Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Boys' Train Day

Today was one of our occasional boys’ train days, with Grandpa being included in the boys this time. The three of us drove to Lancaster in the car, where we bought Cumbria Round Robin tickets, which basically allow you to do a lap of Cumbria within 1 day.
The main reason for our itinerary was that Northern Rail will soon be retiring their Class 37s from passenger duties on the Cumbrian Coast line, so this may be the last time we are able to do this.

video
Our train arrived in Lancaster bang on time, pulled by "Mary Queen of Scots", which appears to be a regular performer on these trains - we seem to see it often. We chugged off round the coast, stopping at towns where we sometimes visit for nice food (Carnforth, Arnside, Grange etc.), before arriving in beautiful Barrow.
Fortunately, the schedule meant that we only needed to spend 7 minutes in Barrow (plenty long enough) before we headed north up the coast on our next train, this time pulled by an identical-looking locomotive called Stephen Middlemore. This leg is the long part of the journey, although very pleasant in terms of scenery, so Tom got his favourite toy (his IQ puzzle) out of his bag and amused himself for a long time. The weather wasn't all that sunny, but we still had nice views of the sea on one side and the Lake District mountains on the other. Plus, the old carriages they use on these trains are very comfortable, so the journey passed in a very pleasant manner. No catering on these trains, though, so we all brought packed lunches, which we opened on the dot of 12.30 and demolished in no time.
Tom, Grandpa and Mary Queen of Scots at Barrow
Before we knew it, we rolled into Carlisle, where we spent about an hour watching trains on the main line, before catching a Virgin Pendolino back to Lancaster. Interesting that the outward journey took exactly 4 hours, but the return journey less than 50 minutes.
We then drove home for tea with Mummy.
All in all, a very pleasant day. The trains all ran to time, the weather was OK-ish, and everyone behaved themselves.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Forbidden Corner

Today we had arranged to have one of Tom's friends' Luca for the day.  Luca is a year older than Tom but in the same class at school in the afternoon.  The two have always got on and have become good friends this year being in the same class. They have the same disposition and both like sports - although Luca is mega good at sports (he is the youngest person to ever complete the 3 peaks challenge which he did at 7!)

Lovely people
Anyway, his Grandma dropped him off at 11 and we headed over to Hawes for lunch in the greasy spoon (they both ordered burgers which were MASSIVE) and neither could finish.  We then headed over to The Forbidden Corner.  Now this is a place we have been meaning to visit for ages.  It is a strange place in that there is very little info about it, and you have to book in advance, meaning you can't just rock up.  We know people who have been there and have enjoyed it, but couldn't really find much out about it.

We had tickets for 2pm and got there just before then.  We arrived, were given a leaflet with things to spot and were told to go and find them.  Very strange.  I was expecting to walk around the grounds of an Estate and to find follies here and there.  Oh no, basically some mad person has created this most amazing garden.  It isn't big, but they have packed lots into it.  First of all you enter the garden through this tower in the shape of a mouth.  As you walk through, it burbs at you and the epiglottis wiggles.  Next thing we saw was a fountain of a little boy with his willy out.  As you walk past, he sprinkles you!  Oh, I see this garden has a sense of humour...



