A Much-Needed Holiday

I’m writing this from a comfy sofa in front of a roaring log fire in a lovely cabin in Sherwood Forest. It’s the last day of my weekend holiday in Centreparcs and all is peaceful.

Contrary to appearances (and my habit of telling myself otherwise), I’m not a particularly lazy person. I happen to work quite hard and I perhaps push and punish myself a bit more than is strictly necessary. Case in point : until this weekend, I can’t remember the last time I went on holiday. It might be that weekend in York … two years ago? And before that, Bruges? God knows when.

Money is an obstacle, of course, but there are ways of getting cheaper holidays. I just don’t tend to think ‘holiday’. But this weekend, thanks to my in-laws footing the accommodation bill for us both, Tonks and I have had our first holiday in far too long.

We are at CentreParcs Sherwood Forest, and it’s been bliss. Nature, good food, good weather and an abundance of free time – it’s done us a world of good. It’s exactly what we’ve been missing. It’s all very well coming home from work and playing a video game, but it’s much more relaxing to just pack up and get the hell out of Dodge for a few days.

We haven’t had an action-packed itinerary, and that’s just how we wanted it. The last thing we need is to come back knackered and require a holiday to recover from the holiday. So even though there’s the climbing and the action challenge and watersports and all sorts of other high octane activities, we’ve chosen a low-adrenaline route. The only time my blood pressure’s gone up is when a swan decided he’d quite like to share our cabin and shoved his head through the open patio door. Terrifying stuff.

The most physical activity we’ve had its a Segway session – I need one of these in my life, stat! They’re so simple to ride – lean forwards to go forwards, lean backward to go backward, tilt to go in a circle. And that’s it! We were rocketing down the path at breakneck speeds of up to 8 miles an hour – truly I took my life in my hands that day.

Today we had a 3 hour spa session – I had no idea what this would entail, so I envisioned attendants throwing their hands up in horror and fleeing screaming from the room at the thought of trying to pretty me up. Turns out the spa session was for a variety of steam rooms and saunas – initially a very weird experience. With the silent guests, all clad in identical white robes, the piped in chime music and the overall feeling of drugged-up tranquillity, I was pretty sure we were being inducted into a cult of some kind. A couple of the stream rooms were a bit too intense for me (my lungs are not meant for breathing air that might as well be liquid) but the overall soothing quiet and warmth worked their magic on me by the end. A++ would spa again.

Perhaps most importantly, I have spent somewhere in the region of 4 hours swimming. Well, I say swimming. It was more treading water. This is important because I am, to a degree, aquaphobic. This doesn’t mean I have an irrational fear of 90s novelty bubblegum pop. It means that bodies of water larger than a bathtub make me very nervous indeed.

It’s not something that gets in the way of life a lot – I like a good walk on the beach and I’ve been on a few ferries, though being on deck can be a bit harrowing. It does mean that swimming is mostly a thing that happens to other people. I prefer an empty pool, or at least a pool filled mostly with people I trust. As that’s not generally a common occurrence, I tend to just not go swimming. I have unpleasant memories of leisure centres and water parks, full of noise and the cloying stench of chlorine and the ever-present threat that someone will try and throw me into the pool or holds my head underwater. Both of these have happened. Children can be cruel.

This weekend I accompanied Tonks to the pool and spent a good few hours milling about on the edge of the deep end, practicing my signature swimming move The Doggy Breaststroke (move your arms like an accomplished swimmer, kick your legs like a panicking daschund). I did not dunk my head under water, but I did go down the rapids on a rubber dinghy, so there’s that.

All in all, I’m the most relaxed I’ve been since I can recall. I’ll be sad to leave tomorrow, but this weekend has been a much-needed relief from the stresses of everyday life. AND I even came up with a new movie idea, an action comedy: when a young couple go on holiday at a luxury resort, a woman discovers that the men she intends top Mary is a contract killer and becomes embroiled in his assignment. There’ll be a high-speed segway chase. Watch this space.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I can hear the bath in the other room calling my name…

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