I spent this week at Centerparcs, Longleat Forest, with C, J, my mum and my nephew S (3). In retrospect I realise I didn’t go into it with high expectations of my own enjoyment, seeing it more as a holiday for the children and an opportunity for our extended family to spend some time together. But I am delighted to report that I can have fun outdoors in England in February!
Biking around the forest was surprisingly enjoyable, C and J relishing the independence the car-free environment gave them. I smiled as I witnessed their pleasure at being responsible for their own bicylces, finding “parking spaces” and securing them with their own mini combination locks.
We spent a large part of each day at the “Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise”, where we hurled ourselves down the Wild Water Rapids in various poses (C commented, “I wonder why they even bother putting up those ‘feet first’ signs?”), saved the planet as underwater superheroes in the lazy river, and launched ourselves at speed down waterslides.
C and I enjoyed spectacular views of the forest as we challenged ourselves on an “aerial adventure” assault course through the tree tops, our adrenalin levels peaking at the “vertical drop” finish, where we jumped off a platform some 30 ft in the air. Luckily a clever mechanism of ropes attached to our harnesses gently broke our fall at ground level, allowing our wobbly legs to carry us to nearby Starbucks for well-earned hot chocolates. (J is willing himself to grow 4cm in time for our next visit so that he too can swing from ropes among the pines.)
Another mother-daughter highlight was the evening C and I went to the pool on our own. The rapids at night are something else – the gushing water illuminated by a dazzling array of lights, twinkling through the clouds of steam as warm water meets cold night air. Add in the fact that as you enjoy the view your body is sliding and spinning at speed through a series of whirlpools and slides, and it’s a pretty stimulating sensory experience!
I left Longleat with the same combination of pleasantly aching muscles and high spirits as after a skiing holiday, and spent the two hour drive home reflecting on what had contributed most to my enjoyment. During our days in the forest the children and I were mostly engaged in the same activities (usually me playing alongside them). I spent more time outside than usual, and I was much more physically active than at home. Also, although we mostly cooked and ate in our villa, I wasn’t spending large amounts of time organising “stuff” as I do at home as part of running a household.
It’s now a day since we got back, and I’ve identified the birth in me of a new desire (unrelated to my delicious dream last night about Jack Davenport): I want to bring more of the elements I enjoyed at Centerparcs into my everyday life. At the moment I’m in the “knowing what I don’t want” phase – the “asking” referred to in the Hicks’ “Ask And It Is Given“; I know I don’t want to be surrounded by so much “stuff”, that I want to have more fun with my children, and I want to spend more time in nature.
I know from experience that having identified my desire, my role in its creation is now over. My only work now is to be in wellbeing; in wellbeing lies everything I desire, in wellbeing I feel no lack, and in wellbeing anything is possible. Watch this space!