Tag Archives: Holidays

Planning a Holiday!

Planning a Holiday!

This year we WILL go on holiday and it WILL be a success.  No more sitting in soggy tents in Scotland for a week with the rain pounding the canvas.  Oh no!  I want sunshine, I want dry clothes, I want kids activities (well, the kids do at least) and Horace and I want a break.  I don’t want much do I?

Holidays in the old days!

Holidays in the old days!  That’s me on the right by the way. Nice bowl haircut innit.

We need somewhere warm and cosy where we can spend quality family time together bickering.

We need somewhere warm and cosy where we can spend quality family time together bickering.

It’s so hard to find somewhere that’s affordable though, with all the facilities that you need for active young children.  I’m not sure where to start.  It’s that time  of year when everyone starts looking around for something and the travel agents start sharpening their claws.

‘You want a holiday outside of term time?  Oh that’ll be three times the usual price Mrs Wilkinson.’

‘Oh erm….thanks.  Does that include kids activities, breakfast and a free limo?’

‘No.’

I’m not jaded or anything.  So, these are the options I’ve considered.  Sharing a villa somewhere warm in the Costa-del-Packet and robbing a bank to pay for it for starters.  That does actually sound lovely, but pricey (especially considering I’ll have to hire a get-away car and a crack team of bank robbers).  Another option is getting abroad, but living in a tent for a week, preferably near a beach or a swimming pool.  That seems a little more reasonable.

We'd like somewhere near attractions, such as zoos or prisons where we can put the kids behind bars when they misbehave.

We’d like somewhere near attractions, such as zoos or prisons where we can put the kids behind bars if they misbehave.

Great uk summer breaks are possible I suppose.  I just worry that the weather might ruin everything.  The trick is to keep the kids happy, as long as the kids are contented, we’re onto a winner.  If they’re climbing the walls looking for something to do, clamouring for friends and a non-existant beach, it’ll be well…..terrible.  I must find something, and fast.  Having said that, at places like Butlins they do have a lot of facilities indoors away from the wind, rain and hail. Maybe, just maybe, that’s a thought.

Ideally somewhere that the kids can run wild. We'll just sit in the car with a MacDonalds and a coffee and watch.

Ideally somewhere that the kids can run wild. We’ll just sit in the car with a MacDonalds and a coffee and watch.

Craft activities would be nice.  If I didn't have to organise them that'd be even better.

Craft activities would be nice. If I didn’t have to organise them that’d be even better.

These adverts for Disney holidays make me laugh.  ‘Kids eat free!’  ‘Kids go free’ ‘Kids love Mickey Mouse and will only love you if you sell a kidney to go on our holidays’ and all that.  If I had a pound for every time my daughter has looked longingly at the TV and asked if she can go to Disneyworld, I’d be able to afford to go  (she watches a lot of adverts).  What they don’t tell you on the adverts is that you pay more for the adults to subsidise the kid’s places.  Clever eh! Try explaining that to a 7 year old who is dazzled by fireworks and images of rollercoasters and endless ice-creams.  Ho-Hum.

I’m running the risk of sounding like Mrs Angry here.  It’s just so difficult trying to find something affordable and appropriate for our family.  Where are you going? What are your plans?  Help me!

This is a Butlins sponsored post – please give us a free holiday!  I is panicking here.

Butlin's-logo-2

A Fortnight in France – Part 5

A Fortnight in France – Part 5

This is the fifth part of my epic holiday in France (well, it was epic for me!  I actually saw sunshine for a while and got away from home for a fortnight! WooHoo!  If you’d like to read previous installments please do click on the links below, this will all make sense if read in order, I promise.

Part 1: Setting off from a drizzly UK and arriving in a sunny haven in France.  The kids fly for the first time and we explore the area a little.

Part 2: Canoeing, hanging around the pool and swimming in a storm. (I didn’t, I was a wimp and it was too cold)

Part 3: The day France was closed, Sausages and Saucisson, and games with gravel.

Part 4: Rain, rain, go away! In which we are miraculously transported to the Lake District overnight.

This was where most of these diary entries were written. Nicely shaded and quiet (when the kids were off elsewhere at least!)

Continuing on from Part 4: I look out the window one morning and see:

Birdies

A couple of days ago we were rewarded with a line of burbling swifts/swallows lined up on our telephone wires.  They kept sweeping off their perches, swooping around a little and alighting, setting the process off all over again.  Constant movement and displacement.  Beautiful, elegant birds and an absolute joy to watch.

A random Thursday of which the date is unknown.

The highlight of the day was an update from Horace from some news website or other.  It was about an alcoholic moose believe it or not.  The poor thing had got carried away in its search for slightly over ripe apples and had actually climbed up a tree.  After consuming loads of apples that were so ripe they had become alcoholic, it slipped and became stuck.  Some bewildered Swedish bloke actually found this drunk moose floundering around up a tree!  Can you imagine the phone call to the Swedish version of the RSPCA!

‘Hello?’

‘Hi, There’s a moose stuck  in my tree and I think its drunk’

‘Is it ok?’

‘It just asked me a strong coffee but apart from that I think it’s fine.’

The news said that the swedish version of the RSPCA had rescued it and told ‘curious enquirers’ that it was ‘recovering’.

I sat and chuckled about this long after everyone else stopped thinking it was funny.

A Posh Meal With Father Christmas

By this point in the holiday we were all thinking about the inevitable return to the UK.  With this depressing thought  in mind (or maybe that was just me) we decided we’d have a celebratory meal to finish the french trip in style; we decided to go for a fabulous meal out at some far out of town French farmhouse.  It was a beautiful location for a meal, out of the way, along winding, almost Devonesque country roads finally ending up at a farmhouse that boasted a kind of derelict glory, there were dilapedated fountains and falling down stonework here and there.  The meal was the poshest I’ve ever eaten.  I still feel guilty about eating fois gras, it’s a huge delicacy here.  I just think it’s a bit mean and tastes like chicken mousse – although I suspect I’m a foodie heathen.

