The Battle of LA (Little Angels)

The Battle of LA (Little Angels)

Today I was invited to a play date by a friend…

I love play dates during the summer holidays, the kids are off so its ‘guilt free’ time to have cake, chat and drink coffee wine to maintain your sanity during the 6 week break.
The summer weather has arrived (basically, we woke to find grey skies, rain on a biblical scale and the annoyingly jolly weatherman confirming that we are to expect an entire months rainfall in one day…hurrah!)

With that, my friend text me to suggest an indoor soft play as a suitable venue.
I was tentative (code for: we are doing what on a wet day during the summer holidays?!) but when I looked at the big, doe eyes of my children, with their faces pressed up against the rain splattered windows wondering where the chuff the sun has gone (Erm, hello!!! Mr Sunshine?! Didn’t you get the memo?! It’s SUMMER holidays…they’re so young an innocent. They’ll soon come to realise that this is how it is in the UK and become bitter and resentful of it like their mother. “I’m moving somewhere warmer, Greece maybe…oh no wait, maybe not there…”)

I sent a message back to my friend agreeing to go to the germ and child infested soft play and packed the kids into the car…along with our waders and a dingy.
It was a rather wet drive, with the windscreen wipers set to warp factor 5, and the kids loved splashing through the puddles and soaking pedestrians as we sped past them for fun! Mwahahaha!!!!! (Only joking!)
When we arrived at the soft play, before we had even set foot in the place, I could tell it was heaving. The car park was full to the brim and the only spaces left were at the very bottom of the car park where nobody else wanted to park, as it was a good 30 second walk from there to the door of the place. Grown ups hate walking in the rain, especially women with children in tow. It’s such a hassle when the children find it all exciting and want to splash in the puddles and have fun…

I unloaded myself, the pushchair (the dingy) and the kids from the car and we made our way up to the entrance of the soft play. The place is called ‘Little Angels’ (I know, the irony!) and it is in a converted barn/farm warehouse (evidently suitable for housing animals or children, is there a difference?!) on a golf course complex.
You can see the look of joy on the golfers faces as the mums hurry their children into their pristine, green fairway-ed sanctuary. They love children at golf clubs…
On my way to the entrance, my friend calls my phone.
“We are already in here but there is a 40 minute wait until the next play session…what would you like to do?”
40 Minute wait?! In the rain! With children! RUN! I want to run away and hide in the pub!
“I don’t mind hun, what would you guys like to do?” (I hate making decisions…)
We decide to wait it out in the golf club coffee shop/clubhouse so the kids aren’t disappointed and we can have a much needed caffeine fix.
Upon entering the clubhouse, we are greeted by the sound of 40 odd squealing children, 20 nattering mothers and 2 huffing, puffing golfers who are mumbling something about the fact their clubhouse is full of “little brats” and that it was “completely ridiculous” and stormed out. It’s safe to say, they were really ‘teed off’ – that was a terrible joke. I’m sorry we’ve bought extra revenue to your golf club. How dare we…
We told the kids that when the big hand got to the 6 on the clock, it was time for us to go and queue up.
One of my boys said, “Why cant we just move the hands on the clock forward so its already on the 6?” I explained that you can’t do that and that he just had to be patient…but a little bit of me wanted to give it a go. It would basically almost be time travel and maybe I could just move time forward so much that our play session had already passed and we could go home.
After a coffee, some shortbread and some sweeties, the mums were full up and the kids were bored of watching us stuff our faces. The clock finally had its big hand on the 6 and it was time to go back out in the rain and queue up.
Joy.
 
By the time we got out the cafe to queue, the line was already quite long and my son had a look of despair on his face. But in true British fashion, he took it on the chin, along with his friends, and they did what us Brits do best…they queued.
I’m so proud of the way our kids behaved in the queue, despite the rain, the screaming children and grumpy mothers, they behaved impeccably and didn’t moan at all.
 
