musingsponderingsandrants

Parenting, profundities and humour

Ear…ear… — August 2, 2019

Ear…ear…

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So here we are in sunny France. Day 6 of our 2 week sojourn to the Vendee on the Atlantic coast.

It’s actually Day 7 but I refuse to count Day 1 as it consisted of getting up unfeasibly early and driving for hours and hours before having to speak broken French in tabacs and supermarkets, cook pasta, unpack and try not to shout at the kids before falling into bed in an exhausted heap… “let’s make the journey part of the holiday” some smuck said. No let’s forget it ever happened and enter complete denial until Day 15 when we do it all in reverse with nothing to look forward to except those 4 bananas I am certain I left in the fruit bowl….

Sorry I digress.

Day 6/7 then. So far days 1-5 have involved us in unbridled fun. Body boarding, swimming, jacuzzi-ing (even a word?), sandcastle building, reading, sleeping and yesterday a day at a water park sliding and getting an adrenaline fix.

Time today, therefore, for something different. It began at 12.30am this morning when Middlest stumbled into our bedroom complaining of ear ache.

Middlest really did stumble too. The shutters here, which resemble shop shutters but are automatic, let in very little light so it is pitch black in the night. This sees me regularly waking up in what I consider to be the middle of the night but is actually 9am. This was especially confusing during Days 1 to 3 when I could not work out how to alter the time on my Fitbit and so had to manually add on the hour myself. Which my brain seemed incapable of doing in the middle of the night/ 8am/ 9am.

I groaned, I like to think inwardly but it was probably outwardly too, and stumbled into the other bedroom (husband and I currently occupy 2 as the one we started sleeping in at the end of that exhausting Day 1 had a bed so hard my left arm went numb so we turned Middlest out of his twin to share with Youngest so we could sleep with full feeling in all our limbs. This sees our clothes, toiletries and the medicines in one room and us in another) to retrieve the analgesics. I bunged him an ibuprofen and went back to sleep and dreamt of doctors and giant ears.

And thus Day 6 has been spent dealing with the french medical system.

Middlest and Youngest have ear ache form. They first got raging ear ache in Portugal during our 2016 summer holiday. Please read Why are there No Aspirin in the Jungle for that particular tale.

They then both got it again on 2 holidays to the Canaries.

With our own private pool here we hoped we might evade the dreaded ear infections but, no, either the pool contains remnants of previous occupants or it was yesterday’s water park that was the culprit….

We spoke to our rep who suggested a pharmacy. So off I drove to the nearest town having readied my script which consisted off: I am English. I speak a little French. My son has ear ache. Is there something you can suggest?

Day 6, it transpires, is market day. The place was rammed. I drove futilely round 2 car parks, pulled the wrong way up a one way street, reversed quickly before anyone caught on and finally parked up at the supermarket.

We made the pharmacy. The assistant understood my french. Unfortunately I did not understand hers. I caught the word doctor and interior and ear and guessed she was saying I needed a doctor.

Back home we drove. Husband called the rep back. She found a doctors open to people without appointments in the same town we had just left open for just another 30 minutes. Back we raced this time with husband to drop us off seeing as time was limited. The surgery was rammed. There was no receptionist, which was in part a relief. No need to speak broken French to someone who may or may not have been from the same mold as British doctors’ receptionists. I will say no more.

People disappeared into the 2 doctors’ rooms and never came out. This was slightly disturbing. Anyway our turn came. I gave the same speech. The doctor asked me something in French. I looked blank. She asked it again in quite good English. I gave the answer: “His name is Middlest”. About this point I decided, not for the first time, that I really need to learn how to listen to French. I can read and speak it to a useful level when holiday but I am totally incapable of understanding it when spoken. Even something as simple as “What is his name”….

Anyway she got the details she needed. I managed to convey his penicillin allergy. We got a prescription. We paid the 30 euros (frankly that is cheap compared to Spain and Portugal) and left through a second door….ahh now we understood…

Back to the same pharmacy. The previous assistant smiled and said “Ah antibiotics”. The male assistant had less English. We managed with hand signals and my occasional French word of agreement and me deciding to just say ‘Oui’ and decipher the French instructions when we got home. He was concerned, I think, that he didn’t want me to think he was ripping me off as he had to sell me two packets of ear drops. Frankly I would have paid a lot more than the 10 euros to just get the whole sorry mess over with.

We drove home. Middlest had been feeling bad that he was ruining the holiday. So we span it as a worthwhile cultural experience.

No holiday would be complete without a trip to the doctors. This one has the added advantage of not even being worth a travel insurance claim. Less paperwork. Result.