Anyway!  It was at St Clement, near St John d’ Cole.  The meal was very classy.  Too classy for the likes of me probably.  The first course was some kind of cold tomato soup, served in something that I’m presuming they stole from a doll’s house.  It was presented in a tiny bowl, with an equally tiny spoon – added to this was a small floating random green vegetable that I was told was a pickled squash.  I ate it and it tasted of aniseed balls.  So, first course, cold doll’s house soup with random small green vegetable that tasted of sweets.

Gaps between courses were spent wandering (having a smoke) outside in the garden where the Horse Chestnuts had dropped a ton of conkers. The kids spent quite a while making this sunshine arrangement. So pretty!

The owner of the place appeared to be a slightly knackered looking Father Christmas and his lovely assistant, who wore a chef’s white jacket slung over the top of a smart dress.  We weren’t sure if she was his daughter or his trophy wife.  Either way I never saw her smile once and she looked rather like a bad tempered hospital matron than a waitress.  Apparently mardy Father Christmas had been seen to criticise her on her placement of the second course on the table and she’d begun to look unfriendly from that moment on.  I thought she looked scary from the start personally and was scared of asking for more bread rolls for fear of having my food replaced with hospital food instead of gourmet stuff.

If I remember correctly this was a certain sort of mushroom pate. I can’t remember what sort of mushroom it was, although it will have been one with an impressive french name probably.

Second course was very decorative and quite edible. Four strands of courgette, each peel curled up and placed end on, standing up on the plate with some strange pate in the middle that tasted of mushrooms maybe.   Four crunchy mushrooms were sliced and placed in between these swirls of courgette.  Horace had the slightly more expensive menu and I’d be a fool to try and describe all the odds and ends that he had on his plate, for one I can’t remember, and for two, I seriously think you might get bored, or at the very least wander off for a cheese butty and come back when we’re onto the next course.

I do distinctly remember the flower we were given to eat, and which tasted vaguely of floppy lettuce. It consisted of a yellow/orange aubergine bloom which I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to eat or not at first.  I think it was stuffed with something?  It did look pretty though!  I’d never eaten flowers before!  Well if you discount the time I ate some Clover when I was ten, someone told me that bees liked them and I thought that if they were good enough for bees I’d give it a try.  (I only ate a tiny bit of Clover before you start calling me a cow)

Horace’s next course was apparently called ‘Exploration of the Goat’.  I suspect whoever used the french phrasebook  lost the meaning in translation.  I expected a live bleating goat to be plonked on the table and for the owner to stand with a pointer and name each part of the goat in turn.

‘Zis is d’ Goat’s tail!’ ‘Ze goat’s leg’ ‘Zis is d’ Goat’s bottom!’

What arrived was a small parcel of meat wrapped neatly with string, and random pureed vegetables placed in neat small piles around the plate.  It was a ‘Brief Excursion of the Goat’ I think.  Tasted beautiful I have to say, maybe I’m not a complete foodie failure…

The meal was fantastic in all, really well presented and full of morsels of food I’d never eaten before, or at least had never eaten in the way they were presented.  I suspect that if I hadn’t been told that the strange little cubes of mottled brown and green things were actually quite high quality, home-made, matured to perfection, goats cheese cubes, I’d have sent them back whilst stropping and commenting that I’d report them to Environmental Health for giving us clearly mouldy food.

There were quite a few other courses and as I had a glass of wine with each course to complement the dishes I suspect I was rather pished at the end of it all.   I’d describe them all in detail, but I do genuinely think you’d get bored of me.

Sausage stares in amazement at his dinner! The green spiked hair was pureed spinach I think, the yellow eyes were egg yolks, and the white was the white of the egg. I think, but I’m not sure, the eyes and the mouth were olives maybe? He wouldn’t eat most of it, but loved the look of it at least!

Quick interlude, I’m typing at the end of the day.  The sky is a grey with a slash of pale pink, ocassional birds float across sky.  I’m waiting for the bats to start flitting around the garden.

Rent a Dog!

We didn’t realise that when we rented these gits, that we’d also rented the owner’s dog.  Every now and this huge fluffy, overweight retriever squeezes through a gap in the hedge and comes to keep us company, scrounge food….and to poo on the lawn – which is nice.  I like dogs, I really do.  I just hate dog poo.  I think this is bothering me more than I realised.  Last night I had a dream about a massive polar bear sized dog which I stroked carefully as it towered over my head.

This ‘Rent-a-Dog’ AKA Fluffy Pest, is actually very docile and endearing.  It’s slightly elderly and massive in an overfed retriever kind of way.  The cheeky thing sat in front of me the other day as I ate a piece of toast.  I took a bite, and it sat down and stared longingly at my food.  I told him ‘I’ve been brought up with labradors you know, I can resist you.’  He carried on staring, but he then he brought out the big guns just to see if I’d crack, despite my intensive training.  I swear that dog grinned at me!  I didn’t give him my toast though. I’m wellard me! (Just to clarify, I was brought up as a normal child, not amongst labradors in a kennel, my parents had pet dogs, I didn’t live as one of them or anything)

You can tell how hot the sun is according to how many lizards you can spot on a short wander around the gits.  The more lizards per square metre, the higher the temperature.  I prefer higher lizard density kind of days as opposed to nil-lizard drizzly Lake District days I have to say.