Under the giant dog
We saw a turret in the corner of the garden, so headed over to it to get a view.  (Oh have I mentioned that Luca and Tom were running everywhere - so we were having to run with them as the whole garden was a maze of paths)  We got to the top and enjoyed the view.  We then saw a staircase going down.  We decided to go down it.  We thought it would deposit us back at the foot of the turret.  Oh no!  We went down, and down, and down, and down.  The narrow winding staircase turned into a wide staircase covered in red carpet.  We then found ourselves in a maze of passageways.  Oh, the guy who developed this really was a joker.  We found a passageway of humans through the ages (starting at neanderthal man and ending with a man in a spacesuit), there were false doors, doors with skeletons behind them.  Rotating floors, fountains, a mouse hole that Tom and Luca could fit though with no problem but that Matt and I had to squeeze through (and many adults who couldn't!).  It was amazing.  Think Famous Five secret passages and x 100.  There was also a more formal maze which Luca and Tom raced through with me and Matt at full pelt behind them - living in fear of loosing them (once you loose them here you will never find them again!)  The theme seemed to be macabre, but that didn't worry the boys.  We found a mouse pub, serpents, coffins full of dead things (quite realistic), loads of things.  Oh and water was a big feature - there were waterfalls, fountains, random jets everywhere.  Tom normally would avoid these, but with Luca around, he was braver, and the two ended up soaked and laughing!  Poor Matt spent the day stuffing his camera down his coat to keep it dry!  Note to selves, next time we go, take my camera!!!!

It was unlike anywhere I have ever been before, but great fun.  Unfortunately after we had been there an hour and a half, Tom started crying, complaining of a sharp pain and clutching his heart.  We thought he had a stitch from all the running, so sat down for a rest, but it didn't seem to work and he was quite miserable.  He didn't run again and wanted to leave.  Luca, being the lovely boy that he is, didn't complain and looked after him - he didn't run either, showing compassion for Tom.  Even after a good 40 minutes and an ice cream, Tom was still very miserable and still clutching his heart, so we gave up and drove back home.
End of a smashing day

Once back at home, Tom was better but still holding himself, so we put a ban on football.  Not a problem, the boys made a huge den in the bathroom.  They had tea, and then we spent a while playing hide and seek until Luca's Grandma came to pick him up (his Mum is a teacher in Lancashire and is back at work).

A great day out, shame about Tom's injury.  We think that he must have sprained a muscle somehow, or he had the longest stitch in history.  He went to sleep without any trouble and woke up in the morning feeling 100% - phew, but a rubbish way to end a good day out!!!!

I definitely want to go back, but think we should give it a couple of years so we forget where all the secret passages are - think they were building more as well.

Blackpool

Sunday we had a quiet morning, a much needed lie in and catching up on housework.  We had lunch at home and then packed the car and headed to Blackpool - this time we went a new way, through the countryside which was better than the other route but still very slow.  We decided to drive down the full length of Blackpool Prom for a laugh and saw some interesting accommodation which gave us the shudders.  Luckily the Travelodge we were booked into looked OK and the staff were welcoming.  We checked in early and then went for a walk down to the South Pier.  It was typical Blackpool weather, cold, breezy and rainy!  Yuck.  We took shelter in the pier and spent a pleasant hour loosing 2ps on the 2p shove.

Debbie and her cake
Needing a drink we decided to head over to the reasonably looking Velvet Coaster pub across the road.  We were very pleased.  It was a Wetherspoons, and a big Wetherspoons.  The two bottom floors were typical Blackpool Wetherspoons: noisy, sticky carpets, busy etc, but then we went up another floor.  Most of that floor was outdoors and therefore deserted, but the bouncer told us there was an indoor bar.  We found it and found it to be empty, quiet and staffed by charming people.  We settled down.  We were just going to have a drink, but we were comfy, we had a good view of the prom and the weather coming in and decided to wait out the rain and have tea.  This we did and had a pleasant tea.

We walked back to the hotel to find the Milburns just parked up in the car park, so we said our hellos and left them to get settled and order their tea.  We joined them just as Debbie, Adam and Luke arrived.  They had been to a christening and Debbie was pissed! It was her birthday, so really she was allowed.   She is a funny drunk so added to the atmosphere.  We had a fab night, much drink, chatter and cheer - oh, and chocolate cake - many unsubtle hints had come my way regarding a birthday cake, but as it is too difficult to do a proper cake during the holidays (especially holidays as busy as these) I did a simple chocolate cake.  I think it was appreciated.

