It has been a busy week and hence a second update in just over a week. It began on 17th March which is not only St. Patrick’s Day (the Patron Saint of Ireland) but my eldest sister’s birthday. It was also the day before Mothering Sunday and a couple of days before my birthday so what better excuse for a visit from Nanny Fran. Nanny Fran made the journey on her own as Auntie Liz was heading off to a JLS concert in the evening, but she was joined at our house by the birthday girl herself, Auntie Mary.
Éowyn gets so excited when Nanny Fran comes down that she will quite often wear herself out and so it was on Saturday. She was so worn out that she spent much of the afternoon asleep. This meant that Amélie managed to get a greater share of Nanny Fran cuddles. It saved arguments.
Nanny Fran and Auntie Mary saw a huge leap in development of Amélie since their last visit and it does seem over the last few weeks that she has grown from being a baby to a toddler very quickly. She now walks everywhere, to the point of not wanting to be picked up. She is interacting with many more things and her vocabulary is going through that rapid increase phase where there is a new word nearly everyday. She will quite happily sing ‘Old MacDonald’ to herself and jabber away to her toys. On Saturday we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Auntie Mary and Amélie joined in! She doesn’t suffer fools gladly though and Éowyn is quite often on the receiving end of her wrath if big sister is doing something that she doesn’t want her to do. She is also a little thief. She will ‘move’ (shall we say?) anything that isn’t out of reach and hide it somewhere. Lucinda’s camera was found in one of the saucepans in the cupboard; the remote control was found in her toy kitchen and my watch is still A.W.O.L. hopefully it will turn up soon. She has now earnt the name Swiper, (‘Swiper, no swiping!‘) from Éowyn after a character from Dora, the explorer.
The following day was Mothering Sunday (Mother’s Day) so we let Lucinda have a well deserved lie in before we made her breakfast in bed. If you can’t treat your mother on Mother’s Day when can you treat your mother? Now saying that, Lucinda’s mum had invited us all round for Sunday lunch (Lucinda and her brothers and all our families), which puts a bit of a nonsense on the previous sentence, especially when she prepared all the food and she wasn’t feeling very well. Nevertheless 14 of us sat down for Sunday lunch. It is always nice when the whole family gets together and I know Lucinda’s Mum and Dad really enjoy being surrounded by their decendants, and who wouldn’t be.
The busy week didn’t stop there. My birthday was on the Tuesday and so we decided that we would go away for a couple of days to get away from it. Lucinda booked us a room at the new Shoreline Hotel at Butlins in Bognor Regis (West Sussex – for those of you with poor knowledge of UK’s geography – still not helping? About halfway between Brighton and Portsmouth. Still not helping? Find Staines (just west of London) and go south until you hit the sea and stop. It is somewhere around there, if that still hasn’t helped maybe you watch a little too much CNN).
I went to Butlins with a little trepidation, it has to be said. Never really been tempted to spend any time at a Butlins (or alternative) and I had never been to Bognor Regis (although it was good enough for King George V) but we packed the car and headed south. I am not ashamed to say that I was pleasantly surprised by both Butlins and Bognor Regis. The Shoreline Hotel is excellent, it has really been thought through for kids. The room was divided into two areas, the main area that you would expect with a little seating area and a double bed with TV and DVD player (although I can proudly say that we didn’t even put the TV’s on in our stay) for Mum and Dad. Then separated by the bathroom (that included a child’s section in the seat so little ones can use the big toilet safely, without fear of falling through) there was a kid’s bedroom with bunk bed and their own TV and DVD player. Éowyn loved the bunk bed and immediately climbed the ladder staking her claim to the top bunk. We were a little wary of letting her sleep up there but she was perfectly safe going up and down the ladder and so we let her sleep there. Amélie is still a little small for a bed (even with a side on) so we hired a cot for her.
