Hell is a child friendly caravan park holiday. Part 3. Soft Play Satanic Pit

We are back in the old caravan; My mother, partner and toddler. I look at how many hours it is until toddler nap time. Quite a few. I put on CBeebies. Mother sits in the corner reading her kindle. Partner sits in the opposite corner watching his iPad. I twiddle my thumbs and wonder why we needed to come to a caravan park to do any of these things.

I have brought nothing with me. No books, no magazines, no technical device. I have my iPhone but the super fun part about the caravan is that there is absolutely no internet connection.


Partner tells me that the Owner’s only Fitness Suite that we handily overlook has free wifi and if you hover about near the door you can get enough wifi to download something to watch or check Facebook. I may be a peasant – but I still have my dignity thanks very much. I refuse to stand outside the gym we aren’t allowed in staring through the window in the pissing down rain, like an abandoned cat, waving an iPhone in the air ; The owners inside, trotting on a treadmill “Look Tarquin! A peasant!”

I settle on doing the washing up. We have a dishwasher at home – so it’s quite a novelty. And I might put on the kettle.

The toddler is in a furious mood and I determine that it is down to constipation. Mother decides to pop to the nearest village to get some toddler laxatives – (sings) Holiday!! Celebrate!!

I see that House-sitter is on ITV. Holiday saved. Thank Christ.

Toddler goes down for a nap (he’s exhausted because he was up half the night) and partner goes for a sleep too. Great. Such fun.

I make a hot cup of tea and a couple of pieces of toast and sit in the corner listening to the heavy pitter patter of torrential rain on the caravan roof. I look out across the park and suddenly feel a surge of happiness, of nostalgia.

It feels like we are on a boat, out at sea. I feel a bit like a child myself. I remember the caravan holidays when I was young – how exciting they were. I feel all warm and snuggly. I sit in the peace and quiet, admiring Goldie Hawn’s figure, drinking a hot cup of tea (a miracle in itself). The toast tastes better than it does at home. Ain’t life great?

Mother bursts through the caravan door, drenched and wind swept, a bottle of laxative in her hand.

As soon as the toddler awakes Mother insists we take advantage of the on site soft play area – as we are allowed in that part. We rush over in the car, as it’s too wet and windy to walk there.

The soft play area is where everyone is sheltering from the rain. And I mean everyone.

There appear to be three members of staff behind the desk – but none of them are supervising the soft play. All around us are signs that read “This soft play is UNSUPERVISED” wonderful. The place is apparently for under eights. This is not the case. If these children are indeed under eight some of them have very interesting metabolisms. A five foot Brian Blessed lookalike is clambering down the tiny slide taking out several babies on her way down. I fear for my own toddler’s life.

There is a ‘baby only’ area at the far left with a wooden sign with a tiger or giraffe on it (I can’t tell which animal as it has been torn in half or eaten) but it still reads “If you’re taller than this, you can’t play”. The sign is about a foot high. Despite this – there are herds of boys stampeding through the area with the beginnings of facial hair on their top lips. One lonely baby sits in the corner, clearly petrified. My toddler pulls himself up onto a large cushion just before it is whipped away from under him by a boy with a can of Strongbow in his hand. (Ok, he didn’t have a can of Strongbow- but he looked like he’d have no problem getting served).

There is a large tunnel that children can crawl through that is not transparent. And a queue to get into it. Every time my toddler waddles into it I hold my breath that he will re-appear at some point, without a bloody nose and a black eye. This is not the sort of soft play where you can sit in the corner with a coffee and watch your kid frolic about. This is the sort of soft play where 99% of the dangers are not soft – and it is seemingly the most stressful experience you will ever have – other than the swimming pool peasant frenzy.

If soft play was designed to be a ‘safe’ area – may I recommend that you stay in the caravan and pop on Cbeebies. Put a few cushions about the place. It’s a better option. And won’t give you severe anxiety and heartburn.

We last less than thirty minutes in this satanic pit.

We are back in the caravan and a plan is made for my partner and I to have a DATE! I pop some laxative in some chocolate milk for the toddler and leave him with his grandmother and we are off. We leave the caravan park and go to a pub in the next village.

The pub is lovely. I have the Surf and Turf which is a Sirloin steak and Scampi. The steak is cooked to perfection. It is juicy and tender. It is absolutely delicious. My partner and I chat and eat our amazing meal – and relax. I feel myself truly relax for the first time since we arrived. THIS is what I needed. This is what holidays are about. I am happy.

We receive a text message from Mother.


Back to the old caravan we trot.


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