As a child of the ‘70s, Saturday mornings were all about one thing… Tiswas.
The anarchic TV show, fronted by Chris Tarrant and Sally James, along with Lenny Henry and Spit the Dog, was essential viewing for any kid with ambitions to act cool back at school on Monday.
Multi-Coloured Swap Shop with Noel Edmunds? That was for squares. Tiswas had violent cartoons, caged adults being drenched with buckets of water, and Jasper Carrott’s unforgettable Dying Fly Dance.
It’s no wonder England were so rubbish at football in the early 1990s (the Graham Taylor years). Too much talent (including mine!) went to waste as thousands of kids skipped Saturday morning training.
Another major reason to stay tuned to Tiswas was the dark, mysterious figure known only as The Phantom Flan Flinger, who would delight in throwing custard pies in the faces of anyone and everyone.
Oh, how I longed to be one of his victims.
So, imagine my joy when, over 40 years later, I discovered that my holiday at St Ives Bay Beach Resort coincided with its annual ‘Custard Pie Fight’!
Determined to finally realise my Tiswas dream, I dragged my reluctant wife and two unsuspecting children down to the ‘battlefield’.
Families were divided as competitors lined up, paper plates laden with custard (actually shaving foam) in each hand, like opposing armies in the English Civil War.
What followed was 30 minutes of organised chaos – very messy chaos – with a seemingly unlimited supply of ‘custard’ being flung here, there and everywhere.
I delighted in splatting the family, and they me. Hits to the face meant I was often flailing around ‘blind’ and unable to repel attacks from random kids.
Eventually, the shaving foam cans spat their last, the bubble machine ran dry, a truce was called and, looking like giant marshmallows, we trudged back to our caravan for a clean up.
And what a caravan it was! The luxury Stargazer is new to St Ives Bay Beach Resort, and the clue to what sets it apart from other caravans is in its name.
The children’s bedroom has three beds, one being a bunk bed with a large sky light and a map of the constellations on the wall.
We were blessed with cloudless night skies during our August stay and the kids took turns to ‘join the dots’ and look out for passing satellites.
They loved it, and mum and dad were just as impressed with their ensuite bedroom – with its freestanding bath tub – and the rest of the spacious caravan.
The furnishings, crockery and utensils were top notch and there was a built-in coffee maker, a huge fridge freezer, a wine cooler, bottle optics, a bluetooth sound bar, three TVs and free wifi.
The many seaside and surfing motifs were a nice touch.
In the toilet was a poster with some basic Cornish phrases, such as ‘‘dydh da’’ (hello) and ‘‘meur ras’’ (thank you). And in a surprising nod to a classic Monty Python sketch, there was ‘‘leun a sylli yw ow skath bargesi’’ (my hovercraft is full of eels).
The caravan also had a lovely decking area with a hot tub and a sea view which stretched from St Ives in the west to Godrevy Point lighthouse in the east, which served as inspiration for Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse.
Just one fault: the sliding patio door was too low for anyone over 6ft. A warning sign above admitted that ‘‘the designer of this door wasn’t tall’’!
The caravan was just a three-minute walk through sand dunes to the miles of sandy beach that makes up St Ives Bay.
There’s an abundance of lifeguards in summer and the resort has a resident surf school, offering group and individual lessons for anyone serious about taming the waves.
Our children were rarely off their paddle boards.
For me, though, the best thing about the beach was watching the sun go down, glass of wine in hand, over St Ives. Sunsets were also witnessed from the Sands Bistro, as the kids enjoyed its floodlit playground.
For a change of scenery, we walked the coastal path through sand dunes to the estuary at Hayle, and discovered the town’s lido, where we all had a splashing time.
Other days were spent on the gorgeous beaches at Gwithian and Godrevy – both just about within walking distance – where we swam close to an inquisitive seal.
Of course, St Ives town also has some cracking beaches, and it’s the place to go for the obligatory Cornish pasty.
But I prefer pies to pasties, especially the custard variety.
St Ives Bay Beach Resort is one of many parks across the UK owned by Away Resorts. Close to Hayle town, and open all year round, there are daytime activities (mostly charged although the Custard Pie Fight was free), entertainment every evening for young and old, an indoor pool and a mix of pet-friendly accommodation, including touring pitches, camping pods, chalets, houses and many different grades of caravan. A two-night break in a seven-berth Stargazer caravan with hot tub from Wednesday, April 19 costs £280. A six-berth Value caravan from Tuesday, April 25 costs £140 for two nights. To book, visit awayresorts.co.uk