Friday, 23 August 2013

All's well that ends well...almost

Unlike last summer's magnificent family holiday, this summer's offering has been a series of short breaks and escapes involving various permutations of the dramatis personae of the little house on the prairie. There was the wedding in Saint Tropez which I refuse to count as a holiday because almost every moment was spoken for even before my beloved and I took off from Leeds Bradford airport. Then there was my important supportive role as companion to the lovely Louise in Portugal - well obviously, it would have been rude not to.

More recently, there was the fabulous five-day break with the singing dancing doctors and Skip and Mrs Broccoli in Majorca which number 3 and I were lucky enough to join. And then as soon as we got back, number 4 went on her coming-of-age girls-only holiday also to Majorca which was most ably supported by the singing dancing doctors who were on hand to offer air-conditioned accommodation respite (their hotel did not have it and it was 40+ degrees) and fried egg sandwiches as required. And while number 4 was gadding round the nightlife in Alcudia, my beloved went off in the van to support the fantastic Neil Jones and friends who ran - yes, ran - from Leeds to London to raise money for Cancer Research. An utterly brilliant effort and I am in awe of their achievement.

Then just a day or two with everyone - my beloved, moi, 3 and 4 plus various houseguests - before I skidoodled off to the intrepid granny's which provided a handy base for looking at universities with 3 and 4. In case you're interested ... liked Nottingham, wowed by Bath and quite liked Oxford Brookes though not for sport. We also managed to include in our three-day, all-action trip lunch with my oldest, dearest childhood chum, Alps, who has a fabby restaurant in Bath - The Circus - do go if you're ever down that way! Also met up with brother 3 and his two daughters so a bit of cousin-bonding going on, and a trip to the RSC to see All's Well that Ends Well which might almost have summed up AS level results day on Thursday. Almost...

So the beloved and I have been like the proverbial ships in the night so a brief escape was definitely in order. This took the form of a two-day break at the fabulous Low Graythwaite Hall in the Lake District, b&b and home to Basil and Sybil (or David and Manda, as they are more correctly known). David and Manda moved there some three or so years ago, leaving Harrogate and jobs behind, to try their hand at b&b-ing and very good they are at it too. So two days of walking, eating, resting, segwaying and playing games with the aforementioned plus other dear friends, Wheezy and Ebabe, before we returned home to 3 and 4, plus one lodger and now the arrival of Milton - the doggy equivalent of the late, great Tommy Cooper - who is with us for three weeks whilst his owners, number 2 child plus partner, loll about in Vietnam.

So now from this constantly transient house, I have packed number 4 off to Leeds Festival to do some music appreciation combined with camping too hideous for anyone over 30 to contemplate. She went with roughly the same set of don'ts from me as her recent holiday in Majorca - except that possibly the ones about drinking on balconies and not going jetskiing were probably unnecessary! So we are down to three residents, one lodger and three dogs. For now...

The fabulous Circus restaurant in Bath with chef Ali, my gorgeous godson Kips, manager Geoff and me and the intrepid granny!

Yes we can segway! Top fun in the Lake District with Ebabe and Wheezy.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Don't let me go in the Karaoke Bar!

After our brilliant trains, planes and automobiles holiday touring USA last year, the original plan (in as much as anything gets planned in this house) was to return to Portugal this summer with our rather extended family. However, my beloved is too busy with work commitments to factor in any kind of holiday at all, so, holiday-wise things were not looking too promising a few weeks ago.

Then number 4 child decided to go on her coming-of-age holiday with two of her girlfriends to Majorca. Swallowing hard and trying to put all my motherly anxieties to one side, we agreed and currently she is larging it in Alcudia but in receipt of a whole list of instructions from moi: no piercings, no tattoos, no sex, no returning to your drink, no balconies, no jetskis and so on. Or, as one friend put it,  I have just provided her with the complete bucket list!

That left number 3 with no holiday on the cards until fabulous friends, the singing dancing doctors and Skip and Mrs Broccoli asked us to join them in Majorca. These two families holiday together in almost adjacent villas in the hills above Puerto Pollensa and their three sons are amongst number 3's best mates and, despite the lack of comedic presence of my beloved and the gorgeousness of number 4, they still wanted us to come. And well, it would have been rude not to. Or that's my excuse!

So we have just returned from five fantastic days of lying by the pool, eating and drinking (the latter almost to excess but it wouldn't be a holiday otherwise), swimming, cycling and, unfortunately, singing. The cycling was delightfully downhill from the villas which stand a few hundred feet above the resort and made freewheeling down pleasurable but potholey! Of course, the return trip was always a hard slog uphill with extensive use of the lower gears and was, in my case, pitifully slow.

The big night out (and there is always a big night out, isn't there?) was spent in Puerto Pollensa starting with cocktails at the Lemon Bar. I know it's girly but I like a pina colada and I generally manage not to sing the utterly terrible lyrics of what must be one of the cheesiest songs ever written. Then on to Stay, a really lovely quayside restaurant where fourteen of us enjoyed the all-inclusive menu, working our way through starters, amuse-bouches (no idea how you make that plural but that's my best attempt), main courses, puddings, wine and liqueurs. Now it's an interesting thing but I used to think that it was cointreau that gave me a terrible hangover but actually, older and wiser now, I know if I have had so much to drink that I order a cointreau, the damage is already done!

Then off for beers (sensible head on at this point) before being dragged into the karaoke bar. How did this happen? I can't sing but somehow I appear to be reprising a rendition of 9-5 which I swore I would never sing again (fortunately not alone on either occasion). And then somebody (you know who you are but I would hate to blight a promising career in accountancy by naming names...!) insisted we had jagerbombs. Where is my self-control at this point? Anyway, then Skip decided that we would sing Friday I'm in Love by The Cure which I only ever think I know the words to when I am properly sloshed.

Back at the villa, having refused to race a fellow resident up the hill (with high heels, handbag etc - not a good plan) I went to bed thinking a very bad hangover was heading my way. But I am older (a lot) and wiser (a bit) so in the middle of the night I went down to the kitchen and consumed the entire non-alcoholic liquid contents of the fridge door and consequently felt unreasonably and undeservedly well the next day.

Then there were cycle visits to old Alcudia (lovely, narrow streets with pretty bars) and Pollensa - ditto but with a big hill and a church on the top to which, yes, we climbed. And a boat trip to Formentor to the beach which was lovely. And then sadly it was time to return to Yorkshire.

But the other thing about our holidays, apart from the big night out, is that there is always a slightly competitive element. So not managing the famous beach pyramid of Portugal trips, we did attempt to get twelve in a dinghy and here is the picture to prove it.

Big thank you to Skip and Mrs Broccoli for feeding and nurturing number 3 who says that I am no longer his mother (Mrs Broccoli is apparently) and merely a random woman and especially to the singing dancing doctors, and their boys who gamely shared a bathroom with me and never left the towels on the floor once! Thank you so, so much.

The boys - who managed to stay out way later than their parents!

Finally: My beloved is currently driving the support vehicle for Run2London, the 250+ mile run from Leeds to London by Neil Jones, Chris Lawrence and Alan Copp for Cancer Research UK. This is an amazingly brave and no doubt painful challenge for these three guys and they are hoping to raise a fantastic £50,000. If you would like to help them, here's the link: