With the weekend looming I decided we were in much need of a wee family break to just chill out and enjoy each others company. So Thursday evening, I booked a VERY last minute holiday (I mean literally the next day) for us all to stay in a caravan in Devon. Yes, it may not have been a five star luxury hotel that would please most people but my aim was for us to be stripped back to the basics, with only the pure essentials of daily living, so we would focus more on the world around us and not be consumed by technology. (Ok so we still had our mobiles and the caravan had a television, but my point is we were closure to nature.)
Late Friday afternoon we set on our way to the holiday park in the hope that we would get there before the sun set and just in time for dinner. We planned for Leo to be kept awake until we left so that he would fall asleep for most of the journey. As all great plans go though, luck still needs to be on your side. And luck certainly was not on our side. It took an extra hour for us to get there and Leo fell asleep for only half an hour, leaving him awake for just short of three hours, stuck in a car chair, hungry and angry! Leo doesn’t do sitting still so I was sat in the back of the car with him trying to keep him calm by feeding him snacks and playing videos on my phone…until the battery died. Luckily I remembered we had packed the car DVD players but it meant unplugging the sat nav (which is useless anyway) to play a movie which could have had one of two reactions. One, Leo would sit still and watch it nicely the whole way; or two, Leo would proceed to scream because he wanted to physically touch it! I’ll let you guess which reaction he had.
Needless to say by the time we reached the caravan park, we were all worn out and hungry for some food. So I checked in as quick as I could, then we navigated our way to our caravan in the dark. This would have been easy if the caravans were numbered!!! We took a guess, inserted the key and thank goodness it opened. The next obstacle we faced was that our car with all our stuff (food included) was parked at the bottom of a treacherously steep hill. Sorry George. So whilst he lugged bags, food and bedding up the hill, I got some soup on the go.
Lets just say that evening didn’t go exactly to plan, what with Leo being over tired, refusing to eat his dinner then slipping over in the shower. But Saturday was a new day and boy were we ready for it. We got up nice and early thanks to the toddler alarm waking at his usual time of 6.30am, cooked some bacon for sarnies, then headed down to the leisure complex with our swimming gear in tow…not realising that we weren’t allowed in until 10am. So we went for a wander around instead and ended up with Leo getting all muddy in the play park…OCD mum was freaking out but he at least had his wellies on.
With an hour still to kill before the swimming pool opened, we headed back to our caravan to chill out for a bit before donning our wellies once more. When we got to the pool, we took our muddy shoes of and charged into the changing rooms to get ready (the floor was freezing). We changed as quickly as we would so we could dive into the pool and warm up in the super lovely war…cold water! Oh jeeze, such fun. Never mind, this is what caravan holidays are all about right?
After a short lived splash about in the swimming pool, we strolled back to our caravan again to get ready to go out. But not before we had warmed up properly and eaten some lunch. Yesterdays short nap had caught up on Leo and he was soon drifting off on the sofa, so I quickly scooped him up in my arms and took him to the car where he fell asleep on the way to our next stop. Which was just the shops. He stayed asleep in his pram whilst we had a quick look around for some toys for Leo to play with (Daddy’s treat), then we got back in the car and set way for the beach. Oh what a glorious day for a stroll on a beach. Little did I know the sheer size of this beach George decided we were going to. AMAZING!
The tide was right out and there was miles of sandy beach for Leo to run wild on. We drew in the sand, hunted for sea shells and splashed in little rock pools until our hands were so cold we had to head back to the car to warm up.
After our fair share of fresh air, we drove back to the caravan to make chocolate brownies for pudding and homemade pizzas for dinner. Leo played around for a little bit with his new toys from Daddy then we all sat down to a cheap and cheerful dinner.
With our bellies full, George and I decided to completely wear Leo out by taking him to the evening entertainment on site. We got there by 6pm just in time for the children’s disco to start. He was mesmerised by the Disco lights flashing away on the floor and tried to chase after them but more and more children started to join the dance floor and he started to shy away. With a little persuasion from Mummy and Daddy, he boogied away to the music for half an hour before the dance floor filled up and it became too busy to move.
Sunday morning soon came round and our efforts to wear Leo out the day before had paid off. An extra hour’s sleep, wahoo! With this however came the sudden realisation that our weekend was drawing to a close and we needed to pack up to come home. We had breakfast, got dressed, packed our bags then made a picnic for our day ahead. Off to The Big Sheep, Bideford. We have been on holiday numerous times to the North of Devon, but we have never made it to The Big Sheep (perhaps because we didn’t have children). We timed our trip well as it was the last day of half term break which meant the last day of the park being open until the spring. As we arrived early, the park was really quiet with only a few children running around. I did however start to wonder if there were actually any sheep on site. We walked towards a big indoor building as it was quite fresh outside thinking that perhaps the sheep were all huddled up warm inside. Instead, we had walked in to a GIANT soft play area. I was close to walking back out when I saw the look on Leo’s face. His eyes like saucers, I figured it would be a good idea to tire him out first and let him run wild before it got busy. For the first fifteen minutes or so, we were the only ones in there, so George and I seized our opportunity to act like children and literally have a ball with Leo.
An hour later, a tannoy sounded calling everyone to the sheep show that was about to start. Reluctantly, Leo put on his shoes and his coat and we wondered round to the show room. I think he was purposely being cranky because we had taken him away from the ball pit so we made sure we sat next to the exit in case he properly decided to kick off mid show. Which he did…but at the start of the show! At least we saw one sheep.
We left the room to avoid upsetting everyone else with Leo’s crying and walked in the direction of the giant inflatable bouncy pillows. (No not the type you sleep on). We passed some ride along tractors on the way which Leo darted for so we had to let him have a go even though he couldn’t reach the pedals. Then he bounced away with Daddy (Mummy would have felt sick) until his little heart was content.
Our next stop around the park was a building right next door to the indoor soft play marked ‘animal barn’…how could we have missed it. Inside, tonnes of sheep! There were lots of baby lambs sleeping peacefully under infrared lamps and some big sheep in pens which you could feed. George bought some sheep feed at the entrance so he had to use it up but it resulted in them all getting a little rowdy and scaring the crap out of Leo. Luckily, there was a little train ride around the park just about to set off so I high tailed it to the gate with Leo in my arms and George chasing after us both. The good news was it calmed Leo down and he watched everything pass by as we chugged along really slowly. The bad news was it stopped at the same place we got on…beside the rowdy sheep.
Lunchtime was looming and we had made our way round most of the park so we decided to call it a day, but not before a compulsory browse of the shop. Leo picked up a chocolate sheep which he twisted Daddy’s arm to buy for him (ok maybe that was me), then we headed to the car to eat lunch. I was secretly dreading our drive back home after the ordeal on the way here but luck must have been on our side this time as Leo slept for two hours and woke just half an hour before we got home.
We have had such a fun weekend away. It was a much needed escape from the realities of life and it’s taught me to pay more attention to the people around me. Leo is growing so much every day and seeing him interact and dance with other children brought home to me that he won’t stay small forever and he will soon be off to nursery. It makes me so incredibly proud to be his Mummy and I can’t wait to see what a fine young man he grows up to be.
Mummy Hazel, Daddy George and Our Little Leo xxx