Friday, 21 October 2016

Football Tournament

Medal winner Tom!
On Thursday we took Tom to an after school football tournament at Settle.  There were 8 teams made up of year 3 and 4 players.  They were split into 2 groups so played 3 matches each and then there were play offs for each position.

Tom's team did really well - they won each match easily in the group stages, and then had to play the winners of the other group to see who won over all.  Unfortunately the winners of the other group were Settle, and we knew they were good (they thrashed us last week during a friendly).  However, after a good talking to by one of the Craven coaches, they played really really well.  It was an equal match, so much so that it went into golden goal time.

Unfortunately Settle scored - it was a cracking goal, one that couldn't be saved, so Ingleton came second overall, but they all played so hard that we were proud of them all.  They got given silver medals and were pretty excited about the whole thing.

The Ingleton teams
We went to Pat and Bob's afterwards for tea and to warm up - we were freezing.  In fact, when we got home we were still cold, so cracked open a mulled wine - it worked, although it meant we were good for nothing for the rest of the day!

Podding & Walking

Night sky over Meadow Falls
We have been looking forward to Friday night for a while as we were due to go podding - sleepover night in the Pods at Meadow Falls campsite - the campsite run by the Holman's (their daughter, Annabel is in Tom's class).  It didn't start well as Tom was sick in bed on Wednesday, meaning he had to take Thursday and Friday off.   Luckily he wasn't ill with it - I think he drank too much water in the swimming pool!  Anyway, he wasn't quite himself on Thursday - mainly because he was missing school and feeling sorry for himself, but he was fine on Friday and went on a trainspotting adventure with Matt for the day.

I stayed behind, finished off some cake stuff and then packed for our night of podding.  You would think we were going away for a week, the amount of stuff we had, but I guess when you have to include bedding etc, it is always bulky.

The girlies
We arrived at the campsite first, (well we didn't need to pick Tom up from school) and got settled in the pod - they provide a futon, fridge, kettle, curtains and heater and there are electric points, meaning that really it is very comfortable.  Once sorted, Tom hooked up with Annabel and Owen (her older brother) and they were gone playing.  About an hour later everyone else turned up (The Ellershaws, Cronshaws and Dawsons), that was it - all the children were playing, so the adults went to the Holman's very comfortable cabin and cracked open the fizz, wine, beer etc.   It was a very very sociable night.

Lovely clear evening
Children eating on the deck
The kids played and played and played until their tea was ready (hot dogs followed by smores) and then went off playing again whilst we had our tea (curry, chilli, rice, jacket potatoes followed by banoffee pie) All the food was amazing and I ate for England - more than I have ate since before the op.  Once we had finished up, the smaller children were getting tired, so we headed down to the pods, lit a fire pit  and drank and continued eating whilst the smaller children went to bed and the older ones continued playing (they were mining and finding fossils by torchlight!).

Autumn colours in Barbon
Unfortunately at this point my tummy went into overdrive!  I felt more and more unwell, until in the end I went to the toilet block to try to do something about it.  Nothing happened, but I knew I was going to be ill, so I went back to the fire pit and told Matt about my predicament.  We decided it would be better for me to go home than to stay, so I headed back.  I didn't make it in time and ended up leaving a little present just outside Rob's yard!  Oh well, better out than in.  I think it was a case of too much rich food: the curry was full of cream, the banoffee pie full of caramel and it overloaded my system which is used to lots of veggies and small amounts of protein!  Oh well, I got home and had a very restless night tossing and turning in bed.

Matt and Tom, however, had a great night in the pod, the kids slept until 8am, had breakfast and then packed up and came home.  Tom then, of course, had Craven Wanderers.  Considering he was down on sleep he did really really well.  We didn't have much planned for the rest of the day, assuming we would all be down on sleep, so stayed in and watched a video.  Tom, of course, didn't show any signs of tiredness, however, both Matt and I were glad of a quiet afternoon.

Anyway, excepting my tummy we had a ball, we have all agreed to do it again when it is warmer - but pay next time - Liz provided everything free of charge.

With the Bickerstaffs
Sunday, we didn't have much planned.  The morning was foul: grey and rainy so Tom and I sat down to do a Cauliflower Card design.  Believe it or not we managed it without too much stress and it looked ok - a result as doing craft with Tom normally ends with me loosing patience with him!  After lunch in Country Harvest (yes we are middle aged!) we headed out to Barbon Beck with the Bickerstaffs for the walk past the magic chocolate tree back to Barbon village - a pint in the pub and back again.  It was a lovely afternoon, the kids were all good, it was nice to spend some time with them all.  Seth immediately concluded that it was Matt that loaded the magic chocolate tree with chocolate (he's the youngest of the three!), Tom and Jack didn't think about it, they were just happy to get some chocolate.    Anyway, it was a lovely autumn walk in the woods with lovely people.