The Matilda Party!

On the last day after we’d tidied and cleaned our gits, we decided to finish the holiday on a high note.  Sweara, being the amazing grandma and inventive foodie that she is, helped use up our left over grub and organised food for the ‘Matilda Party’ which was held at the top swimming pool – the highlight of which was an orange studded with cocktail sticks bearing leftover camembert cheese and courgette pieces.  This orange even had cheese and olives stuck on to make a face.  Perfect party food for the final finale of the holiday!

We all sat round with ‘cocktails’, ie fruit juice with mint and pieces of oranges floating in it, listening to the last chapter of Matilda being read to Darlek by Gangdad.  Darlek wandered around with crisps and drinks, obligingly helping the party along like a cute little hostess.

Sausage got bored and decided to get ready for swimming, so he stripped himself naked and sat next to Mark and Bella, splashing them ocassionally.  I thought it was best to humour his impatience and got in with him.  He doggy paddled up and down in his little floatation belt, while the Matilda party continued.  After the chapter finished there was a round of applause, and Darlek joined us in the pool.  Darlek and I played at chasing a football with two long floatation tubes thingys.  We clung together at one point because shed did her gasping ‘I’m drowning!’ thing;  both of us were giggling and laughing so much at the deep end that we then both started doing an ‘I’m drowning!’ impression.  I had to swim for safety at the side of the pool for fear of dying of drowning and laughter.  Sausage determinedly fished crickets out of the pool in the meantime.

When I got out Grandma Mu-Mu said that she had tears in her eyes.  Apparently I looked just like a friend of hers called Jackie from years ago.  I don’t usually tie my hair back and I think I may have looked a little different today, I was also wearing a very 1950’s style swimsuit. Low cut, black with striped top that crosses across my back.  I was very, very touched that she would associate me with someone she obviously thought a lot of.

It was a beautiful end to a beautiful holiday.  I’m typing now as I sit on the balcony, with  bright blue glorious skies above me, not a cloud to be seen.  Birds chirp in the distance and flies float around like motes with nowhere to go, just flying about and dodging and diving for the hell of it.  There’s a distant sound of airplanes, but absolutely no traffic noise.  The horses stand in the field opposite, swishing their tails lazily and are hiding in the shelter of their stall for shade.

A golden evening glow on the meadows.

To describe the setting: there’s the whoosh and rattle of the cooling fan behind me. There’s teddy bears left on pillows in the room , pyjamas are abandoned on the bed, suitcases strewn everywhere, floor immaculate swept and wiped clean ready for us to leave tomorrow.  This git is so clean!  Cleaner than our house at home ever is!  Horace cleaned the shower whilst showering.  He did hint that I should do that, but I didn’t fancy a shower in cleaning fluid so ducked that particular task

Off for a final meal of chilli, with friends and family.  I feel like I am so lucky some days.  The high blue skies reflect the mood I’m in.  High on happiness!

You’ll be relieved to find out that I’m actually nearly at the end of these holiday diaries.  Just one more to go…

Cosy Musings From a Caravan

Cosy Musings From A Caravan.

My netbook is out of batteries so this is being written in green biro on a scratty A4 pad I found in a cupboard.

We are in Settle in Horace’s gran’s caravan, we’re just here for a couple of days holiday over the Easter period.

The rain is hammering on the roof in waves and the wind occasionally wobbles the caravan very slightly, but it’s so snug in here, I’d rather be here than anywhere else in the world right now.  It’s as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist out there.

I love being away from home.  It’s not that I hate my own four walls, but it’s what they stand for, the worries, the bills, the housework, the crumbs on the carpet.  Here all I have to worry about, right now, is how do I raise my snoring other half from the sofa so I can check I’ve switched off the gas fire properly – a skill I’ve never quite mastered.

The time is 11.30ish, the gas fire is blasting out a lovely glowing, bright orange heat, the kids are tucked up in the other room beneath duvets and sleeping bags with hot water bottles and teddies.

I have a glass of wine nestled in my left hand, the remains of a chocolate cheesecake sat on the table, and calm and quiet.  If you discount the loudly snoring husband.  There’s washing up in the sink, but I don’t have to do it  There’s a pile of books beside me I could dip into if I wanted to. Perfection!

We’ve spent so many good times here, I can’t think of anything remotely negative connected with this place.  You know when you’re a kid and you build dens made of sticks, old carpet and maybe an old door or something, and it just feels special somehow – like your very own space?  Well, this is the grown up version.

I keep remembering the times we’ve spent here in the past.  Not wistful exactly, just in amazement.  Darlek is 7 now, but I can still remember when we came here and she was just three months old!  It was April and it snowed, it was so cold!  We were in the new parent paranoia stage and had a baby monitor that registered the temperature in the bedroom where she lay in her moses basket.  It dropped to about 8 degrees and I thought poor Darlek would freeze to death.  The bed is quite small in there and I remember picking her up and tucking her in with me, my arm carefully encircling her so she wouldn’t fall out of bed and so that I wouldn’t lie on her.  I was so unbelievably uncomfortable I don’t think I slept a wink that night, but at least I knew she was warm and safe.

THUD! – Sausage just fell out of bed, poor love.  I just found him in a heap in the gap between the beds, his little head poking up under a pile of duvet that slid off the bed with him.  He’s safely tucked up back in bed now at least. 

Funny memories too of coming here when Horace and I were just getting together.  We used to come up here as a gang of us, usually ending up rather erm…drunk at some point or other.  We were always very considerate to the neighbours though and tried to keep the noise down, but nonetheless stayed up late into the night talking and having a laugh.

