Recap – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Christmas II (aka Boxing Day)

You made it. The last chapter of my long overdue novella, the Christmas of Yesteryear. Let’s do this!

 

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Christmas Eve was chilled. We hit up the soft play to run some energy out of the littles and instead managed to cave to buying a slush and paid for it by having them totally ruin a lovely game of penguin ludo.

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We cut our losses and put on the jammies and the Christmas films til bedtime.

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The kids got the tray out and filled it with treat for Santa and the reindeer.

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The placed it carefully under the tree…

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… next to their pillow cases for Santa to fill.

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We went to bed and the next morning around 5am Sandy woke up, I went in to cuddle him and he fell back asleep in my arms. About half six he roused again and I saw his little face all pouty by the door in our bedroom telling me, “Mummy, you went away! You left me all. on. my. own!” I asked him “Sandy, what day is it?” and he replied “Christmas Eve”. “Not any more Sandy, it’s…” “…CHRISTMAS DAY!!!” he realised, “has Santa been?!” I told him to check the stockings we’d hung on the door frame and right enough the big man had delivered. Sandy ran into Roslyn’s room as we listened to hear him say “Roslyn! Roslyn! Santa’s been! He has filled our stockings! Wake up!” and she dutifully did, running through, rubbing her eyes with one hand, cradling her stocking in the other. As is tradition we opened our stockings in our bed before heading downstairs to see what had been left under the tree…

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…they were both very pleased to see that Santa and the reindeer had partaken in refreshments.

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Roslyn was delighted with her main gift – a new baby, as requested.

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Sandy finally got the shuttle part of his Playmobile space set he’d been after since his birthday.

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And of course the packaging was well loved too.

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This year Christmas was split over two days for us so everything took a far more leisurely pace. It was lovely to be able to relax in the house not having to rush out.

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They each found a bell from Santa’s reindeer’s harnesses, a la Polar Express, after being captivated by the film this year.

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Sandy was delighted and it seemed to make up for not having been invited on the actual train in the night!

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We got dressed for the day and snapped a family picture before heading out to Stuart’s parents house.

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The kids were thoroughly spoiled and delighted by their gifts there…

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It was lovely to be able to take our time at Stuart’s parents house too.

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We got our annual Findlay/MacNicol Group shot again – a cracker (pun intended).

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After Roslyn’s nap we headed home to meet up with my parents and brothers for a mini Christmas dinner before the main meal the next day.

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We got a little group shot here too but I think the candid one is better!

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Christmas dinner was a hit thanks to the team effort of Jamie (starter) Mum (trimmings) and me (bird and dessert). And the drinks were faithfully covered by Pa.

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Check out anna and elsa’s subtle photobomb in the above picture ^^

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I was especially proud of my pudding. I love the look, smell and general tradition of Christmas pudding but just can’t abide the taste. I want to like it, but I don’t. Peel isn’t the bit you eat, IMO. So I recreated a steamed pudding – honey and cinnamon – and put in charms too, like my Gran used to. It was perfect and Sandy kept going on about how much he loved it which meant a lot.

The next day (Boxing Day) we headed to Gourock and my Aunts’ new flat where we partied it up again…

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Class Acts.

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We got another fabulous family picture too!

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Dinner was perfect and we all had such a nice time. It was great to spread the fun over two days and get to spend more time with everyone.

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We plan to do the same next year and I’m sure it will be just as good.

Well, there’s the end of the saga, festive feeling in February can recede now, and I’m happy not to force Tartan on the kids again til St. Andrews. Maybe.

Dolwyddelan, LLechwedd Slate Caverns and Portmeirion: Day 5 of a Holiday Extravaganza!

Award for longest blog post title ever? RIGHT HERE. Also potentially blog post title with the most Ls in ever, but you can thank Wales for that.

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On our first full day in Wales we awoke early (a common theme in these holiday journals I’m sure you will have come to realise) and headed out. We were going to the Slate mines but it was still far from opening hours so we went for a drive to look for somewhere that Sandy and Roslyn could explore.

