Slip-sliding away

>> Monday, 30 June 2008

Boy #2 has a cold. Everything is covered with a fine layer of the evidence of this; the house, the car, his brother, and me. Husband has wisely retreated to Mother Russia for the next couple of days to escape Ectoplasm Central (think Bill Murray in Ghostbusters just after he's been 'slimed', and you can imagine why that is), so it's just me, some Karvol, and a strategically placed box of Kleenex Balsam tissues in every room to cope with the snot.

Every time I sat down today, I discovered where Boy #2 had inadvertently left a sticky calling card as it attached itself to my skirt, t-shirt, or most memorably this evening, my arm. This was particularly unfortunate timing as this afternoon the charming man from Boy #1's second-hand school uniform shop called round to help kit him out ready for Big School. I spent the 45 minutes he was here frantically wiping surfaces and grabbing piles of pristinely laundered jumpers from him before they got contaminated by touching the wrong part of the sofa.

Matters were not helped by Boy #1 deciding that he was in fact a pirate, and initially checking each element of his new outfits for suitability in cutlass-carrying and mast-climbing. However, once he discovered the joy of racing off to the full-length mirror to check each new item of clothing as it went on, Pirate Jim (not his real name, obviously. Pirates never use their real names, I'm told) morphed into a small boy who really was quite excited about the whole uniform thing, even though he hadn't planned on showing it.

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Treading water

>> Thursday, 26 June 2008

It was Boy #1's Summer Show at nursery this week. The twelve children in his class lined up smartly in front of a selection of their parents & grandparents in the school's back-yard, complete with animal masks perched on the top of their heads. Each stood forward in turn to announce their name, age, and what they liked doing best at school, before singing some songs and doing the movements to match their mask. Call me biased, but Boy#1's snake impression was particularly convincing, I thought.

The end of their last term before they move into the fast-flowing torrent of primary education is racing towards us at break-neck speed, and it stopped me in my tracks to see all the children I have known from todder-hood stand there, self-posessed and articulate as they ready themselves for Big School. I snapped away with the camera, capturing images of not just Boy #1 but his special friends as well, for posterity.

I plan to print off a large photo of my cherished Boy peering around his teacher's skirt as the class waited to come outside and entertain us, and put it somewhere prominent. It won't clear up the mess, wipe his runny nose, clean up the spilt milk, or sit in the naughty corner with me when I've lost my temper, but it might help to bottle that moment, so I can uncork it when the going gets tough, and remind myself why I'm doing this stay at home mother thing.


...and in other news...


You get to the gym. You decided before you set out that interval training is just not on for the 3rd visit in 4 days, so have only brought your swimming costume with you - the very same swimming costume which Husband has informed you is an Embarrassment and should be Thrown Out. You, of course, are convinced is absolutely fine and that he just doesn't like the colour blue on you.

You put it on.

You notice when you attach the locker key safety pin to the side of your swim suit that it goes in a little more easily than you remember. You disregard this, and go to use the facilities before your swim. (Must remember to do more pelvic floor exercises...) (Must remember to do ANY pelvic floor exercises)

You glance in the mirror as you leave the loos, and stop dead as you suddenly realise that Husband was right, dammit.

The material of your swim suit has perished in that attractive way only swimsuit material seems to. Rather than opaque blue, the material across the bottom of your bosom area resembles a fine mesh.

Bugger.

Thankfully the changing rooms are empty so you can investigate full extent of the damage in peace. You realise that not only are you in trouble up front, but an area of material on the low-cut back is letting you down too.

It's decision time. Should you go in, and bank on the pool being as empty as it normally is on a Thursday morning, allowing you to do your 35 minute swim without too many people seeing the shaming evidence of your lack of interest in that most horrific of all shopping trips, the swimsuit buying expedition? Or should you give it up as a bad job, and slink sneakily home, perhaps stopping for a Starbucks MochaFrappucino on the way before you start to scale the laundry mountain for the 4th time this week?

Normally, I would have gone for the latte option (latte/latter, geddit? Sigh), but memories of the fat measurement at my gym review, beach photos from holiday, and most importantly of all, the 3 course dinner laden with fat and carbs I devoured with my girlfriends last night, resulted in my sidling into the swimming pool, towel clutched tightly around me until absolutely at the poolside, before I slipped quickly into the water. Needless to say, I did no backstroke today.

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Little sideways steps...

