Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Dinosaurs and Remembrance

We had a busy weekend this weekend.  It all started on Saturday morning with football training down at the school field, whilst I went for a run (haven't done one for weeks due to illness or work)  I also tried to get the kitchen back to normal again - easier said than done as so much stuff got removed to make it bigger, cleaner and less cluttered.  When Tom got back, he got changed quickly and we set off to Manchester to meet up with some friends to see a dinosaur thingy near the Trafford Centre.

We stopped off for lunch on the way and then plunged into the Manchester motorways to get to the Trafford Centre.  OMG, it's not that close to Christmas, but it seemed as if the whole of the North West was trying to get to the Trafford Centre today.  We got horribly stuck in traffic, and were moving at 3 miles an hour for the last 3 miles - not great - just as well we left plenty of time just in case.  On arrival, we couldn't find any parking spaces, the place was rammed.  In the end Matt had to dump me and Tom so we could make our way to the exhibition (we had timed tickets) and he find somewhere to park.  He eventually left it on a grass verge on double yellow lines (along with everyone else!).  He made it to the venue in time - phew!  This was a meet up with Sara and Ian - friends of the Watsons, well now the Watsons aren't here we are having to meet up with their friends instead!  Their 6 year old Jessica, gets on really well with Tom.  They also have a 2 year old, James, who is a bundle of energy and, well a 2 year old, so into everything with no regard for anyone or anything including himself!

Squidging dinosaur poo!
Sara and James went off for the duration as James was too young.  We didn't really know what to expect - didn't really read up on it.  Something along the lines of some animatronics.  Ah ha, in a way I'm glad we didn't read up on it as it was better for not knowing.  Basically we were time travellers with the company Chronotex and entered their time travelling machine to go back 67 million years to Montana.  We took a armoured car across an expanse of land full of dinosaurs - a huge herd of Triceratops, some huge Alamosauruses, some naughty Dakotaraptars and others into their base.  There we were greeted in reception, got to look in their labs (we squidged dino poo), saw a beating heart, handled a T-rex tooth etc.  We saw a dinosaur autopsy (it died from bird flu - the Dr found a huge lump of snot in its nostrils), went to the hatchery where we saw some baby dinosaurs.   Then to some caged animals -  including a baby Triceratops being hand fed, where had the T-Rex hatchlings got to and what was the dinosaur in the wooden crate doing?  It almost got out!!!!!

DINOSAURS!
We then went to the top platform where there was a viewing room - we could see North, South, East and West.  There was plenty going on - dinosaurs were everywhere, there were fights, dinosaurs bashing trees down, dinosaurs being eaten.  Then an armoured car came with more guests, but it got stuck and set on fire and the crew had to go out to help them (they made it in one piece thankfully) but then some T-rexs came up to the building (apparently it was very unusual to see them here) they spotted us and started attacking so we all had to escape via the escape pods and the freight time-transporter.

It was all done really really well, the actors were great and the time flew.  We all really enjoyed it (except Jessica at the end who was worried about the crew left behind at the station and in tears.  In the end she had to have it explained to her that it was all fake!)  Very well done and very enjoyable.

We then met up with Sara and James and went for tea together in The Trafford Centre.  The place was still full, but we managed to find ourselves a table in a restaurant called Tampopo which served South-East Asian and Japanese food.

Oh - forgot to mention we collected dozens of bottles of homemade cider which Matt and Cameron made together quite a few years ago.  We had all forgotten about it, but when the Watsons emptied their house prior to their move to China they found them all and handed them over to Sara and Ian so they could give them to us.  Expect to be force fed cider when  you come to visit.  It's not that bad - so long as you like dry cider!

Not a bad turn out for a small village - all impeccably behaved as well.

Nice and solemn, our boy did good!
Sunday morning saw us at church.  It was the Rememberance Day Service and Tom was in the wreath party.  It takes place at St Mary's Church in Ingleton - it seemed as if the whole village was crammed in the church - must be their busiest day of the year.  All the usual people were there (it is always the same families that take part in village life, whether it be school, scouts, football etc).  All the children were impeccably behaved.  Tom did his bit with the wreath (stood with a scout who laid a wreath on behalf of all the scouts).  It was a beautiful day but freezing cold, but no-one complained - the children dressed in scouting uniform didn't wear coats - we are tough up north don't you know!

Scalebar Force





Once finished, we headed home, got changed into more comfortable gear and headed out.  Tom had a birthday party at Settle pool, so Matt and I went to Watershed Mill for lunch.  We then went for a short walk to Scalebar Force.  This is on the Malham road, by the Highland Cows, we have driven past it many times not realising it was there.  A fantastic waterfalls, definitely need to go back to play in it during the summer.  We then went on a Highland Cow hunt and were rewarded by 4 who came over to see us.
MOO!