Last Class

Tom did really well at swimming this week.  Although he is not at the top of his class by any stretch of the imagination, Jill decided to put him up a class!  This now means his swimming lesson is 7.45 to 8.15 and it is the last class she teaches, so he is in with 11 year olds!

On asking why she put him up, she said that he is a good listener???!!!!!!!  First time ANY teacher has said that to us!!!!!!!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Match Day & Sculptures

Craven Wanderers Under 8s
Tom under a chrome-plated camel's pelvis
So Tom had his first football match for Craven on Saturday.  The under 8s have some storming players which means that Tom wasn't playing for the first team to start with - which was a good thing as it meant he was with his buddies in the second team playing against Embsay.  We didn't keep score for some reason, but they all played really well and we think they won.  Tom got to play in the first team against Skipton Reds for the second half and did really well.  All in all a good team performance.  Caitlin got man of the match - well deserved, she's only just started and she had a steel look of determination in her eyes and got stuck in.

Once Tom was back and showered, we went to Silverdale for the afternoon.  We had a rather nice lunch in The Royal Pub and then headed to the RSPB place for a walk and to spot some birds.  They did a children's trail about the Bearded Tit, which Tom happily completed.  We went to some hides and watched birds.  Neither of us know much about birds, but we did see some white Egrets, ducks, swans, herons, some Bearded Tits and many more.  It was a lovely afternoon.

A giant sad-looking clown
Sunday we headed to Wakefield to go to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for the Yorkshire Translators meet up.  It was a big old place and quite interesting, although I don't understand art on the whole.  Even with reading the plaques explaining the art, I still didn't 'get' most of them!  Not a problem, nearly everyone else was the same and by the end we were talking in good 'art speak' trying to explain what we were seeing.  It was a scenic park, the weather was good and company good too.   Our favourite sculpture was that of Kaws - a giant who was hunched up and looking very sad.  I think he had been naughty and was feeling remorseful.  We all wanted to give him a big hug and make him happy again.

We finished quite early, so decided to head into Bradford for curry at The Kashmir - as good and cheap as always.  Then home and bed.

Beavers Camp

Beavers and guardians
Saturday was a very exciting day.  BEAVERS SLEEP OVER!

First though was football training!  Tom did very very very well with his training today.  He was put in the second team and really really shone - we were so proud: he tackled, he attacked, he passed, fantastic team work.

Interesting head gear at the Folk Weekend
We brought him home, showered him and then delivered him to the park to meet up with the Beavers for their sleep over.  This was a 23 hour camp, lots of games in the morning which Tom missed, then navigation walk in the afternoon, camp fire & dinner in the evening, followed by a film and then sleeping in tents in the scout hut for the night.

Matt and I were on walking duty.  I can't say I was looking forward to it as I'm not great with other people's children, so I was very surprised to really enjoy myself.  The sleepover was with the Settle Beavers Colony as well.  The Ingleton and Settle Beavers got on really well, as if they were already best friends and the children were fun and interesting to be with.  The afternoon flew by.  We didn't actually walk far, the children had to navigate their way around the village which they did fine.  We ended up in the village square where there were a number of Morris Dancing Troops doing their stuff (it was Folk Weekend in the village) so we stopped and watched them for a while.
Returning Beaver

We were relieved of our duties when we got back to the scout hut and I was quite sorry to say goodbye, as I was enjoying myself.  Tom wasn't bothered to see us go though.  He was right in his element.

The deal was that we could leave them in the scout hut, but had to remain nearby just in case we were needed, so although Matt and I had an evening to ourselves, we had to stay in the village.  We ended up doing a pub crawl as it was Folk Weekend.  We started off with burgers and a couple of pints in the Marton Arms and then walked back to the village, had a round in the Wheatsheaf with the Bickerstaffs and then a night cap in The Old Post Office.

Sunday morning, we headed down to the scout hut for 9am pickup.  Everyone was buzzing, they had had a great time (apparently all asleep by 11pm).  Tom chose to sleep in a tent with a Beaver from Settle and a boy from Bentham - very proud that he didn't cling to people he knew.  He was a very happy bunny.

Beautiful morning at Ribblehead
Now, we didn't plan much for Sunday as we figured Tom would be tired.  It was a lovely day so in the morning we headed up to Ribblehead and did the Ribblehead walk.  We then had lunch in Inglesport. Matt then headed out on his bike, whilst Tom and I stayed at home and watched a film.  We didn't need to have a quiet day, Tom was fine, didn't show any signs of tiredness at all!  In fact he came home much cheerier than he's been for a while.  It was nice to have the old happy Tom back, we had been missing him.

