Wednesday, August 12, 2009

backwards and forwards!

It has once again been an age since I sat down to compose myself! I guess I get out of the habit and then the bits of news start piling up and I don't know where to start! So I will start somewhere and work backwards and forwards - I leave it to you to figure it out!

The run up to the count down to the end of the school year was even more hectic than usual - a number of very good friends HAD to leave and several teacher friends moved on too. Sad, for me, because I have to say another set of 'goodbyes' which is always heartbreaking for me, but happy for them (in most cases) as they get the excitement of a new posting, a new job, a new country and all that this entails.

After several very liver and diet damaging farewell lunches, dinners, a day at the beach, coffee mornings, etc etc I was almost glad for the last day of school simply to stop eating and drinking myself into an early grave! We did not leave for our holidays immediately as My Darling needed to be in Chennai for a meeting and we were all going to his parents' 50th anniversary party in Bangalore. Besides he had only just come back after missing the traumas of the end of school!

When we eventually took off, we stopped in Dubai for some much needed decompression and a quick bit of retail therapy in the world's largest mall - walking from one end to the other is miles of trekking! It has an aquarium, an ice rink, cinemas, several food courts and restaurants, ice cream joints and then there are the shops - high end, mid range and sales offering bargains galore! My idea of a truly good time!

We hit London running and spent an inordinate amount of time at the Riverside Club, playing tennis, swimming, badminton, the kids had sports and activities camps etc. We spent time with good friends who include us in their lives whenever we drop out of the sky!

We had one holiday with My Darling's family on a windy, drizzly lump of rock called Guernsey, which is an Island in the English Channel! Suffice it to say that the journey out there, on a catamaran, was so rough almost every person on board was sick, sick, sick. The Ray fell asleep shortly after we set sail, but woke up vomiting violently, I cleaned her up and then she would repeat the process - over and over and over again. By the end of the nearly 3 hour journey; (the longest 3 hours of my life ... including my labour with Nikh which was 3 and a half hours and not nearly as bad as this - in fact it was a walk in the park!!!) the bins were overflowing with sick bags and the crew were on constant clean up manoeuvres. Dis-flipping-gusting!!

We had a couple of short stay breaks on our own around England which were short and sweet. The Ray and Nikh were indulging themselves by spending as much time in every 24 hour stretch with My Darling as possible! I worried about the time we returned to his normal routine and the Daddy Drought that was to come!

We also went off to Disneyland Paris with my family - we were booked first class on the Disney Express. How exciting for a 4 year old to be on the DISNEY Express!! I think she expected it to leave the tracks, rise through the clouds, swing round a few stars and then deliver her into Mickey Mouse's lap for a hug! As it was, we arrived at Disney to find that we were to leave the train and go straight to the parks as our luggage would fall under the magical spell of Disney and be whisked to our hotel rooms on Tinkerbell's fairy dust! I now believe in magic! We set off, had a quick french version of a fast food meal (good meat, good bread, good cheese and a beer!) and then The Ray flew on Dumbo the flying elephant and Nikh took my sister off to drive a car in Autopia! a couple of rides, good coffees, a long walk later we headed back to the Disneyland Hotel to rest before dinner. My parents had already had enough Disney for several lifetimes, but were determined to see this thing through with a big smile!!

I need to say a bit about the hotel - it is a huge pink building that spans the width of the parks. In fact the entry and exits to the parks is on it's ground floor!! It is decorated like a Disney movie with ornate tables and chairs, curving, flowing double staircases and huge ornately handled doors etc. You get the picture! We settled into spacious rooms with enormous beds and lots of space in the sitting room part etc. The Mini-bar was above the Ray's reach, thank goodness and the bathrooms were lovely!

Then came the meals - you have to understand that we have been to Disney World in Orlando more times than I care to count - it started with our honeymoon!! We are used to characters in the parks, queueing for hours to get a 10 second photo opp with them and then starting the system again! A resort hotel is a whole other world. You sit down to eat and suddenly Donald Duck is leaning over your shoulder to see what is on your plate! He was followed in quick succession by Pluto, Goofy, the chipmunks - Chip and Dale, Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Minnie Mouse. We were visited by Aladdin's Genie, Friar Tuck, and then the previous list again, and again, and again! In fact I took over 100 photos at the first dinner - don't think I ate a thing, but I got the pics!! Every time I went to put a bite of food in my mouth, a squeal of delight from The Ray meant I had to grab my camera and wait for the optimum pose! Brilliant for a munchkin, novel for a pre-teen (for the first two characters) and exhausting for every adult in the room who simply wants one good photo and then a quiet meal!

On one of the nights we made The Ray's wildest dreams come true by booking a table at Cinderella's Castle (Auberge de something or other!) and we were visited by every Disney Princess from Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine onwards to present times! Nikh was not to sure about these over dressed, hour glass figured, over made up, hand wringing women leaning in just a touch too close! My Darling, on the other hand, told the kids that Belle is to be their new mother and that I am free to leave anytime!! She only leaned over and smiled at him once while looking deep into his eyes!! Such is the power of Disney magic! I have to say I was not impressed as she even had her prince charming aka The Beast with her!! Shameless hussy!!

We whooped and hollered at a Buffalo Bill show and suffered through the smells and sawdust upchuck from the hooves! Have to say the ribs and other meat was excellent - even served on a cast iron skillet as though straight off the camp fire! The shooting shows by the characters were a little forced - but the little ones thought it was real - that is all that counts!

We caught the Disney express home again, swinging past the North star and straight on till morning! Then came the count down to departure date!

I finished all the jobs I had set myself except for clearing out my garage (full of my teaching materials .... just in case I ever need them again!! Yeah, right!) and then started the BIG SHOP to bring things back for another year! We were hugely over on our luggage allowance, but somehow got away with it both in London and in Dubai! I swore that we will not travel like camels on a trek in the desert any more! (at least till next summer!!)

It is good to be home, unpacking has stalled after 9 bags - three to go but going nowhere! I have already seen many old friends and made a couple of new ones too. The Ray excitedly went back to her school but is exhausted every afternoon. Nikh is a grown up in Middle School now and showed a promising start by organising and preparing everything he might need himself. HE made his own lunch, packed all his snacks, water, hat, sunscreen etc and it was all by the front door ready for the first day back. This current attitude is still flowing ... long may it last!! My Darling is back to working all the hours that God sends, and I am back to shopping, ordering, double checking, re-organising and dropping off and picking up! Same ol' same ol'!!