Logistics and fireworks

It was grandson’s tenth birthday. How better to celebrate it than with a family party culminating with fireworks on the beach?

He sent out his party invitations well in advance, using his newly acquired PowerPoint skills. Twelve people were able to come. How do you get twelve people in four cars to our little seaside getaway? Sounds easy. But it wasn’t.

Car one set off when after school clubs had finished with granny, grandson and granddaughter. We were starving by the time we were nearly there and stopped off at MacDonalds for something to eat before arriving at out little seaside getaway in the dark. We were surprised to see there was hardly anyone in the car park, but half term was really over, and everyone had gone home. Four had arrived safely.

Car two had mummy and middle grandson in. They went to grandad’s and were surprised to see granny’s friend Darren and his motor bike were visiting grandad and gramca. Darren and grandad were talking about a new foodbank. You can read about it here. here

Mummy dropped middle grandson off to spend the night with grandad and gramca. They would take him to a school friend’s party and bring him to his brother’s party the next day, in car four. Mummy continued to our little seaside getaway and arrived at bedtime. Then there were five.

Car three, driven by daddy, collected nanny, uncle and cousin the following day. After a slap up breakfast, they set off for the party. About fifteen miles from their destination, they heard a Big Bang. They stopped the car and got out. The exhaust had well and truly blown. They limped to join the rest of us. Now there were nine.

The breakdown people were called. The best they could offer was a tow back to nanny’s which took daddy home, the following day. (Grandad and gramca left in car four after the fireworks. Granny took uncle, nanny and cousin home in car one, after the party; while mummy took the remaining children home in car two the next day.)

We had lunch. It was cold and wet outside, so we huddled inside and played games while we waited for car four to join us. Just before tea, it stopped raining and we were joined by grandad, gramca and middle grandson. Now we were twelve and the party could really begin.

Grandson opened his presents and we had tea. Our new dining room meant that there was plenty of room for everyone.

By now it was dark and we set out for the fireworks, organised by the local sea scouts with help from local volunteers. The first thing we noticed that it was nothing like the big displays we were used to in London. They had sold 400 tickets, we were told, and maybe less than 1,000 people on a beach is not exactly crowded. We queued up for hot drinks and hot dogs,included in the price of the tickets. It didn’t take long to get to the front of the queue. Everyone gathered round the blazing bonfire.

It was time. Time for the bangs, whizzes, flashes, screams and soaring lights we had been eagerly anticipating all day. They didn’t disappoint. We oohed and aahed with the best of them. The bangs reverberated off the cliffs as only fireworks can.

And then it was all over. People started to make for home. The volunteers began to clear up and put the rubbish on the fire – including a big box that whooshed, and banged and whizzed and fizzed in all directions! A fitting end to a long anticipated evening. Thanks to the 12th Deal & Kingsdown Sea Scouts for a wonderful display.

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Living the dream #2

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Remember the opening scene of Swallows and Amazons?

Roger, aged seven, and no longer the youngest of the family, ran in zig zags, to and fro, across the steep field that sloped from the lake to Holly Howe, the farm where they were staying for part of the summer holidays. He ran until he nearly reached the hedge by the footpath, then turned and ran until he nearly reached the hedge on the other side of the field. Then he turned and crossed the field again. Each crossing of the field brought him nearer to the farm.”

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It was to be the start of an unsupervised adventure, for Father said: “BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WONT DROWN”.

Isn’t that what every parent wants to give their child? The freedom to run and play with the minimum of supervision. Many adults have fond memories of “we went out after breakfast and didn’t come home until we were hungry”. They admit they weren’t always perfectly behaved and even got into some scrapes; but they had something that our children don’t get easily today – freedom to play safely and unsupervised.

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That’s what the holiday park where our little seaside getaway is gives the children who go there. Younger children can “run wild”, form gangs and make dens, while older children can experience life in the village and explore the beach and its environs. If they choose to, they too can live the dream.

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Swinging

We all do it. Sit on the swing. Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards; stick your legs out, bring them back in, stick your legs out, bring them back in; lean forwards, lean back, lean forwards, lean back.

Take kids to the park. Inevitably, “Granny will you push me?” Increasingly, I’ve been aware that one day they will be able to swing themselves. As they get older, the baby swings get too small and are only suitable for favoured soft toys. So I’ve made pushing kids on swings a priority.

At our little seaside getaway, the playground is next door, but one. The kids run out to play and you have five minutes peace to accomplish some complicated task. Running feet. “Granny, will you push me?”

I’m so glad I dropped everything to comply or made swing dates. I’m so glad we had “one last swing, before you go home”. Because now the youngest two have learnt to swing themselves.

