My week … the one with a new fence

And so to the final full week of summer holidays for my son and I, although my daughter still has another week and a half until she returns to school. It’s been a busy week with a trip to my parents and then a final family day out. I really feel that we have made the most of our holidays this year but am looking forward to what always seems a new start as the school year begins and autumn envelopes the summer.

The children and I travelled to Somerset this week to spend some time with my parents. Mr S stayed at home to be on hand for any problems with the new fence we were having built. It’s been a long, long time coming, we’ve wanted to change the fence for years but the neighbour has never been accommodating (second home owners!!) However, a storm in the spring meant that the fence was destroyed and needed to be replaced. Fencing is definitely a business to go into, as this was the earliest we could get it done, other companies were offering dates in November! We went for concrete bases and posts, so if another storm hits, it would only be any damaged planks to be replaced rather than the entire fence. It looks amazing, I never thought I could get so excited about a new fence but it has transformed the look of the garden. The company who did it were brilliant, and Mr S who regularly gets stressed with most trades people, remained calm and happy throughout.

At my parents, we did the annual school shoe shop as they live next to a Clark’s outlet shop, which makes it much better value. It was momentous this year as my son now has bigger feet than his older sister, which delighted him and he reckons it’ll only be a few months before he is taller than her now. When we adopted him, Little Man was so fragile and tiny and to see him as such a strong and healthy 12 year old is a blessing. Fortunately for the rest of the time with my parents we did much more fun things than school shoe shopping. My mum had bought a treasure trail for us to do in the nearby seaside town of Clevedon. It was great fun to do on a warm and sunny day and we explored so many lovely parts of the town, we also found a delightful cafe halfway round where we stopped for drinks and cakes. It’s the simple things which can make the happiest memories. We also played crazy golf in Weston Super Mare, at my son’s request as he wanted to continue his winning streak. Unfortunately for him, I played a blinder, including two holes in one and victory was mine. However in our grand crazy golf contest between the two of us (it’s s our thing) he currently leads 3 games to 1.

When we were away, we also achieved one of my 21for21 by taking the children for their first KFC. It’s been a bit of a joke that they’ve never had one (and their visits to McDonalds can be counted on one hand) It’s a combination of living in a rural location where the nearest KFC is a 50 mile round trip and when we do go out for a meal we prefer home cooked food in a pub or indie restaurant. Like many things, sometimes the anticipation is greater than the event, and whilst the children enjoyed it they don’t seemed too fussed to return. Personally I really liked the watermelon and lime cooler drink I had, as a vegetarian my food choices were very limited (non existent)

As well as seeing my parents, I also got to catch up with an old school friend who lives near them. My daughter is quite amused that my friend knew me at the age she is now. I think the concept of mum being a teenager is difficult to imagine. In the best 2021 tradition, it was an outdoor meet up at a park. I’m thankful its been a good summer for all these outdoor activities.

Our final family event was a day at a country park with a Go Ape course. I have to admit on Friday morning, I was lacking enthusiasm, it had been a long week and I just wanted to relax at home. However, the activity was part of a county summer scheme and as we had paid in advance, off we tootled. As is often the case some of the things you’re not so excited about become some of the best days. As it was a county scheme, the children were supervised by play leaders, meaning Mr S and I had time together to walk and talk, have lunch together and simply sit and relax (yes, another beautiful day) We watched the children do the Go Ape course and then left them to do the play trails with their peers and supervised by the play leaders. We all loved the day and it was a perfect way to finish the holidays en famille. We did have bonus family time today as we spent the morning on the beach, a rare treat as apparently its quite uncool to go to the beach with your parents. However, normal service resumes tomorrow when my daughter has arranged to be on the beach with friends.

Whilst Covid and its risks have impacted our plans this summer, we have enjoyed our time. It’s been an outdoors summer and as a consequence it feels a more wholesome summer! I was reflecting today on what I had missed and again like last year it was the summer firework displays, watching them from the seafront with a bag of chips. Let’s hope that next year, all our summer traditions are back and we cherish them all again.


My week … the one in Kent

So week two of our holiday and after such a special time in Norfolk, we moved to Kent for a further four nights. After a week of superb weather, swap over day was wet and windy and the next day, cold before it all improved again to a final two days of warm sunshine. The site had quite a different vibe, it was pretty remote so we stayed onsite for the duration ( bonus points to Mr S for organising a Tesco delivery) On site, there seemed to be a much higher proportion of private caravans with some of our neighbours appearing to be working in the area rather than holidaying.

