Category Archives: travelling

First day – gluttony, heat and a poorly toe (Monday)

At around 3 am with a grand total of no hours sleep, 26 degree heat and aircon that just moved the hot air around the room I cracked. We’d already one a bed swap in the night, Ciaran had decided that in a strange room he wanted to sleep next to me and Chris had taken Ciaran’s bed. Before bed Chris had fiddled with the air con to no great effect so I decided it was time to see if I could do anything. Jackpot! Once the mode of the unit had been changed (after ten minutes of muttered swearing and punching buttons) the room started to cool, the aircon was idiot proof to operate unless you were exhausted. Chris and I finally feel asleep.

I was up at 6.30 and restless so I left my three men sleeping while I explored. The hotel grounds were immaculate, I passed several bars and found the kiddie pool (complete with clowns that looked very Stephen Kingesque). I got back to the room and once we were all washed and dressed we headed to the main restaurant Athina for breakfast, as well as the usual all inc breakfast (smoked sausages, croissants, bread, ham, cheese, eggs, omelettes, fruit) I tried a little Greek cheese pastry, I don’t normally eat feta for breakfast but it was good. Ciaran insisted on having a full english along with tinned fruit cocktail. I wouldn’t eat fruit in one mouthful and scrambled egg in the next but it worked for him!

After brekkie we went to the hotel’s beach, the boys dug channels in the sand for the sea and paddled happily with the occasional strawberry granita (slush puppy) from the beach bar to keep them cool. After a quick shower we all went to lunch.

At lunch I discovered my new favourite salad, salad leaves, cabbage, carrot, cucumber delicious feta (much smoother than the dry feta we get at home – I ate this feta by the slab) and tzaiki. The kids discovered the salad bar and chips, as long as they got some fruit and veg at each meal I decided I’d relax the normal rules about treats. By now the heat was exhausting so the kids and I went back to the room to play angry birds and with the toys I’d packed. Chris headed back to the beach to swim and sunbathe, once he got back the children were back into their UV swimwear (a more up to date version of the old t-shirts my Mum used to make me swim in) and off to the children’s pool.

The water was about a foot deep so relatively hard for even Ciaran to sink in and had a little slide, shaded areas and lots of water being squirted around, this pool was a big hit with the kids. After a long splash we popped back to the beach for another quick paddle and hen back home. I realised a this point that the pretty sandals I’d bought were not working out. A few months ago I completely snapped my little toe bone and it has set sticking out to the side a little. No great hardship but it does affect what I can wear, despite going up a size and avoiding high heels my sandals were agonising and the pressure had bruised my toe. I reluctantly got my beige sensible ballet pumps back out and kissed goodbye to my pretty pink sandals.

At dinner I had more salad, chips and moussaka with a half bottle of white wine from the help yourself fridge. Once the kids were asleep in the bedroom Chris and I sat in our sea front patio, looking at the lights of Malia with a nice cold drink.

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Travels with chopper and Bunny

Travelling with young children is stressful. As a childless couple arriving at the airport two and a half hours before a flight meant having some time to eat, drink and shop; with kids you just have time to get through security (both Ciaran and I were frisked this time – thank God I’d explained in advance that the ladies sometimes check you aren’t hiding anything in your clothes!) get the promised magazines from WHSmiths and feed them a snack before rushing to the gate. As a seasoned traveller with kids I had got preparation down to an art, essential items were at the top of my hand luggage, the kids had blankets and inflatable pillows and Chopper (Ben’s dog) and Bunny (Ciaran’s favourite) were to hand along with colouring in books and other treats. I’d also told the kids about the journey and what I expected them to do.

When we booked our holiday we’d chosen it partly for the flight times, we didn’t want to arrive anywhere with half asleep, sobbing children. Sadly First Choice changed the flight times so we would land in Crete around 10pm and back to Luton around 1am. Neither child slept on the plane but thanks to several days of brainwashing (I mean gentle reminders) Ciaran didnt insist on climbing out of his seat belt and understood the concept of sitting relatively still for most of the flight. The adrenaline rush of going on holiday kept them both in a reasonably good mood.