As we neared the door, I was aware of 2 women and 4 kids behind me who were edging nearer and nearer into my side view. 
Oh no you don’t you cheeky buggers, you are not pushing in. 
But push in they did. They were sly about it mind you, they feigned rain phobia and made a break for the shelter of the doorway. One of them already had terrible hair, I don’t see what more damage the rain was going to do to it. Them pulling this manouver caused a double queue issue. One of the worst offenses you can make. Confusion reigns and nobody knows what’s going on and the floodgates open. Any old person just rocks up and shoves their way in with complete disregard for the British queuing code.
Arseholes!! 
Don’t they understand how to queue?!
It’s very simple, one person stands behind the other in order of arrival and they wait for their chuffing turn! 
Ahem. Calm down love, calm down.
My friend noticed what was going on and, being more forceful than myself, she calmly tells the women that i am with them and that they’ve pushed in front of me. 
“Yes! We know…” they mutter ,and carry on talking about their dear Tyson’s ear infection. 
As we near the desk, I’m even more aware that the women aren’t letting me back in to my space. They’ve done it, they’ve actually queue jumped. It took all my power not to ‘accidentally’ ram them with my pushchair and I decided rising about their behaviour was the way forward, so I just muttered the word tossers under my breath and pretended to itch my nose with my middle finger. A highly mature response I’m sure you’ll agree.
My friend gave them the death stare as they passed through the gates for good measure, a stare medusa would have been proud of and she assures me they looked scared. That or the woman had just passed wind and followed through.
 
death stare
noun

informal
  1. a hostile or contemptuous look directed at a particular person.
    “Jane gave her a death stare that was even detectable through her sunglasses”
 
Once we were inside the barn full of soft things, the kids were off. And so were everyone else’s. It was a wall of noise and smell. Cheesy feet, baby poo, fried chips, sweat and stale impulse body spray linger in the air (the makers of magic tree may have a new product in there somewhere…)
Everywhere you look you can see kids using punch bags as Battle Rams, waiting to pick off any unsuspecting passer, 6 year olds practicing their WWF moves, children using their mother massive hooped earings as gym equipment and plastic balls being launched like heat seeking missiles at people’s heads.
I decide to take my 1 year old into the under 4s area as it should be quieter and safer in there. We weave our way through the tables full of stressed out mums and make it to the safety of the infant area…or not.
As I look around I notice that the under 4s area is also full of 6 year olds who have decided they are now The Undertaker from WWF, and think it’s hilarious to try and clothes line the toddlers for fun. 
Arms and legs are flailing around everywhere and the mums of the mini wrestlers are completely oblivious to what their ‘little angels’ are up to because they’re too busy gossiping about their children’s glowing school reports (whilst said child is beating the crap out of a toddler) – what a well rounded individual little Tyson is.
 
Needless to say, by the time our session at the soft play was over, I was in need of a Gin.
I’d hardly seen my friend, I’d watched a child slide down a padded slide with snot dribbling out their nose, only for the next child to come down after them face first and get covered in it, numerous kids putting the same foam ball in their mouth and then rolling it along the snot trail for good measure and to top it off, one of my boys decided to go in the toilets in only his socks and use them to soak up the puddle of pee another child had left on the floor in there – but only tell me that after I’ve squeezed said socks in my hands. Thanks for that son…
 
Lessons learnt today…
Never go to a soft play during the summer holidays on a rainy day. Ever.
Teach your children queuing etiquette from a young age as well as the death stare, which is essential in today’s broken society.
 
Always take Gin with you to a soft play. Not only does it calm your nerves but it will disinfect pee off your hands and leave them with a lovely, lingering juniper scent.
 
Thanks for a lovely play date friends…
😉
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 




He strikes again…

He strikes again…

What a waste of a Pain au Chocolat 😭😉




Throwback Post: Day 2 – Honeymoon in Iceland

Day 2 of Honeymoon in Iceland: Storm.
After the eventful journey here and a good nights sleep, we wake in our cosy lodge at 8am. We have no food in still (and no drink apart from tap water and some red wine left over from last night) so decide we need to get up and walk to the adjoining hotel for breakfast. We both have our first experience of an Icelandic shower. it’s much the same as a shower at home except it smells like someone has farted in your water and then you wash yourself with it. Lovely. As all the water in Iceland is heated geothermaly – the gases make it smell of sulphur (aka fart/rotten eggs).

We notice the weather is extremely windy and we struggle to see the hotel which is 50 metres away up a hill but we kit up into our winter gear and set off to get some breakfast.

