Monday, 20 March 2017

Tom's on a roll

So, recently Tom's swimming has got much better, his football has got much better, AND he is doing really well at school.

At school they are doing something called 'Olympic Maths' where you have to answer so many questions within 3 minutes.  He has been on 'Gold' level for a while where he has to answer 36 questions on the 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and12 times tables.  He has been so close for a while, getting 35, 34 etc, but this week he managed 36 three times in a row, which means he moves up a level.

His new level is 60 questions on all times tables in 3 minutes.  His first attempt he got (he thinks) 54!!!!  We think that is brilliant - I couldn't do it (mainly because I don't know my times tables!  He is now officially better than me at mental maths, won't be long before he overtakes me in other things as well I'm sure!).  

He certainly seems to have matured a lot in the last month or so, he's happy, thinking for himself and excelling in some aspects.  Another thing I have to mention is that at Film Night last week, one of his friends in a class 2 years below him didn't have enough money for a drink so Tom gave him some of his pocket money so he could get himself something.  I was at school - manning the tuck shop, but he didn't tell me, we only found out when his Mum said thank you to us.  I'm so glad he did this, shows he has a kind side and initiative, which is more important than anything academic.

Quiet Weekends

We haven't really done much recently at the weekend, mainly due to football taking up Saturdays and rubbish weather on Sundays and of course neither me nor Matt have been all that well, meaning we haven't had much get up and go between us.

First weekend of March saw Tom at Grannie and Grandpa's on Friday night, he played a football match at Settle on Saturday morning and came home in the afternoon.  Matt and I spent Saturday morning recovering from our ailments.  Normally we would take advantage of a 'night off' but neither of us were willing.  We went to the Old Post Office on Friday evening, but after two drinks, I began to hit a wall and wanted to go home!  How rubbish is that?!

Saturday evening saw us at the Ingleton Panto.  Matt was a little worried he wouldn't make it through the performance, but as usual it was very good, a great atmosphere, and we won the raffle (a dinner for two at the Marton Arms) so we allowed ourselves to be carried away and stayed for the whole night. Sunday saw us back in Settle for a birthday party at the pool and that was pretty much it.  

Team talk with coach Keith
Last weekend saw Tom in Caton on Saturday for a friendly football match.  Tom scored a belter in the top of the net which was great.  After he scored his goal, he played really well, which was ace.  As we were in Caton, we decided to head over to Archer's Cafe for lunch - always very good food there and of course big bunnies, chickens, lambs etc to look at.

2pm saw us in Burton as Tom had been invited to Luca's house for a play.  Luca is in Tom's afternoon class (he's in the year above Tom and comes to Tom's class in the afternoon - he and Tom have always got on, believe it or not Luca is more sensitive than Tom, he's also pretty much an only child - he does have half sisters but they are in their 20s and have left home).  Tom was only going for a couple of hours in the afternoon, but somehow, didn't make it back home till after 7pm, not a problem, they were having fun: "It was the best day EVER!".  Matt and I didn't really take advantage of it, although we did find ourselves in a pub for a drink at some stage. 

Meet up with Malcolm
Sunday saw us in Masham, meeting up with one of Matt's old university friends, Malcolm, and his family.  They have lived outside of the UK for a good number of years but have now come back to settle down.  They have a boy, James, 11 and a girl, Amy, 8.  Malcolm's wife, Kae is Thai, so they are a funny couple as Malcolm is 6 foot X?  Anyway, we had a good time, considering last time we met up was about 15 years ago (way before children anyway).  The kids got on well together as well. We ended up having a 3 course meal at the Brewery which was lovely (but filling) and then having a walk around the village and the kids a play in the park.  We made vague plans for the summer to climb mountains and taste cheese.  Should be good if they work out.

This weekend we were pretty much over our aliments hurray!  Saturday saw Tom and Matt heading over to Skipton for a football match against Embsay.  Tom did really well, so much so that he scored another goal AND he won Man of the Match because for the first time this season he tried really hard throughout the match!  Hurray - it has only taken pretty much the whole of the season, but he finally got it!  Typical I missed it!  When he came back, he said he only played really well because I wasn't there.  If I was there he would be busy looking at me and not concentrating!!!!!!!!!!

Man of the match!
Anyway, they stopped off at Grannie and Grandpa's on the way home as there was a model railway exhibition at Settle - organised by the Scouts, so Tom put on his cubs jumper and got in free.  He even managed to have a go at operating the biggest layout there which was good.

Sunday was a horrible, horrible day - horizontal rain.  Luckily we weren't going anywhere, as finally I had managed to arrange dinner for Pat, Bob, Kathy and Paul at our house.  We spent the morning prepping ready for their arrival at 12.30.  Tom peeled all the spuds and made the Yorkshire puddings.  Kathy and Paul came armed with old photos of Jude, Matt and Pat which was great - for me anyway.  Anyway, everyone got on so it was an easy afternoon.  Once everyone had gone (we forgot to take photos!) and we had tidied up we collapsed on the sofa for match of the day and sumo highlights before a small tea and bed. 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Parent's Evening

Wednesday was parent's evening, and the first time both Matt and I were feeling vaguely human.  Phew!  We headed to the school for our 10 minutes with Mrs Clements.  It was a very pleasant 10 minutes.  Don't think she had a bad word to say about him.  His Maths, she said, is really good, as we knew, but she was at pains to point out that he isn't good at just one aspect but all aspects, meaning he has really good understanding.  Very good to hear.

She knows he doesn't like to write and said it's not through lack of ability but because he doesn't want to do it and because he doesn't want to do it he gets distracted.  I personally think she was being very generous about this as when we looked through his literacy book were we found lots of comments: "Tom, where is the rest of the work"? "Tom is this all you have done in the time you were given?", "Tom where is the rest of your writing for this task?" etc etc. Hummm, I would have given him less than a 4 for effort!!!!

