The final leg of our budget trip was four nights at Pontin’s, Pakefield – seventy quid each, half board. Both Liam and I are well-acquainted with the holiday camp experience from our proletarian childhoods and, more recently, from my mother’s 80th birthday bash at Butlin’s. Whereas Butlin’s has raised its game to compete with the costas, Pontin’s has remained faithful to its Hi-Di-Hi roots. There have been some concessions to the modern era – our bunker in Pirouette Park came with hot water and electricity – but the rest of the offer was distinctly old hat. Accommodation came in terraced rows of jerry-built chalets reminiscent of a prisoner of war camp or a sleazy middle America motel. We felt like fugitives on the run from the Feds. Higgledy-piggledy pebble-dashed facilities were battered and tattered. Canteen times were fixed and uncompromising. Food was hearty rather than wholesome with a strong whiff of time-honoured old school dinners. There was a floppy salad bar and a sign warning the punters that “these trays may contain traces of food.” Or was that nuts? We avoided the healthy option and headed straight for the stodge slopped up onto mini plates by fiercesome-looking dinner ladies. On day two, I was unceremoniously ram-raided by a blue rinse armed with a killer Zimmer trying to get to the jelly before anyone else. In the interests of personal safety, we didn’t dare go for seconds. Oh, happy days.
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