Mama OWL Blog: September 2014

{Autumn Bucket List} Forage

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

I remember from my own childhood, afternoons spent with my older sisters clambering through hedges and the fields behind our house (the very same ones as in the picture below) gathering blackberries for mum and nan to make into puddings for us. We'd also go & pick apples off our great aunt's tree in her back garden, & enjoy great big bowls of hot crumble with custard.


There's something about foraging and finding your own food from nature that is just quite lovely. I know that we can easily go to the supermarket and pick up a punnet of berries or even a ready-made crumble, but I really want to try and encourage the kids to get out and find what is already there around them. I obviously don't want them scrumping from other peoples gardens of course, but the blackberry bushes in the hedgerows are teeming with berries at this time of year, & what a waste it would be not to use them.



The Mister and I took E along the road to pick blackberries on Sunday afternoon since it was such a lovely warm day, and she had a great time filling up our tub with the juiciest berries should could find (and reach). They're just starting to go over now, but we still managed a good haul. E was very proud of her hard work.


We brought them home and gave them a good wash, and have now stored them in the freezer as we're going to be off apple picking soon, so we can use it all to make our very own crumble. Our next door neighbours have offered us the pick of the apples from their tree again this year, so H & E are very much looking forward to a bit of tree climbing! Have you been fruit picking for your Autumn bucket list?



Super Busy Mum 

Meal Plan Monday 290914

Monday, 29 September 2014


Mon 29th Sept - Sausages, mash & baked beans

Tues 30th Sept - Macaroni cheese with bacon, & steamed broccoli


Thurs 2nd Oct - Steak & chips with veg

Fri 3rd Oct - Cottage pie

Sat 4th Oct - Enchiladas

Sun 5th Oct - Roast

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post

He is worth it.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Imagine writing down every single thing about yourself that you dislike, that you do wrong, things that you can't do, the 'flaws' in your personality. Imagine having to share them with basically everyone you know. Now imagine having to do that about your child.

How do you think that would make you feel?

This week I had to write a 'pen portrait' about L for his tutor group and teachers at his new senior school, to help him settle in, and to help introduce him to everyone. I want them to know what to expect from him, to help them show him what they expect of him, and also for them to know what an amazing kid L is.

It made me so desperately sad to have to sit and list all the things that make him different, and I hated it. I sat and sobbed my heart out until the early hours, in front of a computer screen with a blank document open on it. I know exactly how much work L can be, more than anyone. I am the one that sat by his side when he was so sad that he said he wanted to die, I am the one that stood and fought his corner when he was treated unfairly by kids who should have been taught better and by adults who should bloody well know better, the one that held his hand in the night when he was in pain and discomfort from the casts on his legs.

I have been there throughout. I am still here. It is exhausting.

But he is worth it.

Every hour, every minute of missed sleep. Every single tear I have shed. Every second of every day that I have spent being his mother has been worth it. I will do this every day of my life, until the last breath leaves my body, I will love him and care for him no matter what. Whatever "flaws" he has, whatever makes him different - I will love him, because those things make him the awesome, brilliant, hilarious, clever, lovely young man that he is.

In the pen portrait, I explained a little about Autism, with a little help from The National Autistic Society website because they just explain it so much better than me - how Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people and the world around them. That it is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with Autism share certain areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in different ways.

I explained that he finds a lot of noise and activity overwhelming. That he will sometimes say inappropriate things, or stand too close to people. That he can be easily led, and doesn't understand sarcasm. How he doesn't like to make eye contact, and sometimes will need to sit and cover his head just to give himself some peace, and I asked them to please let him do this.

But I also told them how funny he is. That his one-liners are quite brilliant if they happen to catch them. I told them that he is honest, how he will always tell me if I look fat in an outfit or if my hair looks stupid - often whether I actually asked for his opinion or not! And how he just wants to learn, & make friends, just like every other kid. I asked them all to please show him how.

I know not everyone will understand, or want to. I know there are people who will abuse, and take advantage, and be unkind. But I hope that by laying my heart bare, by being honest and open - maybe I can help change their thinking. If I can make just one person understand then I know I have helped, even just a little - because a little understanding can go a long way, and it makes a real difference.


Super Busy Mum

My Ideal Holiday Checklist | Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Choosing a family getaway is no mean feat, particularly when you're trying to find something to keep everyone happy across a wide range of ages, interests and abilities.