Our landing was bumpy which Ben and Ciaran loved (that was fun, lets do it again!) and the wait to get luggage the usual torture (although this time I was sat out of the way desperately trying to stop the kids running away or climbing on tables) but here we had an inspired moment; Tripadvisor had told us that the transfer to our hotel was a long slow one that would be finished by us joining a huge queue to check in at the hotel. Forewarned, we’d booked a taxi to meet us and got to the Nana Beach Resort around 11pm, an hour ahead of the rest of the flight.

We were driven to our bedroom (extremely basic) and then headed to the midnight snack bar where we all filled up on veg, chips and meatballs with a little drink for us all (lager and diet cokes for Chris and I and tropical juice and water for the kids). We went to bed at midnight with the air-conditioning on the fritz in a whitewashed grim bedroom in the middle of a very luxurious resort, promising that we’d see the rep in the morning to beg for an apartment where the kids could sleep in a seperate space to us and where the aircon and blinds worked and door handle didn’t fall off.

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Lanzarote Day 1 – the journey out

Was I mad? After a hectic half week I was frantically packing for a holiday. We had paid a fortune for the privelege of spending a couple of hours (hopefully not longer) in Luton airport, over four hours on a plane and then however long baggage reclaim and the car hire desk took before navigating at night while my husband got used to a hire car. Forget drugging the kids I needed drugs!!

We got to the airport after dosing the boys with piriton, the queues for check in and security were relatively short and we got through to departures with an hour to spare, an hour to feed the kids a sausage bagel, coax a wee out of Ben and do last minute shopping before we were due to board. Sadly we were delayed by an hour. Luton airport doesn’t tell you if you are delayed and how much you are delayed by, they leave it to your imagination, which was working overtime.

After an hour of watching planes we were finally on our one and ready to go. Ciaran had a seat next to me, but after a scary screaming fit (more terrifying for people near us) opted to cuddle me with a lap belt on (second dose of piriton worked a treat) and settled down for his nap contentedly as we taxi’d.

The flight went much better than expected, the boys were happy to snack and read books until we landed (according to Ben it’s like a bouncy castle but better).

Luggage successfully reclaimed and car hire paper work done we found the lady from JJs hire who provided car seats at a fraction of the cost and let us follow her to our villa, saving us all from my navigation skills.

Thankfully we had paid for a welcome pack, giving us the essentials. As Chris unloaded the car I sat the kids down in the kitchen with bread and jam and a drink if watered down juice for their supper, then it was bedtime for the kids. Ben chose his bed, Ciaran was undemocratically put into a cot in the master bedroom.

Chris, a bottle of red wine and I headed out to the poolside to celebrate surviving a flight with two toddlers.

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Filed under Ben, Children, Ciaran, Daddy, Family, Mummy, travelling

Hastings; cliff lifts, castles, swimming and nappies

We are back from our short break, refreshed but very sad to be home again. As a child I cried my eyes out at the end of every holiday and still feel a horrible grief like state at the end of a holiday – I might never come here again and even if I do it won’t be the same, you can’t cross the same river twice (Heraclitus – I think!). We had a fantastic time and this was the first holiday where Ben understood that he was on holiday, it was also Ciaran’s first ever holiday and hubby and I have a load of memories from the few days. 

Two little boys and a bath in a washing up bowl.

Two little boys and a bath in a washing up bowl.

 

Monday – after saying goodbye to his parents Daddy and Ben got home after lunch, I had been feverishly packing all morning and had gone mad on an essentials shop at tesco’s. Once the car was loaded up (thank God the kids are little enough not to leave leg space as every inch of spare back seat legroom was taken) and the tom tom programmed we were off. Ben, perversely refused to sleep and started whinging as we hit the M25, going through tunnels seemed to fascinate him, but there were only two on our stretch of M25 and very long queue before Dartford bridge. We all arrived feeling frazzled (and in Ben’s case covered from head to toe in the yoghurt coating from his biscuits) three hours later, grabbed the keys before reception shut and found our caravan. 

