As the summer holidays draw to a close and the August bank holiday draws ever closer, I have found myself thinking increasingly about what it is that makes a child’s summer special. What small gestures and moments fit together to form a summer jigsaw in a child’s mind. There are those wonderful images like riding a donkey for the first time, making yourself sick on a ride at a funfair or being brave and running into the sea with your trousers rolled up.
From an ice lolly dripping all the way down a clean t-shirt to that trip over in the playground where you tell yourself not to cry, to the nuisance of a wasp that always chooses to arrive when you’ve just unpacked your picnic. All these tiny images, I believe, form the tapestry of the great British summer. Having grown up in Dubai, my summer holidays were often spent in the UK visiting family. So, the wonderful novelties of a piece of Brighton rock, a whippy ice-cream or a picnic on the grass used to amaze and excite me. Although I had a fantastic childhood in Dubai, those quintessentially British moments spent in England are what form the core of some of my happiest memories.
My parents and I are here at the Park every day and one of the loveliest concepts is that children make lifelong memories here, with sights, smells and moments that will stick in their heads for the rest of their lives. I already run the risk of sounding like an old fart at 23, when I feel slightly saddened by seeing some children glued to their phone or tablet. The nicest thing is seeing a child feed a chicken or scream in excitement at the bouncy castle, or present one of the ladies at reception with a completed summer trail quiz.
I think that too often we become bogged down with new does and don’ts that arguably control us. What I feel that The Llama Park offers on beautiful summer days like today is simplicity. The simple pleasures from sitting outside under an umbrella and watching children tire themselves out running around. The simple pleasure we all get from a treat like a piece of cake or a beer. The simple pleasure of being somewhere so lovely that you don’t have to push yourself to have fun. Perhaps I am just totally biased but I know that a lot of our customers feel the same way.
From a variety of TripAdvisor reviews, it is clear that some set out for a lovely day in the sunshine and others expect as much as possible for as little money. Don’t get me wrong. Some days, I manage to find fault in everything. Some days, especially in a family business, I want to throw my hands up in the air, scream at the top of my lungs and cry. And I know that some days our customers feel the same way. But the wonderful comments from grandparents who have spent a long, carefree day here and appreciate what we are really about – those are the comments and kind words that really make me believe that we are doing something right. Some families walk around for 30 minutes and complain that there is too little to do whilst others spend 5 hours here, eating their picnics, playing in the playground, browsing the shop and exploring the park.
In a couple of months, or maybe even weeks, it will start to get cold and before long, the days will get depressingly short and dark. And by then, I am sure that I will be whinging about something or other. After all, The Llama Park is the highest point in East Sussex. This means that it can be the most glorious place in the world on a beautiful day and, conversely, like a scene from Wuthering heights in the middle of winter. But for today, and for those last few days of summer, I suppose I want to thank all of our wonderful customers who have already chosen to make lovely memories at The Llama park. We hope that in the next few days, we can welcome more families, more customers and more little ones to ride out the last few special days of the great British summer holidays.
We have recently completed a great deal of our refurbishments and the response, kind words and enthusiasm that we have received from everyone has been sincerely touching. I will say what we always say, that we want to help people make memories. The days we spend with our customers make great memories for us and seeing what we can achieve here brightens all of our days. We hope that we can continue to help make memories. We are excited to meet the stoic families who venture our to us in the mud, wind and rain. We are excited for Christmas as it looms ever closer, and we are most excited for the unknown, arriving with our new changes. We hope that you have a lovely rest of the summer and we hope that we have been a part of it!