GOOD evening. I have been staring at this page and the TV for nearly an hour not really knowing where on earth to start. Or end. Or fill in to the middle. An awful lot has occurred in two months - most of it is not noteworthy so don't panic - it won't take you two months to read - not only have I reduced it to the bare essentials but I have also helpfully divided it in to two parts. One today, one tomorrow. Such excitement for you all.
I shall cast you back to the end of term, or the middle/end of July for those of you who don't live in terms. (I cannot imagine such a world. I am quietly confident I shall mentally inhabit a world of school terms for the rest of my life. Long after the youngest has left formal education.) So, all sports days were attended (by moi) and I even ran in the mother's race for the last one. This was a first for me. I don't usually agree to such blatant demonstration of my unfit and unhealthy body, but Bea was upset AGAIN after her running race (it happens every year now - it is always her last activity after tug of war, throwing, catching, hurdles etc and she always finishes the race and then collapses in a heap, complaining of leg pain) but this year I was moved by her tears and decided to humiliate myself to take her mind off it all. I still don't know what came over me. BUT in huge excitement I didn't come last. I quite obviously didn't come anywhere near winning either, but with a small advantage of a staggered start for the old/fat amongst the throng of willing racers, I did admirably well for someone of my stature and levels of fitness.
After sports day came Legoland. The surprise worked beautifully, with the boys being thrilled by our naughtiness at skiving off the day from school - complete with fake phone calls to the schools saying they were sick. (Although it would appear that my letter to the head informing the school that we were taking the days off appears to have not been read properly or passed on as I had two messages informing me that the boys had officially been marked as absent and I needed to explain why - I really should have made Actual phone calls...). We got nearly all the way there without them having any idea (Bea had to have some of the information beforehand as she was so flipping desperate to go to school and wouldn't even hear of skiving off - loser - so in order to stop her ruining it all K spilled a few of the beans) but we eventually had to spill the beans when G started to get rather upset that we weren't going to go to London Zoo and began to start crying. I handed him my phone and asked him to read the words at the top of the map - he said, 'Why does it say Legoland' and then seconds later the penny dropped to much excitement and whooping and even Cybs awoke from her slumber and even though she had absolutely no idea what was about to happen, started joining in the whooping.
Obviously the stay itself was incredibly hard work - from the moment we entered the hotel and pretended to see if they had any rooms left on the off chance - we were 'on duty'. The children were in a constant state of hyper excitement for about 36 hours. It was also incredibly hot. The heat on the second day topped 30 degrees which made everything very sweaty and tired out the children even more. However, we did it. The hotel was awesome (for them) and had a great swimming pool and splash area (which they loved) and the restaurant were even incredibly helpful on the whole coeliac front and provided entertainment in the form of 'hilarious' kids shows. I even managed a glass of something fizzy whilst the children played outside and the sun went down over the Legoland lake. The heat was so intense even at that stage of the day that it felt a teeny tiny bit like being on holiday. For about ten minutes - until someone fell off the seesaw and we had to abandon it all and put them to bed. Legoland is definitely not my most favourite of places to stay or spend two days in, (and spend a FORTUNE on), however with the hotel, Qbots and refillable drinks on tap, it was definitely far better than I feared and the children were totally amazed by the whole experience. It was worth all of the sweat, tears and ludicrous sums of money just for how bowled over they were by the whole thing.
Then they broke up and we all breathed a sigh of collective and tired relief. It is always a bit of an anti climax though. On that thrilling last day when I pick them up I expect fireworks to be let off in the playground, tears of joy from the teachers and rousing music over a loudspeaker - but it is never like that. The teachers doll out the children just like they do every other day of the year and the only difference with the parents in the playground is that we all say 'enjoy the holidays' or similar instead of just the standard 'hi' when we see each other. At the very least the teachers could pop a party popper every time another child leaves the classroom door for the last time. Hey ho. I shall suggest it to the PTA. The following morning after the anti-climactic last day of term I took delivery of two extra children for the day and then we all nipped off to the doctors for a blood test (Bea) and an asthma check up (Ted). I had deliberately engineered it this way so that they didn't expect too much from their six weeks off - nothing sets the tone of a summer holiday more than a trip to the doctors on the very first morning - it makes them grateful for any future seemingly mundane trips to supermakets and similar. I say, start shit and you've got somewhere to go - only fools go big on the first day/week. The rest of the time spent here was so incredibly dull I shall not waste anyone's time explaining what went on. We lived, we breathed, we went to parks. Blah Blah.
On to the holiday. It had an inauspicious start. The packing of the car with everything we might need for two weeks of indeterminate weather wasn't a major issue to begin with, but as the hours passed and I put more and more and more in to the car I began to get quite stressed about the pressure of it all. And then I misplaced my phone. Normally I rely very heavily on the Find My Iphone App in such situations but sadly, as I was packing at my mum's, my phone had no signal and was basically lost until proven otherwise. When I have lost something and I am under time pressure and imagined pressure I become quite tense. The HILARIOUS jokes about my crapness at losing things from my mother and subsequently K when he eventually arrived did not add to my mood - along with the OH so helpful "Where did you have it last" questions (NEVER ASK ANYONE LOOKING FOR ANYTHING THAT QUESTION). And then we heard terrific shrieking and 'My life is in danger' screaming emanating from the new 'tree house' (it is two foot off the ground - technically it should be called a 'raised playhouse' but that seems a rather unromantic title) at the bottom of mum's garden. I saw in the distance an extremely panicked face at the small window screaming for me to help and I suddenly for some reason decided that the tree house was on fire and they were trapped and burning inside. (It sounds silly now but in the split second my mind had to process the information that it was given it really was the best it could come up with). K and I legged it down the garden, flung open the door and found perfectly well, unburnt and unharmed children. Two were my nieces who were laughing and three were mine, two of whom were screaming and tearful. I yanked the boys out and began a full scale shouting rant demanding to know what the hell was going on. Ted was shaking in my arms and as they weren't on fire, or in any other life threatening danger my mind made another snap decision and decided to start shouting at my older nieces, who I assumed had been scaring them in to this frenzy. After I stopped the rant, the truth emerged. The older girls had not been filling their heads with scary stories, there had not been a fire, in fact not a hair on their head was damaged. It turns out that the door had been stuck and they couldn't open it. PAUSE.
I got "pretty" cross at the boys, who K then tried to stand up for and so I ranted at him instead, and then my mother told us all to calm down. I stropped off to finish the packing and resume my frantic phone searching. When K joined me he asked me what I was doing. Being the grown up that I am I replied grumpily, "What do you think?" to which he said "Are you STILL looking for your phone". This was not wise. AS IF I would stop and jolly along on a two week holiday without it - not only am I surgically attached to the thing but I was also rather in need of it to remotely oversee the loft conversion and organise all the other bits and pieces we were having done to the house whilst we were away and also WHO on earth just shrugs their shoulders and says - sod it, it's only a phone - and stops looking?? My thoughts towards him at this point became venomous and he became pretty prickly in return. I then decided the only way to find the sodding phone was to empty the entire car (it is, as you may already know a rather large Ford people carrier type thing which had all its seats down and was rammed to the ceiling with crap I thought was vital) and start from scratch. K disagreed. We disagreed. Then as I was walking around to the front of the car to commence my angry emptying, I found it. It had fallen down off the dashboard (where I suddenly remembered was where I had put it last) and was wedged between the small triangular part of the passenger side front window and the side of the dashboard. I hastily retrieved it and pretended to mother and anyone else who would listen that it was actually somewhere very hard to find indeed, in order to cover my embarrassment.