The Pleasure Beach from The Tower
Anyway, as usual we all slipped into our usual roles.  Everyone in the group is easy company, no airs no graces, no undercurrents, just old pals catching up and having a laugh.  The husbands and children all get on as well as Angela and Raymond (Lou's Mum and Dad who were there too - the Milburns were returning home from a holiday in Islay) Great tonic for the soul.  This holiday is turning out to be brilliant.


On the glass floor
Monday, we all woke and got up around the same time and met over breakfast.  We then met to walk up the Prom to the Blackpool Tower: 12 of us with two doggies.  We all had vouchers to go up the tower (thanks Tesco).  We had a number of photos taken with green backgrounds (didn't work as Matt was wearing a green coat so he looked see-through for most of them!) Next stop was a 4d cinema where we got sprayed a number of times with water.  Tom actually kept his 3d specs on for the whole presentation - a first (he doesn't normally like 3d cinema) and then the lift to the top.  Oh, I forgot to say, today was a nice day: no wind and I mean NONE, not even a slight breeze and some sunshine.  We spent quite a while up the tower.  We couldn't see Ingleborough - it was hidden behind some foothills which was a shame as I wanted to point it out to Lou & Co.  We couldn't see the Isle of Man either - so I guess it was a bit hazy.  Oh hum, it was interesting looking down on everything.  We eventually got the lift down and relieved Raymond who was waiting patiently for us on the Prom with the two doggies.

Tom the Pirate
We had lunch at the Wetherspoons and then hit the Central Pier and the amusements.  We had a great time on the amusements, once again on the 2p shove machines, but on the Central Pier you get tokens as well on the machines and then these are traded in for some tacky prizes.  Well, something happened, and we all went a bit nuts on the machines.  Not sure how much we spent - about £5, and we managed to win 354 tickets which was pretty good work.  Tom traded it in for a rather good Pirate mask, a light up bouncy ball, some clockwork teeth and sweeties. A good haul.  We went for a walk down the rest of the pier and had a drink in the bar.  We then told Tom he could have a go on one of the fairground rides on the pier.  He chose the dodgems.  Good choice.  He wanted me to go with him.  Fantastic.  Such fun.  I haven't been on the dodgems for years and it was brilliant.  Tom was in the driving seat and I helped him out - I kept getting told off "Mummy I'm doing the driving!" as I took over when we got rammed, but on the whole he was a good driver - and enjoyed ramming the other people on the circuit.  I think we have ourselves a boy racer!

We walked back to the hotel, freshened up and then headed round the corner to one of the best chippies in Blackpool: C-Fresh.  It was too.  Luckily it was empty when we arrived, so they could accommodate the 12 of us easily.  We had a warm welcome and they cooked everything to order in no time at all.  Cheap too.  Fantastic.  It was Matt who found it (everything like that always falls to us as the others dilly dally and can't make a decision) - a great find, think we will go there again during future trips.  I do love a Blackpool fish and chip supper - it's the bread and butter that does it for me - can't beat a chip butty with your fish and chips.  Everyone seemed happy with their food which was good.

We then walked along the prom back to the hotel.  The sun was setting with a flourish so Matt and I stayed to watch it set.

The Gang: Jacob, Tim Debbie, Me, Tom, Angela, Laura, Lou, Adam and Luke (just missing Raymond and the doggies)
We returned to the hotel and had a quick drink before heading to bed.  Not quite the same atmosphere as the night before - think we were all tired.

Dodgy driving

Tuesday, once again we all met up for breakfast.  We then said our goodbyes to the Milburns as they had a long drive back home.  Was really good to see them all.  Can't get over Jacob and Laura (now 14 and 13) both are now taller than Lou and Jacob almost taller than Tim.  Jacob has a deep voice which really threw me when he spoke for the first time.  Being that they are now at the 'awkward' teenager stage they were remarkably sociable.  Laura happily talked to anyone about anything, Jacob was harder, but only because it is hard to find common ground with a 14 year old boy.  He's a nice guy and the two get on very well for brother and sister (although Laura confirmed that that's not the case at school - Jacob ignores her like any teenage brother would - good to know some things don't change!)

