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Good if you like being on a Bike, Not if you like Good Food

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

15th September, 2018

I find myself having to rant about the prices at Centre Parcs, our current annual holiday. Which are beyond extortionate. I can swallow the high price of the accommodation and the activities et cetera, and even the price of hiring bikes.... I know these guys need to make a profit. But what I find hard to stomach (pardon the pun) is the unbelievable price of the food and drink here. Maybe it's because I'm married to an accountant and I've become more aware of the price of things, or maybe it's because of the bare cheek of the prices here... but I have to list some of them. 

Okay, so let's start with the Subtropical Swimming Pool. I think I only looked at one or two of the prices on the menu and then had to look away, so I can just tell you that an 'ultimate hot dog' is £12.99. How ultimate can a hot dog be, I ask? I would have thought 7 quid was on the expensive side. And Michael tells me that a Bulmers cider, currently about £1.50 in Co-Op, is £6.10, poolside. We live in South Manchester and prices are pretty high there but the most expensive Michael has ever seen is about £4.50 for said cider. He says it's the most expensive pint he's ever seen - and then said it's 'not even a pint, it's a 500ml bottle'. He is an accountant.

Onto the Forrister's Inn near our lodge, quite a pretty pub with a nice canopy of leaves through the glass ceiling (though Michael calls it 'O'Neills in the woods'). I think the cheapest thing on the menu is a vegetarian pasta, coming in at about 12 quid, with the most economical burger at £15.95, and prices rising steadily to about £18.95 or slightly more, depending on what you want - and don't forget to add an extra £1 if you want sweet potato fries instead of normal ones. I hate to sound like my dad/husband, but how did a burger and chips ever get to cost nearly £20?

I went there again this morning just to see the breakfast prices, for a bit of a laugh but also with the secret hope that we could afford that meal for the day there. I was to be sorely disappointed. Eggs Benedict are a whopping £9.25, if memory serves correctly, and a full English is £9.75 - or not so full, since that only comes with rasher of bacon, one egg and one sausage (although, also potato roosts, whatever they are) . If you want the two-sausage and two-rashers-option, you're looking at £13.30. Wow. 

We did have a fairly affordable meal the second or third day here on our stay, though. But we paid the price in terms of disappointment. It consisted of two savoury pancakes, one chicken & mushroom and one 'Mexican.' They were truly awful and I can tell you it was one of the worst 'meals' I have ever eaten. And Michael said it was the first time he'd ever not finished a meal ever, anywhere (and he's eaten in some back-street places) - and he didn't want to start it either. He called it 'Doritos on a pancake with a spoon of salsa.' Though when the waitress asked how the meal was, Michael gave the great British response: 'lovely, thank you.'

I think the 'ultimate' chocolate pancake, with chocolate ice cream, sauce and cheap whipped cream, was about 9 quid. We didn't partake and got our bill and left sharpish after our savoury disappointments. I confess when the waitress laid the plate down I did actually look at it in confusion. Though looking back, quite why I had been expecting a French-style thin crepe with a lovely chicken, mushroom and cheese filling, at 'The Pancake House', I'm not so sure.

Why do I rant so much about this on an otherwise lovely holiday? Am I becoming a Grumpy Old Woman? I don't fully know. I suppose I just feel like it's really mean to get people here, having charged a premium anyway, and then squeeze them for every penny when they're enclosed. The reality is that, with two little children, many holiday options are closed off. This led us to a rather desperate last-minute trip to a caravan site in Rhyl last summer, as we didn't feel we could face the travel abroad. This is definitely a step up from that and it's lovely to be here... especially on a bike with the wind blowing in your face and a feeling of exhilaration ... but I do wish they would stop fleecing us at every corner and please be a little less mean-spirited to us folk who don't have many holiday options.

P.s  while we are on the price theme, can I just note that the only activity Grace has expressed interest in (we listed pony trekking, owl-watching, car-riding, boat-sailing and such) is den-building, which comes in at a whopping £46.50. I'm sorry Gracie, that is one activity that's not on the table and Daddy should not have mentioned it. Gracie's phrase for yesterday: (me) 'Where's Isaac? Grace: 'On stony ground.' (after we'd been reading Jesus' parables)

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