We are back from our holiday! A week in the sun with two veeeery white toddlers, their even whiter Daddy and four hour flights over bedtime. It could have been a recipe for disaster but with a little careful planning, decent entertaining and a lot of patience we had a great time with only a few bumps in the road along the way. Here’s the story:
When we booked the holiday we very excited and certain on the resort we picked, however we were less than pleased with the flight times we could find. The best priced were both taking off right over bed time and I just couldn’t imagine the kids coping with staying up til 2am once we got to the hotel, or managing to sleep on the plane. Nonetheless we went with them, the only other option involved waking up at 3am to go to the airport and cost £200 more to boot. So we sucked it up.
The kids were super excited the morning of the flight so we took them to the soft play to try and tire them out. Roslyn napped as usual and Sandy didn’t. We’d hoped he would fall asleep on the drive to the airport but he didn’t; he was too excited. When we got to the airport we sent Stuart off to the longstay car park and loaded the bags onto a trolley then did a comedy shuffle with falling buggies and bouncing children to get them checked it. Feeling much lighter we played at the kids bit at the gate before boarding. Sandy exhibited his famous dance moves with the kinect xbox thing and Roslyn her famous ability to eat nothing and not starve. The kids were super excited to get their backpacks on and board the plane.
On board we settled down with our host of child taming devices and creations. I spent a decent bit of time making up colouring sheets and dot-to-dots which Roslyn entertained for a minute and Sandy disregarded completley (are they really my children??). The things they liked best were – of course – the ipads, the seatbelts on the plane and swapping seats every 11 seconds. Roslyn was not best pleased when told she had to keep the belt on and sit down. We taxied down the runway quite happily with Sandy trying over and again to time his “3..2..1..lift off” to the plane’s movement. He got it eventually and then proceeded to make many comments that the airflight-phobic could find very disconcerting:
“Mummy, the engine has stopped working”
“Look, we are going to land in the water”
“Why is the plane falling down Mummy?”
Top child entertaining device? Window Gel Stickers. Seriously useful. They also stick to the backs of the seats/tray tables/people’s hair etc. Thank you pinterest.
So we had quite a lot of fun times with the kids bopping about, watching 30 seconds of every programme downloaded to iplayer and generally demanding new toys for a few minutes before ditching them in favour of something else, reuslting in the contents of a very full rucksack sprawled all over the floor. Eventually though giddiness became crabbiness and it was time to attempt the impossible, get two hyper toddlers to sleep on a plane. Not just a plane though, a Ryanair plane, with very little room, no spare seats, trolleys full of essentials (mac lipsticks and cartons of 1000 cigarettes) flying up and down every 5 minutes, and hostesses trying to sell scratchcards by shouting.
It’d be nice to say that we managed to cuddle them each up on our laps and they dozed off happily, only rousing at landing with a smile. Instead Sandy demanded at least two whole seats to sprawl out on then spend the best part of an hour wriggling about to get comfy. At least he did sleep though. Roslyn decided to lie in my arms demanding to be fed or flipping her head to the other side for an eternity before we gave up.
1 out of 2 isn’t bad though, is it?
Sandy had a bit of earache on the way down which combined with being just woken up made him a bit cranky, but as soon as he saw the lights out the window below he perked up, getting very excited when we bounced down onto the runway in Lanzarote at 11:30 at night. We collected our bags and the kids got their second wind, running around like banshees as we tried to collect all our stuff. We found our transfer bus and got on, little bops in the middle dancing like a raver to Spanish disco until she finally crashed, well past midnight, lying on her Daddy’s leg.
We rolled into our resort (THB Tropical Island) around 1am and got checked in while the kids got their third wind and we got lost trying to find our apartment. We finally found ourselves wearily reciting Mog and the Granny nearer 2am to the littles before tucking them in and praying for a good long lie.
We were rewarded for our resiliance the next morning when Sandy came bouncing into our bedroom from his sofabed at 9am (a VERY LONG LIE for Sandy) smiling full of cuddles. We were treated to these wake up calls by one or the other of them every morning and we didn’t have a wake up earlier than 7.30am the whole week which in itself is a miracle. The kids were up for getting out to the pool right away and you can see why based on the view out of our room:
The resort was lovely. Among other features it hosted 16 pools, 8 play water fountains, four play parks, three turtles, one soft play and a volcano water feature turning into a stream and ending in a pond full of fish of various sizes. We spend most of our time at our deep pool (pictured), the kids pool (round the corner) and the “robot splash” as Sandy called it – splash/water fountain area.
Here is Sandy having fun in the little pool near our “hotel” or “home” as the kids were calling the apartment.
