Monthly Archives: July 2016

Things I’ve learned

Things I have learned whilst on holiday: 

1. No one looks good in a bikini unless they are under 25, tanned and preferably Spanish. 

2. German people are unmistakable, as are British. 

3. It doesn’t matter where you go on holiday (unless it’s somewhere off the beaten track and not heard of in a tourist guide) there will always be a shop full of crap that the owners think anyone of nationality in point 2 (above) would be keen to purchase. 

4. Not everywhere in the Canary Islands is guaranteed good weather, even in the height of summer. (Either that or we are in fact destined to have at least one crap weather day wherever we Beddoes go.) 

5. Not every capital city is worth a visit. We ventured out on the bus today as the weather looked a bit overcast and headed to the capital. Oh dear, 26 euros for a return trip was not money well spent. Unless you want to walk round a shopping centre that would give Luton Arndale a run for its money in the grotty stakes, or look at the docks. 

6. I should always trust my better judgement and pack a warm jumper regardless of our destination. The evenings here are very cool which makes for a good nights sleep but not a long evening sitting outside. A thin cardigan just doesn’t suffice. 

7. My husband is ruthless. He haggled a hair braiding African lady (loose term) down from 15 euros to 5. Ruthless. And probably quite justified. (Just to clarify, the person wanting the braiding was A and not K). 

8. On holiday I am, for some reason, able to wear shorts and dresses without feeling self conscious and/or ridiculous. And also a swimming costume (not a bikini – see point 1.) 

9. Spanish people love a baby or toddler but don’t seem vaguely interested in teenagers. Not that this matters in the slightest. Just an observation. 

10. Try as I might to be less of a tourist and endeavour to ask for things in Spanish it really isn’t worth it as the majority of the locals speak far better English than I can ever hope to emulate in Spanish. The odd gracias is really all you need. But makes me feel very lazy for not bothering to learn the language. 

11. Siblings bicker just as much away from home as they do at home. Just for more ridiculous reasons. 

12. A week definitely isn’t long enough so I am very pleased that we have another week to go. This may change as the second week progresses. 

13. Some British women wear very bizarre outfits when on holiday. Garments that you would like to think they would never wear down their local high street. But quite possibly, in some cases, do. 

14. It’s quite possible to play cards every night while sipping a glass of cold Sangria/beer/vodka and lemonade and for it not to get boring. Try this at home and I guarantee no one will be even vaguely interested. 

15. There are a lot of wi-fi hotspots even on the Canary Islands. And teenagers can always find them within just a few seconds. 

16. Colouring in is incredibly therapeutic and can be done for hours. Colouring pencils that keep breaking or need sharpening regularly are very frustrating and can often negate the calmness experienced from the colouring itself. 

17. It’s possible to read 6 books in as many days. 

18. Children don’t feel the cold unless it’s due to rain whilst on a walk in woods that they had not elected to go on. If it is due to a swimming pool outside the villa whilst on holiday they are immune to it. 

19. There is no more comfortable bed than your own. 

20. As above but this time pillows in place of bed. 

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A rose by any other name 

We have nicknames in our family. They become quite “normal”quite quickly even though they change fairly frequently but it’s not until you go away on holiday that you realise that to other people they may sound a bit strange. K is currently referred to by the children as Panda. Don’t ask me why. I don’t think they could tell you either. But Panda he is and once a habit of calling someone a certain name is formed it’s hard to stop. I suspect the people in the villa next to us (we now have neighbours after 3 days on our own) are a little bit bemused at the shouts of “Come on Panda – jump in!” etc. 

This reminded me of a holiday we went on when we were kids: mum, dad, Paul and I. I’m not sure where we were – Cornwall possibly – but Dad was going through a phase of calling Paul the name Jim. I think it stemmed from the longer name of Sonny Jim but where that comes from I have no idea. Anyway, there was another group staying at the same place as us, a B&B possibly, and they’d got chatting to mum and dad over the course of the holiday. One day they asked my dad if he could clear up a query they had. “What is your son’s actual name? Is it Jim or Paul? We’re a bit confused”. My dad had to confess that it was actually Paul. I don’t know if he explained the Jim thing but I don’t think we used nicknames much in public after that. 

At least no-one will be wondering if K’s name could actually be Panda. Or could they?! 

