Seals, Mermaids and Ice Cream

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9 August 2012

The first day camping dawned misty, cold and wet. Oh no! But at our last check of the area met forecast, we were heading for 5 days of sun, sun, sun! That was the morning when I first suspected that the Met Office forecasting had been left in the sole charge of Colin, the Janitor’s Dog, while the actual forecasters were off on their jollies.

So, stopping for a quick photo of Eilean Donan castle again, we headed back to Kyle of Lochalsh, back to Hector’s Bothy, for a Billy Big Boy Fill My Belly With Yumminess fried breakfast. Lovely! It hit the spot. Even though Mini Minx nicked everyone’s black pudding. The mug that fit nearly a pint of coffee definitely set me up for the day. By the time we’d finished, the cloud had lifted a little, so we decided to act like tourists and go on the second cruise of the day on the Atlantis Sea Probe Glass Bottom Boat.

While we waited on the tour, we went for a little explore. I don’t know about you, but I can’t resist steps, especially if they lead out of sight. I have to climb to the top, to see what I can see, I suppose; to see what they’ve been put there for. So plodding uphill we found some steps. And broke through to a viewpoint, over to Skye. It was very scenic and quite special.

Speaking of which, I wasn’t expecting much of the glass-bottom boat trip. Especially when I saw the faces of the Dawn of the Dead passengers from the first cruise. But oh my word, it was fascinating! One of the crew members just chatted away, telling anyone who wanted to listen all about the area: the landscape, the sealife, some history, fascinating facts. The trip was far too short, and we all really enjoyed it. The minxes loved seeing the seals, I liked the big starfish underwater, and Mini dropped her obsession with baked beans and transferred it to seaweed.

We stopped at a little shack on the sea-front for the most tasty seafood rolls I’ve ever tasted, then drove over the twisty roads to Plockton. Boy, did The Boss ever get some practice manoeuvring the car about! Descending into the wee village, the sun came out. Mini need a nap, but the elder minxes and me were in desperate need of burning off some energy. So she went in a sling, the others got their buckets, I rolled up my jeans and blinded the village with my blue-white pins, and off we plodded around the harbour.

Remember what I was saying about steps? Well, we saw some narrow ones heading out of sight. So we climbed all 65 of them, wondering what was at the top. Oh. Just a farm track. That led back to the village! Still, we saw a man scything his field. And the path did lead to the ice-cream shop. By this stage, the minxes thought we were going on an ice cream tour of the Highlands.

We were going to stay for a while, but there’s always one minx has to spoil it all, and have us legging it away quickly… ;o)

On the long drive back, we realised that Midi hadn’t burned off enough steam, as she treated us to her ‘opera singing’. Sounded like a pod of dolphins screaming along to a Bjork song, to me. My poor ears!!

It was still a nice night so The Boss cooked up some Pasta ‘n’ Sauce with extra broccoli and peas stirred in. The minxes loved it, but Maxi got very upset at us not being as bothered about who ate what from which colour of bowl as she was (“No, no, Mummy, yours is the red one!” But I want a big portion – I’m hungry. And I need more food than you. And the red has the littlest portion. “But yours is red! And mine is blue! Don’t you see?” No. Gimme.) We discovered that kids will eat *anything* if you cook it on an open flame (and give them the bowl of their chosen colour…).

That night they didn’t sleep till late. Hey-ho. At least the campers next to us last night had moved on (oops).

Introducing the Minxes To Camping

31 July – 2 Aug 2012

Well, we finally managed it – we got the minxes away properly camping for a few days. No-one called the police, no-one died and I think we might be allowed back on the campsite this century. So I’d say that was a success…

The Beast

We went to Deeside Holiday Park, near Peterculter, south of Aberdeen. It was the place we’d originally planned to stay at back in March, until it dumped with snow. What a brilliant site! Quiet, clean, with a safely fenced-off duck pond and great, sturdy playground for kids. It was pretty busy so we drove round it looking for somewhere to park the behemoth of a tent. Then drove round again. And then asked timidly at Reception if it would be ok if we used the overspill tent field. Luckily, for them and us, it was fine.