Then back home and tea.  Matt and Tom then went up towards Ribblehead to do some star gazing with a local expert.  A fun packed weekend I think you'll agree!

Lily Pad Open House

Friday was my annual Open House for Lily Pad Bakery at Christmas.  It is always A LOT of work to get this together, frantically making fudge, gingerbread houses, chocolate goodies so I have tasters available and also desperately trying to think up new ideas to keep people interested.  It isn't easy and sometimes I do wonder why I bother, but something from within drives me along and makes me do it.

Tea Cosies & rudolphs
Friday morning I was up at 6am to set up.  Something happens when setting up - time flies - that's what happens!  In a blink of an eye it was 9am and I was open (and only just ready)  how does it take sooooo long to set up?  No-one arrived.  I began to panic, Matt was back from the school run, no-one turned up!  Oh my word, was all this work for nothing?  Eventually there was a knock on the door and people turned up - phew!

Gingerbread area
Last year the after school rush was mad - I think 16 people turned up, this time it was more like 8, but it meant I got to speak to all of them.  The orders weren't that great though.  In fact, non of my previous big spenders turned up this year which was disappointing.  However, there was a steady flow, I think I had about 4x10 minute periods where I was alone and that was it, whilst last year I had bigger periods with no visitors.  It was almost as if everyone knew when everyone else was visiting and they formed an orderly queue.  I had some new visitors - including our neighbours across the road (they are normally in Australia this time of year), some new contacts I've made at school and some friends of friends.  I made 3 big cakes: Coconut Cake, Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake and Lemon Cake.  Most of it went, so I judged that just right (although I was giving out big slices)  I took £79.30 for Cancer Research.
Fudge area

I was a little disheartened though as so many people didn't make it, however, at 5pm Mrs Colledge turned up.  She was in a spending mood and went mad.  She bought tea cosies and plenty of sweet treats.  In fact she is now my biggest spender ever.  As she said I made Christmas easy for her - loads bought without moving from the village.  At the same time Luca's mum turned up.  She was in a spending mood as well and with Mrs College ordering left right and centre, she did too.  Phew, in the end the event was worth it but only through my last two orders. 

Chocolate area
So next year - yes I should do it, but I need to encourage more people to come.  I put posters up all over the village this year and they didn't bring in one customer.  Maybe put an advert in the local newsletter?  Flyers up and down Back Gate, in Meadow Close, Manor Close?  Problem is that people are reticent to come and walk in to a house they don't know.  I don't know how to get round that?  I advertised until I was blue in the face on Social Media, but if you don't follow me or like my page you still wouldn't know.

Cakes for Cancer Research
Hum, also next year I need to re-open on the Saturday morning everything is out anyway so it is no bother and it gives full-time workers the opportunity to come as well as those who want to come without their children.  We will see.

Anyway I took over £500 of orders on the day and expect more to come through via a price list I will create and send out next week.  Need to push the fudge, I hardly sold any and the fridge is full of the stuff.  Gingerbread people were the most popular, dread to think how many I will be making this year...

Hest Bank and Carlisle

We had a quiet weekend at home this week and we needed it!  Both Matt and I have been struggling with lack of sleep (we both keep waking up for apparently no reason) and we have both been bogged down with our London cold, meaning we are not anywhere near 100% and needed some down time.  Also, Matt was out with the lads on Thursday night and hungover all Friday and I was out with the girlies on Friday night and therefore hungover all day Saturday.  Will we ever learn - well apparently not, but we both enjoyed our nights out so it was worth it!

Monument to the cockle pickers
Saturday morning was football - of course.  Luckily this week it was a home game against Grassington so we didn't have to get up mega early!  Unfortunately the boys didn't play well and lost all their games.  Not sure exactly what went wrong, they are all good players, but they didn't play well as a team.  As soon as they started to loose, they went backwards and gave up.  Oh hum.  Tom came home, had a shower and we headed out to Archer's Cafe for lunch.  It was as good as always.  We then decided to walk over to Hest Bank for afternoon tea and a bun.  We had it in our minds that it was a decent walk, but actually it only took about 30 minutes.  When we got there, we discovered it was closed - the owners are on holiday.  We stayed and watched some trains and then we headed back to the car, had a quick shop in Aldi and then headed home, early night for all of us - think we were in bed by 9.30!
Morecambe from across the bay

Pen-y-Ghent in the sunshine
Sunday dawned a glorious day, not a cloud in the sky.  However, we still weren't in A1 condition and instead of going for a lovely long walk, we decided to go for a train ride and headed off on the Settle - Carlisle train to Carlisle.  It was a glorious ride in the sunshine - Mum & Dad you really should give it a go one time when you visit.  On arrival we headed straight to one of our favourite restaurants: Eaten by Monsters for some grub.

