When one doors closes another opens….

God it’s such a cliche isn’t it? But I can’t help but feel that it’s true. With work, family, friends and all sorts of things, I think this is true. This week, I got a phone call to say that a very special friend is pregnant with twins. I was elated. They’ve been waiting for this for a while, so it’s beautiful news that has made me smile. And then, I found that someone has died who I cared very much about – that afternoon. And then someone else, sadly, has died yesterday. The former was a shock and the latter wasn’t. But it truly made me think about death and how everything changes.

I’m sat here at my desk, trying to work, but finding it really hard to. I’m just not in the right place to work. I want to but everything is taking a long time – I get distracted, I cry, I can’t remember what I’m trying to do. And I’m doing a lot of thinking.

I’m sorry if this is overly self indulgent, but it feels right to put it on here for some reason. I want to document the highs and lows of life – the good and the bad – and the things that give me pause and cause for thought. When we try to force things, they can often turn out to be something other than what we wanted from them. When they come about unexpectedly, they are beautiful, fantabulous, wondrous things. I’m grateful for new friends – who I’m calling the Fruitbat Collective. I never saw them or that friendship coming. And I’d been trying to make new friends at school for so long, that it totally surprised me when I did find them!

And with work – I sometimes feel that I should be looking for more work but the truth is that we are more than busy enough and our best new clients come on personal recommendation because they are people who are more likely to be on our wavelength and will appreciate the great things we’ll bring to their business.

I don’t know, I’m rambling. Sorry. But I just wanted to put it out there that although I’m sad right now, and feeling very sad for everyone who knows the people who have passed, I’m also grateful for an awful lot as well. And that’s a good thing – I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the latter without the former. x

Things that did not happen to me last week…

So, here’s a list of things, events and stuff that has not happened in the last week. I can categorically state that this has not happened to me or anyone I know.

Last Tuesday, I did not spend the night struggling to sleep knowing that I was going to do the “and relax” position with the GP the next day.
I did not wake up late, rush around with the boys, fretfully…
I did not decide to go to bootcamp in an effort to appease the Gods and offset any potentially imminent pain, embarrassment and feelings of meh ness on my part.
I did not wriggle into a sports bra that is three sizes too small. That I can’t fasten at the back. That I then thought I’d have to ask a Mum in the playground to fasten for me. That I didn’t ask my seven year old son to help me fasten. That I didn’t fasten on my own eventually after a lot of sweating and wriggling around.
Nor did I then think to phone the GP, at 8.30am and check on what time my appointment was, to find that it was 9.40am and that I didn’t have time to go to bootcamp and then home, shower and get to the appointment on time.
I didn’t do the school run, leg it into the house, wrestle to get my too, tooooooo small sports bra off and end up ripping it, to take it off. Nor did I have a shower and spray deodorant everywhere, including my nethers, in preparation for the appointment that I didn’t have.
I didn’t go into the GP appointment, to have a coil fitted, to have to sign my initials against a list of random and things that I didn’t like the look of at all, as being potential consequences of having a coil fitted.
And I most definitely did not yelp and whimper as I had a coil fitted. I didn’t get into a laughing conversation with the GP about how she refuses to use the phrase “relax” with ladies when their knees are around their ears! Instead, she did not ask ladies to “go floppy” which incited even more giggling on my part.

I’m just sharing. These are things that have not happened to me in the last week. And nor, do I need to go and buy myself a new sports bra. No sir, not me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m the coolest Mummy in the world…..

Hello, it’s Liz Weston and according to my boys, I’m Officially The Coolest Mummy In The Whole Wide World. Why? Because we’ve had a grand old time trying out Nintendo DS kit over the past couple of weeks. We’ve got two boy testers in our house – E is 7, going on 16 and W is 6 going on, well, 3/4….  And then there’s Lovely Bloke who is about to have a Special Birthday soon. He’s been Daddytastic and tried everything he can on both of them.

nintendo3

Younger son – W – really liked the smaller DS – the 2DS. He found it easy to handle and when I asked him why he liked it he said it’s because it’s being red and white. I know. Go figure. He could hold it nicely and preferred the screen even though it’s the smaller of the two.

