Summer has finally hit the UK and this week we have been lucky enough to have a fair few days of sunshine and heat, which has been the perfect antedote to the post holiday blues. I can honestly say if that we could guarantee the UK would be sunny all Summer long, then there is no where else I would rather be, I love being at home when it's hot, although every evening I do wish for cold tiled floors and air conditioning.
We have had a really lovely week here. We haven't done an awful lot, in fact work wise the sunshine has made us pretty unmotivated, but we have had a great week all the same. In fact I took a fair few photos (with my phone) so my 'Ordinary Moment' for this week is actually about the whole week in general.
As I write this, it's Saturday night and I am sat in our garden with Mr E sat next to me reading a magazine. We have a nice little garden, although neither of us are particularly 'green fingered' and as such we definitely don't have it how we want it. It's our aim for this Summer to really work on the garden and make it a place that we feel proud and relaxed being in. We started work on it today actually, we went out this morning and bought a pressure washer and Mr E spent the majority of the day blasting the patio, it's come up looking like new. I spent the girl's nap time re-varnishing our patio furniture, and while it' certainly doesn't look like new, it definitely looks a lot better than it did.
I have just finished my book and so I thought I would get the laptop out and write this post quickly. My husband has very kindly made us the most delicious drink, it's Pimms in a frozen watermelon, and we are just chilling out and enjoying the late evening sunshine. The girls are fast asleep in bed, one of our neighbours is mowing his lawn and I can smell that lovely freshly cut grass smell, and I am sat here thinking just how lucky we are to have our little home.
Here is our week of sunshine in iPhone photos...
On Tuesday we were working and the weather was just so hot and sunny that we decided we would sneak off to a local pub a few minutes down the road from us for lunch. It was probably a little naughty seeing as we were meant to be working, but I can't remember the last time we went out for lunch without the girls so it was lovely to get some time to ourselves in the sunshine.
Such a pretty view while eating our lunch.
My best friend, husband, colleague, father to my girlies and the person I laugh with more than anyone. Cheesy but true.
Getting a spot of sunshine by the river.
On Friday we went to meet a few of our friends at the lido in Cambridge. The sun shined all day and we had such a lovely time. We had a picnic, did lots of splashing, playing at the park and there were a fair few ice creams consumed. All the signs of a good day.
These ladies loved splashing around in the lido, it honestly felt like we were abroad.
On Saturday we went to Mads new school's Summer fete. I was a bit nervous before hand, because it is small I thought we would stick out like sore thumbs even though they asked us to go. But it was lovely and everyone was so welcoming, plus we chatted to some parents of children who will be in her class and they all seem really nice. We played hook a duck, yucky dip, (cold spaghetti and beans!) had a bounce on the bouncy castle and ate some BBQ food and cake- it was a great afternoon and I am so, so thankful that it all worked out with her school in the end. We couldn't be happier about the little community school she is going to attend.
The watermelon cocktail I mentioned above- I knew my husband was a keeper! It's just frozen watermelon, pimms and lemonade, with lots of strawberries, cucumber, mint and ice. It was delicious.
On our fifth 'bowl' by this point!
All in all it was a lovely sunshiney week of fun. Let's hope the weather stays like this. There's nothing better than the UK when the sun is shining!
As the bus pulled away from Levante Beach Hotel after our week long holiday to Rhodes, my eyes pricked with tears behind my sunglasses. Mainly I was feeling emotional because I just felt so thankful to have experienced such an incredible week with my little family, but there was also a part of me that felt truly sad and a little sentimental to be saying goodbye to such a special place. But all good stories start at the beginning...
Last year we were really lucky to have been chosen to be Mark Warner ambassadors. We chose Levante in Rhodes as our place to go and off we went last June for our first foreign sunshine holiday as a family. (Check out all our posts here) It was truly amazing and we had the time of our lives, so much so that pretty much as soon as we got home we booked to go again. As our departure date approached, I must admit to starting to feel a little nervous. What if I had built it up so much that it wouldn't be as good as I remembered it? What if we didn't have as an amazing time as last year?
I can honestly say that I have never been to the same place twice. I love to travel, I love to experience new places, but however much we love a place we will usually try somewhere else, even if it's a different hotel in the same country. But there was just something about Levante last year- so many happy little pieces fitting together to make it a perfect family holiday. Perfect isn't a word I use lightly, but it's true. The place, the staff- both the local Greek staff and the Mark Warner crew, the Mark Warner ethos, the magic of it all just completely sucked us in. But it didn't necessarily mean that coming back would be the same...