She said his reading is going really well too.  She has no worries about him at all and thinks he'll go far.  How lovely.  We asked about his social skills (we are always worried about his social skills with him being an only child) but she told us we really need not to worry, he is fine.  He is confident, answers questions in class etc etc, mixes with everyone very easily.  He doesn't have a special friend, but doesn't need one because there aren't any cliques in the class, meaning everyone mixes with everyone very easily.

Anyway, it was very pleasant, we came home feeling very happy.

More Illness

I had a rough night on Saturday and woke up feeling terrible.  So terrible, that I was pretty much delirious and worried Matt and Tom by talking nonsense.  Matt ran me a bath to try to get me to come to.  It worked, and after some discussion, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I had tonsillitis. I had a look down my throat and yes, my tonsils and throat were covered in lots of white spots - that will explain the delirium - that has happened to me before with tonsillitis.

First game of Scrabble
Now, of course, we were worried that Tom might get it - I can't begin to even contemplate what Tom would be like with tonsillitis so I spent the day keeping away from him.  It wasn't that difficult, Matt and Tom went to Bernies in the morning for brunch (I couldn't face food) and then in the afternoon they went to see Pat and Bob, so I thankfully lay on my bed feeling quite rubbish (yet again!!!!!)  Luckily we have a lot of frozen stews etc in the freezer so we have been living off them all week.

Poor Matt is also still ill, he has been coughing a lot and is still going hot and cold, so basically our house is a no go zone at the moment.  How Tom hasn't picked anything up is beyond us, although he did have a flu jab, so maybe that spared him?

Homeward bound

So, Saturday morning dawned lovely and clear blue - typical, that was the first day that happened.   I felt quite ropey on Friday evening, took some of Matt's drugs and woke up quite perky on Saturday morning.  Matt was still looking quite rough, so I ran him a bath and then pulled out the suitcases and filled them with our laundry (the worst thing about hotel holidays - the laundry on your return!).  I also had to include an almost full bottle of whisky.  Now you know Matt's been ill if he has bought a bottle of whisky and then doesn't drink it, especially whilst on holiday.

Mt. Teide from the air
We headed down to breakfast and so had our last slices of the lovely lovely loaf they had there every morning.  We also found Sandra and said our goodbyes.  I got quite emotional and had no idea why?!

Anyway, we went back upstairs, finished our packing and then went for a last stroll around Puerto de la Cruz in the blazing sun (typical) before checking out.  We then got our transfer to the airport.  We were enjoying our first clear views of the coast when I looked behind us and lo and behold, there was Mt Teide - the huge volcano which dominates the island.  I didn't realise quite how close to Puerto de la Cruz it was - it was stunning and absolutely huge.  Luckily Matt managed one photo of it before it disappeared round a bend.  Such a shame we didn't get to see it during the week - it was quite a sight.

Sleeping with a sloth
We had an uneventful trip back to the airport, and then a lovely swift and easy check-in and security check in to Tenerife airport, lunch in an English restaurant (there were only English shops / eateries on offer!!!!!) before boarding our plane to Glasgow.  We were delayed half an hour on the tarmac leaving Tenerife but still got to Glasgow early so can't really complain.  Oh and we got more great views of Mt Teide.

So, I fell asleep on the flight back home.  This is almost unheard of, I have trouble sleeping on 16 hour flights, so how come I do so on a 4 hour flight.  Truth was I was beginning to feel terrible.  Matt on the other hand was beginning to look much better.  I spent most of the flight dozing and then had trouble finding an appetite on arrival at Glasgow (we decided to have tea at the airport so we could drive straight back)  It hurt to eat and drink - sore throat - oh hummmm.  Oh get this our suitcases were number 1 and 2 off the plane - that has never happened to me before, but was fantastic.

I was really glad that Matt was feeling better as he offered to drive and did so the whole journey.  There was no traffic on the roads at all and we were home in 2.15 hours!  We arrived, tossed Tom into bed and then crashed into bed ourselves.  I was asleep in seconds.

Sunset over Ireland
So feelings on Tenerife: it was a nice place.  We all quite liked Puerto de la Cruz.  It was very much the German resort on the island, but we quite liked that as it made us different and it meant there were a lot of good cafes around for sausages and cakes.  Tom was pretty much the only child in the hotel even though it was half term - not sure how / why?  As we didn't get to do much due to illness, I would like to go back to explore.  Mainly to go to the top of Mt Teide, but there were also some other interesting places to explore.  We didn't even get to Santa Cruz (the capital).  The southern resorts on the island, I think, were mainly inhabited by British tourists - when Tom and I went to Aqualand the most overheard language was English.  Oh and despite Brexit and the bad exchange rate with the Euro, everything seemed very very cheap.

Next time we go, I would suggest getting an AirBnB property with a communal pool (if at all possible) in a resort so we can eat out and rent a car so we can enjoy the sights at our own leisure and maybe go a bit later in the year so we are more likely to get proper sunshine.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Last Day

Tom and Sandra
So, today was supposed to be Matt's day to decide what to do, but he looked very very rough when we woke up this morning, and quite frankly was capable of little.  We had breakfast (Sandra was back) and got some tea into Matt to try to revive him.

Tom the eel
It wasn't to be, he didn't want to do much, and I couldn't blame him, I know how he feels and it is pretty terrible.  Now one idea was to go to Santa Cruz to have a look around, but there was no way Matt could manage a bus ride and I didn't really want to leave him on his own for another lonely day. Luckily this morning we had sunshine so we reached a compromise, Tom and I spent the morning outside by the pool whilst Matt went to the spa again to try and steam himself better.  It was a good compromise, I taught Tom how to do sudoku and practised taking lots of underwater photos whilst we enjoyed the sun.  It was quiet, relaxing and educational.  I guess that really I needed some down time after the last couple of weeks and Matt certainly needs down time here, and as long as I can entertain Tom with something he is happy.  We only brought 3 reading books for him, and he has read them over and over and over again and is happy to continue to do so.