We were staying in a 12 foot wide caravan (the extra 2 feet really do make a big difference when you have a travel cot in the lounge), we quickly looked at the different rooms (some computer error worked in our favour giving us three bedrooms instead of two) and fed Ciaran before deciding to go to the bar/ restaurant for dinner and a drink. When  we got to the bar we discovered Ben had lost a shoe – how do you lose a shoe when walking? It was nowhere to be seen so adios Clarkes size 5. Miraculously both boys behaved impacably – Ciaran was placated by frequent feeds and Ben was happy to sit in a big armchair with his Dad, growl at strangers and tuck into a kids meal of fish fingers, wedges and meadow mix (mixed veg to you and me). We got back to the caravan around 9pm having wasted most of a pitcher of lager. 

It was my fault, when I ordered the food I asked for two pints of San Miguel and was offered a four pint pitcher, now before children I reckon a pint took 30-40 minutes to drink and two pints each was a wussy night out. I figured that four pints was right for the 1/2 hour wait for the meal and meal itself. I forgot that neither of us drink much and that staring at a massive pitcher of alcohol makes you feel guilty about 

a) drinking alcohol with children 

b) wasting good food or drink. 

Ultimately we wasted over half of it – but had enjoyed our first night. Boys were put to bed, and we sat down in the lounge with a cup of tea and coffee.  When we went to bed I moved Ciaran off the double bed and into the travel cot without a single murmur and settled down to a good nights sleep. 

Tuesday - all up around 7 courtesy of Ben the human alarm clock. We all had breakfast and Ben discovered variety packs of cereal, an essential part of seaside holidays when I was a girl and n0w an essential part of his. He chose the healthy looking frosties for his breakfast – yum cornflakes with tonnes of sugar and sweetner and once both boys were fed and washed (I forced Ben into the shower with me – not an experience either of us enjoyed much, but only one of us screamed and cried throughout) we headed into Hastings. 

We parked up and wandered around town until we found a clarkes, had Ben measured up and bought new shoes, suitably clad he was at last able to stand on his toddler board (you fix it to the back of the stroller – toddler stands on it and you cover your shins in bruises as you push both children happily along) which he loved! His Daddy took him onto the beach to throw stones at the sea while I fed Ciaran before we fed our toddler an ice-cream and took him back to the caravan for lunch – toast and naptime. 

Daddy did a sainsbury’s shop while I fed the kids and settled them down. Once Ben woke up he got into his swim nappy and we all went to the pool. Ciaran and I sat on a lounger and watched Ben swim with his Daddy. He loved the pool, after a momment or two of shrieking as his Dad put his shoulders under the water he settled down to the serious business of swimming and splashing. I called time on swimming when Ben’s lips were blue-ish and his cheeks were red. We then played toddler wrangling – try to stop a wet toddler jumping back in the pool before getting home, dry and then walking to the onsite playground. Both kids were knackered so Daddy and I had a beer (or two) and Sainsbury’s pizza’s in the caravan while they slept. 

Wednesday Up again in the morning and into Hastings. We took the cliff lift up to the castle and spent a pleasant hour watching a video about the battle – Ben ran around the mini theatre but as we were the only people there when it opened at 10 that was OK and looked at ruins of a castle. Ben and his Daddy went up to the top of the ruins. Ciaran and I had a feed and looked at the seaview. A little gentle cliff climbing with the stroller and Ben invigorated Daddy – and terrified me before we took the kids back down the cliff to have fish and chips. Ben was exhausted but bravely ate a fish cake and chips while watching the world go by – or the traffic on the coastal road, which is just as interesting to him! 

Ben's new hidey hole

Ben's new hidey hole

 

Back to the caravan and back to the swimming pool. Ciaran was a little red, despite the factor 40+ we had slavered on so I coated him in Baby Lotion and got myself dressed for the pool. I decided that the outdoor pool was too chilly and took Ben to the indoor one, but as I kept wondering what Ciaran was doing – crying apparently, I gave up and let Daddy take over as Ben’s swimming partner. Ciaran was cold, hungry and tired so we walked back to the caravan, leaving my towel to give Ben an extra one and leaving me to shiver all the way! 

