Well, it is that time of the week again folks, the craziest blog hop I have ever come across with the nicest kind of crazies. You want to know who I am on about, they will all be listed at the bottom of this post. This is my entry for FTSF #3. For this weeks Finish the sentence Friday I have to end this sentence;
The last time I went on vacation I… decided it would be a marvelous idea to take 4 children aged 10, 7, 5 and 1 camping, in a tent, at an Aquadrome! Yeah, bit of a brain fart there as well. I had messaged my friends through my status on Facebook and asked of any reasonably priced Camping parks that did electric hook up. To cut a long story short, a friend told me to try Billing Aquadrome. It was the bee’s knees, had loads to do for the kids and it was just so beautiful. Don’t know how or why but the “AQUA” part of Aquadrome never entered my head. I Googled their website and looked at what they had to offer, it sounded awesome. The brochure says they have Go Karting, Wall Climbing, Water pedaloes and Water Walking. Except it seems like false advertising when you get there. Yes these things are there but most of them are closed and they are not as you expect.
The water walkers are not in the small lake style ponds they have, but in an over sized paddling pool, the go karts were shut and the climbing wall was put away. Did we go out of season or something? Na na, we went in the peak of the Summer school holidays!
What went wrong at Billing Aquadrome?
Well, for starters, the photograph underneath was my expectation, which was how I found it on the Monday. I have to admit I wasn’t overly thrilled that some parts were a bit water logged but that is just how it is with camping, you have to adapt for things like that, what was to come during the following days was NOT acceptable to have to adapt to at all!
Doesn’t this picture remind you of some massive French Camp site or retro holidays from the 60s? That is exactly what I was dreaming of. Lots of space and peace, wildlife and nature. With 4 children I wanted this space to let them run free with out a care, with out the hysterical antics of a mother screeching ” stay on the path”, ” Don’t go near the road”, “Watch that dog poo!”. The funny part of that is as I stated before, the prospect of the water being quite close had not crossed my mind, I was just so pleased with the price. Seeing as it is an Aquadrome! It has plenty of water and ducks, geese, swans etc. Where there is wildlife, there is poo and geese poo is about the same size as cat poo. That was an issue I quickly overcame and simply picked it up with a small plastic spade if it was too close to the tent. I absolutely loved having that much wildlife and clear space around me.
Putting up an 8 Man Tent
Did I say Tent? It is more like a fabric caravan. It is a monster. The one pictured is not my tent but a similar size, so should give you an idea of what it took to get it up. My actual tent is a Sprayway Ravine 6+2. It has an outer and inner tent.
I don’t know how I did it as my youngest, Luke, was only 22 months old when we went, I managed to put the tent up with my husband and he will even admit himself, I am the one that is better at actually doing the camping stuff ( I don’t think he actually likes the grafting bit, only the sitting in deck chairs getting drunk at night bit). As we got to the pegging down part, another family pulled up and asked where the bathrooms were etc so they could find a reasonable place to pitch up. They ended up driving around and coming back to pitch up next to us ( Didn’t realize we looked normal enough to appeal to others but I guess I wasn’t screaming like a nutter at the kids right then!). All seemed lovely and after a walk around we got the said deck chairs out, husband cracked open a beer and I had my vodka and coke, in a bucket with ice, we had just been to the superstore down the road.
I can only describe the view as blissful. As I sat there my eyes rolled over a grassy knoll that was broken by a cute stream lined with bull reeds. There was then the largest expanse of field you could imagine for an owned property, dotted with the largest trees I have ever seen. A quaint bridge stretched across the little stream to give you access to that field and the enclosed play area. I was in heaven and so were the children. We were all so tired that we only had a couple of drinks and we soon retired to bed on our fabulous air bed. I guess I love camping because I am such a big fat cheat and I even pump up my air beds with a plug ( which is why I love electric hook up!).
I woke up in the morning to get us all ready to go out, we had the normal camping routine, he went to wash the breakfast dishes and then I took the kids down to the bathrooms to get washed etc. We went out for the day and I can truly say that Great Billing and surrounding areas in the middle of the UK is a beautiful place to be. Also, I have a tendency to be 6-7 months pregnant when I usually go on holiday, so not being pregnant was a fabulous bonus, making me enjoy long walks through country parks even more.