>> Sunday, 22 June 2008

Husband is travelling again; expect more posts.

This afternoon, to fill the space he's left behind, I took the Boys to the sandpit in Holland Park. The weather was beautiful, and thankfully I didn't even have to race around like a madwoman chasing Boy #1, due to the fact it was so overcrowded I could with some justification claim that there wasn't the space for the type of thing, blast it. A happy coincidence then got me properly off the hook when some friends arrived with their children, and they and both Boys were able to spend the next hour or so delightedly roaring at each other around the playhouses.

This was good, because I was not really capable of the whole chasing thing today. I don't know if you ski. Or maybe you played hockey at school? But there's a certain set of muscles in your legs that I previously thought were only used in those two types of exercise which right now are screaming - SCREAMING - at me to Cut Out The Stupid Heroics In The Gym.

I've brought it on myself, of course. On Friday night I had a review session with one of the gym instructors and she gave me an updated programme that she promised would - coupled with healthy eating - help me shift 'the apple'. She then helped me to reinforce my resolve to lose weight by checking my BMI - alright-ish but not brilliant - and my body fat percentage.

Oh. My. God.

Now, I know what you're thinking.

If you don't have kids, you're thinking;

1. What on earth is 'the apple'? (See the link above)
2. What on earth were you doing using valuable drinking time on a Friday night in the gym? (Oh, you poor innocent fools. Wait until you have children, is my only answer)

And if you do have kids, you're thinking:

1. Give it up, sister. Live with the apple like the rest of us.
2. Give it up, sister - don't you know those gym instructors lie?
or
3. Give it up - and have some chocolate, and possibly a glass of red. And pour one for me, whilst you're at it.

However, despite knowing all of those things that you were thinking, the fat percentage thing made such an impression that I still went to the gym again on Saturday morning - less than 14 hours after my session on Friday night - to run through it all again on my own because, may I remind you, I have had children. And as a result, whilst I know what 'the apple' is, I can hardly remember my own name these days. So the chances of my remembering how to do all the exercises the instructor so kindly listed out for me if I left them until my next 'gym window' on Monday night are slim (if you'll pardon the pun), and none. And slim just left town.

I knew it was going to be hard on those hockey / skiing muscles even as I 'tube walked' shakily across the room, trying very hard to avoid glancing in the mirrors opposite. Not that I am phobic about my reflection, but I had just done half an hour of interval training and was 'glowing' more than a little. I mean, why would you look?

By the way, what psychopath invented interval training?

So, there I was on Saturday, with a giant elastic band around my calves, shuffling crabwise across a thankfully almost empty gym, glowing prettily, when the Zen Gang bounced out of their 8.30am yoga class. Or was it pilates? Who knows. In any case, I swear there was a collective horrified intake of breath as they noticed me and edged nervously around the edge of room towards their post workout wheat-grass pick-me-ups, not wanting to be contaminated by any part of my non-holistic approach to fitness.

But it would all have been OK, if only I had been able to stand up without wincing just a little (oh, all right, a lot), today.

Instead, I leant shakily against a wall in Holland Park sandpit and wondered if I would ever be able to walk up stairs again. Thank god we live in a flat.

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Thankyou, I've had enough

>> Thursday, 19 June 2008

So, it's finally arrived. The Moment. I knew it would, of course. I've been closing my eyes to all the evidence, but was forced this morning to confront what I have subconsciously known for some time. And it's not pretty.

Yep.

I've got to lose some weight.

I don't know about you, but I'm not one to spend hours posturing in front of the mirror, admiring my body in all it's splendour. Born a Catholic, raised that way, that sort of thing just wasn't done. So although I've seen that the numbers have - to put it politely - crept upwards on the scales since my first cherub appeared (or in reality, from around the time that we realised he was on his way), I haven't really put myself in a position to see the results around my waistline. Sure, I know I've gone up a dress-size. And yes, it is just the one, though frankly I was never that skinny to begin with.

If you're anything like me, the only full-length photos of you around the house are likely to be from that distant day when you looked good in white. Mainly because you had spent the previous 6 months working out and dieting to make damn sure that you did. Being an acceptable shape on your wedding day is a pretty big incentive, or it was to me. In fact, no event since provided quite the same motivation. And of course, if you are also anything like me, those glances you shoot at yourself in the mirror on your way out of the house to make sure you don't have lipstick on your teeth / ripped tights (stockings? You wish) / toothpaste, snot or sick on your bum are always so fleeting, and at such at flattering angle, that you could put on 6 stone before you realised you should cut out the Starbucks Frappucinos for a while.

