The final night away was a whirlwind of thanking our hosts over a Pinot Noir and a chilled Chardonnay. And my food offering was a Roast Pork and bacon joint, pigs in blankets, lard roast potatoes, glazed carrots, butter sautéed Savoy cabbage, fine green beans and a jus (gravy) made with pork stock and the juices from the meat!
We were woken this morning by Amritsar tapping Sidmouth pebbles together at 6.15am and our bedroom invasion happened at 6.45am. Another breakfast at the farmhouse of eggy bread and crepes, then a mass cleanup before we said our goodbyes at 10.30am.
The journey back was smooth. ‘Are we there yet’ only resonated a handful of times, there were no toilet stops and the children slept for seventy percent of the trip. A far cry from our outward journey. The dogs went crazy on our return and we are now finally home and settled.
No doubt more to add tomorrow…
Last nights paella was spectacular. Served with large prawns and scallops, a very well engineered, gastric delight! We used to summer in Spain when Johns mum and sister owned an apartment there many years back. It was near Marbella on the Costa del Sol. We ate paella a lot and I can, with hand on heart say that our host far exceeded anything that we have previously savoured.
Today’s adventure was exhausting. Our hosts and their two dogs were followed by us in the car. Our destination Sidmouth, was a twenty five minute drive. We parked, crossed the road and walked down to the pebble and sand beach, to the west of the town centre. The beach is flanked at the rear by enormous, red sandstone cliffs. Jurassic in age, this coastline is well known by fossil hunter and happy, beach going tourist alike. The dogs loved it, the children loved it, we all loved it. Though I have to say that we forgot to bring towels. A big mistake, but with the sun shining and the temperature in the early twenties, they all dried off in the end. You’ve got it! – the further along the beach we walked, the more confident the children were to embracing the waters edge. The waves weren’t particularly big to begin with, but they were on the tidal side of high. The beach was slowly getting smaller and smaller and the children were starting to run into the water more frequently. They were all soaked through within fifteen minutes of arrival and ringing wet, de-shoed and topless by the time we reached twenty. At thirty minutes we had to give up on that beach and were walking along the cliff side coastal path to the second beach. This one was closer to the town. The sun was hot and there was not a cloud in the sky. We had a further two hours of sand castle making, climbing the granite boulders (to the rear of the beach) and just having a good time in general. We’re back at the holiday house now, de-sanded and showered. I am thinking back to the last Time we were ‘on the beach’, it was this summer in Antibes in the south of France. The children were all in their swimming costumes and armbands. A little more glamorous than Sidmouth perhaps, Antibes warm, Mediterranean waters were Azur Blue and very inviting. We all loved the pool at the villa, they were in for a couple of hours each day and I am so glad everyone now has the confidence to just get in and start splashing around. Though being fully clothed today, maybe they had a little bit too much confidence. Note to ones self ‘Always bring towels’.
Certainly our hosts, Alistair and Lorna have made us feel welcome. So a very big warm thank you from us all. This afternoon we swam and splashed away in the outside pool for well in excess of an hour. Remember that this is the latter part of October in the U.K.! And once showered and back in our civies, we were invited up to ‘the big house’ and the not so famous five enjoyed olives and little bear corn puffs, followed by spaghetti bolognese and rounded off with homemade chocolate brownie. Well appreciated and we are now dressing the children for bed. Our hosts are coming to the ‘Thatched Barn’ in fifteen minutes to serve us a well prepared paella made from chicken stock prepared with chicken legs and roasted garlic and vegetables. Thank you, thank you. More on tonight, tomorrow. I can’t get over,how good the weather has been.
We arrived to a warm welcome last night and the gracious hospitality of Alistair and Lorna. The two dogs greeted us also at the main farmhouse door. Aaliyah smiled and gave the biggest hugs. The two cats fled and hid. That was the last we saw of them. John went with Alistaire to purchase the six biggest portions of fish and chips I have ever seen. Dinner was a big hit, washed down with copious amounts of black current squash and white wine. You can work out who drank what! The ‘Thatched Barn’ where we were sleeping was warm and cosy. And surprisingly all five settled quickly, though it was almost three hours past their normal bed time. We were invited to the farmhouse for a breakfast of well seasoned ‘eggy bread’ and wafer thin crepes cooked on the range. The oil lightly dusting the multitude of fry’s made the open kitchen a little smokey but this cleared and everyone ate vast amounts.
