Can I avoid Going Ape?

BY the time you read this we should be en vacances, assuming we managed to shoehorn into the car all the assembled luggage that made the hall a no-go area in the days before departure.

I think I finally cracked the challenge of preparation. The key to getting the most out of your holiday – the most bangs for your buck – is doing your research beforehand, seeing what’s going on in the area and working out a rough timetable.

That way you avoid those frustrating mornings when you all sit around, drinking tea, trying to decide on a programme for the day. By the time you’ve agreed, it’s lunchtime and you’ve achieved nothing bar walking to the shop to buy a newspaper. I like to think I’m organised but holiday planning seems to have slipped through the net – probably because we’re too busy in the run-up, trying to finish things off at work, track down clothes, swimming costumes, flippers, torches, enough pairs of pants to cover seven days, and 101 other essentials.

Speaking of 101 items, I’ve been aided in my plan by a little booklet from the Bournemouth tourism folk called 100 Great Things To do And Sea (sic – and people think the EADT’s headline puns are creaky. I also think they’re being a bit economical with the actualit� by stretching a point – to Salisbury and beyond – in collating their 100 ideas. But let’s not be picky.) I’d just plotted a gentle couple of days, walking the seven miles of beaches and enjoying the stunning gardens, when Emma swept the book out of my hand like a street-mugger. “I’ll find something to do that’s fun,” she bellowed and was back within minutes, suggestions marked with a star. (If only she were so enthusiastic with her homework.) If she gets her way, we’ll be careering down flumes with names like Screamer and Zambezi Drop, scaling climbing-walls and rocketing down artificial ski-slopes in rubber rings. Oh, and I have to accompany her on a one-kilometre trek along high wires and up rope ladders at Go Ape, apparently – at up to 11 metres above terra firma. Our campsite is within 1,000 yards of Royal Bournemouth General Hospital . . . might be handy. Luckily, Emma hasn’t read the Go Ape small-print: you need a waist size under 100cm and to weight less than 20 stone. Could be my get-out clauses . . .

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