The girls were really good on the flight out there and again it was a nice treat to fly with British Airways, who were a pleasure to fly with. On arrival at Levante Beach it all just slotted back into place straight away, it was great to know exactly what we were doing, where we were going and we were delighted to find they had put us in the exact same room. There was no awkwardness of trying to find our way, we were straight back into the same routine as last year. We also were thrilled to find that a lot of the staff were the same as last year, especially in childcare and they remembered us which was really nice. We had booked the girls into morning childcare sessions again, something which was all completely new to us last year, but actually made the holiday for us. To be able to have a bit of time, just for a couple of hours in the morning is just fantastic as it gave us some time to relax and to spend together. The childcare team are truly amazing and I really could talk about them all day, but instead here is the first part of the story of our holiday in many many photos...
We arrived at Levante in the afternoon on the Saturday and headed down to the beach. (To collect stones obviously!)
We had a little routine last year of going down to the beach after dinner and before the evening mini club. (MW offer a evening childcare service where you drop them off in their PJ's and they watch a film and then snuggle up in little beds and either go to sleep/chill out until you pick them up) We tried to do this again, but on a few of the nights it was quite windy (but still boiling hot) and so we decided to give the beach a miss. The girl's loved going down there when we did though.
Waking up to this on our first morning certainly beat waking up to grey skies.
If you asked Mads what she remembered about her holiday last year she would always say 'pancakes, waffles and mini club'. As strange as it sounds we all remember the waffles so well! They are delicious and definitely a highlight of the breakfasts. We were pleased to see that the same Greek man was there making them each morning, he was really nice and welcoming. And we were even more pleased to see they were just as tasty as we reemembered.
On our first day I decided to go SUP, that's Stand Up Paddleboarding to you and I, on one of the organised group activities down on the waterfront.
There are loads of activities- sailing, kayaking, tennis etc, you name it and all are included in the price of your holiday unless you want private tuition.
I suprised myself on actually being able to stand up quite well, but steering was a bit of an issue!
Every afternoon was spent in one of the various pools, there are five in total. Then after a big swim the girl's would go down for a long nap which was fantastic as it gave us a chance to relax again. I love it when a holiday routine just seems to work really well.
So lucky to have this man in our lives. He is so good to us.
Looking very grown up. Of course Baa had to come everywhere with us as usual. For a split second as we boarded the plane to head to Rhodes I thought we had lost him in the airport. I was absolutely scared for a moment, she would be devastated if she lost it and so would I - he is definitely part of the family.
This little lady loves the sand.
My beautiful ladies. And that beautiful golden light which is by far my favourite thing to photograph.
I love this one. This girl made us the proudest on holiday. She was so confident going to mini club, she adored our afternoons of swimming and she just generally thrived on our holiday fun. Look at that happy smile!
I absolutely love this photo of the three of us. We rarely get photos like this so I will treasure this one. I think it might be my new favourite.
Walking back to our hotel room. It's a shame the sun doesn't set over the sea in Levante, but we won't hold anything against it when it produces such a gorgeous light.
Here is the first of two little videos I have made of our holiday to Rhodes...
Part two of our holiday coming up soon..
NB: Mark Warner were really fantastic and gave us a discount off our holiday as we were their ambassadors last year, but they haven't asked me to write about our holiday, although of course I would have done anyway. (thank you MW!) They are also offering a discount to any of my readers who are interested in booking a holiday with them. It will run for two weeks and you need to quote KatieBlog50 when booking- the offer entitles you to a £50 discount per person excluding free child places. It can't be used in conjunction with any other offer and Mark Warner booking conditions apply. You can find out more about amazing Levante and their other properties here.
Yet again it's time for me to type those same old words that I say every single month, and that's that I truly can't believe how fast June has whizzed by. But it's true, just when we seem to have gotten over how fast the previous month has gone, the following one passes us by just as quickly. I know I sound like a broken record but it's scary how quickly the time seems to go.
June has been a fantastic month, although I must admit that as I sit writing this post I do feel a little down in the dumps and I can't even blame it on the post holiday blues, although I am staring wistfully out my window wishing I was looking out at the blue crystal clear swimming pool of our hotel Levante. I have written before how I have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve and also get anxious quite easily, and for some reason since arriving home from our wonderful holiday to Rhodes I have been feeling a little on edge. Most of this stems from the fact that I, like so many others, am struggling to comprehend what has happened to innocent tourists in Tunisia, but it has been made worse by the fact that my little sister is in Tunisia at the moment and was there at the time of the attack. She is safe and well and will hopefully be on a flight today, but I keep watching the news and feeling so sad that our girls are growing up in a world where we can feel so unsafe. It makes me anxious, which I am sure it does to lots of others as well. Sometimes I just feel a little overwhelmed with the cruelness of it all.
