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THE STORY OF SKEGNESS HOLIDAY
by JOHNNY DEE

Johnny took his elderly parents to Butlins, Skegness, for a 'holiday from hell'.

Here are the gory details:

TUESDAY 9TH MARCH 04-THURSDAY 11TH MARCH 04

POP BOOKED US FOR A 70's BREAK. I'D ALWAYS BEEN A FAN OF THE SWEET, SLADE AND T.REX, BUT WE SOON FOUND OUT THAT THE 70's PART OF THE DEAL WAS REFERING TO THE AGE OF THE CAMPERS! ALARM BELLS SHOULD HAVE RUNG WHEN WE POPPED OVER TO GOREFIELD TO LOOK AT THE MAGAZINE THAT HAD ADVERTISED THE BREAK.

AS I TURNED EACH PAGE, A COMMON LINK WAS QUITE CLEARLY BECOMNG VISABLE....'OLD PEOPLE'.
THE 'YOURS' MAGAZINE WAS A PUBLICATION FOR PENSIONERS!

'COME TO SKEGNESS, BUTLINS FOR OUR 30TH BIRTHDAY PARTY', THE BANNER HEADLINE READ. 'YOU WILL BE ENTERTAINED; WE HAVE A TRIBUTE TO THE BEVERLY SISTERS, MAX MILLER AND SONGS FROM WORLD WAR 1'. IT CERTAINLY WHETTED THE APPETITE.

OUR JOURNEY STARTED ON TUESDAY 9TH MARCH 2004, THE WEATHER WAS CLEAR, BUT NIPPY, OVERCOATS WERE THE ORDER OF THE DAY, SCARVES, WOOLY HATS, FUR MITTENS WERE OPTIONAL EXTRAS THAT ONLY I HAD SEEM TO HAVE GONE FOR.

IT WAS ONLY A COUPLE OF HOURS TRAVEL BEFORE WE REACHED THE LINCONSHIRE COASTSAL RESORT OF SKEGNESS.

INSIDE THE ENORMOUS 'SKYLINE' ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE, WHERE YOU WOULD NORMALLY FIND JUGGLERS, CHILDRENS ENTERTAINERS, PUPPETEERS, DISCO DANCING AND THE LIKE, IT WAS NOW TRANSFORMED IN TO A MECCA FOR THE THORA HIRD FAN CLUB!

STAIRLIFTS-RECLINING BEDS- WHEELCHAIRS-INCONTINENCE PRODUCTS-ZIMMER FRAME MANAFACTURERS-SAGA HOLIDAY REPRESENTATIVES-ALL STOOD TRYING TO FLOG THEIR PRODUCTS.

POP WENT TO 'CHECK-IN' HE EXCHANGED PAPERS AND BEEN ISSUED WITH TWO SETS OF KEYS, NOW THE FUN HAD JUST BEGUN!

WHOEVER DEVISEDTHE NUMBERING SYSTEM FOR THE CHALETS MUST HAVE BEEN NUMERICALLY DYSLEXSIC.
WHEN POP GOT THE KEYS, THE MAN TOLD HIM, 'YOU'LL FIND YOUR ROOMS RIGHT NEAR THE SKYLINE CENTRE'.
WE DROVE FOR ABOUT TEN MINUTES DOWN A LONG WINDY ROAD, WE EVENTUALLY REACHED THE OYSTER BAY CAR PARK, KINGFISHER BLOCK.

OUR KEY NUMBERS WERE 114-115. THE ACCOMODATION WAS ON TWO LEVELS, WE CLIMBED SOME RUSTY STAIRS TO FIND THE FIRST ROOM- 111. WE WENT PAST THAT, BUT THE NEXT ONE WAS 211!
100 NUMBERS HAD BEEN MISSED OUT. WAS THIS THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE OF LINCOLNSHIRE?
WE CAME DOWN THE STAIRS TOTALLY CONFUSED AS THE COLD WIND WHIPPED AROUND OUR EARS. IT WAS INTERESTING TO SEE OTHER BEWILDERED PENSIONERS IN OUR SAME PREDICAMENT, I WONDERED IF SOME MIGHT EVEN BE FOUND DEAD THE NEXT MORNING, STILL CLUTCHING THEIR KEY FOBS AND OVERNIGHT CARRIER BAG'S.