Can you imagine how much noise 3 over-excited minxes can make? Well, our poor fellow-campers don’t need to imagine (I’m sorry; I’m so, so sorry). They started screeching as me and The Boss got out the car and started to erect the tent. An hour later, with just the guy-ropes to do, and they were at fever-pitch. We took them to the playground and the duck-pond to burn off some energy, especially because Midi was just screaming loudly and randomly just for the hell of it, like an overly-sensitive car alarm. That worked a bit and they turned back into normally active kids. Stupidly, we then fed them at the Old Mill restaurant next door (not our original plan, but what you do when Someone (hint: not me) forgets the cutlery and plates!) So, full of calories, we then topped them up with hot chocolate and marshmallows. Crikey, talk about lighting the blue touch paper… After a while, though, you have to balance the racket you’re making yourself, hissing, “Be quiet! Go to sleep! For the love of God stop eating your sister’s hair!!” and just let them get on with it.

You can forgive a man almost anything when he puts your coffee on the campfire before he does anything else – even fix the tent.

I’m not saying that I didn’t get much sleep, but I remember that they finally quietened down around 2215hrs; and that the light rain turned to heavy rain at 0100hrs. At 0320hrs both Maxi and Midi needed potty runs. Around 0600hrs the workies’ vans started up and left, from right outside the tent door (the nice staff member mowing the lawn had warned us, but we knew we’d be up anyway). At 0720hrs I gave up and decided to get up and see how bad the rain was. Five minutes later I realised I *had* slept because I hadn’t noticed The Boss or Mini get up and leave the tent. At 0731hrs The Boss handed me in a freshly brewed espresso and went back to fixing the tent with Mini (he’d not pegged out the ventilation flaps. Oops). And my world became liveable again.

You don’t want to know what she was drawing in the condensation. Really, you don’t.

The next night we thought the girls would sleep more soundly because they’d fallen asleep in their (delicious) Greek restaurant food. Nope, not a chance. Just the thought of brushing their teeth outdoors and they were full of the giggles and screeches again. This time, though, they quietened down a bit earlier. Just a bit: 2200hrs. You could hear them clear across the campsite, by the washing-up block. It’s a wicked, unsubstantiated rumour that I only offered to wash-up to escape the cacophony, by the way…

I wrote up some of my top tips about camping with children over on the Little Trekkers blog, but I guess in summary:

– don’t forget your coffee. No matter what. Your life won’t be worth living.

– the best luxury item for kids is a potty. It saves that Silly O’Clock in the morning run across a wet field just as your 4 year old pees herself. You still have to march across sleepily to the toilet block to empty it, but your minx can go back to sleep. Taking the old pink potty was a stroke of genius, I tell you.

– camping brings out the muckiness in kids. Example, me and Mini Minx were cuddling up in my sleeping bag. Maxi and Midi had finally passed out. Mini was idly rooting around in her nostril.

“Mini, stop picking your nose: it’s not nice. Dirty!… Oh, what’s that?!”

Mini: “My bogey! Hehehehee”

Me, exasperated: “Right, now what are you going to do with it? Where’s your bogey going to go? No…no! Aaiieeeee!” as she happily and affectionately wiped it on my cheek.

Fuelling up for more minxy japery

Midi Loves Bogeys

Hi all, we’re back! Been away on a sunny island for 2 weeks, hence the silence. Some of it was great, some of it was bloody awful (but on the bright side it certainly given me brilliant blogging material) and some was just…random.

As I kept a handwritten diary while I was away, as usual, I’ll write each day of the holiday up over the next month. I’ll put each post in a new category ‘holiday 2011’ or something like that so they’re easier to read. And I won’t be publishing any spoilers – you’ll just have to read each day as it ‘happens’.

However, I can’t resist putting this video up right away. Midi Minx and I were chatting on the bed one afternoon, and I changed our chat to a videod, evidenced, interview. The Boss hopes that publication might prevent any boys from sniffing around her or our other daughters. Ever. He might be right…

Sleep: none

I feel I need to make a short apology.

Sorry.

There.  Thank you, goodnight.

Sleep Deprivation

A fresh-faced 28 year old (ahem) after 45 mins sleep all night (truth. And it was broken, at that)

(Sorry, walked into that one).  My posts are worse than usual and I’ve still only drafted my Orkney ones because I’m not completely on form.  Mainly because of extreme sleep deprivation.  Petri Dish Prime (Midi Minx) caught a cough that she spread to the entire family, whilst hers turned into yet another ear infection.  So Mini is waking up through the night unable to breathe, dehydrated and wanting to feed; Midi is waking up in pain and feeling rubbish and wanting Mummy-huggles; and Maxi Minx is waking up all alone and feeling lonely, so wanting Mummy-huggles.  End result is that I’m not getting a whole lot of shut-eye.  Which makes me a right crabbit bitch.  And I don’t want to deluge my blog with Posting of Evil Vitriol (unless some sod really deserves it…).  So I’ve basically been unwell for 5 solid weeks now.  Nice start to being 40 😦

Oh yeah, and it’s not just the minxes who’re keeping me up – at 0045hrs the other night, me and The Boss finally went to bed, having finished making a cake for Maxi’s birthday.  And I’ve signed-up to do my very first craft fair in a fortnight, with not a lot of stock.  So updating my blog has had to take a bit of a backseat, which I hate, because I use it as my internal safety fuse. 