Train Weekend

An immaculate Class 40 at Bury
We were supposed to be meeting up with friends from Telford on Saturday, but it got cancelled at the last minute.  This meant that Tom could go to Craven Wanderers practice which he was happy about. It is much better this year because Finn, Matthew, Fred and Caitlin are doing it this year.  I guess someone has to be the path layer with theses things.  After a soak to get the mud off we had lunch at Bernies and then a quiet afternoon. The Ellershaws had lent us a copy of Zootropolis, which we watched while slumped on the sofas. It was a good film, with a lot of nice touches - especially the sloths.

Tom and a Class 37 (his favourite) at Bury Bolton Street.

On Sunday, Tom, Grandpa and I headed down to the East Lancashire Railway for their annual diesel gala. They were running a very frequent service, with all the trains being pulled by vintage diesel locomotives, including some that had been polished to within an inch of their lives - they looked magnificent. We parked at Rawtenstall and caught the first train of the day down to Bury Bolton Street, the main station on the line, where there was plenty going on and plenty of stalls where one could spend one's hard earned pocket money. Tom spent a whole £20 on an OO gauge Stobart Rail low loader, to add to his ever increasing collection of Stobart vehicles. None of us realised, however, that it was a display model rather than an ordinary toy, and it was screwed to a base plate with 4 weird screws with triangular heads that required me to buy a set of specialist screwdriver heads from an online store in China, which arrived 2 weeks later - all's well that ends well though.
Tom, Grandpa and a Class 50 at Heywood

We had a basic lunch on the platform at Bury station, washed down with nice beer and many lungfuls of white smoke from a Class 50 that was clearly in need of a service.
Still, we managed two full trips up and down the line, behind a variety of locomotives, many of which did look and sound magnificent, especially the two old green Class 40s they had running. They are clearly well loved and pampered engines.
I must say, it seems a very well-run heritage railway - quite a long line, nice stations, friendly staff (volunteers) and lots of things to enjoy. I have a feeling we'll be back for another visit before too long.

You can see a video of the day here:

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Cross Country

Cross Country Tom
Now that Tom is in KS2, after-school activities get a bit more interesting.  This week he got a chance to compete in the Cross Country.  It was an inter-school event held at Ingleton (we have the largest fields of any local school).  Pupils had to be in the top 6 of their gender and year group to make the next round.  Plenty did get through, but Tom wasn't one of them.  Not because he wasn't fast enough, but because he isn't bullish enough to make his way to the front of a crowd.

The Ingleton gang
He did really well, sprinted the whole course, but there were too many other boys in front of him - never mind, maybe next year - we will have to drill him on how to start in front!  However, he did contribute to his year group coming 1st - so well done him.  Finn, Lucas and Lexi got through to the next round - not bad considering there were 9 schools taking part.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Social weekend

Saturday morning saw us down at the school with Craven Wanderers again.  Tom lost himself during the first half of the match, but after a talking to by Matt he did really well in the second half.  Why oh why can't he try hard without the talking to?  Oh hum!!!!!

We had lunch at Inglesport and then headed over to Barbondale to do the magic chocolate tree walk down to the pub for a drink and back again.  However, there were 4 lively young bulls in one of the fields we had to cross and we decided against it.  Luckily we were able to get to the chocolate tree though, where Tom found some smarties.

Dressed for blackberrying
We decided to hang out at the beck at Barbon instead, throwing stones, damming, splashing in the water etc etc.  We got back around 3 and then prepared for what was probably the last BBQ of the year with the Bickerstaffs.  We didn't take any photos as we were all having fun, but the boys got on well, as did the adults, and we managed to sit outside until about 7.30pm.

Sunday we headed to Austwick in the morning to do some blackberrying.  At first we were worried that we had missed the boat as all the bushes had spent berries on them, but then we found some healthy bushes and we were away, we managed 3lbs in the end and did the longer walk to Elaine's in Feizor for lunch and were very happily surprised to come across a herd of Galloway Belties - including some rather cute looking calves.  We then dropped Matt off and headed to Clapham Park, where we met up with Alice and Charlie.  The boys played football all afternoon whilst Alice and I nattered.

Galloway beltie
A good social weekend.

Charlie Bucket

What a charlie!
On Tuesday all the children had to dress up as a character from a Roald Dahl book to celebrate his 100th birthday.  Luckily Tom chose Charlie Bucket and I knew Janine had a spare vintage jumper so with that, gel in the hair so it would go sideways and a Mummy made golden ticket he went to school.  I was quite pleased with the result.  Oh, how I hate fancy dress!