Elder son – E – preferred the black, 3DS XL because it is made of two parts and folds over. To be honest, the 3D doesn’t seem to have had much effect on him – he just likes the fact that it opens and closes in a way that he relates to. And I have to say, that I really like the way that it opens and closes because I feel that it’s safer in my bag. The extra money it costs will I think, be worth it, because it means it’s not going to get broken as easily. Unless you buy a case for them? I assume there must be cases for them?

nintendo-red-white

The boys loved the Mario Kart games – I couldn’t even get them to try the Biff and Kipper Phonics game! From a family perspective, I think we need a system where one day can be educational games and the next Mario Kart style stuff. One thing that I did like was the how long the battery lasts – I was pleasantly surprised by the battery life. They did really well. This pleased me as we took them out of the house. Some of the photos here are of the boys using them when we went shopping. They kept them amused whilst Lovely Bloke and I were looking at what we needed to buy. I also liked the sleep function – it was quick, easy to use and could teach boys about battery life concepts!

nintendo-1

The other thing that I noted, was with the set up of them both. I was really impressed in set up – by how to use pin codes – and I liked the helping hand tutorial. And I needed the help of the tutorial to set it up so I appreciated it. The other good bit is the reminder that if I forgot the pin and couldn’t answer the security question it would be a royal pain in the bum to make it work and would have to go to Ninetndo etc to fix it. Seriously, I think that’s really good.

nintendo2Lovely Bloke had a great time making a Mii character – E was annoyed that Daddy made a Princess for Mario Kart but it was one that was super fast, so he was reprieved. He said it was easy to do and that he can see why the boys would want to make their own.

Overall, I’d recommend both of the Nintendo DS’s, but I think that the key to making this work for our family, will be to set boundaries and instructions. I don’t know if I expected it to be lower tech than it was. I remember playing on a DS as a teenager and that it was fairly low tech – still in black and white! With these versions, I think that the 3D aspect works so long as there’s just one person playing it – not different people who like to hold the screen at different positions because you set the 3D position. The only thing I’d change is making the cable on the charger pack longer – much longer – the boys wanted to play whilst they charged sometimes and they were huddled on the floor next to the plug sockets!

I’m looking forward to hearing about what other people think to the Nintendo DS sets and will link to them here as I find them…. I think you find everyone will be using #NM2014Nintendo so if you find anyone else before me, let me know! 
Disclosure: I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I may have been paid expenses, and have been supplied with a product sample for this review, but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post.

official-blog-review-netmums

 

The longest review post ever….

I suspect that this may well be the longest post I ever write in my life. It’s a review round-up! All of the items in this post have been sent to me, to review. And funnily enough, it’s mostly about bags. All sorts of different bags but nonetheless, bags….

First up, is this lush, lovely bag that I now can’t do without – it’s a silver bag from Mint Velvet. It costs £149, so it’s not the cheapest bag in the world, but nor is it Chanel. This bag has truly grown on me. Now, I love it. I take it everywhere. I’m regularly grateful for the zip on the inner of the bag – it keeps everything safe. I also realise though, that the cotton inner, is there to stop the bag itself wearing so quickly. The bag is made of some kind of very fine leather / suede and it rubs easily. The silver panels on the bag will not stay pristine for long either. Now to me, they are signs of use and love. But I’ve asked a couple of friends and they think it looks like a £20 bag at best. I’ll leave it to you to decide – for me, I love it. The handles take the strain for a macbook air, ipad, keyboard, cables, a couple of cans of Yoga Bunny from Pret and my Leucchtrumn1917 notebook and kit. So it’s holding up well so far. If it does give up the ghost I’ll come back and update this, as I do expect the bag to last quite some time given the price tag.

