My family trip to Cumbria turned into a nightmare - Argus Friday 1st January 2016

Posted Friday 1st January 2016   By Ericka Waller

So I am finally home from Centreparks. I thought I was so clever, going miles away to a cheaper resort. Of course I never took the cost of fuel into account, or the weather warnings. It took nine hours to get to Cumbria. My Sat-Nav kept suggesting routes that avoided traffic but ended in a no entry signs due to the horrendous floods. The Harry Potter audible story had ended. The children were killing "We wish you a Merry Christmas”. I’d admitted eye-spy was a rubbish game three hours back, after feeble protests from me that it was "education and fun".

It was torture. I ignored one of the 'danger, do not pass' signs, and smugly told the children “See, no monsoon here at all, not even a puddle”, then reached the collapsed bridge. I was all up for taking a run-up and going for it, but then I remembered I had children and was supposed to be a responsible grown-up.

I had wait forty minutes to be let back out onto the main road. Fellow drivers laughed as they passed; pleased that my attempts to escape them had been thwarted.

My dad summed up Britain’s festive spirit by saying “I’m sure Wizard didn’t write ‘I wish it could be Christmas everyday’ after driving round a TESCO car-park for an hour on Christmas Eve, looking for a space.”
By the time we finally arrived at the cabin (and retrieved the child I’d hidden in the boot so I did not get charged extra for them at check-in) I was cold, hungry and tired.

I was also aware that Centreparks Cumbria looked exactly the same as Centreparks Longleat which was about five hours closer.

 The children, wired from the car journey wanted to go swimming, hire bikes, eat at the Pancake House, pet the Reindeer and feed the ducks on the lake. I wanted to drink tea and sob.

Next morning we went swimming. It really was as tropical as promised. The water was warm, the lazy river was fun and the slides were worth the queue. Just as well because it rained so much that there was nothing else to do all week.

The fireworks were cancelled. The wonderful ‘waving off to Santa’ with songs and presents turned into us standing in drizzle while the man from the bike hire place sprinted though the ambitiously named ‘village centre’ with a red hat on.

He obviously lived in one of the baldy affected flood areas and wanted to get home.
I was so annoyed I went to complain to the Duty Manager. His breath was so bad I soon gave up. I am not sure if this was a deliberate tactic but if so I admire him for it. Sacrificing any chance of a friend or fiancée with his death-breath, just to get out of dealing with diatribe from disconsolate dames.

I was so looking forward to foraging in the forest with my daughters. I had dreams of cycling for hours, stopping for a mince pie, or cup of Christmas themed hot-chocolate. I'd pre-booked bikes with ‘Burley’ trailers on the back in readiness.

I sat watching them fill with water while the children happily ensconced themselves in their rooms with the ‘tablet devices’ I’d bought them for Christmas, after a long internal debate over their love for me versus the premature end of childhood innocence.

I decided the Beatles were right ‘all you need is love’ (and WiFi to load games on).

We got so bored we resorted to watching the resort’s ‘Wildlife Cam’. I kept crawling round outside the cabin hoping to be on the telly. After a few minutes of shouting ‘Yoohoo I’m here! can you see me yet Am I on the telly?’ I realised I looked a bit like a dogger hoping to get lucky and rushed back indoors.

I was starting to get desperate. After reading a comprehensive guide to all the attractions not open due to the weather I decided I had to check Facebook to see if anyone else was having a worse time than me.

The only place to get Wifi was in Starbucks. There was a forty-minute wait just to get in the door. I tried talking to people in the queue. They were too miserable to respond.

I went and bought three pairs of pyjamas in the clothes shop, new swimming costumes for all, Star Wars flip-flops, two teapots, a bird-feeder, eight DVD’s and a family sized box of Twiglets instead.

By the time check-out came, everyone was keen to leave.  I’d have been the first out the gate were it not for my flat battery.

I reached Brighton at 10.30pm. We collapsed into our beds, and have more or less stayed there since catching some hideous lurgy in the overheated subtropical paradise pool.

Needless to say I won't be taking advantage of the 'early bird' rebooking offer they just emailed me, or will I?