In Search of Waves… — July 31, 2019

In Search of Waves…

imageSome of my more loyal readers (and let’s face it with my posts getting scarcer and scarcer you would have to be pretty loyal right now; and that scarcity is a whole other story I may write one day) may remember that I enjoy a bit of body boarding…

If you don’t remember why not go back and revisit Surfing or Surfing….or not…. or even If the Suit Fits they all bear some testament to my love of riding the waves. On my belly…. I decided after Portugal to just give up on proper surfing for good, The relief is palpable. Body boarding…all the thrill…much less effort..

In search of waves last summer we went to Polzeath in Cornwall for our annual two week summer holiday. The house we rented was literally a short trot to the beach (admittedly across a car park) and then it was only a small hike up the beach to the waves. We had decided to buy full length wet suits of a decent quality and exorbitantly expensive Dry Robes (TM) which as it happened were unnecessary as Cornwall basked in unusually high temperatures for our entire staycation.

Once we realised you needed to get your boarding fix either very early or very late to avoid the hoards of surf schools and sightseers we had a high old time. The waves were mostly good.

Probably beacuse we didn’t get the Cornwall weather we expected and felt cheated by all that sun we decided to head back in October half term for another go. This time the weather was distinctly Cornwall. We used those Dry Robes (TM) in anger as well as neoprene hats, shoes and gloves. You may scoff but we body boarded in November. In the rain. And howling wind. The waves were ‘frisky’. It was quiet.  But nothing was open. All the cafes and tea shops and chippies had closed up for the year.

In a bid to combine sun & open amenities with not hitting your head on a surf board or taking out a toddler or two on every wave we decided to head back to the west coast of France this year.

We last did this in around 2011. We remembered excellent waves. Long empty beaches. But we have moved on a bit from static caravans. So husband found a house again a stroll from the beach. With a pool and jacuzzi. And a washing machine. We bought a roof box for all the wet suits, neoprene accoutrements and Dry Robes (TM) (the weather in West France can still be a bit hit and miss if memory served) and off we drove across the tunnel and seemingly all of France.

The house is spectacular. The beach beautiful. But not body boardable. We tried, looking a bit ridiculous in our wet suits amongst all the bikini clad French bathing in fairly calm waters, but really, no.

Luckily Rob, who had shown us around the house when we arrived, had mentioned a surfer beach, La Conches, just up the bay. He claimed it was a bit busy with surf schools (sigh) but worth the trip especially as it had life guards.

Yesterday with a surf report of 5-7 foot waves we tried our local beach one more time, gave up after having to walk over the rocks to the waves which were breaking at weird angles, got straight in the car sitting on towels and said Dry Robes (TM) and drove in sandy flip flops and wet wetsuits to La Conches which took all of 15 minutes. We banged the roof box on the car park barrier, got out and walked to the beach.

We were greeted by awesome waves of indeed epic proportions breaking in huge straight lines. The beach was deserted. As it was raining.

So off we went striding into the sea catching wave after wave and skimming the shore with our boards. Looking like we at least needed the wet suits.

We went back today in slightly tamer 3-4 foot waves. Which allowed Eldest to catch them just before they broke much to his delight, and Middlest to try his barrel rolls.

2 hours later we again sat on those towels and Dry Robes (TM) in the increasingly sandy car and drove back to our house and the outside shower. All exhilarated, tired and ready for our baguette, cold meats and cheese.

Why do I like it so much? I love the visceral effect of the sea. I love being so close to all that power. I love fighting my way back out through the breakers. I love the crash of the breaking wave, the gurgle as you ride the breakers and the rustle of the shingle under the board. I love the smell. I love the pull of all that energy propelling you up the beach. I love that time slips away unnoticed. I love seaweed tangled in my feet. I love the feel of sand in my toes. I love the triumph when you catch one just right and go from shoulder high water to inches of foam.

And you see here is the single best thing about body boarding. It is a physical activity that I enjoy and can actually do as well as my off spring. In every other area I lag behind, get tired before everyone else, feel like the lame duck. But with body boarding I out last them all. Except Youngest who could have stayed even longer. It is truly a whole family activity.

At one point during today’s session we all managed to catch the same wave riding it up to the shoreline in what , in my mind, was exquisite harmony. Perfect.

Body boarding is something that I can foresee carrying on with even after the kids have left and into my older years. I imagine myself at 60 or even older still riding those waves.

And then I struggle into or out of my wet suit slowly and often with help and reconsider…. I will have to develop an immunity to the cold. Or a layer of fat. And do away with one altogether. For I never want to give up that feeling of pure exhilaration.

 

 

 

If the suit fits… — October 9, 2017

If the suit fits…

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So today I decided to clean the family room. Nothing unusual in that you may be thinking. Well you would be slightly wrong on that front. For I am a bit of a slob and I hadn’t given the room a proper ‘doing’ for…some… time. I had pushed a vac around a bit and plumped the odd cushion but that really wasn’t hacking it anymore.