The bag went on holiday to Rhodes, has been to London, is used for work, and for play and for carrying everything when I’m doing post school stuff with the boys.

J A S M I N EThe second bag or rather bags I want to tell you about are these beauties from Trunki. We bought two gruffalo trunkies and they’ve been brilliant for the holidays we’ve used them on. They are good for going to Grandma and Grumpy’s house and even good for their first night away on their own, with Grandad, to Norfolk a while ago. I think that E, who is now a very grown up 7 and a half, is getting a bit old for them now and the same could kind of apply to these Trunki bags. He felt they were silly, until his other friend – also named E, wanted to know if he could have one from us for Christmas. Now he’s more into his and uses it happily.

These bags are perfect for swimming. They really are – the small pouch for swimmers, ear plugs and googles, the zip to put your pound coin in, the inner material of the bags, the push through thingy to put your towel through and the hooks to hang them up. They are truly brilliant. Again, they aren’t cheap – think they are 25 or 29 each, but they are doing a great job. Our 6 year old is still very proud of his and wants to use it as a school bag. I’ve said no, as they are so good for the swimming stuff.

They get used at least 4 times a week, and we hang them with their school bags and kit on the hooks in the kitchen, ready to be re packed with fresh towels and kit after each swim. The photos below show us using them on different days of the week – some twerking, some on a Saturday – they’re in Kung Fu kit as we do that first, and then swimming and the other shows them hung up, ready to go. If you want to be cool Aunty, Uncle or someone who buys a present that can be used from 3 years onwards, to encourage independence, coolness and a passion for swimming lessons, then this is the ticket. Brilliant.

J A S M I N E (1)

And finally, I know that I have mentioned this bag before, but seriously, this bag from baby mule is simply the coolest bag I’ve used for a long time. Thing is, that my family also likes it – Lovely Bloke uses it every weekend for the Kung Fu and swimming routine – his book, flask, ipads, snacks – everything goes in here. It’s brilliant. We used it on holiday in Rhodes and the inner sections were brilliant. Even though we don’t have babies any more, there’s a changing mat that we used for snacks and fruit, there’s a wet bag that was perfect for our bits and bobs and the changing uses of straps is just perfect. Brilliant. Fantabulous. Everything and more. Lovely Bloke uses it all the time. I love that he loves it so much. Just wish we’d known of it when we had babies!!!! It’s 89 and for the money, it’s worth every penny. I’ve had so many bags over the years, but this would have worked from day one – for me and Lovely Bloke and lasted us until now. This is the best baby changing bag I’ve ever tried, used or seen. It’s even better than my Skip Hop limited edition from New York – now that’s saying something.

J A S M I N E (2) So that’s me, bag lady extraordinaire, with my bag round up. I really quite fancy temporarily “loaning” one of the swim bags to take into London tomorrow – light, waterproof and interesting to use. Not sure it will fit in, but life’s too short for that, surely?

Me, myself and I (and Tanya Barrow)

You know me – practical, commercially focussed and with eyes firmly on the end goal. So why on earth would I want to spend Saturday – my birthday – being all woo woo and working on myself?

Because I feel it’s time. Because DDT went to something similar and it had a profound effect upon her. Because I have looked at the writers who will be talking and like what they have to say. Because I think that I need to take some time, to look after myself, to nurture myself. Because last year, and the pneumonia that I got and the subsequent infections, was the biggest wake up call possible. It was a sign that I needed to start looking after myself more. So, when I happened upon this, I spoke to my friend Laura Husson and asked her to come with me. She can’t make it, but really wanted to come. So I parked it. I decided I wouldn’t go. And then, a few days later I was thinking about it again, and asked a few friends if anyone was free.

This is the point at which The Barrow steps forward and tells me she’ll come with me. I was so happy. I felt it was a sign as well – because she’s just as committed to her life and family as I am, and totally deserves the opportunity to unplug and recharge herself, so that she can crack on with everything that she juggles so well.

