Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another Great Holiday Tradition – The Second Breakfast

ARAGORN: Gentlemen. We do not stop 'till nightfall.
PIPPIN: What about breakfast?
ARAGORN: You've already had it.
PIPPIN: We've had one, yes. What about second breakfast?
MERRY: Don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip.
PIPPIN: What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn't he?
MERRY: I wouldn't count on it.
Remains of second breakfast at the Davies Green home
One of the wonderful things about being on holiday together is the luxury of time. We’re not rushing in the morning to get ready for school, getting dressed, breakfasted, brushed and packed for the day ahead. Instead we have the leisurely wake up followed by a lazy get out of bed. I am very fortunate this holiday that my beautiful daughter seems to have adapted from her usual 7.30 wake up time to a far nicer 8.30 wake up! My son has always enjoyed a lazy lie in and even when he does wake up first, likes to read in bed with a lovely book – his current favourite being Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  
The children like to play in their pyjamas for a bit and one of them is usually hungry for an almost immediate breakfast. Depending on what we’ve eaten the night before, the grown-ups may or may not join the kids. Husband is quite likely to be either: already out running, or just returned from a run, or about to run a great distance; so he’s not always ready to eat when the kids are, but the joy of a holiday is that we can eat when we want to and I like to treat myself with a holiday breakfast!
On school days we almost always eat porridge. If I don’t eat porridge in the morning I feel ravenously hungry by about 10a.m and lunch in the Spanish system is at 2pm in the afternoon, so porridge is a good start to a long morning!
A holiday is a chance to move away from porridge for a while and the kids love their holiday fix of Weetabix or Chocapic (a chocolatey cereal we have discovered in Spain) or Smacks – another Spanish cereal suspiciously like sugar puffs but with more sugar!!
I also like to indulge my sweet tooth on the holiday and can either make pancakes or, as we have a Carrefour supermarket close by, we are lucky enough to be able to buy lovely frozen partly baked croissants. Pop them in the oven for 20 mins and they are done, nice warm croissants out of the oven, what more could a girl want?
Well, a girl could want quite a lot really. A lovely warm croissant has to be accompanied by the following:
·         Butter for spreading
·         Freshly trimmed strawberries or other fruit
·         A good cup of coffee
·         A tall drink of water or juice
·         Some jam

Also nice but not absolutely necessary:

·         Nice table linen
·         Some good music in the background
·         Drinks for the children (so I don't have to keep getting up and down like a Jack in the box)
·         Mini chocolate muffins, another Carrefour speciality
·         Yoghurt or cream or any leftover pouring sweet stuff from the fridge
·         At Easter, any bits of chocolate egg that can be scavenged from the children

So, this is my holiday treat, a breakfast of champions and of course, inevitably, the children want some croissants and strawberries too, so they sit down and feel very proud that this is their second breakfast of the morning. Even as I am writing, they’ve gone back to the table to demolish another croissant and I guess that will count as elevenses...

After second breakfast.....or was that elevenses?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Early Easter Egg Hunt

I know, I know, it’s not strictly speaking Easter yet, but our friend Annie was making a flying visit so we decided to egg hunt early because:

1. The kids love Annie and would appreciate hunting with her
2. Annie is fabulously creative and would help with clues
3. We could all eat chocolate
4. Lots of fun for two children and three adults!

I asked Annie if she would help design the hunt (basically Annie compiled the whole thing while I did boring stuff like telling her how many eggs we had, ironing, tidying up breakfast and suggesting a few lyrical clues, Steve was out running and the kids were playing and being shooed away from Annie’s cunning clue compiling!)

This clue reads:

I'm long, thin and green
Near me an egg will be seen

 We made the children wait to build up the sense of anticipation and to build up a stash of clues (visual for the 5 year old (maps with crosses) and written for the 7 year old). Steve and Annie also had to actually hide the eggs.

In Spain you can buy pre-boiled eggs (I know, it’s bizarre!) Not only are they boiled but also beautifully brightly coloured, I suppose so that if you store them in the same place as your other eggs you can tell the difference between your cooked and uncooked ones! We put some of these boiled eggs on the hunt too. We thought it would be entertaining to see the kids finding boiled eggs as well as chocolate ones, surprisingly, they found them equally exciting!
This photo shows Owain, having solved the "long, thin and green" clue, finding the egg hidden in the hose pipe..