Matt came out of the spa with an appetite so we went into town in search of food and ended up with pizza again - there are a huge amount of pizzerias here.  Matt then went back to the hotel for a snooze whilst Tom and I went for a walk along the coast.  We found quite a few interesting spots, some cannons in case of invasion (not sure who from - probably us, it is always us!), a corner of the path which was littered with 100s of stone stacks where people have removed big stones from the beach and made pillars with them.  They made quite an impressive sight all together.
Black sand beach

Next we came to a rather lovely black sand beach where we stopped a good hour whilst Tom had a play.  He turned into a jumping frog, got wet in the spray, made a sand angel, and many more things, he certainly let his silly side go and had fun, all very good.  Once he was done, we continued on around the coast to Loro Parque, where we got the free yellow train back into town.  We then had an ice cream each - Tom is finally into ice creams, we have had to teach him how to eat them as he is missing an 8 year back story of being a messy eater with them (on the day we arrived, we all had an ice-cream and he ended up coated in it and getting a telling off as it soiled 1 of 2 jumpers I brought for him).  Today he ate one with not a drip going on his clothes - he took great pains to point this out to me too!!!!!
Sand monster

We returned to the hotel and had to wake up Daddy to get into our room as our key card had stopped working.  Now Matt NEVER falls asleep during the day - a bit like me, he has to be mega ill to fall asleep, so I guess that was proof enough, not that he needed to prove anything.

We had showers, baths etc then went to Hiper Dino to pick up extremely cheap chorizo to take home, returned home to play a card game before the last buffet of the holiday - today was ebi day - yahooo, Tom and I partook, but Matt didn't.  Then back to our room for a wind down before bed.  Think Matt can't wait to get home tomorrow!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Aqualand is the best

Humpity bumpily ride - Tom's fav
Matt didn't have the best night and was still feeling pretty rough this morning.  I wasn't surprised, I've been there and know how it feels.  Poor Matt is probably known as the local British hypercondriac as you can't even buy paracetamol from a supermarket here, but have to go to a Farmacia.  He is now well known by our local one and his bedside table is testament to most of his spending this holiday - he has certainly spent more on drugs than alcohol - you know he is properly ill when that happens!

Anyway, we had predicted this would be the case today, so Tom and I had booked to visit Aqualand in Costa Adeje.  He really wanted to have a day on water slides, there are two water parks in Tenerife, both in Costa Adeje, one, Siam Park has been voted the world's best and the second, Aqualand is a poor relation.  However, looking at the two parks, I figured that Siam Park would be heaving, and there would be lots of rides Tom wouldn't be able to do, so decided on going to Aqualand instead hoping it would be better for smaller children and less busy.

Fuel stop
We had an early breakfast and then waited outside the hotel at 8.45 for our ride.  It was only us and another lady who was going to Jungle Park, also in Costa Adeje.  It took 2 hours to get there - we went north and then across the island and down to the cost.  As soon as we got to the east side of the island, the sun came out, it was lovely to feel the sun on our faces and I hoped it would stay out for our time in the aqua park - I had plenty of towels and clothes with me just in case it was cold.

We were in luck, on arrival at the park, we stepped off the bus and it was warm and sunny.  It stayed like that for the whole day, in fact I got burnt, because I forgot my swimming cossie does a weird thing on my back and didn't rub cream into it.  My hunch turned out to be correct, the park wasn't full at all, meaning that we had a lovely leisurely time, the worst queue we had was probably about 30 seconds!

Larking around on the 'hot lava' ride

There were all manner of rides, ones where you have to carry an inflatable boat up the steps to ride back down in, ones which you do on your back, others on your front, some inside tubes, some outside.  There was even one where you lay on your back, went down a spiral tube in the pitch black and then got spat out onto a round 'coin spin' sort of contraption, where you went round and round until you dropped down the middle into a pool of water and then had to swim to the side.  I thought that was way beyond Tom's level of bravery, but he proved me wrong.  Twice.  I did it once and that was enough for me (I've become such a wuss since I had Tom, I used to be up for anything!!!!!)

Tom was the perfect height for the park as for the adult rides he had to be over 1.2m and for the kids rides he had to be under 1.4m and he is about 1.3m.  There was only one ride he wouldn't do and that was Kamikaze.  Now, I don't blame him as I wouldn't do it - it was very high and went directly down.  The only people we saw on it were Dad's being egged on by their children and wives, and quite often they came off having banged their arm or hurt their back.  This put Tom off, and I certainly wasn't going to push him to do it!

Thumbs up after a slide
Anyway, Tom was in his element, it took me an age to convince him to have lunch, he was far too busy, but in the end he submitted and ended up eating half a huge pizza with me.  We then did more rides and more rides and more rides.  There was a dolphin show at 3.30, but he wasn't interested, he just wanted to do more rides, so we did.  I think we were the only ones still doing the rides at that point, but it didn't matter.  The only thing that slowed us down was the fact that the ground was rough, and with no shoes on, it meant our feet started to get sore, (mine more so) to the point where nearly every step was painful.

Finally it got to 4.30 and we called it a day.  We got changed, had a look around the shop and then headed outside to get our bus back to Puerto de la Cruz.  We got picked up by the same mini bus, which took us to Siam Park where we got a coach back to the resort.  The coach was full of people who had been to Siam Park, it was chucking out time and there were hundreds and hundreds of people spilling out onto the streets on their way home, we certainly did make the right decision.

Racing along
The coach took us home the short and very bendy way, up and down lots of hairpin bends, with lots of horns being sounded at cars etc.  Tom fell asleep but was woken up by the bends, as we were all being thrown about.  Shame.  We did get to Puerto de la Cruz in an hour though, which was ace.  (It took 2 hours to get there the other way - via motorway).  We found a lonely Daddy in the hotel, he said it had been a long day without us, but he had managed to use the hotel spa, been for a long walk and found a good looking proper Spanish restaurant for us to have tea in.  He wasn't any better, but no worse, what a pants time to get properly ill!

