When we left our hotel, I required my sunglasses. But I knew the clear and bright weather wouldn’t last. Our hotel was situated one junction back on the M4 from Windsor. A ubiquitous five-minute journey. Still it was enough time for the sky to partially cloud over. After we parked up George recognised someone in the car park from the MPV that had drawn up beside us. They were some of the boys George had made friends with in the Hotel’s play area. So The Dude was set up for fun before we entered the Park.
While it didn’t rain, there was still plenty of hanging about. There was half-an-hour before the gates opened. There was another hour-an-hour before they allowed anyone into the rest of the Park. Looking out on the vistas across Berkshire to Windsor Castle and beyond didn’t negate the second hiatus. The Dude isn’t one for grown-up pursuits when there’s fun to be had. So why were we waiting? The Dude queried. Because…
George had a plan as we crossed the start line. He wanted to see Miniland, so that’s what we did. We said goodbye to our new friends and went off to wait for the Hill Train for half-an-hour. When 10am arrived, having passed our thirty-minute penance for being early, we were nearly wiped out by the family standing eight feet to our left who were absolutely determined to head the queue for the first seats on the train. George and I came second.
The promised rain held off till long after midday. From 10am till approximately 11.30 we spent the entire time looking at each and every construction in Miniland. George was totally absorbed in every detail of the small worlds created in Lego and made to represent, someone’s idea of, various countries in Europe, and the Shuttle Space Centre in the US. The detail is superb, but it is tempered by the tiredness of some buildings and vehicles. Even some of the mini-figures could do with a holiday. Our sojourn there took a turn when, in the Dutch sector, we came upon a real life mini train crash. We conjectured on the causes of the catastrophe, but blamed the giant pigeon we saw invading the UK sector.
Image: author’s own
When coffee called, we made our way up to the Imagination Centre where we found ourselves assisting the lovely Charlotte demonstrating an initiative using Lego to help in speech and language therapy. George was fantastic, as always, in asking questions and giving instructions, and we successfully completed our allotted tasks. As a former teacher I was very interested in this methodology. I recalled discussions, very brief and none too serious, about using such materials as Lego as a teaching and learning aid when I was in FE. I never got round to it, and I wondered why not after that little exercise with George. Very impressed with what Charlotte and her colleagues were doing, George and I went on our way.
The rain duly came in after 12.30 as the remote-controlled truck George was using as a battering ram slowed to a stop. With over an hour’s wait for the Sky Rider (which we both wanted to do but weren’t prepared to stand around for that long), we decided it was time to go. The race back to the car was a triumph as the downpour was missed. Once in the vehicle, the heavens truly opened again. I programmed the satnav for home and turned to follow the exit signs.
George fell asleep on the M25. I was glad. With the weight of traffic and the thundering rain, it was hellish. But we made it home safe and sound, and The Dude was full of excitement as he regaled his mother with his tales of triumph and another successful adventure.