Two in There!


32 weeks and 2 days
September 12, 2009, 6:38 pm
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it costs how much?!
September 10, 2009, 11:44 am
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Staring at my now tea-speckled computer screen, agog, I can barely believe my eyes.

£609.

six hundred and nine pounds. for four nights. midweek.

And that’s the bog-standard, 4 walls and a roof offering, with only the most basic amenities to equip you for your stay. And they have the bloody cheek to call it comfort’ accommodation. The middle of the road offerings between £749 and £949 depending on how fluffy you like your towels, whether you prefer the convenience of a hairdryer, and the option of a brick bbq, which lets face it in the middle of English spring, is not likely to be overworked. The top of the range lodge is £2099, which you would hope came complete with self-making beds and a golden goose, but alas no. You’d be forgiven for assuming that we’re planning some extravagant respite somewhere, mingling with the upper echelons of british society, however the reality is this is the cost of a short break at centre parcs.  I wonder if they call it a break due to the detrimental affect on your poor bank account?

Being spurred on by the effects of the recession and the resurrection of the good old fashioned British staycation, we’ve been mooting the idea of a few days at centre parcs with some friends of ours. Little did I know we’d need to sell our organs on the black market to afford a ‘wee break’. How could one possibly enjoy four days in Cumbria when it’s costing so bloody much? In four short days I know I’d feel compelled to squeeze every ounce of worth out of my stay, biking at dawn, kayaking at lunch, abseiling in after tea. I’d need a holiday at the end of it just to get over the stress of having to get my money’s worth!

Shocked, I raise my concerns with my other half who chews over this new information for a few moments before offering up this gem:

” If money’s the concern then you’d be best looking at Haven. Centreparcs is like Sainsburys;  people pay more to not have to mix with boiled-sweet eating idiots,  that wear rangers tops for the duration of the holiday and piss-and-moan when they cant find a copy of the daily record. Thats the beauty of it.”

“That said, kids would have fun if you took them to a skip for a fortnight.”

It’s true that centreparcs is perhaps the top-end of British holiday parks (if they’ll even allow us to refer to them as that), but it’s something that’s geared at the demographic we find ourselves wandering aimlessly in; 20/30 something professionals, and their young children. Granted, you get some bang for your buck in terms of ratio of  activities in close approximation to your locale, but still – can we really justify it? I mean, that’s in Cumbria; that’s barely even in England!

It’s at this point that my mind starts wandering.  For that money, in fact, less than that money,  we could have a week in a delightful little gite in the South of France, with its own pool, and microcosm of all things wonderful and French. There would be wine, cheese, and pastries-a-plenty.  Sunshine, and no doubt that wonderful joie-de-vivre that comes with surveying your delightful surrounds and truly feeling like you’ve gotten away from it all,  included in the price. Weighed up against the possibility of spending a dreich four days, quite possibly in wellies, tromping through the countryside and marvelling at acorns and rabbit poo, it seems infinitely the better choice.

The little gite on the banks of the Dordogne comes with no kids clubs and no plethora of pre-arranged outdoor pursuits. This doesn’t phase me; instead there are numerous little villes et villages to explore, not to mention Bergerac, Bordeaux and St. Emillion, heart of wine country to enjoy, complete with bustling markets and every other french stereotype us brits enjoy so much. At this point it sounds like heaven to me.

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It’s then pointed out to me that as this would be a self-catering holiday, as centreparcs would be, I’d be doing the exact same things I do at home; the very things you’re supposed to go on holiday to escape.  Suddenly, a wave of unwelcome images start infecting my beautiful French daydream; shouting about the mess, picking up after everyone, spending the day trying to manoeuvre buggies through cobbled streets and through pokey shop doors,  and collapsing into my bed at barely gone 10pm from the sheer exhaustion of entertaining a brood of under threes and doing everything for them.  This is not what I want to think about.

“Bagsy not entertaining the kids”

Well, we could always just put them in a dinghy on the Dordogne, with a packed lunch and a distress flare, no?

Sod it, maybe we’ll just book an all-inclusive week in benidorm, and spend a week in the sun, mingling with all the other day-glo pink brits, wondering where it all went wrong.



the head is in the hole!
January 5, 2007, 8:12 am
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Our baby is a genius; having been in an extremely rare and difficult position (oblique-cephalic) for the past 6 weeks, I went to the hospital today for a presentation scan and to book in for a caesarean section after being assured yesterday ‘your baby is over 38 weeks now, it will not turn’. Yet, when I was scanned today, our clever little wombfruit had managed to free itself and engage deep in my pelvis, meaning I can have a completely natural birth when the time comes, which is fantastic news. I’d resigned to that fact that I was going to deliver by section and had begun mentally preparing for it, so finding out now that I can do what I’d planned from the beginning is a huge relief. Yes, it means hours of pain, physical exertion and utter exhaustion, but it will absolutely be worth every second as soon as I have the baby in my arms. So, it’s really just a matter of playing the waiting game now, and thankfully no more leaning on my hands and knees for hours trying to coax the baby into the pelvis. Roll on the spicy food, long walks and….um, “other physical activities” ;)



christmas noshings
December 24, 2006, 8:15 am
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Since I’m eating dairy this year on account of the sprog, I can deviate from my usual christmas dinner of vegan cashew nut roast, so I threw together a this little recipe:

Roasted Vegetable and Balsamic Onion Pasties

Ingredients

1 packet of just roll all butter buff pastry
1 parsnip
1 carrot
1/2 courgette
1/2 sweet potato
1 red onion
Mellow cheddar cheese
Balsamic Vinegar
Sugar
Olive oil
Butter
mixed herbs

1. Peel your parsnip, carrot, and sweet potato then cut into bitesize chunks, thinly slicing the courgette. Place in a baking tray, drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil over the vegetables, season, and sprinkle mixed herbs. Place in a pre-heated oven 200ºc for 40 mins or until tender.

2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the red onion and sautee in a little olive oil until golden, add three capfulls of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar (caster is preferable) and continue to fry until a bubbling syrup forms. Cook for two mins, then remove from heat and allow to cool.

3. Remove roasted vegetables from oven, add balsamic onions to the tray, and allow to cool.

3. Cut block of pastry into thirds, squeeze into a ball, and then roll into a large oval (make sure you lightly dust the surface and your rolling pin with flour first to prevent the pastry from sticking) Spoon the cool mixture of vegetables into the middle of the ovals. Add some thin slices of cheddar, then pull the sides of the pastry up over the mixture, and pinch the edges together to form a crease down the middle of the pasty.

4. Melt a knob of butter and brush the pastries with it, place on a lightly greased baking tray and cook in the oven at 200ºc for 25 mins until golden brown.

I’ve just had one for my tea, and I have to say, it was super-tasty.



…why do I keep thinking it’s Thursday?
November 22, 2006, 8:16 am
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So far today I’ve spent the morning trying to resolve a crappy access issue, fuelled by numerous cups of decaf earl grey, a strawberry muller light and a blackcurrant lollipop. No wonder my head feels light. Unlike most of the other marmablog community, I’m not in London, but it sunny Edinburgh. Ok, well I am in Edinburgh, but I’m pretty sure that the majority of sensible people wrapped up their winter woolies would beg to differ. I say the majority because there will always be some numpty wandering around at -2 degrees wearing nothing but a t-shirt and the slightly crazed look brought on by a diet of donner kebabs and special brew. There are few things more offensive than an over-weight man’s erect nipples on a winter morning. I actually over did the layers this morning; GMTV informed me there was going to be a cold snap so at present I am wearing:

– giant pants (they make that Bridget Jones pair look like a G-string)
– thermal snowboarding tights
– socks (Dave’s)
– jeans
– a polar neck
– a pinafore
– a big cardigan
– I also had an afghan coat, mittens, and a beanie hat but I’m not wearing them indoors ;)

Failing to remeber the fact that my office is in an old stone whisky vault, with very thick walls and little air conditioning. I’m now sitting with both fans on. I’m an idiot. Have the day off tomorrow, which will be spent dragging my giant egg-body to the midwife (currently 8 months fat) perhaps meeting up with some fellow Edinburgh crafties to talk pritt-stick and crochet hooks, before heading home to nurse my swollen ankles, and lie upside down to encourage the baby to turn. I’ll probably be feeling rather sorry for myself by that point, so I’ll want nothing more than to get into my jammies and under my nice blanket on the couch. Well, I’m off to brave the microwave; I haven’t used it in months, and since K and I share our offices with some blokes, I’m a little fearful for what I might find. Wish me luck!



the human snot-machine
October 26, 2006, 8:17 am
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Now in week 28 of babyage, and experiencing what I like to call Total Body Pregnancy; I am undeniably pregnant from my swollen sausage fingers and nightly heartburn, to my achey feet and giant egg-body. Oh, and I have the cold to boot. There should be a law against having the cold during pregnancy – It’s crappy at the best of times, but when you’re tired and trying to conserve your energy, it’s at least 10.5 times as rubbish, possibly more. I reckon I could’ve filled a bath easily with the gunk that has dribbled out of my nose today, and I could easily stuff a quilt or five with the dirty tissues I’ve amassed, though I doubt there’s much demand for that sort of thing. I actually snotted onto my keyboard, and I feel thoroughly pants.

Off to see the midwife now so she can have a feel of the belly-dweller, and tell me how much fatter I’ve gotten since I saw her last. Oh, and just to further my degradation, I’m going to have to pee into a wee tube, which is no easy feat at the best of times, so try doing it with a tummy the size of Roseanne’s arse and not being able to watch where it goes.



mystery of the univery
August 11, 2006, 8:28 am
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What is Caramac? Is it chocolate? Is it hardened condensed milk? Does it even have anything to do with caramel?

I don’t understand it, but my, it’s good.