As a mum of five ranging in age from 16 down to 4, girls and boys, and throwing autism into the mix too, choosing a holiday is a mammoth task. I basically need a holiday just to recover from choosing one. There is so much to be taken into consideration, while also trying to keep in mind that it is meant to be a holiday for the Mister and myself, too.

Now that the children are that bit older and we don't have to faff with cots & pushchairs and baby paraphernalia, we are keen to try and travel a bit further afield with them. L is anxious at the idea of travelling abroad (particularly flying), and so for our first vacation we opted to drive to Paris & the south of France to ease him into it gently. It was a success, and he really enjoyed it. We had our own villa, and our own space, and we all had a wonderful week away in the sunshine together. It was a pleasant, relaxing experience for all of us which is exactly what a holiday should be.

I was lucky enough to win a place on a blogger trip to the beautiful Greek island of Rhodes with Mark Warner Holidays, and last week I got to experience first hand what a Mark Warner break has to offer a family like mine. Sadly I didn't get to take the family with me and so this is only written from my own perspective rather than experience, but to be fair I did enjoy having a few days away while the kids were taken care of by their - very capable - father. Don't worry, he's off on a golfing day soon.


The 5* Levante Beach Resort in Rhodes is, in a word, stunning. The sprawling complex, interspersed with bougainvillea, beautifully kept lawns & even ruins from the Hellenistic period, stretches past the amazing 83 metre long main pool right down to Afandou beach on the eastern coast of the island, and offers a vast range of options to suit almost everyone.

So - what's on my ideal family holiday checklist, and does Levante Beach Resort fit the bill?

- Spacious, clean rooms large enough to accommodate seven.

Tick! We would require 2 adjoining suites but this is an option that is available on request, rather than trying to book online so it would be recommended to call the sales office & speak to someone about these needs.

I stayed in a beautiful deluxe suite with an enormous bed (seriously - I could share it with the Mister and kids and probably still have room to starfish), lounge area with sliding partition door, & large bathroom with double sink, shower, & tub. Both the lounge area & bedroom had patio doors that opened out onto the balcony, which overlooked the pool area facing up towards the main hotel (& just a stone's throw from the beach). It was lovely to sit out there in the evening and enjoy the cool breeze after the heat of the day.


- A wide range of meal options.

One of the bloggers on the trip has coeliac disease and it appeared to me that she was well catered for, with clearly labelled dishes, even having the option of requesting GF pancakes if she so desired. As well as the outdoor grill preparing & serving different dishes each evening (for example, fish one evening, chicken another), there was a massive selection of food inside the dining hall for the breakfast & evening buffets. Children are even able to eat with their friends during special child-friendly mealtimes.

I have a couple of fussy eaters, particularly L who is exceptionally picky about what he will eat due to his sensory issues, and I think we would manage with what is available. As well as the main dining hall, there is a poolside Greek taverna, and pan-Asian restaurant serving a wide variety of dishes including salads, burgers, and curries, as well as plenty of dessert options. I enjoyed a delicious Katsu chicken burger with fries & salad at the Annora restaurant for lunch the day before we left, and I have to say the breakfast buffet was outstanding. The waffles... Om. Nom. Nom.


- Activities for everyone.

My favourite activity was 'sunbathing', and while not officially on the activities list for the resort, it's definitely up there as one of the best in my opinion. Since I was child-free, I took full advantage of enjoying peace and quiet by the over 18s pool (nice touch, Mark Warner, and handily located right outside my suite). During the day the over 18s pool is the venue for rather vigorous games of water polo in the mornings, which we sat and watched from the relative safety of our sun loungers. No, you're a perv.

There are a plethora of watersports available to try out including sailing, paddleboarding, water-skiing, and kayaking, with tuition available from highly qualified instructors. During the day, even the tots come out in the pool with a tiny little sailing boat and the nannies & lifeguard take them on a sailing lesson - it is the cutest thing. The entire week I was squealing "Oh! My kids would love that!" at just about everything, I so wish I could have shared it with them. I got to go sailing on a catamaran with Kate, Rebecca & Victoria and managed to avoid any actual sailing responsibility - we made it out of the water alive so I feel that this worked out for the best..!

It's not all go-go-go, one morning I took some time out while the other ladies indulged in aqua-aerobics in the Over 18s pool and headed off up the AquaSpa in the main hotel, treating myself to a 50-min long Swedish massage at a price of €55 - which was fabulous. I felt completely relaxed and ready to enjoy a leisurely lunch with the other ladies when I was done.

Image from Hollybobbs.com
Image Credit: Hollybobbs.com
- Childcare options.