So, whilst I knew I needed to sort things out, it was only when I saw the photos of myself on holiday and wondered who the portly woman on the beach was that I started to take any kind of action. Namely, moaning to Husband that I never seem to be able get myself motivated to go to the gym anymore.

My darling Husband provided the first and most important part of that motivation. If I go to the gym 3 times a week every week for a year, he has promised to take me somewhere that I can show off the bikini bod I hope to have by then. That's not to say I will wear a bikini, by the way. I would just like to have the option.

So, a fortnight back from holiday I have been to the gym 6 times and we are 2 weeks down, 50 to go.

Can you tell Husband is Dutch? What are the chances he'll really have to pay up? Not good, I would have said. Until this morning, when I saw a photo of myself, taken unawares last Autumn, just after I had my appendix operation. I had even managed to drop a couple of pounds as a result (and no, it wasn't all appendix), and remember that I was feeling pretty good.

And yet, in that photo, I still looked more than a little porktastic, dammit! Now I'm not living in a complete dreamworld. I don't expect, or even want, to reach some unrealistic goal and regain my pre-baby figure. But I would like to be able to rediscover something of a waist and lose the apple silhouette.

So watch this space. Hopefully, it will get larger.

And if anyone can suggest an alternative to crispbread I'd be very glad to hear about it...

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Today I learnt...

>> Tuesday, 17 June 2008

...the following:


1. Not to keep my hairspray and toner in similar bottles side by side in the bathroom cabinet. No, I didn't make the obvious mistake and spray my face with hairspray, although that has been known to happen before. You'ld think I would learn, right? Apparantly not, as this morning I liberally spritzed my new, low maintenance hairstyle with toner rather than hairspray just as I was about to head out the door. For your information, low maintenance hairstyles do not like toner. I look like a drowned rat.


2. That breast enlargements do actually leave scars. Which is obvious if you think about it, I just never had. I was at the gym and a rather perky lady leaned over to pick something up as she was getting dressed and I just happened to get an eyeful, having dropped my ipod (if you're reading this, Husband, it was only a very gentle drop) by her trainers. Anyway, I don't have to justify myself, suffice it to say that I saw. And let me tell you, whilst the scars weren't hideous, they were visible, which was interesting as I had never really considered that side-effect of such an operation before. And no, am not considering it for myself. There's a great deal of work to do on the rest of myself before I turn my attention to that area...


3. That apparantly I put on 'training breasts' to go the gym. According to Boy #1, anyway. Perhaps I should wear a sports bra more often?

4. That sitting under a plane tree in June has much the same result as supervising Boy #2 during one of his haircuts; uncomfortable itchiness around the neck-line in a place where it's not acceptable to remove your t-shirt to brush away the irritating fibres. (He gets a cape to stop that. I - don't.) In any case, I will not be doing that again. (The plane tree experiment, not the haircuts. Sadly I still have some time to serve on that particular form of maternal fun).

5. That delicious as it may be at the time, having a second helping of Singapore Roasted Chicken at Hakkasan on your wedding anniversary will play havoc with your digestion the next day.

6. That we need more air freshener.


And on that charming note, I will close...

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Freewheeling through town - or not

>> Saturday, 14 June 2008

We've been cycling through our part of London today. This is always a bit of an adrenaline rush for me; not when I'm cycling on my own as even I am capable of managing that, but if I have one of the boys riding pillion behind me it becomes, well, rather more exciting.

Normally it would be Boy #2 - crucially, around 3 kilos lighter of the two - who would be strapped in, helmeted up, and looking somewhat nervous. For the moment, however, it is Boy #1 who has drawn the short straw and is riding pillion with me, due to the fact that whilst we were on holiday some kind soul decided to help themself to the baby seat on the back of Husband's bike. As a result, we have been forced into role reversal, and Boy #2 rides with Husband on the type of babyseat you only ever see in Holland. It sits in front of the saddle, hanging off the handlebars in a most disconcerting manner, and I want nothing to do with it on my bike - see this post here to find out why.

