Thursday, 15 April 2010

Play well

So, we went to LEGOLAND in Billund for the weekend. This was quite a surprise to me since last time we were there I promised myself Never Again.

Aksel and I both used to work for LEGO. Not the park, or the factory, but LEGO Media, which was set up in 1996 to develop new products. It was a fun, strange time in our lives. Me: newly married, learning Danish, just moved to this strange country. Aksel: newly married, back in Denmark after 7 years, and living, as far as he was concerned, in a strange part of the country -Jutland. As someone who grew up in Copenhagen, living near the little town of Billund, in the middle of nowhere, was a big change.

Add to this the fact that both of us had just a few weeks earlier been living in Los Angeles, California, which couldn't have been more different in every way, and the culture shock was complete.

Anyway - two years ago was the 10-year reunion party for our LEGO department. We were both keen to go and meet up with old friends and colleagues, who were travelling from all over the world to be there. Only now we had two children. Perfect, we thought. We couldn't very well go to LEGOLAND without the children, could we?

Samuel was only 6 months old. It would be fine, I thought, with a slight feeling of dread.

Two nights, all four of us in one room?

It was a nightmare. Sam woke up every hour and therefore so did Anna and they both required me to hop around the room at regular intervals throughout the night, both nights. Until they decided they were up for the day at 5 am. This did not leave me inclined to make adult, witty, intelligent, sophisticated, see-what-I-have-been-doing-in-the-last-10-years-type conversations with my old friends and my old boss (who I so wanted to impress) and to actually enjoy a party, which was (is) a rare event.

We all survived, some of us (me) much more cranky about the whole experience than others. As we left, I swore that was the last time we would all try sleeping in one room (or something to that effect).

Which is why it was quite surprising that we recently drove into the same car park and checked into the same family hostel, with the plan of two days in LEGOLAND.

The excitement of the children really helped – they had been singing about going to LEGOLAND for weeks and were so happy when we finally saw the signs and the familiar-looking but completely oversized bricks that indicated we were nearly there. And this time the sleeping experiment went much better. Some black plastic bags taped to the window to shut out the light helped (despite the fact that from the outside it looked like a serial killer was holed up there). Exhausting the now two-year-old in DUPLO-land also helped. Plus the fact that he no longer normally wakes through the night, so once he was asleep in the travel cot in the corner of the room, he was pretty much out for the night. We all went to bed at the same time, but this was much later than normal for the children, so that also helped. And we all woke up at the very reasonable hour of 8.30 am!

Amazing what a difference a year or two can make. Of course, we had the usual terrible Billund weather: lots of rain and wind and it was very cold. But the advantage of this was that there were hardly any queues. LEGOLAND was perfect for Anna and Samuel this year - Sam is just old enough and Anna is not yet too old for it all.

I am very fond of LEGO (what's not to like?) in spite of the fact that I seem to spend many of my waking hours these days trying to cajole children to tidy it up or prevent myself from nasty foot injuries as I gracelessly avoid stepping on it.

I think there is something very special about the original LEGOLAND too, placed in a location no-one would normally select for an amusement park (or, some might say, anything else). It's no longer owned or run by LEGO, which I think is a bit sad. But it still retains much of the old charm that I remember from my own childhood. Funnily enough, unlike my Danish husband, my parents took me to LEGOLAND in 1977, when I was 6, on the way to Esbjerg to take the boat home to Harwich.

Aksel had to wait until he worked there to see it.

But now you can visit LEGOLAND in England, Germany, and USA. Although, I don’t think they have quite have the same atmosphere as the first park that opened in 1968, right next to the factory that created the 58 billion bricks that are used in it.


  1. oh yes isn't it amazing what a few short (but feel like long) years can make. We atttempted a very brief getaway to a hotel when ours were 8mths and getting on for 2 yrs. What a nightmare. No one got ANY sleep and we left, miserably, after one night of the booked 3 nights....

    these days we manage it just fine though.

    I'm very keen to take my boys to Legoland sometime soon (3 and 4 yrs now). x

  2. PS You need a Baa Baa blind!