Then a spot of shopping together, Matt and Tom then went back to the station early for some transporting whilst I did some much needed jeans and sock shopping before arriving back just in time for departure (I'm not longer required to stand on cold station platforms trainspotting with the boys - thankfully!)

We got home, had a 'cupboard' tea and all went to bed relatively early again.  Busy week next week!

Back Home for a Weekend

A fun activity
Saturday morning was spent, as usual, on the pitch at Ingleton School with Tom football training.   We had lunch at Bernies and then headed to Kendal dry ski slope for Charlie's tubing party.  Always a fun activity.  Tom's been there before for a party but that was 2 years ago - he's much stronger now and kept going like a train, running up the slope with his tube to get in as many runs as possible.  I think it is fair to say they worked hard and played hard.  A good time was had by all.

Caterpillar tubes

In the sunshine
Sunday dawned lovely and bright.  We decided it was high time for a walk - to blow away all the remaining London yuck in our systems.  Matt had found a track we haven't yet done near Horton, so we headed up a dead end and found a parking space.  It wasn't an easy walk to find and do but with GPS we managed it and found ourselves on part of a walk we had done before.  It was a pretty walk - part of the 3 peaks (we think).  Some very old bridges, streams that disappeared into no-where, tracks and off road tramping.

Pen-y-ghent looking stunning
It was a little longer than we expected at almost 5 miles, but it was good and the weather good and it wasn't too cold.  We all managed it in good spirits.  We stopped off at a tea room in Horton we hadn't tried before, Blind Beck.  Was an interesting place, run by a Grannie and her grand-daughter, serving 'stuff' on toast for very reasonable prices.  Matt had cheese on toast, Tom spaghetti on toast and I had beans on toast.  We also bought some homemade jam and biscuits, we all had drinks and it came to little over £10.

We then headed home and had a quiet rest of the day, in preparation for school again tomorrow, why do the holidays always rush past so quickly?

London

So on Tuesday we headed to Lancaster, dumped the car in its usual spot and got the train to London.  Very exciting this time as we were staying in an Air BnB with Granma and Pop Pop.  We had a non eventful trip down, and found the Air BnB with no bother - located between Kensal Green and Kensal Rise - a pretty convenient part of London for the centre.

We did have trouble getting into the house, when finally the lock opened we were very greeted with the cleanest house I have ever been in.  It was your usual mid terrace London brick house but very very techie - it had an Amazon Alexa in nearly every room, special light switches that we couldn't get to work and posh appliances in the kitchen.  In short it was very comfortable - even though if you moved at night time, night lights would suddenly turn on - took it all a bit too far!

Mum and Dad arrived not too long after us, Tom and I went to the bus stop to collect them and then we left them unpacking whilst we went to explore the high street.  This part of town didn't seem to be run by one ethnic group, meaning there was quite a selection of eateries: Lebanese, Moroccan, Indian, Italian, English etc.  There was also a Tesco Express, so we stocked up on bread, beer, wine and crisps - all the important stuff.
Cheers!
The evening saw us revisiting the high street and having tea out at the Moroccan - where we had meze, which was very very lovely.  We were on a holiday high and ordered pretty much everything on the menu as well as posh cocktails etc.  We expected to get a huge bill at the end and were very surprised to be presented with one for £80 - we still don't know how that worked?!  Anyway it was a good night out.

Beautiful sunshine on Hampstead Heath
Wednesday, Granma and Pop Pop had a morning with Tom and took him to the Transport Museum - which is heaven for both Tom and Pop Pop.  I think they would have happily spent the whole day there, but we had other plans.  We had arranged to meet up with Michael - he was supposed to come up to see us in Yorkshire in September but was unable to travel (he has cancer so isn't 100% at the best of times!), we needed to make sure he was ok, so we arranged to meet up for lunch and then do something in the afternoon.  As it was such a lovely day, we headed to Hampstead Heath and went for a little walk.  Michael had Marcus for half term - first time we had seen him in years.  Although he is 11 and started high school, there didn't seem to be a huge difference in stature or maturity between him and Tom, so they got on well.  Michael was also on good form, it was really sunny (we were in T-shirts) and the view from the heath was amazing so it was a good evening.

We then headed home, Mum and Dad weren't too far behind us, having been to the V&A for the afternoon.  We were all tired from being in the city for the day, so decided to stay in and got a Chinese take-away for tea - which saved any faffing.  Was really good, Tom was on it and put away loads!

