THERE are moments that make being a grandad extra-special – and one of them came at the end of our summer holiday.

We went to Center Parcs, in the Netherlands, to relive happy memories from when our children were small. This time round, my wife and I were not only joined by our four grown-up offspring, but our five-year-old granddaughter, Chloe, and her Mummy too.

After the disruption of the Covid years, family time together is to be treasured more than ever, and we had a great week in the sunshine: walking through the forest, splashing in the pool, whizzing down the water slides, playing crazy golf, and generally having fun.

We also had a day out at Efteling theme park – just like we had 20 years ago. Chloe’s tall for a five-year-old, so she passed the height test for some of the rollercoasters, and, naturally, I felt compelled to go on as well.

“Was that fun, Gandalf?” she asked when we came to a halt after a rollercoaster ride, called Bird Roc, that took place in the dark.

“Yes, Chloe, that was great fun,” I lied. The truth was that I thought I was going to die.

Fortunately, we all survived and made it to the last day of the holiday when we’d planned a big surprise for Chloe. We’d all been sworn to secrecy for the best part of a year, and it had been very hard indeed not to let the cat out of the bag.

Finally, we were ready to reveal all…Chloe’s Daddy had prepared a Disney Quiz, which we all knew Chloe had to win. She probably would have done anyway because she loves all things Disney, but let’s just say the questions were skewed in her favour.

“And the winner is…Chloe Barron!” announced her Mummy, who’d been appointed the official scorekeeper.

It was my job to hand out the prize, which had been sealed in a gold envelope, and Chloe was trembling with excitement as she opened it.

Inside was a golden ticket, with Chloe’s picture on the front, and the words: CHLOE IS GOING TO DISNEYLAND PARIS!

“Well, Chloe, you thought the holiday was over and you were going home tomorrow,” said her Daddy. “But you’re not – you’re going to spend a week at Disneyland! You’re going to meet Mickey Mouse, have breakfast with other Disney characters, and we’ve packed all your princess dresses because you’re going to have dinner with the Disney princesses!”

For a second, time was Frozen. Then she looked at us all in disbelief before managing to cry and laugh at the same time, jumping for joy on the spot, then bouncing round and round the room like Tigger after he’s just found out he’s won the lottery.

After at least six laps, she stopped in her tracks, and said Thank you, thank you before bouncing off again.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I love a fairytale ending, don’t you?


EVERYONE’S home now and, having had the time of her life, Chloe’s back in her old routine.

She’s a girl who doesn’t mind going to bed but does her utmost to delay having to go to sleep, and she’s become quite cunning at delaying the inevitable.

“Can I have a bedtime story, Daddy?”, she asks, with tired but pleading eyes.

“Ok Chloe, but not a long one,” came her Daddy’s exhausted reply one evening. “What shall I read?”

Chloe thought for a moment, then replied: “Lord of the Rings!”