The Crystal Maze experience in London, drinking in fancy hotel bars, parties at Worthing’s Thomas A’Becket pub and drying my washing outside – our columnist’s busy week

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Spring has sprung, and I now pronounce the outdoor clothes-drying season officially open.

It might sound sad, but nothing makes me happier than being able to dry my washing outside. And given the current energy prices, this glorious spate of warm and sunny weather couldn’t have come at a better time.

The clothes airer that spends all winter in our living room displaying my husband’s pants like some kind of modern art installation for our visitors can hopefully be banished to the garage, most likely to be replaced with some toys my children will play with for half an hour, and then never so much as look at again.

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The Crystal Maze experience in London –where Katherine realised she is not good at problem-solvingThe Crystal Maze experience in London –where Katherine realised she is not good at problem-solving
The Crystal Maze experience in London –where Katherine realised she is not good at problem-solving

That is until I try to sneak said toys out to the charity shop, at which point they will develop a heightened sense of awareness, kind of like an in-built toy-tracking system.

The second I get them anywhere near the front door, my children will be in floods of tears, clinging to my ankles and the bag of toys as if their lives depended on it, begging me to ‘please, please, let us keep them, Mummy’.

“But you never play with them”, I will remind them, at which point they will promise that they are definitely their absolute favourite things in the world and they will play with them every day.

I think we all know what happens when the toys get reluctantly placed back in the living room...

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Charity shops really should operate a special late-night drop-off, where frustrated parents can free their house of dusty, unloved toys while the children are sleeping and none-the-wiser. I reckon it would be very popular.

Aside from doing the washing (which, I swear, is actually a full-time job – a never-ending cycle of wash, hang, put away, repeat), I did manage to get out and about in the sunshine loads this week.

There was a trip to the beach, a day at the dinosaur park near Horsham with my son and my friend and her son, and a party for a friend at the Thomas A Becket, where all the children loved the play area, and all the adults loved being outdoors, and being able to have a drink while watching them.

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But, possibly the most adventurous of all, was a day out in London. I haven’t been there since before Covid, so I actually felt like a fully-fledged tourist. My husband was bemused by me taking pictures of Buckingham Palace, because we can ‘come here any time’, but it had been so long and just felt so exciting to go up to the capital again.

Despite it being six months since the actual day (gulp – that’s gone a bit too quick for my liking) we were there to continue celebrating my 40th birthday by doing The Crystal Maze experience with my brother and sister and their partners. They bought it for me as a gift, but thanks to Covid, Christmas, and works on the railway line, this was the first date we could manage.

It really did feel just like being in the ’90s cult-classic show. If you remember it, you’ll know there was always one team member who wasn’t quite up to par, and sadly, that team member was me. Maybe it was my perpetual baby brain (yes, yes, I know my youngest is almost four, but I’m sure it’s a lifelong affliction), or maybe I was never destined to be a quick-thinking puzzle-solver. Either way, I was rubbish. In one game, I had to fire arrows to knock balls off a plinth, but as I didn’t notice the bow, I started trying to throw arrows with my hands. And don’t even get me started on the traffic light game.

Needless to say, I needed a drink afterwards, and as it was a special treat, we went to the Corinthia Hotel. It really was a case of how the other half live at £20 a cocktail, but you only turn 40 once, right?!