When we arrived we found that you could book a ‘Character Breakfast’ where one of the ‘Characters’ (i.e. men in big suits) would come and sit with you and have breakfast with your child. We thought that it would be nice for Éowyn and attempted to book it but unfortunately (or fortunately as it turns out) they were all fully booked for our stay. Nevermind we headed to breakfast the next morning and yes Billy and Bonnie Bear were there and having breakfast with a number of the children, but in between course they came and paid a visit to every child in the breakfast room. Now you may be forgiven that this would be something that Éowyn would like, but a teddy bear bigger than daddy ambling over to you when you are eating your Coco-Pops is not what our three year old thought was a pleasant experience. Amélie, thought it was brilliant but Éowyn cowered by her Daddy until the furry freaks had moved on to another table. We were glad that we hadn’t shelled out for the ‘Character Breakfast’. However, because we didn’t know that the characters would visit every child we hadn’t taken our cameras down to breakfast (why would you?) but we rectified that the next morning, when it was the turn of Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam to paid us a visit, with pretty much the same results. Although we did have photographic evidence this time!
I think we chose quite a good time to pay a visit to Butlins for it was out of school holidays, still early in the season and, for once (for one of our holidays!), the weather was fine. This meant that we could easily get on the all the facilities in the children’s play areas and the swimming pool was relatively empty. The swimming pool was the big hit of the holiday. Éowyn has never been very confident in water and it is one of the things that we have promised ourselves this year to get her to enjoy the water and if possible to begin swimming lessons. Part of Éowyn’s issue with swimming is that it gets your hair wet. So before we entered the swimming pool this time we put her hair up with a hairband, something that she usually will not allow you to do. Whether it was this lack of fear surrounding her hair getting wet or the fact that the pool gradually deepened from nothing to 4 feet (1.2 metres) or so (it was the toddlers’ pool) or even the confidence of holding her daddy’s hand she wading right in until the water was up to her chest. I then supported her and slowly dragged her into the deep (relatively) water. I got her treading water and then dogging paddling, with the support from dad and the armbands. Initially I worried that I had done it all a bit too quickly but the next day she wanted to go swimming and grabbed my hand and said ‘Come on, Daddy, let’s go into the deep water.‘ The challenge will be to continue this, before the newly gained confidence ebbs away.
There wasn’t a lot of time to exploring the finer areas of West Sussex, although we did have a quick nose around Bognor Regis. One place that we did find was just along the coast, east of Butlins, a small café called The Lobster Pot. In the neighbouring town of Felpham (not to be confused with Feltham) The Lobster Pot serves the most delicious café food, if perhaps a little pricey. However, if you are in the vicinity I would wholeheartedly recommend the walk along the coast. I think we went there every day and the staff were extremely friendly especially to a nosiy little three-year old.
Lucinda’s Uncle David and Auntie Sally (Lucinda’s father’s brother and his wife) live in Middleton-on-sea which is just a couple of miles from Bognor and as I had never visited their house we decided to pop in on the way home. Éowyn and Amélie charmed them, as of course they would. Éowyn, especially took a shine to Uncle David and had him playing in the garden with her and then started calling him Granddad. In fairness to her, Uncle David is a lot like Lucinda’s dad, they are brothers after all and I think there was definitely some of the ‘Kin knows Kin’ subconsciousness type thing going on. So it would be perfectly natural for her to equate them as the same, I think that it shows the love and trust that she has for Lucinda’s dad that she was so familar with a man she has hardly ever met, for she is usually so shy around people.
So back home Wednesday evening, only to prepare for my Uncle Roy’s funeral on Thursday and a round trip to West Bromwich. We took Éowyn and Amélie for it was only a small funeral and I had not seen many of my relatives in such a long time, it is shame that it takes something like the death of a family member to bring us all together. Something that I must try and rectify this year (if only I could get this cloning thing to work). It was nice to introduce Éowyn and Amélie and in some case Lucinda to my wider family, especially since there doesn’t seem to be many of us left. We were slightly delayed leaving as swiper had been up to her usual tricks and hidden mommy’s purse. Fearing that we had left it in Bognor Regis we phoned Butlins, The Lobster Pot, Uncle David and Auntie Sally and the local Bognor Regis Police station. Lucinda then cancelled her bank cards before she noticed where the little thief had hidden it. We will have to watch that one.
So the clocks have sprung forward, we have warm spring-like temperatures and the lawn has finally been mown (or should that be mowed?); summer is on its way and I have detained you long enough, go and enjoy the sunshine.
Peace and Love