So. That’s that. But not quite. I decided to email the organisers and ask if we could attend and document the event, to share what we learn and to encourage other people to cultivate and nurture themselves. And guess what? They only went and said yes. So to me, it’s a sign, sign and even more of a sign that I should do this. Randomly, surreally, taking a leap into the unknown, on Saturday. On my birthday. And to then return home to my family and have a curry with them, whilst watching Strictly. I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday.

If you want to know more about it click on the image below. It’s not affil, it’s not sponsored, it’s just me sharing what for someone, might be a life changing weekend.

Hay-House-I-Can-Do-It

Autumn is well and truly here. And you know what comes next, don’t you, the “C” word….

No, not that C word. Lordy – my Mum reads this blog. Can you imagine if I so much as *thought* of that word? I’d be ex communicated on the spot. It’s Friday night, nearly the end of September and I’m on the sofa, blogging, and waiting for Saint Steve to show himself on Strictly Come Dancing. I’m giggling at the comedy intro from the judges. I’m enjoying hearing Radio 2 on the radio in the kitchen. I feel quite middle aged. And don’t mind.

Today, I had a couple of hours off so Lovely Bloke and I went swimming together. An old lady kicked me – yes, literally kicked me, because she needed to let me know that she was nearby in the water. She hung onto the side of the pool and kicked me in the ribs as I went past. I stopped and asked what was happening. She told me “I needed to let you know that I am here”. I was truly speechless. And there’s not much leaves me without words. Lordy. It is things like this that gives older people a really bad name. She is an embarrassment to her generation.

After that, it was into Cambridge, and a look around John Lewis men’s department. Lovely Bloke was not impressed. He didn’t want Barbour – the one time that there’s a 20% discount on their range. And yet he wasn’t in the department for some of the other ranges that for me, looked a bit Gavin & Stacey for my liking. He doesn’t know what to look at, right now. He likes a lot of the Kin ranges, but found that the shirts didn’t fit him well last time he tried, so now he doesn’t want to try again. Fast forward to the end of the day, when we were supposed to be having a romantic lunch together – and we are in Jigsaw for men, checking out a suit, waistcoat and shirt combo that was, well, not something that I was expecting us to be considering buying on a wander around Cambridge.

Still, on coming down the stairs, we landed on a poncho come scarf kind of thing, for me. And I bought something that IS NOT BLUE. I know. I’m as shocked as you. It’s plum. Not maroon. But plum. So that may well get an airing tomorrow evening at the #GiantSundowner on the Goggs. It’s like, a rave, but with regular music, for the middle aged, middle classes. I think. But without the drugs that some people may have used when they last attended outdoor, all night raves. I’ll report back on it in my next post.

It feels strange to have been out buying winter jumpers and long sleeved tops today. The sun was shining but it was quite fresh. It is a month since we were in Levante, and I can’t help but feel like I want us to book to go back again. We book our holidays / holiday time at a point when we know where we are at with our money – at the end of our financial year, which is in March. So, hopefully, we will be able to book to go there again. We’ve never felt like we want to do that sort of thing – book somewhere over and over. But it feels like a good idea at the moment. I love the idea of relaxing more quickly, each time we go there.

I am looking forward to this weekend. I have started, slowly, to work on more work life balance. And I’m enjoying leaving my phone outside of the bedroom because I do actually get to sleep easier and better. Not that I’ll tell Lovely Bloke that. Because he’s always right. And I don’t like it. Anyway. That’s me. Here’s to the weekend. And some down time.

Lots of love. To whoever you are that reads my blog. x

PS. Sorry that there are no photos. Can’t be faffed to find any. I’d rather go to bed 10 minutes earlier x

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a difference a week makes….