It was always of the utmost importance that we kept the caravan in mint condition for obvious reasons.  Horace’s gran wouldn’t want a load of yobs wrecking her pride and joy.  I suppose now I can admit to the time when my friend over did it a little and threw up on the cream carpet.  Most of us were a little too far gone to clean up properly, but thankfully one of us was still with it enough to sit on his hands and knees at about 2am with a bowl, a cloth, some disinfectant and a strong stomach and sort it all out.  That wasn’t me by the way, I was probably sat there giggling at the patterns on the sofa at the time.  Oh how times have changed!

We’re not here with a horde of us now, it’s all very respectable.  Two kids in bed, Horace kaffled on the sofa, quiet apart from the gentle hiss of the gas fire.  I miss those times a little I suppose, but if I was still doing that at 36 years old, I think I’d be thoroughly bored of it by now.  Besides I like a good night’s sleep and I hate hangovers.

This evening we all sat and watched ‘The Time Machine’, the old classic movie made in about 1960 or something.  It’s made me think a little.  Would I like to go back to those times, they were fun – the cosy early parenthood days, the mucking about, raucous days.  I suppose as a time tourist I would.  I’d not be tempted to linger too long though or the rose-tinted spectacles might wear off.  The memories of those times are probably more fun than they actually were when I lived through them.

But….if I had a time machine, I’d definitely be tempted to try to freeze time right now, this very minute.  While my glass is still half full, while Horace lies sprawled under his fleecy blanket on the sofa, soon to wake; with the kids curled up fast asleep dreaming of school, or the Faraway Tree or Lego Batman….and me sat here with my scrawly handwriting on an A4 pad with a slight cramp from writing so fast.

(Horace’s gran reads this blog occasionally, just to say ‘I’m very sorry about the carpet, we cleaned it up very, very, very, very well promise – please don’t cross me off the Christmas card list.  *looks sheepish*) ;O)

A Fortnight in France – Part 4

A Fortnight in France– Part 4

If you’d like to read right from the very beginning, you can find Part 1 HERE!

A quick warning, this is typed up very quickly from what I wrote whilst on holiday.  I suspect the grammar and the tenses etc are very badly mangled.  If you are an english teacher or some such other writing professional, please could I ask you kindly to ignore the badd spelling, terrible tenses of which I write of at the last minute, and appalling p’unctuation.

This blog is mainly about hunting for French Rizlas, suggestive Cave Paintings and drizzle (or should I say ‘Le P*ssing it Down’.

Going Native

Both kids have gone completely native, and have been running barefoot around the site.  We have been using copious amounts of Savlon on ragged feet. No amount of cajoling will persuade them to keep their shoes on.  I reckon their feet have become so calloused with the gravel that they have numb toes, there’s no other explanation for it.

'Please put your shoes on! Go on, go on, go on, go on!'

Darlek is getting dreadlocks and I must appear like the worst mum in the world because I cannot be arsed to run around after her with a brush.  I found a bobble the other day and managed a plait so I’m on with damage limitation exercises.

I’m unsure if they will let us back through customs with our battered  children.  Poor Sausage looks like a shadow of his healthy self.  He fell over the other day and used his face as brakes.  He grazed his face quite badly and now looks like he has jam smattered all over one side of his face permanently.  I am hoping  it will heal a little more by the time we got home.  Both kids have been runnning around like wild things and have acquired scratches and grazes.  All in all, I suspect I may be guilty of mild neglect.  There will be a plaster famine some time quite soon.

A Quest for Rizlas.

Horace and co have struggled to find supplies of baccy in surrounding shops, and in particular ‘thick’ rizlas.  Horace has always been given thin rizlas that are crap for roll ups and he has been unable to ask for anything else because of his rubbish  french.  He proudly announced today that he has found the word for ‘thick’ in his french dictionary so he will be able to go into a baccy shop and ask for them properly now.  I am hoping they won’t think he’s actually calling the shopkeeper ‘thick’ and get thrown out of the shop as a result.  Up until now, he’s just mimed with his finger tips, doing a pinched finger and thumb to mime ‘thin’, and then stressing he wants thick rizlas by extending the distance between finger and thumb to indicate thicker rizlas.  Consequently he’s just been supplied with massive rizlas, they think he’s just saying bigger.

'So, you think I'll be able to cope with my expensive cheese habit when I get home?' *look doubtful

When I go home I will need to stop chain smoking, drinking G n’ T’s in the afternoon and contantly eating baguettes and cheese. Not quite sure how this will happen.  Will have to stock up on tonic water, ensure there’s no gin in the house (ever!) and go get plastic fags from the chemists. I will be very bored with mild cheddar, and may have to leave chunks of it sweltering in cling film in the sun on the windowsill in a vain attempt to make the cheese taste of something.  We cannot continue such an expensive cheese habit, more’s the pity.

Laxeaux – that place where they have cave drawings estimated to be from 30,000 years ago (I can’t spell it).

There’s a slight hint of the Cottingley fairies in this tale you know!  The story goes that a couple of french lads found these cave drawings in their summer holidays  in underground caves amongst the french countryside – all of them resolved not to tell anyone about it – but then told everyone a couple of days later.  It is almost impossible to date the paintings because of the make-up of the rock, or something.  I think these lads just got bored, elaborately grafittii’d a load of rock with pictures of bulls with double unicorn horns, and then pretended it was pre-historic.  I suppose we’ll never know! (actually I think there must be some basis of truth because one of them would have spilled the beans to The Sun by now if that was the case).  I reckon the Cottingley Fairies mystery wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did if newspapers offered lucrative rewards for stories at the time.

