Monthly Archives: June 2012

Blummin’ Fathers’ Day

“It’s just commercial bollocks to keep Clinton Cards afloat.”

That’s the line often fed to single folk on Valentine’s Day by people who are not single but do still give and receive Valentines’ cards, despite their viewpoint (no idea where I’ve heard it, like.) Anyway, it doesn’t really wash with dadless children on Fathers’ Day, because Fathers’ Day is more than that (and also because it’s probably best not to say “bollocks” in front of children.)

I don’t want to define parenting roles by gender etc. etc. and all that jazz, but there are certain jobs that do feel like dad jobs. This list isn’t exhaustive, but includes a few of the ones that spring to mind from the past few years:

– Teaching him to wee standing up and not get it all over the bathroom (might have done a better job at that than a bloke could have done?)

– Assembling a flat-pack, high-sleeper bed that had a picture of two men on the list of tools required to build it.

– Teaching him to ride the bike.

– Converting the “too babyish” Thomas the Tank water table into a green sandpit called Dinosaur World.

– Making robots, rockets and pinball machines out of rubbish.

– Piggy backs.

– Taking him to the park when I’ve got period pains / toothache / want to hide under my duvet and never come out.

– Bug collecting.

– Finding out the football scores and equipping him with them before school on a Monday morning.

– Laughing at his ideas for rides in ‘Disgusting Funland’, a vile theme park of his creation. (Imagine a log flume where…….)

– Lugging an increasingly heavy but very cherubic-looking sleepyhead up our extremely steep stairs.

Then there’s the stuff that’s meant to be shared. Obviously, there’s the breadwinning and bills side of things, but there’s also the mad rush of stuff to do that is bedtime. It only occurred to me when a couple babysat a few weeks ago that the end of the day must be much easier with two grown-ups: “He listened to him read while I cleared up after tea, then he sorted out his uniform and footy kit while I bathed him and read him his bedtime story.”

Oh yeah, the penny dropped, that must be what people do.

I used to dread Fathers’ Day. I remember the first card he brought home from nursery: a cardboard football with wax crayon scrawls and “To Someone Special” on the front. I was having a bad day, so I cried, then balanced it on the telly until he toddled into it and it fell down the back with the spider carcasses and dust.

The following two years, we managed to be away for the approach to the big day, then he started school and they don’t make Fathers’ Day cards there (which is a shame, because they do make them for Mothers’ Day – but it proves Tom probably isn’t the only one in that boat.)

I don’t get sad on Fathers’ Day now and neither does Tom. As regularly discussed, he’s got loads of blokes in his life who think he’s ace. And a mum who’s a mum and a dad in one.

So, happy Fathers’ Day to you, especially if you’re  a 2-in-1 / Transformer / robot in disguise.

PS: I know everyone else puts the apostrophe in the other place, but I think it looks wrong because it’s a day for all fathers.

A luxury breakfast platter that was delivered to me in bed last week.

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Busy Doing Nothing

As you’ll know if you read this blog a lot, Tom and I recently came back from an ace holiday in the South of France. Part of my prize was to tell you all about it, the other part was to tell you about my experience in the parc’s spa.

This is possibly one of the most challenging blog posts I’ve ever written, because basically, I did naff all in the spa.

While Tom was in his Pirate Ship club, I locked myself away in the small but beautifully formed hideaway and breathed a sigh of relief that had been building up for a good few months. I did try to read Fifty Shades of Grey but had to stuff it shamefully into a recycling bin after a few chapters (I had somehow missed the hype and grabbed it in Smiths as they were calling my gate at the airport: don’t do it.)

Without a book, there really wasn’t anything to do apart from switch off. I had the place to myself, so it felt a bit like the gigantic Jacuzzi and the steam room with the twinkly lights in the ceiling were all mine. My entrance to the spa was free, but it should have been seven Euros, which I think is a fair price for complete tranquillity. I did also treat myself to reflexology in a dark treatment room, which was 33 Euros and left me feeling temporarily like none of the stuff that was plaguing my mind mattered, at all.

After I’d finished not thinking, I emerged, blinking and nearly got run over by a gang of children on scooters. Back at the ship, I got a massive hug and tried to engage my brain for the daily ice cream nag.

“Mum, can I have an ice cream?”

“Er, how about some mawterwelon instead.”

“You what?”

“Erm…”

“Mum, have you had too much relaxing or something?”

“Yeah, something like that.”

The spa in question is at Yelloh! Village Le Club Beach Farret, a luxury Alfresco parc in the Languedoc. Read about the rest of our stay here.

All mine. Sort of.

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A Strip of Pale Blue: Our Holiday in The Languedoc

I’m writing this in a slew of let’s-not-go-on-about-it-but-it-is-rubbish-isn’t-it Mancunian rain. It’s hard to believe that this time last week, I was lazing in the Languedoc in what looks like a strip of pale blue in my mental calendar.

