We finally unpacked the last few bits from our break at Whinfell Forest over the weekend. Yep – that’s a whole month after we got home. Impressive, eh?
In my defence, we do pack a LOT of stuff. I’ve never been one for packing light, and with the kids I’d just rather be safe than sorry, so I tend to pack for all eventualities (snow in June, anyone?)
One area where packing a few extra bits does make a huge difference is in the kitchen. Center Parcs is primarily self-catering so the kitchens are pretty well-equipped. That said, having been to all 5 UK villages now, we pack certain things without even thinking about it these days. Here’s our top 10…
1. Plastic kids’ crockery.
If you’ve got young children, that is. We take a couple of plastic bowls, plates, sets of cutlery (all IKEA’s KALAS range) and sippy cups for The Girl. I also pack a few takeaway pots (as in, the ones you get your curry in) and cling film for storing half-eaten/leftover food in the fridge.
2. Washing detergent.
There are no washing machines on-site, but if you’ve got kids it’s worth packing a couple of washing tablets to rinse a few bits – like bibs and lightly-stained clothes – in the sink. You can just crumble a bit of the tablet off when you need it (don’t take the gel tablets, it’s a right old faff).
3. A big saucepan.
If you’re cooking for a crowd (or just a really hungry family), take your biggest saucepan. We take a huge stock pot every time and make a vat of bolognese sauce in it. That way you’ve got the base for spag bol, lasagne, chilli con carne… you name it. Saves you cooking something fresh every night.
4. Herbs and spices.
For said bolognese. There’s nothing like this in the lodge, so we take half our spice rack plus cooking oil, stock cubes and a pepper grinder.
5. Washing up liquid.
There’s a little sachet on the sink to get you started, but that’s it. As with most things, you can pick up a bottle in the ParcMarket. But if you’re trying to save money it’ll be cheaper to bring it from home. Likewise, bring some extra dishwasher tablets. There’ll be a handful in the lodge, but they won’t get you through your break.
6. Extra loo rolls.
Ditto #5 – you’ll need some extras as there’s one provided per loo, and they aren’t re-stocked if you’re staying in standard accommodation.
7. Plenty of plastic bags.
The rubbish bin is tiny – they’re pretty hot on recycling – so plastic shopping bags are a better size than bin bags. Save them up in the weeks before your break and bring a decent stash.
8. Proper coffee.
I’m the kind of person who takes a cafetiere on holiday as I can’t stomach instant coffee, so I’m pleased to report they come as standard in Center Parcs lodges. Take some ground coffee plus tea and sugar, too, as there are just a few hotel-style sachets supplied.
9. Kitchen roll.
For the inevitable spillages. On that note, take a couple of extra tea towels, too, as there’s only one supplied.
10. BBQ tools.
Weather permitting, there’s nothing nicer than an evening barbecue in the forest. There are brick-built BBQ stands at all the lodges (bar apartments) and you can buy a disposable tray to go in it from the ParcMarket. There are a couple of basic tools provided in the lodge, too (tongs and a fish slice). Gas BBQs aren’t allowed, so we take a Weber Go-Anywhere plus all the tools to go with it. What can I say – The Husband is big on BBQs.