I knew this because Middlest’s 12th birthday cards were still adorning the hearth. I won’t admit to his birth date, not because I am worried about revealing his identity, but because then you will realise quite how much of a slob I really am. But suffice to say his birth month is not October or, dare I even say it, September.

Yes the room was in need of a major overhaul.

I like to think I leave rooms for this long because of the level of satisfaction I gain from moving large amounts of dust. But, no, really I am just a slob. Husband had also been making rumblings about the level of dust. In fact when the Sky Q box recently decided to have a minor melt down he commented that ‘there is quite a lot of dust on it’ as if that could be a possible cause… That made me wait another week before tackling the job. And swear.

Anyway as part of the cleaning process I really needed to tidy up first. And part of that tidy up process involved dealing with the wet suit on the Poang chair. And, no, this isn’t a euphemism for an elephant in the room. There really has been a wetsuit on the Poang chair for quite some time.

And here is why.

We got back off our main fortnight’s holiday in early August (Middlest had not turned 12 at this point) and so my husband decided to start planning next year’s holiday. This is a bit of a ‘thing’ for him. I try to be all understanding about his need to have his next summer holiday booked at least 12 months in advance but really I just find it ‘mildly’ irritating to be bombarded with questions and e mails with links to possible destinations when my bikini is still drying on the washing line.

To some extent he is right because we do need to book early as we are (whispers) a family of 5. As anyone who is in a family of 5 will know this is a ‘bad thing’ holiday wise. The accommodation required to house families of 5s is often very expensive and very scarce and books up very quickly.

Still I like to get Christmas out of the way first.

Anyway this year’s process of holiday booking saw him downsize our choice from a 12 day safari to Botswana via 16 days touring the west coast of the US to finally a fortnight in a 4 bed cottage on the beach in Polzeath, Cornwall, England.

I won’t bore you with this process, it was bad enough being part of it as an ultimate beneficiary, but suffice to say we are all more than slightly relieved to be looking forward to spending 2 weeks literally on the beach, returning to our cottage of an evening to eat take away fish and chips and to partake of the good WiFi and a PS4. Instead of ‘basic’ camping in the bush or driving for 9 hours a day down Route whatever. Well the kids and I are anyway.

Not to become downhearted by this downscaling of his holidaying dreams husband has instead gleefully embraced the role of kitting us all out for this adventure. We love to body board and knowing what Cornwall may be like in August we had decided to spend some of the not inconsiderable savings we had made on the actual holiday on better equipment. I saw this as a longer term project.

And so it was that a while ago (!) I took delivery of a new full length wet suit which my husband had lovingly chosen for me completely autonomously. A full 10 months ahead of our sojourn. It is apparently a good time to buy wetsuits as the summer season is coming to a close. Obviously. It is lucky I am not one for fashion or brand new ranges as I am going to be a whole year out of date next summer proudly sporting my brand new not new wetsuit. In some ways his faith in my ability to stay around my current weight and body shape is flattering. In others… Luckily he hadn’t been stupid enough to buy the kids any new wet suits. Which is a good job as by next August it is possible Eldest will have hit 7 foot tall.

He casually threw the wet suit on the Poang and suggested I try it on. My heart sank. I ignored that wet suit for… some… time. Today, however, I could ignore it no longer. It was time to try it on.

We have all watched surfer movies. Blonde, tousle haired youths strolling around with their wet suits around their waists. Shrugging their arms into sleeves and reaching gracefully behind themselves to pull effortlessly at the back zipper before elegantly diving into the waves.

That isn’t me. In any way. In fact I try to avoid donning a wet suit in public. It often involves a lot of very unflattering wriggling and grunting. For I am the shape of a lady. I have a waist and hips and such like. Wet suits usually fit me fine once I have wrestled the small amount of waist material over my arse. But not until that point.

I am also unable to reach around to my back and pull up my zipper. I lack the shoulder mobility. Usually I have to sort of flick the long zipper tail over my head and tug it up whilst bent double. Again not a flattering look.

Clearly having taken this issue on board wet suit manufacturers are trying something new and my husband had already explained that this new wetsuit did up at the front in a quite complicated neck arrangement. He had taken ‘a while’ to work out how to get in his suit. I have worn bodies. I thought I could manage.

Things seemed to be going quite well (aside from the usual arse through small waist wriggling) until I got to my second arm. I had climbed into the suit through part if the neck. The neck line appeared to have several parts. I thrust my arm into a sleeve and it went precisely 2 inches before coming to a grinding halt.  I had my left arm half in the suit but couldn’t pull it up over my left shoulder until my right arm was in which meant the use of my left arm was severely compromised. I thrust several times and got no where.

