Friday, 1 July 2011

Flashback Friday - Center Parcs in France 1988

Back in 1988 when I had just got engaged to Papa Syder my Mum asked where we would like to go for our family holiday, she gave us two choices either one week on the Canaries or two weeks Center Parcs in France. Without a second hesitation we picked center parcs in Normandy, France. 

We were so excited as we had not long returned from our first ever trip to center parcs in Nottingham and loved it. It was my eldest Brother's (Below) first center parcs trip and he was also really looking forward to it as you can see he is sporting his retro ACDC T- shirt (wonder if he still has it?).

It was Papa's first time abroad and I thought he was going to wet himself as we got on the boat, he was that excited. The journey was a long one and a noisy one as seven kids all bundled in the back of Mum's mini bus. I listened to my personal stereo with Def Leppard's Hysteria album blasting my ear drums.

We had a fantastic two weeks and became professionals at ordering extra large chocolate milkshakes in French. We also accidentally discovered one night that the life guards at the dome would shut up shop at 12pm then skinny dip until 1am. We giggled so much at our discovery.

We went on long bike rides across the French countryside, got a puncture and had to walk back for miles, My Mum wouldn't let me & Papa share a room because we wasn't married so Papa had to share with my Brother who kept waking up to find Papa holding his hand thinking it was me as the beds were so close together.... oh and one of my little Brothers dropped my engagement ring down the plug hole and Mum had to have all the pipes out. It emerged covered in gunk...I wasn't impressed.

The journey home was a bleak one as we had a long drive to the port (Dieppe) then as we approached Dover there was a swell in the harbour and we had to circle the outskirts for hours in horrendous weather until the waves died down and it was safe enough for us to dock. It was awful and every single person on the boat was throwing up everywhere and what made it worse was the fact that the previous year we had been on a trip to Holland a week after the 1987 Zeebrugge disaster. That year our ferry closely passed the capsized Herald of Free Enterprise Ferry where 197 people lost their lives. It was an eerie experience as the boat lay in the harbour at Zeebrugge. This sad experience and the bad swell in the harbour gave me a fear of boats and I refused to get on another one for the next 13 years.

Then to top it off we were pulled over at customs and mums mini bus was searched because she had spotted a bargain of tinned apples at the Hypermarket and couldn't resist filling up the back of the bus with them. I was super worried as I had 200 B&H stashed in my bag and my Mum would kill me if she had found it, luckily they didn't search my bag...phew! It was embarrassing and hilarious at the same time as they wanted to know what the hell she wanted with all those tins of apples! "Make pies of course" Mum said "I've got a lot of hungry kids!" We laughed all the way home!

Pop over to Cafe Bebe for more Flashbacks.


  1. Oh Lord, a ton of apple tins in the boot! Brilliant story. We got stopped and searched once because my husband at the time replied 'formage' to the dogane thinking they'd laugh. they didn't they checked over the whole car.
    C'est la vie and lesson learnt Don't mess with the dogane

  2. great story i like how you have written this it seems like it could be a short story in a book!

  3. Ha ha at the apple pie comment by your mum! You got engaged very young didn't you? It's lovely that you and papa are still going strong :)
    I am dubious about ferry trips too - after using them a lot while Greek Island hopping one summer, a couple were in rough sea and I suffered withsea sickness for first time.mind you haven't been on one for about 10 years so I may be ok now.
    Great post and apologies for the waffle above xx

  4. Brill post, even better photos!! Nat

  5. Love the apple pie story! How many did you have to eat? Center parcs is great isn't it... Used to love going there as kids. Didn't go for years until we had our own kids, and they love it just as much! Emma :)

  6. Thanks everyone for your lovely comments...We still really laugh about the tinned apples and Mum had them in her cupboards for years after, lol...She would buy stuff like that every holiday we went on, bless her x

    Jenny - Sea sickness is just so awful when its bad isn't it. I made sure I had plenty of anti sickness tablets before I braved a trip on a boat again and was fine. And yes me & Papa were only 18 & 19 when we got married...22 yrs this year x

    Emma - we love going to center parcs too...Its a lovely place for the kids isn't it...they love it! Taking our Granddaughter for the first time this year...Can't wait x

  7. Hahahaha....laughing so much at the apples and the 200 B&H stashed in your bag.

    So sad about seeing the Herald of Free Enterprise though :( That must have been really hard.

    Lovely retro photos - loving the hairdos!




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