Summer has finally arrived and that has coincided with June being a particularly varied and decadent month.
Here are a few highlights of what we’ve been up to.
A date with fête
Greece may be on the brink of financial meltdown with the banks running out of cash, but they could do probably worse than to raid the many school fêtes that are taking place the length and breadth of the country at this time of year.
You know the sort of thing. You turn up at the gate and get fleeced. You pay for the kids to play a variety of fairground stall games and get fleeced. And then you’re asked to buy tickets for a raffle or bid on auction items and … well, you get the idea.
I’m not being an old curmudgeon here. (Well, not that much.) Far from it. I’m more than happy to help support my kids’ school and let them have a morning’s fun in the process. Isaac even got to take part in a martial arts demo with some of his schoolmates – I swelled with pride seeing how seriously he took his part in it.
What causes me to raise an eyebrow is the fact that, as parents, we’re supposed to smile at the fact that we are expected to spend £20 (or however much) funding our children’s attempts to win £3 of sweets that we donated in the first place. And we then have to spend the rest of the day explaining patiently and repeatedly to them that they can’t eat an entire month’s worth sweets in one go.
In some parts of the world, that’s called daylight robbery!
In a rare instance of having a child-free day to ourselves, Heather and I booked ourselves in to Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux’Quat Saisons for lunch.
Le Manoir is more than just one of the country’s best restaurants. It’s also set in gorgeous grounds with its own extensive vegetable and decorative gardens.
We’ve been a few times before, so we knew to make a full afternoon of it. We started with champagne and canapés on the lawn – well, it would have been rude not to – moved on to the seven-course tasting menu and finished with tea and cakes outside and a gentle stroll around the grounds.
And then we headed home to pick up the kids. (Ferris Bueller never had to do this on his day off!) Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.
The Goldilocks zone
This year’s annual trip to Paultons Park with old university friends found us right in the sweet spot in more ways than one.
With our kids now aged between three and 7½, they’re all in what I call the ‘Goldilocks zone’ – not too old, not too young, just right – that narrow window where all three of them can enjoy the park’s rides.
Now that she is taller than 90cm, a whole host of rides are open to Kara – but at less than 100cm, she still qualifies for free admission. Again, the Goldilocks zone. Better still, she proved to be utterly fearless, repeatedly embracing rides that gave her older brothers and indeed a number of the adults pause for thought. Big drops, being thrown around corners on rollercoasters or getting drenched on the log flume, it was all one big, fun adventure of a day for her. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her smile so much. It was fantastic.
Having saved up all my brownie points in exchange for a weekend pass, I headed into London for two days to attend BritMums Live, the largest parent blogging event in the UK.
I’ve written about both my general experience of the conference (which I thoroughly enjoyed) and mused on the lack of dads in attendance elsewhere, but where else can you be one of 11 men surrounded by 700 women, set a new Guinness World Record and meet and listen to some of the most inspirational people whose words I have been reading for the past couple of years?
I had such a good time hanging out with our little posse of BritDads and mingling with the mums. Unusually for someone who normally runs and hides at events of this size, I couldn’t spend enough time meeting up with people and finally putting faces and voices to names, blogs and Twitter handles.
I loved it, and I will be back at future events for sure.
So that was our June, and I haven’t even mentioned Father’s Day. July brings the end of the school year and the start of the summer holidays, so expect more day-trip adventures next month.