Two daughters off tomorrow: one to Jordan for a year and one starting university. What better way to celebrate their last full day in the glorious north of England than a visit to an amusement park? A grey misty schoolday in October and no teachers on strike would mean a nice quiet amble around the rides and no queues.
The man examining our entrance tickets seemed very happy. He announced there were only 41 visitors in the entire park including babies. We ran through in delight and woke up the young attendant on the nearest roller coaster for our first personalised timed ride.
We quickly discovered rides were as long as we wished and often longer. An easy familiarity built up amongst our fellow 38 visitors of the day. We were able to make many new friends and felt we were becoming welcome regulars on a number of the rides we returned to at various intervals.
Naturally the immediate gratification of being able to run around and hop on every ride without a queue in sight had a few downsides. We were soon rewarded by acute motion sickness and dizziness. I noticed I was not alone in this as I spun on the giant swings high above the park paralysed by the violent nauseous response to the constant movement every which way, and one seat I had to sit on for a particularly fast corkscrew ride had a vague whiff of vomit about it.
By 2pm, I was slumped over a takeaway cup of Yorkshire tea in the Jolly Sailor restaurant and had lost the will to live.
There was an out of season tawdriness to the place, and the rust and broken wood fragments and hard hats and rolls of masking tape littering the ground were not Disneyesque decorative additions but rather signs of a park struggling to maintain appearances on 41 visitors a day. Catching sight of a faded red first aid container floating near a water attraction, I didn’t know whether to feel relieved (it had never been needed) or appalled (in case it was).
But I was pleased to see in the spirit of the British holiday maker, the ride assistants still bravely sported khaki shorts despite the damp October chill.