Center Parcs, Daily Life, Dancing, Writer's Blog

Help! Mid-life crisis alert!

Does anybody, like me, wake up some mornings wishing they could start all over again, having made such a pig’s ear of their life so far? I am having one of those days today and I don’t usually write on bad days so this is new territory for me.

I have just returned from a midweek break with my husband, three of our children and our son-in-law at Center Parcs. We have been there lots of times before and always enjoy it for different reasons. This time, we booked ourselves into a luxurious executive lodge with four bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom, and we also had a sauna and a games room boasting a pool table, a multitude of board games and an X-box.

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We often try something new and this time, along with spa sessions, badminton, table tennis, long walks and swimming, we booked ourselves onto a pottery painting session. We had so much fun all week but I have returned to normality feeling completely exhausted and extremely fed up.

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Before we left, I had been really good and managed to lose four pounds in weight as I was quickly becoming one of those frumpy, menopausal middle-aged ladies who I do not aspire to become. While we were away, I avoided the sweet shop, enjoyed just one dessert and made as many healthy choices as I could. I had half of a pizza one evening with some wedges but always had healthy breakfasts. I ensured I had plenty of exercise and my pedometer didn’t hit below 17,000 steps each day with one day reaching 28000 and another, 24,000. I kept track of everything using my weight loss app and assumed I would not lose anything while I was away and, at most, gain a pound or two. I was devastated to step onto the scales yesterday morning to find I had gained five pounds, in five days. It seems impossible to me that I could gain that much over such a short amount of time. So, on top of everything else, the diet/healthy eating has begun with a vengeance. It certainly has not helped my overall mood.

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The usual back-from-holiday washing was easy to plough through. Tracksuit bottoms, leggings, t-shirts and fleeces all being easy to dry and put away, no iron required. Job done.

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A small amount of cupboard re-stocking at Tesco, then we decided to use the free time to do some Christmas present shopping. We had been put in the mood for the forthcoming season as our break was Winter Wonderland themed, and numerous twinkling white lights,  Christmas trees, garlands and faux snow had set the scene, putting us in the mood for Christmas.  We even had a luxurious wreath on the front door of our accommodation.  The whole Parc was alight with Christmas, including an awesome midweek fireworks display culminating, for the benefit of the younger guests, with Santa arriving along one of the zip wires across the festively-lit water sports lake.

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Returning to the shopping, both of us were physically tired, but we ambled around the city centre shops and successfully purchased a number of gifts. Pleased with our achievements, we headed home to snuggle up with a healthy vegetable risotto and to watch Strictly and catch up on some previously recorded TV programmes.

I still couldn’t shake the feeling of doom and gloom which had settled over me. Nagging at the back of my mind was my mum, who has been ill for a few years but had plateaued lately. Before we left, we had batch-cooked a bunch of pies and delivered to her freezer and agreed we would pick her up and take her over to see my daughter and son-in-law’s beautiful new home, recently purchased and now ready for visitors. As suspected, when we called her to arrange times she told us she didn’t feel well enough to go over. It’s possible that she didn’t but there is always a reason not to do something and I knew she wouldn’t bother before I even called. Then I started to beat myself up for being so heartless.  I know she is poorly and it must be very hard but she is her own worst enemy. She doesn’t encourage visitors and refuses to go anywhere. This results in my brother and sister-in-law, and my husband and I being poked at if we don’t visit enough. Its harder than you would imagine, to visit a poorly mother who you have never felt close to. There has always been an acidic relationship between me and my mum and, even though she is ill and alone, I have to psych myself to even call her as she drives me mad. Call me heartless, call me a bitch but it is how I feel.

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The trouble is, and I don’t mean trouble in the usual sense because it isn’t, we have five children of our own, all grown up, and my husband also has a mother who is also on her own. We each have a brother and sister-in-law and don’t spend nearly enough time with them all. We also have a new granddaughter who lives a two hour drive away so we have to factor in visiting to see that part of our family, too. We both work full time and my husband is physically tired in the evenings while I can’t resist checking my emails out of hours and helping with problems where I am able. As Manager of the IT Services department of a busy private school, sometimes issues need to be dealt with there and then.