Beer tasting
Thursday, day of the Lion King.  We hadn't planned anything for the morning, as a result we all had a much needed lie in and late breakfast.  We weren't sure what to do for the morning and ended up splitting up.  We took Tom for a trip on trains, buses etc whilst Mum and Dad did some walking.  We went to the Tokyo Diner (a memory lane thing) for lunch - a small plate of sushi and other bits to put us on.  We then headed to the Lyceum Theatre where we met Mum and Dad and went in to the theatre.  We were pleased with our seats, we got a good view of the proceedings.

Family, mussels and beer
The show was as good as I had hoped.  The costumes (especially the animals) we amazing, we were transported into the African savannah and immersed in song and dance.  Tom was entranced, I was entranced, Matt, Mum and Dad were too.  It was mega expensive but it was very much worth it.  Tom is still talking about it quite a bit now - 3 weeks later.  It was over all too quickly, I would have happily stayed and watched it again!

After the show, we headed to Belgos on Kingsway (another old haunt) where we had a table booked and we enjoyed an evening of beer and mussels (except Matt who had chicken).  Anyway a good night was had.  Shame the bus ride home took FOREVER, not sure why, but it was triple the time it took in the daytime.  Oh, almost forgot to say we 'bumped' into a Bibby's of Ingleton coach on Kingsway!!!!

View from The Shard
Friday, Mum and Dad headed off first as they had a morning train back home.  We packed up our bags, put them in storage at Euston, had brunch in a diner there and then headed to Borough Market for a look around before heading to The Shard where we had booked tickets to go to the top.  It was a beautiful beautiful day - clear blue skies and no smog so we could see for miles and miles - the only thing stopping us was the resolution of our own eyes.  We could quite clearly see Wembly, Harrow on the Hill etc.

The Thames bent around us, we looked down on absolutely everything, it all looks a little wierd from so high up.  Anyway we took our time, but we didn't have the traditional glass of Prosecco - think it cost £11 a glass!!!!!!!

On our return down we headed to Borough Market for cake and a drink before heading back to Euston.  Bad news, on our arrival to Euston, all the departure boards had destination Watford Junction on them.  What about other destinations?  Oh, there had been an incident earlier in the day and there were many delays and cancellations - oh joy!!!!!!!  Luckily Matt has a train app on his phone which was keeping him more up-to-date than the Virgin Staff at Euston meaning he was able to work out which platform the next train up North was going from.  We headed there, with another 10 or so people in the know and boarded our delayed train.  It was surprisingly empty considering the number of people waiting in the station which makes me think they didn't advertise it's existence very well.  Anyway, we had seats.  The journey wasn't particularly quick, we were stuck outside Preston for 20 minutes, and we crawled along some bits.  In the end we got home 1hr 20mins late, it could have been much worse and we were assured that we would get a full refund, so I guess we can't complain too much.

It had been a good mini break, but the first thing we had to do was shower off all the London grime.  Both me and Matt had picked something up and were beginning to feel crap...

Autumn Light Festival & Alice

Half term - yipppeeeeeeeeee.  Rain, rain, rain not so great!  Half term started with a bang with a new village event: Autumn Light Festival which had been organised by one of the mums at the school.  It was held at the icentre and included live music and The Post Office Bar, what's not to like.  Well, the rain mainly.  It didn't drizzle, it chucked it down!  There was supposed to be a lantern parade around the village which the children were doing, but all the lanterns were melting in the rain, in the end they paraded into an old classroom at the icentre where judges looked at what was left of them!  Oh hum, the Batala band carried on and did a performance in the pouring rain and the good folk of Ingleton all turned out in their full waterproofs to take part.

The PTA had a soft drinks and crisps stall in a marquee outside which didn't get used, we bought loads thinking it was the whole village, but no-one knew where we were and anyway everyone was crowding in the old gym to be out of the rain.  The Old Post Office were there and did very very very good business.

Anyway, it was a good night, Tom was playing with his friends, the music was good, everyone was there, so it was a good social event.

Sunday - now neither of us can remember what we did on Sunday, which probably means not much.  Maybe it was raining so we watched the Lion King again in readiness for London?  Whatever it was, we didn't take any photos!

Monday - Tom and I were invited round Alice's for the afternoon.  We spent the morning doing chores, sorting the house out etc, had lunch and then we headed over.  Tom went and played with Charlie and Harry - and they did so without incident for the whole afternoon - not once did someone come up to 'tell' on someone else, no crying, no whinging, no nothing.  Wow!  Alice and I had a great catch up, something that is normally impossible with kids around.

Scotland

View from the top of the hill
Saturday started off with football training in the miserable rain on the school fields.  A quick shower and we were on the way to Scotland to visit the Blezard's.  As is usual with our (my) visits to Scotland the sun came out as soon as we crossed the border and stayed with us.  We had lunch in Moffat at our usual - we are so boring and then headed on to Dollar where we found Sharon and Neil without the kids - they were off playing with their friends.

