Thursday, June 21, 2018

Center Parcs and visiting family

It's been a busy two weeks in the Bite-Sized Thoughts household, as we followed a long weekend away with a visit from my sister and her boyfriend from Australia. Both were wonderful. My sister is now in France for a wedding but we're looking forward to welcoming her back for two further nights next week.

Coffee #1 in Warminster

We spent most of my sister's visit around our town and the adjoining countryside, but also made a day trip to Bodiam Castle. This is one of my favourite English castles with its intact exterior and impressive moat, but semi-ruined interior that you can climb around and explore without the confines of a tour. The picture below shows Mini Bite taking advantage of the opportunity to clamber. I first visited Bodiam as a 10-year-old and my family have returned regularly over the years, so it was also nice to go back with my sister and add to childhood memories

Mini Bite exploring Bodiam

Our weekend away was at one of the UK Center Parcs locations. This was our first time testing the world of Center Parcs, a very family-focused accommodation option with each location based in acres of woodland / forest. Hundreds of self-catering villas are scattered throughout and there is a central indoor swimming area, lots of playgrounds, and various restaurants / cafes within the park. You can also pay to do extra activities, like high ropes courses, pony rides, boat hire or even spa treatments. You pay a premium and it is not an exotic break, but it is very easy with a toddler and Mini Bite seemed to enjoy it. I was taken with the gorgeous setting - we were in Longleat forest and the trees were beautiful.

Lonleat Center Parcs

We hired a pedalo and made use of the inclusive swimming pool access, but didn't do any other formal activities. I was, however, delighted by the range of vegan food on offer. There was a branch of Bella Italia with vegan risotto, vegan pizza and spiralised vegetable spaghetti with a lentil pasta sauce (my choice), and the Center Parcs 'Pancake House' offer several savoury and sweet vegan pancakes. I shared a savoury 'Spanish' pancake and a sweet 'Dutch Apple' pancake with Mini Bite. The former featured peppers, paprika roasted potatoes and a spicy salsa, and the latter cooked apples, sultanas, cinnamon sugar, and blackberry sorbet. Mr Bite had a non-vegan main and then the vegan banana-chocolate pancake for dessert, which I also tried, and which was incredible.

Vegan pizza at The Pancake House - savoury Spanish below and sweet Dutch Apple centre

We self-catered a lot but also had a few coffee breaks within the park and one at the nearby town of Warminster. Warminster hosts a branch of Coffee #1, which I hadn't heard of before and thought was an independent store when we went in. It turns out there are 57 stores across the UK, but they are biased towards Wales and South-West England. I liked the cafe setting (pictured top), the choice of non-dairy milks (coconut, soy, almond), the excellent coffee, and the vegan chocolate slice I took away (a cross between a tiffin and a brownie but which I neglected to photograph). Mr Bite had a lemon drizzle cake when we were at the store, and a non-vegan brownie later, and pronounced both to be good.

Coffee #1 soy coffee, steamed soy milk (Mini Bite) and lemon drizzle cake

In all, we have been blessed with a wonderful fortnight. It's also rather nice to return to work tomorrow after a full week off, and then have the weekend immediately afterwards.

Mini Bite enjoying her first pedalo experience; Longleat forest, Center Parcs

What have you been up to lately?


  1. Bott warminister and bodium castle looks like beautiful places to visit - lovely that you had lots of good vegan food and it sounds like a great break with your sister

  2. That's really interesting - I didn't expect Center Parcs to have a decent vegan selection. I think it's testament to how widespread veganism is that you can get those pancakes. They looked fab. And a beautiful location too.

  3. Mini Bite looks so sweet exploring the castle. I covet the Dutch apple pancake. Looks like it was a fun weekend.


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