We ventured out to the local seaside town of Seaton. The weather was sunny and warm with only a mild breeze. Our morning was to visit the Seaton Tramway. Everyone loves trains and we knew that the Seaton to Colyton tram ride would be a big success. It was and they all got to choose a toy in the gift shop. We progressed on to the actual seafront. It is not such a commercial one, just a rank of houses, a few business and a shingle beach. Ice creams were purchased from a small hut on the road beside the beach. It was decided to eat them in the car, something Aaliyah was not happy with. Needless to say we had our first major meltdown of the day, followed by Caleb becoming angry and throwing his ice cream on the floor of the car.’I want to be good, I want to be good’ Aaliyah screamed, but there was no sign of her anger calming until we were nearly back at the holiday home. Thor, Aaliyah and Tara finished ice creams calmly and asked for tissue to clean off. Lunch was a simple matter of toasted bagels. There is excitement and shouting again as we prepare for the 4.30pm slot at the pool. Tara and Aaliyah are screaming about their swimming costumes and broken goggles respectively. Wish us luck – off to the pool.
A very long afternoon and evening. I hope you’re sitting down. Make yourself comfortable.
Not even four o’clock and ‘are we there yet’ has raised its beleaguered head. Caleb has been shouting and Thor has been saying ‘be quiet Caleb, stop shouting’, now he is shouting, ‘Caleb stop shouting’. Now I am shouting ‘Thor and Caleb stop shouting’. The others are quiet, it’s a long journey ahead. Now approaching the world heritage site, Stonehenge. This part of the A303 is notoriously slow. You have to smile at the innocence of this. Thor has just said ‘I see a small deer asleep besides the road. His leg was near the car. He was asleep’. A very observant little boy. You do realise this paragraph is going to be condensed down from our entire trip, don’t you? Thought I should say that in case you’re thinking that an awful lot is going on. A Bi-Plane has just been hovering and looping above us, very cool. Just found a lay-by and stopped for Thor, Aaliyah and Tara to have a pee in the shrubs. Just spotted Stonehenge, we’re all very excited. ‘Tara pinched me’ just came from the back seat. ‘Stonehenge, Stonehenge is coming, look, look’ Amritsar is now screaming. Aaliyah is more interested in the cows on her side however and Thor is screaming about cow poo. Sonny and Cher have just come on the music system. We play a lot of 1960’s music for the children. It just seems so much more appropriate in its innocence and optimism. Now Caleb is saying ‘I am a spaceman’ and Thor is shouting ‘Caleb hit me, Caleb hit me’. They can’t actually reach each other with Aaliyah sat happily in the middle! All is now quiet. Now Aaliyah has stuck her sticker she was given at the library visit with preschool today on her belly button and is shouting ‘look Dadda, look’. Amritsar is giggling maniacally in the back seat and tickling Tara. Alliyah and Caleb have started doing the same. Thor looks on uninterested, staring out of the window. Just spotted a mother on her knees in a lay-by cleaning off her car seat with wipes ‘There but for the grace of god go I’. ‘Own kind of music’ Cass Elliot just came on. Respect! Some of the rolling landscape either side of the road is a real treat for the eyes. Thor has just remarked about the long shadows and how it will soon be dark. Clever boy. Another several ‘are we nearly there yet’ in quick succession from Amritsar and now Thor and Aaliyah have joined in. John is bored of the music and wants ‘music to watch girls by’ and I said if there are two rubbish songs in a row, we can change music. He asked well who’s going to be the arbiter? I thought and as Thor was nodding his head I said ‘Thor can arbitrate’ and added ‘Do you like this song Thor’, he replied ‘Yes Dadda’. Hehehe. Two paraglider’s are floating past us in a nearby field, good spotting Amritsar. The last song was rubbish! We eagerly awaited the next song… ‘up, up and away in my beautiful balloon’ is playing and Thor was asked wether he liked it… a resounding yes. But then again we all secretly like it don’t we! ‘Sheep, sheep, sheep’ is all I’m hearing now. I guess we just passed some sheep. Caleb has been clutching the nappy change bag for the entire trip and keeps opening the zipper. He seemingly can’t close it so keeps screaming ‘Dadda, Dadda Help’? I’m getting a neck ache at this point with turning around so much. Out of sympathy, Thor and I are now allowing John his fix of Andy Williams as ‘Music to watch girls go by’ is now playing. The sun is preparing to set in front of us. A magnificent display of mottled cloud and the suns exhausted rays besets us, as does Gene Pitney. I’m now screaming ‘Are we there yet’? Thor has just pulled a handful of Aaliyah’s hair from her scalp. She is screaming and kicking about something completely unrelated. We can now see a Lama in a field of sheep – does this get any more surreal. Tara is shouting ‘Hello Lama, Hello Lama’. The