Okay, after much guffawing and more than a little sniggering, Family Contomichalos were delighted to spend the first weekend of half term on a press trip to for the travel section of That’s Yummy Mummy (my blog) to Sandy Balls (no, it’s not a nickname – it really is called that!).
Having collected the children from school, with a car full to bursting, my husband did ask me why we had an electric drinks maker, four suitcases, a pushchair, five pairs of wellies, and enough toys to create our own Hamleys on board, as we were only going for 3 days!).
If there are any mums like me out there, you will know that to scrimp on packing will only cause misery in the long run….I like to think of everything that they might want (this reduces the moaning, nagging and the tears when we get there) Okay, the drinks maker was a bit of a luxury and perhaps part of Ant’s mini kitchen was taking it a bit far….but overall I think I was fairly select…
So, anyway the weather was gorgeous and as we drove across the New Forest I began to feel really happy. There were wild horses everywhere and even cows and pigs – Antonis was loving it. We stopped the car and took Ant to see some piglets, troughing with their mummy….it was going so well…..until Ant decided he wanted to take one of the piglets home…trying to get him back in the car (without said piggy), became a nightmare, he wailed, screamed and kicked and destroyed the peace and quiet. Some other people who were trying to take pics of the little piggy family began to get quite cross, then they began to get quite fascinated…I don’t think they’d ever seen such a tantrum (I think one or two of them started taking photos of us in disbelief instead of the piggy family). Anyway, I bribed Ant back into the car with the promise of buying piggy at the shops…..well I had to do something….– really bad idea. (Especially when Pav started making comments and snorting about bacon and ham…and maybe we could have Piggy for supper………oh dear…).
On arrival at Sandy Balls (Sid James cackle), we were kind of expecting the entire Carry on Camping crew to appear….but not a happy camper in sight! This lovely estate is full of proper log cabins nestling in the forest…it is bliss! After we finished unpacking, (which took about 2 hours…because of all the things I’d brought with us) we decided to go for a swim in the indoor pool, Joe was languishing in the Jacuzzi like Hugh Heffner, Pav was doing laps and Antonis and his daddy were playing monster games in the water…it was a really lovely way to spend a Friday late afternoon. After that it was home for supper and lots of TV, and couch potato-ing in our cosy little lodge.
The next morning we got up and went to get our bikes. It was another glorious day, not a cloud in the bright blue sky. My husband decided we would do a 10 mile cycle, after much moaning from the boys, we set off. It was idyllic, down little country lanes and up rather steep hills – not so idyllic. We stopped at a beautiful spot to show Ant how to feed a horse (yes! I had remembered chopped apples – but I had eaten all the polo’s on the way – oops!).
We took lots of lovely photos and were breathing in the ‘country air; (which actually turned out to be a cowpat the size of a small country to my right)…I turned to the boys as we got back on our bikes and said ‘well, look at this! Not a cloud in the….oh my god!’ Behind us was a storm brewing like I’ve NEVER seen before. This was like news footage before a town gets wiped out. At first it was sort of exciting. Antonis said ‘Mummy, is it a Dumbledore? (I know it’s not right but since he watched Harry Potter with his brothers he thinks thunderstorms are called Dumbledore’s and to our shame we all think it is so cute we’ve never corrected him). Anyway, this was no ordinary Dumbledore. With the next crack of thunder, we were paralysed with fear, wondering where the next lightning bolt would strike. Then the heavens opened up and shot millions of bullets of hard ice hail at us! It was like being whipped with glass. Cycling as fast as we could home, poor little Ant was screaming and crying out ‘someone….help me! It’s a nightmare!’ If it hadn’t been so pitiful to see him drenched and whipped by the hail, it might have made me laugh (I was also quite impressed that he’d put that sort of sentence together – very apt!).
Eventually we got back to our lodge…and out of our wet clothes. In complete disbelief, we sat, huddled together, drying…in shock. Miraculously, an hour later the sun had come out. The skies were deep blue so we got back on our bikes (still wondering if we’re real troopers or just mad?) and we cycled through the New Forest for 10 miles.
I can honestly say that with my hand on my heart, I have never loved nature so much (although I loved the pub at the end of the track even more!). Also worth noting….I could’ve done without the saddle sore bottom. The next day all of us walked to return our bikes in the style of John Wayne. But, I realised that I had loved every minute of being outdoors and staying in the woods with my little family – Oh hoorah for Sandy Balls!