Our Four-Day Holiday at Elveden Forest (1996)

We arrived at Elveden about midday, and after signing in, we parked the car and waited at the reception centre until 3 p.m. which is really starting time, since the villas had to be made ready for us to occupy.

Elveden Village Square

We relaxed at the seating just above the sub-tropical swimming pool, and helped ourselves to some light refreshments. We then unloaded our car and set up house in our delightful little villa No. 816, adjacent to a nice man-made lake which runs along all the homes there.

We met up with Cathy and family who had already arrived ahead of us, and we invited them to have supper with us, which we promptly cooked in the excellent cooking arrangements there. We entertained the Cameron family until it began to get dark, when they left and returned to their home in London. They were duly grateful for our invitation to be with us for at least the one day.

While waiting at Reception for our villa when we first arrived, we got to chatting with two fellows, who, like ourselves were also waiting for their places. It so happened we talked a little of golf, and being both golfers, they invited me to join them in a game on the next day. We promptly booked ourselves to play at 8.00 a.m. Unfortunately, it rained heavily that night, and we had to cancel. I was really disappointed.


On Tuesday 27th August, we walked over to the 'Sheldrake', one of the many restaurants there, and had a barbecue supper. There was every kind of meat and you just helped yourself to whatever you wished from the well set tables.

We had rented four bicycles, one each for Paul, Ron, Maureen and me, and it was fun having to use this type of transport at my age! I had not ridden a bike for well over 40 years, but after a few wobbles and skids, I finally got the hang of it, and continued using this mode of transport until we departed.

Even at night, we rode all over the place, visiting the Plaza which supplied every possible need from A-Z.

On the second evening, we dined at the 'Country Club and this was by far the best supper I had (Baked Trout).

On our final evening here, we used a Smorgasbord at the Plaza, where you had a choice of almost anything. We spent a long evening there, it being rainy, but that great big entertainment area of sport, and all possible needs one can have, and all under one cover of solid rigid plastic roofing, made you forget what was going on, on the outside.

On the very last evening of our stay of four days at Elveden Forest, Maureen and I really enjoyed the sub-tropical swim area. We first investigated the hot tubs, popularly called Jacuzzis, trying out both of them. Following about 10 to 15 minutes of this, we ventured into the swirling water-run of the main pool, which takes you on its own force all around the circle of this large pool. We did this a few times.

You do not have to swim as the foamy water just pushes you all around, and it is safe, since the depth of water is never more than 3-5 feet, not forgetting there are life-guards all over. Then over to the 'waterfall' area, where the water comes rushing down on you from quite a height. This was surely the finest swimming experience I've ever had in all my long life.

The following morning we packed up, returned the four rented bicycles and after a delightful stay of four days in this semi-tropical paradise, we got ready to leave for Wales. Before closing this chapter of one of my most enjoyable holidays, here is - An Overall Description of Center Parc's Elveden Forest Holiday Centre

The whole concept of the Center Parc (Centre Park) is to provide a relaxed holiday environment in a natural and healthy setting, with all the amenities of modern living in a partially converted forest area.  Great effort was made to ensure safety, and to this effect, motor vehicles were restricted to a special spot just outside the villas or homes, and yet not over far from the living quarters. As a result, bicycles were the popular method of getting around, and these could be rented, and definitely were rented as soon as one settled down in his villa.

This particular centre we were at is in Elveden Forest, and is just one of three such places, the others being Sherwood Forest and Longleat.

Elveden is 400 acres, and contains about 800 individual 'homes' called villas, and each is situated on the fringe of a man-made lake on which are swans, cygnets, geese, goslings, ducks and fish. Rabbits and squirrels were all around, and appeared to be quite tame.

The individual villas are in several sizes, capable of housing couples, threesomes, or four to six people. All are very well equipped with every convenience from colour TV sets to all kitchen, bedroom and bathroom requirements. The villas are all centrally heated and provided with sky-lights to enhance natural lighting.

An obvious effort was made to keep the forest as natural as possible, just sufficient thinning of the undergrowth was done to ensure safety and visibility. Tiled pathways were provided to each villa, and this made it very comfortable for access and ease especially when it rained. It is remarkable how easily and quickly I managed to ride a bicycle, something I had not done for about forty years. I should admit, however, that I did suffer a few scrapes and wobbles, mainly from a question of balance.

It was unbelievable how well arranged the shopping, sports and recreation areas were. To begin, that whole section was under a tough plastic cover, so it did not really matter what the weather was, it was always very accessible. This covered enclosure embraced a complete supermarket, several speciality shops, many restaurants, even including a smorgasbord. Interspersed around were man-made ponds, with live carp swimming, and tropical foliage around, with delicate bridges spanning the ponds, and leading to a subtropical swimming area, which was truly a wonderful arrangement.

The water was never cold, just medium, and the depth was never more than 3 to 5 feet, in addition to which there were several life-guards. There were many features in the swimming area, such as a waterfall effect, a swift white-water section, and a really shallow portion where even tiny kids could play in safety.

The most thrilling part is this sub-tropical swimming area was the cascading waterfall which created huge waves, and which was always pre-arranged with a Tarzan-like howl for kids enjoyment. The cost of this swimming-hold was a paltry twenty pence. Under this huge canopy of very rigid plastic, on the other side of the swimming area, there was the games section which included several ten-pin bowling alleys, tennis courts, badminton courts, table tennis facilities, as well as snooker (pools).




Needless to say, one can spend a complete day in this area if desired, but there were so many other outdoor sports such as golf, (9 holes), archery, and bike treks, etc. that a wide choice was possible.

With the hundreds of bicycles in use at the resort, there are several parking places for them, in areas close to the many places of interest one can visit. All cycles are provided with locks, and it is wonderful to see how kids as well as older folk (like me) get along on them. Speaking of the two men with whom I had arranged to play golf, (which was washed out by rain) one of them was on his third visit to this park, which just goes to show how attractive this place is. If I was living in England as I once did for seven years, I would certainly want to go on repeated visits to this delightful place.

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