Roslyn wasn’t so keen on the pools at first. She liked the idea of them, but she freaked out that it wasn’t as warm as a bath. But she grew to it over the course of the week and was fully immersed with me in the big pool soon enough!
We took two floats on holiday. One big blow up rubbed ring type seat and a lilo which Tate gave us. Stuart blew up one the morning we got there but we didn’t need to do the other because the couple next to us who were leaving the day we arrived donated a silver lilo as they went. Then over the course of the holiday we inherited a dolphin, donated by another Scottish family who saw a Dad of a rough boy not controlling his son as he battered Sandy with an inflatable shark. She told Stuart to take the dolphin to defend Sandy from the shark boy.
On holiday, generally, we were the kids. My memories of sun holidays involved constantly being in the pool and begging one of the adults to stop lying in the sun reading and come play. On our holiday it was Stuart and I in the pool or the sea, or making sandcastles and digging holes, while Sandy and Roslyn wimpered about the breeze making them cold having been in the pool, or that they were all covered in sand. On the beach. (I know).
Luckily there was always ice cream to cheer them up. Being all inclusive was great. It meant when Roslyn didn’t eat her dinner it wasn’t costing us an arm and a leg for no nourishment. She was able to pick. And of course she picked very little of actual sustinence. Mostly grated cheese and bread sticks. Nonetheless Sandy tried some new things – sweetcorn, spaghetti and pasta in sauce. A big deal for him. At least Stuart and I were able to enjoy the full array of food on offer.
Here they are entertaining themselves at the rep station. We didn’t have a rep (woohoo!) because we booked on loveholidays.com which was great. It was a lot cheaper and the four star hotel was brilliant; I can’t think of a single complaint. It puts it together like a package for you – the flight, hotel and transfer – but they are all seperate so cost a lot less. The only logisitical thing I will change next time is to hire a car – it’d just be much better for visiting places.
The kids routines changed while we were away, which was sparked by the super late night when we arrived. They woke at 9am the next day and stayed up late the next evening. The late nights (bed about 8-9pm) and long lies (between 7.30 and 9.00am) were nice because we could explore our resort in the evenings when it got cooler and enjoy the absolute luxury of sleeping to a normal hour. I mean, when we woke up breakfast was actually ON. Normally the kids necessitate waiting two hours between their super early rising and the start of normal people waking up.
One morning we were asleep and I sort of woke up, facing Stuart I looked at him and he had his arms out over my head. It turned around and there was Roslyn, just standing in the doorway watching us. It is really sweet to have her coming through in the morning as she never does at home. She was on a rollaway floor bed though so happily jumped off and on to run through to us.
We headed to the beach on our second morning at the resort. It was a simple ten minute walk involving hats being removed repeatedly, toys thrown out the buggy, a lack of lowered kerbs and a lot of African sun. We only discovered many days later there was a much faster route without so many problematic crossings to make, ah well.
On the first day we had gone just to scope out the beach but of course as soon as we were there we just let the kids go for it, which meant Sandy’s shorts getting a tiny bit wet in the sea and him whining about not having dry clothes a lot. Delightful.
Rozzie was quite happy. She wanted to go to the shops first apparently so we went for a walk and she dropped her woody toy (pictured) over a wall into the sea below. Bye bye woody, don’t think buzz will be saving you this time.
At the beach itself she was quite content to have her servants make her sandcastle after sandcastle to knock over.
We returned to the beach properly the next morning and made a real go of it. I tried making mega sandcastles with moats and bridges but that proved futile due to the presence of Rozzilla, so instead we did a favourite of my Dad’s – digging a pit. We dug a big pit in the sand and waited for the tide to fill it. Roslyn called it her paddling pool and was much happier with the warm still water in it, than the cool moving waves of the sea.
Rozzie also made a friend, as children do. A French baby boy toddled over and started playing so she and he were content to dig and throw sand about while Sandy and Stuart jumped waves.
Back to the resort and this happened (above). Adorable, no? No. This? This was a BIG mistake. Sandy napping would help him enjoy himself more, not be as tired, get to stay up later, surely? All it did was make him the world’s most cranky child. Seriously, when he woke from that nap all hell broke loose and we vowed never to let him nap again. Rozzie napped well though and I made the most of the free time in a way only a mother can…
Rock n roll.
At dinner we enjoyed the ridiculous amount of (strangley foamy) desserts on offer and Sandy and Roslyn continued with their diet of exclusivley white coloured foods.
