We return home and swing open the caravan door to reveal two sights at our feet. One small bin with a dodgy, luminous orange, sweet and sour mess crawling out of the sides and a three time wrapped shady nappy laying next to it. Mother is slumped in the corner with a can of larger and the toddler is careering through the place – unclogged and happy. A pong of sweet and sour shite hangs in the air. Outside the rain is still hammering down as we watch my partner run with the two bags to the bins like a bomb disposal expert.
We all sit, slightly dazed, watching In The Night Garden. While Oopsie Daisy sluts it up, Mother asks about our meal and we relay how amazing it was – to her bitter face, still smarting from the sweet and sour Hell.
Eventually it is time for the toddler to be trapped in his tiny room. Daddy reads him The Tiger who came to tea and we lovingly kiss our son goodnight before wedging two chairs up against his door handle. My partner goes for a walk in the torrential rain to Spar to get us a selection of chocolate bars (which is why I am marrying him) and we watch Father Ted. Every cloud…
The next day I decide to give swimming a miss… and my Father arrives to join in on the festivities. We all go for a drive to the nearest seaside town and the sun is out. It is beautiful – but, of course, it wouldn’t be a holiday in England without the temperature being absolutely arctic. I mean – it was fucking freezing. But still – beautiful.
Back at the caravan and it’s toddler nap time. My partner and I decide to have two hours together and to explore the caravan site. We walk around, without the toddler. We hold hands. Suddenly we are teenagers at the fair. We walk around the arcades. I momentarily think how romantic it would be if he won me an Olaf or a Minion, before remembering that we have more sense than money. As parents, when everything is about our child, our baby on the way, work and cleaning – it’s moments like these that really do feel magical. The tackiness of our surroundings – and the numerous things to snigger at just added to how special it felt.
Time for lunch and my partner rushes back to the caravan to pick up toddler duty so my parents can go to the restaurant we had been to the night before (so Mother, the woman who enjoys haute cuisine, could shake off her Papa Johns and iffy Chinese experiences).
My partner leaves me in the queue for Burger King – which is epic. I have given up on the toddler having any fibre or nutrition this weekend so I decide to introduce him to his Majesty. I order my partner’s special (two burgers) and nuggets for my nugget and something for myself (and the poor baby growing inside me). The angry Scottish teenage server SHOUTS to the entire crowd my entire list of an order, despite me being stood nose to nose with him:
OK THAT’S ONE WHOPPER MEAL! SUPERSIZED.
AN EXTRA HAMBURGER! LARGE.
FOUR LARGE FRIES! LARGE.
A CHICKEN BURGER! SUPERSIZED.
as very small children all around gaze at me and my distended stomach in awe. I scurry off – back to the caravan.
We watch the toddler feed his nuggets to the Tiger who came to tea and melt.
My parents return and Mother and partner leave their ‘holiday’. My Father and I remain with the toddler to savour the rest of this time off. I decide to brave swimming once more. And it’s a success, this time it is quiet. A lovely woman lends me her child’s arm bands for my toddler and we have a lovely little swim. Ok…ok… this is nice. It would seem, if you can get rid of 98% of the patrons – the holiday ain’t half bad.
Dad and I both give dinner a miss and it’s off to bed we go: toddler trapped in the tiny room, grandpa taking up the whole living room and me in the master bedroom. Cut off from the TV, no Internet, no movies, no books. It really gives you time to think – time to think how shit it is without Netflix.
Toddler decides that the caravan is no longer fun and decides to scream / cry all the way through the night. I get about three hours of sleep.
The next day we put the toddler in various arcade rides as a going home treat. Four out of five of them don’t actually work so we spend our time strapping him into rides and then taking him out of them and getting a member of staff to retrieve our pound coins.
“Are they all broken?” I ask the member of staff.
He just shrugs at me and walks off.
And that sums it up really.
“Dad…take us home. It’s time to go home.”
And that is the best thing about a child friendly caravan holiday – they sure make home look better, in every feasible way. There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…