However there was still lots of fun to be had and we spent our time, swimming, playing tennis, crazy golf, foot golf and enjoying the funfair. The children discovered the Waltzers and there is definitely a charm with an old fashioned funfair. I also got a couple of runs in along the Thames path, my way of discovering the local area. When we asked the children their highlights, our daughter chose tennis and our son crazy golf, both of which they respectively won! I really enjoyed both their choices and they were my highlights too. My son and I are having a mini crazy golf challenge, so the stakes were high but unfortunately I now find myself 3 – 0 down. Little Man now is looking forward to seeing Granfer next week and seeing if he can beat the only person to do so to him, he’s on for the family crown!

As the children are now more independent on holiday it does give me a bit more reading time. I read Mhairi McFarlane’s Last Night, I loved it. Initially I was really irritated by what I presumed the plot line was, a simple love story with the protagonist secretly in love with her best male friend. Without revealing any spoilers it is so not this story and is a much more satisfying read.

As I write this on Saturday night, all my washing is done, ironed and neatly away in cupboards. I am ‘that’ person, I can’t relax until this is done, I need order in my home. I have also been updating my diary, making plans for the autumn and of course writing lists, I love and appreciate a good list. We have a few days at my parents next week and then it feels like the summer is winding down with the return to school and autumn.

My week … the one in Norfolk

This week has seen us on week one of our summer holiday. With the postponed 2020 holidays, we’re doing a two centre break this year, this week in Norfolk and four nights in Kent next week. When we were planning our holiday we wanted to go somewhere a little different, we’ve enjoyed Cornwall and Devon so we’ve gone east. I have visited Norfolk before. It was the summer when I was 16 and my friend and I stayed in a small converted barn in her aunt’s garden near Diss. I remember playing Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet CD all holiday, long walks in the fields and a shopping trip to Norwich! Thirty two years later, my holiday looked a little different.

We broke up the journey as it was a long one with a stay in a hotel in Colchester. By chance on the evening we came across the most sparkly rustic pub garden where we stopped for a delicious dinner. It was pretty perfect, relaxing in the sunshine and the dusk with the fairy lights twinkling, great food and simply talking about holiday plans, an unexpected delightful start to the holiday.

We stayed in a Haven caravan park, Wild Duck. As we live at a beautiful seaside resort, we decided to stay more inland and chose the site for its woodland setting. It was a beautiful site, so well maintained and our caravan was nested in the trees, the views from the bedrooms were amazing. The picture above illustrates this, the window did feel like a picture frame for the stunning landscape. One bonus of the forest setting was really poor mobile signals so it was an enforced but welcomed digital detox.

In our family we all have roles and Mr S is chief holiday planner and organiser. I pack! Mr S had the booking system set up very efficiently, so we had daily swimming sessions in both the indoor and outdoor pools. I preferred the outdoor pool, it was so warm and again with the hour slots it was easy to get a sun bed too. One of my holidays reads was a present from a friend the Lido by Libby Page. It’s a fantastic read and the tonic I didn’t know I needed. I did feel inspired by it and the outdoor pool did make me wonder if I should do more outdoor swimming ( I am not going to become a sea swimmer, I need a chlorinated pool!)

We also had lots of other activities on site, Segways, Archery, Paint a Pot (that’s the birds in the picture above) and Bike Hire. The bikes was my favourite activity. The previous morning I had discovered the Angles Way on my morning run and we returned to cycle it. It gave the most gorgeous views of the Norfolk Broads and in perfect weather conditions, bright blue skies, sunshine and a gentle breeze. We also found some old castle ruins and windmills which added to the fun.

Away from the site, we explored the local area too. We went to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft in the evenings and also had a morning in Gorleston where we played on the beach. I recently discovered the poet Robert M Drake and my daughter and I read some of these aloud on the beach and were really struck by his observations and commentary. There was also fun to be had making pebble sculptures. We also found a craft fair on the field behind the beach, my type of shopping and I did return with a new candle! There was also a brownie stall, with the most amazing array of flavours I have ever seen. We may have bought a few to try! I liked the quiet and peace of Gorleston a real contrast to Great Yarmouth. I didn’t know what to expect from Great Yarmouth but it was loud, bright and brash, the Blackpool of the East. The children of course loved it, spending their money on ice creams, fancy milk shakes and what I can politely describe as tat! Lowestoft was a mix of the two towns, we went to the UK’s most eastern point and enjoyed an evening drink on an outdoor terrace in sunshine. Life felt pretty normal this holiday, with only mask wearing and sanitiser as references to Covid.

