Actually, that makes it sound like a kidnapping. Let's start again.
Yes, that's right, we went to Center Parcs. As this is the first Valentine's I spent with someone special for yearsandyearsandyears (H actually ended up in bed with the 'flu virus on Valentine's once, which is halfway there, I suppose), I decided we'd do something special. In fact, I didn't decide it at all - we'd been planning to go on holiday (again) for some time, ergo I bookified it myself, it just happened to fall on Valentine's weekend by a good coincidence. Anyway, whatever the reason, we went to Center Parcs. And because it was awesome, I would like to present here:
INNOCENT LOVERBOY'S LIST OF WHY GOING TO CENTER PARCS IS A WORTHWHILE WAY TO SPEND VALENTINE'S WEEKEND
(i) Welcome to Center Parcs. Your residence is either a room in the Lakeside Hotel or a villa. Me being me, I chose a villa. A lovely little chalet situated right next to the Village Square (again, a coincidence). Two bedrooms (though we only used one), a bathroom, a toilet, a boiler room (which was handy for drying wet shoes and tea-towel) complete with notice stating that one should not sleep in the boiler room, a huge living area and a small kitchenette. I made breakfast - twice - and got domestic in many ways around the kitchen area. TD got very excited that our bedroom had proper wardrobes. This was our little house; for the weekend, we lived here. Let's be frank, we still want to live there. A fantastic place for just sitting and reading, snuggles, having sex on the sofa, and wondering if Beyoncé's new video is digitally altered.
(ii) The restaurants. My Glod, they were all pretty damn fine restaurants. We had some good home-prepared meals - my breakfasts and TD's smorgasbord-stylée picnic for lunch on Valentine's Day itself - but we also went searching for the edible stuff to be found in establishments. Center Parcs' Village Square has a lot of these, and we exploited:
- Dining In - for the ridiculously lazy, Dining In allows you to get food delivered to your villa. What a novel idea - if only you could pick up a telephonic device and order 'comestibles' otherwise. Because it took us about an hour to find our villa to begin with, we gladly ordered something doughy with cheese and tomatoes on it. I'd call this pizza, but I won't, because I don't want to give the Italians too much credit.
- The Foresters' Inn. A gastro pub which isn't really much of a gastro pub, more of a huge restaurant designed to look like a pub. It's like a tavern from an RPG. On steroids. We had their hot chocolate and at some point sat on a squashy sofa reading books and eating their chips. Yeah.
- Café Rouge. Of all the heathens imaginable, a commercial chain in Center Parcs! I actually booked us this one, because we ought to have had a Valentine's meal, really. And so we did. Nice enough food (although mine was a little lacking on the cheese and the dessert wasn't there, I enjoyed it) and very friendly staff. The waitress took a snap of us because we were on a date, and then she got bawled out by some angry C2s at another table. No pleasing, some people.
- Huck's - an American bar and grill that not only boasts the finest buffet breakfast known to humankind, but also perhaps the lamest group of singers seen in western Europe. Oh, and it has the Sunday papers, too. Cue waffles, fried eggs and croissants served with The Observer.
- The Sports Café. I don't like sports, but I like nachos. The nachos won.
- The Lagoon Bar. While swimming (see below), we wanted a drink. Not actually while we were swimming, but you get the idea. I browsed the menu and decided upon a Peach Christa. "What's one of them?" asked the boy at the bar. I helpfully handed him the menu.
- Bella Italia. You know what this is. The waiter was on some sort of illegal substance. Either that, or he genuinely thought he was being funny. I'd prefer to think he was on the drugs. It's the only logical explanation.
- Starbuck's. See point 2. And so to our final hot chocolate.
(iv) Sex. On the sofa, on the bed and on my mind. Particularly in the middle of the 14th itself wherein we couldn't think of anything else to do. Not that we needed any encouragement, either. I'd like to explain how awesome this was... but can't. Must be something to do with being a couple in your early 20s, on holiday, in your own house on Valentine's Day. I think that probably contributed something to it. My tongue did too, though.
(v) I'm unsure as to my feelings towards Valentine's. I know it's meant to be primarily for single people, and that faceless multinational corporations have taken it away from them and handed it to the lucky ones who have managed to be in a relationship. So, for that reason, I'd like to comfort my single friends insofar as I can remnd them that Saint Valentine, the bastard who started their day of pain, died a horrible, violent death. For us, we woke early with me making breakfast, exchanged gifts and pleasantries (I got a very, very funny book - can't say too much, but it'll give the game away; she got me being a sarcastic git in card form) and spent the day relaxing. Can't really say fairer that that...
(vi) We took everything at a slow pace. Do you have any idea how relaxing that actually is? Even our walking was slow. Unlike the rushed parents who were running everywhere after their kids who they'd foolishly taken because it was half term. Yeah. Better make the best of these days, and all. We couldn't afford the Aqua Sana spa place, but if we took a deep breath, and relaxed, who needs expensive face masks anyway?
(vii) Squirrels! Rabbits! Ducks! Oh, my!
(viii) Walks around the forest. Who knew there were that many trees in Suffolk?
(ix) Money. Don't have any left. Ah, well.
It's been a while since I went to Center Parcs, and this is the first time I've been without my family as well as the first time I've been with my girlfriend. It's also the first time we've been anywhere as a couple where we were completely self-sufficient. It was, simply, fantastic. I'm pleased I blew all my money on it. Er, yes.
Not something we could do every special day, but definitely something I'd be up for doing again. To repeat the whole experience. Maybe add bowling and playing pool next time... or if only to stay in our little house again!
Trust fund, anyone?