|Now that's how you dressed for a night out in the 80's!|
We are here thanks to the kindness of relatives allowing us to use their 'Monaco Super' (nothing Monaco about it, but I'll give it the 'super') to continue our summer holiday quest of trying fruitlessly to get the children to do as we've asked them, but in a seaside setting. As the park has a mix of holidaymakers from those renting for a week or two to those that have paid anything between £20k-£70k+ to buy one, there is a fantastic variety of families staying here which means great people watching opportunities.
One of these opportunities is the nightly 'Show'. It involves characters, loud music and flashing lights which, combined with the gallons of Capri-Sun on offer, whips the children into a frenzy. They love it of course and after a day at the seaside which is scientifically proven not to be relaxing if it includes children under the age of 5, we are too tired to do anything but give in.
So we settle down with a glass of something cold, the kids have fun, and whilst The Show is pretty good; the best part is coming home. The reason for this is that by 8pm, when we're on our way back, we pass a lot of families who are just beginning their evenings and in quite some style.
Over the past few nights I have seen more glamourous women, and men in sharply-ironed shirts and shiny shoes than I thought possible. Given that my holiday wardrobe is a cross between the Ramones and All Saints (think skinny jeans, combats, vest-tops and washed out t-shirts) I knew I was going to be short on 'going out' clothes but nothing had prepared me for the lady in a lycra and chiffon dress with 5-inch stillettos that I saw leading her brood for their family night out. She had pushed a twin buggy half a mile up hill whilst Dad escorted a further two equally well turned out children and there was neither a hair nor heel out of place. Impressive.
As well as that particular family there have been glossy tresses, Mulberry handbags (including one on Swanage beach being used as a beach bag!), plunging fronts, open backs, skirts slashed to the thigh, leopard print, sequins, neon and body-con, and an abundance of 'mini-me' children dressed to match their parents. By contrast we resembled Victorian orphans and whilst for a moment it caused me to re-consider my future packing to include couture and curling tongs the fact is I can't be arsed. Living in a rural village combined with holidays that centre around beaches and farms means that the dresses and heels are reserved for rare nights in town a deux or girlie nights where our mere presence as mums that don't get out much frightens everyone else off the dancefloor.
I enjoy the spectacle of other people's big nights out as it reminds me of my own childhood trips 'down the Welly' (the Wellington Social Club, oh yes) where on a Friday and Saturday night it was The Law to dress your best. It may well be that we only went there a handful of times but the memory of the whole family getting properly dressed up is a powerful one. We had the photo for this post taken before one such outing which features me wearing green velvet pedal pushers with matching waistcoat, and a blouse with a pussycat-bow. Sounds a bit Peter-Pan meets Margaret Thatcher today, but for the early 80's I was one cool 8-year-old.
Those were very happy times indeed but reflecting on them has reminded me that my job is not to try to recreate my childhood for our children - what they choose to remember and hold as their memories will be up to them. Instead, I shall celebrate others sequins, marvel at their manicures and await with interest next year's visit to find out what it is I should be wearing - if I could only tear myself away from my skinny jeans.......