Monday marked the beginning of a short family break; few days of exercise and fresh air in the middle of forest in Northern England. The boys (our cats) had been captured and checked in to the Cat Hotel, happy to spend a week in the lap of luxury; heated beds, over-eating, wild parties and the kind of attention that only money can buy. We, on the other hand, were heading back to nature; five days of living off our wits, pitting ourselves against the best that the forest could throw at us. Center Parcs.
Having fought through torrential rain and heavy traffic, we eventually arrived at our destination. To celebrate, we passed it several times as we desperately searched for the nearest supermarket, in urgent need of “essentials” to sustain us for the days ahead. The first few hours followed a familiar pattern, excited children running amok and stressed adults trying to get over the journey, slowly coming to terms with the speed things are done around here. This was particularly evident in the bicycle hire queue where frustration builds and the tension is palpable. As the third “Expert” is called to help the Cycle Hire Attendant fix the uncooperative till, the same thought is written across the face of all in attendance…
“When can I start having fun?”
Freshly equipped with their personal weapons of mass destruction, the newly crowned cyclists wobble their way away from the Cycle Hire Centre. To spice things up, they quickly come into mortal combat with cars (for one day only), desperate to end their tiring journeys and start having fun too.
For the first time ever, I don’t feel quite so much of a fitness fraud. Our bags are bulging with sports kit, but it’s all in regular use. We’ve even brought our own bikes. For us, any wobbling will be due to ineptitude rather than lack of familiarity. We are ready! Within minutes, we start to experience nature; a mother duck leading her new-born ducklings, pheasant, wood pigeon, the promise of red squirrels (at least signs warning of the promise of red squirrels) and a baby rabbit. And then the tranquil forest was disturbed by a dreadful shock… a blood curdling scream followed by the sound of two feet landing after having jumped high into the air. Then silence. Louise’s eyes were full of terror with her discovery… the boys had left a little present inside her shoe, a small keepsake, a tiny wee mouse. Perhaps nature can be fun after all!