We all really enjoyed Norfolk, the countryside was beautiful and the site the perfect setting to explore the Broads. Our caravan was gorgeous and we had treated ourselves to a 3 bedroom caravan so the children could have a room each. This helped night times and gave the children some space and time to do their things. We’re in a 2 bedroom caravan next week and it’ll be interesting to see the difference.

It was a really wholesome week at Wild Duck, our activities were outdoor based and we all benefited from the fresh air and sunshine. The weather was a pleasant surprise, warm and sunny every day and we left feeling refreshed and happy.

On Sunday in Gorleston, we came across what was signed as a Banksy piece of art. It did amuse me as it was the grabber from an arcade machine, the very machines we avoid as it only ever ends in tears. By the time we left it was covered in Perspex and there was security. In looking on the web it seems Banksy is on a staycation and it was part of an art project Great British Spraycation.

My weeks … the ones with my birthday.

Its been another busy couple of weeks. In the winter lockdown, we planned lots for this summer, things to look forward to and to make up for our little treats which we missed in 2020. In our family, we have a six week period chock a block of celebrations, birthdays and anniversaries, so many of our treats at this time of year are linked to these special days, when you add the end of year school treats and holidays its an organisational feat.

The one big celebration we weren’t able to fully celebrate was my parents golden wedding anniversary, it was too near to ‘freedom’ day to make any firm plans so my parents celebrated it quietly in a nice spa hotel. I organised for a plaque to celebrate their anniversary to be dedicated at Clevedon pier which is close to where they live and is somewhere they like to go. I am hoping it will be up when we visit them later this month and we can have a little picnic on the pier. Ten years ago, my parents did celebrate their ruby anniversary with a lovely dinner and dance with friends and family. Its a nice memory and a timely reminder to do that special something when you can as you never know what might stop you doing something similar in the future.

Its been Mr S and my 18th wedding anniversary in these weeks too. It was a quiet day as we were all tired from our trip the previous day to Paultons Park. Originally we had intended to travel up the night before and stay in a hotel to make it a more relaxed weekend. However, when we considered the holiday traffic on a Friday (its so busy here at present) we decided that it was actually easier to get up early and do it all in one day. We didn’t cancel our hotel booking but simply moved it to the autumn when we will visit the area again for a weekend break. The hotel will be an ideal base for visiting Beaulieu or the New Forest.

Paultons Park was brilliant and again for me it is the best theme park. Its so friendly, clean and well organised. There was very little queueing at the rides and with the app and clear timers at each ride, its easy to plan your day well. The children did so many rides, there is a new area, Tornado Springs which is lovely, with a good mix of rides. Our poor daughter did the cyclomator twice in a row and did feel a little queasy for a half hour or so, however she quickly recovered for the rest of the day. My favourite ride is always the log flume and I think we did this about 5 times! We know where the cameras are, so we posed brilliantly and have a fun photo of our day. Paultons Park is also such a beautiful park and is so nice to walk around.

The children have been busy with holiday activities, it seems that most are at the start of the holidays, so diaries are full now but with nothing after our family holiday. They have been doing so much, there’s been football camps, the farm, nerf guns, youth club, swimming and mud trails, from which it took two washes to get the clothes clean again!

It is Olympics and I love it! I love waking up and watching some of the action and then catching up more in the evening. I prefer the sports such as swimming, triathlon, cycling and BMX. I feel these are the real sports which I see people doing rather than sports which are completely new. There have been so many amazing stories and I’m genuinely in awe and inspired by the athletes.

On my social media feed this week, I discovered the poet Robert M Drake, his poem Exactly What It Is, resonated due to some professional challenges. On reading the poem, I did some research on Drake and discovered that he is the known as the ‘Bard of Instagram’ and his work is popular with the YA market. I was able to buy the book and its now in my holiday reading pile and I hope my daughter my dip into it.

I got a little creative this week. I have a beautiful sundress but the sleeves annoyed me, they were separate strips so you could tie them into a knot. However, it was difficult to get both bows in the same position and to prevent them coming loose. They are also gave a strange bulge under a cardigan. I was so frustrated I got my sewing machine out and did a few alterations, This is well out of my comfort zone and I had to google advice but its done and I am so pleased with my work, I have simple sleeves now which don’t fall down and are smooth under a cardy.

We are now on the final countdown to our holiday, suitcases are packed and we’re off tomorrow morning. We are stopping in Colchester for a night and then continuing on to Great Yarmouth for a week and then a further four days in Kent. I feel more comfortable in staying in this country this year but oh I do miss the promise of a summer holiday abroad.