Skating practice
Once they were on their way, the rest of us headed to the prom - oh, must mention, it was a gorgeous day in Blackpool - deep blue sky and warm with no wind.  Tom had his roller skates with him (what better place to try them out) and we headed to the South Pier.  It took a while, Tom was a bit nervous to start with, but with encouragement from us all, he started to 'get' it and once we got to the Pier (we bribed him with the prize of doughnuts) he suddenly began skating properly - i.e. gliding.  Definite progress.

Debbie, Adam and Luke said their goodbyes to us at the pier as they were going Pokemon spotting.  We had donuts and a drink at the pier and headed back.  This time Tom moved quicker than our walking pace.  We got back to the hotel in no time at all.  By jove he's got it.  We got the car and then headed to a retail park for a spot of shopping before heading home.

It was a really good break, thanks everyone, I think everyone had a good time.  We really must do it more often, as everyone gets on so well.  Wish the Milburns didn't live soooooooo far away!

Holidays

Poetry in motion
Wednesday we had a slow morning whilst the car was having its breaks fixed.  Then in the afternoon we went shopping to Kirkby Lonsdale as we were having the Mannings over for tea - they moved into the village from Stainforth last week, and we thought it would be nice to have them over for tea to give them an Ingleton welcome.  I got a big gammon out of the freezer to try to give us some more space.  Once all the preparations were made, Tom and I went over to the community field with some games including Frisbee which Tom is addicted to at the moment (he will happily play Frisbee for 8 hours given the chance).  Steph, Sierra and Jack caught up with us and joined in until Steph threw a ball at Sierra which hit her in the head, from which she didn't recover.  We returned and they played in the house whilst I made dinner.

Eyes on the prize
Apparently when Jack first had Gammon he called it Horrible Gammon because he thought he wouldn't like it.  On trying it he decided it was ace, but the name stuck!  It has now stuck with us - so we all had horrible gammon and loved it.  In fact Jack's face lite up when we told him we were having horrible gammon for tea.  Unfortunately John had to work late, so missed tea.  Well he missed it when we had it - I had to heat it up for him to eat whilst we had pudding.  Jack is only 4 so we couldn't wait much longer.

Anyway, once the kids had food in them, they all cheered up (they had been quite grumpy) - doing too much in the holidays as usual.  John also cheered up (he was a little bit grumpy having had to work late) so they ended up staying late (ish) and we had quite a good evening.  Will be good having them as neighbours - very easy to get on with.




In Barbon Woods
Thursday, I didn't have any plans but thought we should do the Ingleton Easter Egg hunt.  I put out an invitation for friends on FB, and was offered Annabel for the morning.  Tom was pleased, so we went to pick her up.  They both 'got' the Egg hunt immediately and I spent the morning chasing them around the village whilst they found all the letters.  We ended up in Inglesport for tea and a bun whilst we worked out the word they had to find.  We returned the forms to Seasons and then Annabel decided to stay for some Frisbeeing.  She then had lunch with us and then we got some paints out (she's really good at art) and then they were outside playing football, sorting stones etc.  Before we knew it, it was 4.30!  Thought maybe we should take her back, as we had only borrowed her for an hour!!!!!!!   Was a good day, Annabel is such fun.

BEHIND a bar for once
Good Friday, we decided to go for a walk and ended up visiting the Magic Chocolate Tree in Barbon (it was making Easter Eggs today which was very seasonal!)  It didn't take us long, we always think it is going to be a longer walk than it is as we first took Tom when he was 3 and it took him ages.  In fact the first time he did it, he only did it one way and Matt had to run back to the car to collect us from the pub as he was unable to walk back!  We decided to head to Sedbergh for lunch and were very glad we did - we found a great cafe, Three Hares, which sells home-made food.  They had a huge selection of wonderful homemade cakes, so we had soup and a cake: homemade jam doughnut for me which was just wonderful.

