There’s a Poop in the Pool…

As Soul II Soul once said, back to life back to reality.

My Summer fun is pretty much done and I can almost smell Rosh Hashana in the air. (In case of confusion, that’s the festival celebrating Jewish New Year which usually falls around mid-September and you can just smell an Autumnal change in the air).

After a few weeks on the Costa (Mill Hill-on-Sea), I am most definitely home, trapped (albeit happily) in my utility room, dealing with the wash load upon wash load that is a sure sign of a good holiday. You can spank money on the hotel laundry service all you like. You can hand wash to your heart’s content with your travel wash from Boots. Fact is, it will never convince me it looks or smells good enough, so I usually end up re-washing most of it. Although I did return home with a much hyped (on Facebook’s My Best Product Ever (#addicted) fabulous cleaning spray from the local hypermarket:

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For cookers, cars  ..and clothing

No two summers are ever the same and a big plus for 2016 was that both of my kids were fully swim proficient and could handle their own on a Taylor Swift-style inflatable. And this year it was definitely all about inflatables: crocodiles, unicorns, lemon slices, swans – I saw it all.

On top of the variety of inflatables this Summer, the ice cream consumption was off the clock. Like an enormous flash card, we all stand and point at the ice cream board and readily hand over our Euros. (A reward card would be nice, Walls. Just sayin’.) Yes, there are Peanut Butter Magnums, Negratons and Fantasmikos, but Sandwich de Nata is still my favourite 6pm sampler. Biscuit. Marshmallowy-soft ice cream. Perfecto.

 

Every day starts much the same – a promise to do some cardio just to ‘keep things ticking over’ – maybe a You tube Pilates video (“Hi I’m Christy, let’s work that booty…”), or some lengths in the pool? By 11:30am I’ve done half a pack of rice cakes (the ‘healthy snack’) and I’m like quality control on the kids’ crisps. It’s a job – somebody’s got to do it.

This year, I said to myself that I would be the ‘Mum that said yes’ when it came to the kids.

“Will you come in the pool with us?” Yes. And this time I wore goggles. Not my best look but I leave that to the messy bun, fresh-faced, slick of clear gloss brigade.

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I know who I am…

I borrowed eldest’s spare pair as I have super-sensitive eyes (cataracts, detached retina.. but that’s a whole other blog). Plus, if you saw the colour the pool water turns our swimwear, it’s no wonder my eyes sting. Chlorine catastrophe. Diving competitions, handstands, roly poly’s and the occasional pool evacuation for poop. Sometimes it was a stone. Sometimes it really was poop. Mass hysteria as we try to ignore the fact our kids are swimming in 90% urine as it is.

“Will you come in the sea?” Yes. And this time I wore my beach shoes as Marbs beaches can be rocky. It always fascinates me that I am on the ‘edge of land’. Like, literally right on the edge of Earth’s surface. Stepping into the blue bit of the light-up globe in my kids’ bedrooms. You get my point.

Once all the activity and excitement is over, Mama deserves a chill out with the grown ups. That’s when the inevitable ‘Dragons Den in the Sun’ begins. What can I invent to make me millions whilst lying here aiming for some semblance of a tan?

Post-it notes? Done.

Towel clips? Done.

Even the sure-fire winner of a suncream applicator booth was veto’d as apparently, according to Facebook (gospel).. done.

We were getting nowhere fast and it was time for a break (ie. more snacks). You know that programme Springwatch? Well, move over Bill Oddie. Round my pool, at a certain ‘time of the month’, it’s ‘Stringwatch’. Girls have all got each others backs (or fronts..) and give a knowing ‘nod’ as we palm one of ‘Mummy’s special carrots‘ and head off to the ladies.  I just wish the boys could look out for each other more. The amount of times I had to avert my eyes. You might think you are modest in your swim shorts, but with your excessive manspreading on your sunbed, the netting bag of ‘fresh plums’ is still very much on show.

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Close your legs, gents

I shouldn’t be unkind as I am most susceptible to ‘pitminj’.  I don’t think I need to explain, but most of my photos require careful editing.

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My armpit. My pitminj. My god…

Right, back to the ideas board for 2017. I’m hoping for something a bit better than my tan if I’m going to get that call from Peter Jones. “I’m in.”

Pack It In

My kids’ school have a theme song that is sung every year on ‘Speech Day’, (final day of Summer term). This song reduces me to sniffly tears and is nothing to do with my chronic hay fever. Seriously, Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ has got nothing on the Leavers’ Song:

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Cue one of my school-mum’s audibly enquiring, “Are you crying?!” Yes. Yes, I am. And I know I’m not alone. The sniffly tears are for two reasons:

1) The top year are leaving (which last year included my gorgeous niece)

2) It means the endless holidays are upon us. After three visits to Megajump plus Pizza Express for lunch AND dinner, what to do with the little darlings? (Anyone got a voucher code?)

