Day 7 of Holidays

It was an odd day of weather yesterday as storms were forecast and kept threatening, as the sky would turn black but in the main, we had sunshine. During one of the sunny spells, we walked along the seafront with Joshua letting him take the lead. he walked hand in hand with his Dad, while I had the dogs on a lead. Joshua decided when he needed to sit down and he made the most of the many benches along the seafront, choosing to sit, with his legs crossed and admire the sea view.He enjoyed being in charge of the walk and resting places. Again he walked quite a distance, before we decided to turn around as the sky had turned black and threatening. We sheltered from a brief rain shower in a cafe, where the dogs were allowed to sit quietly under our table, then carried on with our walk home.

Joshua had a nap and later we headed out again, this time to a cafe for afternoon tea. Joshua was delighted to get there, it is a favourite holiday haunt of ours so he started shouting ‘thank you’ as soon as we parked the car. He was excited as we walked in and sat down, waving at other customers so I was hopeful that he would eat and drink. But he got restless while waiting for his orange juice and victoria sponge to arrive, and I had to take him outside for a run around, to burn off some energy, as he was swinging on his chair and generally messing around. That did the trick as he both ate and drank once he got back inside, so we were able to enjoy our cream tea more. He was very taken with the young waitress, with a pony tail, and he stood waving at her for a while as we were leaving, but she did not see him. I suggested that he move so that she could see him better and try again, which he did and then he got the response that he was waiting for and only then, were we allowed to leave.

On the way back, we stopped at the hill where my parents ashes are now scattered, to let the dogs and puppies run around, although now it was very gusty up there. As we started walking, we saw a magnificent rainbow appear in front of us and the end was just over the place where we had scattered Mum’s ashes just days earlier. It is such a beautiful symbol of peace and it was there, just where, and when, I wanted to see it.It greeted us briefly then, as we walked towards it, it disappeared again, but it was there long enough to work its magic and to tell me that all is well. With rainbows and butterflies, it is certainly a very special place and it is a location where I too would like my ashes to be scattered when that time comes.

rainbow on Culver

Day 4 of Holidays

Joshua had another late lie in yesterday until after 10 am.Not only do they mean that he is well rested once he finally gets up, but it gives us some Joshua-free time too. I enjoy my early morning dog walks and I am confident that both boys will still be asleep when I get back again, so I am not even missed. I was on the telephone to BT about broadband when Joshua appeared expecting some breakfast. This week he is getting at least 12 hours sleep, typically 10 pm until 10 am which has to make him feel better and more alert.

We decided yesterday to go for a walk, with the dogs, along the prom to the next town along, which is about 2 miles away. We walked along the prom, one of us either side of Joshua holding his hands, with two dogs on the lead too ,as they are not allowed on the nearest part of the beach in the summer, and Joshua strode out happily. My husband carried the rug in his rucksack so that we could rest on the beach whenever he needed to and when we got the first part of dog-permitted beach, Joshua sat on the rug to recover while I played ball with the dogs. A brown jack russell cross began to chase Kevin around in large circles and they enjoyed a lot of exercise together as we looked on. His owner came over to talk to us to tell us all about her dog Max , who had been bought to calm down their autistic daughter, who also had epilepsy. The dog was a beloved family pet but had not had the desired impact on their daughter. I hear of several families who hope that a dog will have a beneficial impact upon  a child with learning disabilities, as everyone has heard the tales of miraculous transformations that a pet has brought about. It is however a big responsibility on a puppy and I worry that it is not a guaranteed outcome but should be regarded as a bonus if it does happen.

