Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Travelling with a Squeak - Part 2

At the end of part one, we'd survived the journey.  Now for the holiday itself.

We'd booked to go in May to avoid the hottest weather, and to avoid paying school holiday prices (cheap, yep, that's me!).  As it turned out, the weather was hotter than average, just like the preceding couple of weeks had been in the UK, so we were lucky.  Lots of sunshine, lots of factor 50 for Squeaky.

It took her a couple of days to settle, being somewhere different, I guess.  Some days she'd love the water, then others, you'd think she was being tortured, poor mite. But we just took it at her pace, let her decide whether she wanted to play in the water or not.  A set of beach toys helped (and they also helped at bathtime), but if she didn't want to swim, there was no point in forcing the issue and putting her off.

She didn't get the sandcastle building idea, but she's showing great potential as a demolition expert, knocking down our sandcastles, sand cows & sand turtles as fast as we could build them!  Well, it kept us all out of mischief.  The beach in Alcudia is HUGE, something like 8 miles long.  The sea slopes really gently too, making it great for kids.  The resort is established enough & big enough to have plenty of "real" shops, including a stonking great Lidl, and about 5 branches of Eroski (aka Spanish Tesco), selling brands you'd recognise from home.  No need to worry about nappies, wipes, formula, they're all there, so there's more space in the case for clothes!

The other really good choice we made was to go all-inclusive.  In our pre-Squeaky days we'd been on a few AI holidays to the Caribbean, and I was a little wary of AI in Europe, where hotel food isn't usually up to the same standards.  But I couldn't have been more wrong.  The food was fantastic, both for me as a picky foodie, and for Squeaky, who seems to only approve of protein.  There were enough fish fingers, burgers, chicken nuggets & unidentifiable things-in-breadcrumbs to keep her occupied, and more than enough ice-cream to fill any remaining corners.  I would have had a much more restricted diet if we'd been self-catering, as I'd've been picking food for us to share, rather than finding Squeaky-meals and Me-meals separately.

The hotel was wonderful for families, right next to the waterpark, with unlimited free access (SqueakyDaddy's holiday highlight!), the hotel's own kids clubs for 4yrs+, and the Thomas Cook kids clubs, and, wait for it... crèche!  Who thought up this wonderful idea?  We paid for a few sessions in the crèche for Squeaky, just to give us a bit of a break - very handy when you've got the packing to do!  She loved it, loads of attention, loads of toys, and lots of arty crafty activities, with British staff, all qualified (to a better standard than some of the nurseries I've seen round here).  Couldn't have asked for more.

We even managed to stay awake long enough for the evening entertainment some nights, though not many, I must admit.  A couple of glasses of wine & I just want to sleep now.  Squeaky, on the other hand, believed she was the evening entertainment - so long as you're entertained by a small child, some plastic cups, and spinning round on a dancefloor.

Would we go back to Majorca?  Yep.  To Alcudia?  Yep, a great family resort.  To Club Mac?  Definitely.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Magpie Monday - The Games People Play

(That makes two song titles in my blog titles this month. Don't worry, I'm not making a habit of it)

After a few weeks' break, I'm back on the Magpie Monday train, as I've finally caught up with the washing, and almost caught up with myself!

And I thought this week, I'd go for a change.  I'm sure I've posted more than enough baby clothes in my Magpie Monday finds to last everyone a lifetime, but that's not all I look out for, and this week, it's time to kick back, relax and spend some quality family time.  What better way than with a silly game or two?

First off, my Mum's favourite holiday game.  I have to admit I don't quite *get* Rummikub, I haven't really played it enough yet to understand anything more than "it's sort of like rummy, only with tiles rather than cards".  My Mum takes her set on holiday everywhere she goes, and swears by it for starting conversations & forging international friendships.  I'm not so sure about that, but when I found a set for £2 on a stall for the local Dog's Home at a family fun day, I thought it was worth a go.  This isn't the travel version, and so weighs a bit too much to go in the suitcase, but for quiet evenings at home, maybe?

Next, a classic.  For certain values of the word, anyway.  The 80's wouldn't have been the 80's without DLT, and snooker on the radio (interspersed with darts on the radio, depending on which was in season).  We found the home version on a car boot sale AGES ago for about 50p, and it ticked more of our boxes than I should admit.  Snooker *tick*.  Radio *tick*.  Quiz *tick*.  80's tat *tick*. Pointless thing we'll probably never use *tick*.  All the cards, and the dice are still in place, and it's got some useful questions if you're ever lumbered with setting up a quiz night.  I think that might have been the excuse we had for buying it.  Ah well.

