Tagged: holidays

Hello Summer!

This Time next week the kids we will be Greece and we will be following shortly after – a seismic shift in the fabric of daily life.

There’s just enough time to search for a few summer treats.  First stop, Freepeople.

These are the dresses to offer ease but also somewhere to hang your cream panama hat with a bit of sultry sun soaked style.

(All pics Freepeople)

Happily dreaming.

Laters, Kate x

Camping x

It’s been half term already and we’ve been camping with friends.

Living the simple life in a field, blowing giant bubbles.

Can you tell we enjoyed it??

We weren’t far from the coast.


And next to the site was a high ropes playground..

Including a terrifying giant swing!

Truly the stuff of nightmares!

As was our departure.  Not a sight you want to see…..we lost the car keys in the long grass on the first day.  But it was OK as we kindly got driven back to London to fetch the spare set.  Except we got hit by a super-storm…Damp got in (She’s 19 years old) and short circuited the electrics so the spare key wouldn’t work…and the manual key? Was part of master key that got lost! At least once we got in we were able to drive away, which was more than the car behind us – they’d lost all their keys, including their house keys and had to be towed away from the campsite!

 

Laters, Kate x

Cornwall x

We’ve blown away the winter cobwebs with a week with family in beautiful Cornwall.

We were incredibly lucky with the weather.  Each day the sky was kingfisher blue, though it was a matter of how hot your blood was whether you braved the cold of the spring sea..

The surf gang preparing to face the waves. Note Grandpa Jack behind in three coats, hat..and eventually gloves!

And in!

Cousin love.

This was the natural rock pool close to where we were staying on Treyarnon Bay, large enough to swim in…

(There was this framed postcard of the very spot at the cottage. Shows it even better.)

Watergate Bay and meeting with friends.

The perfect natural slate plate for the perfect hot dog: Barbie on Constantine Bay.

And then a cheeky seagull actually stole a hot sausage off the barbie!

Impromptu wine chiller.

Bruce heading to the surf.

Sophie-bond-girl-extraordinaire following suit.

Charlie and Lexie.

Finding sea diamonds.

At a diamond place.

Laters, Kate x

Bella Bella x

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So this post was originally written two years ago, to celebrate Bella’s eighth birthday.  On the day of her tenth birthday, I don’t think I can improve on the sentiment contained, except to say the words grow more concentrated with each passing day x

We’ve been in the garden county of Kent for the first week of half-term (it’s a two week break for us)  – and I thought I was prepared for the black hole of social media that this part of the UK has historically proved to be by taking a dongle with us, but even that was no match for the rich eiderdown of life that seems to squash the very lifeblood of the internet to nothing in these parts. On the plus side, life without the internet is a lot simpler..more old fashioned..and in the end, there was really nothing for it but to embrace the holiday spirit and go with the flow..it’s been a great break!

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We also celebrated Bella’s eighth birthday..it’s hard to believe, it seems only yesterday I was holding that tiny baby, watching the face of Big Ben tick round that first night we spent together in St Thomas’ hospital.  I look at her now and have the most enormous chest restricting rush – she is my open-heart production – vibrant, living, learning..I never used to worry so much about life, now there’s more grey..I’ve become an observer, teacher and pupil too. it’s weird – you think your helpless child will be totally reliant on you and you have your experience and the need to guide and help, but it’s just not true.  Instead it’s a constant balancing act that I don’t think anyone can get totally right: You want to lead, but you don’t want to helicopter. You want to love and cuddle, but you don’t want to smother.  There’s an undeniable pleasure in growing together in habits, tastes and socks…but the easiest thing as a parent is to see your child as a mini-you where you now have the ability to correct all the imperfections..or to see the person they are now as the character they will always be and deny them the space to grow..thoughts like that just end up passing the negativity down the food-chain, or so it seems to me..but then who am I to say?