Later that evening we went back to the restuarant for dinner, Ben fell asleep with his head on my lap (after a dinner of chicken nuggets, wedges, mixed veg and flumps for pudding) and Ciaran was happy to smile and be smiled at in the stroller so we managed to drink two pints each (we would have saved 40 pence if we had only got a pitcher this time!) while watching the football and chatting happily. 

Thursday Up at our usual early hour (our neighbours didn’t have to open their curtains til gone 10 every morning) to find grey clouds and rain. The forecast promised that it would get better so we took the boys to the amusement arcade after breakfast – by this point Ben had discovered coco-pops and was very much into variety packs of cereal and sweetened cereal. We had a quick go on some of the amusements while the weather sorted itself out and we headed back to Hastings for our morning adventures. 

This time we went paddling in the sea. The tide was out to sea and had exposed sand rather than stones and left little lagoons. Ben found the real sea too scary, the waves, cold and noise were too much for him but loved the giant puddle / lagoon. Daddy tried to roll Ben’s trousers up but wading up to your waist is going to get your trousers wet regardless of high up you can roll them, so trousers were off. I then had a paddle with Ben, it was actually quite deep in the middle and I was holding my skirt in my hands like an old granny. 

Ben had to walk around trouserless in hastings as we dried them over the stroller and we had a lovely lunch and toilet stop before heading back to the caravan where Ben and Daddy had a final swim in the pool. That afternoon we all had a lovely walk and as the kids were acting up ordered Papa Johns pizza from the onsite concession for our dinner in the caravan and had some beers. 

We were sad to leave the site on Friday as we will remember this as our first proper family holiday where all of the action revolved around Ben and giving him a great time. 

Long live the British seaside!

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Filed under 2 year old child, Baby, Ben, Children, Ciaran, Daddy, Family, holiday, Mummy, travelling

Back home – boo!

We’re back from sunny Lanzarote. Baby B has developed and addiction to watermelon and yoghurts and we missed teh horrible storms ha ha!!

The holiday was fantastic and when I have my act together enough to sort out the photo’s Baby B’s holiday diary will let everyone know how wonderful it all was. In the meanwhile if you are thinking of going on holiday to Lanzarote with a baby I can recommend the following:

Timanfaya Golf Hotel – we went slightly out of season so I cant comment on it at the height of summer but for us it was great. Large apartment with a fridge etc.. despite being all inclusive. The waiters were very attentive and all loved making a fuss of Baby B in the restuarant (Baby B loved the attention). Its a way out of the town centre but you can walk to town, or more realistically with a child you can rent a car for the week and get everywhere easily. The food is good quality. I went there when I was pregnant (and therefore susecptible to any food poisoning going) and was fine. Baby B was fine eating there this time. I trust the kitchen at this hotel.

Travel Tots Lanzarote – the url is http://www.traveltotslanzarote.com/ why put your self through the misery of sterilising bottles and teats in a pan (that has never been used for any type of cooking) or the worry of not sterilising when you can rent the stuff you need. Reasonably priced and very friendly. We had a steam sterilier and baby bath. Both of which made the holiday a lot less stressful.

Not flying Monarch – they don’t do skycots anymore. Baby B isnt used to sleeping in my arms and is very uncomfortable to hold for a 90 minute nap. Also for an inexplicable reason we were allowed extra leg room seats flying from Gatwick to Arrecife (life is easier if you have space by your feet for all the essentials!) but were told that for safety reasons we couldn’t have them on the way back? Very strange and not a particularly baby friendly airline.

Relaxing about food – yes Baby B had yoghurt every morning, had hotel soup (probably over seasoned by our salt concious tastes), loved chocolate blacmange and any flavour of ice-cream. Its only a weeks holiday and its not as if I gave him arsenic to lick. If I tried to ensure every meal was balenced etc.. I’d have gone nuts. He gets most of his nutrition from milk anyhow so I decided to relax. Also it would have been hypocritcal of me as I decided having salad with lunch and dinner meant I could have as many chips etc.. as I wanted, could have a cooked breakfast and toast and croissants at breakfast and could have dessert when I wanted. If we can relax our eating rules it is probably OK to do the same for the baby.

Packing your own formula in tupperware type containers – they didnt leak and we didnt have to give Baby B a different type of formula so that was one less thing to worry about.