After showers to get the salt out of our hair and a coat of aftersun for my back we headed out to said restaurant, El Camino.  Wow, the boy did good.  It was amazing.  The waiter was a larger than life character and a half, there was no menu - you had to go in to choose.  I went in, but didn't know what anything was, he told me it was all 'not tourist food' to which I said good!  He said we could do us a selection (with no olives or mushrooms)  He did us proud, it was wonderful home cooking and the waiter kept coming back to check on us 'the family' and Tom 'the boss'.  It was simply the best meal we have had here, couldn't tell you what we had, but it was all wonderful and the quantity perfect and the price was so cheap it was almost insulting!
Inside El Camino

By now Tom was almost desperate to go back to the hotel for sleep, so we took him home.  It was a good day.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Hiking in the clouds

Breakfast of champions
So, Matt had an OK night's sleep but woke up feeling a bit rubbish.  I offered him a day off but he insisted on having a day out with us.  Today's plan was to do some hiking as Tenerife is well known for good walking trails, and I was getting a bit stir crazy being in a town for so long - it is official, I am a country bumpkin!

We had a leisurely breakfast and then headed to the bus station (a good long walk) to get the 345 to Aguamansa from where we picked up a trail to La Caldera a leisure area from which there were loads of trails in the mountains.  Considering Tenerife is well known for good trails, it was very very difficult to get any information on them, and even when we were on the bus we weren't really sure where to get off etc.  The bus was full of Germans and they were similarly confused.

The bus trip took about an hour to get up to the trails - it was probably only 10 miles, but very very steep and full of hairpin bends with coaches coming in the opposite direction.  Poor Matt was looking quite queasy by the time we got off.

Bearded trees
Anyway we got off once we saw an official walking sign and ended up walking an extra 1km to the start of all the trials - never mind it was a nice walk through the forest uphill along a carpet of pine needles.  Now in the literature we had been given we were told there was a restaurant to get food and beer, when we got there the restaurant was firmly closed.  Just as well we went to HiperDino in Puerto de la Cruz to buy some sandwiches 'just in case' before getting the bus, otherwise we would have got quite hungry.

After eating lunch in a picnic spot, we looked on a trail map and found a walk that was 2.9 km each way and decided on that, unfortunately there were no circuits.  Anyway the walk was nice enough, we were surrounded by thin pine trees, which had beards growing on them.  Not sure what the 'beards' were: leaves / roots, but they looked quite strange.  We were up in the clouds and every now and again, clouds would 'pour' in over us and obscure our views.  The terrain was very steep, although the path relatively flat, the rock shot straight up vertically from the path - it would have been nice to see how high it went, but the clouds were too low, in fact we didn't manage a good view point at all during the day, but we certainly enjoyed being in the hills.
On the trail

We returned to La Caldera and the bus stop around 3pm and got the next bus back to Puerto de la Cruz, it only took 39 minutes on the way down - shows how steep the roads were!  We got off by the pizza restaurant we went to yesterday and found ourselves a nice German cafe to stop at for tea and a bun.  We decided on a particularly lovely looking apple strudel as our 'bun' - it was delicious, Tom has added it to his list of favourites.
Tom with his volcanic rock

We got back to the hotel, Matt was straight back in the bath to ease his aching bones.  We had a quiet early evening and then headed into town for a short walk before heading into the buffet.  Rabbit stew and Valencia paella were the highlight for me today.  Then to reception so Matt could have his tea, and back to the hotel room for bed.  Matt was fading fast, faster than Tom!

Tomorrow, Tom and I are leaving Matt behind at the hotel and heading to the south of the island to experience one of the water parks...

Rainy, grey day

So today dawned grey and rainy - oh joy!!!!

Matt did have a good sleep, phew, but wasn't feeling great - aching all over!  He had a bath before breakfast to ease his troubles (I can remember doing the same a couple of weeks ago!), this isn't good.

So at Breakfast we were sat in Sandra's section again.  This is significant, as Sandra is a waitress who has taken a liking to Tom.  Tom gets all shy around her and blushes big time (we've never seen him blush before!!!!!)  Every time she walks past she pats his head, says 'Hola Tom', or gives him a tickle! This morning she asked him for a kiss, but he turned bright bright red and wouldn't give her one, this didn't put her off though and she still spoke to him every time she passed us.  He has pulled!!!!!

Anyway, back to the day, we had promised Tom that we would go swimming again.  Matt wasn't up for it, so I agreed with some trepidation - it was grey and cold outside.  Oh well, we are from Yorkshire and have done the same, going to the pool in Ingleton in the summer!  We had the pool to ourselves.  Matt came with us and read one of Tom's books on a sun lounger whilst just about not shivering.  Tom and I got in and I did many lengths to not get cold.  Tom went in and out and in again, I knew that as soon as I got out I wouldn't want to get in again so stayed in until Tom said that he didn't want to get in again.

We then went in for a hot shower to warm up.  As it was going to be a nothing sort of a day (there is very little to do inside around here) we decided to walk back up the hill towards the Botanical gardens to a restaurant we saw on Sunday - a pizzeria with a 18 hole mini golf course.  We thought it would be fun and not too arduous and we could do it in the rain if needs be.

We found a new nicer way to walk there today - a pedestrian alley away from the roads, with shops, restaurants and viewpoints scattered along it.  We found the restaurant again with no trouble and headed to a outside seat under a roof (just in case it started raining), we ordered 2 pizzas between the 3 of us - wow they were big!  We managed them though - what troopers we are.  We think this is the German enclave of the town as everything seems to be in German first, the waitress was German and everyone around us was German.  It's not often you are British and alone these days.
Tom, plus bovine friend

Anyway, once we finished our pizza and then went to do the mini golf, just as it started raining - typical.  Oh well, we were expecting it and had our waterproofs, so being the stoical Brits that we are, we played mini golf in the rain.  Tom did way better than he has in the past, scoring only 6 more points than me (in the past he has been a good 50 points or so ahead).  Matt of course won!

We were going to go in search of some more gardens and play areas afterwards, but the rain was coming down enough to put us off, so we went back to the hotel via the pharmacy to get Matt some medicine and had a lazy afternoon (Tom writing thank you cards), Matt collapsed on the bed.  We then went out for a pre-dinner stroll, taking in the port of Puerto de la Cruz and the old town, not a huge amount to report, but Matt did manage to find a holiday T-shirt which he was happy with.