So far so good

Those of you that know how worried I’ve been about our summer holiday will be very pleased to hear that a) we were booked onto the right flight b) we did get collected at the airport c) our villa does exist and we were expected by the owners. 

In addition to this remarkable feat of planning and organising by K, it was all pretty easy and seamless and the villa is, well, it’s pretty bloody nice. It has got three bedrooms (we weren’t convinced) so thankfully the kids don’t have to share; the pool is bigger than a bath; the location isn’t so remote as we feared and we are able to walk to the supermarket (the rate we’re getting through water and food, this is a godsend); the staff are very helpful and we the few queries we’ve had have been sorted quickly (more pillows – why are there never enough pillows? – and a replacement for the broken kettle. Note to self: learn the Spanish for kettle for future visits.) There’s a free shuttle bus into town and to the beach and last night we had a nice dinner out courtesy of me being bold and brave. 

“Bold and brave?” I hear you cry. Indeed I was. Not renowned for my social attitude on holiday (or at home for that matter) I am normally the last person to strike up a conversation with a fellow holidaymaker. However, last night, perhaps emboldened by the pint of local beer (lager) that I’d downed in ten minutes while waiting for the afore-mentioned shuttle bus, on arrival in the town with another family who had also hopped on the bus, I found myself blurting to the dad/husband of the party “is there anywhere you can recommend food wise?” I know!!!  How completely unexpected. I shocked myself. Luckily the man wasn’t so shocked and happily reeled off a list of “reasonable”, “decent” establishments along with a tip on how to get a cheaper meal at the local Indian. We opted for a fish and steak place and had a very nice meal indeed. Another beer with the meal and a complimentary something strong and liquer-ish while paying the bill was all rather nice too. Maybe I should speak to strangers more often. 

Another day today of poolside relaxing and in-pool cooling off; with a few minor arguments and a bit of horseplay thrown in for good measure; accompanied by starting my second book of the holidays (I’m on track to finish the ten that I’ve downloaded) and a spot of colouring in my ‘little book of calm colouring’. Happy days. 

The end of an era 


Today I waved A off from the front door as she left to walk up to primary school for the last time. She was very tired this morning after a busy day yesterday; leavers assembly and then a water fight/bbq evening at school. 

The leavers assembly was fine. They were given their leavers hoodies and survival packs (little novelty things e.g a rubber because we all make mistakes – you know the kind of thing) and we saw some photos of days gone by and the teachers had recorded some messages. There was an underlying theme in most of the messages that they had been a “challenging” and difficult class but that there had been some good times and some happy memories. That kind of put a bit of a dampener on the whole proceedings and I’m pleased to say I didn’t shed a tear. Not one. A’s experience of school has been very different to T’s. Don’t get me wrong, she’s loved her time there but it IS a “challenging” class and there are some characters that have, at times, made life difficult. I don’t feel the same fondness that I felt for most of the kids in T’s class. I have been wavering between desperation for her to leave and sadness that she is old enough to leave. Today, and after the assembly yesterday, the overriding feeling is most definitely one of relief. The only point at which I nearly (very, very nearly but not quite) cracked was when we were leaving the school through the main gates (for the very last time, for me) and the head teacher gave me a hug and said “it’s the end of an era”. It is. It’s been a long and sometimes painful journey but I DO have a lot to thank the school for (there are some amazing members of staff) and I will always be grateful for the care that they have shown both of the children. 

The end of an era. And the beginning of a new, exciting, certainly not trouble-free one. But first: the summer holidays. Hurrah. 

Fourteen years

Fourteen years ago tomorrow I became a mum. I was already in hospital at this stage as my waters broke a few nights before he was born and I needed to be monitored. I had never been in hospital before (except for visiting elderly relatives and scan appointments) and it was not an experience I ever want to repeat. It was hot. I was huge. I was scared. K was still working and only able to visit for a short time each evening. I eventually went into some sort of rubbish attempt at labour sometime the evening before he was born and it proved to be a long and tedious and painful process ending in a very traumatic forceps delivery around 7am. I was whisked off to theatre almost immediately to sort out a third degree tear while K was left with our equally traumatised son who had needed the resuscitation trolley (the thing they show you on your hospital “tour” and I remember the words from the terrifying midwife “if your baby needs that then it means that they are having trouble breathing and there may be a problem”) to get him over the shock of his birth.