Once rested, Joshua was more than happy to walk along the sands until we reached a cafe for lunch, where we sat outside in the sunshine overlooking the sea. We had not quite made it to the next town but almost, and we knew that Joshua would have had enough by the time he got back again, so we re-traced our steps back, this time stopping at another cafe for an ice cream. Our holiday cottage is at the top of a steep hill just above the beach, and spurred on by knowing where he was, Joshua scaled that hill and was less out of puff than his parents! I cannot recall how many years it is since he last walked up that hill ,so I was so proud of his determination and his exertions. He curled up on the settee for a nap when we got back to the house, but what an achievement and it has to be better for him than being pushed about in a wheelchair. It is better for my husband too as he is getting heavy to push uphill – I can no longer manage it and always defer to my husband, while I will happily push him on the flat. But his wheelchair has not yet come out of the car boot on this holiday, we carry it for emergencies only so I really hope that it stays there all fortnight.


Day 3 of Holidays

After our long drive here, I like to have a day when we do not get back in the car, but we walk around and yesterday was that day. It was drizzling on my early dog walk but it was still warm, and once the rain stopped, the day got hotter and hotter. Joshua obliged beautifully by enjoying another late lie in, which enabled me to cut the grass. It was always the first thing that Mum did as soon as she arrived, she would unpack the car and would get the lawnmower out, so it was making me uncomfortable knowing that I had left it for a full day! It looked so much better once the grass was cut as it hoovered up the fallen twigs too, so it looked cared for again. Joshua woke up only once the work was done, which is a good trick.

The highlight of the day only came in the evening, when we had taken a walk down to the pier as he enjoys the noise, lights and young people at the amusements there. Again, it is the first time for years that he has walked there, rather than us taking the wheelchair and once the beach and pier were in sight, he raced there, pulling us along in his enthusiasm to get there. He loved walking through the slot machines and I even found two 2 pence coins in my purse, which we wrecklessly  blew on the penny falls machine, winning 6 pence, which of course we ploughed back into the machine, but we had fun in the process. We walked along the wooden pier where our appetites were awakened by the tasty smells of a cafe there, so we did a detour for egg and chips for tea, which were surprisingly tasty.

Joshua got restless while his Dad was still eating, so I took him down to the end of the pier where he spotted the dodgems with three kids bumping away. He was fascinated and pulled to get into a bumper car too. I explained that we would go and get Dad and he was unimpressed as we walked back to the cafe to fetch him. It was quite an operation getting both of their long legs into the dodgem but they managed it and I paid the £2 fee and off they whizzed. They went round and round, with Joshua beaming all the way around. He had known what he wanted and by the look on his face, it had lived up to his expectations. They spun round and round the track on their own, thankfully nobody else was there as he might not have appreciated being banged, and he was grinning all of the time. It was such fun to see him enjoy a ride like that with his Dad, as usually he rejects anything in a fairground. But mainly I loved how adamant he was over what he wanted to do, our passive, compliant son has been replaced by a walking, determined teenager who is able to make choices and stick to them, until he gets his way. It is about time!

Day 2 of Holidays

Despite being on holiday, I still awoke exactly 6 hours after I went to bed, so I was walking along the cliff path with two dogs before 7 am, admiring the views. I love the promise and fresh start of a sunrise as well as the natural beauty, so it set me up nicely for the day ahead. Dog-walkers are just the friendliest people, I struck up so many conversations with strangers based around their dogs. If anyone was lonely and needed a reason to get out of the house and to meet new people, I would recommend dog ownership every time.

Sandown pier

When I got back to the house, both boys were still asleep, so I sat in the garden playing with the puppies and enjoying the views and memories that this house and garden bring me. When we came in the summer with my grandparents, we would often have a lunch of ham salad in the garden, which my sister and I would come back up from the beach for. As I liked neither ham nor salad as a child, I would have cold baked beans and grated cheese instead and I can remember my Granny telling me that I would turn into a baked bean as I ate so many of them! My sister and I would play on the  amusements on the seafront: we had a pact that whoever one on the penny falls – our game of choice – would have to share their winnings with the other. The trouble was that my sister never won anything, while I was pretty lucky. We would visit the shop on the way home and spend my winnings on chocolate, then sit under the dining room table to enjoy it secretly. Happy, carefree days, when we were secure and loved by our parents and grandparents in a place where it was a quick walk down the hill to the beach. I used to hover by the gate, waiting for someone to see where we lived , so that I could show off and to make them  jealous.