Neil and some local water!
As it was such a gorgeous day, Neil and Matt decided to go and climb the big hill behind their house whilst Sharon, Tom and I went into the school grounds looking for Lewis so Tom could play.  Tom was a little reticent to start with, wanting to stay with me but as soon as he saw Lewis he was off.  Sharon and I sat on a bench in the sunshine and gently tanned.

Once it was clear that Tom and Lewis were quite happy and Lewis responsible enough to make sure Tom was safe we headed back to their house for some wine and snacks whilst we waited for Matt and Neil to return (they had been drinking whisky at the top - of all things!)  There was a good smell in the house - lamb stew and mash potatoes was on the menu, very good it was too - we always get good nosh at their house.  We were on cheese duty - Matt had been up to Wensleydale earlier in the week so we spent the evening chatting and nibbling - there wasn't much left when we went to bed!

Sunday, Rory had football so he and Neil went off whilst we went for a walk around the low hills of Dollar.  We went further than we expected, and ended up doing a full loop of the area taking in Castle Campbell and the rivers and waterfalls.  Infact it was a bit like a mini Ingleton waterfalls trail but with a castle and free - bonus!

When we got back, we met up with Neil and Rory and then headed to a local milk bar for lunch together before heading home.  Another fun and sunny weekend in Scotland!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Good day at school

So Tom came home very excited yesterday.  He has been voted in as Kids' Committee representative for his class and he had gone up a level in Olympic maths.  Not a bad day!

Football and Steam Engines

Tom and Oscar
A quiet weekend after last week!  Saturday, Tom had a football match at home.  I had to stay at home to hand over some cakes, but I got to see the end of it and he didn't look completely lost and even managed some tackles which was good.  They won.

We headed over to Settle for lunch and to see the progress on Pat and Bob's house - big square of concrete in their driveway and some pipes in their garage.  We had lunch in the Folly which was good.  We then did a 4 mile walk from Settle up the hills through a forest and back down again. It was a grey day and it tried to rain on a number of occasions, but we stayed dry (just).

Tom and Harrison
Sunday was a horrible, wet and grey day.  We decided to use our raffle prize from last week - we won a return trip on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.  The ticket was for up to 3 children so we took Harrison with us who is currently Tom's best friend.


Enjoying the trains

We got there early and found a whole load of owls on the platform, we got to hold and stroke them.  One, called cuddles, decided I looked a great target and whilst 'cuddling' with me, pooed on me big time.  Just as well I was wearing a waterproof jacket!  Tom got to hold Oscar, a massive owl.  We had lunch in the restaurant which was very very good and then got the train to Lakeside and back.

As it was raining, we returned home shortly after, Harrison and Tom played together until tea time when I took Harrison home.

The best way to use a wet Sunday.

Big Family Fun Day and Camp Out

Friday night kids
Finally it came, against the wishes of the PTA who were mostly against it (for no more reason other than it was something new?!) we ran the first ever Big Family Fun Day and Camp Out at Meadow Falls.  To say it was stressful on the lead up would be an understatement.  I had been fighting the PTA with it for 3 years, this time they couldn't say no as it was off the school grounds.  At the meeting prior to it, the 'old PTA' pretty much all put up their hands and said they wouldn't help - oh joy - whatever happened to pulling together for the sake of the kids?!

Despite the fighting, Liz and I ploughed on.  We were let down by various people with things and spent the week prior to it on the phone doing lots of smart talking to convince people to lend us bits and pieces FOC or at very reduced rates.  We got there!

Friday dawned sunny so Matt and I headed over and put up our tent (it was a bit misshapen - oops!).  Friday evening 3 other families joined us.  The kids (all boys) played football until it was too dark and then we went in the family room for a picture quiz and take away (adults and Tom on curry and all other kids on pizza!)  Saturday dawned beautiful.  We had been praying all week for decent weather (i.e. not raining) as it had rained a lot in recent days.  We were very very lucky.  It clouded over but it didn't rain.

Flo and Evie with marshmallows
Of course, to add to stress levels, Tom had football and I had a wedding cake to deliver - oh joy.  So, once we were awake, we headed back to the house, had breakfast.  Matt and Tom went to football whilst I went back to the campsite and helped set up: we had managed to get hold of 2 marquees and three gazebos in case of inclement weather, once they were up we had to haul tables over and work out how it would all go together.  Then I had to rush back to the house as a lady was dropping by to pick up a cake and then I went to Barbon to deliver the wedding cake (when I got there, they said they weren't expecting me?!  I mean really????!!!!).

