Mother/Daughter Holiday: Dream V Reality.

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“I don’t like the beach,” Freya said, as I pulled out of our road.

Driving us to the last minute holiday I had booked.

At the beach.

“Since when? You spent all last summer asking to go to the seaside. What don’t you like about it?”

“It’s booorring.”

Ah, her new favourite word.

When the email with the holiday deal popped into my inbox I was immediately tempted – the fact that neither Mark nor my parents could come probably should have been a deterrent.

It just seemed like such a good deal; three nights in a deck house at the Haven Holiday Park in Caister-on-Sea, a place we have been to and enjoyed on several occasions, for about half the normal price.

My imagination went into overdrive; after long, warm days spent playing in the sand Freya and I would walk, tired but happy, back to our house. Perhaps we would eat tea on the deck, smiling at each other across the table, with the distant sound of the waves gently lapping at the shore as the sun set. It would be a wonderful mother/daughter bonding experience. An adventure.

With the dream still spinning in my head, I booked it.

“First Norfolk, next Nepal,” was my exact thought – although, as I loaded up the car with enough stuff for 60 people, I decided I needed to get better at packing first.

We arrived just after 1pm with the sun shining brightly. The ground floor deck house was everything I had hoped for, lovely and clean, beautifully decorated, all the amenities and more.

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“Yes!” I thought, relieved that I hadn’t wasted what was still a fair amount of my dwindling savings. “We are going to have a fab time.”

We went for a swim in the site pool. Freya loves the water and is so confident (although because she smiles the whole time she swallows loads of water so I have to keep telling her to close her mouth).

Singing a happy holiday song, we made our way back…and then things took a turn for the worse.

Now, we live in a flat so I’m more than used to noise and while I couldn’t hear the people who had moved into the deck house upstairs speaking, what I could hear was their thundering footsteps running up and down.

“It’s ok,” I told myself. “They’ll have to sleep at some point.”

And they did.

At 1am.

Up until then it sounded like there were a dozen people circuit training.

While they could have had a bit more respect for the people below them, I think the main problem was with the flooring. It seemed really bouncy, maybe because of the soundproofing (ironic)? I’m no expert, obviously, but I’m not exaggerating how loud it was.

I was almost in tears at one point because Freya gets up at 5am, no matter what time she goes to sleep (believe me when I say we have tried every combination). She’s also not the sort of child who will ever sit still so I really needed my rest – not just to try and keep up with her but I wanted to enjoy it too.

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On Saturday, despite feeling pretty tired, I was determined to make the most of it so we were on the beach just after sunrise (because I didn’t want other people to be woken up by a small child running about). 

I figured she would forget about her new dislike (hah!). We managed about 20 minutes, with the aid of The Lion Guard and the lure of making them a rock cave. After that she refused to step foot on the sand again and at one point wouldn’t even look at it, hiding her face in the side of her buggy. IMG_7210

Luckily there are lots of other things to do on site, which she did like, including more swimming, soft play, the nightly disco (turns out I’m raising a party animal) and playing with the many other children who swarmed over the play areas.

We hardly stopped all day and I was really ready for my bed but, of course, we had the same noise problem. Freya also developed a hacking cough so when one eventually stopped the other carried on.

On Sunday we were both tired and a bit grumpy but we got out early again and joined a bug hunt (while everyone else collected ladybirds and snails we found a slug). We definitely needed a nap, and afterwards I decided it was time to head home. It was a night early but I was worn out (not quite the happy tired of my dream) and couldn’t face the noise for another night.

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I thought about complaining then but what good would it have done? I wanted to be on the ground floor so Freya had easy access to the outside, which she doesn’t have at home, and unless they had a deck house with no one above (which from what I could see was unlikely) we’d have the same problem.

After lunch on Sunday we came home.

It’s not really a big deal and maybe the holiday wasn’t a complete disaster but I felt like I’d not only wasted money but also that I’d failed to give her the amazing mother/daughter bonding trip I had planned.

In reality I know she had fun, despite being a bit poorly, and she has no idea we left early. I also know I should be grateful that we were able to get away at all (and I am) but the reality was so far from the dream, I guess I’m just a bit sad.

I’ll definitely be leaving Nepal for a few more years (she’d probably announce mountains are boring at the moment).

We’re All Going On A Spring Holiday.

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Actually that headline is misleading because only Freya and I are going away while poor old Mark has to stay at home (I’m pretty sure he’s looking forward to some “me time”).

I was tempted by a last minute deal (and by last minute I mean yesterday) which was too good to resist so my girl and I are off to the beach (please keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t rain too much).

Hope you all have a good weekend. See you next week!

Half-term Fun At Christchurch Mansion In Ipswich.

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The first few days of half-term have been spent wandering down memory lane – at least for me.

Freya and I swapped Norfolk for neighbouring Suffolk and returned to my parents’ house in Ipswich.

Not only did they have a load of boxes for me to sort out from their loft, which last saw the light of day 20-odd years ago, but we also took a tour of some of my favourite childhood haunts.

First on the list was Christchurch Mansion, a museum and art gallery, often said to be the “jewel in the crown” of historic Ipswich.
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The red-brick Tudor building, which is in the middle of the town, has been a favourite of mine since I was small, particularly the nursery rooms, which feature ornate dolls’ houses and all sorts of Victorian toys and games. I used to get very cross when we had to visit all the other rooms, as interesting as they are, before eventually working our way upstairs.

History.

The mansion sits in a beautiful park, which was the site of the Holy Trinity Priory in the 12th century. Following Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, the land was bought by Paul Withipoll, a London merchant. It was his son, Edmund, who started building the mansion in 1547.

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It has had different owners who have added and changed bits over the years. In 1894 it was bought by a property syndicate and they sold parcels of land for housing. Thankfully in 1895 the mansion was presented to the town and it has been maintained as a museum since 1896.

 

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I’m always impressed by the entrance hall.

What can you see?

Not only are there period rooms to explore and all sorts of artefacts to admire but Christchurch Mansion is also home to works by Suffolk artists including the “biggest collection of Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable paintings outside of London”.

Is it expensive to visit?

Here’s the thing, it’s still free to visit, which we found hard to believe (we made a donation instead). We spent a happy hour following Freya as she explored the rooms, aided by very friendly and informative guides. There is also a shop and a tea room.

See here for opening times and other info.

What was in the loft?

I found some of my own rather random artefacts in the loft. I wonder what is on those films?

Do you enjoy revisiting childhood haunts?