We had a lovely afternoon at a country show, overlooking the sea. As Joshua has rejected his wheelchair lately and objects so much to being in it that he has stamped the footplate off several times, we have listened to him so he walked around the show, but we were armed with our picnic rug so he could sit down on the grass wherever he wanted or needed to. We headed straight to the music stage where one of our favourite local bands were performing and we set up camp. As it became pretty hot at that time, Joshua lay down and chilled out. My husband and I took it in turns to look in tents and at stalls until he was ready to move on. We watched a dog agility act in the main ring but kept gravitating back to the music stage. We finished our afternoon out in the tea tent where, while I was fetching the refreshments over and my husband was watching a parade of vintage tractors, Joshua sat nicely at the tressle table. As I was coming over with the teas, I heard a lady ask him if the other seats were free or if she could join him with her two granddaughters? Of course, he just smiled at all three of them so I intervened and invited them to sit down opposite us. He was mesmerized by the teenaged girls opposite him and  their grandmother chatted away constantly about her family, until we had finished. Strangers often seem to want to share their life stories : the other morning while I was on the telephone to BT, the lady who was helping me to order broadband confided that she had suffered from domestic violence and had tried to take her own life once, I was not sure what to say, so I just listened as she seemed to want to talk. I find that if people want to talk, I try to take the time to listen.

We had a good day out and left around 4.30 pm when the dark clouds started to look threatening. The puppies, who had been left at home, were delighted to see us back again and I spent time with them in the garden again, so that they could burn off their boundless energy. It is a good feeling knowing that we have many more days ahead of us, just pleasing ourselves what we do, with no particular schedule.

Day 1 of holidays

Joshua really could not have behaved better yesterday: he dozed in the morning while we packed up the car and so he was thrilled to get into the truck as he sensed that there was fun to be had. He has been relegated to the back of the truck, whereas he always sat in the front, since he tried to open the door while we were driving so he is now safely child-locked in the back. He was surrounded by pillows and he soon got comfortable and settled in, though he was delighted by the snacks that his Dad bought from the garage. After about 90 minutes of driving, I too nodded off and when I awoke, we were driving towards a town, not on the motorway as I expected. My husband explained that he was taking us to Donalds for lunch in his University town. But the roads had changed since he was studying so we could not get very close, and as Joshua was travelling barefoot, he drove around the one-way system to get closer. I had to get socks, splints and boots onto him while he was sitting in the backseat and then he was delighted to get out and stretch his long legs. We strode through the market, one of us either side of him holding his hands, but as we approached, we could see that Donalds was closed as building work was underway. Luckily neither of us had mentioned the word and so he did not know what he was rushing towards, so I quickly turned him around before he spotted the familiar golden arches. Instead we diverted into a cafe where he was happy sitting on a leather settee, enjoying juice and a chocolate muffin and he was none the wiser.

We continued our journey and he sat and dozed well  for the remaining hours, until we got to the docks precisely on time and he took a stroll to the toilets with me. He has always enjoyed the ferry but he particularly loved this crossing as Dad bought him pastie and chips, which he devoured, and he was surrounded by a coach load of French students to watch and wave at. Once we arrived at our family holiday home, he was happy to sit in the sitting room while we unloaded the car and to sit on what he knew to be his bed, while I unpacked the cases and made the beds up and his Dad went to the shops then made us some stir fry for tea. Joshua seemed to be pleased to be back – we were last here in February half term – but he seemed chilled out rather than super-excited. I am delighted too to be in my happy place – it is just that everything has changed : Mum will not be joining us for a few days, as she often did on our August stays, and Max is not with us anymore.

