I went ice-skating over Christmas for the first time in twenty years. Yes, you heard that right. TWENTY. When the hell did I get so old?
My folks live close to Hampton Court Palace so the scene was set. In effect, the gauntlet was thrown down. What could possibly go wrong? I had visions of us gently skating around the grounds, my (knock-off) pink cashmere scarf ruffling gently in the breeze and my daughters’ MLP begloved hands tucked neatly into my own. In truth, I’d had quite enough of the goading from my husband, who can skate just as brilliantly as he does everything else athletic. Bastard. Besides, I got pretty good as a teenager when I went to the Guildford Spectrum every weekend in my matching Stussy. Of course I was three stone lighter back then and actually had a pelvic floor…
We arrived and were ushered straight into the locker area (we pre-booked online) and then shoehorned into our skates. Emily was a dab hand at all this – she’s been skating for the last two years already – but this was Jess’ first attempt so it took a bit of jiggling and bribing to get her sorted. Next, I collected the kids penguins and then stepped out onto the ice as gracefully as I could…
Oh. My. God.
I’d like to strike the next twenty minutes from my life. FOREVER. Needless to say it involved lots of swearing (sorry kids) and a husband crying with laughter. I also had a very cross three year old (who was, of course, a complete natural.)
‘Let go of the side mummy,’ she huffed at me, ever the fearless toddler, ‘I want to bomb round with Daddy and Emily.’
‘No chance,’ I muttered, never relinquishing my grip for a second. I later discovered that such a vice-like grip had produced two circular blisters on the base of my thumbs.
Fail. Total fail. To complete my humiliation the place was packed with trendy young things all sniggering, rink-side, at ridiculously unprepared oldies like me. Gritting my teeth I willed myself on to the sounds of Katy Perry blaring out above my head.
Thank. God. It’s… FIVE MINUTES TO THE END OF THE SESSION! Hurrah!
Feeling braver suddenly I let go and launched Jess and myself (plus penguin) into the centre of the rink. We promptly got run over by a kamikaze six year old and crash-landed into a huge, yellow dildo-shaped object (which on closer inspection was a plastic banana for toddlers to sit on.)
I’ve never been so grateful for the hot chocolate that my mum thrust into my hands as we returned our skates and piled into the adjoining café. It felt like one of those foil blankets that marathon runners get smothered in once they cross the finishing line. I was actually feeling pretty smug about surviving the whole ideal. Even the kids were happy. Jess had cheered up immensely after realising that Daddy was going to take turns whizzing her and Emily around (because mummy was clearly incapable).
‘So,’ announced Matt suddenly, smirking at me from above the rim of his flat white… ‘Who’s up for skating next year?’
HAMPTON COURT PALACE ICE-SKATING (Open from 11am daily 25th November 2016 to 8th January 2017)