One of my favourite times of day was the evenings. 6-8 after dinner, a time even at home when the kids are content. It must be tiredness but not overtiredness and full bellies which makes them just that little less whiney. Add extra holiday sugar to the mix and they were full of the joys of life, exploring the streets, looking for cats to befriend, and running free and safe in the slightly cooler evening.
Both kids were quite perplexed that at the resort we were allowed to walk on the road. Sandy was satisfied with my explanation that it wasn’t a real road for cars, but a pretend road, and so he was safe. For Roslyn it wasn’t so simple; in fact, nothing was simple. She’s gotten to that stereotypical phase of toddlerhood which, strangely, Sandy never entered. The “why” phase.
“Mummy, why walking on the road?”
“Because it isn’t a road with cars on it”
“Because it is in our resort and there are no cars, just people”
“Because it is safer”
“I just told you”
“If you say why I might lose it Roslyn”
Of course this happened repeatedly on holiday and beyond and along with the close second most annoying phrase, “what you doin’?” Notably when it is incredibly obvious: “Mummy?” *me pushing hoover over the carpet* “what you doin’?” Ah the joys!
One of my best memories of the holiday was Volcano dancing. The Volcano is a big water feature which looks like an errupting volcano at the top and becomes a stream winding downhill with a path to follow and little bridges to cross it as it flows. It runs into a pond at the end full of fish. At the top it mimics one of the volcanic mountains in the background and makes for cool pictures. The coolest of which I do not have (more on that later)
Sandy is very into space right now, as anyone who knows him will be well familiar with. He loves espcially space music which is pretty much any atomospheric music which can describe a space scene. It all started with my Dad who made a cd of ambient music inspired by the solar system. He loved it. But now we have expanded it and choose some of our music which we like (sneaky) and say it is space music. Luckily if you are a fan of experimental or progressive music this is particularly easy. His favourite is a band called the Mars Volta (the name being one important factor) whose progressive metal inspire great stories of the volcanoes on mars and flying through the storms of jupiter. The quiet bits are orbiting the planets and the noisy bits getting stuck in the storm, and the guitar noises are the aliens speaking. We facilitated this but he has run with it and it is a pleasure to see him rocking out to it, singing into his hand-microphone. Never more than when it is atop the resort volcano, dancing in the warm wind, with Lanzarote’s semi-lunar landscape in the background.
We had such nice evenings exploring. It really made us feel as though we were through the majority of the constraints of babyhood. The times when you just have to give up your whims and drop plans because they were too small to cope with a day full of activities yet. They needed sleep and consistency and the comforts of home. But now we are almost there, with becoming more self-sufficient, and us able to be adults. We were able to wander at night, or swim while they played, or sleep while they slept. It was nice to be a bit normal again.
The holiday on the whole was fabulous. We only had one day which was less than great. It started with Sandy getting a suspected UTI, so we had to try and find a doctor. Of course there was the hotel information leaflet which had a doctor on site 10:30-11:30 daily. Excellent we thought, and went to see. There was a family ahead of us who went in first (after the doctor strolled up slowly at 10:45) and came out a minute later. The mum came over to us and reported that the doctor charged £120 euros for a consultation, never mind treatment, and wouldn’t take a health card. So we moved on to a pharmacy to see if they could help and luckily they directed us to the public health centre where we waited for an hour and a half then Sandy was seen, which is a pretty great service considering it often takes far longer to get an appointment back home often.
The next thing we did was leg it to the bus station because we were going on an outing. The day before we had gone and booked a 3 hour coach tour to visit Jameos Del Agua – Lanzarote’s famous cave with Albino crabs. I’d planned on booking Cuevos de la Verde which I’d been to before instead because I thought Stuart would love it more but the woman put me off it. She was one of those ex-pats with Spanish spoken without a hint of effort to accent it other than in her southern English tones. She told me that the kids wouldn’t cope with the caves – which is ridiculous because I know my kids, not her. She told me that I wouldn’t be able to get the buggy in the caves (as if I seriously expected to be taking a buggy down there). I finally managed to convince her that yes my children would like the caves and yes we were all able to walk and she helpfully told me where to meet the coach in the next town, Puerto Del Carmen, emphasising several times that it was a great place to go because it had a McDonalds. Seriously.
Anyway we made our bus and got to the coach and were on our way to the caves with a lovely Canarian guide and a baby Roslyn who slept happily on my leg like the good little girl she is (most of the time). We made it to the caves and descended. I laughed as we waited to go to the single toilet, down a narrow flight of stairs carved into the cave wall itself. A woman came out and said “oh, god, there’s not enough space down here, is there?” as if the natural formation of the cave should have taken into consideration the needs of tourists millions of years later. It made sense the way the woman selling the tour had spoken to me then, considering this was her average punter!