We came back, had another hot bath each and then played cards before heading down for tea - all the usual stuff, with cod, swordfish, entrecĂ´te and turkey.  Sandra was there too - Tom blushed as soon as he saw her, she couldn't resist a pat on his head.  We then retired to reception so Matt could have his pot of tea and then back to our room for bed.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Zoo day

Hungry gorilla
Today, in an attempt to cheer up Tom, we decided to go to Loro Parque, it was voted Europe's best zoo and the second best in the world so we were expecting it to be good.  It was certainly the most pristine zoo I've ever been too, felt like it had only just opened as all the facilities looked brand new.

First of all we had to get there, what better way than on a bright yellow road train which was free?  It only took about 15 minutes, all up hill.  A lovely way to see the town.  We joined the queue for the tickets and then headed in.  We started off saying hello to the gorillas - who were very good to us, walking on 2 legs to get leaves from the middle of a bush - they must have been good.  The on to the penguins where we stood on a moving walkway to take us around.  Here they had real snow falling onto the colony where there were a huge mix of penguins: Marconi, Humboldt, King and others.  One of the keeper's jobs was to shovel the snow around the colony for the penguins - must be a bit of a surreal job to have on an island where it is never winter!  We really enjoyed watching them, and then noticed an area where there were puffins.  I have never seen puffins in a zoo before?  When you watch them diving under the water, they look exactly like penguins, just smaller.
Smiling sloth

Next stop was the sloths.  We were really excited to see them as they are Tom's favourite animal at the moment and we didn't tell him they were here just in case we didn't find them.  They were actually really good to watch, they were moving around their enclosure, albeit slowly, but they were doing things, and with their goofy grin, they really are endearing.

Next was the Sea Lions and a show which was very well done, all done to music and well choreographed (in fact all the shows were like that, which is probably why they are so high up the list of the best zoos).  We then found ourselves a German restaurant for lunch.  Meatballs for the boy, schnitzel for me and roast chicken for the the big boy - we all stuffed it down and then headed for the Orca show which was very well done, we sat at the back of the splash zone, thinking we would probably be OK.  We got a little splashed, but nothing too bad (Matt's camera got a bit wet which was worrying, but it seems to be working OK).  Tom loved it.

Orca show
Next we went to see the big cats including a white tiger, but we couldn't see it.  However, the dolphin show was just about to start, so we sat down for that (very well done again) and by the time we came out the white tiger was prancing around, much to our joy - both Matt and Tom love a big cat.  There was also a Black Jaguar, but it was hiding up a tree and was not going to come down!

We then stopped for an ice-cream.  Tom decided on an ice lolly, somehow the ice lolly got stuck to his lips (think of the effect of licking a piece of frozen metal).  I couldn't get the lolly unstuck by pulling etc so in the end had to lick his lips to warm them and the lolly up to get the lolly unstuck from his lips.  What a carry on, have you ever seen that happen to anyone else?!  Luckily he didn't get upset, he just laughed, but how bizarre.

Dolphin show
Next up was the Loro show, Loro meaning parrots which was fun.  There was a great sense of humour running through it which was quite an achievement considering they were doing everything in 3 languages.  I think this was my favourite show as the parrots and other exotic birds got to fly directly overhead us all, we could feel their wings flap as they zoomed past us.

By now it was getting on for 5.00, so we quickly did what was left, which was the alligators, more parrots and the aquarium.  However, Matt was beginning to feel really tired and washed out so we headed back to the entrance and got our little yellow train home.  When we got back to the hotel, Matt crashed, he said he felt really tired and he didn't look great to be honest.  He had a bath and then we headed down for dinner at 7.30.  Today we didn't have any alcohol as Matt was feeling so bad (he really must be ill), they had fresh calamari on which was really good, I ate loads of it with salad.  Tom did well too - he plumped for pizza and battered calamari.  Matt had a small amount of salad and calamari too.
White tiger

We then went to reception so that Matt could have some tea (he has been missing his tea - poor thing) Matt fell asleep straight after drinking it, we had to wake him up to take him back to the room!  Tom went straight to bed and Matt followed not long after after taking some drugs.  Let's hope he has a good night's sleep and is feeling better in the morning.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Sunshine and fig trees

Palm trees by the ocean
So, our first full day on Tenerife dawned with blue sky.  Hurray.  We decided to have a quiet morning, so first had a lie in (we have to as breakfast doesn't start until 8am!)  We hit breakfast and were met by a huge array of food.  Tom went for waffles, jam and chocolate doughnut, whilst I went for gorgeous artisan bread with cheese and hard boiled eggs, whilst Matt went for some rather dodgy looking bacon (you should NEVER try to eat bacon outside of the UK) cheese, chorizo and churros with chocolate sauce.  An eclectic mix if you ask me!

As the sun was shining and we had an excited boy who wanted to go swimming, we decided we HAD to hit the pool, so off we went.  We got our towels and reserved some loungers and got in the pool - it was a little on the cold side, but once we got in it was fine.  We even managed to do some sunbathing, in fact Tom took to it really well, lying in the sun reading his books.  Matt was hiding in the shade and still worried about getting sun burn whilst I was constantly searching for the sun as the shade kept enveloping me.  
By the pool

We spent a good 2 hours by the pool (really good for us) and then came back to the room for showers so we could head into the town to find some tapas for lunch.  We didn't have to look far, we ended up in a place called Cafe Berlin for tapas: grilled prawns, croquettes (Tom's fav), spanish omelette and calamari.  All very lovely and washed down with 0% beer (for me) and a huge glass of sangria (Matt - naughty boy!).

Life at the bottom

After a swift siesta at the hotel, we then walked up a very steep hill to the Botanical Gardens.  They were quite interesting, had a huge fig tree which was impressive, some other interesting things that I didn't know the names of, some cacti and other things, including lots of birds of paradise - of which there are plenty at the hotel.  After exploring fully we called it a day and headed back down to the shore, stopping for a 3pm ice cream on the way - very nice it was too.