I took out my left arm and tried inserting my right arm first and this worked once I realised that I was going down the wrong ‘side’ of the sleeve. After that I grunted and wriggled some more and got my left arm back in and the suit up to shoulder level. Then I realised the other half of the neck zip fastener was behind my head. I had to put my head back through the very small neck opening. Whilst not grazing my nose on the zip in a very unflattering way.

Once I had achieved this I got that satisfying ‘pop’ feeling as all my body parts found themselves in the correct area of the suit. Well all my parts except my knees which never seem to find themselves behind the reinforced knee area because I have short dumpy legs. Never mind I could live with that.

I squeaked upstairs to have a look in the mirror and decided it would ‘do’- the colour way being sufficiently garish to mask a multitude of sins and bugles.

By this point I was getting a tad hot. Which boded well for my future sojourns in the Atlantic.

And then it hit me. I had to get out.

To my knowledge I have never got out of a wet suit unaided.

The problem with the reverse procedure is invariably arms and shoulders. I reasoned with myself that without the added factor of sticky sea water I would be able to take off the wet suit.

I was wrong.

I managed to man handle that neck bit back over my head again without major lacerations.

Then I tried to get my arms out. They were totally stuck. By this point the exertions of trying to remove myself from the wet suit had caused me to break out in an unattractive sweat which wasn’t really helping. I was now seriously hot. And remembering the claustrophobia such garments induce in me.

Ten minutes passed and I had made no real head way.

I was starting to panic. I had visions of having to do the school run in my wet suit.

My mind was in overdrive deciding which friend I could call upon to extricate me from the neoprene hell I found myself in. My best bet was a friend in the next village who doesn’t drive. She would have found it hysterically funny but would have helped. The thought of getting in the car and driving over there, though, was not appealing. I started hyperventilating.

I decided to take five, calm down, and try again.

Thankfully it worked and I managed to get one arm out of the sleeve and the suit below that shoulder. With some more deep breathing the second shoulder was out. After that it was just a case of peeling it down inside out. It sounds a bit like childbirth. The relief at the end was similar.

Anyway the suit ‘fits’. I shall not be putting it on again until August.

No buns for me.

**That is not me in my wet suit up there…

 

 

 

 

 

Sunbed Wars… — July 31, 2017

Sunbed Wars…

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Time for another holiday missive. I cannot quite believe it has been a year since my last holiday blogs from Portugal. Such gems as Wind Up and Why are there no Aspirin in the Jungle? Please do look them up. I have limited technology here in sunny (and windy) Fuerteventura and so I struggle to provide links. Oo actually I think I may have mastered it. Let’s hope so…

For those of you that remember the latter blog it dealt with the fact that Middlest and Youngest had developed raging ear infections from over pool use and the lengths we needed to go to sort that out. Well by way of background that happened again in October in this very hotel and we spent another day of our precious holiday at doctors and pharmacists.

And so I bought them earplugs and gromit bands to wear on this holiday. Needless to say that hasn’t gone down too well. It is somewhat of a battle to get them to wear them. I actually think they look kind of cool. I would post a picture but all photographic evidence is banned.

I am a lonely voice in favour of such a get up, even husband suggested “We should play it by ear”. Not only is that a dreadful pun but I am also not sure how that would work. Until “we had played it by ear” enough for an ear infection, or possibly two, to develop? What and then wear the gromit bands? After the fact. I pointed out that if that did occur he would be getting the taxi to the pharmacy in the next town and trying to get by in rudimentary Spanish. That was enough to get him to back down. My husband is legendary for his lack of linguistic ability. I once came back from a loo trip when we were in Gran Canaria and discovered him trying to order two pineapple juices by miming a pineapple. It has gone down in Harrison folk law. I intervened. Dos zumo du pina por favor? The look of relief on the poor waitresses face was a sight to behold. I am sure it has gone down in waitress folk law too…..

I also reminded the off spring of the night of agony they both suffered. Middlest on the sofa crying. The subsequent pool ban for the rest of the holiday. The increased pain on the return flight. Apparently all this is like labour pain. Forgotten conveniently by the next time. That has cost me quite dearly. I didn’t want it to cost them. Like many many things I do that appear mean and heartless (apparently) I am doing it for their own good.

So they are wearing them. I put my foot down. And as everyone knows I am the boss. I saw a bunch of pre pubescent Germans pouring all inclusive Fanta on their heads and diving straight into the pool yesterday. I rest my case….

Anyway this wasn’t supposed to be a blog about ear infections but as always I have got massively sidetracked.

No this is a blog about sun beds.

We arrived at midnight on Saturday evening after a traumatic trip which saw us nearly miss the flight due to the M25. Needless to say we didn’t fancy getting up too early on our first day. At about 7.30 then we wandered blearily down to breakfast. Early is a relative term with my kids.

