We used to be Southeners, being born and bred in Berkshire. I was originally from Slough (John Betjeman the poet laureate extolled the virtues of my home town in his poem that began "Come friendly bombs and drop on Slough, It isn't fit for humans now!") After having my eldest son I moved away from Slough to Hampshire, where we stayed until 1999. We then relocated to the greener pastures of Shropshire (home of Muller Yogurt!) and this was the best decision we ever made, giving the children a standard of living that we simply could not afford where we were! However, whenever we venture down south there is still a sense of going home. Today was one such day!
The children are always curious to see the places where me and my husband grew up...even though much of what we remembered is now gone. My childhood home has long since been demolished giving way to modern, soulless flats. Our school, where we met back in 1981, used to be the tallest building for miles around, but is now dwarfed into insignificance by huge industrial factories and warehouses that have been squeezed into every spot of free space around it. Places that I remember looking new and shiny are now dirty, dull and degenerated. Sadly, Legoland Windsor was one such place. We decided to take the kids to Legoland, a place where we had often taken our older children when we lived close. We remembered the colourful, vibrant bricks and the awe and wonder that the models evoked in our children. The reality today was very different. I know the season is coming to its end, but everything looked so tired. Grubby, sun bleached lego models held none of the magic they did 10 years ago. Rides with water looked toxic, ridden with algae, green and slimy. Litter was strewn around. The Miniland looked overgrown with weeds. I was just not impressed. I wanted to whip out a cloth and a tub of Astonish and put a bit of shine back into the place! The restaurant we went to was crowded with tables and chairs. Most people eating there were parents like us with a buggy. We were all trying to negoiate the haphazard furniture and find seats with space for the pushchairs and high chairs we needed. In the melee we dropped one of our plates of food. Smashed china and mashed potato was strewn across the floor. My husband was on his hands and knees trying to clear up the mess. Not one of the people who worked there offered any help, despite the obvious Health and Safety issues raised by small children, broken crockery and slippy mash! We were none too impressed. Having said that though, my 1 year old loved playing with the giant Duplo bricks in the play area and he also loved running up to the jets of erupting water in Duplo Land with his 8 year old sister. And to see them smiling makes it all worth while!
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