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Lapland? Bah humbug

Just when you were thanking your lucky stars that you weren't in Mumbai - or Bangkok airport - another black hole pops up to suck you in... and this time it's the Lapland New Forest, at Matchams Leisure Park on the Hampshire-Dorset border.

The park, which opened on Friday, was billed as a winter wonderland - a magical world fitted out with log cabins, husky dogs and even a nativity scene. Instead, visitors (who paid symbol(pound)25 a head) found themselves in what one described to the BBC as "hell".

"The huskies were chained up in a pen howling, yapping and generally looking thin and unhappy," April Chantler, told the BBC. "The two reindeer were obviously not enjoying their surroundings and the 'log cabins' were a few green painted sheds with more or less nothing in them."

"The nativity scene was a picture on a painted wall which was viewed from a distance and which had everyone we met laughing," said Grace Tyrrell, also to the BBC.

I have no doubt that the complaints are genuine, and had I spent symbol(pound)25 to wander round looking at miserable animals and garden sheds I would be pretty fed up too. But maybe this is a theme park for our times - a place where parents - worried about their jobs and mortgages - could take their kids as a warning that they shouldn't be expecting too much this Christmas? And I wonder if they sell pieces of coal?

Please note that this theme park has closed down since publication of this blog.

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