Any how – I’m heading back to my normal life as a laundry maid cum chef (yesterdays home made chicken goujons, corn on the cob and potato wedges were largely discarded but never mind!) as this is my last week before I go back to the office.

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Mothers Day!!

Baby B is getting older and I am getting closer to having to leave him and go back to work – boo! I got a card today, no present as apparently Baby B hadn’t picked up on all of the hints (like me asking him and his Daddy if they wanted to go into Hotel Chocolat without me!) and had planned to take me out to lunch forgetting that:

a) everywhere would be over booked, offering a special mothers day menu and over priced
b) we were going to my Mum and Dads for moussaka.

Never mind. I can cope without a present, no £100 Nintendo brain training for this mummy, no £5 box of chocs either. I should stop moaning as I am being taken on holiday in a few days.

We’ve come across a few snags in our holiday
1. I hate using the Lindam microwave steriliser bags as you can only fit one tommee tippee bottle, ring, lid and teat in at a time, a week of this would kill me and I cant boil sterilise the teats.
2. Baby B still goes into the baby bath not the big boy bath. He goes nuts in the big boy bath.
3. The travel company (UK TV Travel shop I think) was sent our flight tickets by Monarch, but rather than sending them onto us, they lost them.
4. Dinner is served at the hotel from 7pm onwards, Baby B is tired and demanding a bath, cuddle and bottle of milk from 6pm ready to be asleep by 7pm.
5. SMA Gold isnt available in Lanzarote. SMA tins are heavy, too heavy to carry in our cases if we want to wear clothes on holiday!
Using a combination of my genius and my husbands good telephone negotiating skills we have the following in place.

1 – a company is (hopefully) going to rent a steam steriliser to us, for £10 a week this is a godsend.
2 – the same company will (hopefully) rent a baby bath to us.
3 – We are getting to Gatwick even earlier than before (we now get up at 4.30am to get ready) to pick up our tickets from the Cosmos desk.
4 – we are trying to make Baby B stay up later. Last night a picnic supper of apple and cracker on the floor at 5pm helped us push bath and bedtime back to 6.20.
5 – I’ll try decanting some SMA gold powder into click and lock boxes, which I’ll wash on the dishwashers most intensive programme first. These will weigh less than the tins so we can carry some powder in our cases. Once I get past security I will buy as many SMA cartons as we can fit into our bags to take with us. If all this runs out Baby B will have to try the Spanish version of Cow and Gate, with all the fruit he eats I doubt changing formula will upset his digestion.

All looks set to go OK. I hope (please God don’t let anything go to wrong, don’t let me go grey with nerves and help me keep my temper!)

As today was mothers day I was able to have a shower while Baby B’s Daddy started the day off with weetabix and toast, Baby B had been up at 2am for a feed, 6am for a nappy change and feed and had then slept in til 8.30am! After a cooked breakfast of eggs, mushrooms and toast (I gave Baby B some of the thickly sliced mushrooms, I think he approved) I got Baby B washed and dressed. We skipped the post breakfast bottle as he hardly drinks any of it nowadays.

We then went to the C of E church for the family service. This was OK, a bit different to Mass with a lot of songs and no communion. I thought it a bit weird when the mothers union went to the front to demonstrate the moves to a song but I decided to do my bit for inter demoninational peace and to go along with it. Baby B was called to the front to get his baptism certificate, gospel of St Luke and be welcomed into the congregation. Daddy seemed happier with this service as it reminded him of his boarding schools services and didn’t involve all the prayers over the communion (he finds Mass deathly boring and feels arkward sitting there when everyone else goes up to recieve communion). At the end all of the Mummy’s were given a posy of flowers (we also took an extra one for my Mum!). I could cope with doing the monthly C of E family service as a thank you to Daddy who has (sporadically) taken me to Mass for years.
At my Mum and Dads we gave Baby B some apple as a snack and then a bottle of milk and short nap (no gro-bag = no decent nap). When he woke up he tried some potatos and moussaka but was still full from drinking a whole bottle of milk (skipping the breakfast bottle had worked well and he drained his lunchtime bottle). We played in the door bouncer and on the floor while Baby B’s Daddy and grandad watched the football match before going home.