A bucket of children
I got back, just as the campers were arriving and was put on the door to direct them to their pitches and handout wrist bands to day guests etc.  I was removed from the event for the first couple of hours as a result, but when I gave up on anyone else arriving, I headed into the site and was very pleasantly surprised, people were having a good time and there was a really good vibe going on.  I was pretty stressed, so took a while to relax, especially as I was disappointed about the lack of day guests, but once I had a drink or two (we had a bar on site) I relaxed and enjoyed it.

Jo rocking the glow stick glasses look
So, we had a Bouncy Castle, Fire Engine and Crew from the local station, Cave Rescue Land Rover, Jill from Run, Bike Fun did a free hour's session for kids on bikes, we had sports: Football pitch and cricket pitch, we had scouts doing den building and a crafting area.  We also had face painting.  Then a band who did a set at 3.30 and again at 7pm. A BBQ was going from 1pm till 8pm as was the bar.  We also had a raffle of family experiences and a huge hamper full of goodies to win.  The whole thing was organised by just me and Liz and then Dave helped in the last week.  The kids had a brilliant time, a lot of playing in a huge safe place whilst the parents relaxed.  What could be better?  Our vision worked, yes it was very middle class but what is wrong with that - they have the most disposable income!  Anyway, we received lots of positive feedback and demands to organise the event again for next year, so we were quite chuffed with ourselves.  

Hatrick doing their thing - they were ace
Of course the chair of the PTA still had reason to lay in to me on Monday morning (even though she got her daughter in to the event free of charge - no thanks, no nothing, just a list of things I did wrong, which were ridiculous!), she caught me unawares, I didn't have the fight in me and came home and had a cry!  There is only so much petty nonsense you can put up with. 

I soon cheered up when we added up the total - we raised £1,236.80 which was more than either the Xmas or Summer Fairs last year - which had the help of all the teachers and where parents had to donate stuff.  If that isn't proof that the event was a success, then I don't know what is?!  We met up with the Holmans after school and went down the pub to celebrate a job well done!  Very pleased it went well, very pleased it was over.

Aylesbury

The cousins
This weekend we headed to Aylesbury for the weekend - it was our turn to visit them.  Also they got Mum and Dad over so we were all together - first time since our failed attempt of a family gathering in Shropshire when Tom ended up in hospital!

The journey wasn't too bad, we got there before 9pm and had a unexpected but lovely meal in Norton Canes services at Leon, who thought the Midlands was cultured?!

Mum and Dad headed to their hotel shortly after we arrived.  The kids went to bed pretty well considering and get this, we were given Simon and Clare's bed??!!!!  We were not expecting that, but were very happy to take it and we slept well as a result.

Cliveden


Disciplining the boy
Saturday we went to Cliveden for the day.  We had been before, but a long time ago (way before Tom anyway!).  It was a good day out, we had children running around, Mum and Dad dawdling and us somewhere between the two.  We all had a good time, and a fantastic lunch in the orangery (although I had to have Matt's as the macaroni cheese he ordered had mushrooms in it!).  We returned to Aylesbury where Jake and Tom played Minecraft (dull as doorknobs - this weekend has cemented that we are NOT getting a playstation or whatever it is he plays it on) and S and C cooked.  We had a very pleasant tea of pork stew.

All of us in one place and looking at the camera - well done us!
Sunday we went blackberrying around the lanes of Fairford Leys, who would have thought it?!  It was quite pleasant and the blackberries very plentiful, we all managed to get quite a few.  We were then treated to a full roast dinner and crumble before we headed home.

All in all not a bad weekend, was nice to all be together.  Think I put on half a stone though!

Skipton

The weather since we got back from Malaysia has been terrible - it has rained EVERY DAY and it is constantly grey!  YUCK!!!!

Cows checking each other out!
We didn't really know what to do with ourselves at the weekend, The Andersons were supposed to be visiting for the weekend, but Michael is too sick at the moment to come so far so we were at a loose end.  Football hasn't started yet, so we headed to Skipton for the day.  Instead of just going to Keelham, which is what we normally do, we headed into the town for a mooch round (I had some caking stuff I needed to buy).  Matt did a quick check of Trip Advisor reviews and suggested we had lunch at The Cake-Ole.  Wow!  What a place.  Very eclectic decor and really good food at very good prices.  We were bowled over, can't believe we hadn't found it before!  Matt had the most amazing treacle tart (he's been hunting for one since The Sun stopped making them in Dent).  We all left with very happy bellies.

Moo!
We came home via the high road, hoping to see some hairy fellows, but it wasn't to be.  We stopped by the farm instead and said hello to some.  Tom had brought Mullan with us specially, the 'real' cows were quite perplexed by him!

The evening was spent with the Bickerstaff, they headed over for a Malaysian evening, so we made curry, Tom Yam soup and made some flags and animals to decorate the kitchen so we could show them what we had been up to.  It was a fun evening.

