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Blog: Free holiday failed to live up to promise
So, we have finally arrived at our site in Cornwall. The lawns are obsessively-tended and it seems the hanging baskets get a lot of love.
We drove past a sign: Children Under 10 are only allowed to visit, not to stay. It didn’t register.
As the barrier slowly raised, the Buddhist Big Sister hissed at my six-year-old on the back to ‘duck down’. Then it all clicked – this was why she had offered us a ‘free holiday’.
Rather than forego a bargain, ‘Prudence’ had booked us a week on a gated retirement complex where kids are shot on sight.
From one of the gun towers, a red dot appeared on the forehead of my 12-year-old nephew.
I was about to remonstrate with the sister, but she had wisely fled for reception.
Arriving at our cottage, others rules became clear – no barbecues, no music, no playing on the grass. It went on but my attention was drawn by a loud wail.
‘Nephew X-Box’ had fainted after discovering there was no wifi. Fortunately, the site was only a short distance from a much larger family holiday park and we were welcome to use the facilities there! Later we went over.
Similar to an Olympic village, the majority of guests were attired in full sportswear, although not outwardly given to exercise.
Exploring the main building, we opened the door on a darkened room and tables of angry faces turned on us. Two hundred albino vampires were indoors playing Bingo during Britain’s nicest summer for years.
The Buddhist Big Sister crinkled her nose – this was not her scene.
With an affected middle class flourish, she loudly announced: “I’m going back to the cottage to do my meditation.”
Later, I took both kids back for ‘Family Entertainment Nite’. It was held in a dark cabaret lounge where a breathless rep was loudly berating the drink-deadened audience.
“You’re gonna have to clap louder than that, Ladies ‘n gentlemen’.”
“Not when we’re lolling on Facebook,” seemed to be the unspoken response.
A production crew arrived to shoot a video for the park's website. Feral kids – desperate for adult attention – surrounded them like Howler Monkeys on a car at a Safari Park.
Staff were forced to appeal over the mic for the dance floor to be evacuated but only a few parents looked up from their phones. It was only when they threatened to shut the bar that troops of male silverbacks emerged to retrieve their young – enticing them with crisps and laptops.
It seems there’s no place in tonight’s video for the park’s actual clientele, tubby boys with thick glasses and braided-hair girls with bad teeth. Not when our model British family is waiting.
Chiselled ‘Mum and Dad’ look too young and carefree to be actual parents, Grandad was a smooth Blake Carrington who works for the same agency and the star of the video – a little girl - had two real parents watching.
On the sidelines, they both adopted manic smiles and poses which she then copied for the camera.
The next day I wrote a postcard to the Mother Superior. It read: SOS
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