As I said, a holiday should be a holiday for everyone & while we will of course want to do things together, Levante Beach Resort offers holiday childcare that is second to none, and I am certain that my kids would love it more than hanging out with their boring parents all the time. The purpose-built air conditioned childcare centre is staffed by highly qualified British nannies, & is designed to accommodate children aged from 4 months to 17 years. It also has its own paddling pool, and outdoor playground. E would love the Minis Club (3-5 years), which offers 6 mornings (09:30-12:30) or 6 afternoons (14:30-17:30) included in the price of the holiday, or 6 full days 09:30-12:30 - 14:30-17:30 for £180, with a good balance of indoor and outdoor activities, like mini sailing, seashell painting, wave jumping & parachute games.

For Juniors (6-9y), Kidz (10-13y) & Indy (14-17y) Clubs, the 6 full days are included in the price of the holiday and include activities such as sailing & windsurfing, beach rounders, sea frisbee & beach volleyball as well as an 'Indy Dinner' at 8pm so teens can eat with their holiday chums. While I didn't see this first hand, I'm told that there is 1:2:1 childcare available for children with special needs, though availability is limited & cannot be booked online.

Image from NotAnotherMummyBlog.com
Image Credit: NotAnotherMummyBlog.com
- Opportunity to tour the island.

I could easily have spent the entire break at the resort and have been perfectly happy doing so, but it would have been a waste to not explore the beautiful island beyond the resort. There is opportunity to rent bikes to either go out riding by yourself, or as part of a guided tour. You are also able to hire a car independently, or to book a place on an excursion with Ibiscus Tours who have a desk situated in the hotel lobby.

One afternoon we visited the utterly gorgeous Lindos, with its quaint winding cobbled streets full of shops, bars and restaurants that lead you up to the Acropolis and some breathtaking views - take good walking shoes and some cash to purchase all your little souvenirs and knick-knacks (like Katrina's funky Greek slippers), it is absolutely a must-visit.

Lindos, Rhodes

- A memorable, enjoyable break.

Time away is good for the soul. A chance to recharge, to relax, and slow down. To see the sun rise and set, to feel the warmth of the sea, and sit and watch the world go by. I enjoyed not having to be up & about early, but did take the time to visit the beach early one morning before breakfast, where I found Rachael enjoying the beautiful view and watching the sunrise.
I know I'm guilty of rushing from one activity to the next without ever taking time out for myself, or to really appreciate my surroundings and having this wonderful opportunity to visit Rhodes with these amazing ladies has done me the world of good. When I came home I felt rejuvenated, and really proud of myself for going off and doing something alone. Not only did I see beautiful sights & have a much-needed break - I made some pretty fantastic friends, too and it was a pleasure to share the experience - and the cocktails - with them. It was absolutely everything you could want from a holiday.
Thank you Carissa, Kate, Lisa, Rachael, Katrina, Alison, Rebecca, Victoria, Monika, Emily, Kara (and Sebby!) for going on this adventure with me and making it what it was - and thank you to Emilia and Polly from Mark Warner for getting us there and back in one piece. It was quite an experience, and one I hope to be able to share & enjoy with my family very soon.
Image from Little Likely Lads
Image Credit: LittleLikelyLads
See what the other ladies thought -
Little Likely Lads - Wit Wit Woo - HollybobbsRachael Lucas
Cool Bananas Blog - Not Another Mummy Blog - Mum of 3 Boys
Verily Victoria Vocalises - Mum on the Brink
A Mummy Too - ChelseaMamma

#AutumnBucketList

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Last year we thoroughly enjoyed completing our Pinterest-inspired (though, what isn't?) Autumn Bucket List, so much so that we continued on with the theme and made our own Christmas & Summer Bucket Lists, too.

We're doing it again this year, and sticking with much the same sort of ideas, but finding new ways to do things and different ways of enjoying the season.

Will you be joining us?

Meal Plan Monday 220914

Monday, 22 September 2014


Mon 22nd Sept - Slow-cooker lasagne, & garlic bread

Tues 23rd Sept - Sweet chilli & ginger stir-fry chicken and vegetables with rice

Weds 24th Sept - Baked bolognese

Thurs 25th Sept - Shredded BBQ beef in buns, with salad & chips

Fri 26th Sept - Home-made curry

Sat 27th Sept - Pizza

Sun 28th Sept - Roast

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post

Dad's in Charge

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Welcome to my very first time hosting Loud 'n' Proud, the link up says a sad goodbye to Judith but I hope you will all help me assist the original linky co-hosts in making this a really fun weekly link up to share all of those proud moments.