Here are some of the clues we made up for the kids:
In the plants a treat you’ll find
Mint’s the hint for where I hide

They sorted that one fairly easily...
Another was:
Look to where you have a sleep
There’s treasure there you’ll want to keep

This is our very own stripy pink riding hood, replete with treasure and clues

Some of the clues were a bit too easy for Owain and he wanted to speed off in the excited rush to find the eggs, we had to keep encouraging him to wait for his sister, although to be honest, once she’d found the first stash of chocolate she was happy to let him do the rest of the work as long as she could start eating chocolate IMMEDIATELY!
This is the boy helping the girl to read the clue....notice his body is saying GO GO GO, LET'S FIND THE EGGS NOW but he's being patient...Another clue...Up the hill and take a peek
Something blue is what you seek
This is not the best photo in the world...but the best thing about it is the movement, expressing the joyful race between them to find the eggs!

So after a good hour of parental preparation, the Easter egg hunt itself lasted a good 5 minutes....but it was 5 minutes of intense childhood pleasure with a chocolate finale...what more could two children (and three adults...) hope for really!
At the end of the hunt, my daughter surprised us all with the request to eat some chocolate and... one of the boiled eggs...and they both polished off a beautifully coloured glazed boiled egg from their Easter egg cups.

Enjoy the holidays!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The perils of walking with children

I quite like a nice country side walk, nothing too far, 2 km is nice on a sunny day, 5k is a comfortable and satisfying distance. Walking can be a great pleasure, with time to ponder all of life’s wonders, nature and the landscape, the ways our bodies work to propel us ahead.
UNLESS, of course, you are walking with your children and your children happen to be 5 and 7, and one of them is a ‘reluctant walker’.
The definition of ‘reluctant walker’ in our household is a person who seems very enthusiastic to actually go for a walk and would be very put out at the suggestion that they are not actually going to enjoy themselves and can stay home and do something else instead (like torment their dad).
However, after walking for about two minutes, the walking torment begins....
“How long are we going to be walking for?”
“Are we going this way?”
“Can I have my drink please?”
“Can you carry my toy please?”
“Can I have my toy now please?”
“Mummy, Mummy, MUMMYYYYYYYYYYY, wait for me”
“Mummy, Mummy, MUMMYYYYYYYYYYY, I can’t catch up”

Carry on with questions and constant moaning until mum reluctantly cuts short planned 2 ½ km walk to 1 km and turns around to come back home.
My son is a different story; he enjoys a walk and likes to enjoy nature in a quiet, contemplative way. He enjoys a good old chat about the things we see, or school, or football cards and stuff but also enjoys walking with a good stick and a satisfying sandwich and drink at the mid point of the walk before returning home.

There is a small peak close to our house which we have named “Pride Rock” after the Lion King story but which is actually known as Eagle’s Point. It’s not that far away but I haven’t made it yet....mainly because I took both children (I am ever the optimist and keep hoping that, one day, my daughter will suddenly start to enjoy the things around her and walk a bit more peacefully). I’d like to tackle it again this weekend, but small child will be left at home to torment dad.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Guess who's coming to dinner?

On Friday, our respective Spanish teachers (husband's and mine) will be coming to dinner and bringing their partners.
At the table the Nationalities represented will be:
Welsh, English,Irish,Dutch,Spanish and Spanish.

We will more than likely speak predominantly English although I will try to get a bit of Spanish in there to keep up the vocab and grammar. We'll be eating a combination of Spanish, British, Italian and French food and drinking wine (who cares from whence it comes!)
If the weather continues to be glorious we will eat out on our balcony and listen to the birds twittering their merry sundown delights. We may also be able to watch the skittery bats swooping through the telegraph poles although the biting mosquitoes may have driven us into the haven of inside by then.
We are all a bit weary as we are waiting for the too long in arriving Easter holiday, so we're all looking forward to a relaxing Friday night with friends.
My Spanish teacher is insistent that she is bringing two puddings despite the fact that I keep telling her she doesn't need to (I am conscious that she works full time while I have the luxury of not working on Fridays so I have time to prepare - hence the reason I am not panicking about cooking, I have hours to get things ready). She will not tolerate a pudding refusalist and she wants to bring two, so I am bowing to her superior Spanish insistence and cultural desire and awaiting a delightful Spanish puddingy surprise.

I'm also hoping we'll have the chance to try some Tinto Verano (summery light Spanish red wine with sugar and juice, sounds foul, tastes great!) and maybe some Mojitos!Or if we're really adventurous, we'll add to the pudding selection by having s Cava Sorbet (basically spanish champagne with sorbet...any excuse to crack open a bottle!)