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We drove through the countryside and it wasn’t long at all before we happened upon a castle so we hopped out and went to find a way up to it. It turns out – despite being seemingly alone in the landscape at first – it is manned buy a family who live in a farm house below the castle and a woman came out to greet us in her jammies. Very quaint and lovely. So we purchased our access to the castle and went up to explore.

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The castle was in a strategic position among the hills and the strongest fortress in the area (so said the sign). That’s all I can tell you though as the kids were too exited to climb.

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You can just about see us at the door. Stuart went up with Sandy first and admitted shortly after that he became rather scared and now refers to the picture of him up there as “the time I almost pooed myself in Wales”.

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Speaking of poo – and we often do – Sandy was rather taken with the castle being in a field full of “sheep and cow poo” which he joyfully pointed out to us every time he saw some. Which was often.

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On the way back down we saw the “PLEASE KEEP TO THE PATH” sign and realised we had indeed gone off piste. Upon heading down the real path we found a lovely waterfall which Sandy adored.

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Stuart fiddled with the shutter speeds as he does so well.

After the castle we headed over to Llechwedd Slate Caverns and donned our hard hats for a trip down the Victorian mine.

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We were lucky as it rained heavily while we were there, but it made little difference as we were underground. The mine was great and Sandy was very brave. Roslyn sat in the sling and fed/cried because she wasn’t being fed which was the best we could have hoped for really.

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They keep cheese under there to mature because the temperature is so stable. Mmmmmmmine cheese!

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When we came back above ground Sandy and Rozzie settled in to do some slate crafts, making their own decorated coasters.

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Then we all dodged the rain and headed to the car to go on to our next location of the day, and the main reason I wanted to go to Wales…

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…Portmeirion!

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Portmeirion is a tiny town near Porthmadog made by Sir Clough Williams Ellis in the style of an Italian village.

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I first visited about 15 years ago with my parents and brother and have never forgotten how beautiful and magical it was. When we went back I was not disappointed. We went for lunch and then out to explore. Roslyn promptly fell asleep in the sling and stayed that way for three hours while Sandy, Stuart and I wandered.

There are many fountains…

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…tropical and traditional landscaping…

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…and much to Sandy’s delight a tractor ride through the woodlands.

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When the tractor stopped at the high point and we all got out to enjoy the view I decided to stay in the hills with Roslyn (still sparko) while the boys bumped back down on the tractor.

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Poor Sandy made the wrong decision to get back on the tractor as he missed the play park just along the road. But I can’t blame him because he loves tractors so not continuing the journey would be like blasphemy to him.

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The woodland walk is a myriad of growthy areas with secluded paths, hidden ponds and secret constructions. Gazebos and arches appear in the distance and a simple off shoot to the road brings you to a chinese lake.

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Walking through the trees took me right back to my youth, exploring with my brother, only this time I had my own child sleeping heavily on my chest.

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It was such a calm and peaceful time in a holiday which – unexpectedly with young children – was pretty much non-stop action.

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When Roslyn and I reappeared in the village we found Sandy and Stuart (can you spot them?)

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After a break for tea and ice cream the kids decided to splash.

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Sandy was desperate to paddle so we did. Luckily he had his nice underwear on 😉

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He found pennies thrown in the fountain and threw them further.

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Before we had to head back for dinner we went down to the coast again and found a boat built into the wall which Sandy was so taken by he cried for it all the way back to the car.

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Portmeirion was wonderful and truly one of the high points of the holiday for me. Little did I know though that the low point was right around the corner.

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We went for dinner and to bed and in the night I woke to norovirus. It was not the best night and I woke thinking I might be able to rest while Stuart took the kids and recover for the last two days of the holiday. We asked the staff at the hotel about swapping our night in carlisle that evening for another in porthmadog and they seemed hopeful so Stuart took Sandy and Roslyn to the beach and I tried to rally. Suffice to say I didn’t and the hotel then informed me we couldn’t swap. Stuart text me to say that Roslyn too had started to be sick and the idea of all four of us sick in a hotel for two nights seemed like hell so we packed and drove.

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Luckily Stuart held off being ill as we journeyed the five hours home. It wasn’t the most pleasant of times but we coped. Sandy was an angel and seemed to know we needed him to be good, so he dozed and then played on the ipad, not once complaining as we counted the hours and minutes before arriving back in Scotland. Never have I been happier to get back to my humble abode!

