With a full-on work and home life, the Bartle family are hard to keep up with. Rob, an IT project manager, and Karine, a logistics consultant, are parents to three young children: Toby, aged seven, Natalie, five, and Noah, three. Even in their downtime, they’re always on the go. Karine is a yoga fan, Rob runs, Toby plays football and Natalie dances – plus the whole family goes skiing once or twice a year.
Such a busy schedule means fitting in time with the extended family is a priority, and the Bartles have found that Center Parcs is the perfect location to get together. “It’s ideal for us because we meet up with Rob’s sister, her husband and their four children, as well as Rob’s parents, Mike and Margaret. There are seven children in total so it’s great that there is loads to keep them occupied. We can take them to the playgrounds, go on bike rides and, of course, the Subtropical Swimming Paradise is fantastic.”
The Bartles have found that Center Parcs activities are a great way to sample fresh experiences. “Over the years, we’ve tried Junior Pony Rides, Cupcake Decorating, Ten Pin Bowling, Soccer Play and Hair Braiding,” says Karine. Laser Combat was a new experience, though, and the grandparents were initially cautious participants. “I didn’t know what to expect,” says Karine’s mum, Vicky Cook. “I definitely would have sat the activity out and watched instead, but Karine persuaded me to give it a go.”
Once the grandparents had accepted their mission, there was no way Karine, Rob and Toby were going to let the older generation back out and it was time for Mike, Vicky and Karine’s dad Paul to head into the Sherwood Forest’s Laser Combat arena. “The staff were excellent – they really helped us to understand the games and encouraged everyone to get involved,” says Karine.
Karine says she loved the competitive element. “It was one hour of running around so it was great exercise. Although, having said that, you can be as active as you want. There were trees to hide behind and forts to sneak into, so you could rest there if you needed.
“We all enjoyed Laser Combat so much that we’re planning to try it again on our next break. It was such good fun – we’ll remember the day for a long time.”
The grandparents’ verdicts:
Vicky Cook says: “Just as we were putting on the camouflage make-up I said, ‘Can I back out?’ But Karine said, ‘No, it’s too late!’ So I got on with it. Toby thought it was hilarious seeing his grandparents with their make-up and laser guns. It was a real adrenalin rush and from start, to finish we did nothing but laugh. I’d highly recommend it. It lasted an hour, but the time just flew by.”
Mike Bartle says: “Laser Combat was out of the ordinary for me, but I’ll give anything a go and I’m so pleased that I did. We took part in a series of games that involved a lot of hiding and running – basically pretending to be a soldier. When Rob and I paired up it was great fun to work together – we covered the territory well and won the game! I used to do a lot of skiing and running. I’m 74 now and haven’t been able to do that for a while, but this wasn’t too much for me. Every grandparent should have a go.”