My first inkling that something may be up was when I went onto the balcony to take in the view. The view consisted of a lot of middle aged men, many in Lycra  (can I go nowhere without mamils?) reserving platoons of sun beds. I shrugged it off. In October here we had wandered down after a leisurely breakfast (by 8.30) and still been able to sit in the shade, a must for my family two of whom are very pale skinned. One of those is a fully grown man who still believes he will get a tan, despite 43 years of evidence to the contrary. The other is Middlest who spends his holidays getting more and more freckly in an endearing but ultimately futile way tan wise.

Anyway after this particular leisurely breakfast (probably the best in our All Inclusive experiences with proper sausages and bacon that is so well cooked it cracks, the only way to eat bacon in my opinion. I do wish the continent could get its collective head around the need for cold milk with tea though, not hot milk or, worse, cream and provide tea pots and proper sized mugs. That might be just me of course) husband wandered down and could only find sunbeds in full sun and then they were sandwiched between the bins and the showers.

Nevermind we carried on undaunted. After lunch I happened to be passing a family with a small child vacating their beds under the shade and I pounced securing the beds with everything I was carrying; sun hat, one towel & my sun glasses. I toyed with removing my bikini top to secure the fourth bed such was my desperation for shade, sweat having formed on the back of my knees, but thought better of it. The resort is partly naturist but it isn’t really my style…I ran back to husband and we embarked on a change over procedure.

Despite this retreat to the shade for the latter part of the afternoon Middlest still got mild sun stroke as we were to find out at 11.30 pm when Eldest pounded on the door to advise that Middlest was vomiting copiously into, luckily, the toilet.

I resolved to find shady sun beds the next morning come what may.

Anyway at 07:00 hours I pulled on shorts and a tee shirt and joined the mamils reserving sun beds. I found five in the shade further from the activity pool than everyone wanted but not bad in my opinion.

I got chatting to an English man who was arranging his towels on the run of beds next to ours. My family find it odd that I will strike up a conversation with such people. I was about to spend the day lying approximately four inches from at least one member of his party. Getting on friendly terms seemed fair enough.

Whilst he had a fag and I tried not to stare at his sleeve tattoos we discussed the state of affairs which had apparently got worse in this, his second week of holiday. He had been unable to acquire beds any nearer to the activity pool and this got us to wondering what god awful time those in the prime spots had actually arisen at.

There is a rumour circulating that people are setting out towels the night before. They must be German surely? It is a risky strategy as the wind here is truly phenomenal. It is not our first holiday involving wind, as detailed in the aforementioned post Wind Up. In fact I am starting to wonder if my husband is actually seeking out windy locations, this being our third in a row. That Rugby World Cup hoody is back in action. It looks a bit out of date now but it is still very serviceable.

With regard to sun bed reserving I hold the shop partially responsible as they sell beach towel pegs to fasten your beach towel to your sun bed. I have seen a number of towels flapping kite like from their pegged mooring,  Those beach towels carry a €15 deposit, not sure I would risk it. I like JJ the overweight Bulgarian entertainment team member as much as the next woman but not enough to risk that kind of wonga. I will forsake laughing at people doing spin in the water to ensure I don’t lose €75.

My new friend was off on a couple of day trips in the forthcoming week and he was looking forward to the lie in. I had to agree. Of course there are signs up forbidding the reserving of sun beds, the management reserving the right to remove unattended articles. Of course these signs are totally ignored. And some of the more moral amongst my holidaying compatriots actually sit on the beds from seven am thus getting around this issue. In any event can you imagine the mountain of beach towels and lilos (a particularly risky sunbed saving article here in the force nine gale especially the ones shaped like lobsters whose claws seem to catch the wind very easily) and sun hats and random bags that would be created if the management did carry out their threat? Aqua spin would be highly likely to be called off whilst they sorted all that out annoying a huge amount of slightly over weight women. I am sure the management have thought better of it.

I wouldn’t mind so much except that a huge amount of these reserved sun beds do not get occupied until I am going in for lunch, maybe they should start a rota system?

In any event I have it better than my new found sun bed chum whose party consists of his 20 year old lad and his girlfriend (who was indeed the member I spent most of the day lying four inches from which was quite annoying as she was, well, 20 and therefore didn’t paint me in a particularly favourable light) his wife and sister in law  (overweight, unfortunate sun burn lines, tattoos that were possibly once attractive why couldn’t I have ended up next to her? ) and his 16 year old daughter. He doesn’t get a sunbed for her because she might not turn up all day, and he is British and so has a sense of decency about these things.

The reason I have it better is because he was off to await the forming of the a la carte dining queue which, he informed me, he had been unsuccessful in on a previous three occasions. He had a new strategy planned and was hopeful. I shall look out for him in the all you can eat buffet later. That is where we will be eating every night.

