A wonderful Christmas break

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Friday 27th December

This Christmas we decided to take a break in Center Parcs, Longleat Forest. Myself, husband, elder son, younger son, girlfriend, puppy, and my mum travelled on Monday in two cars. The weather was absolutely atrocious ~ rain, wind, flooding, traffic jams ~ but we finally made it by early afternoon.

We had two ‘Woodland Lodges’; very comfortable, with welcoming log fires. Having unpacked and settled in, the three youngest went off to the swimming pool for some fun in the dark and the rain! The pool is kept at 31℃, and has an outdoor section of flumes and rapids, all lit up with Christmas lights.

Christmas Eve, and we are exploring the Village Square, complete with ‘singing reindeer’, ‘snow covered’ Christmas trees, sparkly twinkling lights everywhere, and a pen full of real reindeer with marvellous antlers. I am brought down to earth when my mobile phone goes off, and I have a call from the trials nurse! Really, Christmas Eve!! Oh well. She informs me that I have two appointments lined up in Exeter on the 2nd and 3rd of January. The first for a CT scan, and the other for an Echo Cardiogram. She apologised that they were on two consecutive days, but apparently different departments don’t ‘talk’ to one another!! Hmmmm.

Anyway, having digested her news and thought about the logistics of two trips to Exeter in two days, four of us are off on a morning horse-drawn carriage ride. The horse has sleigh bells, the ‘driver’ is decked out like Santa, ably assisted by a cheerful ‘elf’. The weather today is perfect ~ crisp with beautiful blue skies.

I am able to visit the various areas of the park using the landtrain, which is wonderfully decked out with holly and baubles. By mid-afternoon I am ready to return to our lodge with my mum, whilst the rest spend an hour ten pin bowling. My leg becomes rather swollen unless I am able to sit and elevate it.

(It is now exactly six weeks following my surgery, and I still have to have a plastic drain bag stuck to my leg. It really is becoming quite tedious now. I have a hard lump below my scar, that remains red and bruised. I continue to take antibiotics. I do wish things would settle down and let me behave normally.)

Christmas Day, and Santa has visited overnight, leaving a vast array of gifts under the tree. We spend the morning unwrapping, whilst the massive turkey cooks slowly in the oven, spreading a delightful aroma throughout. Before we eat, the young ones go out for a walk with the puppy. As we sit in the lounge, looking out of the French windows, we are visited by a deer, who comes down the bramble covered bank, almost onto our patio. A little later a couple of grey squirrels scamper in front of us, and a robin redbreast perches on the barbecue. A delightful array of festive visitors! Soon the turkey, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, stuffing, sausages in bacon, parsnips, gravy and cranberry sauce are all ready! Champagne is poured, and we sit down to a feast. In the afternoon the young ones take the puppy for a walk, whilst I sit on the sofa, watching both the crackling log fire and whatever happens to be on the television.

On Boxing Day the non-cyclists catch the road train to the Plaza and enjoy a warming Starbucks and look around the shops. The four active members of the group then went off to outdoor Archery, leaving my mum and I to people-watch, and enjoy afternoon tea in yet another coffee shop! Younger son and girlfriend then went to collect the puppy from their lodge, handed it over to husband, mum, elder son and I, whilst they enjoyed a couple of hours in the pool. We walked slowly down to the lake, and up the other side to our lodge. It was dark when we arrived, so a couple of logs were thrown on the fire, six baked potatoes put in the oven, and cold turkey, cheeses, pickles, beans, and more Champagne were laid out on the table. The swimmers returned, leftovers eaten, champagne quaffed, and Christmas pudding savoured with spoonfuls of brandy butter. (It was on this day that I decided not to stick the plastic drain bag onto my leg. Very little fluid was draining out, so instead, I used a dressing plaster; much more comfortable and unobtrusive).

Our final morning saw us all clearing up, packing, and loading up the cars. We had to hand the keys back in by 10am. A hearty breakfast was served in one of the Plaza bistros, and then we hit the road for the long drive home.

Our Christmas break had flown by, oh so quickly, but what a wonderful, family time we had.

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