Alex James: Three trips to make the perfect summer

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

I thought we'd get to Legoland early. We arrived just as it opened, like everyone else. Crowds were streaming from the car parks to the turnstiles like at the start of a big match. There was a sense of pandemonium at the entrance and I thought we were in for a full bunfight but panic turned to picnic as soon as we were all inside and under the spell.

It is an almost magical place, Legoland: the perfect Japanese execution of a Scandinavian dream. It glows with supernatural perfection. The site must have been about the same size as the farm, but the whole thing was as ordered and pretty as bonsai.

We hopped on the first thing we saw, a funicular railway that zoomed us to a far-flung corner. The rides were great but I stopped considering the nuts and bolts of the place itself as soon as I realised my children were making me laugh. Their faces were alight and I was in their world having one of the best days of my life. The six-year-old and twin four-year- olds were beside themselves, but not in the wound-up agitated panicky way that Toys 'r' Us and Hamleys provoke. They were just blissfully happy.

I suppose making kids happy for a day is a pretty straightforward proposition. They always know what they want and it was all there. The best bits were unexpected, people in queues being nice to spend five minutes with; stumbling over performing pirates, a show that featured routines as polished and sparkly as Girls Aloud on ITV. Those pirates made being a pirate look like the best job in the world and maybe it is: how nice the staff all were, too. And the best bit happened when it started to rain: the queue for the wet ride disappeared and we stayed on it three times.

It was a day way beyond anything I could possibly have hoped for but if you do want to go, you should go today because the school holidays start tomorrow.



Nothing fascinates us quite like other people



I've taken the whole week off to spend some time with the three little boys and I haven't laughed so much since I was a Gitanes-puffing teenager in Paris.

If you get up in the morning and ask three small boys what they want to do today they will, all three at once, without fail, tell you they want to go shopping, and tell you exactly what they want to buy; but other things they all agree rate highly are Warwick Castle, where we are going tomorrow and the Cotswold Wildlife Park near Burford, where we went on Friday.

The wildlife park is excellent, somewhere we will always come back to.

Again, it must be around the same size as the farm, but another completely different world on a different tangent altogether from the bright colours and giddy accelerations of Legoland: a quintessential English Country House and gardens stuffed to brimming with God's more unusual creatures.

When I think how much effort it has taken to build one extra large greenhouse for my tomato experiments I shudder at the complexity and scope of the wildlife park. There are vast climate controlled hothouses containing whole ecosystems with bats as big as chickens living in them. It's home to everything from penguins to tropical spiders, from lions to bafflingly clever species of insect.

I suppose the most wonderful thing holidays do is bring a wider sense of perspective into our everyday lives. One lap around the wildlife park was enough to remind me that growing tomatoes, even really tasty ones, isn't really that much of a challenge.

Even though the holidays hadn't started it was busy. It's one of those places that works best when it's busy, like Manhattan or The Wolseley because the most interesting creatures of all, you soon realise, are other people.



Kids love premieres, but not because of the film



I haven't seen such good reviews for anything as for Toy Story 3. For some reason the only really good reviews that ever catch my eye are for things that other members of Blur have done.

I'm a "watch it on DVD" person, more than a cinema-goer, but the Leicester Square premiere fell right in the middle of the holiday so I mentioned it to the kids. They all really wanted to go, like crazy. I didn't think they would have a grasp of the concept of premiere – after all more or less everything is new and amazing to them, but the six-year-old was so excited about it that he told everyone we met, from people in queues at Legoland to the man who came to fix the dishwasher.

Well, of course they all loved it. There was free popcorn. The director and producer were there. This is always slightly disappointing because for some reason American movie people all act more like X Factor contestants than the mad geniuses we need them to be. All they ever do when they are given a microphone is thank everybody and say how grateful they are for everything. They should act more like footballers and tell everyone to shove it. Much more entertaining.

Is the film any good? Yeah, it's OK but who wants to go to the cinema in the summer holidays? I'd like to thank Walt Disney for the popcorn but also to suggest there are much more interesting places for children to take their parents this summer.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: When is a baroness not a baroness? Titles still cause confusion

Guy Keleny
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review