Consequently, it's been Boy #1 who accompanied me today on my white knuckle ride to Holland Park Avenue via the Peter Pan playground in Kensington Gardens and home again. I like to think that I use twice as many calories as normal when either of the Boys are on the bike with me, mainly due to the fear factor (and perhaps a little bit due to the extra 20 kilos or so that I'm pedalling around). It's not true, of course, but I need some kind of incentive to ditch the car...

To give you a flavour of our journey, by the time we reached the park - only to find out that handily the Pirate Ship was closed for maintenance - the following comments had been uttered by one or other of myself and Boy #1. I will let you work out who said what...


"Faster faster faster! Speed, I am Speed. Hurray, Mama! He's getting away!"

"It's not a race, Boy #1. (under breath) Shoot, the lights are changing. Fasterfasterfaster!"

Pause whilst I peg it over a busy junction, thinking that it probably wasn't the smartest move to let Husband go in front. Like I had a choice.
Suddenly I notice some movement behind me in my field of peripheral vision...

"What's that? Put your hand down Boy #1! What are you doing?"

"Signalling, Mama."

"Please don't, it's dangerous."

"Dangerous to signal?"

"Well, it is for you. Until you're on your own bike."

"When I'm a hundred?"

"Probably. If I have anything to do with it."

Further pause whilst I pant embarrassingly up the hill in Kensington Gardens and then, even more embarrassingly, have to get off and push the bike for the last few feet. Boy #1 wisely holds his own council until we reach the playground. Then;

"It's hard work, cycling. I'm ex-haaaaauuuuusted, Mama."

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One Boy or Two?

>> Thursday, 12 June 2008

Elsie Button put up a hilarious post recently touching on, amongst other things, how a friend of hers is coping with going from one child to two. She also wrote very amusingly on the extremely common-place phenomena of 'Husband Down-Time', which is when men go missing in some Bermuda Triangle-type hole in the space-time continuum following their exhausting travails on the labour ward. Which is something I have experienced too. And I shall say no more about it.

Other than, you try sitting in a post-natal ward, padded up to the max, only just regaining the sense of feeling in your legs, with your baby wrapped in what appear to be old tea-towels, and see if you are able to keep your sense of humour when your husband reappears after a 6 hour absence (during which he was completely uncontactable due to a conveniently dodgy battery in his mobile phone), and he has forgotten to bring the baby-gros...

But I digress.

My initial aim was in fact to tell those of you who are currently considering making that jump from one to two children that this a decision not to be taken lightly. Think you're tired after your first baby? Forget it, amateur. Whilst there are of course wonderful moments with your newborn and your older child, I'm afraid that my overwhelming memory of that time is of exhaustion. Breastfeeding a 2 month old whilst the 2 1/2 year old is demanding a story / the potty / a sandwich / a bath / for you to fix the wheel back on his Thomas Tank Engine / your attention in any shape or form, is a far cry from the halcyon days of having only one baby to feed on the sofa whilst watching Big Brother, I'm a Celebrity, and 24 to your hearts content during maternity leave.

And I could definitely have done without the 6 months of changing 2 sets of nappies before Boy #1 was potty trained at nearly 3 years old. But I think I covered all that off in my first couple of months of blogging, so I won't bore you with it now.

In brief, going from one to two children is hard work. I won't lie; Husband and I found it tripled the work-load, not doubled it. It was a shock to the system, that's for sure.

But, but, but.

Over the last few weeks on our Australia trip, something wonderful has happened. The masterplan that we had at the back of our minds when we decided to make that leap from one to two children seems finally to be coming good. The Boys have become a unit. It may be because Boy #2 is now the right age, it may be the 5 weeks when the only play-mates they had were each other, but for whatever reason, they are now as thick as thieves.

Boy #1 and his sometimes Mini-Me are now a team, whispering under the table together, plotting mischief under the bed-clothes together (usually under my bedclothes, usually with their shoes still on), and standing hands on hips in the garden, looking quizzically in my direction as they wait for me to transform into whatever 'chase monster' they have ordered today.

Yes, I know there will be times when I will have to throw a bucket of water over them to break up their fights, when they won't speak to each other for days, and when one finds the other so frustrating that they are ready to explode. They're siblings, it wouldn't be normal if they didn't do these things (or was that just me and mine?). But for now, it's working. And it's great to see.

So, ignore my earlier rant. Have that second child. But maybe pick up a gel-filled eye-mask and some ear-plugs when you go to the chemist to buy your pregnancy test.

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Handle with care

>> Wednesday, 11 June 2008

I'm feeling a little fragile.