At the  Museum in Laxeaux (how is this place name spelt?!)  We went for a wander around the museum and were very unimpressed.  They had an area with animals in that were supposed to vaguely look like the beasties that had been drawn on the cave walls.  For example, one of the notices outside one of these animal enclosures said:  ‘Compare the bull pictures with the real things!’ – in the enclosure are horses:  yep, you read that right….horses.   Talk about confusing people!

At the the Laxour site itself, the cave drawings were actually beautiful replicas of the ancient art work; the original cave siting had suffered from mould and damage because of the influx of visitors and the spores that they brought down with them on their breath.  They were amazing to see, the artists had just come out of an ice-age and were making their mark in these old caves.  The paintings span almost the whole of the replica cave, across the walls, the roof, everywhere.  Three colours were used, which is apparently rare in cave drawings of this kind, they consisted of black, red and yellow – various combinations of which led to 12 shadings.  In my youth I always assumed that people from that era just ran around with clubs attacking wooly mammoths and going ‘Ug’ a lot.  In fact some of them were ensconsced in flickering candlelit caves, laid flat on their backs on scaffolding, painting the ceilings of caves with breathtaking images of bulls, stags, bears, horses and, it has to be said, a rather rude stickdrawing of a man looking rather excited about something.

(I’m sorry I can’t include photos, we didn’t take our camera with us on that day)

In the cramped cave where the tour was held, Darlek crawled through a sea of legs at least once to get to the interesting bit of the talk.  The french bloke doing the tour had a really strong french accent and I struggled not to giggle innapropriately at first.

Seriously though,the drawings are spellbinding!  My favourite bit was where the artists have drawn five horses, all following each other in line as if along a hillside.  The artists often used the relief of the cave to add depth to their drawings and in this case the horses really do look as if they are running along a far distant hillside, they are drawn along a particularly dramatic crease in the rock which makes for a perfect perspective trick of the eye.

We were told that anyone who made too much noise would be thrown out so, after we’d told Sausage to stay as quiet as possible, he began to tell me and anyone within reach to ‘shush’ and put his finger to his lips. This meant I missed quite a bit of the talk which was a little frustrating, but was still forgiveable because it was funny.  Daughter thankfully didn’t do her ‘Farticus’ impression whilst we were in the cave.  I overheard Gangdad asking her to try not to blow off too much, and ‘clenching’ was suggested.  The advice was obviously taken on board and gas masks were not necessary at any point in the cave experience. Yay!

Rain, Rain Go Away!

At least it was warm rain!

Today we woke up to drizzle, fog and what seems to be the Lake District.  I am a little concerned that someone has picked up the entire git and shifted it back to Britain overnight.  Currently I’m sat under our wooden shelter, with my coat on, and a jumper and my jeans, my feet clad in wooly socks and big boots.  I’m rubbish at being cold, there are others here in jeans and T’shirts today but I’m just a wuss.  The sides of the shelter are all open so I’ve had to move from the end of the table towards the middle which is more sheltered by the house – it’s either that or sit typing with a soggy potentially knackered netbook.

That's me, the geek typing in the corner. Not one of the prettiest photos I've ever seen of me, it has to be said!

I’m a little resentful at the weather to be honest, it was so beautiful at the start.  It still is, it’s just the colours are never quite as vibrant in my opinion when the weather is manky.  Wordsworth would probably wax lyrical about the trees drinking in the rain, branches held to the sky in thanks for the watery blessing.  I on the other hand, mourn the loss of the sun loungers and stare sadly at the redundant suncream all piled in a plastic tub in the corner.  Bugger.  We left Britain in floods of rain, it seems it has followed us.  Bugger again.  I’m not bitter. Much.

The gits (I refuse to call them any other name)

The three cottages are called ‘La Lavendere’ ‘La Rosemarie and ?, two of which have their own lawn and  almost direct access to the swimming pool, our cottage has a gravelled area with some sun loungers but no pool.  This isn’t a bother though as we’ve spent most of the holiday hanging around the largest of the gits.  The food is communal so it’s a help yourself kind of affair, which has worked well.  I just feel sorry for the people who live in this particular git as we have all been using it as the main place to hang out – hence they’ve had all the washing up, bottles, the dreaded Sausage’s wet pants left on the floor outside, and abandoned shoes.   As the largest family here, I am concerned that we are secretly known as the scruffy rabble who should really learn to pick up after themselves.  I fill the dishwasher sheepishly every now and then and wipe up in an attempt not to be evicted.  So far it’s worked.  We’re still here. (Kay digs her heels in)

The centre of the communal git has a relatively well maintained lawn with a beautiful tree as the main feature.  I have no idea what sort of tree it is, but it appears to be light green, ferny and fluffy from a distance.  The leaves catch the rain and make it look like it’s adorned with  little glass dewdrop beads.

The botanical term for this tree is erm....'Fernus Frilly Prettius' Honest.

‘I don’t beliiieve it! (Victor Meldrew stylee), it’s started raining even more now.  All I can hear is dripping water and burbling bubbling drainpipes, and pattering on the shelter.  It’s all very watery.  I think I need a wee. Damn you rainfall! (shakes fists at the heavens)

Running in the Rain

We let the kids run around in the rain for ages, they were having so much fun it seemed a shame to stop them.  They did have anoraks on, but seemed determined to wear them with the hoods down, and in Darlek’s case unzipped.  I saw her lie on one of the soaked sun loungers as if in the throes of a boiling hot day, although the sun’s rays had been replaced with pelting rain.  I suppose it was warm rain at least.  Both pairs of their shoes did use to have flashing lights in the soles, now they no longer flash and they are soaking wet and stuck in a corner rammed with newspaper.  Why oh why did I not tell them to put their sandals on!  So that’s one to French rain, and nil to mummy.  Doh!  I bet they’ll both end up with raging Athlete’s Foot now and it’ll all be my fault.

