Stan Cullimore's Diary of an Urban Grandad: How I ended up in my trunks getting pelted with snowballs
WHAT do you think about snow then? Suppose it depends on how the last week has been for you really. Have you missed meetings, had your car slip around on icy roads and spent far too much time with the heating on? I have.
But have you also found time to make snowmen, snow bunnies and maybe even a snowball or two? I have.
That's the thing with this stuff, isn't it? On one hand it's really annoying, whilst on the other, it's the best thing ever to fall from the sky. Which probably explains why I've spent so much time playing in it recently.
Mind you, it doesn't explain why, at one point, I found myself racing around Longleat Forest with Son no. 1, both dressed only in our swimming trunks. Being pelted with snowballs by assorted giggling grandkids. Hmm.
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Personally, I blame Mrs Cullimore. She's so sneaky. She knows exactly how to give me just enough rope to get myself into trouble. Let me explain.
This whole snowy adventure started some time ago when we booked a Winter Wonderland Weekend at Center Parcs. We've been there once before when there was a sprinkling of snow on the ground.
Have to say, that was a magical experience. We swam in a warm outdoor pool surrounded by snow covered trees. Gorgeous. It was more like a trip to Narnia than a mere holiday. But this time was something else again. It was even better.
We arrived at our lodge to find the whole forest was buried beneath a thick carpet of crispy cuteness. There were prints that looked like deer tracks in the snow outside the front door. Honestly, the kids were so over excited I actually thought they were going to explode.
To be fair, the over excited-ness was slightly my fault. I'd told them that the forest was also home to some friendly polar bears.
Anyhow, as we wandered round the place, looking at all the fun stuff to do, something occurred to me. Usually, when snow falls, the entire country grinds to a halt. Trains are delayed, flights are cancelled, places are closed. But at Center Parcs, pretty much everything was up and running within minutes. Either they are much better organised than everyone else in the UK, or else their staff are just all superheroes. After staying there for the weekend, I'm starting to think it's a bit of both. Honestly, every single member of staff we met was so lovely and enthusiastic and unconcerned about the snow that it was amazing. I think we should put these people in charge of crisis management every winter.
We spent the next few days having the time of our lives. I mean really. Not only did we have endless snowball fights and forest adventures but the three kids also did loads of other exciting stuff like archery, climbing, swimming and bowling whilst the four adults indulged themselves with spa sessions, massages and of course, swimming in that outdoor pool. Sigh.
On the last evening, we even treated ourselves to a real fire in the living room fireplace. Which is when my wife made her sneaky move. She noticed I was happily wandering round, wearing my new walking boots.
You see, I'm going off to Thailand in a couple of months so I've gone and got myself a brand new pair of boots to take with me. Being an old fashioned sort of bloke, I wanted to wear them in first.
There I was, walking round, admiring my new boots when Mrs Cullimore piped up with a suggestion. She thought it would be as very good idea if I took them outside for a stroll in the snow to thoroughly test them. So I agreed. Then Son No. 1 challenged me to take my shirt off. Don't know why, but it obviously struck him as a good idea at the time because he agreed to do the same.
The banter went on and it ended up with both of us getting changed into our swimming trunks and going outside. My wife, along with Son No. 1's girlfriend, then got all the grandkids dressed up for a snowball fight and sent them after us. Making sure to lock all the doors so we couldn't run back inside.
You can imagine the rest, I'm sure. I can't say we covered ourselves in glory. But I can say that the grandkids covered us in snow. Plus, we all had a grand old time.
Even if it was all a bit too refreshing for comfort. The end result is that the next day when it was time to set off for Bristol, the kids decided that they'd had the best time ever, I decided that my new boots were awesome and Son No. 1 decided that his mum and girlfriend were not to be trusted.