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.
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
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!