Minehead Revisited 

In which our reluctant hero is watching you, watching us, watching you…

When planning holidays before the arrival of our little people, part of the process was to look back on past enjoyable trips and maybe book something similar elsewhere, depending on our mood. Similar, but not the same.

Planet earth is enormous. At the last count, there were almost forty two different places to visit. At one a year, it would take around twenty five years to explore them all. There are still loads of these that we haven’t been to (thirty eight, to be precise) so why go back to the same place, to do the same things, again? Why indeed.

This week we headed to Butlins. Again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing particularly against Butlins, or any of those sorts of places come to think of it. They are what they are and they do their kid friendly thing pretty well, according to the kids. Which is probably just as well, as that’s where the newspapers say that we are allowed to go on holiday for our tenner*.

(*Per person, plus realistically unavoidable random additional charges. Not available in conjunction with any other offer. T&C’s apply. See paper for details.)

Anyway. Minehead, we are in you!! Or, were in you. Or, more precisely, were just outside you, penned in by the large fence that prevents folk escaping Butlins. Actually, the most likely place that we’ll be when this post goes live at six o’clock is stuck in a rainy Friday M5 traffic jam, failing miserably to get home by bedtime. I hope that I remembered to dish out the travel sickness medicine before we left.

Holidays in Butlinsesque resorts (other resorts are available) with young children (why else would you be there?) involve a lot of watching. Watching the children. Watching the children watch the same entertainment several times. Watching the other parents watching their children watching the entertainment. Watching the exits of the Skyline Pavilion in case your escapee child, that bolted while you were watching the other parents, turns up.

I’ve been inadvertently watching a lot of people things over the past few days. At times, it has been a little like wandering around an interactive episode of Shameless, if CBeebies had commissioned a spin-off series of it.

“Have the people in that chalet really brought their own deep fat fryer?”

“No, it’s a bottle steriliser.”

“Right.”

While it’s mildly amusing watching fellow dads wheel the essentials to survive four nights from the car (suitcases, bucket and spade, pack of nappies, four dozen cans of Stella, etc.) on Monday, what initially looks like a ridiculously misjudged nappy to beer ratio seems far more rational by Wednesday.

Whether it’s the long days, the general tiredness of everyone, the beer, or a lack of interest/ability in looking after the little people, you do see some odd things going on. It’s not all bad, don’t get me wrong, but in the absence of anything else to write about this week, I decided to write some of my observations down.

  • Not content with almost scalding my leg and failing to wipe up spillage, despite me offering napkins, “Coffee Spill Lady” proceeded to leave said coffee with her toddler and scarpered. Two points for guessing what happened next in the middle of a floor of dancing kids, before her second great escape. Slippy.
  • “Sit down and stay there while we go for a fag” says another parent, before abandoning child at the afternoon puppet show. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Child criminals, lifting two pence pieces from the coin trays of “Tipping Point” machines under the legs of the unsuspecting grown ups. No sign of Fagin. Yet.
  • Scooting inside the main auditoriums. We can all guess the problems that this will cause. Kudos to the parents who went that one step further, letting a child on a bike loose in there. Like Mr Bull in a China Shop, or something. At least he had a helmet on.
  • Mr Maker Live. Yes, the bird hat, paper plate puppet and elephant ears made in couple of minutes, while singing, was (relatively) impressive. But can you get the buggy blockers to maybe remake at least one fire escape within 100 metres of us, just in case? Ta.
  • A two year old attempting to put a plugged in USB charger cable in his mouth. Shocking.
  • Parents standing idle while the same two year old child runs off, enters a toy shop and shoplifts a stuffed toy of a dog called “Rainbow.”

OK, so we now keep the charger turned off, and returned the stuffed toy once we caught our light-fingered offspring, but the rest? Tut.

The moral of the story? Despite best efforts, stuff happens irrespective of how careful we try to be. It always will. Just try not to repeat mistakes, and as a minimum try to put things right if you can. Oh, and, sadly, some folk are just asking for trouble. Or irritate the rest of us that are trying to do things right. Or both.

And Butlins is OK. No, really. It is. Ask the kids.

Fin.

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