I imagine sun bed man (who of course I did not exchange anymore words with once our families had arrived, for that would be weird) would probably also choose the buffet too. During our chat he agreed with me that the food is great.

Especially the bacon.

Off to set my alarm. Good night.

 

 

 

Surfing…. — August 7, 2016

Surfing….

I have a long held desire to learn to surf. And by surf I mean on a board in the sea not on a computer on my sofa. Which I can already do.

I have always loved the sea. I have lived in many places in my life (at the last count 9 towns in the UK) and only one was in shouting distance of a beach. And the UK has lot of coast. For someone who loves the sea I seem to have a tendency to inhabit the interior of our island. Circumstances I suppose.

The only time I did live near the sea was when I was between the ages of 5 and 10 and for some reason we didn’t go that often. I think mainly because the walk from the car park to the sea was a long, soft sand trek that left us all exhausted. Although it was through one of the last remaining strongholds of the red squirrel. We must have gone sometimes because I have vague memories of dunes, those squirrels and lots of sand.

My paternal grandparents lived near the sea near Weston Super Mare and we did go to the beach there. My overriding recollections are of donkies and the three mile hike over the beach to the sea. The tide went out a very long way.

We also used to holiday on the south Devon coast every year. Our hotel was another quite long trek from the beach, along buddleia lined pathways which were covered in butterflies, past the Copper Mine where we spent many happy hours feeding machines with pennies and over the railway which skirted magnificently around red sandstone cliffs. I remember hours of bobbing up and down on waves with my bottom in a rubber ring. And I remember my dad’s wooden body board.

I like waves. I like the wild magnificence of the seas around the UK. I like cliffs and rock pools. Groynes encrusted with barnacles. And even seagulls. Although not the one that terrorised Eldest aged about three by knicking his sausage roll directly out of his hand.

The problem with the UK’s coast is that the sea is cold. As I get older I react more and more badly to the cold. I don’t venture in the sea in the UK that much anymore. I cannot imagine how I spent hours in merely a swimsuit in the Atlantic as a child. But I did. The North Sea is worse.

When the kids were still quite little we went on holiday for a couple of years to the Vendee in France. Our campsite was literally on the beach. We would get there early every day and come back at lunch time for a siesta and then go back for the afternoon. I did hours of body boarding.

The waves were immense and very rideable. It was the first time in my life I managed to catch a wave in shoulder deep water and ride it all the way to the shore until my knees were scraping the sand. Awesome. I could have spent even more hours doing it. But the kids were little and needed watching. I needed to time share that with my husband. And body board to the schedule of their desire for regular meals and naps and my attention.

And also the air temperature was unreliable. The second year we went the weather was not great. Too far north. We tried Biarritz for more likelihood of high temperatures but the waves there were far too big for us amateurs.

We then ended up at the Med. On a Greek island. Because we were sick of unreliable weather, self catering and caravans. Sunshine was guaranteed the views were stunning and the food delicious but we needed to leave our boards at home. The Med. Like a large lake.

We did a year in Cornwall. Again great body boarding. Ocean absolutely freezing.   Middlest and Edlest had a surfing lesson and managed to stand up within the hour. And that is when my desire to graduate from a body board to a surf board really took hold.

This year we have come to the south of Portugal where the Atlantic coast meets the Mediterranean coast. I had high hopes. The town we are near is apparently the surfing Mecca of Portugal. Unfortunately our hotel and its beach are on the ‘wrong’ coast.  Sheltered and perfect for families. Not quite what we were after but still lovely. And it is only a short drive to the right coast.

Yesterday we had an all day surfing lesson. We got picked up by a suitably fit, young, tanned and tattooed man who looked like he had been plucked straight off the beach. On the drive I discovered he had two children and his wife was pestering for a third. He wanted the benefit of my wisdom. Had it been hard? Should he consider it? Tricky conversation to have in the front of a mini van loaded with surf boards and over excited kids, not all of whom were mine.

We got to the beach. The car park was full of camper vans and beaten up Corsas loaded with spectacular numbers of surf boards and beautiful young people. We got into wet suits in the car park. Never an easy or dignified process especially when being gawped at by hosts of beautiful young people. And then we hauled all the boards and our kit to the beach. And wow what a beach, I could hardly wait to get in the sea.

First, though, we had to go through the warm up and instruction. We had to be those mad fools pretending to paddle and mount our boards on dry land.

And then in we got, the water warm, the waves beautiful.

I tried. I really did. For three hours. I managed to sort of get to my feet once. For about three seconds. Somewhere between step two (push up with your arms) and step three (get your back foot on the board, the one tethered complicatedly to the end of the deck) it all went wrong. I ended up on my knees toppling sideways. Knees had not featured in the instructions. But then I am neither strong enough nor supple enough to go from lying prone to both feet, whilst balancing on a wave. Apparently.

