The Grand Old Duke of York

Come out of the Dover ferry terminal, go up up the A2, Jubilee Way. That is some hill; it is steep; it even has escape routes. You come to the Duke of York’s roundabout.

That got me thinking was this the hill the Grand Old Duke of York marched up and down? It’s near Dover Castle after all.

Alas, no. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grand_Old_Duke_of_York. But it was a nice idea.

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The Unbirthday

Last weekend was a family celebration for grandson’s birthday. This weekend, it was his friends’ turn to join in the fun. Three friends, with their siblings and parents came to our little seaside getaway for the day.

Granny was busy doing DIY stuff and came back from the local DIY store to find fourteen people sitting on the grass outside the chalet eating lunch. Everyone had brought a picnic lunch and were tucking in. Fortunately daughter had saved some food.

Presents were opened, admired and played with. The lads played football. A ball got stuck in a tree. They tried to dislodge it with a second ball, which got stuck. Sticks were waved at the tree, to no avail. Then the dads put their heads together. One of the dads gave the other a bunk up and he climbed into the tree and rescued the balls. Who’s a hero, then?

Then, in an unusual turn of events, the “party bags” were produced. In the middle of a party?!

“Kneel down”, said daughter to grandson. She tapped him on the shoulders “Arise Sir (name)”, and handed him a sword filled with jelly beans. She went round all the children in turn. Soon jelly bean eating children had formed themselves into a raggle taggle army and were running round the park looking to perform acts of daring do. Meanwhile the adults basked in the sun, listening to the unfolding events on one of the walkie talkies that had been left behind.

The conquering heroes returned and wanted to go swimming. The pool was empty and, for most of the time, we had it all to ourselves. Kids showed off their swimming prowess, practiced diving with spectacular results, and a game of ball ensued.

No visit to the seaside would be complete without a trip to the beach, so off they all went. Silence, and granny resumed her DIY. They returned bearing the treasures they had found. Stones and seaweed, mainly. Some of the kids were able to smuggle their treasures home. Others had to leave them on the veranda until next time.

Everyone tucked into burgers and then it was time for the biggest birthday cake you had ever seen – with no candles! So grandson struck and blew out a match instead. The adults grabbed him and he was duly bumped. He was lifted high in the air, “one, two , three, four, five, six, seven, one for luck!”, much to the bemusement of some of the kids, who had never seen such a thing before.

One last swing on the swings, and it was time to go home. See you at school on Monday.

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Happy birthday grandson

The children were in bed. We put up bunting and banners, blew up balloons, wrapped parcels and went to bed ourselves.

I was woken at 5.15 am by oldest grandson knocking on the wall. The whole chalet could hear! As the nearest adult, I took it upon myself to go and tell him off and create the first chalet rule: no knocking on the walls.

Later, Nanny Sally and I were woken by kisses from the children, and the birthday celebrations began. Middle grandson opened his presents, light sabres, a wii game, pogo stick, books and what he thought was football pyjamas.

Actually it was Grandad Martin’s favourite football team’s strip, that you could actually put on and play football in. Not surprising that grandson thought they were pyjamas. Grandad gives pyjamas to all his grandkids at Christmas. Needless to say, grandson put the strip on and didn’t take it off for the rest of the day! Son in law is definitely outnumbered, everyone else in the family appears to support Grandad’s team!

The kids played in the park; went running; played swingball; went on adventures with the new walkie talkies; went swimming and played an endless game of football: while the adults chilled, knitted or read.

Birthday cake was eaten and it was time to go home. I took son and his children back to the station. They had cycled and walked the two and a half miles from the station. When you are four and six, that’s no mean feat. They showed me the way they came, and I learnt a new short cut.

We loaded up a barrow and took everything back to the cars in the car park. We said our farewells and left. We’ll be back next week.

Our little seaside getaway

Using money inherited from my parents, I have bought a holiday home on the coast. Daughter has already dubbed it our little seaside getaway.

Every year, for the previous years, or so, we have been camping on the coast. But in 2012, the weather was so bad that we decided to book at the nearest holiday village instead. We had a lovely time, and the Grandkids were still playing holidays at Christmas!

The site has about 150 chalets set on the cliffs overlooking the sea. The centre of the site has a swimming pool and lounge bar, where you can lurk with your laptop, and an arcade. Outside, there is tennis and volleyball courts, crazy golf and a children’s playground. The nearest shop is a short walk away.

The opportunity arose to buy the chalet we stayed in last summer. I hesitated. Was this good use of my parents’ money? Would they approve? Bearing in mind that they had been holidaying in Cromer for over forty years, I thought they would. Daughter thought that even if the value of the chalet did not appreciate much, it was a good opportunity to invest in creating happy memories for all the family.

And already, I did have happy memories of the area. As a young teenager I had attended a youth camp in a local boarding school. My parents had rented a cottage in the area one summer, and we had been camping there for the last few years.

The day of completion arrived. Within a couple of days, I was driving back to take possession of the chalet. It was good to be back. A few hours later,I was in the nearest town, shopping for bits and pieces. I wanted to rush into all the shops shouting “I’m back!”

What was really noticeable was that everyone was so friendly and helpful. What we call good customer service in London is exceeded here. So I really did feel welcomed back. And we are all set to create those memories.

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