AFTER A FURTHER 15 MINUTES OR SO WE EVENTUALLY FOUND OUR ROOMS 114-115, JUST WHERE YOU THOUGHT THEY WOULD BE, NEXT TO 223!!

I WENT BACK TO THE CAR, NIKI AND MA WERE EAGERLY AWAITING NEWS.
'DO YOU LIKE WALKING AND CLIMBING HOLIDAYS?' I ASKED.
MY MUM AND DAD HAD TAKEN EVERY PRECAUTION WHEN PACKING FOR THIS FOUR DAY BREAK, BRINGING THEIR TOASTER, MICROWAVE AND ABOUT TWO WEEKS WORTH OF SHOPPING AS WELL AS A LARGE SUITCASE.

WHAT WE NEEDED NOW WAS A TEAM OF SHERPAS TO GET ALL THIS STUFF UP TO BASE CAMP 2. IF THIS WAS A GIG IT WOULD BE ONE OF THE WORST UNLOADING POINTS EVER, ABOUT A QUARTER OF A MILE FROM OUR ROOMS UP TWO FLIGHTS OF METAL STAIRS!

WE FOUND A BACK ENTRANCE WHICH CUT THE HIKE DOWN TO ONLY ABOUT 100 YARDS OR SO.
AFTER ABOUT 17 TRIPS TO UNLOADTHE CAR (THE MICROWAVE REMAINED COVERED WITH A PICNIC BLANKET), WE CHECKED OUR MAP OF THE SITE AND FOUND WE WERE POSITIONED AT THE MOST WESTERLY POINT POSSIBLE.
WE WERE ABOUT AS FAR AWAY FROM THE MAIN CONCORSE OR SHOPS AS WE COULD BE, ANY FUTHER WEST AND WE WOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE SEA!
ME AND POP DECIDED TO TAKE BRISK WALK AND FIND OUT HOW FAR WE ACTUALLY WERE FROM CIVALIZATION.
IT TOOK ABOUT 10-12 MINUTES AT SPEED, WE HAD TO CUT THROUGH OTHER ACCOMODATION'S GARDENS AND GRASSED AREAS. IT FELT LIKE A NORTH POLE EXPADITION WITH FORCE 8 WIND'S ROLLING OFF THE SEA.
WE EVENTUALLY REACHED THE SKYLINE CENTRE, BOUGHT SOME POTATOES AND TOILET ROLL, THEN WENT FOR A QUICK FRAME OF SNOOKER.
WE MADE OUR WAY ALONG THE TARMAC ROADWAYS LEADING TO THE HOLYGRAIL, THE GREENBAIZE SNOOKER HALL. BUT DISASTER STRUCK! THE HALL HAD BEEN CLOSED DOWN, THEY WERE RE-CLOTHING THE TABLES!

WE GOT BACK TO THE CHALET WITH TEARS IN OUR EYES, BUT THERE WERE MORE TRYING MOMENTS TO FOLLOW.
NIKI WAS BUSY TRYING TO WORK THE COOKER, THE PROBLEM WAS YEARS OF KNOB TURNING HAD VIRTUALLY ERASED ALL THE LITTLE SYMBOLS THAT YOU NORMALLY FIND ON WHITE ELECTRICAL GOODS, THERE WERE NO CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS VISABLE. SHE HAD SHUT THE DOOR FOR SEVERAL MINUTES WITH THE KNOB HOPEFULLY SET TO 'COOK'. IT WAS OPENED SHORTLY AFTER, BUT SMOKE BILLOWED OUT, THE GRILL HAD BEEN ON! I WENT NEXT DOOR TO OUR ROOM TO LOOK AT OUR COOKER, AND FOUND INSTRUCTIONS PINNED ON THE INSIDE TOP CUPBOARD DOOR, JUST WHERE YOU'D THINK OF LOOKING (THE SAME BLOKE WHO DESIGNED THE CHALET NUMBERING MUST HAVE BEEN GIVEN THIS JOB TOO!).
THERE WAS A FURTHER DILEMA WITH THE 'COMPREHENSIVE' INSTRUCTIONS, THEY ONLY SEEMED TO COVER THE GRILL PART OF THE OPERATION. THIS LEFT YOU WITH A 50/50 GAMBLE OPTION ON HOW THE OVEN ACTUALLY WORKED. IT WAS GUESSING TIME.
OUR GAMBLE PAID OFF, AND WE ENJOYED A LOVELY MEAL, BY WHICH TIME MA HAD A BAD TURN AND WAS LOOKING VERY POORLY. SHE WENT TO BED AND SLEPT. NIKI SAID SHE WOULD STAY IN THE CHALET AND GRANNY SIT, WHILE ME AND POP WENT TO SEE KEN DODD OR SHOULD I RE-PHRASE THAT AND SAY WHILE WE WENT TO SIT IN AN OVERCROWDED ROOM, WITH NO SIGHT OF THE STAGE AND LIMITED HEARING OF THE JOKES OF KEN DODD.