This time a week ago, we were on holiday. We’d packed up our bags and were making the last of a full day Levante. Team Weston was united – doing our best jumps in, holding hands, twirling in the air and literally trying to soak it all up one last time.

my-week-levante

A week later, and we’re home, and facing this….

shoesIt’s a mountain of shoes, trainers, wellies, flippers, flip flops and slippers. And this is what’s left AFTER we got rid of two bin bags that were no longer of use to use. They’ve gone to the recycling bin in the village. It felt good to get something done. There was lots of other things we did as well though.. And it’s given me the opportunity to appreciate again, what a lovely life we have, and how blessed we all are to have each other.

The boys went to Kung Fu. I took coffee and drafted some work for a project for a new client. And yes, that mug is that cool – it came as a gift from Snap Dragon Online after I helped Jane, the owner, with something a while ago.

all the beautiful things

We tackled the shoes, as soon as we got home. Then W sat on Lovely Bloke’s head to watch Big Bang Theory, as you do…..

William-on-sofaAnd then I took the boys to Little Shelford Feast, which was an inpromptu afternoon out that turned out to be brilliant. E got to handle 2 birds – I don’t remember what they were called, but he knew lots of facts about them and have a very intellingent conversation with the handler, who was surprised at E’s questions and observations about them!

E-bird And they got to hang out with friends as well. Here’s my two, with two more. Mine are on the left, and the ones on the right are W’s best friend and his little sister. Don’t worry though, E keeps an eye out for the littlest. Actually, it’s not really needed – she can more than hold her own against the boys. She’s brilliant.

Four-Amigos

And then it was home for tea – curry “made” by Lovely Bloke who threw chicken breasts in the slow cooker with a sauce. Literally whole, he didn’t even chop them up. And then rice in the microwave. We all woofed it down and watched TV together. So although it wasn’t a day at Levante, and didn’t involve jumping in pools together, it was a pretty good day.

I’m documenting all this because E and I were chatting about this kind of thing yesterday – enjoying being in the moment. Appreciating all the lovely things we have in our lives. He’s very thoughtful, caring and thinks a lot. Just like me ;)

It’s important to focus on the good stuff in the everyday, don’t you think?

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Taking to the Open Seas.. a Snorkelling Adventure with Mark Warner

I’m sat here, it’s 10.30pm on Thursday evening. Lovely Bloke is literally tearing off the z’s next to me, and the boys are in their beds, drifting off to sleep. I’m sat here wide awake, thinking about all the great things that we’ve done together on holiday – and by that, I don’t mean the activities. I can write about them all day long. Instead, I’m thinking about the adventures we’re having together.

The big adventure this week, for me, has been the four of us going on a snorkelling trip together. We met the In Depth team at their office, along with 20 other people – mostly families, with children of all ages. We’re handed our snorkel, goggles and flippers and walk
together, down to the beach. There’s a ‘pirate’ boat waiting for us - the Captain takes all of our belongings as we hand them up to him, to keep them dry and we wade out to waist height of water, to climb the 4 steps of the ladder onto the boat. We set off and Alex, who is going to Portsmouth to study Marine Biology in just 2 weeks time, takes us through where we will be stopping, what we will be doing, and what we can expect to see. The first stop is at Anthony Quinn head, and we will be there for 30 minutes. Alex tells us that there’s a brilliant cave, that’s a freshwater stream and we can all go through it and come
out the other side, and swim back to the boat. Elliott and William are very excited by the prospect of finding gold so Elliott and Lovely Bloke are in quickly. The water is 29 degrees – it’s so warm, it’s just lovely. I get in and am trying to coax William down the steps. But he gets scared and won’t come in. So Alex gets onto the steps and William wraps his arms around him. He climbs down the steps and somehow, gets him into the water. We’re all floating on woggles and snorkelling together!!! This is a huge thing as William is a great
swimmer but can be very contrary about getting in pools, let alone open sea!!!! It was a huge moment. I loved to see Elliott off with lovely bloke – shouting through his snorkel “Shoal” every time he saw the fish!! We could really feel how excited he was. It was infectious. I also loved to see William, breathing through the snorkel, but refusing to put his face in the water – he couldn’t comprehend how he could breathe even though we had practised it in the pool several times beforehand.