Sunday was an easy day, think we may have been a little hungover as is normally the case when we meet with the Bickerstaffs.  Thinking is we went out for a big lunch and then stayed in and watched The Lion King in the afternoon (Tom only cried the once which was a good result!).

Last few days before school

Year 4!
So Monday and Tuesday were spent in and around the village, getting over our not too bad jet lag.  We bumped into the Ward's on Monday and ended up going down to the river to throw stones with them for the morning.  Tuesday was spent at Caroline's house hanging around whilst the boys played.  Nothing earth shattering, but a nice way to spend a couple of days - especially for Tom who has been starved of children to play with for 3 weeks!

Wednesday saw Tom back at school.  I was sad to say goodbye to him, we had become good mates over the summer.  Now we are bracing ourselves for the onslaught of school and after school clubs!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Day 17: KL and Home

Well the hotel was very very quiet considering it was right next door to the airport.  I was very surprised.  However, the sheets were noisy and they kept us awake.  We got up at 8, re-packed and then headed in the buggy to the airport for breakfast.  We didn't find much, just a pastry, but then we were wanting a proper lunch so that was ok.

Nasi Lemak
Nasi Bojari
As the airport has a viewing area, we thought we would have a look - Matt wanted to take some cool pics of flights landing and taking off with his new long lens, but the runways were a long way away, meaning you couldn't take a good photo or even see them that well.  Oh well, we headed into KL on the Ekspres train and then on to KLCC on the LRT to do some shopping.  First stop Isetan, to buy some mochi, a couple of t-shirts for Tom including a very smart Ducati one which was very reasonably priced.  Matt, having got burnt all through the holiday whenever he went swimming, bought himself a sun shirt which is what most of the men around here wear in the pool - a UV shirt made of swimsuit sort of material which stops you getting burnt in the pool.  Oh well, if we come to a hot country again he'll be sorted, although I'm not sure many Brits would want to wear one, poor Matt needs it though.

After that we headed to the restaurant floor and went to Madame Kwan's for a very lovely Malaysian last supper.  I had Nasi Lemak (the national dish of Malaysia) and Matt had Nasi Bojari, another favourite.  It was very delicious and a great ending to the holiday.  Oh and if you are wondering, Nasi Lemak: coconut rice, chicken curry, dried shrimp floss, hard boiled egg, a nice onion thing with those weird caramelised tiny fish in it, and a little pot of pickles.

Getting wet in the fountains
Wet boy!
With our bellies happy, we headed to the Sony shop and Matt almost bought another camera lens but faltered at the last hurdle.  We said hello and goodbye to the KLCC fountains (Tom got purposefully soaked in them) and then we headed to the Central Market, where we did some more shopping - this time souvenir shopping.  We didn't spend as much money as we thought this holiday, the food in particular was way cheaper than we were expecting, meaning that we ended up paying for the Rasa Ria in Ringgits and still had more than enough left over.  We could have bought up all of Central Market, but in the end we figured that we probably wouldn't use most of it, the clothes are great for Malaysia but not for Ingleton and our house is full of nick knacks as it is!

We had a sit down and a juice and decided to call it a day.  We headed back to the station and got the trains and buggy back to the hotel.

Swimming pool with a view?!
Then a lovely swim, jacuzzi and sauna before getting changed into fresh clothes and headed to the airport.  We checked in and then went to our lounge - wow!  It was lovely, hot food was made to order, we had a great view of the airplanes taking off for Tom.  How very relaxing.  Then to the airplane and a wonderful business class flight with flat beds.  It is going to be soooooooo hard to fly economy again I tell you, just the ability to lie down flat makes the flights so so so much better.  We were almost sorry when we arrived and although we didn't sleep for long, we didn't feel like we've been on a long haul flight.

We headed to the business class lounge and booked ourselves in for a shower.  Then found some nice comfy chairs to while away the wait...



Saturday, 2 September 2017

Day 16: Rasa Ria to KL

Blue rice for breakfast!
So today was a travel day.  Not much to report I'm afraid.  We got up and had breakfast, shock and horror we got to the restaurant to find huge long queues, a lot of people arrived yesterday (pretty much all Chinese) and the restaurant couldn't cope.  We have always just walked in previously, today we probably had to wait a good 20 minutes before we got a seat.

My heart wasn't in for 'eating like a pig', so I took it a bit easier today, as did the other two, however, Matt still managed to work his way through some interesting food including blue rice?!  Tom had to go and get some too!