Red Squirrels and a Bike Ride

Posing for the camera
So we were back to the old routine this weekend, which meant Saturday morning football.  Now, we were all a bit worried about what would happen to the team this year as there were only about 4 in Tom's age group and the younger ones wouldn't be able to play with them this year.  Not a problem, Finn had decided that he wanted to join, and as he joined, Fred of course joined and then Matthew decided to give it a go too.  On top of that the coach had managed to find a couple of Kirkby Lonsdale families with children who wanted to give it a go.  Now there are about 15 players in his age group.  Some of the new children are brilliant too, Lucas doesn't look so amazing anymore as others are as good.  Tom didn't get swamped by the new people either and looked good enough, trying at least to tackle and get the ball.  It was nice to have the other parents to talk too as well.

We weren't sure what to do in the afternoon, Matt had a light bulb moment and suggested we go looking for red squirrels at Snaizeholme, near to Hawes.  Wow!  I was expecting to maybe glimpse one after looking very hard for a very long time.  Not so.  We saw loads of them, and not only that - they were as tame as anything and came up to sniff around us.  We couldn't believe our eyes, as a result red squirrels are now Tom's favourite animal!  They were very beautiful creatures darting in and out around the trees in the forest.  It was a very pleasant hour we spent watching them.
Close up

Sunday was another nice day.  We decided to go on a bike ride from Halton to Glasson Dock and back.  It wasn't a good start - we forgot that Tom's bike's seat was at its lowest height from the pump track and Matt's seat was loose and we didn't have an allen key!  Not to worry though, we were on a bike route, we found better prepared people on the route and were soon sorted - note to selves, make sure we have allen keys with us in the future!  We have done the ride before, my memory was that it was quite a long trek, but obviously both Tom and I have got a bit fitter since as it didn't seem that long at all (and that was with my brake pads rubbing on my front wheel, slowing me down!).  It was a 16 mile ride all together, a perfect tonic for Matt who was suffering from a hangover after a big night out with the cricket crowd.  We had lunch at a good greasy spoon in Glasson Dock, which was full of cyclists.  It took us no time at all to cycle back to the car.  My legs were hurting and felt as if they were made from rubber, but it was good to be out on the bikes again, it has been a while.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Return to School

Tom through the years
Wednesday Tom went back to school - boo hoo!  He was happy though.  We took the customary photo to prove he has grown in the last year.  As soon as he arrived he went to see his friends and dumped us!  Oh well.  All the children in his class have grown so much over the holidays - no denying they are getting older!


Dining in style
So on Friday we went on our last mini holiday of the summer - this time a trip to London to see Michael, Sarah and little Millie.

We were lucky enough to get cheap tickets for the way down so ended up in First Class - very posh!  Nice wide seats, free alcohol AND we got served our tea.  They didn't have a children's menu - so Tom had a full adult's portion!  Chick pea curry for me, chicken and chorizo stew for Matt and pasta with salmon for Tom.  Tom's of course was the biggest!

On arrival in Euston, we got the 68 bus straight to Michael's street in Herne Hill.  It took an hour, but it always takes an hour to get anywhere in London.  The journey may have been slow, but there was plenty to look at - other buses, shops, tube stations etc etc.  Tom kept up a running commentary.

We got to Michael's around 9.30pm, so Tom went straight to bed whilst we stayed up and had wine and chatted.

Able seamen
Saturday we had an easy relaxing day.  After a late breakfast (bread from the local German Artisan Bakery) and a play in the garden with the paddling pool out, we headed out for a look around the local area - Herne Hill is a gentrified, yummy mummy sort of place (just next door to Dulwich).  We ended up in Dulwich Park where we hired a pedalo and collected blackberries from the banks for a while, then a play in the park where we met up with Millie (she was having an afternoon nap) until it started to rain.

Tom straddling the meridian
We then headed back to Michael's house for a play before tea.  As it was our 12th wedding anniversary, Michael and Sarah offered to babysit for us, so we headed to a rather lovely local Japanese restaurant for very posh nosh.  What a bonus - we didn't expect that, but we leaped at the chance and found ourselves in a very busy restaurant where we had a couple of Japanese starters, some Chinese mains and chocolate fondant pudding with umeshu plum compote.  All very very very delicious - a great night out.

Sunday we had a day out.  We met up with Sarah's sister in Greenwich, bought some delicacies from the local market and ate them in the park (Tom chose sushi and inhaled it at an astonishing rate!).  We then went up to the observatory to enjoy the view, whilst Millie played in the park.  After a lot of investigation, Matt found the line between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres and Tom had his photo taken straddling the two.

