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It's exciting to wake up in our little flat on another scorching hot day. Tommy gets to do Pontins stuff all morning. There's a photocall with Captain Croc, then it's Megamix Mick’s workout. You could quite easily stay here all the time and not get bored. If you're a kid. I get out of it by feeding Danny and making sandwiches. Today we're off to Portmeirion, with much excitement on my part. But we get stuck in traffic just past Rhyl, and the car overheats much like the rest of us. We're on the other side of Abergele when it makes a noise and gives up. It's clear we’re not going anywhere so we sit and wait for the car to cool down. Tommy and I watch a woman grooming her horse and Danny watches the trees. I don't know anything about cars so I'm crapping it, wondering how we're going to get back to Glasgow. Neil has his head under the bonnet and I'm trying to keep calm and carry on. But we can both see the humour because how many times did this happen when we were kids? We had to buy a new car once, a bright orange Volkswagen Variant that would be cool now, but was really embarassing at the time. Anyway, to cut a long story short we go to a garage, get it looked at and go back to Pontins for the rest of the day. Maybe if it's taken me this long to get to Portmeirion I'm destined never to get there.

The good news for Tommy is that we're back in time to see Barney live on stage. I hate Barney. He's probably my least favourite children’s character apart from Dora the Explorer. If we'd been a month later it would have been Sooty, which is quite cool. Anyway, it's really awful. Some poor sod in a Barney suit pratting about to some rotten songs. And they can barely get the songs in for making announcements about how you can't take pictures due to international copyright law. This is the kind of thing that makes me hate modern life. I go back to the chalet and it's beautifully quiet. The longer I'm here the more I like it. It reminds me of living in a tenement. It's nice to be surrounded by people who are in the same position as you, but not having to interact with them. A sort of alone in a crowd thing.

Afterwards we go to Ffrith beach along the road. There is a derelict pavilion, not derelict in a good way. Scary and shabby, but the beach is beautiful and empty. Tommy runs into the sea shouting "I'm David Hasselhoff", then flies a kite and makes sandcastles. It’s like essence of seaside. Danny falls asleep so I read Brian Eno and realise I'm perfectly happy for once. Not a care in the world.

Back to Pontins for dinner then out to Lunars Bar for Captain Croc’s fun time. Tommy seems much calmer today. He is off like a shot to join in the games and we hardly see him again. He is out on the floor doing John Travolta-style dance moves with one of the Bluecoats. So Neil & I get another quiet night. Danny is no bother, and lots of people come over to say hello to him. It really is nice, just the right level of sociability. There should be a word for the way we have become - Pontinised, or something. It takes us two minutes to walk home in the twilight and we all go to bed happy.

Next: The Great British Holiday Day 6: Prestatyn-Abergele

The word for what you become might be "Pontinental"... which was an offical term of theirs back in the days when they were still a serious rival to the Spanish Costas!

Hi Anne, I really sympathise with your failure to make it to Portmeirion, we must have been to Wales more than 20 times in recent years and every time I can see Portmeirion on the map, just over there to the right a bit, and every time we seem to manage to miss the turning and go straight on. Bummer, eh! Never mind, some day we'll get there.

Car problems are also part and parcel of a good family holiday. We used to drive everywhere from Aberdeen when I was a child and these were the days of a crap old unreliable cars and a single lane road south almost as far as Edinburgh. For some strange reason my parents would go mad some years and decide to go to far off exotic places on holiday like Pontins in Great Yarmouth, which took about 15 hours to get to from Aberdeen. One time we went the exhaust fell off and back then you just sort of tried to tie it back on but it meant the car made a quite incredible racket and my sister and I were soooo ashamed every time we had to drive anywhere. Not much peace and tranquillity around our chalet! I seem to remember my Dad spending lots of holidays with his head under the bonnet of the car trying to fix it so that we could get home. I expect he really loved that.

I like the term "Pontinental" very much. I'm completely sold on the whole Pontins experience.

Oh, and I completely agree about Barney!

Hi John (and Gareth!) I wondered where Aberdeen folk went on holiday - never thought of Great Yarmouth! Glasgow to Prestwick seemed long enough. That must have been like going to the other side of the world.

I arrived here from Diamond Geezer and have just spent a thoroughly fantatstic hour reading your blog.
I live in London but bought a house in Blackpool a few years ago because my family went there a lot when I was a kid and we never had a dull moment. I am so glad you saw stuff like Stanley Park (I love that cafe too). If you travel south, past the Pleasure Beach, the beach turns into big sand dunes and there is a Pontins which I often gaze at from the highest dunes when I'm out walking the dog.
Can't wait to hear about the rest of your holiday.

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