Quiz nights.  Well, a bit more than that really.  SqueakyDaddy used to do charity race nights (until the work dried up).  You know the kind of thing, in the pub, horse racing on dvd, bet on a number or a silly name,have a litle quiz as well, that sort of thing.  Well, at the end of the nights, they'd have a novelty race, pigs or something, but most of them were a bit rubbish.  We found this brand new, still in the cellophane, dvd game in a charity shop somewhere on our travels for about £3.  Though we haven't had the chance to use it yet, it's a good source of alternative novelty races.  This plus the quiz game were meant to be used for those nights, but the smoking ban & the price of booze has kind of killed it all off.

And finally...  I'll post a little bit more on the subject later in the week, but we've been chosen to be part of the HABA Mums Club, and be ambassadors for the HABA toy brand.  Well, before that happened, I bobbed into the Somerset Air Ambulance shop in Taunton, and found this beauty.  I was just intrigued by it, it was still sealed, so I had no idea what it was going to be about, especially as I don't speak German.  I could just about work out "card game", and the obvious socks.  The rest I thought I'd figure out, or make up.

When I opened it up, I found a very cute & colourful card game, complete with a sock monster!  I'm still not quite sure what I'll do with it, it's going to be a fair while before Squeaky's old enough to play matching the socks, but I have a hankering towards scanning a load of socks, adding letters somehow, a string & peg image & making a piece of name art.  It probably won't happen, but the idea's there anyway.

Wow! What a long post.  Makes up for being away, huh?  Jump aboard the Magpie Monday train!
Me and My Shadow

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Travelling with a Squeak - Part 1

So, the holiday went according to plan, as long as our plan involved a lot of walking around trying to encourage Squeaky to have a nap.  Give her her due though, she was really good.

Getting there
We booked our parking & airport hotel for the night before we flew out, even though we were only flying from our local airport, because it was cheaper to stay over than just to pay for parking.  The hotel was, well, functional I guess would be the word, they did provide a cot as requested, but when we phoned to confirm it the morning of arrival we were told "well, we've got 4 cots booked for tonight".  Great, thanks for the enthusiasm.  They also didn't serve breakfast til 8.  Airport hotel?  Hello? Ever heard of morning flights? Check-in times?  *sigh* A quick trip to tesco was called for for an emergency packed breakfast to take with us.  Enough moaning though, we got a decent night's kip & an hour's more sleep than we would have if we'd had to leave from home in the morning. 

The airport was no problem, I even managed to take a sip of formula without gagging (seriously, have you ever tasted the stuff? ewwww) at security. We kept the buggy right up to boarding, which was a big help, if nothing else, it was somewhere to put the handluggage!  I considered taking the baby carrier, but in the end I'm glad I didn't, it would have just been one more thing to try and deal with, and we didn't need it.

Squeaky slept the first hour of the flight, thank deity-of-choice.  And here's where I get amazed.  Had you ever noticed the baby change units in the airplane toilets before? I'd never noticed, but there's a pull-down change table over the toilet seat. GENIUS!  Abso-flamin-lute genius.  We were armed with all sorts of toys, books, and junk food to entertain her Squeakiness, but she was happy as Larry.

The one recommendation I've got for part 1, and completely the best thing I bought - a Tomy Aquadraw travel drawing kit.  Like the bigger Aquadoodle, the only "paint" required is water, so no danger of making a mess.  It's light, portable, pretty much unbreakable (as far as our testing went, anyways), the drawings dry off, so it's reuseable and Squeaky loves it.  Definitely worth the cash. 

Coming soon: the Abroad bit, with pictures!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

We're Back!

The mountain of dirty washing in the kitchen (and I've only opened the first case so far) is proof enough that we're back, and somehow survived a fortnight in the sunshine of Majorca.  Posts galore in my head, some or more of which might become reality when I get that far.

But for now, a little light entertainment.  I posted not that long ago about the Graco Press Day Squeaky & I went to in London last month.  Well, now see for yourself!  Here's the video, featuring Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, Emma Kenny, the lovely ambassadors Wendy, Emma & Danielle, and yours truly.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

No, don't panic, nothing like that.  Just that we're off on our jollies in a couple of days time, and I'm not planning on spending my precious time on foreign soil trying to find a free wifi signal for long enough to update.