In the end Stuart’s illness was shorter lived than mine or Roslyn’s and Sandy avoided it entirely. It wasn’t the best end to the holiday but it didn’t take the shine off of what came before. We had a fabulous time down south and can’t wait to do it again.

Happy Holidays!

York: Day 2 of a holiday extravaganza

We started out our second day on holiday by waking up surprised to have not had an utterly sleepless night. Then we did a leisurely arrangement of ourselves for venturing out. Despite it involving a 30 minute long bath we were still on the streets of York by 8am and at a loss for what to do. We grabbed some breakfast then headed back to the park beside Yorkminster where the kids roamed happily in the sunshine.

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After that we went to York’s Chocolate Story. And by went I mean faffed about going the wrong way based on hunches for half an hour. But it was okay because we were early as ever and actually arrived bang on time, taking part in the first tour of the morning. The tour told us all about the history of chocolate making in York and involved eating a lot of chocolate so it was a win-win. We had chocolate drops, an aztec chocolate chilli drink, quality streets and chocolate to taste professionally. There was a computer projected machine which turned the beans into chocolate and Sandy was the one who moulded the chocolate.

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After that we got to make our own chocolate lollipops which Sandy enjoyed, pouring a ridiculous amount of sprinkles on to his. While they dried we saw a chocolatier make moulded fondant chocolates, and then we got to eat them all. It was great and I’d go again for sure!

Roslyn fell asleep fairly soon after the tour as she was shattered still from the day before so while she napped in the sling we walked to the castle and found a carousel for the boys to enjoy.

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Sandy was brave and went on a horse this time; previously he’s always opted for the seats. He chose “Paris”.

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We went to the castle but didn’t go in as it was a good climb and we had the buggy. Instead Sandy scaled the hill despite notices not to.

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After that we wandered over to the National Railway Museum. Roslyn woke when we entered and were greeted by the most lovely staff. We went to the restaurant for lunch which is themed like a dining car before heading into the main part of the museum to explore.

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Here we are on a very fast chinese train… (excuse my not knowing anything about the trains as the two littles didn’t exactly respond favourably to standing and reading)

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They have a brilliant place for young children to play with brio tracks, soft play type things, a model train to build and a pretend ticket office. We spent an hour alone there while Sandy and Roslyn played away.

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Roslyn had her first holiday romance as a younger man (9 months) crawled over to her and they started hugging and kissing for a long time. It was very sweet.

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Sandy loved playing with the model train and dressing up in the hard hats and vests. He was utterly adorable in the ticket office sticking his head out of the window saying “tickets please! you go to the seaside now” before running around the place handing out tickets to anyone who he saw.

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We managed a (rather overexposed) family photo!

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All in all it was a fabulous place to visit. I can’t believe it is free as it is so expansive, you really could spend a whole day if not several there. I wish it was close to home so I could take the kids every week!

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After the museum we headed to another burger joint called Byron which was delicious. When we entered we were that family everyone dreads turning up to thrash and cry next to your relaxed meal, but luckily once the food was going in S and R chilled out a bit and everything calmed down.

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We headed back to the hotel utterly exhausted and put the kids to bed straight away, stupidly thinking that the decent nights sleep before would be replicated…

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Day 3 coming soon!

Gretna to York: Day 1 of a Holiday Extravaganza

We are just back from holiday. In fact we are back two days earlier than expected but, for the sake of INCREDIBLE SUSPENSE, I won’t tell you why just yet. For now, here’s our first day of the holiday.

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We set out from home at half eight in the morning and by ten were at Gretna Green for our scheduled stop to break up a three and a half hour journey to York.

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The famous blacksmith’s shop is a great stop over point, albiet quite touristy (but secretly I lap that stuff up anyway so it was a win-win).

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The littles burned off some energy in the play park which was ideal so they didn’t combust in the car.