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We used to dance two or three times a week but, as life takes over and changes happen, we are lucky to dance once a week and maybe twice if we have the energy. We always dance on a Wednesday night as I have a regular commitment to demoing while my husband is a Taxi Dancer, helping beginner dancers, on alternate weeks. This cut down in dance nights surely isn’t helping my fight with weight either.

On a Sunday, we have started meeting friends and/or family and I go off on a three mile walk while my husband takes off on his mountain bike with a friend, or joins us walking on other occasions. We keep as active as our commitments allow.

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We have two more breaks planned for the near future. The first is a dance weekender at a luxurious local holiday centre and it encompasses my 50th birthday while we are there. I am not looking forward to being fifty one jot. I already feel tired and listless and the only burst of energy I get is when I step out onto the dance floor. Maybe I missed dancing while we were away last week. It’s only one week but I guess I didn’t get my fix. There are plans for a birthday celebration while we are at the weekender with dance friends so that will be nice.

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We have another long weekend booked with my brother- and sister-in-law at the start of May which we are looking forward to. We haven’t thought further ahead than that.

So, I have a few reasons for feeling so low right now. Post-holiday blues, weight gain, fast-approaching age of fifty and an aged, ailing mother.

However, I have so much to be thankful for. I have the most caring, supportive, fun-loving and amazing husband I could wish for. Between us we have our five grown-up children, one of them married to our lovely son-in-law, one settled with his fiancee and their baby daughter and three who have yet to settle down but have good jobs and plenty of years ahead of them. I worry endlessly about them all, but never quite feel I give them each enough of my time. While they are mostly more than capable, I have been around a lot more years and so I like to be able to offer guidance and support as needed.

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If anyone out there has the answer to what is clearly my very own mid-life crisis, I would be grateful for all suggestions. So far, I have spent the weekend exhausted and crying hard enough to give myself a headache.

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Center Parcs, Daily Life, Poem, Writer's Blog

Winter Wonderland, day one

Of the quick Tesco breakfast, we were really not keen,

The trays full of eggs on the counter, we’d seen,

You cant have them scrambled and Benedict, no,

There is no salmon either, the choices were low.

 

Spirits still soaring, to the road we all made,

The convoy of three, we were not dismayed,

At the Parc entrance, we are greeted with snow,

Adorning the trees and the sign down below.

 

Parked up and ready, we grab our swim bags,

Head for the Center, our speed did not lag,

We’ve all been before, so we know all the drills,

So we head for the Starbucks, for hydration refills.

 

Building our energy, of work we’re relieved,

Make for the Plaza, racquets to retrieve,

An hour filled with badminton, we just did not stop,

Expending our energy, day one from the top.

 

Bump into colleagues and people we know,

Gives us a chance to stop, go say hello,

Time up, more hydration then head for the pool,

This place like a sauna, we need to get cool,

 

Swim, seems like hours, is really quite fun,

We shattered but this week only just begun,

The rapids and slides, a source of our squeals,

Racing each other, keep close to their heels.

 

Head to our lodge to unpack and have food,

Have planned for a barbie, we are all in the mood,

Bagged are the bedrooms, our gear is unpacked,

The barbecue started, the coals they are stacked.

 

Chilled and exhausted, we plan for a stroll,

Head for the bar, and some cheeky alcohol,

Everyone’s tired we are done in by nine,

Head back for a sauna, its time to unwind.

 

Day one almost over, we’ve all had a blast,

Do it again tomorrow, this fun it will last,

Archery for the boys, ladies spa morning ahead,

But for now, no more energy, we are going to bed!

 

 

Center Parcs, Places to write

Center Parcs Days 2 and 3

Having promised hubby we would have a day at the main lake while he fished, here we are, two portable but comfy chairs, his fishing gear, can’t tell you what it is or what each bit does – I know what the rod is – because I wasn’t really paying attention during that lesson. We won’t be needing the sun cream which we optimistically packed as it is overcast and quite chilly, although maybe when then day reaches a sociable hour it might warm up a little.

Sitting here, by the lake, has given me the chance to write, albeit with a pen and paper rather than anything electronic – I am accident prone and wasn’t about to tempt fate so close to the water’s edge. If you are reading this on my blog it has been carefully edited and typed up at a later date. I have written my blog post, sorted out some acrostic poems which I promised for a dinner party at the weekend and started to write an erotic story for my next coursework assignment.