Last dip in the lovely pool


The boys then went down for a swim (Tom swam, Matt dangled his legs) whilst I finished the packing (forgot the toothbrush charger - oops!).   We then got a Grab taxi to the airport - really lovely chatty man.  The airport was brand new and huge.  No queues anywhere which meant it was a nice, pleasant experience.  Flight was pretty uneventful - almost zero leg room - Matt had trouble fitting in the seats and he isn't exactly tall.  Tom fell asleep (too many late nights).  We got to KL around 5pm and walked into our hotel (we are staying at the airport), checked in, went for a swim and then got the rather groovy electric buggy back to the airport terminal to find some tea, we went to the Malay food section full of airport workers, and very cheap - 3 meals and drinks came less to one meal at the RR, and it was freshly cooked and delicious.
Mt. Kinabalu from K.K. Airport

We then came back to the hotel, had to remind them to sort out Tom's bed again, had showers and got ready for bed.

Day 15: Rasa Ria

Jumping
So, another good night's sleep, followed by another amazing breakfast buffet.  The menu had changed from yesterday - but still the very wide array of dishes.  Think both me and Matt managed 4 courses each today, whilst Tom was carb loading and only managed 2!

After a lie down so our bodies could start digesting breakfast, we headed to the pool for a swim, this time wearing T-shirts as we all got a little burnt yesterday and rather than have burnt skin for the flight home we all decided to wear a T-shirt in the pool to help cover us up.  It's the thing to do here - once again we have the full range of beach wear going on here, from the full burkini to the skimpiest of bikinis.  Although there are a lot less burikins and a lot more skimpy bikinis going on here (still yet to see a member of staff in a headscarf here - very disappointing, obvious discrimination going on!)

Me falling off the slide!
After a good play, Tom and I went off to get some body boards to play in the sea whilst Matt headed back to the hotel for a bath, lie-down and me time.  The waves were a little bit better today, so Tom managed to ride quite a few waves and I even managed to get some myself.  We got back to the hotel room and had showers, put on normal clothes and headed back down to the pool to get our ice-cream lunch (it is as much as we can manage after breakfast).  Then we headed down to the Nature Interpretation Centre as Tom had his Nature Ranger experience.  He was the only one down for it, but he didn't mind and went off happily with Derron, his guide, once he had been properly dressed in a Nature Ranger Polo Shirt and Baseball cap - very smart.

Matt and I were a little at a loss, we couldn't really go back to our room - it hadn't been cleaned yet.  We tried to get a mocktail from the bar but it wasn't open yet, so we ended up in the very lovely lobby drinking a can of pop each whilst reading our books.  Not, I guess the best use of an hour's free time, but it was all we could think to do and it was hot, hot, hot.

Boy in slide
We went to collect Tom after the hour was up and had to wait, we figured he was having a good time - if they were late back.  When he got back, he was put through a quiz of the different animals of Borneo and did really really well.   I was impressed, he got more right than I did!  He was very hot and sweaty but I think he was happy and enjoyed his time.  When we asked him what he learnt, he couldn't remember anything, but as the day wore on all these facts about the animals of Borneo kept appearing.  He had learnt a lot without realising - the best way!

We took his trunks down with us and he happily got changed and jumped into the pool, it had been a hot, hot afternoon for him in the rain forest.  He then spent the next hour mainly underwater in the pool looning around.

Ranger Tom
Then, back to the room for down time, beer and crisps before getting ourselves ready for a nocturnal jungle walk.  Out came the long trousers, boots, socks etc in an attempt to not get bitten.  Tom demanded some table tennis before hand so we headed to the games room and sweated in the hot humid atmosphere of it (it is always hot and humid in the games room area) before heading back to the Nature Interpretation Area for the night hike.  We were having a good time, we were each given torches to shine around, hoping to see the reflection from an animal's eyes.  We found a scorpion, a lizard, 2 tiny frogs, a poisonous centipede and...then...a screaming boy!  He had got stung by a bee (the bee's sting was still in his hand - the ranger pulled it out!).  So that was that, we got taken to the medical centre and had to pay for a nurse to check him over and give him some medicine (anti histamine and calamine lotion).  The ranger did say to go back so she could finish the walk, but by the time we were finished it was almost 8pm and we hadn't eaten.  Tom was tired and said he wanted food, we couldn't argue, so we knocked the night walk on the head and went to the Indian again at Tom's request for curry.  Tom bolted his down in no time at all and perked up so I guess he was pretty hungry!

Very tired boy!
Once done, we got back to the room and Tom went to bed straight away, whilst we headed for the balcony.  What a rubbish way to end our stay here.  Hopefully Tom's enduring memory will be of the good things rather than the bad.  Maybe we should have ended our trip in Sandakan, as that is where all the good stuff happened.

Anyway, we think 2 full days in a resort like this is probably just about right for us, I have a feeling we would start going stir crazy if we were booked in for any longer as you can't get out of the resort, we are sort of prisoners here.  So, just the little task of packing, getting to the airport and flying to KL tomorrow.  Then a day in KL shopping before heading home.