We then headed into the Maritime Museum for a quick look around.  Wow!  It was great.  Our first stop was a huge big map of the world.  I think we spent a good hour just running around it - we did country location with Tom and then he spent quite a bit of time 'swimming' in the oceans.  We also found a children's play area with lots and lots of activities which Tom and Millie enjoyed.

Nice spot to park your super-yacht
We then got a Thames Clipper along the Thames to the South Bank.  They are very very nifty boats - speeding along much faster than I thought.  Just as we went under Tower Bridge, it opened up to let through a tall boat - how cool is that? We also breezed past a Russian Billionaire's super-yacht, which had been moored next to HMS Belfast.

At the South Bank we headed to The Tate for tea and a bun, and in Tom and Millie's case - dinner.  Then a train and a quick walk back to Michael's house - a good, fun filled day out - Tom certainly got his fill of transport.

Sand pit in a museum!
Monday morning Matt went to see a customer in Gerrards Cross whilst Tom and I went to the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.  We had a fab time, he was the oldest child there (I guess London schools went back today).  He got to play with the toys on show whilst I reminisced about my old toys.  We found a Draughts set, I explained the rules to Tom and we were away.  He understood pretty much straight away and was hooked.  We were playing it for over an hour.

We then looked around the rest of the museum, there was a sandpit, a model railway, hobby horses etc etc.  Matt caught up with us at lunchtime and had happily discovered a Japanese restaurant directly opposite the museum, so we headed to there.  We had another scrumptious lunch and then headed to West India Quay to the Museum of London Docklands, which neither of us had heard of and was huge and very interesting (if you don't have a 7 year old with a limited attention span with you).  Certainly one to revisit at some time.

Diver Tom
We then headed back to Michael's.  As both Michael and Sarah had been working, I offered to make tea and made some sweet potato and lentil patties as per a favourite recipe of theirs - it was very tasty - another to add to our repertoire.

Tuesday - we decided to have breakfast in a bakery in Dulwich Village with all the yummy mummies and then we packed up and got the 68 back to Euston Station.  After a lovely fast food lunch at Leon (a new London based health fast food chain) we got the train back home.

A good break with good friends.

Thursday, 1 September 2016


Fun with food!
Thursday, Matt wanted to spend his Miller and Carter voucher he got for his birthday, so we headed to Leeds on the train for the day.

We got the late train out so first stop was Miller and Carter, where we enjoyed a two course meal each. Calamari and BBQ chicken wings for starters, steak for mains for both Matt and me, and fish and chips for Tom, and then Tom had a chocolate brownie for dessert.  It was all very delicious - a good birthday present.

We then did a little bit of shopping - mainly window shopping, I found an indoor market with a big wool shop and 2 ribbon shops, so will keep that in mind for next time if I need any purchases.  (Also found the original M and S penny bazaar in it too).  

We also visited the Corn Exchange for the first time - a beautiful building which seemed to be hosting an NFL promo (American Football) complete with cheerleaders with huge cleavages - Matt was very happy!  Tom had a go at throwing a football through a hole and succeeded twice - much to his delight - see video here: 

After a quick stop at the Lego store and Primark, the boys went to a pub which has a terrace that overlooks the train station - a perfect compromise: Tom is able to watch trains, and Matt gets to drink.  I did a little more shopping (including getting our tea from Wasabi, as is tradition with a trip to Leeds) and then we got the train home.

Not an exciting day, but a nice, relaxed family day.

A pub with a view.

Leia and Rosa come to stay

Leia, Gromit, Wallace, Rosa & Tom
On Tuesday Karen drove up with Leia and Rosa.  We spent the morning getting in some groceries and tidying up in time for them arriving for lunch.  The idea was to take them to the outdoor pool, but it was very overcast.  However, Leia and Rosa are tough cookies and were very excited about the idea of swimming outside and wanted to go, so we packed up lots of towels and headed over.  We were surprised to find the pool quite busy.  The kids jumped straight in and had a great time.  So much so that before we knew it the whistle blew and it was time to get out.  We spent the rest of the afternoon in the park, before heading home for a Japanese curry dinner which they all ate up.

Matt went out to the first meeting of the new Whisky club which has been formed by the Old Post Office, so Karen and I stayed in for a natter.  The kids, tired out from swimming and playing went to bed without too much fuss and were asleep quickly.

Wednesday dawned grey and rainy so I decided to take them up to Wensleydale Creamery as they haven't been there to date.  I know that they had updated their visitor experience, but I wasn't expecting by how much - there was a whole new building with loads more interactive displays for the children to play with.  I think we ended up there for over an hour which was great.  Then, of course the tasting room before heading home.