Luckily for me, I married well. And by that I mean my in-laws have a holiday home in Spain, meaning a healthy chunk of the holidays have guaranteed sun, with poolside days and beach-restaurant nights. But before all that, the prep has to begin. Out come the checklists and all the holiday ‘stuff’. Zippies, lockies, baggies, shmaggies – ie. all the containers and compartmentalisers that make your holiday your holiday.

Par example…

 

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This bad boy is ‘the red bag’. Unassuming Clarins make up bag I hear you comment? It may look like any other red make up bag, but it is of great importance. It holds every single key to the family flat in Spain, each on twee keyrings collected over the years.

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As far as I’m concerned, I just need two keys – front door and pool area. However, there are around eight other keys of varying shapes and sizes and I’m not entirely sure of their function. (If my father-in-law asks, I know exactly what each key is for.) If this red bag ever got lost, there would be a missing persons announcement on Sky News and we would sit shiva.

 

Man Bag

Never referred to as a bag. Or handbag. Or cross body bag. Always ‘man bag’. It comes out purely for holidays and husband has no shame in using it. I just wish he would remember where he puts it down, as time is often lost searching for it. “Doll, have you seen my manbag?”

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Add to this my ‘holiday purse‘. I don’t need my advantage cards, vouchers, dry cleaning tickets, etc. This is all I need and there’s usually a spare Euro for the airport trolley inside. Yes, I’m that organised.

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Sun cream bag

From some long forgotten fabulous trip in First Class, I’ve seen many of these Anya Hindmarch freebie bags poolside around the world.

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“Where are the suncreams?” they ask. “In the Anya bag, of course.” Its predecessor was an orange-striped Giorgio Beverley Hills cosmetic bag, a freebie from the days when people only wore the likes of Samsara, Loulou and Anaïs Anaïs.

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I’ve got a perfume headache from just looking at them

 

Beach bag

Every year I try to replace my distressed gold Accessorize beach bag. I say ‘distressed’ but in reality, the gold has worn away through years of use. It has pockets, a zip, carry handles AND a shoulder strap. It comes with me every year and doubles up as my travel bag full of my crap, kids crap and of late, about ten Beanie Boos.

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Some of my extended family

I bought a Stella Rittwagen straw basket bag a couple of years ago and I absolutely love it, fitting in with all the tall, willowy Spanish girls who congregate at our beach.

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However, they only need a towel and possibly a spare thong bikini.  I have numerous towels, goggles, sun hats, creams and so you can hardly see the bag for the overflow.

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To the beach!!

 

Snack bag

This little gingham bag comes down to the pool each day. Pistachios, bread sticks, wafer biscuits – it could hold any number of ziplocked goodies. If it’s not in the gingham bag (which once held nappies and wipes – don’t worry I washed it), then my kids aren’t interested.

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Nail bag

Glamour magazine freebie from years ago and still going strong. I don’t want a free mascara or a new lipstick. I want useful zippy little bags in varying sizes!

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For many friends there is no packing process, but simply a ‘chuck it all in and worry about it at excess baggage’ ideology, but I am a planner. I get the suitcases out around a week before, but mentally they have been out for over two weeks. (Ok three. Leave me be.)

Here is my top five must-do’s when it comes to packing:

  1. Make a list. There’s no point debating this with me. You need a list otherwise you forget stuff and if I’m travelling with you, I’m not wasting precious time traipsing around the town centre trying to find a compatible charger for your tablet images
  2. Packing cubes. Zipped mesh compartments of varying sizes and colours. IMG_5338I love my Eagles Creek ones. Super useful for keeping clothing neatly folded, like silks or linens. Smaller one for adaptors and chargers. Also great if you are doing a few stops on your holiday, so that you can separate the stuff you need for just those couple of nights
  3. If travelling as a family, mix up your packing between the allocated luggage. Nothing worth than losing a case (mine) and having to wear what you travelled in for the next 48 hours until it’s found
  4. Shoes on top. I was a firm believer in shoes at the bottom, but after seeing someone else’s method, I am a changed woman. A layer of polythene (like from the dry cleaners) laid on top of clothing and then shoes placed on top. Go on, try it
  5. Fabric softener sheets:54484011_0_640x640.jpgNothing worse than ‘suitcase-y’ smelling clothes. A few sheets interleaved between the clothes and it’s like home. I then line the hotel drawers and cupboards with them. Mock me with pleasure, I’ll be the one that smells nice and fresh.

 

Hasta luego… xxx