Tag Archives: holidays

Getting dirty.


The boys have always enjoyed being outside.      In fact I would say that while both of them love their computers and video games, there is nothing they enjoy more than messing about in the great outdoors.      As far as M is concerned, since he started nursery, and has continued through school, it has often been commented about that he is much happier when he is outdoors.

We have been to Haven many times over the past few years, and one of the things the boys have always enjoyed is the nature walk.    It has previously always been a session taken by one of the play leaders, and they wander a group of children around the park, looking for birds, and plants, and marking them down on a work sheet.    It has always been interesting and one thing the boys expect to do.

This year however it has all change.   When going through the entertainment timetable, there was no nature walk.     Neither boy was happy.      Then we saw something called Nature Rockz – don’t talk to Hubby about the name of the sessions as he gets quite upset by people using a “z” instead of a “s”.       It didn’t give too many details but said additional information was available at the booking point.     After swimming, I went to find out about it, and booked the boys up for the three daily sessions – each afternoon for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

The first session was a bug hunt – sounded perfect for two boys who love getting mucky!     The instructor was a scary sight, in full combat gear and make-up!   Ranger Steve.    He kept the kids in line, but his enthusiasm was amazing, as he got the kids to introduce themselves – M introduced himself to his shoes.         He then marched the kids over to his hideout in the woods – parents could go if they wanted to, so we did, just in case they weren’t happy with somebody they didn’t know.    They were talked through the environment and the type of creature they were looking for and likely to find, before being let loose to find them and get the dirtiest hands possible – M took the dirty hands part very literally and I believe that was a higher priority to him than finding the bugs!    There was great excitement amongst the kids as the first woodlouse was found, but soon all the kids were getting millipedes, worms, wood weevles, snails, and more woodlice, in their jars.         D had a few problems as he is still very aware of his knees so getting down to the dirt wasn’t that easy for him, but he happily pulled bark off dead pieces of wood to see what was under it.

The next day I forget how many times I was asked when we would be seeing Ranger Steve, and we were actually at the meeting point about half an hour early than the time,  because they didn’t want to be late!     M spoke out much easier today, and told Ranger Steve that his favourite thing was getting his hands dirty!!!!      Today the kids were building a bug hotel.     They  had to think about the type of things the bugs like to live in naturally, as so what they could use to make an environment that would make them happy.     Using old pallets, and cardboard they then added dirt, leaves and wood, before finding bugs to stay in the hotel!        Mucky hands were again order of the day.       Once more two totally engaged boys loving the information being fed to them.

The last session was the one D had been looking forward to most as it was about making a fire, and then toasting marshmallows!        It was a very interesting session and I think Hubby learned as much as the kids, so I can only imagine the next barbecue we have will be a real adventure and not just firelighters and matches!!!!      M wasn’t so sure about the burnt, I mean toasted marshmallows, but D loved them and has insisted we buy marshmallow for next time we barbecue!

They were great sessions which were totally the highlight of the holiday for the boys.     It was great to see the boys welcome someone in so easily because their knowledge and enthusiasm was infectious.     For him to engage two ASD boys so completely was amazing to see and just shows that enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm.       The boys are already talking about seeing Ranger Steve again when we go back in October so I am hoping he will still be there!!!

Magic Moments


When on holiday our evenings usually follow a very set pattern. We go to the early character shows, which while billed as for the younger kids are still loved by my boys. We then spend too much money in the arcade before getting a take away which we return to the caravan to eat. However for just one evening we were allowed to change this routine. During one of the entertainment sessions during the day, M heard the announcement that during the evening there would be a magician performing. M has always been fascinated whenever we have seen magic shows in the past, and so was desperate to go. D wasn’t so keen, but agreed we would go, after a lot of huffing and puffing. We therefore decided, if we had our tea after the early show, we could be back in time for the magician. Of course, once they had eaten, they couldn’t be bothered to return to the entertainment complex. After much thinking about it, they decided they did want to return.

The show was scheduled to begin at 9:15pm, so it was going to be a later night for them to be entertained – evenings on holiday are always late ones, but they are usually slobbing back at the caravan by this time. The show bar was heaving from the entertainment for the older children, so there weren’t any available tables, so we bided our time, and were lucky to pounce on one right on the edge of the dance floor when somebody moved. The boys sat looking apprehensive with their ear defenders firmly in place – probably one of the best purchases ever made as they make so many things less difficult for the boys.

Then the lights went down and the music started.

M was in fits of laughter almost instantly as the sound track made it seem as if the magician was still in the loo!!!! The magician was Martin James – http://www.martynjames.com/ His show was a mixture of comedy and magic. Both boys were totally captivated, and I honestly believe if the show had lasted any longer, M would have had tears rolling down his face as he was laughing so hard. Some of the humour was a little naughtier, but it seemed to go over all of the kids heads, but had the parents chuckling!