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Anywhere that gets one of these things ticks a box in my daft tourist check list (which also contains ‘sells photo magnets’, ‘is a little bit kitcsh’ and ‘has a maze’ for what it’s worth)

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Coincidentally this place also did have a maze so we checked that out once it opened at 10am which – unlike the rest of the population – is practically midday for parents, and therefore a daft time for things to open. However, nearly every attraction opens at 10am and we routinely found ourselves leaving our hotel room at 7:50 and trying to find things without doors to do for two hours before we could get into places, by which time the kids were either hungry or tired or both so you know how that goes. Stuart decided he’s going to open a branch of tourist locations opening at 8am for families around the country because of that.

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Anyway I digress…

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The maze was… aMAZEing. Yes, I went there. Blame my new job and concession groups’ love of inoffensive play on words jokes.

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One thing that was a bit of a challenge on holiday was Rozzie’s inability to walk yet. When I thought of the holiday months ago I just assumed by almost 15 months she’d be on her feet (after all Sandy was toddling away a week after his first birthday) but alas she was not. So we spent A LOT of time hunched over having her walk holding onto our hands lest she crawl through the muck (which is all fine and well at home with 20 outfits to choose from and a tumble drier).

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The thing that Gretna of course is famous for is eloping to get married because of the age limit being younger in Scotland in the past so English lovers would come over to marry then return home. So in the spirit of that I asked the youngest man I knew to marry me…

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He said “I do” and we sealed the deal with a kiss.

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Stuart tried the same with Roslyn but she wasn’t quite ready to settle down just yet 😉

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She was however okay with a public on the ground love in with her best buddy.

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After Gretna we headed to York, just making the journey before any major whining set in. We checked into the hotel and then went out to source some dinner.

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We had time to visit Yorkmister (from the outside only this visit) where on the steps Roslyn made friends with two pugs who licked her face. She didn’t seem to mind in the slightest!

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As you can see here we got great weather on our first day and – by and large – it lasted most of the holiday.

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Roslyn was happy to be able to crawl to her hearts content on the steps.

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Learning with Daddy.

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We went to the Gourmet Burger Kitchen for dinner which was like Ketchup in Glasgow and ideal for the kids. They even a Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Milkshake which was not the last appearance Uddingston’s most famous export would make on our travels…

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Finally when we got back to the hotel the kids went straight to sleep without any fuss which was incredible as I’d envisioned real issues with the four of us sharing a room for a week. And again, to add to that incredible SUSPENSE you’ve already been waiting in, I won’t reveal how project get some sleep on holiday progressed til next time…

Beach Bums

You know what? Scotland is such a fabulous place to live right now! Before summer I was lamenting our inability to afford a foreign holiday this year but now I’m so glad we didn’t get to have one. It’s been so warm it was even 30 degrees last week when we went to the beach.

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Miss Roslyn smiled for this picture.

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And that was pretty much the last she smiled all afternoon. Poor girl had an upset stomach (AGAIN) so needed a lot of sling love from mummy.

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Which as no problemo as daddy had the sandman covered for beach fun.

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See here, they are digging…

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… For jobbies. BOYS EH!!

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Since the weightlifting event Roslyn’s hat went MIA. I thought she’d nap in the tent and play in there too so didn’t make a detour to buy one, but as she needed sling time I had to make an impromptu one. So, for future reference, a muslin and hair band can make a stop gap hat.

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More jobbies.

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The best thing about babywearing on the beach? The baby belly cover up it affords you. PHEW.

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We certainly hit it off weatherwise and I was so glad we postponed our city day until Sunday, it would have been molten in town but was perfect at the beach. The breeze kept Roslyn cool and the water was pretty mild, as you can see by all the paddlers! I’d hoped to have a proper swim myself but alas, babies needed me. Ho hum, exercise can wait!

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We did have a good paddle though and sandy was loving it.

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Stuart had a blast too and, amazingly, managed to avoid all sunburn bar a little red neck.

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I remember my mum saying earlier in the year that this would be sandy’s time, the summer now he could walk. It totally is. This boy was made for the beach.

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And the obligatory sandy spots a plane picture. They make his wee face light up so much!

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A little Christmas in July for you. The only chocolate in the house.

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As per usual Roslyn drew in the crowds and offers of family photographs, which is great to get a shot of us all together.

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Current sandy obsession? Stars. STAAARRRR! He demanded I draw one in the sand for him.

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Then he danced all around it.