It is a little later in the day and the rain has thankfully left us.  Good riddance to crap drizzle.  Short of entertainment, Darlek resorted to hair design and badgering grownups.  At least six of us have been bullied into having hair do’s remeniscent of romans or forest nymphs.  Boredom has led to minor hair insanity.  As we ignored all requests for TV, or iPad usage, this is what happened.

Horace's hair. Yep, it really is that long.

You'd be right in thinking they are in fact artistically arranged felt tip pens...She'll murder me for including that pic!

I personally had my hair decorated with ferns, and random cream flowers; others had wreaths of ivy and roses, Horace had ‘body’ added to his hair with the use of empty loo roll cardboard tubes and a bubble blowing container, with roses added for even greater insanity.

Further Adventures in Speaking Bad French. 

I just overheard an excerpt of French phrase book dabbling:  Someone has perfected saying ‘Is the equipment secure?’  ‘This is insane!!!’    I’m struggling to think of a context where this particular phrase could come in useful.  Maybe on board a french ship where a bewildered englishman is desperately trying to tie himself to the mast in the midst of a storm and is given a traditional bright yellow rubber ring with a duck head on the front of it.  Sorry, this is all I can think of. Again Horace is on about Gay Boits.  I am at an absolute loss as to how to link that to the above phrases and situation.  Maybe they are sailing to a gay island, Lesbos maybe.

Kids are running around frantically asking anyone and everyone if they will fill up the water pistol.  Despite it being generally acknowledged that this is a bad idea, they are still insisting on asking everyone.  I’ve been asked twice.  I don’t think anyone has actually helped them but Harold has been squirted with water; all I can presume is that they have been attempting the complicated filling mechanism on their own and have achieved a little sucess.  Either that or they have been spitting water into it for some considerable time.  I daren’t sucess the latter as a possibility in case we are actualy thrown out of the git.

The evening sunshine is lighting up the surrounding hillside trees with a golden green glint.  Cream, white and grey clouds are drifting along the mostly blue sky, a hint of crap weather with hopes of further sunshine tomorrow.  Maybe I’ll swim  in the pool tomorrow if I feel brave enough.

So there you go!  This is the blog that refuses to go away.  *sings* ‘I know a blog that’ll get on yer nerves, get on yer nerves, get on yer nerves. I know a blog that’ll get on yer nerves…..’ (repeat until you’re sick of it.)   Apologies, I’ll stop soon, I promise. 

Tinned Asparagus with Fiery Mustard is Not Nice

Tinned Asparagus with Fiery Mustard is Not Nice.

Yep, I know I’ve gone on about this Jenny Craig diet loads, it’s because it’s the biggest blogging project I’ve ever done and it involves an actual lifestyle change.  And let me tell you, it’s not easy, not at all!

I have allocated meals, allocated snacks, allocated permitted side dishes I source myself, and no allocation of 100gram bars of chocolate.  None whatsoever *whimpers*.  I swear I may go into chocolate withdrawal and start shaking.

We had tea at 4.15pm today, we NEVER eat that early, and do you know why we did?  Because I was starving and had eaten my afternoon snack at 1.30pm in the afternoon.  After my tea I ate my allocated evening snack which was a  yoghurt, that was at about 5pm.  Then I began to daydream about pudding: Chocolate Cake, Coffee Cake, Sticky Toffee Pudding with Custard, Blueberry Muffins, Flapjacks……  They shouldn’t have capital letters in front of them, but in my mind’s eye they were the portion size of small buildings so I thought they deserved capitalizing.  Then I ate some home-made popcorn which isn’t apparently so bad.  Still not enough.

I am officially not as cocky about this as I thought I was.  The evenings are torturous, there are ‘free’ foods (ie ones that don’t have calories really so don’t matter so much) but I don’t seem to have any of them in the cupboard because we need to do shopping.  I’m also quite short on iron because of my colitis, so I had the bright idea of eating asparagus.  I love asparagus normally, it’s also green so has the appropriate vitamins, but it is a bit bland and when you plan to eat a whole tin at once because you’re a greedy guts it’s easy to think, ‘I’ll just add a bit of something’.  I added mustard, it was absolutely dire.  I scraped the mustard off in an attempt to eat it anyway, but failed fairly miserably.

There is a bowl in the front room half filled with mauled asparagus, smeared in burny bright yellow mustard.  My mouth still tastes a bit like fiery pondweed.  (Not that I’ve eaten a lot of pondweed, but you catch my drift) and I still want cake.

Apart from that life is the same as ever, keeping on keeping on.  I’ve felt hassled to pieces recently, same as always.  We have had new doors put in and two new windows which is lovely – apart from that our builder has got gout and can’t come back to finish the job for a bit which is a shame.  So, the window looks rather scruffy without the window frames (it has that bright yellow custardy foam stuff holding it in place), and our doors aren’t edged properly.  Still!  Our house has a sort of faded, knackered glory to it, and the windows and doors now fit in nicely with that theme.   Whoop de doo!   I do actually think the poor bloke has gout so I don’t blame him really, and as long as the doors and windows close and keep out draughts and burglars I’m not so fussy. Just as long as it’s not left for months or I’ll be doing another Homebase rant and nobody wants one of them!

The kids are fine. Sausage spent today wandering around looking like a chimney sweep because Darlek used some random facepaints to make him look like Batman yesterday.  They won’t wash off properly!  His face was almost completely black last night, I got a fair bit off him, but his eyebrows look very big and dark, and his cheeks look very grey.  In fact, he could do quite a good impression of a zombie.