WHEN WE GOT INTO THE MAIN ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE OF THE SKYLINE COMPLEX, 'STAGE ONE' WE MANAGED TO GET TWO 'EMERGENCY' SEATS RIGHT AT THE BACK OF THE VENUE, BUT AT LEAST WE COULD SEE THE PERFORMANCE AREA.
WE SAT AND WAITED FOR OVER AN HOUR FOR THE 'KING OF COMEDY', AND WHEN DODDY HIT THE STAGE JUST GONE 10PM A LOAD OF OLD CODGERS WALTZED IN FROM NOWHERE RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!!
ALL WE COULD SEE WERE THE BACK OF PENSIONERS HEADS.
AS THE SHOW WENT ON AND ON AND ON, SO SOME OF THE CROWD STARTED TO DRIFT AWAY, NO DOUBT NEEDING THEIR DOSE OF SANATOGEN, COD LIVER OIL SUPPLIMENTS AND TO EMPTY THEIR INCONTINENCE PANTS.
I ASKED POP IF HE HAD ENJOYED THE SHOW, HE SAID SOMETHING THAT YOU MIGHT THINK WOULD HINDER ANY LIVE PERFORMANCE, 'I COULDN'T SEE IT OR HEAR IT, BUT IT WAS OK'.

BACK TO THE CHALET BY 12.30AM. MA UP AND ABOUT AND FEELING A BIT BETTER.

WEDNESDAY 10TH MARCH:
HAD A GOOD NIGHT SLEEP, WENT NEXT DOOR FOR PORRIDGE AT 8.15AM. BY 9AM IT WAS SNOWING!
PAUL AND KERRY SHOULD BE COMING UP TODAY TO PLAY SNOOKER.
AT 9.30 ME AND POP DROVE UP TO SEE IF THE GREENBAIZE WAS READY FOR ACTION, NO IT WAS NOT!
IN THE MEANTIME PAUL HAD DRIVEN TO THE MAINGATE, I HAD TOLD HIM THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE TO PAY A SMALL FEE IN ORDER TO COME INTO THE COMPLEX, BUT THE BUTLINS SYSTEM WAS MORE CLEAR CUT THAN THAT.
THEY WERN'T COMING ON FULL STOP!!
WHETHER HE PAID OR NOT.

IT MEANT WE WOULD HAVE TO TAKE A TRIP INTO SKEGGY TO FIND THEM. THEY CALLED ME ON MY MOBILE PHONE TO SAY THEY WERE AT DUNES BAR ON THE SEAFRONT.
WE FOUND THEM QUITE EASILY, IT WAS NICE BAR OVERLOOKING THE WILD SEA, WITH, IMPORTANTLY TWO DECENT POOL TABLES. WE ENJOYED SOME DRINKS AND SEVERAL GAMES ENDING WITH PAULS SUGGESTION OF 'KILLER POOL', WHERE YOU PUT MONEY IN A KITTY AND LOSE LIVES FOR MISSING SHOTS. PAUL AND POP WERE THE FINAL TWO, WITH THE YOUNG ONE WINNING THE HUGE £6 PURSE.
KERRY WAS FEELING HUNGRY, AND SAID SHE WOULD LIKE TO SEE OUR ACCOMODATION. WE HAD ENOUGH FOOD AT THE CHALET TO KEEP A SMALL AFRICAN VILLAGE RUNNING FOR A FORTNIGHT, SO WE DECIDED WE'D HAVE TO LEAVE PAULS CAR IN THE DUNES CARPARK AND SMUGGLE THE YOUNGSTERS IN MINE.
WHEN I LIFTED MY BOOT PAUL SAID, 'WHATS THAT UNDER THE PICNIC BLANKET?'
'OH JUST A MICROWAVE' I REPLIED WITHOUT BLINKING AN EYELID, AS IF IT WERE THE ITEM THAT EVERYONE TAKES ON A 4 DAY BREAK TO BUTLINS.
AFTER SOME CONTORTION WORK ON THE PART OF KERRY AND PAUL THEY WERE EVENTUALLY IN PLACE UNDER COATS, BLANKETS TO BE SMUGGLED ON TO THE COLDITZ OF EAST LINCOLN....BUTLINS!