So last week you may have noticed the holiday spam filling your IG, twitter and Facebook feeds and for that I am #sorry #notsorry. I spent a wonderful few days with 11 fab bloggers (and a baby!) and the lovely Emilia from Mark Warner Holidays seeing what the gorgeous Greek island of Rhodes has to offer after winning a place on the trip, and an amazing time we had indeed. More to come on that later, but what I'm proud of this week is what was happening at home in my absence...


I left my very capable Mister in charge of the running of the home, and managing of our kids. I've mentioned before that I am happy to go on child-free breaks, and have no qualms about leaving the children with their father or grandparents who love them, and take care of them just as well as I do. As Dreaming of a Craft Room said on my previous post on the subject, "I used to love it when my parents left my brother and I for a sleepover at Granny's, it was an adventure for us and a break for my parents. Going away without your kids is a great idea", and those are my thoughts exactly.

I set off on Tuesday morning and the Mister got on with both roles instead of just his own. He did the school runs, the cooking, the cleaning, the washing, all of the running around to the kids after-school clubs and activities (with a little help from A, too), managed the electrician visit around all of that, and coped with an unfortunate incident on the Friday, as well as going to work. I came home on Saturday to a (mostly) tidy house, and happy children. He even picked me up from the airport! I had every faith in his ability to manage it all - if anything, he's probably more capable than me in all honesty!

People joke about leaving Dads in charge (myself included) but I think they're not given the credit they're owed. The Mister is a brilliant Dad and the kids & I are so lucky to have him. He's exhausted now, but don't feel too sorry for him, he's had plenty of days away this year and is off on another golf day next month...


Mama Owl


Meal Plan Monday 150914

Monday, 15 September 2014


Mon 15th Sept - Chicken & chips

Tues 16th Sept - Toad in the hole

Weds 17th Sept - Mac & cheese with broccoli

Thurs 18th Sept - Brinner

Fri 19th Sept - Home-made chicken curry

Sat 20th Sept - Ploughman's

Sun 21st Sept - Roast pork

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post

Summer Reading Success

Thursday, 11 September 2014

As such an avid reader, it has always been important to me to try and instil a love of reading in my children. I have enjoyed some success - A has shelves overflowing with books and spent much of her early childhood with her nose firmly in between the pages of her latest read, and H & E seem to share her passion for books too. H is building up quite a collection of titles such as Flat Stanley, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and Percy Jackson, and E has her own little book shelf full of her favourites, like The Gruffalo!

Unfortunately, I've not had quite the same level of victory with my older boys. They will read on occasion but mostly they're just not really that interested, which is a shame but I gave it a good go. They have enjoyed some books - like the Skulduggery Pleasant, and Beast Quest series - but on the whole they just prefer doing other things. I think 3/5 isn't too bad going!

The library runs an annual Summer Reading Challenge and is designed to try and keep children aged 4-11 interested in reading during the long school holiday and prevent a 'dip' in their progress, and this year we decided to take part. The theme was Mythical Maze, and the kids are encouraged to read 6 books through the Summer. They can be picture books, audio books, fact books, anything at all as long as they're borrowed from the library.

H chose mostly fact books about cars, trucks, and motorcycles. He enjoyed reading about the world's fastest cars, and about the history of of motor vehicles and learning how engines work. E selected story books that we read together, she particularly enjoyed "I'm not cute!" and "A Rumpus in the Night". Half way through the challenge, they were rewarded with Mythical Maze wrist bands and for each book they read, they received stickers to collect and add to their maps. At the end of the challenge, they finally received their certificates and gold medals which they are both very proud of - and rightly so, too!


It has made me realise that I have completely under-utilised our local library, which is a shame. I plan to rectify that and continue our weekly trips there, because both of them really enjoyed the reading challenge and with the way things are currently I do worry about the "use it or lose it" factor and you never know what vital public service the government will cut next.

I really do think that the Mythical Maze challenge encouraged H & E to keep up their reading during the Summer holidays, and helped to prepare them for heading back to school for a new year, and of course a new start for E! So bring on the Summer Reading Challenge for 2015 - we're ready!

Learning Through Play

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

review post.

Learning Resources UK have a huge range of award-winning educational toys, games, and learning aids. Whatever your need, there will almost certainly be something there for you. From my point of view as an autism parent, I was delighted to see a section for special educational needs, including social & emotional skills, motor skills, and sensory awareness.