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I know I don’t want her to be the child that has everything – but even deciding that is choosing a course of action, adding an intrinsic quality, another detail.  I don’t believe that love is materialistic, instead I believe adversity supports initiative – one of the greatest gifts a parent can bestow.  To that I add manners, self-respect and confidence  – far more important in real life than examination certificates.  I want her to have the space to find out who she is away from any expectations of mine and to be able to express that in any situation.  I want her to have the confidence to stand up and say her opinion whether it’s right or wrong.  I want her to make mistakes, whether it’s in her maths homework or something bigger, to learn there are always solutions if you look hard enough and mistakes are part of the stepping stones of life and shouldn’t be avoided…sometimes they lead you forward.IMG_0474

Life is as delicate as a falling feather but should always be a glorious caper..I hope she has a wonderfully misspent youth with sunshine smiles and audacious bursts of laughter, she is my joy, my love, my heart…and I hope that when the time comes, I have the sense to set my treasure free..

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Does mother know best? You dream about it..but ultimately kids appear from nowhere and have wills of their own and you’re just ordinary people trying to get through life the very best way you can, showing them life and hopefully a way of looking at things that opens the door to where the magic lies….

 

Laters, Kate x

 

 

 

Wednesdays Child..

IMG_2550And so the day starts…

Right everyone – have you all been for a wee? Shoes on? As there are 3 of you and only 2 large scooters and one smaller one, I’d be really grateful if you Charlie, as the smallest child, would use the smaller scooter today.

No. I don’t want to.

It would really help me if you could be a gentleman and help your Mummy.

No. I don’t want to.

I realise that, but I’d really appreciate it if you could help me.

I don’t want to.

Well, I don’t want to take 3 children to the playground, but I’m still going.

I don’t want the small scooter, I want the big one.

I’d like you to help me, can you do that?

No.

OK. Well, no Harry Potter Land on Friday.

But I want to go to Harry Potter Land.

So go on the scooter.

I don’t want to go on the scooter.

So then no Harry Potter Land.

But I want to go to Harry Potter Land.

Charlie, I’m going to count to 3..after that no Harry potter Land, 1,2..

(moves to scooter, we leave the relative safety of the house)

But I want the big scooter.

(Ignore, shut door)

I want the big scooter, I want the big scooter, I WANT THE BIG SCOOTER

Charlie, LOOK at me, do you want to go to Harry Potter Land? Yes? So tell me what you have to do..

But I want the big scooter.

JUST THERE! – did you spot that purple spotted fairy just hiding behind the car? Not there now?..I’m sure it was..look again..Maybe you’ll see it next time..Why don’t you just go and play with the girls?

Go away Charlie.

Bella please be nice, you have a friend.

But Mummy, Mummy, Charlie is being really horrible.

Charlie – why do you need to ride in the middle of the girls?..just ride to the side of them  ..and don’t touch their wheels..

But I want to ride in the middle of them.

I’ve told you not to. It’s dangerous.

Does it again.

CHARLIE you are going to cause an accident.

Does it again.

(Sit him on kerb to talk to at eye level) Charlie, if you can’t act properly I will take your scooter away. Do you understand? What did I just say – repeat it back to me…

You’ll take my scooter away.

Do you understand? Right, let’s go..

Mummy – he’s done it again!

Charlie – WHY did you do that??

(Take scooter to add to dog, poo bags, picnic, picnic rug, kite, football, cricket bat, cricket ball, stumps. skipping rope…)

I WANT MY SCOOTER!

I WANT MY SCOOTER!

I wANT MY SCOOTER!

Not until you can learn to behave.

I will behave.

So prove it to me.

Goes up to Bella, hits her.

CHARLIE BENTLEY. COME HERE NOW…

I want a cuddle.

Not until you’ve said sorry Bella and sorry to me and YOU STOP THIS HORRIBLE BEHAVIOUR. THERE WILL BE NO HARRY POTTER LAND ON FRIDAY WHICH WAS GOING TO KILL US ANYWAY AS YOUR FATHER’S FLIGHT FROM HONG KONG DOESN’T GET IN TILL FIVE IN THE MORNING AND THE DOG HAS TO GO TO THE POSH VET FOR ANOTHER APPOINTMENT (long story) SO QUITE FRANKLY I’LL BE MIGHTY PLEASED NOT TO GO BECAUSE IT’S NOT EXACTLY MY IDEA OF A FUN DAY OUT..

