We’re all going on a school residential trip…

Today my elder son has gone off on his school residential trip to Newquay.  As he set off at 5.30am, I have to admit to a few pangs of anxiety but also excitement for him.  I remember only too well my first school residential trip to Streatley (although I was only 7 at the time) – we ate loads of sweets, wore our cagoules all day despite scorching sunshine and had a field trip song which we sang endlessly on our return – well, until Graham in my class swore at the familiar first strains of the song – “not that b***** song again” – overheard by the headmaster… an error that I am sure Graham has never repeated.

So back to my son’s trip.  The build-up has been going on for weeks – who’s sharing a room with whom; who’s sitting next to whom on the coach; should he buy a KFC or a McDonalds at the service station on the way down; does Lucozade count as an energy drink (banned apparently) and so it goes on.

My role, as usual, has been to ensure that he is provided with suitable clothing and footwear and to pack his Lordship’s bag for him.  I have carried out this task with my normal sunny disposition, a minimal amount of complaint – just the odd muttering under my breath.  Of course, as to be expected, my son has fully appreciated my input and has been unable to stop thanking me for all I have done.

The kit list provided by the school has though presented a few issues.  I have tried to follow the instructions to the letter and hence have packed accordingly 7 pairs of underwear and 7 pairs of socks.  I have done this in the full knowledge that 6 pairs of underwear and 6 pairs of socks will return unworn.  We were asked to pack black bin liners so that the boys can put all their dirty washing in a bag to bring home.  Well, I am fairly certain that I shall be able to use those very black bin liners for their original purpose on his return as I have placed them in a side pocket which since he suffers from that all-male congenital condition “man eyes”, he is very unlikely to see let alone open and use.  I did point the side pocket out to him and the black bin liners and he asked me to write “black bin liners” with a Sharpie on the pocket – I declined on aesthetic grounds and anyway it won’t make a blind bit of difference (I refer you back to congenital “man eyes”).

The kit list also gave rise to Deodorantgate.  I am not thanking the school for this.  The innocuous  “wash bag containing – toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo etc” has unleashed a whole new beast in our house – Lynx “Africa”.  I have so far avoided having to buy deodorant for my son – having judged it not yet necessary but since it was on the kit list my son with an uncharacteristic regard for detail and obedience told me that he had to have some.  I duly bought his first deodorant but forgot to tell him that less is more.  Consequently our house (and its occupants) are now gasping under a cloud of heady (read “headachey”) and intoxicating (read “choking”) eau d’Africa.  Personally “Africa” is not what springs to mind on inhalation unless we’re talking part-hyena with giraffe dung or something.  Anyway, teachers who were mad enough to volunteer to go on this trip with my son, beware the morning (and evening) spray – it’s powerful stuff.

As for the toothbrush and toothpaste, this has become somewhat of an obsession with me – I must have said to him at least 40 times this weekend – “don’t forget to brush your teeth” .  Who am I kidding? There is no way that toothbrush will see the light of day over the next week let alone the meet the toothpaste.  Anyway, it’s not as if my son brushes his teeth religiously when he’s home – if I’m brutally honest, despite my threats, he probably only brushes them on average 2.2 times a week.

Anyway, I hope he and his friends have a wonderful time – I know they will, the trip looks amazing.  He won’t care if he’s wearing the same underwear every day and I’m not there to care and anyway if he does, less washing on his return for me.  Silver linings….

Half-term – cash and capers…

Posh & Becks Waxworks

Posh & Becks Waxworks (Photo credit: reveriewit)

Help! Help! I’m haemorrhaging…CASH – yes, it’s half-term this week and next – yes you read that correctly, my little darlings have got 2 weeks for half-term – twice the time to fill, twice the money to spend, twice the number of tantrums, twice the amount of alcohol required by me each evening.

Yesterday it was the turn of Madame Tussauds – or as Boy 2 calls it, “Madame Twoshoes” (which Boy 1 corrects to “Madame Twoswords”).  Facts first – it cost me £55 to get in (after queueing for 40 minutes) – that was the cost for one adult and one child (one child was free because of age and one because I had a voucher).  Approximate time required in the attraction – 1.5 hours. By any mathematical equation that seems to me to be daylight robbery. Enter attraction.  Guess what we are met with….yes, the popcorn and sweet shop – £10 lighter we finally get to see the world-famous waxworks which of course my children are not remotely interested in now that they have a large tub of popcorn to stuff in their mouths and with which liberally to litter the floor.

The waxworks are good – some are very good.  But is it just me who thinks it is deeply weird for adults to be posing for photographs with a waxwork model of a celebrity?  Somehow it is OK in Disney World when your kids clamour for photos with Mickey and friends and at least they are moving, talking, dressed-up people.  Not so here…and most of the people at Madame Tussauds yesterday were adults – maybe I’m missing something here but I can’t think of one reason why my husband and I would choose to spend enormous sums of money going to Madame Tussauds without the children and then take turns to take photos of each other with the likes of Posh and Becks, Boris Johnson, Usain Bolt etc – except, remember, people, it is not Posh and Becks, Boris Johnson, Usain Bolt etc – they are waxworks…sorry, but I think it is very, very odd behaviour.

People walk around “Madame Tussauds” saying in a surprised voice, “Look, there’s so and so…” – again, strange, because there is no-one there that you wouldn’t expect to see in a museum of waxworks of famous people.  Except, perhaps, that is, one Mohamed Al Fayed lurking in the corner of the room dedicated to world leaders – still trying to work out why he was there amongst Obama, David Cameron, Margaret Thatcher…have I missed something?

Today, I tried to keep the costs down – well, relatively – and we went to the cinema to see “Madagascar 3” with some friends.  We had lunch in M&S (cheaper than the pizza places) but unfortunately you need a degree to understand their children’s meal deal – apparently, 2 of the 5 pieces your child chooses have to be “snacks”,so to fulfil the criteria my children were forced to swap their relatively healthy smoothies for  considerably less healthy biscuits and in my daughter’s case some frankly disgusting disturbingly bright pink “yoghurt” (I don’t think so) coated “Hello Kitty” raisins, which we promptly renamed “Hello Sicky”.

Next stop the cinema – having spent a small fortune on popcorn (another bugbear of mine is the daylight robbery that is popcorn/sweets purchasing in cinemas) and bought 3D glasses for the film, the cinema management then informed us that due to technical difficulties, they were unable to show the film.  Tense negotiations followed and I’m pleased to tell you that we got a full refund plus free tickets for future use (if you don’t ask, you don’t get!).  We promptly spent the money we saved on a quite ridiculous “hurricane tube” experience in the cinema lobby – 90 seconds of your children being buffeted by a “hurricane” force wind (basically, a giant hairdryer) – sounds strange, it was strange, although strangely amusing too (mainly for us adults) and it made me return to the thought which I often have – what on earth goes on in some people’s minds that results in such a bizarre product as a “hurricane” experience? Whenever you think people are all the same and we all think the same sorts of things, you come across something so bizarre that you realise that in fact we are all very, very different.

After a quick cup of tea and 8 donuts in Krispy Kreme, I totted up the nutritional intake for my children so far this half-term – popcorn, smarties, McDonalds (at a service station on the way back from Madame Tussauds – classy), “Hello Sicky” raisins, and Krispy Kreme donuts.  I’m not proud of this by the way and I can already hear the audible gasp from you Annabel Karmel types but once in a while it doesn’t hurt and the last two days have been quite amusing and I don’t often say that about half-term with three children under the age of 8.