MY PALMS GREW SWEATY AND HEART SKIPPED BEATS AS WE APPROACHED THE GUARDS OFFICE, WHAT IF HE DECIDED TO CONDUCT A STRIP SEARCH ON OUR VEHICLE? WHAT IF KERRY SNEEZED AS HE WAS CHECKING MY PAPERWORK? THERE WERE MANY PITFALLS AND LADY LUCK HAD TO BE ON OUR SIDE.
I TOLD POP TO ACT NORMAL, AND SIMPLY HOLD OUR KEY FOB UP, NICE AND CLOSE TO THE WINDOW SCREEN.
THE WEATHER WAS SURELY ON OUR SIDE, WINDY AND WET, THE FAT GUARD WOULD JUST WANT TO STAY IN HIS CONTROL BOX AND FINISH HIS POT NOODLE.

WE SWEPT THROUGH THE GATES WITH OUT A HITCH, LUCKILY TUBS HAD ELECTED TO MUNCH HIS NOODLY SNACK INSTEAD OF CONCIENCOIOSLY INSPECTING MY CAR.

AMAZINGLY WE GOT STUCK BEHIND A TRACTOR PULLING A HEAVY LOAD, AND WERE REDUCED TO AN EXCRUTIATING 5MPH. POP HAD BEEN IN THESE STICKY SITUATIONS BEFORE BEING A WORLD WAR 2 VETRAN, AND HE STARTED COMMONTATING AS IF WE WERE POW's IN STALAG 17. 'THERE'S A GUARD OVER THERE, BY THE TENNIS COURTS, HEADS DOWN, GROUP OF RED COATS EMERGING FROM THE DRY CLEANERS'.

THE 10 MINUTE JOURNEY SEEMED TO LAST AN HOUR, BUT WE EVENTUALLY MADE IT. I PULLED UP, JUMPED OUT, AND QUICKLY SCANNED THE LANDSCAPE, POP CREATED A DIVERSION BY DROPPING HIS KEYS AND PAPERWORK AND NIKI PULLED THE INSIDE LATCH TO RELEASE THE BOOT MECHANISIM.

PAUL AND KERRY KEPT THEIR HEADS DOWN, THEY WOULD BE EASILY SPOTTED AS ALIENS IN THE 'UP YOURS' WEEK. KERRY DECIDED IF SHE WAS CHALLENGED SHE WOULD PRETEND TO BE AN ALBANIAN ASYLUM SEEKER WHO HAD SIMPLY 'STOWED AWAY' IN THE BOOT OF A FORD MONDEO, BRINGING WITH HER, HER PRIZED POSSESSION, A MICROWAVE.

WE HAD A NICE LUNCH AND WHILST SITTING AROUND WE WORKED OUT THAT BETWEEN THE TWO ROOMS WE HAD: 12 BEDS! 18 CHAIRS! 3 TOASTERS- 3 MICROWAVES- 2 TELEVISION SETS-4 LARGE SOFAS- AND TWO DINING TABLES, WE COULD HAVE EASILY OPENED UP A BRANCH OF COURTS AND HAD ENOUGH STOCK FOR AN AUGUST BANK HOLIDAY!

PAUL HAD TO WORK NEXT DAY SO THEY WENT OFF HOME AT ABOUT 6.30PM.

MA HAD ANOTHER BAD TURN, AND RETURNED TO BED, POP TOLD US NEXT DAY THAT SHE HAD BEEN PASSING OUT IN THE NIGHT, AND HE COULDN'T GET TO A PHONE AND KEEP HER HEAD UP, AND WAS IN A BIT OF A PANIC.
IT WAS DECIDED THAT SHE'D BE BEST OFF AT HOME AND SEEING THE LOCAL DOCTOR AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

SO ON THE THURSDAY MORNING WE PACKED UP ALL OUR BELONGINGS, MICROWAVES, TOASTERS ETC ETC.
AND HEADED BACK FOR GOREFIELD.

THE END

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