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Such a perfect day. It really feels like we’ve been having an amazing holiday from home this week. As a woman on the beach said to us, who needs Spain when we’ve got this! And only an hour away too. And the perfect end to a perfect day? Ice cream.

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Ice cream EVERYWHERE.

Seamill

When I was young we went to Seamill. We went to Seamill every year. The earliest I remember it is around the age of six but I was there at five months old, sabotaging the whole stay as young babies tend to do. We would arrive midweek and stay two nights. There was a familiar routine to the visits and it would be weird if there hadn’t been, which makes sense if you know my family.

We’d arrive for lunch and head for the check in. It used to be situated through the turning doorway which was later replaced by a modern extension which, as we found out yesterday, has altered once more now. We would see if the rooms were ready and they inevitably were not, which also makes sense if you know my family and their consistency in earliness. So we headed through the hotel, jumping on the carpet with emblems of the letters S and H combined (Seamill hydro) as we ran our way past the Arran room (where children’s high tea was held), the kids crèche room, and to the swimming pool where we invariably ended up, watching with anticipation. We would be dragged past to the Pladda Bar, the lounge bar where, upon “our” sofa, my grandparents would be sitting, waiting. Our aunts might have been there too. We would order lunch and my granddad and I would match with roast beef sandwiches. Yesterday I ordered them again, an ode to him. It means a lot to bring my children here. My family has been going to the same hotel since my mother was young, so probably for around fifty years. So for the first time I brought Sandy and Roslyn. I ate the beef sandwiches, and Sandy preferred ice cream.

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Roslyn slept while we ate and my mum ran after mr ice cream mania man. He spotted the beach and was transfixed, remembering our Troon visit.

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Three whole scoops for my man. And he spat out the single slice of strawberry, realising it wasn’t pure sugar and would harsh his buzz.

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We all wore our nautical stripes.

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And here he is, my son, only two weeks from two, running down the same halls, oohing at the same pool where so many childhood memories linger. For me, my mum, my grandmother too.

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We played outside and he spotted the beach again right away.

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A more accurate depiction of a typical Scottish beach day for mr corkscrew hairdo.

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He chased his aunt fran while Roslyn lounged inside with aunt lib and granny.

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So, like I say, it means a lot for them to be here. I want to make it a yearly thing again, a stay over for two nights like we used to, once I can afford it again. I want to be letting sandy and Roslyn get into the pool the minute those sandwiches are wolfed. I want them to eat their dinners in the Arran suite and play at the games room as we dine in the main restaurant. I want the visit to Largs and the proverbial coffee at the bean and leaf, ice cream at nardinis and orange and lemon slices. Amusements and the one where the horses race. More swimming, early in the morning, giant breakfasts and walks on the beach. In the rain. Always in the rain.

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Yesterday we drove from torrents of the stuff but when we arrived it was merely overcast. It stayed that way through lunch and as sandy played. We walked down those well worn steps to the beach and as sandy’s feet his the sand and he squealed with delight the first drops fell.

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This picture was taken and the heavens opened and we legged it back to shelter.

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Not having time to make it to the hotel we hid under a gazebo. Sandy found the whole running from the rain thing the height of hilarity.

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We waited for it to pass but it didn’t.

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Sandy escaped and lib, who sensibly packed a jacket, ran after him.

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He came back down a welly. There’s something about this place, making me reminisce. I remembered back to being in my garden with Jamie, a torrential downpour and us two allowed to go wild in our pyjamas as mum and dad watched from the conservatory, laughing. The kind of memories that are so special, I want him to have them too. We ditched the other welly and he went for it.

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I love being able to give him freedom to play. Why should he care if it’s raining?

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If it hadn’t been for Roslyn – who was already damp enough for only 10 weeks old – I would have joined him. Luckily his aunt lib is a good sport.

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And so is aunt fran who retrieved his lost welly, soaking herself in the process. We retired to the pool changing rooms and got towels despite not being guests. Sandy was cuddled in as he got a bit on the blue tinged side by now. He was so happy.

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It’s just a place. Just a hotel complex on the beach in Scotland. Nothing too special but to me it’s incredible. I can’t wait to go back for a proper stay over to build up this memory bank for my two.