L has always had trouble with fine motor skills, using cutlery and holding pens & pencils for example, and the Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set is a great kit for helping him practice. E enjoyed using the tools too, I gave her some bowls and a tub of buttons and let her choose which of the 4 tools she wanted to use to sort the buttons by colour. The kit is priced at £7.14 and in my opinion will be invaluable for strengthening these important skills.


You can even sneak in a learning opportunity during your evening routine - the Smart Splash® Sail Away Shapes™ are a set of eight linking toy boats with detachable, uniquely shaped masts that fit together with their corresponding colour and are a great way of teaching colour and shape matching, as well as hand-eye coordination & fine motor skills when linking them together. Priced at £19.80 and suitable for ages 2-6, the Sail Away Shapes are the perfect toy for making learning, and bath time, fun.


To view their extensive range of educational games, toys, and learning aids, check out the Learning Resources UK website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news, offers, and information on their products.

We received complimentary educational toys for review purposes. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Meal Plan Monday 080914

Monday, 8 September 2014


Mon 8th Sept - Lasagne & garlic bread

Tues 9th Sept - I'm heading off to Rhodes with Mark Warner Holidays today, after winning a place on their bloggers trip to their Levante Beach Resort. This means that the Mister is flying solo so I've tried to keep the menu as straightforward as possible for him. Tonight - Brinner.

Weds 10th Sept - Sausage & mash

Thurs 11th Sept - Baked potatoes with coronation chicken & salad

Fri 12th Sept - Fish fingers, chips & peas

Sat 13th Sept - I'm home! But not until this evening, so they'll be having beef fajitas

Sun 14th Sept - Roast chicken

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post

Back to School

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Apparently we've had a six week Summer break? I'm fairly certain it was only about three? At least that's what it felt like... I didn't have time to get sick of my kids because the holidays whizzed past at an outrageous speed and to be perfectly honest I feel a bit cheated. I'm not ready to send them back. I didn't finish doing all of the things that I wanted to do with them.

I'm not ready to let them go.

This week I have watched my middle son stride off into senior school with his big brother like he's been going there for years. The boy that sat under the table for weeks at his fabulous primary school, the ones who brought him back from the trauma he suffered at the hands of his previous primary. The boy who has caused more tears, grief and stress than the rest of my kids put together. The boy that has been worth every minute. That boy. He's growing up. He's becoming a young man. He has started year seven.



J has started year nine, and thankfully is (so far) delighted with the classes he is taking, after choosing his options last term. Fingers crossed for a settled year with lots of progress. I'm also really proud of how he has taken care of L, too. He has his moments like any other kid, but he's a good brother.

H is now in year four and I could tell from the way he was carrying himself around the playground, chatting to his buddies, that he feels more grown up. He looks more grown up. He's pleased to be in a class with his best friends, and that he is the big brother at school now. He tried to give E a hug and wish her luck before he joined his line before class, but she was having none of it.


The school days have started for my baby. Though - she is of course not a baby any more, and she will tell you this quite vehemently should you ever happen to call her that within her earshot. She's a little person, with her own thoughts and feelings and ideas and opinions.  She goes to "big school". She is grown up, just like H. Unfortunately her first day was overwhelming for her, and her initial excitement gave way to some tears and uncontrollable sobbing which could only be remedied with her father and myself leaving to let her teacher calm and settle her. Her teacher (and a fellow mum-friend who was still in the class with her daughter) assured me that E settled quickly after we left. It broke my heart to leave her crying but sometimes you just have to rip the plaster off. She was fine. I was fine. She had a good day.

Today, after her GCSE success, A starts the sixth form. Her first day is actually just an afternoon, she'll have an induction meeting and her photo taken for ID cards and such, then they're having a welcome barbecue. She's nervous but looking forward to the next stage of her academic career, the next step before university and heading out into the big wide world by herself, to make her own memories and find her own adventures.


I'll be honest - it's me who is having the most trouble coming to terms with everything. I have spent days and nights worrying about what happens next - will they be okay? Have I prepared them enough? Will they manage without me?

I know that those aren't the questions I need to be asking myself. The question is - will I manage without them? I feel utterly unprepared for this. I feel lost. I have spent sixteen years mothering them, helping them grow, holding their hands, healing their "baddies"... And now they're growing up.

And while it makes my heart soar - it also makes my heart weep.


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A family holiday in France

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

In the second week of August, we packed up and headed off to the South of France on our first family holiday abroad all together. After an overnight stay and whistlestop city tour of Paris we piled back in the minibus and headed down to Montemboeuf in the southwestern Charente region of France, to stay at the beautiful Les Deux Pins.