As soon as we step outside we are greeted by very strong winds and I can’t see a chuffing thing. I follow Chris up the hill and we try to follow the tracks made by the truck last night. As we near the hotel, we loose the tracks and Chris starts heading in a straight line to the hotel. I decide I should follow him to stay safe.

“This snow is getting deep I thought…followed by me screaming as my next step took me into snow which came up to the top of my thigh (yes, I know I’m short but it’s all relative and it was very deep in relation to me). I was stuck. the wind was so strong I couldn’t balance and was falling further into the snow and Chris was laughing at me in my hour of need. Arse.

Thankfully my big, strong husband stopped being an arse and managed to get out of the snow he was stuck in and rescue me – we find the track again and continue on to the hotel and make it in for breakfast. Safety at last.

The hotel owner Ragna greets us and speaks to us about our journey last night. She said we were very lucky as 30 minutes after we got off the mountain road, it was shut by authorities for being too dangerous to drive on as well as them having to send out search and rescue teams to help stranded people. Well, isn’t that a near miss Chris?! She says the car hire people should never have given us a vw polo to hire in this weather as its useless. Like being on a scooter in an ice rink…

She says to give her the info of our no show car hire company and that she will sort it for us. She is really lovely and so helpful.

We ask Ragna about the weather and she says it really is very unusual for them to have this sort of weather. “It’s never like this in the south west of Iceland,” she says. No, only when we are here it would seem…

We sit and eat breakfast and I’ve never been so pleased to see a cup of coffee in my life. We eat (I kindly decline the puffin and horse) and then decide to make a move back down the hill. The wind is so strong and constant you can only just stand. We are almost back at the lodhe and I remember there is a big crack in the road I need to step over – being cautious I head slightly left to find a narrow bit to step over…

“GEMMA!!!” I hear Chris shout…”LOOK OUT!!”

“I know, i know,” I think to myself, “he thinks I’ve forgotten where the crack is…” bless him. “GEMMA STOP, YOU’RE ABOUT TO WALK INTO A FROZEN POND!” Christ. I really was. A rather deep frozen pond too. That would’ve been fun.

We get back to the lodge and it dawns on us we are stuck in for the day. It’s a complete white out. Our vw polo which is parked down the hill is half buried in snow so there is no way we will be going anywhere anytime soon…

A bit later, Ragna tells us she has spoken to the car hire people and they are very sorry they messed us about. They’re going to pay for our temporary car for us, upgrade us to a 4×4 and also pay for us to have dinner in the hotel. Jolly decent these Icelandic folk – so helpful and can’t do enough for you. We could all learn a lot from them.

Anyhow, we sit in the lodge reading, talking (a novelty these days) etc and as we have been told there is a storm today, we decide to stay put and we are told we can have dinner in the hotel at 7:30pm. No lunch for us today, but dinner at least.

About 4 hours into our snow storm, Chris thinks its funny to bring up the film, ‘The Shining’. If you’re not familiar with it, some folks get stuck in a snow storm in a hotel, someone goes mad and people die. Lovely, that would make most pleasant honeymoon viewing….

He then decides to liken our experience to that film and I laugh nervously as I find the trailer for it online. The setting we are in looks eerily like the film. I feel slightly unnerved…

The wind is so powerful we can’t see anything and it’s rattling all the windows and doors. We look online and find a news article saying Iceland is in the grip of one of the worst storms in recent times. Hurricane force winds and blizzard conditions. I’m a bit nervous but Chris thinks it fun. “What an experience!” he keeps saying, I think he’s beginning to crack…

Chris then smurks at me and turns his phone on and plays me a song – Guns and Roses, ‘I used to love her, but I had to kill her’ – I have flashbacks to the 2 near death experiences I had earlier in the day in the snow and the fact Chris likened this to The Shining….I think something is happening to him being stuck indoors.

As we have no food or drink in I opt for some water and Chris drinks the remaining wine. We sit down and prepare to watch a movie and then…darkness. No lights, anywhere. The power has gone hasn’t it? Yep. Oh bugger.