We then had baths and played top trumps and managed to delay going for dinner until 7.30pm, which was a bonus as when we arrived the dining room was full to bursting, within 15 mins it had cleared out.  We didn't have to queue for anything.  Tom was tired by the time we left, but that works for us too, as then when we go to the room, he heads straight to bed and falls asleep immediately whilst we can do stuff.

Food wasn't quite as good today - no chorizo sausage and the paella wasn't as nice, but still we managed to go up 3 or 4 times for bits and pieces, Tom ate up well as well.

Amazing fig tree
So, Tom hasn't been himself for the last couple of weeks, he doesn't seem the happy-go-lucky boy that he has always been.  Nothing seems to make him happy or excite him, even his birthday didn't get him really happy.  Today we found he had bitten his thumb skin so it was bleeding.  We don't know what is up, we have tried to find out but haven't really got anywhere.  I am very aware that since I went on HRT, my mood hasn't been great - it is almost as if I don't have any emotions at the moment, I don't experience highs or lows, just nothing.  For example for his party, I should have been on a high during it as everyone was enjoying it, and then I should have been relieved once it was all over, but it didn't feel any of it.  I am now worried that my lack of emotion is rubbing off on him.  Once I get my MRI results, I am going to head to the Drs to talk it over and see if maybe there is another HRT I can try that might be better...

Long Day

Someone slept well
Didn't have the best night's sleep last night, never do when you have to be up early!  Gave up and got up at 5.45am, had a shower which woke up the boys so we all got dressed, checked out, took the car to the long stay parking and then the bus to the terminals (very jolly bus driver, which we found unusual, normally the car park bus drivers are mega miserable!).

We checked in very easily, all the Jet2 desks were open and manned and there was no queue, in fact we were the only ones in the whole of check in which we found strange, but lovely.  Then to security, we had about a 2 minute wait, and we shot through, no being pulled over for stupid things like we did last time in Manchester (I got pulled over because I had a pack of cards in my bag, and Tom because he had a tractor in his bag!)

Ice cream time
We had breakfast in Wetherspoons (Matt got very excited because they had Stornoway Black Pudding buns) bought our lunch from Boots (Jet 2 don't provide any snacks even without a charge) and then headed to the gate ready for boarding, we left early and after an uneventful flight we arrived a good half an hour early, which would have been great, except obviously the baggage handlers weren't ready for us so we had to wait a good 40 mins for our bags to come out, and then one of ours arrived and the other didn't, meaning it took a good while before we got to the Jet2 desk and our transfer. 

So, we were expecting a coach transfer, but no, it was only us and an old lady who were going to Puerto de la Cruz so we were in a mini bus with a driver who was having a nap when we arrived - it was siesta time after all! Oh and it was hot, really hot when we came out of the terminal building.  We weren't expecting that as the weather forecast has not been great.  We shot up the motorway to Santa Cruz and then went a very lumpy bumpy way across the island to the North coast and to Puerto de la Cruz where we are staying.  We were a little nervous at doing a package holiday, so decided to choose a resort that is lesser known and chose the best hotel we could here.  The hotel is very quiet and full of old people.  Our room, however, is way bigger than we were expecting - and we have been able to rearrange our room so Tom actually has a little corner all to himself meaning we don't all have to go to bed at the same time.  We think the hotel is a little posh, as it stipulates that men should wear trousers at dinner time - luckily Matt brought some with him.  Our room is on the sea side (which we asked for) and looks out across the palms to the Atlantic Ocean.  After unpacking, we headed into the town to get a feel for it.  We found lots of restaurants, touristy shops, and walked along the sea wall.  It was windy and much cooler here than at the airport, so we stayed in our jeans and jumpers, but once out of the wind, it did actually warm up - we ended up stripping off and having an ice-cream before having a little play on the beach. 
The Atlantic Ocean

Tom made a friend on the beach - a boy from London who had never heard of Yorkshire or Leeds even?!  Anyway, apparently Tom was the first English boy he had come across so he was very excited and the two played together on the black sand beach for a good 30 mins or so.  Tom was dressed completely incorrectly with jeans, jumper etc.  He got soaked, but it was good fun for him.

View from our balcony
We then went in search of a supermarket where we could buy cold beer, and found one on the second attempt.  Phew, we returned to the room, had beer and some crisps and then went in search for the indoor pool in the hotel (one of the reasons we chose this hotel - it has an indoor pool in case the weather is bad).  Turns out it is part of the spa, costs €12 each for 2 hours and children aren't allowed!)  Oh hum, we will have to use the outdoor pool regardless, Tom is desperate for a swim.

Tom hits the wall
We had showers each and then headed for tea.  We managed to turn up at 7pm, which we thought was very late for us - the place was rammed.  It opened at 6.30 and I think most people were there at 6.30!    Most people were old, there were some children, but not many.  The buffet they put on was pretty full-on, there was food everywhere, of all different types and it was pretty hard to see what was on where.  Tom went down the pasta route (as he always tends to these days) and had pasta with a seafood sauce, lasagna and some salads.  I had cous cous salad whilst Matt went to fill his plate.  I then went back and got some paella, roast lamb and plenty of salad.  Matt went back and found some chorizo - ooooooooh.  Anyway, we all did well and probably ate way more than we should have done!  Tom hit a wall and requested we went back to the hotel room for bed so we did so.

It had been a very long day after all.

School Report

Tom got his mid year school report this week.  We didn't get to read it until we got to the hotel in Glasgow, but we were very happy when we did.  Everything was good, nothing unexpected and lots very very positive.  The lack of concentration / easy distraction thing came up AGAIN, but I think it will always be so.  She said he is full of knowledge that he likes to share, but he doesn't boast, which is lovely.  He's ahead of the game for Maths and Science and where he needs to be with reading and writing.  What more can we ask? We were very happy, so Tom got the pudding of his choice as a reward.


