Last weekend we visited Lightwater Valley, a theme park in North Yorkshire. I wasn't sure if theme parks were for us to be honest, given that I hate roller coasters (the vertigo!) and Bella and Angus are still quite small. In fact, before this visit, I think the last time I'd been on a roller coaster was on a trip to Alton Towers in 1994, when I was a teenager and fearless. But since Lightwater Valley is half way between Leeds and Durham - where we'd been staying with John's parents - we decided to give it a go as it seemed like a fun way to end the half term holiday.
Bella and Angus's expectations ran high. "What is a theme park?" they wanted to know. Kind of like a cross between a really big playground and a really big funfair, we told them. "Will there be sweets?" they asked. Yes. Yes, there will almost certainly be sweets.
They were too small for the really big rides (not that they were interested in them anyway) but very happily entertained by the child-sized roller coaster (the "Little Dipper") a water ride, and various other tractor and train rides. Children do like transport, don't they? By far and away the biggest hit was the Angry Birds playground, which we visited twice. Possibly three times.
I really liked the landscaping of the park. Set in rolling hills, with lots of trees, a lake, and wide open spaces, it was really pleasant to be outside all day in the autumn sun, walking from one thing to the next. It would be lovely to return in the summer with a picnic, not least because the food options at the park leave a lot to be desired. Your choices were beef burger or chicken burger, and no children's portions available either. I have to admit I was hoping for better food.
But that aside, it was a lot of fun. The kids absolutely loved the rides they tried. There was some shrieking. We laughed a lot. And I got to ride on the carousel a few times and enjoy a carefree day with my favourite people.
Tell me: do you like roller coasters? A recent conversation on this topic on Instagram was very illuminating. It seems we like them less the older we get. Age, knowledge, the responsibilities of parenthood - these things seem to put us off. I'm not a fan, but I'm sure there are others out there who enjoy them and are over the age of sixteen.
Lightwater Valley kindly gave us a complimentary family ticket for our visit - thank you, we really enjoyed ourselves.