December the month we’ve all been waiting for since New Year’s Day. After Easter, Bank Holidays, weddings and the summer holidays we impatiently anticipate the end of the year festivities. Yet for those of us with a family birthday in December it’s a time to do battle with the Christmas hijackers. Already a seasoned gladiator in this month’s sport I decided this was the year to be prepared for the slaughter.
Before the shopping centre had decked their halls with holly, I had bought the December birthday presents and invited her friends to the party. In fact I was feeling a little proud of myself until I realised I’d forgotten to organise where we were going to take the birthday child for a ‘treat’ day out.
In my naivety we choose the National Trust’s Tatton Park as the place to escape the advent of December 25th. A popular heritage attraction with a deer park, gardens and farm we believed this place would be, just a little, exempt from exploiting the message of Christmas to its members. A quick trawl around the park’s dedicated website informed us that Father Christmas was in residence. Not unexpected we decide the farm’s animals still warrant a visit as well as a trip to the park 18th Century mansion, which we envisaged would be magically dressed in traditional and seasonal embellishments.
On Saturday, December 11th we arrived at a bitterly cold Tatton Park. After a long drive to reach our destination, the children are thrilled to see a challenging and pleasurable playground. Conveniently located near to a refreshment van, the playground wins everyone’s vote and that’s not just for the tea and chips butties.
When the adults’ noses starting turning blue, we decide it’s time to leave and take in the delights of Tatton’s mansion house, and this is where the story goes sour.
A stroll from the park to the house takes in a stable yard, where the muck has been replaced by a brassy parade of till ringing outlets and fairground rides.
Once we get to the house we are in no denial that the exterior of the mansion looks inviting and we’re eager to thaw out and see more. But if we do we’re going to have to pay, even though we’ve paid our annual Natural Trust membership. Round one to the Christmas hijackers. We decide our next move is to try the farm. After a long ramble from the house to the farm, we are once again hit by the Christmas hijackers at the entrance. Tatton Park has decided that everyone has to pay full entrance fee to see the farm animals and if they like it or not, Father Christmas. Maybe I’m just cynical but why does everyone and everything have to be about Christmas during December and do I need to be a spook to discover where Tatton Park’s website detailed these seasonal price hikes?
Just because our daughter celebrates her birthday in December does this mean she will forever have to wear themed outfits, dine out on turkey and dance the night away to Slade? I hope not…but then she may embrace the tinsel and baubles and put my rant to bed, until next year.
The birthday cat cake