I want a cuddle, I want a cuddle.

WHAT DO YOU SAY CHARLIE?

I want a cuddle.

WWWHHHAAAATTTT DDDDOOO YYYOOOUUUU SSSSAAAAYYYY?????

Sorry Bella…Sorry Mummy…

Gives kisses, has cuddle.

But I want the big scooter…

Find brick wall. Hit head.

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Moral of this tale: When you see a mother tearing her hair out..

a. Honest to God..give her some sympathy..she’s been doing this for weeks now..schools in the UK broke up in July and don’t go back till September.

b. It’s probably me…………………………

Laters, Kate x

Islands in the Sun x

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It’s the last day before half term starts..seems to have whizzed past.  I can remember standing at the school gates thinking I thought this day would never come..I’ve been standing at the same gates for the last week, praying for half term.  The kids are on their knees…so am I…we all need a break, chill-out time and long walks by the sea..

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We’re hoping to head back to Kent, the husband’s work permitting, for a bit of nostalgia and basic living.  I can feel my heart singing just at the thought..

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So I’ve just got to get my act together today…2 coffee dates, 2 playdates, send back a pair of boots that arrived in the wrong colour, wrap Bella’s birthday presents (her eighth birthday on Sunday.  Can’t believe it), pack cake ingredients n tins, source creative stuff to take with us (requested by Bella: Another heart singing moment) and a few board games and a football, pack for everyone (still hate)…and then leave the house spotless as we have relatives arriving whilst we’re away..shouldn’t be too hard!

 

I’ll just keep looking at these dream kitchens and pretend it’s my reality…or that I have staff!

Laters, Kate x

Part 2: Lefkada x

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We left Spetses and started our epic journey to Lefkada..it’s almost impossible to capture the sense of height from photos, but this was the gorgeous spot half-way to Korinth that we stopped at for lunch.

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We then drove through all manner of road works to Patras and the new (for me) and incredibly beautiful bridge that now spans across the sea in place of the Rio Antirrio (always remind me of something out of Narnia) ferry.  It was after that we hit the real problems – we were a bit too reliant on our sat-nav who we’d inadvertently set to ‘Poros – Cephalonia’ instead of ‘Poros-Lefkada’..it kept trying to take us back to Patras to catch the ferry….Not good.  After purchasing a paper map we got stuck behind all the lorries offloading from Patras…and Charlie made us pull over for his epic wee..and we had to watch as all the juggernauts we’d painstakingly overtaken noisily pass us again…it still pains me..

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But it was worth it.  Even if, according to Bella, there were 42 bends down to our resort! Lefkada is mountainous!

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The view from where we had breakfast every morning.

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We’d buy freshly baked pain au chocolat’s, croissants, cheese pies, apple pies or (my weakness) doughnuts from the attached supermarket, then bring them through to the taverna where they would provide plates and hot coffee.  Poros Beach Camping, where we stayed, is a family run affair – one sister running the accommodation, another the supermarket, brother the taverna and mama the cook. Pretty perfect..

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It was a beautiful beach – very different from Spetses..the stones were much whiter and there was dramatic, flowing purple seaweed to snorkel round, but always the crystal clear water.

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Hiring a boat – just out from the main town of Nidri there are 6 islands to visit..

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This is Scorpios..the infamous private island of the late Aristotle Onassis..now it belongs to a Russian Oligarch.  We were checked out by bodyguards on a speedboat..we gave them a wave and blew them a kiss..amazing place, but what a price to pay..

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The island that caught my attention was Megalonissi..sleepy, off the beaten track..we stopped for lunch.

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This part of Greece is definitely cooler..there’s even grass!

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(The only picture of me in the whole holiday!)(and taken by accident)

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(That, and a hand..)

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The pool..we’d spend the morning here before having lunch with Costa at his taverna on the site.

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Part of the huge success of this holiday was the fact it was the first one where both children could swim…as a parent it meant we could finally relax.