Fourteen years have not lessened the memory of how scared I was, how naive I was and how totally unprepared for motherhood I was. To say that I struggled is an understatement and I think it is safe to say if it weren’t for the fact that my mum was around A LOT I wouldn’t have coped AT ALL.  T was not a settled baby; he slept little and was sick a lot. I was suffering with the aftermath of his birth; the physical pain of the delivery and the shock of it all. Not a great start for either of us. But, the fourteen years have been the happiest fourteen years of my life. Yes, there have been some truly s**t days and weeks in there but I can truly say that there is nothing in my life that I have worked harder at than surviving the first two years of his life and I am so proud of the wonderful young man he has become. Despite being separated for the first few hours of his life and not being able to cope with his early few months/years we have the most incredible bond that I hope will last forever. He makes me laugh like no-one else and he makes me smile every single day.

Fourteen years. Amazing. There were times I didn’t think I would survive the first fourteen months. But we did, and we are all the stronger for it.

 

The last…..

….Monday.

Woke my girl up this morning (as I do most mornings) and she grumbled (as she does most mornings) and then when she realised I wasn’t going away (same old, same old) she muttered “last Monday ever at MVS”. I asked her if that made her feel happy or sad and she said “no different to normal, it’s just another day”. That’s my girl. She’s so matter of fact about everything and takes it all in her stride. I am already feeling the first signs of anxiety (knotty stomach and lumpy throat*) as it feels like such a huge moment, but she is just the same. I’m so glad she doesn’t take after me.

However, as the week progresses, they will be doing and more and more “lasts” and preparations for the Leavers Assembly are underway. I am glad we are going away as soon as they break up as I think it will then hit her that it’s all over and she will be knackered, a bit emotional and a change of scenery will do her good.

As for me, I am very glad the sun is shining and is set to continue to do so – I will be in need of my sunglasses!

 

(* I get a bizarre feeling in my throat when I am anxious. It first happened when K and I were getting married and I was frantic with all the planning – we were also trying to move house at the same time which in hindsight was crazy – and I found that I had trouble swallowing. I convinced myself that I had throat cancer and went to the docs expecting her to say that I had weeks left to live. Instead she asked if I was under any stress at all? Er, just a bit. And that was the answer. I took Kalms for a while and it went away. But it always seems to come back when I am a bit worked up about something, and every time I notice it my first thought is always the same as when I first had it – i.e. horrible death is imminent – until I remember and then it all makes sense.)

 

The first step

Today was Transition Day for A, with a day at her new secondary school; meeting her form teacher, her new form-mates and generally getting a feel for the place. It was a day that I have been dreading and looking forward to in equal parts. Dreading because I wondered who, if anyone, she would have in her form from her current class; looking forward to because I am excited for her to be starting a new chapter. I dropped her and a friend off this morning and after a lot of nervous/excited talk in the car they went in looking a little anxious. I have been trying to keep myself busy to take my mind off the urge to sit outside the school in my car all day waiting for her to come out. Which would have been stupid because the friends step-dad was picking them up….

So, I have been waiting impatiently for her return this afternoon, making myself wait and not text her the minute I knew she had left (stalking on Life 360 doesn’t count as cheating). I saw the car pull up outside saying “please be smiling, please be smiling” over and over in my head like a crazy woman, and lo and behold she was smiling. She has had the best day. She has no girls from her current school in her new form – tick. She has a few boys who she mostly gets on with (and most importantly, one of whom we will be car sharing with come September so they can go in together and help each other find their way around) – tick. She knows her form tutor already as she is a parent of children at her current school – big, big tick. She saw her brother at break and lunch and he didn’t ignore her – tick. She saw some older girls that she knows from our village and they gave her big hugs and made a fuss of her – tick. She has made 3 new friends, one of whom lives just along the road from us but has been at a different junior school so is a new local friend – tick. She volunteered (i.e.begged) to take part in one of the sessions and had to team up with one of the new boys in her form and they succeeded in their mission, to applause from the rest of the form – tick.

So, basically, a day full of big ticks and lots of smiles. Long may it last. I could cry with relief and pride.