Our First Holiday with N – Center Parcs

Our first holiday with N at Center Parcs
Our first holiday with N at Center Parcs

We’ve recently returned from our first holiday with our little baby N at Woburn Forest Center Parcs and what an amazing time we had.

We went to Center Parcs at Woburn Forest for four nights. We’ve been to other Center Parcs before now but never this one so it was new for all of us.

The Packing

Good lord I never realised how much you have to take for a baby. In all fairness we did pack to make it a home away from home so I’m sure some things could have been left behind but the majority was needed. We filled the entire car (including the parcel shelf and foot wells too!) of a Skoda Superb, which is massive! A quick run through of the items we took include:

  • Clothes, oh so many clothes for him! About four full outfit changes per day! Better to be safe than sorry
  • Towels and other bath items like shampoo/body wash
  • Nappy bags
  • Nappies
  • Wipes
  • Puppy pads (great to change babies on in case of accidents)
  • Changing mat
  • Blankets
  • A few select toys
  • Travel cot and mattress, plus sheets including a waterproof one
  • Grobags x 2
  • Bibs
  • Muslins (loads!)
  • Hats
  • Socks
  • Mittens
  • Pram
  • Perfect Prep machine
  • Milton tub and tablets
  • Coats/outdoor wear
  • Formula
  • Ollie the Owl

That list only covers the items for N that I can think of and doesn’t include our clothes and toiletries (which went in one suitcase), nor the kitchen items that we had to take like tea/coffee, other drinks, a few bits of food. Plus we had to take items for Clare’s birthday which was while we were away.

Center Parcs

It's beautiful at Center Parcs
It’s beautiful at Center Parcs

It’s so geared up for families it’s brilliant. Mostly for kids rather than babies but they try to have something for everyone.

They have two main buildings really, one called The Venue and the other called The Plaza. They contain things like an indoor sports area, restaurants, shops, swimming pool and a few other bits and bobs. They have other outdoor areas too like a falconry area, tree top area where you walk across ropes and logs etc, plus an area dedicated for the lake with boats etc in. We didn’t explore these latter areas, no time!

N went in a swimming pool for the first time and he loved it! It was a special under three swimming session at 9:45am (usually too early for us on holiday, though not any more with a baby!) in a shallow heated pool. I’d say it was about 50cm deep and it had loads of toys in there for the children to play with. It was really busy but we found a nice bit of room to play with N. Also, there were a lot of family changing rooms too with a baby changing area in there. It really was so handy.

We started him off fairly shallow, and then gradually put him in a bit deeper. The deeper we went the more he splashed, whether out of fun or panic I’m not sure! Though to be fair he didn’t cry once for 40 minutes so I think he enjoyed it. Then he got a big splash in the face from someone else and didn’t like that so we got out. He did so well though being in for the first time for 40 minutes. Time to find some swimming lessons!

We also took N to a baby sensory session. This time I led things with N as Clare is the one to normally do it with him while I’m in work. We had feathers to stroke him with, a game of peekaboo, singing (or trying to anyway…just very quietly!), lights, bubbles and noisy things. It was only for 30 minutes but didn’t cost much so it was fine. By that time many babies have had enough of sensory play anyway I expect. N just kept watching all the other babies rather than the stuff he was supposed to be doing! Fairly typical for him!

Elsewhere at Center Parcs there are restaurants (we frequented a few), Starbucks, a souvenir shop, little markets and a few other small retailers. If you follow me on my social media (check the Social Media link on my home page) you’ll know I enjoy a nice coffee so clearly we went to Starbucks. We also went to the Pancake Hut which is always great, though I wish they would do crepes!

Importantly however throughout our entire holiday N slept very well. This was his first time in a travel cot (which we placed next to me in bed) but he was a little trooper and slept very well. He’s been sleeping through since 31 days as I wrote about here, and he continues to do that today.

In terms of practicalities Center Parcs is very good. Ramps and lifts everywhere so great access. Also, for those with a disability, they have a bus that can take you from your lodge to a specific location and back again. You just have to book with security which is very easy. This really was a great service and massively helped us out.

