31 July – 2 Aug
I told you all about our first proper camping trip; but we actually did a lot more than just hang about the (huge, blue) tent.
First stop en-route was a cafe in Huntly. I only mention it because it was suddenly-sophisticated Maxi Minx’s first taste of an ice-cream float. It went well with her jacket potato and tuna mayonnaise. How can I possibly have a daughter both old enough and aware enough of her own tastes to order jacket potato and tuna mayonnaise?! I nearly burst with pride*. It’s not something I make at home. I guess she must have been experimenting with new tastes at her weekly school dinner?
*I know that’s probably a strange reaction. It’s hard to say why I felt so proud. The best I can describe is that it’s just another little step in her journey from being a totally dependent little infant to her being a hopefully self-confident, independent woman. Yes, each step takes her further from me; my control; my influence; my tastes. But it also takes her closer to our joint goal.
Anyway, 1 August dawned wet and fairly chilly, so we felt no guilt at all about heading for the Satrosphere rather than staying outdoors. We’d been to the Glasgow Science Centre earlier in the summer holidays; I knew that was much larger, so tried not to expect a similar level of fun. Even so, I still wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped I might have been. It wasn’t just that it was a lot (an awful lot) smaller: it was mostly on the customer side. I am the Queen of Discount Codes and Vouchers. I have to be! So I barreled up to the entrance to pay and happily quoted a discount code that they’d been promoting on Facebook. Blank faces. Could I provide a voucher? I explained that the post I’d quoted from had stated twice that you didn’t need a print-out, just quote the code. No. nothing. Luckily I’d taken along a separate paper discount voucher. I felt quite miffed because when I checked again later, I had indeed quoted the correct code.
Maxi and Midi almost immediately zoomed off to one of the wee workshops in the bowels of the building. That was very well run and the girls enjoyed it. Certainly, the staff they had explaining the exhibits, experiments and running the workshops were entirely excellent: motivated, engaging, passionate and fun. But the restaurant? Oh dear… We arrived as the huge rainy school holiday rush had started to die down. We ordered 5 simple lunches and found some seats. Lunch (sandwiches) took 40 minutes to arrive. Well, some of it – some of it came much later after I chased it up. And again for the juice cartons. I wasn’t having a great day, so was easily persuaded to have some cake. The Boss paid with a £10 note. The server gave him the cake and turned to serve the next person. He politely asked for his change. He was given a few coins. He pointed out he’d paid with a tenner. Ah. The manager would have to come and do a complete till check before he could get the rest of his change, even though the server agreed that he’d paid with a tenner. It took the manager quite a while to do that… then he still got the change wrong. So they had to do another till check. It’s not often I have a lunch that lasts 2 hours and that I don’t enjoy. Perhaps we were just unlucky.
Desperate to get outdoors (I don’t care if it’s bucketing down – I’ve lost the will to live stuck in there all day!!), we walked past the circus setting up and on to the Pleasure Beach. The Boss has a real thing against carnival-type things, but I guess the morning must have affected him too: he happily encouraged the minxes to go on some fair rides. They went on the ferris wheel first while I took photos, then me and Maxi went off to do a rollercoaster. Alas, my grown-up girl screamed so loudly that she hated it and wanted to get off that that is exactly what happened – the man operating the ride stopped it, let her off and even gave us a complete refund, bless him. So we sent her onto the baby coaster – I guess her developmental journey in adventure and risk-taking will be longer than I first thought… Mini went on her first rollercoaster too, with The Boss. Poor lambs, both of them! She wasn’t too happy, and he looked so distressed at her obvious discomfort!
So by this point, Maxi’s been in floods of tears, Mini’s leaked a few. Back to Maxi again: she took a wrong turning while walking through the penny slot machines and got ‘lost’ (she wasn’t – I could see her). She instantly panicked and shrieked hysterically. I scooped her up and we decided to call it quits and go to the swings, especially as it had stopped raining. Well, I guess it was Midi’s turn, now: en-route she stumbled over her feet in a perfect prat-fall straight onto her little knees. She shredded her leggings and most of her knee skin, poor baby. Luckily we’d packed big graze dressings in the first aid kit in the car, so The Boss legged it back for them. Newly papered up, we finally made it to the swings and they had a great time.
Keen to try something new (and remember: it wasn’t me who forgot the cutlery and plates 😉 ) we went to Christos Greek Taverna as soon as it opened. The staff were lovely to our very tired little girls and the food was truly tasty and delicious – Maxi developed an instant love for moussaka. It was very busy on a Wednesday night, and I could see why. It’s the kind of place I’d love to go back to. The only dampener on it was that the baby change table was pretty liberally smeared with poo. Not necessarily the restaurant’s fault (why didn’t the parent clean up afterwards? What’s wrong with some people?!), but I guess it means that it didn’t get checked or cleaned from at least the previous day. I know that I or The Boss should have told the restaurant, but to be honest I found it difficult to without sounding like I was complaining. And I was exhausted. And all 3 minxes were playing up / falling asleep in their dinners. So in summary: do, do, do go there, you will absolutely love the experience. But use your own change mat, like we did.
2 August was just as rainy and dreich as the day before. We’d left the cats to fend for themselves (!! They had lots of food left out for them, even more water, toys, soft places to sleep, had the run of the living room and halls, and we’d filled 4 litter trays, including the massive oven-grill-tray-soaker thing) so decided not to take tooooo long about returning home. I’m not sure why we decided to have a look at the beach near Newburgh, perhaps because we were getting beach withdrawal symptoms?
We parked up behind the golf course and unleashed the minxes into the sand dunes. As we came up to the coast, it was quite eerie and mystical, with the black sky and sea mist changing your colour perception and deadening all sounds. Lots of the pebbles were flat and smooth so I had some fun skimming them.
I’m overjoyed at getting 4 jumps; The Boss is the family ciampione at that. Maxi tried one – plop. Mini tried one – she barely moved it 3 inches with her gentle little fingers. Midi tried one – SPLOSH! Right out by the fishing boats. A little black head popped up. Oh crap, was my first thought, we’ve been disturbing divers! Then I saw its dead-skull eyes… it was a seal! I shouted all excitedly to The Boss and the kids behind me. They just pointed over towards the surf – there were absolutely dozens of them, all rolling, diving, playing, right next to the shoreline. We walked up towards the coast-proper, checking them out. There were a pair that were paying very close attention to little Mini. Perhaps they were weighing up whether she’d taste better than fish? Or maybe they really were listening to Maxi’s Hello Little Seals whistle-song that she made up?
Sadly, hungry tummies of our own forced us onwards and back on the road to home. And I tell you, after 2 nights of sleeping awkwardly and badly, there really is nothing like your own bed. Even if it gets rudely invaded with minxes throughout the night.