And tugging that board around is seriously hard work. Dragging it through the waves and realising that with each breaker you have lost all the ground you had just made. I tried lifting it out of the water which is my body board technique. Not so easy with a 6 foot piece of whatever they are made of which is attached to your foot. Density akin to lead.

In the end I gave up and just body boarded on the surf board and I managed to catch some brilliant waves all the way in. Which was cool but not really what I had hoped for. I am not sure what I had hoped for. The ability to transfer my body boarding skill to surfing I suppose. Clearly the two are not related. Well not for me.

All three of my kids took to it, typically, like ducks to water. And all of them were reliably standing up all day. Even my husband managed it a few times. Well done him.

Anyway I enjoyed the day. Not the part were we had to haul all the kit and boards back up to the van. But the rest of it. And I am glad I tried. The kids appreciated that I tried even though I am so ‘old’. And they remain convinced they saw me standing up. I think they must have me confused with another lady in the same surf school outfit. There were a lot of us out there….

Last night I nearly fell asleep in my pizza and was in bed by 8.30. Today I cannot move. All of me aches. From my neck downwards. I am bruised and battered. My left foot hurts from something.

So tomorrow, after a day spent flopping by the pool, we are off in search of a body board and a suitable beach. And I am going back to what I know. And love.

For it is a truth that 46 is too old to be a surfer chick. There is hope for Youngest though. Who did cut a dash in her wet suit standing up gracefully all the way to the shore. Blonde hair streaming. All rash vest and board shorts and brown, supple limbs.

You go girl.

 

 

Just Bounce Off Will You? — July 15, 2016

Just Bounce Off Will You?

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So on our ‘Things We Must Do in the Long Summer Holiday’ list the kids had written  ‘Go to Bounce’.

In case you are not familiar with this particular activity Bounce is a shed in a city near us which is home to 100 plus trampolines. Eldest and Middlest have each been to a party there. It was a ‘thing’ about a year ago. In the manner of children’s parties the herd has now moved on. Mainly to the outside Waterpark on a nearby lake. Even looking at children in wet suits in that lake makes me shiver. And worry about algae and stuff. We did a similar thing in Greece last summer. In the Med. Air temperature 38 degrees. Sea temperature 28 degrees. Currently here the air temp is about 18 and I am pretty sure the lake has made double figures but probably only just. It looked more fun in Greece. But hey each to their own.

I am digressing. I apologise.

Youngest has had a bee in her bonnet about Bounce since I had to decline two birthday parties on her behalf that were being held at this palace of bouncy wonderment. To hear her talk you would think this shed was some sort of utopia. With added dodgeball.

So I agreed to let them come. We were going to do it yesterday but then we went on a bike ride down the new bypass (on the cycle route in case readers of Cycle Rage are wondering) and had lunch in our supermarket of choice. That sounds like I am being coy. I am not really. Our supermarket of choice is Sainsburys. What can I say? I like their meat. And the fact that they let me park there on Fridays so I can collect the kids without queuing up for half an hour to leave the school carpark. I owe them. Plus all my ‘favourites’ are saved on their web site. And I am blowed if I am going to go through the rigmarole of starting all over somewhere else. I can almost do my on line grocery shopping in my sleep.

By golly I am digressing again. So after our jaunt on bikes we decided to save Bounce for another, less exciting day. Today is that day.

I booked an hour’s slot on line. And paid an extortionate amount for the privilege. Then I had to buy two pairs of ‘Bounce’ socks. Eldest had brought his home from his party. The parents of the child that Middlest attended the party of are obviously more savvy. They probably kept all the £2.49 pairs of socks and got a reasonable used price on e bay. I was expecting quite a lot from these socks. I generally only pay £2.50 for a five pack of sports socks….

We arrived. Only the independent schools are off this week. So we had thought it might be quite quiet. We hadn’t reckoned on school parties. The double decker in the car park was a little unnerving. I approached the reception desk. Luckily I had printed off all my waiver forms and registration forms and booking forms. These basically consist of reams of paper in which you agree that if you die it is all your own fault, you muppet. And that you won’t get the extortionate entrance fee back in that event.

The lady then asked me if I was staying. I hadn’t booked myself onto the trampolines. I don’t do trampolines. The reason I don’t will be self evident to anyone who has borne three kids. My children haven’t borne three kids so I had to do a little ‘delicate’ explaining. How to tell your kids they have shot your pelvic floor and you are therefore unable to partake of a fun activity with them without making them feel guilty for it? I think I navigated that quite well. The adverts around the place suggesting that Bounce is a ‘family activity’ are clearly designed by marketing executives who have not had children. Or are male.