Ingleborough from Warton Crag
We then headed back to Ingleton for an afternoon film before Matt headed out for his stint behind the bar for Sheaf Stock.  We followed an hour and a half later for our tea (burgers).  I didn't think we would stay long, but Gemma and Sarah (from school) turned up and asked Tom if he wanted to play, he did and spent a good hour or so playing hide and seek in the pub garden with them.  I hung out at the bar chatting up a certain good looking bar man and somehow ended up sampling all 4 of the ciders on offer.  I pretty much staggered home!  A good evening.


Up Warton Crag
Saturday morning, I was a little hung over!  Matt suggested we head over to Warton Crag for a walk.  As it isn't strenuous, I agreed and we had a pleasant walk to the top.  Good views are to be had over Morecambe Bay - it was pretty clear.  The place is riddled with paths, so we decided to head down following our noses.  We did go a little off track, but it was a very pleasant walk - lots of trees, moss, walks, big rocks, blue bells, orchids and I'm sure I spotted a Gruffalo at one point!  We found our car and noticed we had parked next door to Old School Brewery (the beers Matt was serving last night), unfortunately they were closed, otherwise I have a feeling quite a few would have been purchased! We headed off to Archers for lunch which was as good as always.  We then hung around by the coast to do some Kite Flying.  After a few duff goes, we got it up - think the key is to make sure it has a long thread.  It is a stunt kite and very quick to react to any tug, so we still have a bit of a learning curve to go through until we work out how to do the tricks, in the mean time, it did hit the deck lots of times... On our return to Ingleton, we stopped off at Cowan Bridge for the Duck Race, which was very local and quite cute.  We didn't win, but we had fun watching it.
Cowan Bridge duck race

After tea, we decided to head back to Sheaf Stock for a quick pint.  When we got there, we found loads of people we knew there.  Tom headed off to play football with some of the boys and somehow, we spent a good 3 hours there chatting to various people.  Was a good night, but I kept off the cider this time.

Now one of the things we really like about Tom's school is the way they encourage intermingling between the years.  Tom knows everyone at the school and will happily play with anyone regardless of what year they are in.  At Sheaf Stock we didn't encounter anyone from Tom's school year, but it didn't matter, he was playing with children from years above him and below him and was more than content.  Thank you Ingleton Primary School for teaching the kids to be inclusive regardless of which class they are in.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Leeds

Cocktail time
We had a quiet Sunday night, on Monday we packed our bags and got a train to Leeds.  We stayed at Quebecs Hotel again (our city pad), so we dumped our bag and then walked to Fazenda - the Brazilian BBQ which was every much as wonderful as it was last time - super yummy.  We over ate (of course) but were careful not to have any carbs or alcohol so we could enjoy as much of it as possible.  Once we were defeated we paid our bill and then headed out for some shopping.  I went to Bravissimo to get 3 more bras as my weight seems to have stabilised and my bras are all too big at the moment.  We had a quick look around the Lego shop, and then headed back to the hotel for a quick rest before the evening.

As we were checking in, I mentioned a bar called The Alchemist which is a favourite with quite a few of our friends. The receptionist gave us a token for it - buy one, get one free.  Excellent.  We decided to head there before going to the cinema.  Wow!  What a place, the poshest cocktail place I have ever been too.  We managed to get seats at the bar so watched the bar tenders making the cocktails which was fun.  The menu was quite ambiguous, meaning we didn't really know what we were ordering.  The first one was really good, a raspberry topping with minty chocolate underneath - very drinkable.  My second one looked spectacular - it was a fiery red colour and bubbling.  Didn't taste as good as the first one but looked fab. Matt had a very girlie screwball!

video
Next stop was the Everyman cinema, we quickly settled into our sofas and cushions and watched Going In Style, which was a cheery, silly but quite watchable film.  Perfect when you have 2 rather strong cocktails in you - I didn't fall asleep so it must have been good!