Changing facilities for babies are unisex and frequent. They were always clean. In terms of parking, for those that don’t know, unless you have a disabled lodge you’re not allowed to park your car outside your lodge. You have to take it to a separate car park and walk back to your lodge. This could take a while for some lodges. However, I think it’s a small price to pay for very few cars driving around and children being easily able to play on their bikes.

Bletchley Park

Enigma was broken here in WWII
Enigma was broken here in WWII

One day we went to Bletchley Park. For those that don’t know this is the place where the Enigma cypher was broken during WWII by Alan Turing and his team, as well as many other codes. You may have seen the film called The Imitation Game. Yes, it’s that, and some of it was filmed here.

This is such an interesting place, and huge! I believe it sits across three different postcodes, so that gives you a clue. I had no idea it was so big, I thought it was just a few huts but this was massive, so big we only saw the key stuff really. In fact, if I were to go again I’d take N in a sling. The pram just wasn’t that practical. They didn’t think of that during WWII!

We saw some of the mansion (not all of it as it’s hard going upstairs with a pram!), Hut 8 where Turing was based and a museum dedicated to the site. It really was so fascinating to me as I do have a bit of an interest in that sort of thing anyway.

Bletchley Park mansion
Bletchley Park mansion

In terms of practicalities you have to remember that this was from WWII so don’t expect everything to be completely modern. Toilet facilities are frequent along with baby changing areas. Parking is good and ample, very close to the entrance. It’s £18.50 to get in though I’m pretty sure they last for a year (you’d need more than one visit to do it justice). In the north it’s all about Eden Camp for that sort of thing for school trips. Down south I imagine school trips go to Bletchley Park (but that’s a complete guess!).

Interesting fact, the location is exactly half way between Cambridge and Oxford so they could recruit graduates/students from there!

I found it really interesting here and would recommend a visit, though if you’re going with a baby use a sling.

Woburn Safari Park

Woburn Safari Park for Clare's birthday
Woburn Safari Park for Clare’s birthday

The day after Bletchley Park we went to Woburn Safari Park. I’ve done a more in depth review of that here but thought I’d capture some elements here to remember in the future on this post.

So this is a foot and car Safari. We had a bit of a faff on the way there when the tyre pressure warning light came on. Thankfully I’ve got a pump in the boot – don’t want to get stuck with a flat tyre by the lions! Once that was fixed we did the foot Safari first.

This is essentially like Knowsley Safari Park (review here) which we recently went to. A number of animals you walk around to see. We saw animals such as meerkats, penguins (of course!), otters, monkeys, red pandas amongst others.

Different areas for animal types
Different areas for animal types

There were certain areas dedicated to different animals, such as a desert area for meerkats and other similar animals that live in that sort of environment. They also have a huge soft play area and a farmyard area, neither of which N could go in of course! They’d be great for young children though.

Next we went on the car Safari which was really good. They had quite a wide variety of animals including the usual ones like lions, tigers, elephants and deer. However they also had a really spacious enclosure for bears and wolves (together). This was fascinating to go around and there were a lot of bears (eight that we could see) and a few wolves (we could only see three) but to see them together and their behaviour was really interesting. I heard in the past that one visitor saw a bear and a wolf facing off and they had to be separated by an employee in a Land Rover!

In terms of practicalities the parking was good and close, good baby changing facilities and food areas. It was a bit hilly though so getting a wheelchair round may be a bit tough, but it is all tarmac which makes it easier.

Overall we had a fab day here and would go again when N was older if we were more local, though it is a bit pricey so not too often. I’d say it’s equally as good as Knowsley Safari Park, if not a bit better as it seems to have more animals.


We had an amazing holiday. I really can’t imagine any of it that could have gone better. We had a couple of great days out, N seemed to enjoy the parts just for him and all the meals were great. In fact it was so good we are looking to book Center Parcs again next year, though one a bit closer to us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.