Darlek is fine too, she’s regularly getting herself ready for school in the mornings which is a great help and she’s started trying to get Sausage ready too because she says she wants to be helpful.  She’s such a love.  Mind you this morning I nearly had a fit because both of them were slipping around all over the place on the school run and she kept insisting on running.  I had visions of fractured kneecaps and carrying her back up the hill.  I yelled the old ‘If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice, in fact I think I’ve told you three or four times, DO NOT RUN!’ in an overly aggressive manner this morning, and felt like a proper cow, but I suppose it has to be done.  Normally I’m shouting at them to run or hurry up because we’re late, they can’t win, poor souls.

The Tooth Fairy visited the other day too, which was exciting for Darlek.  One of her front teeth fell out about a week ago, and today her other front tooth fell out too.  She is struggling with her ‘S’ sound at the moment which is kind of cute really.  I reckon she could eat spaghetti with her teeth clamped together now and I’m almost tempted to try an experiment to see if she can.  Maybe I’ll do spag bol tomorrow.

I’d write more, but I want a cup of tea and I need to dispose of that awful green mess of food in the other room.  I aim to update more of my ‘Fortnight in France’ shortly.  I’m sorry if I’m going on and on and on and on and on about it, it’s just it was such a leisurely holiday and I had the luxury of sitting and writing for as long as I wanted without the usual everyday pressures.  Heaven!  If anyone wants to pay for me to go on holiday and just write reams about stuff and nonsense I’ll happily oblige.  That’s not a hint.  (Yes it blummin well is!)

So, that’s goodnight from me and goodnight from the vilest mini-recipe you’ve ever heard off. Mind the bed bugs don’t bite and please do have a slice of cake for me will you, just because I can’t/shouldn’t/desperately want one.  *whimpers again*

A Fortnight in France – Part 3

A Fortnight in France – Part 3

If you’d like to read Part 2 you can find it HERE and if you want to go even further back (you glutton for punishment you!) Part 1 is HERE

In this Part, I write about our children’s divine table manners and etiquette and extol the virtues of gravel as a plaything.

Stinky Stuff

Darlek loves it here, I heard her saying the other day – ‘Can we stay here for ever and ever and ever’  I have to agree.  It’s beautiful.  We’re in three separate ‘Gits’ each with their own facilities, all the amenties we could need are in each property, although I think one of us is lacking a washing machine.  I can’t remember who in the party that is, but I suspect my nose may tell me towards the end of next week.  (not really, nobody stinks, honest!) ….actually having said that Darlek seems to have terrible wind!  Anyone would think we’d been feeding her dead rats for the month prior to the holiday.  It is funny when she does her ‘Farticus’ impression as it has been christened, but it stinks to high heaven!  Thank heavens for light breezes and that we’re mostly outside.

Son is still burping like a bullfrog at every meal.  I suspect our family is now notorious for blowing off in one way or another now.

The park directly in front of our ‘Git’. The kids played outside most of the time which was probably a blessing considering….

Tantrums and Rocket Lollies

Darlek had a minor meltdown over a ice-cream yesterday which was a bit traumatic. There was only one left and as Sausage is younger and often misses out on things because of this, he was given the ice-cream.  Poor Darlek thought that this was unfair and sobbed in a heap in a chair indoors for what must have been an hour.  No amount of cajoling could persuade her to rejoin the rest of the party and I sat there feeling like an absolute cow.  But really, have you ever tried splitting a rocket shaped ice-lolly in two?  Not gonna happen.  She got over it eventualy, but I suspect the emotional scarring may be permanent.

Matilda

Gangdad has been reading Matilda by Roal Dahl to her every evening.  She is spellbound!  Gangdad does all the different voices and really gets into the spirit of the book.  I suspect the voices get more muddled as more red wine is consumed towards the end of the evening where most of the reading is done.  I’m not allowed to read the book now as it’s Gangdad’s special book and he wants to know what happens.  I read a chapter the other day and he re-read it to Darlek as he wanted to keep tabs on the plot.  I know my place!

Saucy and Saucisson

Sausage has been rechristened Saucisson, which is French for Sausage we have  been told.  Speaking of funny names, Horace came back from a trip out with two huge cones of cardboard, sealed at the end with ‘Surprise!’ written across them.  I think they were the french equivalent of lucky dip bags.  Inside were random little tatty gifts for kids, one for a girl and one for a boy.  I think the real surprise was the pretend silver tiara, necklace and earrings that held the brand name ‘Saucy’.  We all decided that this little gift set was probably made in Hong Kong where no-one could speak english, so consequently they’d asked some random translation package on the internet for a translation of the chinese word for ‘Cheeky’ and had ended up with ‘Saucy’ as a suggestion.  With all the erm…’dodgy’ associations with the word, it was generally agreed that the goods had probably been politely refused in the UK and had been shipped over to none-english speaking countries where they could be sold without raised eyebrows.

Darlek thought they were a bit young for her I think and refused to wear them, not ungraciously though.  Grandma Sweara sat beautifully bedecked in plastic jewellery for a while instead until she got bored of them and Saucisson adopted the necklace for a while.  Parading them up and down over his ‘Monster’s’ T’shirt.  Darlek has suddenly become very grown up, and a lot more self aware than she was.  She now refuses to have her hair in pigtails because she says they laugh at girls at school who wear them.  It won’t be long until she starts with a passion for Prada and posh hair straighteners.  I know it’s a cliche to say they grow up so quickly but they really do.  I looked at her the other day and noticed how long her legs have become, and how tall and lithe she is.  I’m not saying she wasn’t beautiful before, but it was a slightly chubby little girl beauty before, with the slightly dimpled elbows and filled out face.  These days she seems built like a racing grayhound as my dad would say, and I can see her running ahead towards her girlhood and away from her babyhood.  Ah, my gorgeous girl!  The most gorgeous girl in the world if you ask me, but then I’m biased.