Here comes the sun……

One of the things that I dislike about the school holidays is that I hardly see Joshua at all : he has taken to having a lie in until after 10, which I am sure is good for him, but it means that Yorkshire Grandma arrives at 8.30 to allow me to go to work and takes over, so I do not see him awake in the mornings at all. Then, because he has a late breakfast, it means that he has a late lunch so she does not bring him home again until after 7 pm as he eats his tea at her place. So he has been coming in, saying hello, then asking for a bath almost immediately. So bath time is the only time that I really see him  properly, which seems very brief. I know that I am very lucky to have childcare that he enjoys, as he certainly loves to spend time with Yorkshire Grandma, but I also feel as though I am missing out.

I cannot however wait until the weekend, as we go away for our family fortnight and so then I will be with Joshua 24/7, so we will be able to catch up on lost time together. We are staying in a family property where I have holidayed most summers in my life, so it is a home from home for us all. Thankfully both my husband and Joshua love going there too, so it suits us very well for our holidays. Joshua knows the routine there, he goes straight to his bedroom as he knows where he belongs so there is no settling in time required and no need to waste time finding our bearings. The house was handed down through my Dad’s family and so when he died, Mum inherited his share and so now, my sister and I will inherit part ownership . As I spent all my childhood summers here, this house, garden and the surroundings will be full of memories of both of my parents. I have always felt closer to Dad there since he died and I am hoping to experience the same closeness with Mum.We are taking some more of her ashes with us to be scattered on a favourite walk, alongside Dad’s ashes, and I am hoping the same small blue butterflies make an appearance that we saw there, as that was very special.

More latterly, Mum has often joined us for a few days of our August fortnight, so she will be missed there too.She would come out on walks and for pub lunches with us, after doing her chores, as well as offering to babysit , allowing my husband and I to go out for meals or to the cinema in the evening or to take bike rides during the day. But it is her company that we will miss, more than her childcare, as she was always an excellent companion who was not in the least bit demanding.

So, one more day at work, then No More Working for a Week or Two…..

Bon Voyage

The time has come to pack up and travel back home, our half term week away is over already. Usually we stay away until the very last minute, travelling on Sunday and meaning that the return to school and work comes as a shock on Monday morning, when bags are still not unpacked. But this time , we are being sensible as we catch the ferry back this afternoon, which will get us home for bedtime and give us all day Sunday to get out of holiday mode and prepare ourselves. Thankfully, Joshua has kept to the same sleeping pattern mainly, so he has been in bed around 9pm all holiday and waking up between 7 and 8 am; this means that his bedtime routine is still in tact for school. In the past he has enjoyed late lie ins and stayed up later, so that re-adjusting to standard commuting times has been a struggle.

We have had no more kicking episodes since earlier in the week, but we have not dared take him to another supermarket since. So Tesco tomorrow will be an interesting trial. We met my Aunt and Uncle for a pub lunch yesterday and he behaved beautifully there, food seems to calm him down. We met in a lovely country pub and we sat around a large dining table, with Joshua and I wedged in on a bench seat so he was trapped. He waved happily at the staff, other customers and my relatives when they arrived. He watched his iPad movies intently, as though he had never seen them before and he drank his fresh orange juice while he waited patiently for his lasagne lunch. He enjoyed it when it arrived and ate everything, hungrily. Once full, he was happy to sit while most of us indulged in pudding and then cups of tea, while talking, but he made no move to escape as he sometimes does once he has finished eating. It was only when outside in the car park, as we said our goodbyes that he would not stand still and tried to run off, but up until that point, I could not fault his behaviour.

Hopefully he will tolerate the long drive home and he might even doze as we will get home after his bedtime, although he is less likely to sleep in the car than he once was. We have been very fortunate with Joshua’s tolerance for long car journeys, he tends to sit quietly and enjoy the ride. Usually he sits in the front passenger seat, due to his long legs, while his Dad drives and I am in the back seat next to all of our luggage, with the three dogs and the wheelchair in the boot, so we are a heavily laden car and my husband’s loading of the car is a creative art-form.

We will all be sad to leave our seaside paradise behind, knowing that we will not be back until the summer, but we cannot be too greedy, we have been very lucky to get away.