Sunday, 6 June 2010

Wednesday to Friday's story....

Internet access is only possible from the central "Plaza" area (but it is free), so here's a post I wrote on Friday night in our cabin...

Everything is going really well here in Holland. Firstly, the weather is brilliant, we've not seen a cloud for three days. The crossing from Dover to Calais was flat calm, then the drive through northern France, Belgium and into Holland was happily uneventful. I've only driven once in Europre in the last ten years, and funnily enough that was from Belgium to Holland and back again for work, and I was a bit worried about getting it wrong at roundabouts and junctions, but as it turned out, we didn't hit a traffic light until we were in The Hague, only 10 minutes drive from our destination, not bad for a four-hour journey from Calais.  For the record, out route took us from Calais to Dunkirk, towards Bruges, Ghent, towards Antwerp, at which point we took a detour to avoid a traffic jam, and headed towards Rotterdam, then onto The Hague. Four countries in one day, not bad going, and Olga's passport was only checked in Dover!
We arrived at the camp at 7.30pm local time, and followed a 19 year old Welsh Holiday Rep in our car while he cycled to our mobile home - at first glance being a rep here seems a much easier task than those Club 18-30 Reps have in Ibiza! The cabin/chalet was immaculate, with a double room and large shower room at one end, a central living area/kitchen in the middle, and a kids room and toilet at the other end, with an area of decking easily large enough for the patio table, four chairs & two reclining armchairs that were provided. We could even fit the two sunbeds we had on there too if we wanted, but they were left on the grass next to the cabin for the time being. There was even a little bbq for us - we knew this would be here, and had brought charcoal & firelighters in case they were hard to come by here. Of course they weren't, there's a fully-stocked supermarket on-site which isn't massivley overpriced, and plenty of things seem cheaper than at home (charcoal, for one!).
All the Dutch staff we've encountered have been very polite and speak magnificent English, and have been delighted on the two occasions so far when I've dished out my finest "Dank U Well" to them.
Lara was very exicted, exploring her new home, and given that she'd had no exercise and two naps in the car, it was a struggle to get her off to sleep on Wednesday night, and it took 15 repetitions of Ten In The Bed from Papa before she gave in and started snoring - 11.30pm local time.
On our first full day we explored the amusement park - this place is like a Hoseasons caravan park with cabins instead of caravans, with lots of camping places too, combined with Alton Towers and Rhyl Sun Centre. You need to be of a certain age and from the North West of England or North Wales to know about Rhyl and its Sun Centre, but this place has the largest water park in the Netherlands, and as guests of the holiday park, we only had to pay €3.50 per adult for 2 hours access. The amusement park has loads of rollercoasters and things for the smaller kids, and so far it seems that so long as one of us goes on too, Lara can go on many of the rides. We've found a mini-train ride that she was happy to go on on her own, and Olga managed to get her into the "driving seat" today, which she loved.
The water park was great, we went in yesterday afternoon - no queue to get in and hardly any queue for the many slides they have. Olga tried out their "Family Slide" on her own, and it was deemed OK for Lara to try out with me. Lara was fine, and really enjoyed it, we were worried she'd panic and get scared, but she screamed happily all the way down, and Olga took her down it too after me. The fun bit for Olga and I was the last few metres, when it speeds up a lot, and you go whoosing into the "splashdown" pool. Both of us changed our grips on Lara, so that we could hold her up above the water as we plunged in, so I don't think we'd get any style marks for our entrance, but at least Lara wasn't plunged under the water. She had her arm bands on, as is the rule here, and she wasn't scared of the water at all, and was even happy to float freely for a few seconds so long as we weren't more than a few centimetres from her, but it's all about small steps at the moment. Two hours was just enough time for us, and we jumped out at the last minute, but our cabin is less than a 5 minute walk from the water park, so we just walked home in our swimming gear and got changed there.  All the exercise and no naps meant it was a different task to get Lara off to sleep last night, it wasn't a problem at all, in fact I think she was actually looking forward to sleeping!
Today we've had a lazier day, we found where we can get wireless internet, we took Lara on a few rides in the park, then went back to the cabin for lunch. It was so hot that we just lazed there on the decking all afternoon. Lara was occupied with a Peppa Pig DVD for 45 minutes, which gave Olga and I some downtime so we could read and have a quiet beer while Lara watched Peppa in the shade on the decking (thank god for laptops!).
At teatime we went to the central "Plaza" area and Lara had her photo taken with Rick the Frog, the holiday park mascot, then she went for a bit of a boogie in the Kids Disco in the Irish pub here. Then it was back home for hot dogs and feed the ducks that congregate around the cabins (we're on a heavily wooded island inside the park), and again there was no trouble putting Lara to sleep.
It's a bit more raucous here tonight as the park is hosting a Volleyball competition and teams from all over the Netherlands and possibly beyond have arrived for the weekend. But even so, we're sitting in the cabin now while I write this at nearly 11pm on a barmy warm Friday night, and the noise isn't terrible, and it's certainly not bothering Lara.
We're going to escape the hectic park life tomorrow and head for Amsterdam tomorrow. There's a Park and Ride facilty that we're going to use so that I don't have to worry about driving into the centre of the city. I've been several times before on short breaks, but of course never with a child, it could be interesting to see where we'll go...

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