The kids loved the cave and would have surely loved the green caves too – part of the reason I wish we’d hired a car and gone to both! They crouched down at the edge of the water and watched the tiny Albino crabs at one of only three places in the world to see them. They glowed in the water and scuttled close to us, blind and unaware of the danger coming their way as Stuart’s foot entered the water, sending the crabs into a little flurry crawling away!
The water was so still Stuart thought he was stepping onto a lower rock to get a close up picture. Sandy found this all rather amusing!
We got some beautiful pictures to go with all the other lovely moments we had captured. You might be wondering now why these lovely, rich DSLR pictures don’t adorn this post, and the reason is that I am stupid, and people are awful. We snapped away, we played, and the kids wanted to paddle in the edge of the pool. I put down the sling, the camera, the bag, and we paddled.
It wasn’t until we got back to the hotel that we realised. Long after this picture where we awaited our bus returning, content and happy, a full day, successes of doctors and naps, full of joy at the caves and the warmth. I couldn’t find the camera. Stuart said it was in the bag. It wasn’t. I thought it back through and we worked out where it was. I could even see it sitting, in a photo I had taken on my phone. Lodged in wall, next to plants, almost hidden. I felt sick, and sad and stressed. All the effort of planning the trip, making the nap, packing the snacks, carrying the kids and the worry of Sandy’s UTI pushed me over the edge so Stuart had to grab me back up.
The next morning he went back to the place we bought the trip to the caves from and the woman was dismissive. She told him it was gone, the camera. That there was no point trying to get it back, and that it was none of her concern. She washed her hands of it. But we had left it at 5pm, hardly anyone had been in behind us, it was likely still sitting in the wall. She relented and called, speaking in that voice which would only make the bare minimum effort for her Spanish to sound Spanish. She said it wasn’t there.
I took the kids to the little pool feeling like maybe it would be found and then it was just the problem of getting it back. We had thought of getting a car, or taking another trip again, it’d be worth it, all those pictures… but Stuart returned saying no luck and he tried the hotel staff who were so much better, so very helpful, and still it was not there. Maybe someone on our tour stole it. Maybe someone behind us. Maybe the staff working there? For it was rather well hidden in a nook. Whoever took it, whoever has it, they have a bit of us. I care not for the camera, we have insurance, its the pictures. The person who has it? They know that. They turned it on, they saw our kids. The picture of Stu holding Sandy on the beach, a recreation of the shot of them doing the same four years earlier in Fuerteventura. Close ups of their faces, full of glee, as they splashed. Ones of Rozzie, not wearing much. Pictures which should not be with anyone else but with us. They know. And still they took it. We mourned it. It seems ridiculous, and we told ourselves over and over, why do we care so much for images, the material? Why not focus on the present. We listened to ourselves but it took time, because those pictures take you right back to the present. We let it go, it was done, and we moved on and enjoyed the rest of our holiday. The bad bit was over and it wasn’t the end of the world, even if it felt like a bit of a punch in the gut.
While Stuart had been away Sandy had been busy. Roslyn was baby spotting as she often does – “look! Mummy! Baby! Baby! Baby… going away…no! Baby! gone away! Waaaaaaahhhhh” etc – and Sandy was watching too as the mother’s hat fell off the buggy as she went. Sandy noticed it. “Go and give it back to her then” I said and off he trotted cautiously. He picked up the hat, handing it to her I saw him speak. He came running back. “I gave it back to her Mummy!”. I asked him what he had said and he told me “you lost your hat!”. And she said “Thank you”. He’s a good lad.
He then had to go on another little errand as a little boy picked up his water pistol as he walked by with his Mum and toddled off with it. I told him to go and ask for it back and he did. I was kind of glad it wasn’t me because the little boy cried!
Another thing the kids loved at our hotel was the mini water park, a selection of fountains and sprays which Sandy called the “robot splash”, because it was robots squirting out water. He went so far as to name each machine after each house robot in robot wars, then gave random made up names to the rest, like Wenk. Sandy’s own language continues.
Wee Rozzie wasn’t that keen on the robot splash, she’s a bit more timid than Sandy is or ever was. But she did get a kick out of sitting on the littlest fountain.
Sandy was happy to fully immerse himself, becoming a “Sandy Volcano”
The kids did swim a little on holiday. Each went in the big pool a couple of times and Sandy made a good effort at doggy paddling across with Stuart. Annoyingly BOTH sets of arm bands somehow lost their ability to hold air on the way here (weird coincidence!) so we couldn’t just let Sandy loose as he would have liked. We will get new arm bands and I now have a resolve to get them to swimming lessons again!