It’s pale blue because of the sea, but also because of the decor in our Alfresco mobile home (or “The ‘Ut” as it became affectionately known.) There was something fresh and breezy about the whole week, even though most of it was spent wafting off late twenties sunshine.

The pale blue theme began at the airport, which was magically close to Manchester. It’s essentially a café in the shape of a wave on the edge of a runway. That, coupled with the fact it was less than two hours away from home, made everything feel wonderfully simple. Ten minutes’ drive away from Beziers Airport, at the bottom of a cul-de-sac where the dead end was the sea, lay our parc.

Yelloh! Village Le Club Beach Farret is billed as being ‘large and lively’ which, if I’m honest, was the only thing putting me off. I needn’t have worried: away from the main reception with its palm trees, banana plants and luxe-looking pool, was Beach Farret. This separate area is right next to the Med, reached down a lane that smells of honeysuckle and buzzes with butterflies in the day and bats at night. Here’s the best bit – all we could ever hear were swallows, waves and whatever Spotify playlist we’d chosen that day.

After a friendly welcome from our reps (you get the feeling the lifestyle has rubbed off on them; neither of them stopped smiling and nothing was too much trouble,) we settled into our ‘ut. It was clean, well-equipped and it slept six. Outside, the furnished verandah led on to our very own patch of sand, complete with sunbeds and a barbecue. I like camping under the stars as much as anyone else, but having the comforts of our own loo, shower, kitchen and air conditioning so close to the beach made this holiday extra special.

“A mother’s love, eh?” smiled a passing bloke when Tom buried me in the sand then ran away to the sea on the first day. I smiled, serenely – it was fine, more than fine. Tom could wade out for ages before the water was any higher than his waist.There were no sharp stones, jellyfish, sharks, litter or other nasties lurking in the water. It was simply soft sand and clear, shallow sea, which meant I could completely relax, even with spadefuls of sand weighing me down and getting between my teeth.

Home sweet (mobile) home

I’m not the most domesticated of people, so I wasn’t sure how I’d enjoy cooking for us (and the inevitable clean-up.)  It turned out to be a joy. I bought a basil plant from the site supermarket on the first night. It made its way into almost every meal I made and scented the mobile home for the duration of our stay. The on-site supermarket wasn’t a rip-off as I’d expected and favourite buys included marinated olives from the deli counter, delicious 1.80 Euros per litre wine (fill your empty mineral water straight from the barrel) and pastries for brekkie. Hotel breakfasts have their place, but I much preferred padding on to the decking in my nightie with a cafetiere and a fresh croissant to racing down to a restaurant and grabbing shot glass-sized portions of juice before last orders. Surely, when you’re on holiday, breakfast should be a leisurely affair.

That orange

Away from our ‘ut, there was plenty for both Tom and I to do. We made the one hour trek on foot to Vias, the local village, for market day. It was well worth the hike to see the cobbled streets, flowery windowsills and a church flooded with blue light through stained glass. No one could speak English, which meant we both had to make a bit of an effort when shopping for spiky baguettes and technicolour fruit and veg. Tom especially enjoyed telling everyone on his postcards that he’d bought (and scoffed) an orange that was nearly as big as his head.

Back at camp, Tom was smitten with the kids’ club, the headquarters of which was an enormous pirate ship-shaped play area. He spent two-hour sessions jumping on the bouncy castle, paddling at the beach and making things (including a bonus Mothers’ Day card for me – it’s a different day in France.) Meanwhile, I lazed by the pool, sampled the beautiful spa (more on that later) and swam in the sea. Together, we played crazy golf, ate amazing crepes, cakes and ice cream and visited a vineyard that was only a five minute walk away from the parc. Tom loved the entertainment in the pirate restaurant in the evenings and I happily nursed a sangria while he learnt the routine to the horribly catchy Club Yelloh anthem (OK I confess, I’ve looked it up on Youtube since we got back and yeah, I like it because it reminds me of our holiday and seeing him beam.)

The much-loved kids’ club

The last of my holiday snaps is Tom, insisting on pulling two suitcases to the entrance of our parc, good old Mr Blue Sky resplendent in the background. “Thanks for entering the competition,” Tom said on the plane home, “I am really lucky.”

And we were. My verdict: From the friendly booking agents to the reps, accommodation and location, Alfresco have created the perfect balance between luxury seaside hotel and sleeping under canvas. The childcare, beach and entertainment at Beach Club Farret are excellent. The Languedoc is a fascinating area, with loads more to see and do than we did for those who have a car or hire bikes. Most impressive for me was the proximity to the UK. (That and the 1.80 Euro wine.) To think I could be relaxing on that verandah two hours after leaving the drenched Manc tarmac makes me want to go back. Now.

Our holiday was  a prize in a blogging competition from Alfresco and Tots100. (Thanks a million.) Part of the prize was to write about our holiday on our return. 

Wavy Airport

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