One of the sections of the show included him lighting his finger, and pushing the glowing embers through his ears, into his mouth and retrieving it from his bum! M was totally sucked into the magic. What was even better was that at the end he showed the kids how it was done – it didn’t take away from the wonder seeing the thumb light he used to do the illusion. Better yet was that the kids were able to purchase the lights after the show. M of course was desperate for them, and has entertained us with his version of the act since.

D doesn’t believe in magic. He will tell you there is no such thing, which I do find a little sad. I think the wonders of life and the world is totally magical if you allow it to be, but his logic says there is an explanation for everything. That said, he was sucked into the whole entertainment of the show, he laughed and gasped at the same places we all did, and gave a huge cheer at the end. He may not believe in the magic, but he certainly suspended his logic while the show was on.     Live theatre is so much more engaging than television that I think it draws you in so much more.

M loved it. He laughed from start to finish. Seeing M laugh is a lovely thing because he totally lights up, and has the most contagious laugh imaginable. What is better, is that it is one of the thing we were told he wasn’t likely to do naturally – we were told he may learn to copy others who were laughing but not to expect him to initiate it. However, when the smile touches the eyes, and the chuckle comes from the mouth, it makes you pleased that the so called experts don’t know everything as each of our children is capable of the most amazing things.

We might say time with our kids teaches us the magic of the world every day.

Preparing for hols.


Tomorrow we head away for our Easter break. We are going to Haggerston Castle again, having been there a couple of times before – https://jas2jar.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/haggerston-castle/. It is a Haven holiday park, so there is plenty to do there, but being a smaller site, it isn’t too busy for the boys. Like many things with our ASD boys, you do something once, and it is scary and there is great resistance to doing it, but do something a second time, and it becomes the norm, and therefore what we must do. Haggerston has therefore become what we do at Easter and during the October holidays, although we do also go to Haven in the summer – last year we went to Primrose Valley near Scarborough, and to be honest the site was too big for the boys. Being bigger, it was much busier with far more people, and they therefore struggled to cope with the shows and group activities. We learned our lesson and have opted for a smaller site for the summer this year, and are heading to the Lake district, a part of the world that both Hubby and I love!

The boys are half way through their Easter break from school – they go back to school on Easter Monday, but don’t get me started on how terrible I think that is, and we have kept busy this week. It is a fine line we walk between giving them the freedom to chill and enjoy their down time, but keep them mentally and physically occupied so they don’t become too frustrated with the lack of routine. We have therefore had something planned everyday so they have had something to fill their time, but they have also had plenty of time for going on the trampoline, seeing their friends – well D’s friends that M attached himself to, and just slobbing in front of their video games! I think for once we have pretty much managed to keep them on a fairly even keel most of the time!

Today though is another story. It is the day before we go away. We have written lists during the week, jobs that needed doing, things to pack, etc, and today we executed them. The problem is what to do once everything is organised! Everyone has been brilliant doing their share of the preparations, and the car is packed waiting to head off first thing tomorrow morning – we like to head off in time to get as far as Edinburgh for a breakfast at IKEA – another thing that the boys see as a normal part of the holiday! The boys have had their hair cut – all three of them. M moaned and groaned the whole time, but looks really smart when I take the shaggy bits from around his ears – he really hates having his hair cut which is why we had to give up taking him to the hairdressers, and I learned to cut a straight line, luckily his poker straight hair works really well in a bob!!! He had his lollipop as a reward once it was done! Finger nails have been cut. We even have about a hundred cuddly buddies checked and double checked waiting to go away with us.

But what to do with the rest of the day?

D and Hubby watched the footie – not the result they wanted and so Hubby is now in a foul mood. M is pacing. It wont make time go faster but it helps him. There is too much nervous energy going on to sit nicely and watch a movie, and the sky looks like it could open up at any moment so playing out wont last long.

I do wonder how I used to cope, because I was one of these people who would pack weeks in advance so as to make sure everything was ready, but now leaving it all – well as much as possible, to the last-minute makes life so much easier – I do write my lists so I feel I am getting organised though.

I just hope this year the Funstars – what Haven call the entertainment staff, are as brilliant as last year.    While I think in an operation like a holiday camp everyone is equally important from the garden and the laundry room worker to security, and management, it is the entertainment staff that are the face of the company.     They are the people the kids latch on to, and happy kids means happy parents and therefore a happy holiday.    The boys do enjoy a lot of the activities that are organised for the children so they need a person they can relate to.

The boys are excited at the prospect of swimming every day – but trying to get them into the pool when not on holiday is so difficult, and of course spending their saving in the games machine arcade – they go for the machines that spew out tokens, and then they cash them in at the end of the week – last year they did brilliantly and came away with a lot of quite nice booty – they could probably buy the things for a lot less, but the winning the tokens and cashing them in is an important part of their holiday!

Fingers crossed the weather isn’t too bad for although we aren’t outside much its going from caravan to entertainment centre that could get us soaked.

Maybe today I could just send the boys to bed early, very, very, early!!!!!