Boredom crept in so I have just returned from a lovely long walk on the pretext of needing the toilet and lovingly bringing my fisherman a coffee from Starbucks in the village square. Several leg stretching wanders later, saw me return with sandwiches, crisps, soft drinks, chocolate and tales of my viewing of various outdoor activities ranging from the brave to the downright heart stopping – and I was the firmly grounded one.

Fisherman husband was a happy bunny, having caught over thirty roach and silverback fish (I saw many of these catches – almost ended up face-slapped by one when he wrestled it from the grasp of a very cunning baby Grebe who spent his day watching hubby’s rods very closely!) On one occasion, I returned from a walkabout to find hubby grinning widely, happily showing me a photo of the 3lb Bream he had landed while chatting to a fellow fisherman.

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Five hours and more later, we deposited the fishing gear back at the apartment, the smelly net being left on the balcony to dry out , we showered and headed back to the village centre for a game of badminton. We purchased our court midway through a session so we ‘lucky’ enough to have a session and a half, over an hour, of sweaty rallies. I cannot explain enough just how much my husband giggles – I don’t mean laughs, I genuinely do mean giggles like a girl, while we are playing badminton. He giggles at good shots, he giggles at missed shots and generally becomes a bit strange. But there is never a dull moment. I have discovered that if you mention enough times how lovely the day has been (while hubby has been wallowing in fisherman’s heaven) and you tire him out immediately afterwards, he will take you to a Steak Night hosted by Café Rouge where you can both relax and enjoy food, copious amounts if you opt for dessert – I felt it would be rude not to partake so ordered a huge Eton Mess Sundae (his dessert, while richer was much smaller so I was good enough to share a little…) Having notched up over 22,000 steps on my Fitbit – that’s a lot of lakeside avoidance I can tell you – I felt I deserved it.

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I have not devoted a whole blog page to day three of our break as we had a luxuriously non-strenuous day of doing not much at all.  Our plan had been to go to our usual dance class in Thetford which is only ten minutes from Center Parcs, and hubby would go to a local pub to watch the England vs Croatia semi final match as I was due to demo and had to be there. However, plans changed when we discovered that the class had been cancelled because of the football – a kick in the teeth for non football fans but sensible decision due to lower expected numbers on the night. Instead we quite literally lounged around the Sports Café, secretly securing a good spot for the game along with numerous others of the same idea. The vibe was a good one and we enjoyed coffees, alcohol, snacks and laughter all day, until the moment that Croatia scored their second, and ultimately, winning goal. Even then it was with a pride over how well England have fought for this placing, that we left the centre in good spirits, albeit a little disappointed.

Center Parcs, Places to write

Center Parcs Day 1

If I have calculated correctly, this is my 13th break at Center Parcs in Elveden. Samey, some might say but in seventeen years it’s become our favourite place and I confess we plan to return again before 2018 is over.
This is our second stay in the Breckland apartments, somehow we have managed to book the same room as last year. The apartments are lovely, a view over the golf course and just a few steps from the Aqua Sana, most convenient.

Once the car is parked and the cases unpacked, you enter a whole other world. Set in the beautiful forest, sharing a habitat with grey squirrels, roe deer and muntjacs, rabbits and a multitude of bird species, you are never more than a few steps away from awesome.

I had vowed to hire bikes with my husband on this occasion so we dutifully collected them, feelings most definitely mixed. I haven’t been on one for around eight years but it really was like riding a bike. Contrary to expectations, off I cycled without trepidation.

We enjoyed a couple of hours in the swimming pool which was busy with both departing and arriving families. The rapids were constantly busy and, fearing for the loss of my teeth, I waited patiently for gaps between bodies before daring to venture down them.

Tiredness overcame us so instead of eating out we headed to the Parc Market to buy pizza to cook back at the apartment. This we enjoyed on our balcony and, once rested, we headed back out to explore on the bikes.

I spent lots of time stopping to film deer and birds and, after a general mooch, around we both agreed that exploring the site was better on foot, with more time to take in surroundings and wildlife. Not to mention the unmentionable – my poor bum and bits which were already saddle sore.

We’ll return the bikes to the cycle centre later in the week. They can sit quietly in the cycle park outside the apartments until we do.