So I told the lady I would be staying as youngest is 8 and surely therefore too young to be left unattended? She agreed, she was too young to be left. And then she charged me £2.99 for the privilege of supervising my own offspring. My god. Money for old rope. Luckily this entitled me to spend £2.99 in the café.

We acquired the socks. I was a little ‘disappointed’. I am not sure why normal socks would not have worked. I suppose they lack the ‘grips’ on the bottom. And are not bright orange. All  my kids possess Christmas slipper socks though. I think they should have been allowed. However unseasonal they are.

We watched the Safety Briefing. In synopsis. If you die it is all your own fault. You muppet.

They donned the amazing socks. I decided to not bother with a locker. Which would take my pound and not return it. So I carted all the jumpers and shoes and socks (of a non grippy, non orange nature) with me.

We entered bouncy utopia. It quickly became apparent that I would not be able to spectate from the café. As it is below the level of the trampolines. This seemed a little unfair as I had paid £2.99 for the privilege of spectating. I had expected a viewing gallery at least. Oh well. I spent my ‘voucher’ on tea and a piece of Rocky Road. The offspring went off to bounce.

I tried to use the ‘free’ WiFi. Which necessitated that I ‘check in’ on Facebook. These people have an eye for the buck that’s all I can say. I deleted the post once I was safely logged in. Sod you Bounce and your ‘free’ WiFi providing you with ‘free’ advertising. I am not sure why this bothers me so much. But it does. I never check in on Facebook. Ever. I felt dirty.

The place was packed. There seemed to be an entire sixth form in hogging the Slam Dunk area. And another younger school party in the dodge ball arena. And queuing up outside.

Luckily the teenagers’ time was soon up, and the other party left half an hour later. Once I had finished my tea (no food or drink allowed in the bounce arena) and decided to risk leaving my bags in the café I climbed the steps to take a few videos of my springy, flippy children. Just to pretend I was bothered about their antics. In these situations (risk of death, which would be all your own fault, you muppet) I find it is best to just not watch and instead write blog entries.

All too soon their hour was up. Although they would never have coped with two. They were a sweaty mess. As shown above.

I am hoping they will all sleep well tonight. That might provide some ‘compensation’.

 

Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside… — January 1, 2016

Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside…

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We are currently on holiday. I believe I began a post like this before. I think it was Greece is the Word. I would link you to it but I am on holiday. And therefore I am unable to do so. As I lack the IT resources.

Suffice to say that if you do find that post the view from the window on this holiday is not quite the same.

We are spending the week in a house on the Kent coast.

Some of my readership hail from far flung, even tropical places. And so therefore I need to perhaps explain what a holiday by the seaside in England is like in January.

One word springs to mind. Cold.

In the UK we have been experiencing a very mild winter this year. When we left our home it was 15 degrees. Really odd. It should be around ten degrees cooler than that. Anyhoo it has been unseasonably warm. So when I printed off my ‘Family Holiday in the U.K.’ Packing list I nearly discounted the thermals section as well as the wet suit and sun hat section.

But then I remembered we were going to the coast. And I packed them anyway. Thank god.

However warm it is in the UK it is reliably a lot colder by the sea. Especially when that sea is the North Sea. I never go to the British seaside without my woolly hat. Ever. Even in June. Because I will get earache without it. To go with the facial exfoliation provided free by the blowing sand.

In theory it seems a wonderful idea. A break by the sea off season. One envisages bracing walks along the coast. I lasted precisely ten minutes on the sands today watching my offspring roll around after a rugby ball before the cold and the fear that they might tackle each other into a pile of dog muck got the better of me. So I left to explore the slightly less windy town.

And there you notice that other thing about most English seaside towns. They have an air of neglect. Which is even more apparent in the winter. Most of the shops remain closed. The lack of sun and people shows up the peeling paint and rusty balustrades. I feel sorry for these places.

In most you can see the grandeur that was there in the height of the British tourist heyday. Before cheap flights lured us all away to sunnier climes. The Art Deco hotel facades. The huge train stations that would have received thousands of holiday makers each summer. The pleasure grounds. The piers. The boating lakes. But often these wonders have been blighted by neighbouring 60s planning monstrosities. By a lack of up keep. By graffiti. By the insufficient numbers of punters.

And then there are seagulls. Nough said. They pinch your chips and poo on everything. I hate them. Flying vermin.

But then despite all this such places have an appeal. We like 2p amusement arcades where an hour’s fun can be had for a couple of quid.

We like watching the New Year’s Day nutters swimming in the sea…weird.

We like the fish and chips.

We like the ice cream parlours.

We like building castles and shell hunting and chapped lips.

We like crabbing off abandoned piers and rock pooling.

We like looking round tacky souvenir shops.

We like drinking proper tea out of styrofoam cups.

We like coming back and getting cosy.

So, yeah, the Med is great. But so is the North Sea.

If you dress up proper.

 

 

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