With all the hassle going on in my life the last few weeks, I was really ready for the break. Luckily my Mum wasn’t sent home from hospital and so I was able to get away with the family – it had been touch and go up until the last day as to if they would release her, but I will talk about that another time.
It has become a family tradition to go away for M’s birthday. He doesn’t have many friends so a party hasn’t been a possibility for many years, so instead, we have made it a special day on holiday for him. As with many things within our ASD family, you do something once, and its scary, do something twice and it is the norm, therefore, this is the third time we have spent the October break with Haven, at Haggerston Castle – http://www.haven.com/parks/northumberland/haggerston-castle/, we have also been there for the past few Easters too! It is a lovely park, with 2 great swimming pools, a lake, and a lovely entertainment centre, including restaurant, take-aways, show bar, and or course the amusement arcade. I think because we have been here so often, it is a place the boys feel confident, as they know where things are and on the whole what time the main events are happening.
A very important part of any trip, is where you stop for breakfast on the way. For my boys, there is only one place. IKEA. I am sure they believe it is a restaurant that sells furniture on the side, rather than the other way around!
We arrived across the border and checked in, and found we were in a caravan, only just on the park, it was so far away. It meant we had to drive back and forth to the main complex, but the luxury that there was made it worth while. It was a real home away from home – we learned a long time back that it was worth up grading to get heating and space.
The first point of call for the boys was then to the arcade. I am sure many people would be horrified at the money the boys waste in there, but it is art of their holiday, to win tickets to exchange at the end of the week for prizes – they won enough over the week, to get themselves some great speakers which have dancing lights in them, as well as bubble swords, stickers and sweeties. Unfortunately, being so close to the end of the season, the place was looking a little bit tatty, and the carpet is in desperate need of repair. I managed to catch my toe in a missing cover on a sunken socket, and went flying. Luckily I didn’t hit any of the machines as I went down, but managed to bruise my knee and wrist – both are a fabulous purple colour, and I got some very strange looks in the swimmuing pool! I complained, and suggested the area had the very minimum of a wet floor sign over it, and I am pleased to say that they did do that immediately, and it was there for the rest of the week. I was offered a first aider, which I didn’t need, but there was no accident form filled in, which I believe there should have been!
We then headed to the pool. Swimming is always a major part of our trips away for the boys. It is something neither are over keen on doing when at home, but an essential part of any holidasy. D has been a confident swimmer for some time, but M has never wanted to do it, instead he would rather just splash about. However, he just took off, and said he could swim. He was brilliant and the more he did, the more he wanted to do. To see him inflate when we told him how proud we were of him was lovely, he glowed with pride and kept telling us what a good swimmer he is. There is also a slide in the pool where the kids happily line up to make a splash, seeing who can make more people wet seems to be the game they all play!
I then booked the activities for the week. There is a ranger at the site who the boys adored at our last visit, and so they wanted to do all of his classes – the boys love their computers and video games, but being outdoors and getting mucky is a thrill to them. There were 3 classes for the Tuesday and 2 for the Thursday, so it broke the week up nicely. then, there was a call on Tuesday morning to say there weren’t enough kids booked on the morning one so could they push them back to the Thursday, I of course said ok. D went into total meltdown at being told this, but M was quite understanding. We therefore spent the morning in the pool instead. The afternoon, we went for the first of the sessions, only to be told that it couldn’t take place because of the high winds. Both boys were gutted, but were calmed by being taken to the bar where there was wi-fi so they could play some minecraft. I had to fight for a refund for the sessions, as they wanted to move them to other ones, but they were already booked on the rest of them for the week.
The evening shows are loud. The boys enjoy the early character ones, but don’t want to stay for the games later on. We did however manage second place in the family quiz, only loosing out because we couldn’t name all of the members of One Direction – so no real shame there.
On the Wednesday we took a trip into Berwick-upon-Tweed. It’s not the biggest of towns, but it has some lovely independent shops, and we bought the boys new winter gloves and hats, as well pies from an amazing butcher! We then went into a great little tucked away restaurant called The Sinners, for brunch. We had full fry ups, which were very naughty but better than nice! It only seated about a dozen people, but was so worth finding.
Thursday was M’s birthday. 9 years old already. Seems hard to believe. We had taken just a few presents for him to have something to unwrap – he had a second birthday when we got home. He was made up with what he had, and thanked us many times for his gifts, even coming up and giving us all a kiss to say thank you later in the day – personal contact is not something M does very easily so it meant an awful lot. He spent a lot of his day with Ranger Steve, and had a real blast, other than when everyone sang happy birthday to him, which he totally hated. The low point of the day came when during a scavenger hunt, he fell into a pond. He ran off to be alone – his usual way of dealing with pain and upset, but Hubby followed him and took him back for a hot shower. The next session was camp fire cooking where they got to melt marshmallow and eat them with various food – chocolate digestives, hobnobs, flapjacks, brownies, and of course by themselves. Being M’s birthday, he was allowed to go up more often than anyone else, which he loved! The most fun came when they took part in a battle – the session postponed from Tuesday. After some talk about how to stay out of sight in the woods, they donned camouflage overalls, and crawled in the mud and fought with water pistols.
His day ended with his choice for tea, and he went for Papa Johns pizza, which they deliver to your caravan. It was delicious! I think my wee man had a lovely day.
Friday morning we headed back up the road, via The Robins Nest Pub on the outskirts of Edinburgh. A while back I won vouchers for a Sizzling Pubs – http://www.sizzlingpubs.co.uk/ and so we decided to use them for our en route stop. The food was wonderful – far too much off it, but it was freshly cooked and very reasonably priced. We were so full after our main course, even the boys decided they didn’t want pudding – they had been eyeing up the ice cream sundaes from the first look at the menu! I must say it wasn’t a chain I was familiar with, but would highly recommend them now I’ve tried them!
We then got home, and unpacked the car. The worst part of a holiday then began, as I stared at the mountain of washing that needed to be done! Sometimes I really feel sorry for my washing machine, but I am glad I have a large drum one! My main problem is getting it all dry now the weather has turned wetter.
The boys had a great time, and I got the break I really needed as I was at frazzle point. They are already talking about what they want to do next year. I think Haven will be getting repeat custom from us for many years to come!