So what was my problem, sounds like a fabulous holiday doesn’t it? Yeah, until we got back to the campsite that day. Well, where we had first gone to lay down our ground sheet the day before, the attendants asked us to move, that they were reserved for the Landrovers, so I knew there was something happening, I assumed so so wrongly that it was like a convoy and meet up. Oh it was THAT alright, it was the largest meet up the Landrover club have in the UK every year! When we got back there were massive beer tents and marquis going up all over that lovely expanse of field.
“Oh well, might be interesting” my husband blurted. Cut off by a quick ” Shut up idiot!”. I couldn’t help it. My idyllic spot of desperately needed serenity had just crashed and burned in flames. He on the other hand was thinking of Land Rovers all nicely polished up and shown off, Man Heaven I suppose.
The reality of all this was so much worse. Through out all Tuesday afternoon, families with Landrovers, towing 20 foot plus caravans and their husbands driving the second “show” Landrovers started turning up and churning the already soft, water logged fields up. These guys were on the ball and their get ups were quite intrusive, some including massive club flags that were twice the size of a double bed sheet. I know we are in the UK but man, this was like Redneck heaven, hell for normal families.
My poor husband was trying to calm me down, I looked like I was about to burst a blood vessel.
“Let’s just make the most of it, we are out in the day. I don’t see it is that bad love”. He does have his bubbles of useless wisdom. How can my peaceful wildlife and nature being raped by petrol heads be “Not that bad?”. So, my tolerance of his opinion and attitude to these people being there were starting to stress me out too, what a vacation,not!
This was what my view out of my tent was like, gone where my beautiful trees and grass, it was like looking at an industrial estate truck stop!
This was the pretty version, the row behind had scrap Land rovers hawking Landrover parts for sale. Does any of this sound like camping to you?!
Petrol heads and nature loving campers just don’t mix. Gone was the freedom of running around a field, my children now had a 20 foot by 20 foot pack of grass where we could keep hold of them because the little dirt track next to the stream, right outside our tent was being churned up by a fat, ignorant, bald headed arse that had no consideration for children at all. My husband had to pull me in when I saw him accelerate past the kids, mine and the family next doors. I didn’t care how big he was, he was going to get a punch for nearly hitting the kids.
So I had stress levels of a CEO of a Bank. My husband was fed up of dealing with a moody wife and whiny kids and the kids had pent up energy and were fed up and bored. Any parent will know disaster is in the midst of all of those emotions.
Apparently, I was not the only person who felt like I did, as on the Thursday, the family next to us also reached breaking point and packed up and went home.
I took a deep breath, told myself that we were going home on the Friday and that I should make the best of it. THAT was until I took the stressed out family for a meal and the girls started fighting in the restaurant, full on punching each other. I had to separate them like wild foxes. My girls never never act like this when we take them out, we are usually showered with compliments of how well mannered and “proper” they are.
I knew exactly what it was, it was all the tension and the trapped atmosphere of our so called vacation. That was it, with out even stating anything to my husband, I marched the children in the car, we got back to the tent and I immediately packed stuff away and pulled the steel poles out so he couldn’t change my mind. This was past 4 pm and the tent took us 2 1/2 hours including contents to pack in the car. I did not care a dot, I was going HOME!
I contacted the site the day after and discussed in a calm manner everything that had upset me and that it was not fair that the place had sold themselves out and spoiling family holidays by mixing the venue with petrol heads.
I was offered a replacement of my 5 day break, to be taken in the next 12 months or so. I have just looked at their 2013 venue list and EVERY weekend has guess what? Yup, CAR SHOWS arrgghh! Oh, they have bikers weekends also. THAT will be such a peaceful break won’t it? I now have my husband saying we should take the free holiday and me saying ” I am lucky if I get away to a cheap break once every 2 years, I am not going back!”. What would you do? The holiday may be free but we would still be spending our holiday money on spends and fuel.
Well, that is what happened the last time I went on vacation. What happened on your last vacation? Was it lovely or the vacation from hell?