Friday, 25 February 2011

A relaxing break in the forest....

Yeah, relaxing, right! Although I *do* feel relaxed in some ways. And I wasn't planning to write about it, but when I sat down to blog about planning simplicity in Lent, loads of wireless network bobbins meant that I only have about enough mental capacity to list a few things that will remain in me after our Sherwood Forest break.....

  • My 6 month old Rebecca resolutely tried (and failed) to fight off a cold, and was below par for the entire holiday, sleeping more and eating less, but was ecstatically happy for about one hour, bobbing about in her inflatable seat in the pool with her family.

  • Getting 3 girls ready in the busy pool changing rooms at peak time (it's school holidays in the UK) was crazy, even with husband's help; the one we managed to get changed in didn't have a changing station for the baby, and afterwards there were no family rooms so we all squeezed into an 'adult' changing room....which was not fun!

  • It was partly due to this and partly due to Rebecca's cold that once the grandparents went home, the big girls only went swimming one at a time with their Daddy. It did strike me that if we had gone to the pool with Mum, Dad, a 6yo, 4yo and 6 month old, we would have been breaking the rules - apparently you need one responsible adult for EACH child under 5 (and one adult per 2 kids over 5 - if that makes sense.) Although taking them altogether isn't straightforward, it would be doable, without those rules - I don't know what bigger families would do (not that I saw any - where do bigger families go on holiday - do they go on holiday? and if they do, maybe they go camping like we do?

  • All this aside, one of the best bits of the vacation was being told by my 6 year old that I had to go with her to the outside bit of the pool and swimming through to a steamy, outdoor, forest setting with a pretend waterfall and beautiful view. It was pretty awesome.

  • The other best bit was the two bigger girls getting on really well. Obviously we paid for it when we came home today but, compared to the two weeks at Christmas when they fought like cat and dog every minute, this was blissful. They played, drew, listened to stories, watched TV, cycled, swam, talked, sang and danced together. TOGETHER.

  • I love to cook and bake, prepare food for my family and take care of their needs. But I loved not having to cook this holiday. I loved being able to order the fish special and indulge myself with takeaway.

  • I especially loved the date at French restaurant with my husband, with jazz playing in the background, a beautiful platter of cheese and meats to enjoy, while the grandparents babysat. This was our first date since before the birth of baby Rebecca. It was long overdue.

  • Finally, as a way of leading into the Lenten preparation, I will comment on the simplicity of it all. We didn't really budget strictly, so parts of it were indulgent. But others were focused on living simply and on simple pleasures. We lived off leftovers for lunch. We appreciated the squirrels, mallards and swans that came up to the french windows to visit. We stuck with early bedtimes (and early mornings.) We just did one activity a day, and some hanging out. The girls enjoyed drawing together, and separately, on the long chalkboard in our accommodation. We read stories. We read the baby stories. We enjoyed each others' company. We didn't have the use of computers or WiFi (although I still dipped into Facebook and Twitter on my BlackBerry.) All in all, it was a family holiday. And I feel pretty exhausted, but I know that part of me is very much refreshed.

Yeah, spot the camera flash reflecting on the windows :-)

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