I can tough out a basic lack of sleep, and have been doing for years.  But when it’s severe (less than 2 hrs sleep, broken, the past 3 nights, and around 4hrs a night the rest of the week before), then the short-term memory loss it induces is what I really struggle with.  That, and short-term memory loss 😉  Seriously: that, and losing the ability to be flexible.  I think the most frustrating thing about my wee life just now is not being able to do a single task from start to finish, and lack of sleep stops me being able to keep hold of all the uncompleted threads in my head to make sure I go back and finish them.

Let me give you a daft example.  The other day I needed to hang out a washing.  A mucky family of 5 who all have bad colds means I’m doing 14 washloads a week.  Simple!  My washing machine is a few feet from the back door, which itself is only a few yards from the line.  But I had 3 minxes to sort out.  I could have parked 2 in front of CBeebies and one in her playpen, and kept nipping in and out every 30 seconds or so.  But from experience something inevitably happens on one of my trips back to the house, so the washing remains unhung.  So, I decided to get them all out in the garden to play for a bit so I could eyeball them while pegging wet washing.

I got 2 towels hung.  Mini won’t stop crying in her buggy because she’s being a cling-on, so I go to comfort her before the neighbours ring Childline. Go back, hang one tea-towel.  Mini sounds like she’s being murdered.  Go back and give her a kiss, then a different toy.  Peg up a flannel.

“P says I’m an old lady!” whines (3 year old) Midi about her sister, Maxi.  I ignore her, so she rubs her snot-encrusted nose on my jeans.  I yell at Maxi and ignore Midi some more.  She demands a Mummy-huggle and launches her 3-stone self at my shins.  I stumble and step a muddy foot on a was-clean-a-second-ago bib.  Chuck it in the direction of the washing machine.  Back to the washing.  Midi’s now poking at Mini, who’s screaming again.  Separate them.  Peg up a towel.

“I got bogeys!” screams Midi.  Mop them up with spare jeans-pocket-tissue (standard issue to all parents in the maternity unit, I think).  Wipe hands, pick up another tea-towel.  Flap it at Mini to make her smile.  Get a watery one.

Hear the front door bell get rung 4 times and the door get hammered loudly.  Drop tea-towel in fright, thinking someone’s needing help, yell to Maxi that she’s in charge, check gate is locked, run to the front door.  Bloody postman.  Too breathless to shout at him.  Accept package.  Chuck package at the kitchen table, race out to the garden.

Find Midi trying to eat some tulips.  She’s having a tentative lick.  Go over and yank her away.  Propel her in direction of scooter.  Retrieve tea-towel from mud.  Chuck at the washing machine.  Wave to howling Mini.  Pick up flannel.

Spot Midi poking at some newly-planted seeds.  Yell at Midi, give her a mini kite, stomp back to crying Mini.  Realise Maxi’s nowhere to be found.  Quick search shows her back in front of CBeebies.  Decide to leave her there for a sec.  On way back out the phone rings.  Cursing, leave it to answerphone, because that’s what answerphones are for.  Reaching the back door hear the message being recorded faintly and realise I need to take this.  Race back to the phone, but they’ve already rung off.  Curse again, and run to the garden.  Midi’s picked 3 tulips and Mini’s still crying, and the first 2 towels have blown off the line.  Into the muddy bit.  Swear a bit more loudly than strictly safe, stuff the whole basket of washing on top of the machine, give it all up as a bad job, retrieve 2 outdoor minxes, grab a chocolate mini roll as a thumb-sucker substitute en-route to the living-room, and glower through a comfort breast-feed for Mini.  Little teething minx bites me.  Consider crying.  Decide to have another chocolate roll instead.

I’m convinced that had I had more sleep I’d have coped with that particular waste of 35 minutes a lot better – example, got the bloody washing out in a oner, ignoring all other distractions!