I have just celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary. I say celebrated: we spent the weekend in a permanent caravan on the South Coast of England in one of the worst Spring weekends for weather on memory.
We have been to this park* a number of times before. It all started when the wife and her sisters got codes for cheap weekends away at such establishments although we’ve only been at the same time as one sister one time. We did find however that this particular place had a lot to do that Boy loved so we booked up this weekend as soon as we left last years. This was our first mistake. Last year Boy was not at school. This year he was and we therefore had to beg him a day off. Really we only got this because we had a) already paid for him and b) he has only missed one or two days all year. We realise this is naughty and won’t happen again.
What we did not realise is that caravans are potential death traps. Or at least they are with an 18 month old bent on destruction and investigation of every object in the room. I worry sometimes that our house is less than toddler-proof. Never again. We walked in to be greeted by a large, fake, gas fireplace. There was no fire-guard. There were stones – golf ball sized (read easily chucked by a toddler sized) stones in the front of it. Baby made a beeline for them. Luckily it was mid afternoon and the only warm day so the fire had not been on but ‘prevention of stone checking’ was another job added to our parental responsibilities. Stones found, she moved on to the kitchen where, as we quickly unpacked her bags, she realised she could play a game of ‘move the dial’ with the gas cooker’s hob controls. On went the gas. Off went the gas. On went the gas on a REALLY HIGH setting. On went another. Eventually she was rumbled but it was a good thing it was daylight in a non-smoking household. And that she missed the ignition switch.
The party piece was to come after we had all unpacked though. Boy had just gone to point Percy at the Porcelain. Baby had calmed down. Then he came back in and she did a disappearing act. Boy does not always flush. Boy does not always close the lid. When we couldn’t see her I went in search and eventually found her in the Kermit. She was navigating the Yellow River using her hands as the boat. And then licking them. I screamed, grabbed her, turned on the tap, used half a hand soap bottle on her hands and dried them on a towel I thought we probably wouldn’t miss if it ended up being confiscated by a Haz Mat team. And now it was time for dinner.
Now fixed caravan parks are all good fun but they are not centres of haut cuisine. We found the pub. The kids had heated up stuff with beans. I had a peri peri chicken that was drier than Emo Phillips. In the midst of trying to chomp our way through it ‘If You Tolerate This’ by The Manics came on and the local irony club drank a toast. Pudding was better however. Boy had a banana split that he proclaimed ‘yummy’. I had a fairly decent white chocolate cheesecake (you’d have to REALLY fuck up white chocolate cheesecake before I thought it any less than decent mind you) Wife had an average brownie (she had only got a couple of badges and Brown Owl could never remember her name). Baby did not have anything specific. Instead we ALL gave her spoonfuls of ours.
On arrival back at the caravan we chilled for a short while then I put Baby to bed.With a night bottle. Which she drained. 20 minutes later there was a deafening toddler scream and a noise not unlike Vesuvius erupting. When I got in to the room, Baby, the bed, her bed-rail and two walls were covered in vomit of the most foul smelling awfulness. I nearly went too. I showered a protesting Baby. Wife cleared up the bed. I dressed like the guy in the picture at the top and did the bed rail. Then we put her back down and hoped for some sleep.
*Length dictates I write this in 2 parts at least. I will reveal the place’s name at the end as they ended up doing rather well.