car is at a standstill besides the Lama. They are all shouting ‘Hello Lama’. We see a statue of Buddha in the sheep and Lama field! I have just found half a bag of wipes pulled from the packet at Caleb’s feet. He is no longer the nappy bag monitor. Naughty Caleb. This half term traffic sucks. Usually things speed up once we have passed Stonehenge – but it’s been a constant crawl for the last two hours now. Thor and I have the thumbs down for the song playing, will we be swapping musical genres again? Thanks Bobby Rydell. Though Tara is now singing or whining in tune to the song! How very theatrical of her. The Mavericks are a compromise for john and I but the children have decided they all want ‘Shake, Baby, Shake’ by Lush. We are teaching them the art of compromise – they can have their song next. Just passed a restaurant called ‘The Hawk House’ hmmmm, interesting! Caleb, bless him is trying to join in with Tara and Aaliyah singing the lyrics. He’s finding it hard so he’s resorted to grunts and a sort of squealing sound… The traffic has improved vastly as we are now hitting 70mph. Are we legal, we’re going with the flow however! I don’t drive but I sympathise with those at the wheel. As slow as a tortoise for so long and now running with the hare… I spoke too soon. Back walking with the tortoise. But the children get to see a ‘Blue Tractor’ on the opposite side of the road. Sun pretty much set now and the moon is shining on my left hand side. It should be full in a few days, I hope it’s not cloudy on Monday!!! We’re talking about Lorna’s cats now, the ginger or the black. They all want the cats. Oh dear, Thor now says he smells something strange! ‘Is it coffee’ Aaliyah asks. ‘What is it, what is it’ she is now screaming. Thor looks at her calmly. ‘You don’t need to worry Aaliyah’. Thor then adds ,The moon is following us Aaliyah’. It’s dark now and I have resorted to google maps for directions. Tara is shouting ‘Hey Google’ as she is on the car speaker. To no avail, google does not reply. You have to smile and sorry if you don’t understand some of my dialogue today as i’m not sure I do either…
Two o’clock this afternoon and the little ones were in transit to the doctors for their flu vaccination and John had just finished the arduous job of mowing the lawn. With sweat on brow he made his way to the terrace. The grass was gilded green and shining with brilliance once more. Reminiscing on ‘leaf fall’ the ton of crispy, now brown, dull leaves have all but gone. Just a handful remain, hanging on to the oaks branches for whatever little time remains for them. The sun was shining and hot. In the shade of the bay window the thermometer read nineteen degrees, but in direct sunlight, it felt like summers embrace once again. Off with my tee shirt and a little sunbathing was had. The middle of October, who would have thought it.
It is now three o’clock and the little ones and I are in the car whilst John is waiting at the school exit. Should be back in ten minutes with the girls. Thor is sleeping like a log and Aaliyah is snoring merrily in the middle. Caleb is awake and thus far being very good. He has just told me that he wants to wee, which is very good as at present we have both Thor and Aaliyah on potty training and we think Caleb is maybe six months off. Aaliyah has just woken up and started groaning and shouting. Five minutes later and the foul mood has just dissipated with the arrival of John and the girls. We’re on the road.
Sindy on lunch, John at home mowing the lawn, the little ones back from preschool, sitting up watching Tee and mo. No nap today, like we could imagine they would, as this afternoon were off to wilds of Devon. A small excursion for them first as they are off to have their flu vaccinations, then back home before we pick up the girls from school. Oooh aaah oooo is all I can hear in the background, that and the little chuckles from the children. The dogs have finally settled down, since the general hyperactivity surrounding lunchtimes.
Jo has picked up the keys so the dogs bestest will be calling in tonight for their evening run and thrice daily until our return on Monday. The dogs are getting excited as their dinnertime is around the corner.
Thor is still coveting his crown. In fact they’re all still in tact. Aaliyah is holding hers crawling along the floor like an army commando on a training exercise. She has just scaled the sofa and thrust her crown on top of my head. Little hands are gently squeezing around my neck. She can be very loving. Oooh, fingers now over my nose and Thor is explaining to me that Aaliyah is on my back and now he wants to have a wee wee. So he’s now sat in the hallway on the potty. The dogs are whining and Thor is now insisting that Aaliyah has bitten him on his jumper (she hadn’t). Aaliyah spins around on the carpet like a whirling Dervish. She is now hugging Remus, still whining and Gracie looks on, unperplexed by it all. Welcome to the world of three year olds. Just a small moment of many, interwoven seamlessly into and surrounding our lives.
Update once we’re on the road.