Slackliner at Malham Cove
If you were wondering why the blog has been a bit lax recently it is because I have been knocked out with what I think was the flu.  I've never said I've had the flu before, but this was something I've never experienced before and very nasty.  Started with hot and cold flushes and aching bones.  I spent a lot of time in the bath warming up and easing the aches.  I had no appetite until food was put in front of me and then I ate well.  I felt very very lethargic, all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball in bed, but of course, it was Tom's birthday and I had a lot of cakes to get out - typical.  The second week saw me coughing and coughing and coughing, proper horrible coughing where you use up all your energy, but nothing happens, I can see why young children and old adults get pneumonia as a complication.  Anyway, it was truly awful and took me out of circulation for 2 weeks.  Luckily I timed it so I was pretty much better by the time we flew to Tenerife - phew.

Anyway, a precise of what happened in those two weeks:

Fun day with the Mannings
The first Saturday I had a very very easy morning, whilst the boys went to Skipton for football with Caitlin and Rich.  They were gone quite a while and I was pleased to have the opportunity to just collapse and relax with no guilt.

The evening was spent round the Bickerstaffs babysitting Jack and Seth whilst Janine and Craig had a date together (something we had been arranging for months - the fact I wasn't 100% was not going to stop me!)  In the end they weren't very long (think they felt guilty me babysitting whilst ill, but the boys were absolutely fine and it really wasn't a hassle)

Sunday, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself.  Steph had been in touch and asked if we would like to go for a walk and have tea afterwards.  We jumped at the chance, they are a lovely family and we have always said we would like to see more of them (since this weekend, they have put in an offer for a house in Ingleton, so they will hopefully soon be almost neighbours which is great).  We met at Malham Tarn and did a walk down to the cove.  At the cove, some people had strung up a slack line and were walking across it (well trying too anyway).  We arrived exactly at the right time and spent quite a while watching them - there was a lot of falling off, but they were securely attached and bounced back fine.

Birthday lassi in Gargrave
We walked back up the hill to the Tarn and then went to their house in Stainforth for tea - a lovely rich lamb stew with beans, roast potatoes and veggies - very lovely too.  However, at this point, Tom who had been a bit off colour for the last couple of days, completely flagged, complaining of a sore throat.  Luckily Steph had some capol, so he got dosed up, but he didn't eat much which was a shame.

Anyway, it was a lovely day, with lovely company, and very nice to get out and about after being stuck inside for so long.

The following week was a bit mad.  Tom got worse, he cried on Monday morning when I asked him to open his mouth, so I took him to the Drs, fearing tonsillitis, but it was just a sore throat (phew!)  He had two days off school though which didn't help with a very busy cake week.  Luckily, Pat and Bob were about to come and help out.  They sat with Tom in the lounge and watched videos, whilst I caked in the kitchen.  It was a huge help, as otherwise I would have had to cake in the evening, and by 7pm I was pretty much exhausted, meaning I could collapse which was very much needed.

The birthday kids
Friday of course was a special day - Tom turned 8!  Wow!  A proper, proper age!!!!!  We got up an hour earlier than usual so he could open all his presents (thank you to everyone, he was very spoiled of course!) and then he scooted happily to school for the day.  In the evening we headed to Gargrave for an Indian at Bollywood Cottage (his choice), where we met up with Grannie and Grandpa with yet more presents.  He didn't cover himself in glory, pretty much didn't eat any food and didn't behave particularly well either!  He certainly wasn't himself which was evident in the fact he fell asleep almost immediately on the way home and went straight to bed on our arrival, meaning he didn't speak to anyone on the phone - sorry everyone!

The Yellow Submarine cake
Saturday, Tom didn't go to football, as we were worried he still wasn't 100% and with his party coming up on Sunday, didn't want to over exhaust him.  So we had a quiet morning.  I went up to have a chat with him, as he still wasn't a happy boy.  Turns out that he and Harrison had fallen out at school over something.  He cried and said they weren't speaking and he didn't like it.  I got on the phone to Susan, they were around so we walked down to see them (Harrison is the eldest of 4, so their house is always a little chaotic but full of fun, with Susan and Terry always very very welcoming)  Anyway, Harrison and Tom made up immediately, and were gone playing almost immediately.  The Wards were off to the zoo that day, they had one seat left in their car and offered it to Tom - Tom jumped at the chance, so off he went with the others for a lovely day out!  Matt and I were left to ourselves, so went to the pub for lunch and then I had a delivery to do at Billy Bobs near Skipton - a 2 tier rainbow solar system cake (not at all complicated?!) for a 5 year old!  We delivered it and then went to Keelham for a quick shop before returning home.  Tom had tea at the Wards so we went to The Old Post Office for a quickie before picking him up.  He ended up having a great day, all because he and Harrison fell out!

Sunday was Tom's joint birthday party with Caitlin.  He had asked me for a 1960s disco party so I booked a children's dance entertainer to do a 1960s portion with Tom and a more contemporary half for Caitlin.  Her communication skills weren't the best meaning I went into full panic mode when I couldn't get hold of her, but her party skills were absolutely amazing.   She did some great dances: one for Hey Hey We're the Monkees, one for Twist & Shout and another one, which I can't remember.  She also did party games, and brought proper presents for the children - Tom got a book about The Beatles and a piece of film from The Monkees with full certification etc - we weren't expecting any of that.  She played loads of 1960s music as well, all through lunch.  We did frankfurter hot dogs and crisps and pineapple and cheese on sticks - all of which went (calculation was 1.5 hot dogs per child and I think we had 1 left over which I snaffled down).
Tom and the Hubble telescope - thank you Martin

I did a yellow submarine birthday cake for Tom (lemon - his favourite at the moment) and a chocolate and cherry cake on the side just in case there wasn't enough - it was a full class party so almost 30 children, we came home with very little.  I, as usual didn't do party bags, but got everyone a pair of blue John Lennon specs which they got at lunchtime.  They went down very well, so much so that about 5 children turned up to school wearing them the next day!

Anyway, the kids seemed to enjoy themselves, and Elly the dance person was AMAZING, she had the kids hanging on every word.  I would have gladly paid her twice the rate she asked for, she definitely has oodles of that special something that gets kids attention.

