Spicers would descend upon three different Center Parcs venues 3-4 times a year, but it was the Nottingham summer party weekend that no one wanted to miss. Spaces were limited to 500 and the event could sell out within weeks of being advertised.
We were allowed to check in from Friday afternoon. Most would explore the subtropical swimming paradise or take a wander around the village before joining their fellow party goers at their group’s local welcome meet early that evening. Free drinks (very much diluted) and a few nibbles were provided and many a conversation was struck up over a cocktail sausage and a handful of Pringles. At nine o’clock they started to disperse, spilling out onto the pavements and heading for the ‘Venue.’ Some maintain it was the best night of the weekend, giving them the chance to meet up with all the people they’d met on previous events.
Saturday was sports day and a mixture of people with a range of sporting abilities would turn up, impeded by the size of their hangover. After a couple of hours running around we’d head off to the Rapids to cool off, then back to our villa to meet up with our villa mates, grab some food and get ready for the fancy dress party. It was pretty full-on. Sunday was less frenzied with lots of members heading home, but we liked to stay until the Monday and our trip to the Aqua Sana was a ritual we very much looked forward to.
It still surprises me that Dom likes a sauna, he doesn’t come across as the sort of person who enjoys a herbal-infused steam room. He’s more of a roughty-toughty kinda guy who measures how much fun he’s had by how much dirt he’s accumulated. He’s also very loud, and the Aqua Sana had signs everywhere asking visitors to respect the silence and tranquility of the other users. Yes, you already know where this story is going.
Sunday. White fluffy oversized robes donned, our first stop is the foot spa. Despite having incredibly ticklish feet, Dom loves it. We head for the jacuzzi, Dom’s in seventh heaven. A few steam rooms later and we’re as chilled out as a polar bear on an iceberg. Then we spot it, the Meditation Room. This is a new one on us, so we read the description on the outside which reads something along the lines of:
‘Feel how body and soul become one in this oasis of total relaxation and multi-sensory stimulation. Water droplets, cascading from above, create a constantly moving water surface, reflecting the walls and ceiling. It results in a very peaceful atmosphere. The scent of lemons inspires your personal meditation, invigorating the mind, restoring energy levels and uplifting the spirit.’
We open the door.
“Ooh, it’s dark!” whispered Dom. Loudly.
“Ssshhh!” I replied, hands outstretched, searching for something solid to guide me. We stumble upon another door. We enter. It was possibly even darker inside.
With self-preservation kicking in, I stopped dead in my tracks to let my eyes adjust to the darkness before taking another step. After a couple of seconds a dim strip of floor lights became visible. They curved round in an arc and following them I found the seating area. Gung-ho Dom on the other hand just steamed in, full speed ahead. Easing myself gently and considerately passed some spa goers who were enjoying the tranquility, I heard a thud, a thump and a cry of pain and before I reached an empty seat I had started giggling. Just as I was thanking my lucky stars that Dom would have no chance of finding me in the dark, therefore giving me some time to pull myself together, I heard him barging his way along the people I had so considerately passed just seconds before.
Toes were stepped upon, knees were bashed and with a thud, Dom sat down next to me.
“I couldn’t find you.” He said.
“That’s because I was trying to lose you!”
We giggled. Several people tutted. We sat for what seemed like an eternity, desperately trying to control ourselves, but as soon as one stopped giggling, the other would start, and so the cycle continued until our eyes finally adjusted. Then we saw it; a huge fountain about 8 foot high, with a large overhanging bowl and a knee-high wall all around it. Dom had tripped over the wall and headbutted the bowl.
Then came the realisation that everyone in the room would have seen the entire fiasco.
Unable to contain ourselves any longer, we burst out laughing, giving the remaining few who had remained in contemplative ignorance a very rude awakening.
“Well that’s ruined my contemplation” said one lady who proceeded to stand up and storm out.
“Don’t worry, you won’t have been the first to do it and I doubt you’ll be the last” said another, at which point we made our excuses and beat a hasty retreat.