No, it has nothing to do with the fact that I unwisely, but oh-so-enjoyably, stayed out until midnight for a meal and a gossip with some girlfriends last night. Or indeed that it seems I am still suffering from jetlag, which manifested itself very attractively at around 3.30pm this afternoon with me crashed out and snoring on our bed, legs dangling off the end because I didn't even have the energy to take off my shoes. Heaven only knows what my mother-in-law thought when she popped over to pay homage at the shrine of her grandson's this afternoon - thankfully Husband was here to let her in, or she might have been left knocking for a while.

No, I'm feeling fragile for two reasons.

Firstly, I am can reliably inform you that one does not visit Australia to lose weight. If one is lucky, one maintains the status quo. As did Husband. I was not lucky. Suffice it to say that on my first visit to the gym in nearly 6 weeks this morning, my work-out kit felt a little on the snug side. So, when I walked in and happened to hear one of two male instructors say to the other 'She's not in that bad shape, considering she's in her 30's' it was all I could do to keep moving and not go back and confront him on:

a) whether he was talking about me. Which he clearly wasn't, because;

  • I am not in my 30's - anymore
  • I probably am in bad shape
  • And for god's sake, get a life PM, he wasn't even looking in my direction

b) what on earth he meant by that shockingly ageist comment. We can't all look like Demi Moore as we hit 40, you know. Or even like her older, rather more portly sister. (Oh yes, sorry - he wasn't talking about me in any case, was he?)

So, it's chocolate avoidance all the way. Until the weekend, at any rate. Or tomorrow. Whichever comes sooner.


And the other reason I'm feeling a little hormonal? Boy #1 had his orientation morning at Big School today. We dropped off a pre-schooler and picked up a clear-eyed schoolboy. It was both wonderful and a little scary to see. Just this morning, I recieved a mail-shot offering me the chance to buy a photo of the dawn on the day he was born. Whilst I can find better uses for £75, it did result in my experiencing a flash-back of how tiny he had been, and how it felt as he snuggled into my neck like a little bear on that first day of his life. And here Husband and I were taking him out for a lunch to celebrate the fact that he had made through his first morning at grown-up school.

Time certainly waits for no mum.

We snapped sharply back to reality with a tantrum in the garden at dinner time, though. Kids, eh?

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Putting on a brave face

>> Sunday, 8 June 2008

Here's a question for you.

You're on a long trip with your family in, say, Australia. You're going to be gone for a while, perhaps 5 weeks? And since you have two children with you, you have a fair amount of luggage.

Your husband is Packing King (or he thinks so, at any rate). You leave him to it - after getting everything that needs to be packed washed, ready, and in one easily accessible place. The not-so-tidy pile of essential 'stuff' is transformed into one supersized suitcase, one normal, and a lot of smaller bags (most of which get stowed in the bottom of the buggy at check-in in an attempt to fool the girl on the desk that no, you don't have more than one piece of hand luggage per person...)

Now, you are not a shallow individual. You set spiders free rather than washing them down the toilet or sucking them up into the hoover. You buy The Big Issue. You take your unused clothes and grown-out of toys to Oxfam. OK, you may have a couple of overdue library books knocking about, but really, you're a pretty grounded sort of person.

So when, on an internal flight in Australia, you are forced to shed a couple of kilos from the leviathon suitcase you have with you because it's come in at a tad over the limit for a single piece of luggage, you sigh inwardly but don't balk at using the attractive woven plastic blue and white excess baggage they hand you at the check-in desk.

Yes, admittedly you roll the top over, so that as little of it is on view as possible when you board the plane with it as hand luggage. But you smile bravely, telling yourself that once the flight is over you can use it as a laundry bag for the rest of the trip, and that it never need be seen in public again. Particularly since you have a very handy Cath Kidston beach bag with you that would have done the same job perfectly - and a great deal more stylishly - if it hadn't been packed right at the bottom of another bag. By the Packing King.

But, you put it behind you. I mean, you don't actually know anyone in Australia, right?

But, on the next flight, guess what? Your super-double-plus-bag-with-wings is overweight again. And which receptacle has Packing King kept handy, just in case?

I think you know, don't you?


