I began writing this post in my head on the plane but it sounded a bit like something a precocious five-year old would come up with, "What I did on my holidays". Instead of boring you (and me) with a blow by blow account of our adventures I shall simply give you a list of the best bits. I do like a good list. So, here goes.
1. There was a feast of the best British cuisine has to offer, including of course the cream tea and fish and chips. But the best of the best were the pancakes and caramelised apples (embarrassed cough... under the breath mutter... French recipe) that Uncle Dan* made for us. That said, for all the great food that Britain has to offer, I seemed to spend most of the week eating Milky Bars with Matilda. No bad thing.
*Rightly or wrongly, since the arrival of the mini-beasts, all my family are now defined by their relationship to my kids.
2. Animals galore, including giraffes, rhinos, dinosaurs and the full compliment of British farm animals, including the now standard llamas. When we arrived at Cotswold Wildlife Park we made the mistake of going to see the penguins first. And thought that Matilda would never leave.
3. Playgrounds galore. Usually Fanf is a most genial fellow but he does get a tad umpty when I suggest that certain things are better in Britain. So sorry Fanf but the playgrounds in Britain are much better than the ones in France. A kid could actually get hurt. There were zip wires, swings that went so high even Uncle Dan and I got a little bit frightened when we tried them out and a number of things for which I have no name.
4. For all the animal and playground shenanigans, what excited Matilda the most was planes. Sitting on the plane on the way over she kept telling me, "Matilda like plane. Matilda very excited". Once we arrived in Blighty there was further excitement whenever a plane flew over. When asked what she'd done during the day, any day, she said she'd been on a plane. Since we've been home she has one recurring question, "We going on a plane again soon?" No. For one simple reason. We can't afford it. Because I am a fool of stellar proportions. I thought I'd booked tickets back for Sunday. Turns out it was Monday. Turns out Ryanair charge you all your body parts, those of your children, of your unborn children, and of any grandchildren, to book a ticket on the day of travel. I joke now. I was in hysterics at the airport.
5. Only slightly less rabid than plane fever was tractor fever.
6. Matilda's cute new haircut from Auntie Kelly.
7. I took the mini-beasts to my favourite tea shop in Oxford. Perhaps my favourite tea shop in the world, The Nosebag. I used to love lingering at their bare wooden tables with tea, a gigantic piece of their yummy homemade cake and a good book. As I walked in I was greeted by the familiar hallowed hush of the afternoon. People either reading or politely murmuring. I reflected upon this as the mini-beasts knocked things over, smeared things about, were irrepressibly rowdy. Matilda didn't like the caramel shortbread I ordered for her so I had to eat that and the chocolate fudge brownie (with humongous chunks of real fudge) all by myself. It's good having kids.
8. Seeing my brother with the mini-beasts. He one cool Mad Unc D.
p.s. I would like to state for the record, my record, that the mini-beasts were brilliant. I was so proud of them. They took to all the new and exciting things we threw at them with aplomb.