Monday, 10 June 2013


When we were asked whether we wanted to pay £5 to park and enjoy the attractions, we should have either turned the car around or carried on driving off the cliff
-          comment on TripAdvisor web forum regarding the ‘Amusement Park’ at Land’s End, August 2011

Opening the doors of our sewage treatment works allows people to see how multi-million pound sophisticated treatment processes safeguard our bathing water, recreational waters and shell fisheries.
-          James Rider, operations manager of the new ‘Bournemouth Sewage Works’ tour, Dorset (quoted in ‘Crap Days Out: 10 of the worst days out in Britain’,

I’ve always found it faintly astonishing that there’s a massive tourist economy in Britain. It just feels too rainy and pedestrian. ‘You want to see this?’ I wonder to myself. ‘Really?’ To me they might as well have come to photograph the road works.
There always was a pretty Cornish village or a crumbling pile in Hertfordshire that could make a bit of cash from day-trippers, but that’s nothing to what’s out there these days. If an area’s seen its industry ripped out and factories closed down, goes the thinking, all it needs to do is open a Visitor’s Centre and it’ll be flooded delighted families flocking in to see the room where Victorian children used to get their limbs torn off. Take the brochure for the Great Orme Ancient Mine in coastal Wales – essentially a large hole with ambitions. ‘Stonehenge is certainly a world class monument,’ it generously allows, ‘but now it is joined by the Ancient Mines on the Great Orme.’ Elsewhere the King Edward Mine’s buildings are Listed ‘Grade 11’, meaning they are of ‘national importance’. On this kind of scale I think our bathroom lime scale probably ranks at Grade 15.
Holiday of a lifetime: 
the Bournemouth Sewage Treatment Tour
Scrape the barrel and what you find there half makes you sad, and half makes you shake your head in disbelief. It's not tourism. It's tour-isn’t‘Enjoy a 30 minute tunnel trip,’ said one I’d found for Standedge Tunnel in Yorkshire, ‘while one of our entertaining guides explains all about the geology and history of the tunnel, as well as thrilling you with tales of the folks who designed, built and worked in the tunnel.’ Alternatively you could just drive beneath the Thames at Blackwell for free.
If these are the minimum standards, it occurred to me, there would be nothing to stop an enterprising fellow like myself from setting up my own ‘Garden Shed Experience’.  

Reasons you’d want to visit Dale’s ‘Garden Shed Experience’
-           Full self service buffet, with hot drinks available 
-           New themed ‘history’ feature with a couple of photos blu-tacked to the wall to explain the story of the creation of the garden shed
-           Guided tour down the garden path to the shed, and back up again
-           Unparalleled views of other neighboring garden sheds
-           Interactive ‘media hub’, involving a TV screen, radio, and a couple of old magazines placed in a pile
-           Additional, free access to the shitty clump of weeds in the corner that nobody can be arsed to uproot
-           Fuck all

My own personal favourite was the ‘Hack Green SECRET Nuclear Bunker’ (just off the A530 Whitchurch Road) which is so secret and undercover that its GPS reference and opening times were openly displayed on the back of the leaflet. The leaflet – a remarkable work of spin managing to rebrand what is essentially a radioactive hole in the ground as a multi-function adventure playground – was a sort of public relations stunt worthy of MI6. ‘Younger children can have bundles of fun as secret agents following the ‘Soviet Spy Mouse Trail!’ it boasted. ‘The only thing missing from the experience is the radiation sickness and a slow lingering death.’ From the sound of it they were doing their best to make up for that.