We got home, unloaded and then Tom spent half an hour opening all his new presents.  He got loads of Lego, so he'll be busy for a while and loads and LOADS of money - wow, he has more than us at the moment, although we have encouraged him to put some into the bank.  Thank you to everyone, there are some very generous people out there.

Gourmet Weekend

Sleepy in Mold
Last time we saw Jude and Craig (just before Christmas) we arranged a meet up for January to sample the culinary delights of Mold.  They have had a couple of restaurants win awards etc and as Tom is a relatively good eater, thought they should introduce us to them.

So on Friday we picked Tom up straight from school and headed over to Mold.  We made good time and got there around 5.30 after no hold ups, which is ace considering we had to go through quite a few busy motorway junctions. We more or less headed straight out to their preferred Indian, Parivaar. They had some interesting dishes, I went for a fish curry which was delicious and everyone else was happy with theirs too.

We got home, put Tom to bed and had a whisky or two before retreating ourselves.

Craig and Tom getting into the spirit
Saturday morning we had a quiet time, headed into Mold to experience the market, I had a look around a sugar craft shop and the boys found a rather strange toy shop to browse.  After a lunch of homemade soup we headed to Loggerheads for a walk, where we did some cave exploration, before having tea and a bun in the cafe before heading home.

The evening saw us in El Tomate, a tapas restaurant, where we indulged in many many tapas - all very lovely.  We probably ate too much and drank too much, but hey if you can't enjoy yourself from time to time why bother?

Tom did get a bit tired in the restaurant so we headed home, put him to bed and indulged in a bit more alcohol and a roaring fire before retiring ourselves.

Atop Moel Famau
Sunday morning we thought we should do a proper walk so headed to Moel Famau - the tallest hill in the area.  It was a good slog up, but the views made it worth it and the weather wasn't too bad.

After a good lunch at the cafe at loggerheads, we headed home, tummies full and happy, souls lifted by the scenery.  Thanks Jude and Craig, what a great way to spend the weekend.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


Cold linguists
On Thursday night we got snow!!!!!  It had been forecasted so all week, so no surprise and very exciting.  We didn't have time to enjoy it after school on Friday as we were busy preparing for yet more guests - this time Andrew and Fabian - a translator friend of Matt's who headed over with his 10 year old son for a translator's walk Matt had organised for Saturday around Ribblehead.

I hadn't met either of them before, but Andrew was so laid back and easy to get on with that it really was no effort at all to converse with him.  Fabian and Tom hit it off instantly too!  As we were all getting to know each other Janine came over for a drink and before I knew it we had got through 2 bottles of mulled wine and it was getting quite late.  

Tom and Fabian slept in Tom's room, once again with little fuss - both of them being tired.  They chatted for about half an hour and then fell asleep.

Snow Angel
Saturday morning, football was cancelled, so Fabian and Tom headed over to the Community field and went sledging on the banks.  There was just about enough snow on it for it to work and they got up some good speeds.

12pm saw us at Ribblehead meeting up with 12 other translators for a walk around Ribblehead. The Dales was looking at its absolute best: deep blue sky and snow on the ground.  It wasn't windy at all which is really unusual.  The walk went well, although the snow meant that the boys were distracted 100% of the time, wanting to play in the snow rather than walk.  They did make it round, but there was a lot of extra steps taken, jumping in the snow etc etc.

Chapel-le-Dale church
In the end the front group had to speed up to make the afternoon train on time.  Fabian and Andrew were in the front group and Tom was at the back - having had a huff about cold feet (complaining about cold feet, but refusing to wear more warm socks - the usual young child not listening to sense thing that can be so frustrating!)  He then realised that he might not be able to say goodbye to Fabian and Andrew as they were so far ahead and the train imminent.  This meant that he had a toddler type tantrum for a good half hour.  He kept stopping to cry that he wouldn't be able to say goodbye to them.  No amount of explaining that the longer he stopped to cry, the less likely he would be to be able to say goodbye worked.  I ended up pretty much dragging him crying to the station and got there with about 30 seconds to spare before the train came!  Fabian said goodbye, but Tom was too far past it to be placated.  

Oh hum, we went to the pub to see everyone else and have a drink, then home, tea and early to bed.

Visit from Scotland

With Wallace and Gromit
So on Tuesday, before the children had even gone back to school, we got a message from Neil and Sharon up in Dollar all depressed about going back to work (they are both teachers) asking if they could come for a visit.  We weren't doing anything so we agreed, we always like having people to stay and didn't do much entertaining last year for obvious reasons.

Tom went to football training in the morning (very muddy it was too!) whilst they drove down - they got here for 12.30 so we got out all the left over Christmas food (mainly cheese) and had a deli lunch.    We then headed out to Oxenber Woods near Austwick for the short walk.  It wasn't a particularly nice day (low cloud, mist, fog etc) but the worse of the weather held off for the duration of the walk so we couldn't complain.  Meant the kids had a good run about and we all got plenty of fresh air.

The evening was spent having a beer or two.  The kids were actually quite tired (always the case at the start of school) meaning that bed time (all three sleep in Tom's room) got to sleep without any of the usual nonsense.

Gayle Beck
Sunday, the weather was still pretty bad, it was thick, thick fog in Ingleton.  After looking on some webcams, we decided that Hawes would the be best place to go (strange because it is higher up). We were right though, the clouds lifted as we went higher and higher.  Neil was very pleased because he really enjoyed his last visit to the cheese factory and was hoping to visit again.  We did the museum and were hoping to see some cheese making - but for the third time in a row we were unlucky!  Oh hum, the kids enjoyed the extra interactive displays though and everyone enjoyed the tasting room (again!)

We headed into Hawes for lunch and after a circuit of the village to try to stimulate an appetite we headed to Penny Garth cafe for a greasy spoon lunch.  Sharon went for the chip butty (my last lunch pre-op) and was completely flawed by it.  I was hoping to have another as a mental note of the end of my recovery, but to be honest, I know I can't eat it all and don't want to.

We said goodbye to the Blezards from Hawes as it made sense that they headed further North from Hawes.  We headed back home ourselves.