We sit in the dark and then manage to light a few candles. It’s 30 minutes until our dinner reservation. We see the truck come down to our lodge and we are still collected for dinner. We go to the hotel and amazingly the chef is only not able to cook 4 of the 11 dishes on the menu, we have an amazing, warm dinner entirely by candlelight (and phone glow) and look out of the window at the storm. It’s not too shabby really!

9:30pm back in the lodge the power is on…oh no it isn’t. It was for 3 seconds then gone again and I got prematurely excited about it. Story of my life. Chris found this hilarious…then 5 minutes later, it was back on properly! These Icelanders are literally AMAZING – even in hurricane winds and blizzard conditions, they manage to fix power for us in 3 hours…unlike back home last week when it once took them 16 hours to get our power back on at home in a little bit of a shower.

Lets hope the wind is gone tomorrow and Chris doesn’t get any weirder. If I don’t write tomorrow, send help.

Onto day 3……





Throwback Post: Day 1 – Honeymoon in Iceland 2012

Back in 2012, myself and Mr Knutts got hitched. We have been together since 2005, but kids coming along before a proposal (shock! Horror! Gasp!) put pay to a wedding for a little while (as did me looking and feeling like a beached whale) and we ended up waiting.

We chose Iceland as a Honeymoon destination as we’ve always wanted to see the Northern Light and it looked like a magical place. It truly was.

However, as always where we are concerned, the trip wasn’t without its moments and I felt so compelled to share them with everyone I began writing on my Facebook page. This is where my ‘blogging’ began.

Here is day 1 from our Honeymoon, enjoy!

(Excuse the typos in the text below, I can’t seem to change them and I guess it adds to the drama to show how much I was in shock! 😂)

The honeymoon: Day 1…

Day 1 of Honeymoon in Iceland: Flight went ok until we were about to land. Pilot comes on and says there is too much snow on the runway and we can’t land so we are taking a diversion to the north of Iceland to land there. oh well, we are only 300 miles from where we should be but never mind. A small hitch. We land and refuel and sit on the plane for an hour. The pilot come back on and says we will now be able to land in Keflavik so we shall be leaving shortly. off we go again. after a 45 minute flight back to Keflavik we land (4 hours late!) get our bags and go to find our hire car man who we paid to meet us at the airport. Ah. No man there. Its 8pm, on a Monday, in an airport and everywhere is shut. No car waiting for us. After 30 minutes of searching about outside in the blizzard like conditions, we give up. We go to the only remaining car hire booth open and get given a vw polo to use. at least we have a car right…? Off we go. we set the sat nav for the hotel (a 1hr 15min journey) and set off into the Icelandic night…and snow. The major ‘Route 1’ was covered in snow and ice. The vw was no longer a car but a mini ice skate on the road. This could be a long journey…

We navigate our way through Reykjavik and out into the mountains. The wind is so wild it’s blowing the car and whipping all the snow into a frenzy. We arrive at a junction 20 minutes from our hotel. We can either go under the fjord through a new toll tunnel or around the fjord on a road through the mountains. Chris asks me what i think. I say id rather go through the tunnel but its up to him. Chris decides we will go around it. Im likening this to a movie and have decided this was our ‘finding nemo’ moment. 

Gemma (aka Dory): Theres a tunnel. I think we should go through it, not over it.

Chris (aka Marlin): Bad tunnel. we have to pay the other end. let’s go round. it’ll be fine.

Gemma (aka Dory): Ok then…if you say so.

25 minutes around the fjord the wind is blowing the snow so much we can’t see the safety pillars. I don’t like this very much. 

We push on but on the way up a hill we see an abandoned car. ominous I think. this is like the moment Dory and Marlin see the Jelly Fish…not good. Chris drives on and 2 minutes later, smack. The snow becomes so deep the car is imbedded in it and we can go no further. After 10 minutes trying to get ourselves out we finally manage to reverse and we go back the way we came. After a 25 minute drive we arrive at the junction for the tunnel again. Let’s go through it says Chris.

We arrive at the hotel at 11:30pm – 5.5 hours later than we should have. The road to the hotel in on a steep hill. we start going up it but alas, we get stuck in the snow again. we phone the hotel for help and they send down a truck. they tell us to leave our car at the bottom and they drive us and our luggage up to the villa at the hotel. We haven’t eaten since 11am and we are self catering. oh bugger. no way we can get to the shops even if they were open. 