After the cinema we headed to Bundobust for a quick Bundo Chat (the yummiest Indian concoction I have ever had) and some beer.  We then found another craft beer bar (Tapped) to hang out at before returning to the hotel.  We fell into bed, very happy.

Tuesday morning we thought we would have a posh breakfast and went to a cafe we found yesterday which served a good looking breakfast.  It was shut - it didn't open until 10am?  Very strange for somewhere that serves breakfast?!  We ended up in Bagel Nash for a bagel.  Then a little more shopping, I finally got a new handbag and we got a travel book for Malaysia (where we are thinking of going to in August)

We then got the train back, ready for Tom being dropped off after his day out to Morecambe with Pat and Bob.

Such a great break - we felt we had been away for a long weekend, when it wasn't even 24 hours!  Great for the soul.

Sunny Weekend

Craven Wanderer
So, it is the holidays - yahooooooo!

Saturday it dawned lovely and sunny, hot sunny!  Tom had a football tournament in Grassington, and he and Matt gave Caitlin and Rich a lift so I was left at home.  I had to wait in for a parcel though - as Tom was expecting his roller skates to arrive (bought with an Amazon voucher from his birthday, £5 from us instead of an Easter egg and pocket money) and we had already missed it once this week.  It was a pain as it was so lovely outside, but he would have been distraught to miss out again - especially as we weren't going to be in on Monday which would have meant they would have been sent back to the sender!  Anyway, they arrived around 11am, so I took the advantage of some free time to go for a run.  I have got slower since all the illnesses, but am working on getting back my speed - the heat today didn't help though.

First go at rollerskating
Tom and Matt arrived home and Tom was delighted with his roller skates, he put them straight on and was quite surprised that he couldn't skate naturally.  Anyway, he had a go in the garden and managed to stumble from one side to the other, and only fell over a couple of times, with no crying!




As it was such a lovely and sunny day, we decided we should go for a walk.  Matt suggested Kingsdale, a dale that is so close to home, but which we don't really know at all.  Matt looked up a walk and we headed out.  OMG - can't believe we haven't been there before!  It was a gorgeous walk, right in the heart of the Dales, only 5 minutes drive away.  We found the cheese press stones which are famous and saw some really lovely scenery and all pretty much to ourselves in the heat of the sun.  What could be better?  We really wanted to have a barbecue to finish off the day but we had already booked a table at La Tavernetta which re-opened that day to new owners, but using the same pizza dough.  Unfortunately the pizza menu had completely changed, meaning no more wonderful Italian sausage, but the dough was good and the service very nice, we will be back.
Ingleborough and the Cheese Press Stones

Sunday morning we headed over to Meadow Falls to see Annabel and Owen who were going to help Tom with his roller skating.  Liz emptied their family room which has a nice level and smooth concrete floor.  Annabel and Owen and Liz were brilliant helping Tom, and before too long, he was trying to skate without clinging on to me.  A certain improvement.

The boys conquer Kingsdale
We said our goodbyes at lunchtime and headed over to Bernie's for lunch.

In the afternoon we headed over to Settle to drop Tom off as he was staying with his Grannie and Grandpa for two nights, while we headed off to Leeds for 24 hours of eating and drinking.

We have a Cub!

Dib dib dib
On Tuesday Tom was invested as a Cub.  We didn't know it, no-one told us, but some of the helpers were anxiously awaiting us to arrive as we were late?!  Luckily, we always arrive early for pick up so we can see some of what they get up to AND luckily it was both of us picking up this time, and even more so that Matt had his camera with him - he was hoping to get some moody twilight photos.  So, here is a pic of Tom being invested.  Parents no longer need to help out (hurrah) and he does an extra half hour.  He's enjoying being with the older children again.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Train Spotting

Flying Scotsman at Settle
Friday - today the Settle to Carlisle line re-opened.  In celebration, the Flying Scotsman did a return trip and the return leg through Settle was in time for Tom once out of school, so we headed there and joined the other train nuts on the platform to watch it go through. It wasn't exactly hurtling along, but it was a fine sight.