Big Cow!
Even though it was raining, the children wanted to go swimming again, so we had a quick lunch and then headed out to the swimming pool.  Unfortunately, the life guard didn't turn up!  We were just about to give up when a mum turned up who just happens to be a swimming teacher and life guard, so she offered to be the life guard for the session and saved the day.

As Karen was starting work the next day, they left straight after the swimming.  It had been a good visit.

Cool in Yorkshire

Pendragon Castle
So I think I slipped into a coma last night!  I don't remember turning the light off, and Matt says I was deep asleep in seconds.  Guess I needed it!

It dawned nice and sunny this morning - not hot though, which was nice.  We decided to have a day out in the countryside.  After a bit of deliberating, we headed out on the Garsdale to Kirkby Stephen road to the remains of Pendragon Castle.

Now this was a turn up for the books.  It is on private land, but you are allowed to enter and explore, AND there are no fences and no signs telling you to keep off.  This meant that we went clambering mad.  Unfortunately lots of farm animals have been there, making some of the clambering a bit smelly and slimy but it was good.

Kings of the castle
We then went for a walk up a hill searching for waterfalls on the map.  We didn't find them!  We did get wet in the boggy hillside though, so decided to call it a day and head back down.  It was now time for lunch so we decided to try out the local pub, the Moorcock Inn.  We were very very pleasantly surprised.  The service was very good and although the menu wasn't huge or particularly interesting, we discovered when we got our food it was all made from scratch, including Tom's chicken bites - we were impressed and will be back.

Next stop was Hawes, as we received a request from Michael for some Wensleydale cheese when we visit later in the week.  We did a quick once around Elijah Allen's as well and seemed to end up spending quite a bit on interesting deli type purchases.  Hawes was absolutely rammed, we thought maybe there was an event on, but think it was just full of day trippers from the city - mostly on motorbikes.  The creamery was really busy too, so we had a drink first, hoping the queue would go down, it didn't!  We stood in line and believe it or not a Japanese family queued behind us (they work at the Nissan factory in Washington).  Matt did his usual party trick and got the required reaction - well you wouldn't expect to meet a fluent Japanese speaker in Hawes would you?
Local resident

We headed back home via Dent, Deepdale and Kingsdale to enjoy the hills in the sun.  We then did some gardening - i.e. chopping some bushes back and pulling weeds out of the soil) before having a small tea.  A quiet, relaxing and enjoyable day.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Hot Hot Hot in Holland

So on Wednesday morning, I ran around getting our packing done - trying to pack as little as possible but make sure we have everything for a day in the city and 2 days camping.  Being British I wanted to take raincoats, but Chananja told me not too so I left them behind.

Our plane
Once I thought I had it all sorted, we headed into the village to meet up with Susan, Harrison, Alfie and the two girls for a play in the park.  Tom, Alfie and Harrison were straight to it - having boys own adventures, collecting blackberries.  It was lovely to see.

At 12, we said goodbye and headed to Bernies to meet Matt for lunch.  Baked beans for me, fish fingers, chips and beans for Tom and soup for Matt.  Tom and I then packed up the car and headed for the airport.  We passed lots of traffic jams going the opposite way to us, but were unaffected and made good time.  We breezed through check-in and actually had time to do a little bit of shopping and watch planes etc.  The airport was pretty busy - finding two seats together was difficult but we got there in the end.

Our flight boarded early, then we sat on the tarmac for ages, but we arrived in Schipol on time so can't complain.  It was hot, Hot, HOT!  I felt like we had been on a long-haul flight to Asia - the heat and humidity hit us big time as we walked off the plane.  It was over 30 degrees.  It's nuts when you think about it - we are only 300 miles from each other!  We had to negotiate a huge, HUGE passport queue before we collected our bag and headed into the concourse looking for Chananja and Raimo.  Didn't see them at first, think they had found a seat, getting bored of looking for us.

We then headed to the bus stops to get a bus back to their place.  Problem - there was no bus - the last one had already left!  Chananja ended up having to call her neighbour to come and collect us - oops!  Never mind, everyone was good humoured about it.

Think we got to Chananja's around 9.15pm, Raimo and Tom then started playing nerf guns - in fact they were playing immediately, the language barrier was none existent!  Ramio and Tom went to bed at 10pm, whilst we stayed up chatting until past 1 in the morning.

Dam Square
It was a very hot, sweaty night - I didn't sleep that well, sweating, sweating, sweating.  Tom did better - we were sharing a double bed - he was out for the count when I joined him and didn't move all night.  I wish I could do that!