I'm looking forward to our multicultural multilingual party and hoping that the wine and food are as good as the company.
Roll on feliz fin de semana (Roll on happy week end)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Losing sweaters weather, a bit of Blake and a Marvell

This blog is a welcome gift for Aaron Davindu Joseph Moraes - born 2nd April 2011

Spring has sprung in Alicante and suddenly the weather is beautiful. It's still a little chilly in the mornings, cool enough to wear a jacket or a jumper, but the extra layers don’t last long once the sun starts happily blazing. It’s real sweater losing weather for my children, because I bundle them up in their school jumpers in the morning, only for them to return from school in t shirts with (if I’m lucky) their sweaters in their hot little hands. If they’re unlucky, the sweaters will have been taken off and left somewhere and as they wear uniform (so EVERYONE ELSE IN SCHOOL WEARS THE SAME THING!!) the sweaters seem to be lost to the ether somewhere...this raises mummy’s wrath as their school uniform costs a fortune. I am calm enough though because the sun is smiling and soon enough they will be wearing their t shirts and shorts to school and looking very cool.

Spring is beautiful, everything is green, my basil seeds have sprouted in a most satisfactory fashion and my Jasmine climber on the balcony is also putting on a glorious fragrant show. Spring makes me feel incredibly young (even though I know I’m not) and full of energy and wonder at our glorious world.

In Spain the umbrellas are re-emerging in the roadside cafes after a winter of disuse and some of the trees that seemed to have been pruned to just within an inch of their leaves only a couple of months ago are sprouting green leaves anew. Flowers are blooming everywhere and the lighter clothes and brighter hues are appearing. The strawberries are in season and selling cheaply by the kilo and the playgrounds are being used by cheerful children while their parents sip coffees in nearby cafes. It only feels like last week when we switched the heating off at night and now it feels like we’ll never need it again. The season brings to mind Andrew Marvell’s poem “To his Coy Mistress”, in it, he is trying to persuade the “coy mistress” into having sex with him, basically saying that life’s too short for coyness (it was ok for Marvell, he didn’t have to worry about having a baby!!) I love the line:
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires
My “willing soul” may not be burning with “instant fires” but I certainly feel more energetic and have a great desire to work on my garden and get things done now before it gets too hot.
We’re not in England any more, where we lived in close proximity to a farm, so we haven’t seen the magic of new born lambs this year, but we are still relishing the new growth around us. Lots of colleagues at school have had babies and a former student of mine has just had a beautiful baby boy. How can we feel anything but elation and joy at all the new life around us! Even though we’re not at ‘Home’ in Wales or England, we can still appreciate Blake’s thundering inspirational words because it's the weather to forget the housework and the tv and the electronic games, because it's time to get out and enjoy ourselves with a passionate energy!:
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
In the real world, it may well be (with apologies to William Blake):
“Bring me my rake, my spade, my trowel,
Bring me my sunny Spring time day
Bring me my joy! O worries unravel!
Bring me life pleasures you may!”

It’s Spring, it’s beautiful. Whoever or Whatever you worship or praise, then it’s time to give thanks for all the abundant pleasures of the earth and be happy that Spring has sprung.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lies we tell our children...and is it any wonder they say them back to us?

I’ll be there in a minute
I’m just talking on the phone, I’ll be finished soon
I’m coming to see you
I’ll be on the computer for two minutes and then I’ll be finished
I’ll read you a story in a minute
Yes, I love making lego models
It’s not going to hurt
Father Christmas
The tooth fairy
Flying Reindeer
So why am I surprised when I’m waiting for my children to take them to school in the morning and they say “I’m coming” only to appear ten minutes later. It’s because when they call me to see their painting, toy, model, hair brush...I say “I’m coming” but I get there when I want to, usually when I’ve finished the ironing, hovering, dusting, cooking, washing task that is occupying me.
Is it any wonder that our teenagers tell us fibs about where they've been and what they've been doing when they know that we lied for years about the tooth fairy and Santa?
We shouldn't be horrified when our children are told to get off the computer, Wii or whichever allocated entertainment after their alloted time frame and they say...."Nearly finished" or "Five minutes and I'll be done." They've probably heard it from us.
Listen to your kids today, hear from them what you say to them and kids.....listen to what you say and think about where you heard it! Sometimes it's a funny thing, sometimes it's a sad thing...perhaps mostly it's a family heritage thing. We are all making let's make sure we try and tell our children the truth and if we must tell them lies, make the lies we tell them small ones, happy ones and ones that make us smile.