Snorkelling-practice-in-the-pool

For a couple of minutes, William was shouting to get back on the boat and then, miraculously, he remembered the pirate cove and we swam together, towards it. It was amazing to be in the sea with him, us both floating and bobbing along together. When we actually got to it, we found that the water got cold quickly – it was in the shadows and
also being fresher water, was much colder. So we turned around and went back to the boat. We got on it and William was rewarded with a huge packet of Haribo sweets, which he ate all but 4 of – because he needed to save some for his brother. The Captain sounded his horn and Elliott and Lovely Bloke came back to the boat – reluctantly, and made sure that they were as near to the last people to get back on as possible!

the-adventurers-Snorkelling

We then sailed again to another place, just ‘around the corner’ and there, Elliott was first in the water! He put his flippers on and was ready to go. It was brilliant. I got in with Elliott this time and had to restrain him from swimming away, so that William could get in with
Lovely Bloke. He refused again, and was helped in by Alex. He didn’t last very long, but was great at shouting to Lovely Bloke, Elliott and I as to where we needed to go to see the most fish! We had a brilliant time together. Elliott even dived under the water with Lovely Bloke, to get closer to everything. I don’t know who was most proud – him or us! The grand finale came when he jumped off the boat, just like Alex - who by this point is Elliott’s new hero, and leapt straight into the water, off a diving board! He did this over and over – Lovely Bloke and I hovered nearby but we weren’t needed. He was in his element.

Coming back, we all sat together at the back of the boat. Just hanging out. The Captain had brought fresh melon and we all had a slice. It was perfectly refreshing after the salty sea water. Elliott tried some and said it was “ok”. Lovely Bloke and I loved it. William kept a
tight hold of the Haribo.

Even writing this post, I feel like I’m not documenting it enough - that there’s something intangible. My photos don’t do the experience justice. It was amazing for the four of us to be doing something totally different together. To be out of our comfort zones, as individuals and as parents and our regular roles. I’m nervous of open water – that’s the polite phrase for it. I’m a strong swimmer – just nervous about open water. I have no real reason to be. But I’m working on it. And this was a bit part of why – so that we can all have adventures together. And it’s important that we all try new things together – even the things that we are a bit scared and nervous about doing. That’s part of being a team. And being away from home, is a great environment to do just that. I should write here about how safe everything is at Mark Warner. I’ve never seen so many staff, so many checks and protocols and so many explanations of what’s needed on our parts to do activities safely. Apparently, it’s something that they are known for. It never occurred to me to expect anything less, but talking to other people, Mark Warner sound to be ahead of the pack in this regard. I’ll write properly about that separately as it was a big part of my learning to sail course. Yes, I really did just write that. I’ve had a go at learning to sail. More on that tomorrow….

Snorkelling-with-Mark-Warner

Food, holidays and children…

Disclaimer – I’m really sorry for the quality of the photos and how I’m presenting them here – there’s very little wifi and I don’t have the patience to set up photos properly, so I take a lot of them and hope some look presentable! I’ll do some collages and update once home, but right now, I’d rather be playing with the boys ;) 

Last time we came to Levante, in June, we had a real hit and miss experience with the food because our boys were fussing non stop over what they would agree to eat at each meal, so it took a lot of the enjoyment out of it for both Lovely Bloke and me. And now that we’re here partially as reviewers and partially under our own steam, I feel like I should be documenting all sorts of things about this holiday, not least the food, because it’s lovely! And also, because we are taking a very different approach to it from a food perspective, so we are all enjoying it much more… Breakfast-omlette

It’s really important, to me, that I’m truthful when I write a review of any kind so I’m going to start by sharing Lovely Bloke’s take on this – he says that the food is very good, but not as good as some of the hotels he’s stayed in whilst Skiing. Please note that he’s used to 5 star plus all the way – so anything other than a butler delivering hand rolled, freshly cooked to order whatever, is going to be deviating from his idea of heaven on holiday. He said I shouldn’t put his thoughts in, but I wanted to be honest about his take on it. He still manages a starter, two mains and pudding each night – I’m only managing soup sometimes, and then mains. I usually have melon for pudding as I can’t fit any more in!