FYI, the weight limit is 32 kilos, if you must know. OK, I admit it. Supersized suitcase weighed 35 kilos. I knew I should never have taken those brown high-heeled boots... And be warned; come next year BA are dropping the maximum weight to 23 kilos for a single piece of luggage (which resulted in what was very nearly a blue fit at Sydney airport before we realised this rule hadn't actually come into effect yet). If I were a suspicious person I might think that is in order they can charge you for taking 2 pieces of luggage rather than one....

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The Best Things About...

>> Friday, 6 June 2008

... coming home.

1. No mouse family waiting to greet us as we opened the front door. Not sure if it / they have gone for good, but there has been no sign since we got back. Which is, I must say, a great relief. I had imagined them installing new locks, moving the furniture around, and hanging pictures of great aunt Maude whilst we were away.

2. An almost empty fridge. We're normally stocked-up to the max in this department, catering for almost every eventuality, be it beans on toast for the boys and their friends, or a visit from the Archbishop of Canterbury for high tea, but it's actually quite liberating to open the door and see acres of gleaming empty space. And it's a cast-iron excuse to get a take-away.

3. The Great British Summer has finally turned up. Kensington's garden squares are lush, green, and bursting with buds and bird song. I almost didn't mind getting dew on my Campers when I took the boys out for a kick-about first thing this morning... Almost.

4. Coming back to a car that had been broken into. No, hear me out here. Every cloud has a silver lining - and the consequent one in this case was that we needed to call the AA out to charge the battery, as the vandals who tried to rip out the radio managed to disconnect some cable so that when I turned the engine on this morning, it had less life in it than my hair after a 16 hour flight. Why was this a good thing? Well, Husband decided to challenge my assumption that pouring water directly over a car engine (follow this link for more info if you want to know what on earth I'm talking about) is a Bad Thing. He took the opportunity to ask the AA man - in my presence - to verify his claim that the subsequent problems with the spark plugs had nothing to do with the Water in the Engine Incident (as it will now be known). Guess who was right?

I hate to gloat, but... RESULT.

I'm off now to try and get some sleep before the Boys wake up at 3am demanding cereal with menaces. Needless to say, jet lag is not one of the best things about coming home...

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Finding our way home

>> Wednesday, 4 June 2008

We're on our way home, but have stopped off in Singapore for a couple of days to catch up with some friends (as you do...).

We arrived yesterday evening after leaving Green Island on Monday and overnighting in Sydney before setting off on the first leg home. The weather as we left far north Queensland was of course beautiful; not too hot, a balmy 25 deg C, and the ferry trip back to mainland was across a sea as smooth as a millpond.

The Boys adopted an older couple as surrogate grandparents on the 50 minute trip; they had made the mistake of showing interest in chatting about fish, and that was it. It was interesting and slightly embarrassing to watch their demeanour change from benevolent bystanders to our family adventure, to that of two slightly hunted people who had forgotten - but are fast-being reminded - of how full-on time spent with young children can be.

The ferry was on the small side and almost completely empty, so Husband and I were busy keeping a weather eye on Boy #2 who was doing a fine impression of a meerkat, popping his head up in one row of seats to grin cheekily at us, before disappearing from view and resurfacing somewhere else a minute or so later. It was rather like he was participating in some bizarre kind of 'bat the rat' game...

Whilst we were trying to make sure that his younger brother stayed inside the cabin, Boy #1 was engaged by 'surrogate gran' in conversation as she attempted to inform him of various interesting facts about the fish featured on the promotional video being shown. However, the fact that he had spent the previous day on a pontoon on the outer reef, and was even tempted into the water on a couple of occassions, combined with his exhaustive study of that underwater classic 'Finding Nemo', means that he sees this as his area of speciality. After crocodiles, of course - but that goes without saying. As a result, he either corrected her (in his defence, I will say he was usually right), or downright ignored what she had said in an attempt to continue her education on the finer points of the plot of his favourite film. This consisted mainly of recapping Marlon the clown fish's epic trip to rescue his son from an aquarium in a dentist's surgery, and in a discussion of what the pelican that gives him and Dorey a lift is actually called...

I was always a bit wary of over-confident children, but am fast coming to realise that when it's your own the last thing you want to do is squash them down. Still, a conversation on not interrupting and listening to what other people say, came later. And no doubt will be repeated. And repeated. And repeated...

In any case, by the time we docked surrogate 'gran and grandad' couldn't get away fast enough, with Boy #1 calling goodbye and waving Splashy the cuddly shark in their general direction to illustrate one of the points he had made about a Great White's teeth...

And we still can't remember the pelican's name.

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