On the Canalbike
Typical Amsterdam Scene
We got up late in the morning - think it was past 8.30am, then organised ourselves for the next 3 days - we are going camping, had breakfast (bread, cheese, celeriac salad and crab salad).  Tom tried Raimo's breakfast of choice: bread and butter with chocolate sprinkles and failed - it was too sweet for him.  He reverted to just bread and butter.  Oh and it was hot, Hot, HOT again - over 30 degrees.  It was going to be a hot sweaty day.

Driver not looking where she is going!
We packed the car and headed to Osdorp (Chananja's old stamping ground) where she parked the car, near to a sushi restaurant where we were going to have an early tea.  We then got a tram (Tom was very excited) to Dam Square - to see the palace etc.  The plan for the day was to go canal biking.  I thought that meant biking along the canals, but it meant getting a pedalo and cycling it around the canals.  Great fun, and lovely to see the city from a different point of view.  First of all we had to find from where to get the pedalo.  We walked down some main streets to Leidseplein where we eventually found the right place. We then pedalled around the canals. We took it in turns: Chananja and Raimo, then me and Tom (Tom having to almost sit on the floor to be able to reach the pedals) and then me and Chananja. I had no idea about navigation and left it to Chananja, my steering was pretty shocking too, but the experience was fab, and with the sun shining the city was looking very handsome.

I Amsterdam
Nik & Tom 'a' Amsterdam
It was hot, Hot, HOT though so sweaty work. After an hour we had got ourselves to the Rijksmuseum and dropped off the boat and picked up an ice-cream each. How do you know when it is hot? Tom has an ice-cream and he did. We walked through the Rijksmuseum and found ourselves in a park with an 'I Amsterdam' and a huge paddling pool. We headed straight to the paddling pool and all got in. It felt so so so so good to have cool water lapping around our legs. Once refreshed and recovered, we headed to Vondelpark which we walked through to Surinameplein where we got the tram back to Osdorp and the sushi restaurant. By now Tom was beside himself with tiredness and heat. We had been constantly drinking all day, but he hadn't ate much (my mistake I think). We sat down and ordered our sushi - but Raimo's arrived first and Tom could not comprehend that Raimo could have some and he couldn't - we had full on tears! We were all a little stunned, Raimo generously handed some of his over for Tom to eat - but there was no placating him - he had gone past the point of no return. Once some sushi had gone in, Tom settled down and enjoyed himself - he managed to eat more than me - ordering one more round than me. It was good stuff too - I think Matt would enjoy this place.

Cooling down
Once we had all finished, we walked back to the car, bought yet more drinks and then headed across Holland to the campsite where Chananja's parents have a caravan. It was a 2.5 hour hot drive. We arrived at 8.15, said a quick hello to Chananja's parents and put the tent straight up as the daylight was ebbing away. Raimo and Tom went to bed whilst Chananja and I stargazed - just like being back in Australia again (don't think either of us would have predicted that this would happen 16 years down the line). A good, yet very hot and sweaty day.

Group shot
Not a great night's sleep - we were packed in like sardines in Chananja's tent. I was between Tom and Raimo and suffered from fingers up
Nice lake
Pleased with his bike
my nose, foot in my face, wriggles, elbows in my cheeks etc etc, as well as a lot of sweating. We got up quite late - around 8.30, did teeth etc and then headed to Piet and Dineke's for breakfast: fresh bread from the campsite bakery with cheese and ham - yummy. Tom went for bread and jam after not enjoying Raimo's breakfast of choice yesterday. We then went to collect some bikes - one for me and a small one for Tom. Tom was very excited. Bikes in Holland are very different to bikes in England. They are made for leisurely bike rides on the flat, not mountain biking up and down hills. Tom's, therefore, was very heavy. However, it had a luggage rack on the back and a stand. That was all that was needed. He was delighted. He HAD to have luggage each time we went out, he had to pedal everywhere on the campsite - even if it was just round the corner and he was in charge of the stand etc. They couldn't have chosen a better activity for him.

In the morning, we cycled through some heather moorland to a lake where the boys did some pond dipping and Tom tried to swim. (He failed though, it was too shallow for swimming). The lake was surrounded by sand. There were only a few other families there. It was a lovely, idyllic place. Dineke and Raimo spent the whole time pond dipping - Tom dipped in and out but really got into it by the end. They both had a good bucket full of bugs.
A good haul

Pond dipping
We cycled back to the campsite for lunch: bacon and eggs on bread - very nice too. We then got in the cars and headed out to Dwingelderveld National Park, which is the largest wet heathland of Western-Europe.  The heather was out as well - so it was shining purple in the sunshine.  We went to a viewpoint and then the visitor centre where we got more pond dipping equipment - need to brush up on my pond insects as the Dutch names on the identification sheets were nothing like English ones.