I'm slightly dreading the flight.  Princess La Squeaky refuses to sit still for 2 minutes at the moment, never mind 2 hours on our laps.  Oh dear.  I have a selection of new toys, old favourites, books & assorted junk foods to keep her occupied though, so hopefully we will survive without being lynched by the rest of the plane.

She's also got a second molar coming through.  And as a result is a) grumpy, b) off her food, c) shitting up a storm, and d) full of a horrible cough, which for some reason all seems to be related.  Poor mite.  I've got a whole branch of Boots' worth of medical shit to take with us, Calpol, Dentinox, Bepanthen, Tixylix, Snufflebabe, Teetha, you name it!

So, see you in a while folks.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Cantref Easter Fun

I know Easter was last weekend now, but there's a delay in this house.

Last Monday Squeaky & I took a trip to Cantref Adventure Farm near Brecon.  It was a lovely sunny day, so we decided to have an Eastery Adventure.

The park is fairly easy to find, lots of signs from the main road, the only thing is, it's down narrow country lanes, so you've got to drive carefully and be prepared for oncoming traffic & people walking down the middle of the road.  Once that's negotiated, we were quickly & easily checked in, given a map & schedule of the day's events, and we were free to play.  We'd just missed thefirst lamb-feeding of the day, but the lambs were still in their pens, and very eager to meet people.  They were also quite keen to have a nibble of our Symbio, which Squeaky wasn't happy to share!  (For those of you concerned, she was fine nanoseconds later, when she was handed the Fruit Shoot sneaking in at the bottom of the photo there.  And for those of you concerned about the Fruit Shoot - it was a VERY hot day, I'd rather she drank fruit flavoured water than none at all.)

While we might have missed feeding the (greedy) lambs, we made sure we didn't miss out on the next event, Chinchillas' Bathtime.  We got to stroke a chinchilla, and talk to the very knowledgeable handler, before watching the chinchillas have their dust bath.  Did you know that chinchillas bathe in dust, because their fur is so thick they would be likely to catch pneumonia if they bathed in water?  They did look very nice & clean at the end of their bath, but I think I'll stick to bubbles!

After looking around the pet barn, where the chinchillas were, and petting some lovely rabbits (Vinnie was our favourite), we went outside to explore the rest of the park.  We met more tiny newborn lambs and some alpacas in the big animal barn, we watched some older boys & girls riding ponies, met a couple of crazy rheas, a goat, some big fat piggies, and then went to have a ride on the tractor.  (sorry, no photos from this bit, I forgot)  The tractor driver was really funny, and told us the names of all the animals we saw as we bounced across the fields, and we even saw a sheep that had invaded from the farm next door!  We saw horses, donkeys, water buffalo, lots of sheep and a couple of llamas.

There were lots of things for older boys & girls to do: a dry sledge, a jungle boat adventure, paddle boats, dragon climbing frame, a crazy ball cannon area, and mini tractors to drive, as well as an indoor soft play area, with a special toddler area.  Squeaky practised her new-found stair climbing skills in there, and braved the slide a couple of times before deciding to try and defy gravity climbing up the slide.  Aside from the pony rides, everything is included in the admission price, so it's a good value day out, not one of these where you're forever dipping into your purse for another 50p to go on this coin operated thing, or that ride.

We went back inside to have our lunch, though there were lots of picnic tables outside, and then went and watched Mr Ev's Easter Show. They have lots of different entertainments on through the year in the theatre area, and outside, and we saw Mr Ev's trying to steal the easter eggs, and met his bride-to-be.  Mr Ev's married Chloe the pony the same day a certain other wedding took place last week.  I haven't seen the pictures yet, but I'm assured the bride looked beautiful.  Pig racing is the next big event, and I'd love to see how that goes!

We were exhausted after all that, but just had enough energy to finish off our easter egg hunt and for Squeaky to receive her prize for getting the answers right. If it weren't for having to drive home, I would have joined her in sleeping the whole way back!

We had a lovely day, and would happily recommend Cantref to families all around the area for a fab, fun day out.  We received no payment for this review, and were genuine, paying visitors (I've got a receipt around here somewhere) - we just had such a good day out, we wanted to tell other people about it!