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Reform Magazine | May 18, 2024

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Do stay for tea and coffee: ‘I found a YouTube channel with roller coasters and my kids took turns sitting in a laundry basket’ - Reform Magazine

Do stay for tea and coffee: ‘I found a YouTube channel with roller coasters and my kids took turns sitting in a laundry basket’

Paul Kerensa takes a Youtube roller coaster

Going anywhere nice on your holidays? Some years we take more trips than others, so this is what our summer hols looked like a couple of years back, during that oh-so-brief umpteen-week period the kids were off from school.

We craved a beach holiday – we’re only human – so we enjoyed the sights of the Greek coast, a resort we’d been to a few years earlier. It was too brief, and we were home before we knew it. For some reason it didn’t quite satisfy.

Closer to home, we happen to live near the Bermuda Triangle of south-east England’s theme parks: Legoland, Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park. My children enjoyed all the major rides, at all three parks, with no queuing and thankfully no upset stomachs. Yet it didn’t quite satisfy either.

To America then! I took a road trip from Mississippi to Tennessee. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a gorgeous route linking Natchez to Nashville, via hundreds of miles of tree-lined road. It was beautiful to look at, but again didn’t quite scratch that itch. The travel bug remained.

Back home, we took a few walks and ate a few nice meals. We got lost in Longleat’s hedge maze – the longest in the world – and fended monkeys off our windscreen in their safari park.
It sounds like a busy summer. The thing is, we did almost all of this without leaving our house. This was three years ago, the first summer the pandemic halted our travel plans.

When we craved that Greek beach holiday, we browsed old photos of our previous trip, from the living-room sofa.

For the theme parks, I found a YouTube channel with roller coasters filmed via point-of-view cameras on the front of each ride. As I played them on our TV, my kids took turns sitting in a laundry basket, which I then shunted left, right, forward or back, to match the roller coaster’s movements. The only queue involved was the number of YouTube videos I lined up.

The American road trip was one I took in the early noughties but, thanks to Google Maps’ Street View mode, I took a trip down memory lane to relive some of the sights.

When you can’t travel, you make do. These were bittersweet reminders of travels done, and to do again.
Longleat was the only destination we visited in person, when lockdown laws lifted. We masked up for the hedge maze – it turns out that a hedge maze is outside, yet indoors enough for masks. The safari park was the perfect Covid-safe activity: monkeys on the outside, our own cheeky monkeys in the back seat.

We ate out to help out and took walks around our neighbourhood. Occasionally I’ve found myself repeating those walks lately, thinking back to that difficult period. Yet it was at times oddly simplistic. With almost everyone grounded, the locale stayed local.

We made new friends with our neighbours and appreciated what’s around us, though we hunger to see more of God’s great world. Now that we can travel, my feet are becoming itchy again. I’m reminding myself that while 2020 was incredibly hard, it also brought into sharp realisation the freedom I’d taken for granted.

Wherever we travel to this summer – down the road or down a transatlantic superhighway – may we take time to take it all in, not take it for granted. It’s God’s world; we’re only staying in it.

Happy travels, and if you’re not going anywhere, may I recommend Chessington’s Dragon’s Fury roller coaster, via your telly. Don’t break that laundry basket.

Paul Kerensa is a comedian, writer and broadcaster. His live show ‘The Kneel-down Stand-up’ is available for church events.


This is from an article published in the July/August 2023 edition of Reform

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