After a look around a butterfly garden, we then headed back to the campsite where Tom, Raimo and I jumped into the very cold pool for a swim.  It was lovely - instant relief from the hot, sweaty days we have been experiencing - but it was very cold!  We spent a while playing piggie in the middle.  I managed to escape to dry off but was made to return to the pool for another session.

After that we got dried and dressed and headed to Dineke's and Piet's for a BBQ dinner.  I knew this was coming my way.  AND I knew it would be big.  They believe in over catering, nothing would be worse than running out of food.  They knew that I have lost a lot of weight, and were on a mission to fatten me up again.  There was no point trying to fight it - so I was a good guest and ate everything I was given.  It was all good food - just lots of it - and all meat and carbohydrates, not much in the way of vegetables, although there was a fruit salad.  My stomach was screaming by the end of it!

Very happy cyclists
By the end of dinner, both boys were playing up so we decided to call it a day and put them to bed early.  We cycled back to our tent and they went to bed.  It took almost 2 hours for them to go to sleep - every excuse in the book was made to avoid falling asleep.  They worked in shifts as well: it was almost as if they planned it.  In the end Chananja had a word with Tom and they went quiet and went to sleep.  Phew - should have done that much earlier!  

Me and two boys

I spent another night being attacked by Tom in his sleep - oh joy! He was so deeply asleep, I couldn't wake him up or reason with him! We were up earlier and made our 8.30 breakfast appointment - more buns with cheese and ham. Then we headed out on a 17km bike ride in the Heather moorland. It was beautiful - we had forest, sand, flat land, nice farm houses, horses, sheep, everything - and all in the sunshine. It was lovely. Tom was delighted to be on his bike again - he had Soffie Bear as his luggage - so I was on duty to check he was ok. He also got the hang of being on the other side of the road very well and was looking in the right direction almost immediately. For him it wasn't the destination, it was the journey!
Riding a horsey

Great swimming games
We got back and had lunch - more buns with cheese, ham and egg and then after some quiet time, trying to get some diary work out of Tom (not very successfully) we went for a swim. I decided to bow out this time. Raimo and Tom were pretty happy playing a water polo type game for a while.

Eating ice cream - it must be hot!

After more ice-creams we called it a day at the pool and returned to Dienke and Piet's. The boys then played football solidly for the rest of the afternoon - they were very very hot, but didn't care. In fact they spent every spare minute playing football. Chananja was nervous because Raimo's knees are liable to 'go' at any moment, causing him pain, but luckily they didn't and they were having fun. Neither of them get to go on holiday with other children, so they were relishing the opportunity for games the whole time.

Great friends
We had another BBQ for tea - some left over food from last night and some. I did good and ate up again. We then headed back to Amsterdam - it was another hot, sweaty ride. Both boys fell asleep which was a blessing - they were so so tired, they needed it. We got back around 8.30pm. We did a quick FaceTime chat with Matt and I chucked Tom in a shower (he's come out with a rash which I think is a heat rash) and put him straight to bed. Chananja and I tried to stay up a little longer - but we were both exhausted as well and gave up and crashed.

Football camp

I had a slightly better night, although it was still hot, Hot, HOT! Got up at 8am, packed quickly and were on our way to the airport at 9. Checked in - had an argument with KLM - they wanted 35 Euros from me to put my case in the hold. It was free from Manchester? No-body could explain why. There was no mention of being charged for hold luggage on my paperwork. I might as well have flown Easyjet - I thought you could escape that with a scheduled service! But that was that - it was 35 Euros or take the case on as hand luggage. Hand luggage it was then! I gave Chananja all my liquids (they were worth much less than 35 Euros). We then had lunch - pancakes for the boys (with the shape of an airplane made from icing sugar and sprinkles for them to play with) a cheese and mushroom pancake for me (well we are in the land of pancakes) and some sandwiches for Chananja. Then it was time to say goodbye and head to security and passport control. More queues - my small bag got searched this time because there were loose coins in it (I had had to take them out of a plastic bag so I could put my small liquids in it!) A quick look around the shops and then to the gate. We boarded on time but were delayed because...people had too much hand luggage with them - there wasn't enough room for it all - so some had to go in the hold!!!!!! I mean really, I hope they got fined for missing their time slot!!

Airplane pancake
Other than that we had a good trip back, it was nice and cool in Manchester - 21 degrees, felt lovely and refreshing. Drove back along the motorway and to Ingleton. Matt wasn't here as he was playing cricket - well supposed to be - it got cancelled due to a dangerous pitch. He pitched up about half an hour after we arrived home.

Wow - what a holiday. It was only 3 days, but we packed so much in. Thank you to Chananja and her family for being such great hosts and arranging so many great things to do. Much appreciated. Until next time...