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).

Easy Crafts With Children: A Room Of One’s Own.

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I’m just about to start what feels like the epic task of redecorating our bedroom and living room but, as a sort of warm-up, Freya and I decided to make her “big dolls” a place to call their own first.

Thanks to various charity shop visits she seems to have amassed a little collection of Barbie-sized dolls but her wooden house is too small for them to fit into so, inspired by the Small Stories Exhibition, currently on at Norwich Castle, we found a cardboard box (not as easy as you might think these days) and got our craft on.

Our living room is painted all one colour at the moment and I really fancied having a feature wall this time so I collected a few samples of wallpaper, which have been stuck up in various places while I tried them out.

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Not wanting to waste the ones that clearly were not going to work, we reused one for the carpet and one for the feature wall in the dolls’ room and Freya painted the other walls (and herself).

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While that was all drying we started on the furniture. Freya’s feet have grown yet again and she recently got a new pair of school shoes and some trainers so we used the boxes to make a bed (Freya felt it was a too hard for them to lay on so we padded it and the headboard with cottonwool before covering it) and a wardrobe plus a toilet roll and empty ribbon reel for a bedside table.

Add in some decoration in the form of stick on butterflies, hearts, ribbon and curtains and there you have it – a room I would be quite happy to sleep in (were I a bit smaller).

Sometimes we make things that Freya only plays with a few times but this box had been a hit – she even tries to get in it herself. I’m tempted to try and make a little box kitchen or living room to sit next door.

Before that though I need to make a start on our actual rooms. I have a feeling decorating full size rooms is not going to be as much fun.

Any tips for hanging wallpaper greatly appreciated. 

 

 

 

Book Review: Spring At Blueberry Bay.

blueberryWhen one of my favourite authors starts a new series I always do a little happy dance – and some shapes were definitely being thrown (people still do that, right?) when Holly Martin announced her latest book.

Spring At Blueberry Bay wastes no time in getting into the story. Within the first few pages we are introduced to the main characters, Bella and Isaac, and I really loved the unique way they met.

With her usual skill, Holly creates believable, likeable characters and a plot that is gripping from the beginning – I couldn’t wait to see how this heartwarming tale panned out.

Here’s the blurb:

Bella has always had a sunny outlook and caring nature, despite recently falling on hard times. When she finds a handsome homeless man on her doorstep, her kind heart tells her she must help him. So, she invites Isaac into her cottage and into her life in ways she could never have imagined…

But Isaac is not what he seems. He’s keeping a huge secret from Bella, yet he never expected to fall for this open, generous and charming woman.

Bella can’t ignore the chemistry between her and Isaac, but she’s had her trust badly broken in her past. Will she run when she learns the truth about Isaac, or will he be the one man who can help Bella believe in love again?

While Bella seems like an open book at first, it becomes clear that there is much more to her than meets the eye and discovering what makes her tick creates some really emotional scenes (tissues at the ready).

Isaac is a perfect hero; handsome, sexy, generous and romantic but with his own flaws, meaning you can still relate to him (and I really related to him).

As always there is an excellent supporting cast, including Bella’s cousins, Eden and Rome, although they are more like her brother and sister, who I really hope are the subjects of future books.

Spring At Blueberry Bay has got the series off to a fabulous start – roll on the next one.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £1.99.

My rating: Four and a half stars.

With many thanks to Bookouture (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.