The guy settles us in and then delivers an amazing toasted bacon sandwich and bottle of wine and lights loads of candles. Thats better, wine always helps. Adventure for day one done. 

 

The ‘hot tub’…brrrrr!




Eating out…

Eating out. You know, when you go somewhere outside of the home and some other poor sod stands and makes your dinner for you for a change. The only difference is they get paid to stand and cook you dinner and I most definitely don’t. I get too many complains anyway (“no! I’m not eating that! It’s disgusting and tastes of poo poo!” that kind of response).

It’s a real novelty ‘eating out’ these days, thanks to the Tasmanian toddler who can’t sit still and a 6 year old who gets about as much pleasure from eating food as I do from changing a sh!&ty nappy.

Anyhow, a momentous occasion happened this week – my parents finally became mortgage free, enormous hurrah for them (cue me then calculating how long we have left on our mortgage and wanting to silently sob into my Calamari) – so we went out for a family dinner to celebrate.

I experience a few emotions at the thought of this. These are:

Excitement – a night out!

Dread – there’s no way our kids arent going to destroy the restaurant or is be asked to leave because the toddler is beating other customers up.

Fear – what if the toddler screams for the whole dinner. I’ll just have to go and stand outside in the rain with him and watch everyone eat through the window.

Delusion – “It’ll be ok” I tell myself, “the toddler might just sit down nicely and play with the iPad…” (I know, bad mummy but please don’t judge, we all have our own way and if it means he is quiet and not stabbing people with a fork, I’ll go for that)

Anger – “who’s bloody idea was dinner out?! I know it’s a special occasion but we want it to be a happy event and instead, it could end a disaster and I could end up being beaten up by my toddler as usual, but this time in a public place!”

…safe to say I was a little apprehensive.

We get to the ‘family friendly’ restaurant and we are sat near the door – first saving grace, we are near the escape route should sh%t go down.

Luckily, the toddler hasn’t napped and it’s 5:30 so he looked quite sedate and was over the moon to see Nanny, Grandad and his Uncle. Phew. That’s occupied him for at least 20 minutes….

Then the toddler spots some balloons on sticks – hurrah! That buys us another 15 minutes as he is quite happy bashing his Grandad, and any passing customers and staff, on the head with it. We are now 35 minutes in and all is fine. It’s a miracle.

Starters arrive and luckily the toddler and my 6 year old like the look of some of it (though my 6 year old decides the carrot and cucumber sticks are merely decoration and are definitely not meant to be eaten…) so they happily tuck in. Another 15 minutes of peace and harmony – I can’t believe this!

As soon as the starters are finished and taken away, our mains arrive.

All my kids have chosen margarita pizza – adventurous bunch aren’t they (makes you wonder why you spent so many hours peeling, boiling, whizzing and splattering purées up for them as babies when, as soon as they have a mind of their own and learn to say ‘no!’, you might as well have given them a cat food bowl full of crisps and sweets and left it on the floor for the day to pick at as that’s all they decide they can eat for the foreseeable future…)

The older 2 tuck into their pizzas and are happy, the little one however, looks at his pizza with utter contempt and attempts to frisbee it off his plate. “He doesn’t want that then….” I conclude.

The toddlers noise level increases as his contempt for the pizza placed before him grows. “Here we go…” I think to myself.

I shovel my pasta down and gesture to my husband for the noisy, pizza hating toddler to be passed down to me in hopes of calmin him down. After 5 minutes of whining and fidgeting like a ferret in a pair of trousers, to my amazement, this happens….


I can’t believe my luck!!

It sleeps!!! (I know I’ll have a rubbish evening getting him to bed, but he’s quiet and not disturbing the restaurant anymore! Hurrah!!!)

And with that, I order a pudding and eat it whilst being able to chat to my family (thanks to Uncle holding the sleeping ninja) and not worry about the Tasmanian Toddler going crazy. Happy days.

So, for future reference, we can now eat out as long as the toddler hasn’t had a nap and is utterly exhausted, then everyone is a winner. My arms felt like they were going to drop off by the end of the dinner through holding him and I was a sweaty mess because it was boiling hot and the little one acted like a hot water bottle, but all was peaceful. And that’s a miracle.