Q&A: the truth about red squirrels

red_squirrel-3We’re going nuts for national red squirrel week, and to celebrate we’ve put together a fact file of everything you need to know about the endangered creatures. If you’ve visited Center Parcs before you’ll probably know that Whinfell Forest is a red squirrel conservation area, so I spoke to the Village’s Senior Ranger, Emma Tapp, to get the facts.

How did red squirrels become endangered?
Red squirrels are a native species dating back thousands of years ago. Grey squirrels are indigenous to America and, in the Victorian era, grey squirrels were introduced into the UK without realising the consequences. They soon noticed that the number of red squirrels were decreasing dramatically, but it was too late. There are a couple of reasons for this incompatibility; mainly it’s down to the fact that grey squirrels can compete more successfully for food supplies, leaving their red counterparts struggling to survive. Grey squirrels also carry the squirrel pox virus, which has no effect on them but causes disease in reds. There are now around 140,000 red squirrels in the UK, while there are at least 3 million grey squirrels.
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Woburn Forest welcomes guest number 100,000

STSP-Exterior-July-2014-WO-Woburn Forest has today reached a momentous milestone since opening, as our fifth Village welcomes its 100,000th guest.

A little under four months after opening, Woburn Forest is operating at more than 90 per cent occupancy levels and has enjoyed a successful first summer. Wayne Matton, General Manager of Woburn Forest, is pleased so far: “It’s amazing! I just can’t believe it; we’ve only been open since June 6 and have welcomed so many guests already.”
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Congratulations and thanks: final wildcards announced

The Center Parcs Family Blog Club has come to an end. Here we reveal the final two wildcard winners

After 10 monthly challenges and more than 360 entries, the Center Parcs Family Blogger Club has come to an end. Over the past couple of years we’ve had glimpses into our bloggers’ Center Parcs stays as well as some fantastic and creative blog post entries to the monthly challenges. We’ve really enjoyed seeing what our families got up to and we hope you continue to get creative in the kitchen, have fun outdoors and get arty as a family.

Over the course of this year we’ve had a selection of wildcard winners join our Center Parcs Family Blog Club and now it’s time to announce the final two winners.

Wildcard sept

Congratulations to My Family Fever and Rambling Through Parenthood. We particularly loved My Family Fever’s July entry with a fruity ice lolly recipe and Rambling Through Parenthood’s August summer diary with a beautiful poem and pictures of summer memories. Kate and Vai, we are looking forward to seeing what you and your family get up to on your Center Parcs break.

Finally, we want to say a thank you to everyone who entered our monthly challenges, as well as our wonderful Center Parcs Family Bloggers.

A day in the life: The Pancake House

From shy girl to customer service queen, Jill Broughton is a firm guest favourite at Sherwood Forest’s Pancake House. Here she shares the secrets of her success…

jill_broughtonMy Center Parcs history
I’ve worked at Center Parcs, in the Pancake House, for almost 8 years. Before here I worked as a waitress supervisor at The Swan, in Mansfield for 17 years. I decided one day that I was getting a bit too old for working late nights on Saturdays and Sundays, and dealing with the football crowds. Someone I knew said: ‘Why don’t you see if Center Parcs have any jobs going?’ I saw this one, applied and got it. I’ve been here ever since.

It’s a different place to anywhere I’ve worked before because the range of customers are so varied. You do get your regulars, which is lovely, but mostly it’ll be people you’ve never met and it’s great to interact with them. I’ll always ask if they’ve had a nice time and what they think to our Village.

I absolutely love it here and it’s a brilliant company to work for – I tell all the guests. Everyone just is so hands on; you’ll see Karen Henderson [Sherwood Forest General Manager], walking around the Village picking litter up. There are some companies where the people at the top feel they’re different to the people working on the ground. But they’re not. We’re all human, aren’t we?
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7 Reasons to be cheerful about the arrival of autumn

Summer may have gone for another year, but it’s not all doom and gloom – we promise! Check out our list of reasons why autumn should be a season to look forward to and not dread. Have we missed any? Let us know in the comments below!

hedgehog_autumn1. Easy on the eyes
Among a sea of oranges and browns, autumn is a great time of year for any of you budding photographers or nature-enthusiasts. According to experts, this autumn is set to be the most dazzling yet as the long, mild summer triggers particularly early and vivid outbursts of colour, conkers and wildlife. Make the most of the season by heading outside; it’s a great time for little ones to explore. Read our autumn infographic for more information on the changes afoot in the animal kingdom, as well as a guide on how to make your very own bug habitat.
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Infographic: Everything you need to know about autumn

It’s time to fold up the shorts, stow away the sun cream and dig out the slow cooker. Yes, summer has gone for another year as today officially marks the beginning of autumn.

This day is defined as the September equinox, which is when the sun shines directly on the equator, rendering the length of day and night as almost equal. But as the evenings get darker and the temperatures cool, leaving us to weep over the memories of those glorious summer days, we must remember autumn is a season of exciting and interesting change – particularly in the nature world.

Read our infographic to discover what you can expect over the next couple of months. The information included is aimed at Key Stage 2 children, so it’s perfect for printing out or downloading as an educational tool for your young nature enthusiasts.
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National Cupcake Week? We can get on board with that!

If you ever needed an excuse to indulge in cupcakes, this is it. Ready, set, bake!

Decorate your own delicious treats on your next Center Parcs break

Decorate your own delicious treats on your next Center Parcs break

This week, we celebrate all that is good in the world. Specifically speaking, cupcakes. As yesterday marked the beginning of the fifth National Cupcake Week – a whole seven days to rejoice in the simple pleasure of creamy and delicious frosting atop soft, delicate sponge.

It’s been a rapid rise to stardom for the humble cupcake, undoubtedly buoyed by the popularity of Great British Bake Off and gourmet sellers such as Hummingbird Bakery and Lola’s. In 2008 – when the recession first struck – the fastest rising recipe search on Google was ‘cupcake’, while in 2009 sales of the bite-sized beauties rose by 50% in the UK. Three years later in 2012, cupcake sales in Great Britain reached a mouth-watering £23.5m.
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5 reasons Center Parcs is perfect for under 5s

swimming1. We’ve thought of everything (we think!)
If you’ve forgotten their favourite toy, ran out of nappies, or need to entertain them during meals, everything is taken care of at Center Parcs. For water-loving tots we’ve got it covered; you’ll find swim nappies and buoyancy aids at the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, while Aquatique has a selection of swimwear, inflatables and accessories. In our restaurants you’ll find fun and educational activity sheets designed to keep them entertained while waiting.

If they’ve got extra energy to burn, some restaurants also have play areas while you can also find outdoor play areas in various places around our Villages.For an extra-special treat, our Village toy shop Just Kids has something for all ages and is guaranteed to put a smile on their faces. In various spots in our Villages you’ll also find covered Buggy Parks, ideal for parking up during activities and meal times without the worry.
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