At breakfast, it’s half buffet and half freshly cooked to order food. There’s a really kind and smiley man whose sole job is to make enough pancakes and waffles to keep everyone moving in the queue. And there is a queue for them – every morning. They are lovely. William has two pancakes, with a blob of chocolate sauce on a separate plate. Elliott has cereal and bacon whilst Lovely Bloke goes to the omelette station and someone else – usually the same lady – makes him a cheese omelette every morning. I have a mix of food – today I had a pancake and some melon, yesterday was beans and bacon and a hash brown. There is a fabulous range of fresh fruit – all prepared and chopped ready to go so there’s no fiddling at the table. Elliott goes to collect four glasses and fills them with apple juice from the machine and after that’s all done, we’re set for the day.

breakfast-pancakes

At lunch, we go to the Pan Asian restaurant on site. It’s literally next to the beach pool. This is where William achieves nirvana each day – apparently their prawn crackers are the “best ever”. I usually have yakitori chicken and the boys have what they refer to as “chicken nuggets” and noodles with salad. Lovely Bloke tries something different most days. Last time we came – in June – we ate at the other pool bar most lunchtimes – they do pizza to eat in or take away, and a range of chips and burgers type stuff that children love. The latter is more grab and go, whilst the former is more leisurely – I think the view helps facilitate that as it’s right on the beach and you can see everything that’s happening.

Breakfast-baconChildren’s dinner is served from 5.15pm – 6.15pm. There’s always plain spaghetti, pasta and chips, which can be eaten with salad, tomato pasta sauce, cheese or ketchup. The vegetable and salad selection is good – William has a plate of cucumber at tea, because it’s not been mixed in with other things! Children’s tea also has plain pork chops, fillets of meat and sometimes fish. The boys stick to the same thing most times and that’s fine with us – so long as something is being eaten, we’re quite relaxed about what it is. And without fail, there’s ice cream for pudding.

Dinner is from 7.30pm – 9.30pm and you can choose as to whether your children eat with you or do children’s dinner. Our boys have done both – children’s dinner and then something more at 7.30pm before going to kids club for the games and film night. We have found that we need to feed them on an ongoing basis – they are on the go from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep.

There are themed food nights, and they are good – we like them. I’m a big fan of their vegetarian food. Richard likes the rabbit, veal and says the range of meats are good and the sauces are good as well. There’s a whole area for different kinds of salad and another with great appetisers. The latter usually have a mix of fish in them and people can’t get enough of them – they love it. I love to see the different things on the grill area – there’s whole cooked chickens, pork and lots of stuff that I don’t recognise but tastes lovely. I usually get a small plate to start with and test things before going on to a second plate for mains, with more of the things I’ve liked the most.

Food-Carving-Dinner

Lovely Bloke likes the pastry and nest of puddings. I like the melon – it’s always a lovely way to finish the meal. There’s ice cream for adults dinner as well and there is always coffee on the go. Lots of people have a bottle of wine with dinner and then take it to the outdoor terrace. I prefer a pimms and lemonade whilst Lovely Bloke has a gin and tonic.

For me, whilst the food is lovely, it’s taken to the next level because of the attention to details that comes with it – children’s plates and cutlery, staff everywhere to help you with whatever you can’t find, an abundance of all the food and a relaxed approach to everything. We never feel like we need to move on and there’s always space for everyone.