The trials of recycling

There’s no recycling collection from our little seaside getaway. Allegedly, the council won’t sent a lorry up the hill to collect it. Ridiculous, because many visitors to the site come from Europe and are well used to sorting their rubbish for recycling and the trip would be worthwhile. Even we feel guilty when we put our recycling in the in a black bag for disposal.

So Granny found an empty bin. She went on line to find the nearest recycling points and what they would take. We happily put our recycling in the bin and carried it out to the car when it was time to go to a supermarket.

Remembering the very visible recycling points at home, we drove round the car park, looking for the recycling point. We couldn’t find it. We asked in store. Even the staff weren’t sure where it was! “It’s by the exit,” we were told. We still couldn’t see it. We asked at the garage (by the exit). “It’s by the entrance, near MacDonalds,” they said. Eventually, we found it, looking unloved and barely used. No wonder.

There were big bins for the different types of glass, we only had a jam jar. There were bins for drinks cans and food cans, we only had an empty baked bean can. There was a bin for different types of batteries, we had two AAA batteries, hardly a great contribution. We had some paper which we put in another bin. We had lots of card and plastic bottles, no bin.

So we put it back in the car. We tried another, bigger supermarket on the way home. We found the recycling bins easily. They looked even more unloved and there were fewer of them and we’ve still got our plastic bottles and card. Anyone want it?

You can’ teach an old dog …

Earlier in the year, grandson leant how to dive. Granny had never learnt to dive and grandson thought it was time to teach her.

He showed her how to sit on the edge of the side, duck her head and put her arms over her head. He told her to push off into the water and go forward at the same time.

Granny had trouble sitting on the side. Her knees don’t work as well as they did. She ducked her head, put her arms over her head and pushed off. She went into the water. She went forward. Voila! She dived!

Grandson was pleased. But he told her to kick her feet next time so she went further. She tried again. It felt like diving. She went even further!

Granny had learnt a new trick.

Making it our own

It’s nearly three months nice we got our little seaside getaway. Granny has spent a lot of time scouring the charity shops and other places for bargains to make the chalet ours. The bathroom is a good example.

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The shelf came from a charity shop in Whitstable, the picture from Hilly Fields Summer Faye, the towel rail was found in the street and a new, similar toilet roll holder was added soon after. All a sudden the bathroom has acquired character.

A lot of time has been spent in equipping the kitchen. Poundland and charity shops have been the main source of finds. But visiting friends have brought “housewarming presents” of mugs and plates.

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The kitchen had been upgraded a few years previously, but it drove Granny mad. New appliances, a longer worktop and an extra socket meant that the remodelled kitchen is a joy to work in. It’s never tidy, but you get the idea …

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Last time Granny left the chalet, having got it ready for guests, she felt that at last everything was as it should be. Well almost. When the family came back, son in law and daughter moved two of the beds upstairs and the resulting empty room is in the process of becoming a dining room leading out onto the new decking, making us very aware of the position of our seaside getaway.

It was the nail what done it

It was a hot Friday in July. We dashed to our seaside getaway after school and arrived 20 minutes before the swimming pool closed. A quick change and we had 15 minutes of splashing about.

On our return to the car, Granny noticed that one of the tyres was flat. That’s a job for the AA then. We unloaded the car, had supper, went for a walk on the beach, watched the first night of the Proms and went to bed.

Everyone was up early and Granny rang the AA before breakfast. They said they’d come in half an hour. Just time to make bacon bagels. Andy from the AA arrived. He put air in the tyre and we all piled into the car. Andy followed us to the garage to make sure that we got there safely. Everyone waved good bye.

The garage was busy. They couldn’t even look at the tyre for an hour! How was a granny going to keep three children entertained for an hour? We walked. Down the hill. We found a beer can on the way and watched its contents trickle down the pavement and over the kerb. We kept walking. Were we never going to get to the park? And there it was. Right by the bus stop, like some one said.

The playground was quite small with something for everyone – balancing, climbing, swinging, dangling. We watched a man doing his keep fit exercises. Grandson led the others through the maze of tennis courts, through the interconnecting gates.

Fortified by snacks from the garage opposite, we climbed the hill again. The beer had all dried up.
Grandson found a pine cone and a long piece of cord. He made a swingy, whirly thing. Granny dropped granddaughter’s hoody and we had to retrace our steps to find it.

When we got back to the garage, the man was patching the hole made by a nail. We had to wait for the glue to dry. We waited, and waited. At last it was all done. Granny was impressed. The garage man wanted her to come back another day so that he could check the effectiveness of the repair.

We got back in the car. We were on our way. No one had cleaned their teeth, made their beds or done their chores! It would soon be lunch time, so we went to the village for sausages and, of course, Saturday sweets.

Granny did go back to the garage. As the man suspected, the patch was not entirely satisfactory as the nail had wiggled around and done some damage, so he changed the tyre. But we did get home safely that day.