Whenever we're on holiday and we don't know what to do, we invariably head out to a local park. All of our favourites have private nicknames - there's goat park (even if the goat enclosure is no longer there), boat park (the main climbing frame is shaped like a boat), sport park (it has lots of street workout equipment), blue park (the rubbery surface of the play area is blue), sun park (it's in Beausoleil road and several of the houses have sun-themed decorations on the walls and in the gardens), Angry Birds park (a recent find), dump park (it's next to the local dump !), ... The kids always have detailed discussions about the pros and cons of each park before deciding which one they want to visit !
Sun Park is best for swings - there are only two play areas with swings in our local area and this one is a small park so you don't have to queue for ages to have a go.
The Madhouse kids often choose to go to Sports Park because it has big wide open spaces to play in, hills to roll down and wild flower meadows to sit in. (As a hayfever-sufferer, this makes my nose twitch just looking at it !)
On a recent visit, they were fascinated to discover an enormous puddle, left over from the torrential rain and flooding that we had a few weeks ago.
We had a quick rummage around for some duck feathers and leaves.
Then played "pooh-sticks", seeing who could make their feather or leaf float across to the other side first.
Next stop was the play area where they swung round on, jumped over, climbed up and slid down everything they could find ...
Including the skateboard ramps !
I think I finally managed to wear them out !
I prefer Goat Park because it has a wilder feel and I love wandering around the shaded woodland trails. The kids are happy with my choice because it has a well-stocked ice cream shop !
Throughout the summer holidays, you can play table football or ping pong too but you have to leave your ID card with the park keeper when you pick up the balls and finding him again when you want to go home is easier said than done !
Now this may not look very exciting to you but it made me very happy.
Lurking underneath is a geocache, the first of a brand new series of fourteen caches that I will definitely be doing sometime in the next week or so. I just need the rain to hold off for a few days so it's not too muddy underfoot.
Unfortunately, some people have a different kind of fun in the park. Last week, someone stole a JCB that was parked outside the park gates and went rampaging through the park, knocking down lamp posts and signs.
They trashed the kids' roundabout, flipped over the candy floss stand then dumped the JCB in the canal. They caused thousands of pounds worth of damage, but luckily the main areas of the park that we use are untouched. I've just heard today that the big fields next to Sport Park, where there is equipment for pole archery and a lovely walk to go rabbit-spotting, has been taken over by 150 caravans, 100 cars and 80 families of travellers who have decided to camp there illegally.
I'm sure we'll find other places to go though - and Pierre might be glad of a break. He fell asleep on the settee before he even had time to lay down when we got home from Goat Park after our trip earlier in the week !