother to cancer on Christmas Day last year. She wrote: “In the months before and after, life had lost some sparkle. He works incredibly hard as a firefighter and in-between shifts he does some window cleaning to support our family.” Following their visit, Sadie reports back to give her verdict on Aqua Sana at Woburn Forest.
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Does a short break give your child more confidence? 42% of parents say yes

Center-Parcs-Underwater--00Taking a break from the constraints of everyday life can open the mind to new and exciting interests. The heady mix of a release from responsibility with the excitement that comes with unfamiliar places, has, in the past, pushed my family and me to do new things. For example, a clear memory from around the age of seven or eight was having the courage to swim all the way into the deep end of the pool. I’ve noticed similar moments with my children since becoming a Dad.

This may seem trivial but I don’t think I’m alone. In fact, a recent survey Center Parcs carried out with 2,000 parents revealed that 42% of respondents believed taking time out from the day-to-day with a short break has led to their child growing in confidence. Furthermore, 47% believed that holidays tend to be a place where major milestones take place. Crawling (11%), walking (10%) and feeding themselves (9%) are just a few milestones among them. Not forgetting, of course, my adventurous swimming.
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Q&A: ‘Why we’ve put the forest at the heart of our children’s activities’

From team training to a terrific Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Sue Goddard, Group Leisure Manager, shares the struggles and successes behind the transformation of our children’s activity offering

Woodland-adventurer

Woodland Adventurer activity

Tell us about the journey over the past three years; what prompted the children’s activity review?
At Center Parcs we pride ourselves on never standing still; we’re always looking at how we can evolve our activities every year. The past few years have seen huge developments in our activities for adults and older children in areas such as outdoor activities and action challenge, so we felt it was timely to have a look at what we offer younger guests.
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