Tea was more moussaka and potato’s before a bottle and nap. Which Baby B’s Daddy cut short by going into the nursery to check on him (if a baby isnt crying leave it for goodness sake!). Hopefully Baby B will stay up a bit later again tonight. Hope everyone had a lovely mothers day with their little ones!

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Merry Christmas Baby B

Wow – what a busy week! The weekend before last was spent by Baby B and I at my parents while Daddy flew to Belfast to see his family. On Monday Baby B and I flew out (unsupervised!) to Belfast to join him for a few days.
Baby B was a bit overwhelmed at first by seeing all these new faces (he hasnt seen any of Daddys family since he was a 2 weeks old!) but after a nice quiet day spent with Mummy, Daddy, Uncle Steve and Auntie Kate he started to enjoy himself and was grinning at anyone who would let him eat their finger. We mentioned to his Nanny that he seemed to like strawberries and to his delight a punnet of strawberries appeared and he certainly got the hang of chewing food he loved – he didnt eat great quantities, 2 strawberries in one day etc.. but at this point I want him to get used to enjoying his food and am not to concerned about it replacing milk feeds.
We flew back on Wednesday morning, flight delayed by several hours due to the fog in Luton, entertaining a grumpy baby for 2 hours longer than you expected in an airport is hard going, so we were all exhausted when we got home. We had a nice quiet day on Thursday, Daddy took Baby B and me to the big Asda in Milton Keynes to get the christmas stuff in and in the afternoon I went to the hospital to visit my grandad (he’d been in for a couple of months after breaking his hip).
On Friday my Grandad was due to transfer into a nursing home but… patient transport was 5 hours late and in the late afternoon the lift broke down at the nursing home so he couldnt go anyway – this was really hard for my Mum as she had been looking forward to settling her Dad into his new home and knowing that he had 24 hour care available (the hospital does the best they can but they cant give him enough attention or stimulation).
Saturday was a nice quiet day we carried on offering various foods to Baby B (left over veg from a fajita – not spiced!) rice cakes etc.. he didnt seem too interested but enjoyed tasting everything and loved sucking guacamole from my fingers. I slaved in the kitchen seperating eggs to make a custard based icecream, making meringues with the whites and then making a christmas custard icecream (brandy and custard obviously!).
On Sunday my Grandad got a sickness and diarohea bug and went down with pneumonia. I spent most of Sunday at the hsospital with my Mum and Dad. I have felt awful that I’ve not been able to see him as much as I wanted to but I cant take Baby B into the hospital and I certainly cant leave him home alone. I knew that I would be busy on Christmas Eve and that whatever happened I needed to spend Christmas Day with my new family. Daddy very bravely looked after Baby B all day and even shared some toast with him at lunch time. At lunchtime I sliced a banana in half lengthways and gave the thinner piece to Baby B. Banana and babies go well together but are very messy – and if like me you have a total aversion to banana the sight and smell is minging.
Today we had another family day with Baby B expecting to taste everything we ate (seems cruel but I draw the line at crisps and chocolates!) so he had a cornflake dipped in milk from Daddys breakfast – that was chewed and swallowed but he didnt want a second one, a soldier of toast from Mummy’s breakfast (waved, licked, chewed, ripped in half and thoroughly messy!) and then a piece of cornbread (I baked my own for a special stuffing – get me all Deliaesque!). We dropped into my parents after a walk around Woburn (didnt see any reindeer but they’re probably at the North Pole helping Santa!) we went to my parents. We discovered another favourite fruit for Baby B. Raspberries off a cheesecake (they’d been frozen and thawed so they were very sluchy) I thought it would be too tart but he loved it, I let him have some cheesecake off my finger as well which was quite nice.
So far I know that Baby B loves strawberries, raspberries and bananas; he likes oat cakes, carrots, bready things; he doesnt seem interested in rice cakes, parsnips, potatoes or pears. I had thought from reading other blogs that he would be devouring three course meals by now but I must allow for every baby developing differently and the odd bit of poetic license from proud Mummies and Daddies.
I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas with their little ones and families.

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