Thursday, 16 July 2015

What I learnt on my holiday

Now that I'm back on terra cognita (at least as far as connection to the interwebs is concerned) I can start boring you all senseless blogging again.
Despite my misgivings, we actually had a really lovely holiday. LittleBear loved it. I loved it. BigBear loved it. GrannyBear seemed to love it too. LittleBear certainly loved having GrannyBear with us. BigBear and I got to do excitingly grown-up and irresponsible things like go to the pub (frequently) and have a day out together. As feared, the decorating had not been accomplished, but at least it wasn't actually in progress while we were there, so we managed to make the un-decorated room habitable enough that we could install GrannyBear in it without feeling too guilty about her comfort levels.

Given GrannyBear's propensity for doing rash things like trekking across a glacier in the Himalayas, or camping on the skeleton coast of Namibia, the bar for "comfort level" has already been set pretty low, but this was a dispiriting room to arrive to:

Not the most welcoming bedroom
However, a bit of shuffling and a nice pink blanket and it's virtually a home-from-home. As long as home looks a bit like a crumbling shack.


Rather than bore you all with a "what I did on my holidays" style travelogue detailing how mahhhvelous LittleBear was, and how splendid it all was, which is neither interesting nor amusing for anyone outside my immediate family, and occasionally not even them, I thought I'd summarise the Interesting Things I Learnt.

In no particular order....
  • 3 adults to 1 toddler is the perfect contention ratio for a relaxing holiday. It allows any two adults to actually have a conversation with each other at any one time. Or read a book, which is considerably more likely in my family. 
  • Carpet shops are inherently tedious places for small boys and husbands. Carpet shops that have a play room complete with lego table are designed by The God Of Retail. I would be prepared to plan all my domestic shopping trips around premises that are equipped with lego. Mary Portas? Are you listening? Forget window dressing and soothing lighting design. Lego all the way.
  • Having no internet connection makes me a better mother. I do not spend any of my time being distracted by Facebook, email, following the Tour de France, the Ashes or the latest transfer rumours for Burnley. Instead I actually listen to my son and play with him. And because I'm not trying to  do something else while being unreasonably distracted by the small human being I've brought into the world, I'm not irritable with him either.
  • Having no dishwasher makes me a lot more efficient in my use of kitchen utensils. I also clean up properly, rather than abandoning half the objects I've used in a dirty state on the grounds the dishwasher is already full. The kitchen whilst on holiday was cleaner and tidier than ours ever is at home. This may also relate to the increased number of adults available for simultaneous tidying, cooking and playing.
  • LittleBear doesn't actually need very many toys, and concentrates better when there are fewer. We took one box of lego, two toy crocodiles and three cuddly penguins with us. He spent happy hours constructing things with lego, including an entire kitchen for his crocodiles to cook their wildebeest in.
  • I really do like beer. I like sitting in a quiet pub, laughing with my husband, drinking beer and not worrying about LittleBear. (He was safely asleep in the cottage, as on many occasions was GrannyBear).
  • LittleBear adores GrannyBear. This makes me extremely happy (and not just because it gives me a lot of off-duty time when GrannyBear is around, though that does help with the happiness quotient). There is something quite glorious about lying in bed in the morning, listening to the constant stream of chatter from the other bedroom where LittleBear has clambered into bed with his Granny. Or listening to GrannyBear reading Winnie the Pooh to LittleBear: hearing her animated voice bouncing out Tigger's "worra worra worra" took me straight back to my own childhood.
  • There are few things better than a good stick to hit things with or a good stone to throw in a river when you're three-and-a-half.

A really good stick
Some stones are so good you have to take them
with you until you find the perfect bit of water
Throwing stones in the water can be fun for every generation
  • Even three-and-a-half year olds can climb fells in the Lake District. LittleBear's fell might not have been quite as high as mine, and it might have taken more chocolate biscuits to get up his, but I think his was a more impressive achievement. Better yet, despite being so exhausted he was falling over by the end, he was still filled with enthusiasm and desperate to climb a "big, big mountain".
Holme Fell

Harrison Stickle

  • Keeping a diary is a wonderful thing. Back in the mists of time, when Tim Berners-Lee was still at primary school, my grandparents bought our cottage in the Lake District. And then they decided to start "The Log".  For my younger readers, who may not be aware of the possibilities afforded by writing things on paper, with a pen that you hold in your hand, this is a paper version of a blog - a (we)blog without the web. Every visitor to the cottage writes entries about their time there, and we're now on Volume 9. Sometimes it feels like a chore to remember to write The Log, but it is a wonderful thing to read - to look back at your own holidays, to read about the holidays of your parents and grandparents, to discover what other people did when they had small children with them. Sometimes the briefest entries can be the most telling. There is one day, when my brother and I were small, when my mother simply wrote, "Rain. Children horrible." Speaks volumes doesn't it? And the whole thing is a wonderful reminder that you can take all the photos that you want, but words are powerful things, and you'll never regret writing about the precious, fleeting moments of your life.
Here's a sample from Easter 1978, when I was the same age LittleBear is now. You'll note that I don't actually rate a mention at all...

My childhood holidays sound just awesome don't they?

  • It will be fine. I worry too much, I assume the worst, I take responsibility too much. We had a lovely holiday, and once again BigBear was right. He said it would all be fine. And it was. More than fine.

Everything being more than fine. With beer.

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