A quiet interlude on our balcony.

Me stood on the balcony eating toast and looking spaced out.

The gits we are staying in are really like home from homes, complete with sitting rooms with leatherette chairs, well- equipped kitchens, bedrooms with little bunches of lavender tied with ribbons on bedside tables, handy bedside lamps; quirky little paintings on the walls.  The little touches such as the hairdrier in every house is much appreciated too.  I forgot mine, along with Sausage’s specially bought swim pants, the toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and conditioner and the bottom half of my new bikini.  Thankfully I also bought an all in one costume too so I shall not have to go swimming whilst completely indecent.

I suspect the favourite facility is the outside swimming pool.  there are two, one in the grounds of the house and one raised up further up the hill.  Both are beautifully maintained (no chips or cracks in the masonry, loungers that all work and look new), and are heated by the sun throughout the day.  Around the pool there’s baby doll pink, red and white roses so it is framed very picturesquely.  It may not be an infinity pool, but it’ll do nicely for us.    They’ve even provided a baby floation belt and two floatation tubes so the kids have something to play with in the pool if visitors have forgotten to bring inflatables (which we did!).  The best thing about the swimming pool is that it is completely fenced off with a reasonably tall wooden picket fence, gated with a chidproof lock to ensure there’s no unattended children in there. My daughter in true precocious style has mastered the lock but thankfully has the common sense (usually) not to go in there by herself.  She did once and was right royally told off, she’s not done it since!  Anyway she can swim quite well now. Saucisson cannot swim and is less precocious so cannot get in there, which is a great relief.  I can’t imagine anything worse than having an acessible swimming pool in the grounds of a holiday home.

Slowly burning to a frazzle but not minding at all.

Who Needs Toys When You’ve Got Gravel?

The younger kids seem fascinated with gravel and stones.  The trip to the river resulted in a medium sized basket of stones of varying sizes, the most prized being the lovely amber rose coloured quartz which seems endemic to this area.  The plaza in St John is cobbled with the stuff.  The other stones which have proved as substitute toys are the gravel that covers the pathways from the houses to the roadway.  Endless hours have been spent with the kids shovelling stones from the pathway onto the seated area, and then back again ad infinitum.  Sausage has been taught to use the smaller brush to brush the stuff back on to the path in a vain attempt to stop the path invading underneath our outside dining table.  Unsucessfully of course.  Someone has organised a bowl of water with stones in for the kids to play with, because of course they always look prettier under water and kids love wet stuff.  I’ve just heard the parent of the youngest child shout ‘Stop chewing rocks!’ at her, something you just don’t expect to hear shouted whilst in the midst of a civilised sitting-in-the-garden-drinking-vodka-and-tonics afternoon.

I can’t remember what Sausage was saying at this point, but It was probably something along the lines of ‘The gravel is all mine, all MINE! Mwahhahahaha *evil laugh*’

This reminded me of when Darlek was a ‘littly.’  I was once memorably heard to yell ‘Stop waving that penguin in such a threatening manner!!!’  Another usually unheard of phrase.  Daughter was in the posession of a wooden penguin on a stick and was waving it like she was going to bray someone with it.

The Day France was Closed.

We had a disasterous trip out for the second generation, ie, the older kids, leaving their brethren behind for the first generation to look after them.  The plan was to find the local caves, and then find somewhere for lunch.  As it was we decided to visit a chateau on the way, which was like a huge dramatic building on the outside, complete with gargoyles and towers, inside it looked like it had very little furnishings left apart from some elaborate tapestries and inexplicable, expensive looking paintings of rhinos. And no, I’m not making that up.

Stunning on the outside, loads of paintings of rhinos on the inside. Armadillo’s! (sorry, not sure where that came from, I’m not mentally scarred from advertising or anything….)

We then went on to the caves where they had some ancient cave drawings on display – which was closed.  So we decided to go and get some lunch and stopped off at a roadside garage / cafe – which was closed too.  After a couple of soft drinks we headed off to a larger town to find food – every single solitary place that sold food  was closed.  We laughed it off and starved quietly.

This is so completely alien to me!  I didn’t realise, but France is known for ‘closing’ mid-day for a sort of siesta, and you have to time things around their routine.  In Britain you can find a butty at Greggs almost any time of the day!  The starving bit wasn’t so much fun, so we went to another restaurant – which was, guess what, closed.  In absolute desperation we went to a shop to buy a packet of crisps to share  – it was closed!  I have vivid memories of Annabel in the back of the car saying ‘I’ve got some chewing gum, there’s only one piece, but does anyone want it?’ and I think at that point we thought enough was enough.  About ready to chew our own arms off we all sheepishly returned to the git and devoured bread and cheese and then called it a day.  The day of freedom didn’t quite work out, although I still enjoyed it because we were child free for once.  We could have driven round aimlessly in circles for 2 hours and I’d have been fine about it – wait on…..we did.

I ate more way, way too much French bread and pate. Note the hamster cheeks.

Oui!

Sausage’s potty training has gone to pot, I’m not sure if it is because of the casual french used here and there.  We all say ‘Oui!’ (wee!) at regular intervals and he seems happy to oblige.  I am so sick of wet pants.  It has been suggested that we send him to Africa because they are short of water there.  He apparently has the abilty to wee more than he actually drinks, a valuable resource over there maybe.

To be continued……are you bored yet?……or are you booking a flight to France this very second.  I know what I wish I was doing……. *sighs*

If you’d like to read Part 4 – please click HERE!