The ‘Captain’ at breakfast is usually a woman who is a bit quieter but keeps everyone moving at a pace whilst the evening ‘Captain’ is a big, friendly, enthusiastic bloke – we don’t understand what he’s saying but we don’t need to – the staff are everywhere, doing everything and it’s great to see them all working as a team. They even have dedicated tables laid out at 7.30pm for “Kids tea” which is for tweens and older children, and “Indy” meals as well – at breakfast and for dinner. They are great ways for the children and teenagers to be independent but still use the meal times as a way to get to know other people without parents hovering too close by as to offend them!

What’s the food like when you go away? How important is it to you? Is it just one small part of your adventure or do you want to try things you’ve never had before?

Holidays with children …..

It seems only appropriate that whilst I sit here, at 11.30pm at night, trying to download photos and videos from phone, getting increasingly frustrated, that I should write about the complete and utter disconnect between our expectations of a holiday with children and the ensuing reality.

I don’t know about you, but Lovely Bloke and I are deluded. Year after year, we have these lofty ideas of harmonious playing, co-operation and a can do attitude from the moment we step out of our front doors to go on holiday to the moment we get back. The reality, is somewhat different. Before we have even left the house, we’ve resorted to outright bribery.

We’ve promised our offspring a magazine at the airport if they go through check in nicely – without pulling faces at the check in desks, without asking the policeman with a gun if there’s really a bullet in it and daring him to test it. We pray that they won’t repeat what they did last time, when you were unpacking your laptop, two ipads and phones and all associated cables and paraphernalia, which is to strip to their pants for screening because they were told to “take them off” – the person meant their shoes, not everything that they were wearing as well.

Then there’s the treat of having breakfast at the airport. It’s the most surreal thing ever. You’re all excited – but you also have to contain yourselves, knowing that there’s a confined space ahead, where you must all share the two pieces of precious IT kit known as The Blessed iPads. The fact that there’s only one pair of earphones, and that neither of your children want to put the buds in their ears, is irrelevant because everyone else on the flight is in the same position that you are. They are willing your children to well and truly act up and throw the Mother Of All Tantrums, because it will make their youngest flinging food with his fork as a catapult seem tame in comparison.

Anyway, once you and your Other Half have both knocked a couple of Gins and a glass of wine, you’ll be ready for the next bit – known as the Gateway To An Alternate Universe – it’s the bit where you get off the plane and breathe a sigh of relief, before going through another customs check and start to play the “Stand Still Whilst I Chase Our Luggage Around The Carousel” Game. If you’re a family like ours, it will appear to be so much fun that your children will be desperate to play it with you. And your other half, feeling that they want the distance between themselves and the children too, will be keen to join in and act as a wingman for this activity. The latter results in the simmering tensions generated through being nice to each other for a 4 hour flight bubbling to the surface when you both lunge for the same piece of luggage and wrestle to claim the victory of grabbing it. Only to realise that it’s not even yours in the first place.

Anyway, moving swiftly on. At this point, you’re ready to start your holiday. Oh wait, you’re not. You’re ready to get on the coach with two children who could not be dressed any more inappropriately for the climate if you’d tried. It’s the stuff that Michael McIntyre sketches are made of. You’re losing it. Your team mate lost it whilst circling the luggage belt and your children have sensed that they are nearly at the destination, so they’d better gear up to full throttle, to ensure maximum havoc is reached on the final assault towards the Holiday of Heaven.

Yes, it’s the coach. The final hurdle to overcome before you really start your holiday. If you are lucky, you’ll be on a coach that’s big enough for your sobbing and your children’s hysterically tired shrieking to be drowned out by the other families in the same boat. If you’re unlucky it will be a small, quiet coach, where your family are the highlight of everyone else’s eyebrow raising, quiet sighs whilst you are given the title of Those Whom We Must Not Speak To At Any Cost. You can guess which type we usually seem to end up on, can’t you?

Disclaimer – some bits of this piece are not true. Sadly, the majority of it is. I don’t know if you will disown me and never read this blog again if I tell you which is which. We’re currently on holiday at Levante, Rhodes, with Mark Warner and I’m writing about all the brilliant, strange and fabulous things that happen to families when they go on holiday.