On Saturday, Tom had no football for once - woo hoo!  We decided to take advantage of the train line reopening and headed to Carlisle.  Once there, Tom and Matt watched trains whilst I went shopping.  We then met up at a rather nice restaurant, The Last Zebra for lunch.  Two huge kebabs for me with sweet potato chips, and lobster macaroni cheese, scampi, belly pork lollipops, garlic bread and sweet potato chips for the boys, plus a pint of Brewdog Zeitgeist (£5.50!) for Matt.
Tom with Mary Queen Of Scots


With full and happy bellies we went to do a little more shopping (Tom spent the rest of his book vouchers on some Zoe's Rescue Zoo books - he has the full set now) before returning home.

Sunday dawned a pleasant day so we headed out for the day.  We ended up climbing Farleton Knott, or as we call it Mt Fuji.  It looks a steep climb from the base, but it wasn't that bad and we got a good view from the top.  We ended up doing a circular walk, down a gully and along to a canal back to the car - almost 4 miles in the end.

Atop Farleton Knott
We then went to the nearby fishery tea rooms where we had a very cheap and very nice lunch (Matt made them add up the bill twice as he couldn't believe it was so cheap - great range of cakes too!)  We then headed home, after which Tom did a few dozen laps of the pump track on his bike before coming home for tea.

Goose hunt for books

Saturday
Going for goal
Tom had football training in the morning and then we headed into Lancaster for lunch.  The idea was to have lunch at the Lancaster Brewery, but when we got there we found out that they don't do food any more because another restaurant recently opened up and took all their custom.  We headed over to it and had a very average lunch - think a brewery one would have been much nicer.

Oh hum.  We then headed into Lancaster to Waterstones so Tom could spend his book vouchers.  He was after some Zoe Rescue Zoo books - but when we got there, the only ones they had were ones he already had.  They were able to tell us that the Waterstones in Kendal did have a bigger range, so after checking at WH Smiths (they didn't have any) we got on the motorway and headed to Kendal where he managed to get two, including one he really really wanted.  Phew!

We actually had a free dinner on Saturday evening - we won a meal-for-two voucher from the Marton Arms at the Ingleton pantomime, and decided to redeem it. They were kind enough not to charge us for Tom's tea either, so even better value! We stopped at Meadow Falls on the way home, to "say hello" to the Holmans as we were passing. Surprise surprise, we were there a good 2 hours, drinking and chatting. They're not the sort of people you have a quick chat with - it's always a good long chat, generally furnished with booze. I think we got home after 10.00pm.
The tomahawk



Sunday
Today was Mother's Day and I saw the day in with a new bottle of gin - Rhubarb and Ginger Gin Liqueur, yummy.  I was very happy.  We had booked a table at Miller & Carter in Parbold in honour of Pat - she likes her steak and Parbold is more or less half way between Chester and us, which meant we met up with Jude (Craig was in Tenerife on his bike using up holidays).

Leeds - Liverpool Canal at Parbold

Unfortunately Pat wasn't well and didn't make lunch, so it was just the three of us, Jude and Bob.  We would have toasted Pat, but as she doesn't drink, it didn't seem right.  Oh well, the restaurant was mega busy and service very slow, but when we got our food it was very very good.  Matt and I shared a Tomahawk rib and it was very very good.

Luckily the restaurant is on top of a hill surrounded by lots of walks, so after lunch we went for a walk to try to digest our mammoth lunch.  We found a path by the side of a canal so walk along in the sunshine before returning home.






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

Wallop!
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.

Man of the match!
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.

How cute were they?!
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!!!!!!!!!!

Lemon Meringue Pie
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 ridiculous...it 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.