Les Deux Pins is a gorgeous 5 bed, 3 bath holiday rental villa in a beautiful rural location, with its own swimming pool as well as a pool table, ping pong table, and large garden. It is owned by Gary & Deana who live on-site but are unobtrusive, and are a very lovely couple and wonderful hosts.


Surrounded by rolling countryside and stunning views, it is one of the most peaceful places I have ever visited. Our plan for the week was to stay at the villa and simply enjoy doing a lot of nothing, swimming, playing pool, reading, playing and just general hanging out doing as little as humanly possible, and that was exactly what we did. It was bliss.
It was a long old trek down to Montemboeuf. We got the ferry from Dover to Calais and travelled down to Paris, stopping overnight and enjoying some sightseeing before carrying on the journey. Aside from some travel-induced vomit incidents (both on the way there & the journey back, 3/5 of my kids - 1 of them twice...) the children were all immaculately behaved and so patient considering the amount of travelling they endured. We got rinsed on the toll roads, it cost us around €100, but it meant a shorter journey, & no traffic.

The villa looked amazing in the pictures I had seen, but I was still awestruck by it when we saw it in person. It is basically my dream house, if I could have picked it up and brought it home I would have. The bedrooms are beautifully decorated and I loved the colour schemes in each room. As my niece C was on holiday with us she had a room to herself so she had her own space and privacy, the three boys shared a room, and E & A shared the adjoining room (via a Jack & Jill bathroom suite), all up on the second floor. On the first floor the Mister and I had our own room, and pretty much sole use of the enormous bathroom, and then our friend Leo (who had organised the villa and holiday) & his son O shared the other bedroom with en-suite.
On the ground floor was the enormous kitchen with a table large enough to seat all 10 of us, a living room with TV & DVD player, another WC, a games room with pool table, and a utility room with washing machine. Outside, there is an outdoor dining area and barbecue, and a pool terrace where the swimming pool and ping pong table are located. The pool is fenced off and secure and the lock too high & tricky for a child to reach or undo by themselves. To be fair, I struggled with it on occasion!

The pool was so cold but lovely and clean and the kids spent the entire week in and out of it even though the weather wasn't the best. It rained almost every day but they were mostly showers and were over before they began. The kids made the most of having their own pool for the week and when they weren't eating or sleeping they were charging past in their swimming gear with their goggles on and dragging a towel behind them. We took a good selection of inflatables and pool toys and games with us but there was a big selection supplied too which saw some good use during our visit.
The garden area is huge and was great for the kids to run around on. We took a football, and tried to get a game of rounders and cricket going one night but it always descended into chaos and the kids running around screeching with laughter & chasing each other. It was rather lovely to watch.

We had considered going off to explore the local area but to be honest, the villa had everything we needed and it was nice to not have to do anything. The kids were perfectly content to roam and play, and aside from one or two tantrums they were brilliant all week. They got on, they played together nicely, they had fun. What more could you ask for?
I managed to dodge the cooking all week and instead stuck to doing the washing, dishwasher & general wandering around behind children clearing up the trail of destruction behind them. Tidying their rooms, retrieving wet swimwear & towels from just about everywhere, etc. Aside from not cooking, it was much like being at home - but for some reason I really didn't mind! The Mister and Leo stocked up at the supermarket (which was about a 15 minute drive away) and both took charge of the food prep and cooking all week, and a grand job they did too. I think I must have eaten my weight in pain au chocolat and brioche as I had them for breakfast most days, and to be honest right now wouldn't mind if I didn't eat or even see one ever again!

On our last day we got up early and headed back to Calais to get our ferry home. In the end it took us 20 hours to get from Montemboeuf back to our house, & poor Leo had to do all the driving. We got home in the early hours of the 17th and sent all the kids off to bed, then the Mister & I got up early to clean the minibus before it went back to the hire company for 08:30.

It was our first holiday abroad all together since the days that we were just a family of four, and it was absolutely wonderful. I had such a great time, and enjoyed every single day of our time together in France. Apart from when we left the suitcase in Paris (it has since made its way back to England...). I'm eagerly looking up places to go next year and working out what we will be able to afford, as I'd love to take them abroad again now that they are older and we don't have to faff with cots & pushchairs and the like. It's doubly important to me to enjoy this time because soon enough A will be heading off to university and on adventures of her own, so we really only have two more years before we'll be travelling as a family of six instead of seven. I plan to make the most of every opportunity we have to get away and be together.

Our family in Paris

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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