Slightly negative thoughts aside, this month has been truly lovely. The weather has been a little hit and miss, but we have had some sunny days and enjoyed a trip to Legoland and a few picnics at home. I also had a weekend away in London for the Blogtacular conference which was lovely, and I really enjoyed some 'me time' with some great friends. We finally found out and confirmed Mads place at her new school for September, which is so exciting and I feel like we can now relax and enjoy the Summer together.
Just before we went to Rhodes, I also went for a brunch in London with the lovely ladies from Mark Warner and some other bloggers, and as the Brit Mums BIB awards were that evening I ended up staying which I wasn't going to do. I am glad I did because the travel blog I run with three other ladies 'Space In Your Case' won Best Travel Blog- I have never been so shocked when they called out our name. That was a truly lovely suprise just before our holiday.
Which brings me to the best part of June- our aforementioned holiday to Rhodes. It was incredible and we had the most amazing time together as a family. In fact it was so special that it almost seems like a distant dream that didn't happen, except for the fact that I have photos and videos to prove it really did. No doubt I will share them on here soon but in the meantime my 'Me and Mine' photos for the month were taken while we were away. For the first time ever I actually took our tripod with us on holiday, Mr E didn't look too impressed with me when I mentioned the idea, although not huge it's bulky enough to take up a bit of space in the case, but I am so glad we did end up taking it.
These photos were taken on the last night of our holiday. We had wanted to go down to the beach but it was really windy and we were worried about sand getting in our eyes and/or the camera, so we decided to sit down at this nice little spot just outside our hotel room. I really love these photos, firstly because of that gorgeous golden light I am obsessed with (again!), secondly because we look happy, and thirdly because I love that we will be able to treasure them forever and the memories that are now associated with them. Just ignore the fact that Mr E has a sore leg (he fell off his bike on a organised bike ride while on holiday and went into a tree- ouch!) and the fact that we both have really bad sunglasses marks. Panda eyes anyone!
It was such a special holiday and I am so glad that I took the tripod so we have some family photos of us while we are away. I am the luckiest girl in the whole world to have these three people to call my family.
This month I am sending you over to Fritha's blog- I am sure everyone knows her, but if not she has a gorgeous little boy Wilf and another little person on the way. She's a thoroughly lovely lady too! If you have a family photo to share be sure to link up below! :)
It's 9.30pm on Saturday evening and just ten minutes ago we walked through the door after eight nights away on holiday. The house feels a bit unknown and we don't yet feel comfortable and relaxed in our surroundings, it smells a little musty and looks a little dusty after being neglected for a week. The garden has overgrown in this humid weather the UK has been having and we have a big pile of unopened mail just lying on the floor of our hallway, brushed aside until we get a moment to open it. Our suitcases have been taken upstairs, but most definitely won't be tackled until the morning and we are all a little disorientated. LL is asleep in bed, having fallen asleep in the car on the way back from Heathrow, she woke up for a brief moment, brushed her teeth and then went happily to sleep in her bed, happy to be back with her Peppa books and other various furry friends. Mads is passed out on our bed, for the first time since she was a baby we had to carry her from the car to the house, where we didn't even attempt to get her in her PJ's.
We are home.
Just like that, it all seems like a distant memory. Our week of fun in the sun in Rhodes. It's back to reality, but luckily not with too much of a bang. Mr E has popped to Tescos to make us some fajitas and we have a whole host of TV to catch up on that we have missed. We are exhausted, albeit it not a long flight at just four hours, as any parent knows the travelling starts from the minute you get up in the morning to come home. It's been a very long day, with a transfer bus, an airport with it's immigration and waiting, a plane journey, another airport with it's immigration and waiting, another bus, before finally an hour and a half car journey home from the airport. Coming home, LL ran straight upstairs to her room to check it out and make sure all her toys were in place, a nice sense of familiarity and routine being set back in place. I probably shouldn't have written this, it feels strange getting the laptop out before I have even unpacked a single thing, but I want to get this post out the way so I can relax and enjoy my evening. I feel like I can't miss an Ordinary Moments post, however silly that sounds.
I haven't even really began to process our holiday to Levante in Rhodes yet, let alone even thought about writing it down. We went last year and it was just incredible, and if I am honest I was a little nervous that I had built it up so much that it wouldn't be quite as good as we expected or remembered. But it was. It was all that and more. It was a week of family time, of making memories and of being together. As we left the hotel this morning I felt tears pricking at the back of my eyes, a mixture of feeling incredibly thankful and lucky that were able to go on holiday together and sadness that it was all over so fast. And now as I sit here typing this on my purple rug in my living room, it feels like it was all just a wonderful dream. Tomorrow we wake up to a huge pile of washing, a ridiculous amount of unanswered emails, and a whole host of routines to get back into.
But with the happiest of memories to treasure forever.