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Bella was even good enough to take sea urchin diving on the rocks..a huge joy for me.

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And the towels? They were a huge success!

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In the evening, after siesta we’d head to the beach for my favourite time of the day..the 5-8 pink light slot..

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Skimming stones..

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Jumping on Daddy..

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Bliss. Then we’d find another taverna for supper.. my favourite had tables with little oil lamps on the beach.  Why don’t we use oil lamps any more?!

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The morning we left a huge storm moved in..

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Making it the coolest, best incentive to leave on another epic drive to Athens airport..

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But it will remain a holiday that will live long in the memory…

Laters, Kate x

Accessing All Areas..

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It’s the last day of school for the kids today before the nostalgia of summer holidays, which has meant the last two weeks have been manic.  Sometimes it’s hard to describe that state of continual motion when every minute of the day is converted into action.  Even this afternoon: After the presentation of presents to their teachers and almost missing them with cards still to write and hair to do this morning , they’re only at school till 12.  Then there’s a joint birthday party on the Common for Charlie, a picnic for Bella – all with their associative jobs – and there’s shopping still to do, the dog to pick up, supper to sort…because tomorrow the kids leave for Greece with their Grandparents – and I haven’t even started packing:  If Charlie goes without a couple of stitches in his new swimming trunks his modesty will never survive the first wave.  And Bella wants to take one of the tie-dye tops we made – but the arms need shortening..and it was a late mum’s night out last night…..and where are their passports – and are they up to date??

 

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At least I’ve ordered some holiday towels for all of us…we join them in Greece in a week so they’ve still got time to arrive.  We’ll then stay for a few days with my parents, before heading off to the island of Lefkas for what I thought was a Greek Glamping experience…i.e. A little wooden house with air-con for the husband….except there seems a little confusion over what exactly we’ve booked.  Hey ho, time will tell..

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Made the old fashioned way, these cotton towels are hand loomed in Turkey (Don’t tell the Greeks) and are meant to be compact, dry quickly, absorbent and just generally awesome and cool.  It helps they’re supplied by a local Company, Sorbet based in SW London..

 

At least I might have got one thing right..even if my priorities are a bit questionable….!

Laters, Kate x

Early Summer Flowers x

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One of the hardest things I’ve found as a parent is the relentlessness of it – it’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  With young children even on a ‘holiday’, unless you have the luxury of child care, there’s no time off – the scenery may change but the demands don’t..in fact they’re exacerbated if you’re by water and they can’t swim..or applying sun tan lotion to a moving target..or cursing the lack of toys as the rain comes down..or wondering where the nearest pharmacy/doctor is..or suffering a hangover with a child bouncing on your head at five in the morning..no matter how beautiful the place there’s still meals to sort, cleaning to do, shoes to find..teeth to brush.

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But now that Charlie is five, we seem to be turning that parenting-at-the-rock-face corner.  And this holiday sort of proved it.

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We wanted to know if we could find a back to basics, out on your bikes type of nostalgic freedom where we could let the kids roam free without a care in the world.

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We based ourselves in a little holiday park where cars were banned, where there was an indoor swimming pool (although they still had to be accompanied to swim) a tennis court and a small playground and told them they could come and go as they wanted, even (this was the big one)  out of sight…they wandered, made friends, played football, played tennis….and we sat outside in peace and quiet and read!! Unheard of…I finished a whole book!

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The truth is modern day parenting has made the world smaller, more tense, less happy till it’s almost no better than pretending to sleep.  Really..we don’t need the blister.  Which doesn’t mean it’s easy to let go – we’ve all read or seen the horror stories.  I just believe we need to do it and we need to do it more – freedom, boredom, security, love and benign neglect is a potent combination.

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Which didn’t mean we didn’t do things as a family….we did.  We just weren’t permanently chained together….there was room to breathe.

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 It helped that it was such a comely spot.  I’ve rarely seen so many abundant, rampant wild flowers..

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 With lots to see and do.

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Frog spotting..

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A true holiday for ALL the family….We’ll be going back for more of the same.

Laters, Kate x