This post is a bit late to publish because I’ve struggled to find time to write it, but I didn’t want to leave undocumented the fact that Reindeer had such an awesome week.
In the UK, the last week of October was half term for my oldest nephew (the only one currently old enough to attend school). Last October half term we went to Yorkshire with my sister and her family and my parents. It was a great, if soggy, week and our first holiday with Reindeer who was a mere two months old. This year we all descended on my parents for a week and it was great. The only sad part was that my husband was unable to join us due to work commitments.
The journey to my parent’s home is 2-2.5 hours depending on traffic. Usually it goes without a hitch. This time Reindeer became really annoyed with half an hour to go necessitating a stop and bribery to get on the road again. Thankfully not a sign of things to come.
Our last big family gathering at my parents had been a bit much for Reindeer, he was very clingy and hated being left with anyone. This time – only two months later – he adjusted so much faster. He was far better equipped to play with his two biggest and most boisterous cousins who, in fairness to them, take a great deal of care for him and think he’s awesome. Reindeer was also much calmer with my sister and brother in law. My sister is much more extrovert than me which I think Reindeer struggles with sometimes. So much more comfortable was Reindeer that on the first day I was actually able to go out running (staggering?!) with my sister while he stayed in and played. He apparently didn’t mind at all and only started looking for me when he spotted my shoes at which point I arrived back anyway. I couldn’t have imagined this two months ago!
One of the things that astounded my family was how much he eats. After a busy day he would eat whatever meal was prepared for him – fish pie, chilli and rice, jacket potato, etc., – with no fuss at all. And usually without any leftovers. From the stories other parents share I realise this good attitude to food is unlikely to last, hence me noting it here for posterity!
There were lots of fun family times as well as various trips out. Here are some of the highlights:
My sister recommended an adventure golf centre about 40 minutes away and it didn’t disappoint. The entrance is a pulley float and the 18-hole course has plenty of tricks to keep kids entertained. Unless they’re 14-months old, in which case they’re a nightmare to keep track of as they run towards the water hazards, try to grab the golf balls their cousins are using and then refuse to return them. Apart from that it’s great!
We’d visited once before but it’s a great place to go again. The visitor centre has plenty for kids to try and the site itself is an outdoor adventure. We stopped for cake, as you do, before taking a wander. Reindeer was still interested in the skeleton under the glass floor.
An amazing castle to visit at any time of year but lovely in the autumn. Because it was the school holidays, ghost stories were being outrageously acted out in the courtyard – much to the delight of several younger visitors – and enormous chocolate coins were on offer as the prize for various puzzles. After watching the play we went around the battlements. It’s no mean feat trying to get up a Norman castle’s spiral staircase with a one-year old in a carrier on your front and a backpack on your back. The lady who kindly gave way for us commented on leg muscles but that’s really the least of it! It’s worth the climb to get the view though. We could see for miles and Reindeer was fascinated. Once we returned to the courtyard he had great fun playing in the leaves, especially when we tried some new-old shoes on him. It was almost impossible to get him back in the car once he’d discovered his freedom!
An old favourite and once again brilliant. Reindeer spent most of the day running along pathways and through the toddler play areas. He wasn’t keen on stopping for lunch! He used up so much energy and had lots of experience dealing with other toddlers on shared play equipment. He also tried his first big slide and loved it. Towards the end of the day we stopped for ice cream. For some reason they were giving people double cones. This was great as Reindeer had a cone all to himself – necessary given the energy consumption.
Gardening with Opa
After several hectic days we declined a trip to the beach (almost unheard of!) and older for a quieter day in. It was the right choice as Reindeer was exhausted and sleep for three hours in the afternoon. When he’d had lunch he went to play in the garden and ‘help’ Opa with his chores. He spent two very happy hours running around, digging up stones, rearranging Oma’s pots and generally getting into everything.
Marshmallows and chestnuts on the bonfire
During the week we’d collected some sweet chestnuts and my oldest nephew wanted to toast them on the chimnea. This was an awesome idea, only improved by the inclusion of marshmallows for toasting! Reindeer was a bit puzzled by wandering around in the dark but was happy enough to try his first toasted marshmallow. It was a great way to finish a lovely family week.
Times like this are something I’d rather taken for granted before Reindeer was born. Now I’m determined to make the most of every minute and ensure he has the chance to do so too. It is memories like this that will stick with us as we get older.