Behold! The singular glass of wine I had on my holiday! Dehydration and tiredness so don’t make for having much to drink anyway.
One night we were exploring our volcano when we followed the stream right to the pond. We’d been before but fleetingly. This time we took a look in the water and realised there were literally hundreds of fish! Goldfish like ours and carp too, including this BEAST. It was about 2 feet long lumbering around the shallow pond, its tail poking out the water.
We also discovered Mushrooms and three turtles living in a little grassy enclosure, eating fresh salad and dozing under a palm tree!
Since we lost our camera and with it all the pictures of the first few days – notably the beach ones – we decided to revisit Playa Blanca to have one last time at the ocean before coming home. We re-recreated the picture of Stuart and Sandy at the beach too!
Rozziebear was on top form, running around, digging holes and sitting with her legs out to touch the waves as they rolled in. She looked like a girl not a baby, sob sob.
Sandman had fun jumping the waves with his Daddy and swimming in the sea with me, shreiking as each wave brought the cool water higher up our bodies.
That afternoon I had to myself. Stuart kept the kids back at the resort and I visited Puerto Del Carmen to buy some souvenirs and Yaiza, a little village nearby.
There was the cutest vintage shop in Yaiza, sadly not open when I popped in.
I wandered down the road though past this cute but confusing sign (where are they?)
I then visited the Aloe Museum where I got some aloe, salt and volcanic ash based cosmetics. On the way home on the bus I took a photo of the cute impromptu bus stop sighn at Puerto Calero.
Back at the resort we prepared for our last dinner of the holiday. I was shattered but the kids, and a breif lie down on a bench while the kids were in the park, kept me going.
We had a game on holiday, whoever got down or up the stairs or lift first (basically whoever wasn’t with Roslyn) pretended to have fallen asleep waiting on the others to arrive. Here Stuart and Sandy made an elaborate attempt outside the restaurant with a Cactus.
After dinner we wandered. We had made an appointment for a free photoshoot. Emphasis on shoot as it was 6 euros per image to buy the files. Nonetheless we bought them, without our DSLR, and they are lovely (will post them later)
As is normal in holiday resorts there were various cat friends milling about the place, much to the delight of this kids. This little chap in particular was very small, vocal and adorable.
The kids named this one fluffy Julius, our holiday Julius!
The next morning was our last day and Stuart got his time to himself. He chose to go Karting and headed off at 11am. We had checked out and had a few hours to kill before our transfer to the airport so Sandy, Rozzie and I first went to the pool bar for juice and ice cream. The intention was to keep them dry and not too suncreamy to avoid being all oily and wet for going home. We went to the kids club with a little soft play first but soon enough it was lunch time and the kids were asking to splash. So we did.
First the robot splash were they got totally soaked.
And then on to the kids pool for some more getting wet.
I then had the job of trying to dry them without a towel and dress them without clothes… so we headed back to the luggage room and got their flight clothes on!
Daddy returned to us and we had lunch, our last supper as it were, where thankfully both kids ate well and then waited for the transfer bus which duly arrived.
On the transfer we spent thirty minutes stopping every few blocks to pick up more passengers before driving right by our hotel again and finally to the airport! Luckily Sandy was entertained by the ipad and Roslyn, well, she couldn’t quite deal. Neither could I.
We had dinner in the airport and killed the extra two hours we had. Sandy bashed through smaller kids and Roslyn was bashed by bigger kids as every child in Lanzarote fought over the singular slide on a playmat area. We got out the magic painting (woohoo!) and a little girl who spoke no English proved that body language is all you need when you are young and joined in. Finally we boarded our flight and hoped for a peaceful end to the trip.
I’d like to emphasise here that this is not a posery pretending to be asleep selfie. My arm is holding Stuart’s hand, and he’s taking the picture, I promise!
Sandy did the same as before, wriggling for an eternity then crashing and sleeping peacefully over two seats. Roslyn fell asleep in my arms with some cajoling then woke up after an hour and screamed bloody murder for ten minutes before crashing out again for another hour and repeating the screaming for another ten minutes. It could’ve been worse. Much worse. We landed safely and went through the rigmarole of customs and baggage claim and Stuart and Rozzie going on a little car retreival adventure but finally we arrived back home at 2am, put the kids to bed and said cheerio to our lovely family holiday.
I’m sure there will be holidays in the future where we get more rest, or where the kids make more of the facilities, or where we don’t have to sweat as we push a double buggy. But there probably wont be any holidays so rich in memories as our first, full family sun holiday.