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The Philippines… PART 2

Next stop…..Bohol

(not to be pronounced “bow-hole”- people will look at you funny)

The wedded couple, my mum and dad, Rich and I and the 2 boys all set off for a little island off the coast of Cebu. It was only an hour or so flight away which was literally a breeze compared to 14 hours. The children were almost enjoyable on this flight. The only hard thing was that yet again we had run out of nappies but also (holy shit), wet wipes!! Weirdly these things are not easy to get hold of in the Philippines. Managed to locate both of the above at the airport finally. They were kept hidden “behind the counter” in a random shop. Had to ask for them and the ladies exchanged a “look”. Felt like I was buying Crack.

Landed in beautiful Bohol. Already it felt more “travelly” than Davao. We had all booked to stay in different places on the island. This was due to different budgets/criteria’s, but mainly to give the newlyweds some romantic time together (you know, the sort of married bliss that doesn’t involve children shitting on a sun bed and pulling your swimmers down in public). My parents didn’t require accom with pool to keep ginger children cool. A must for us.

When booking our accommodation back in the UK, I had got swept away with the prospect of being a hippy traveller and “we don’t need anything fancy, we just need each other”….and ….”memories are made from experiences, not from nice hotels”…..so had booked some budget accommodation. Cheap skate. We arrived and actually it was really lush. The pool area and restaurant was lovely and there were lots of cats (with rabies?). We paid up BEFORE being shown to the room. Massive school boy error. I forgot when we used to travel that we always checked out the room first. HELLO COCKROACHES.

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We used to stay in some pretty grotty places before kids…..like the one with frogs living in the toilet that you had to try and time your “toilet time” so they didn’t jump up your bum. Or the room with “half a roof for half the rent”. But we just sucked it up as it was cheap. I definitely began to realise that we just couldn’t do this with the kids now. Kitt wanted the cockroaches to be his friends and pretty sure Arlo wanted to eat them. They were crawling everywhere. Just freaked me out that they would land on the boys in their sleep. Plus HELLO BEDBUGS. Itching and squirming all night long. Kitt was still really poorly and there was no aircon (it was 37’). We stomached 2 nights then we bailed.

They did have great Pizza though. This had become the boys staple diet. Also could walk to a nice beach:)

During the skank-fest, Kitt was getting worse again. So I decided to take him to hospital. ROAD TRIP!! Actually, a great way to see more of the island and local way of life (zero westerners at hospital), but obviously for a shit reason. Just felt so bad for him and he was so unhappy which is not like him. Turns out best decision as the first lot of medicine he was on was making him worse. So got new drugs and Kitt got some new friends. A little girl was sharing her snacks with him in the waiting room, I was trying to figure out how poorly she was and whether Kitt should be sharing her snacks .But before I could think, they had already shared some slobbery snacks and a little cuddle. Only time would tell. What do you do in this situation???

Kitt had a whale of a time in hospital and didn’t seem poorly at all!!! Sods law

Whilst me and Kitt were in hospital, Arlo was living his BEST live and had his first (of 4643920) rides in a Trike.

The cocky Cockroach pit a distant memory, hero Rich had moved all of our stuff to a new place. OMG it was bloody lush. So out of our league and so beautiful. Words can’t even describe how nice it was….the pool, the beach, the food, the room, the staff, the view. So well set up for kids. It’s amazing what a difference a bed bug free bed  and decent accom can make, even though I did feel like I was cheating somehow.

The next few days we focused on getting Kitt better. Chilled days, lots of naps, lots of water, new medicine and lots of milk (boobs), thank god I still had this to go to.  The staff even gave Kitt a ‘throne” for breakfast everyday which I think help his mental state. Took it in turns to take Arlo out on Kitts nap time ie: felt guilty the focus had been on Kitt so fed Arlo ice-cream. We went on some little trips out on the trikes but mainly *chilled by the pool and beach and in the hammocks/ next to toy diggers and beach bar . I may have even had a sip of a Mojito one evening, shhhhhhh.

* I mean run around after the boys trying to stop them eating sand and jumping in pool- but we were in the vicinity of the pool and beach……again, how do parents tan on holiday???

I feel my hair deserves a mention at this point. I had made an executive decision not to bring hair straighteners with me and go au-naturel. By this point I had also given up brushing it to go for the “I think I’m a cool surfer chick” look

It was getting bigger and bigger and bigger…….

We had all this stuff planned in Bohol but sacked it all off to get Kitt back on track. Really is so different with kids, def their health and happiness first. I had to remember that I wasn’t a 20 something back-packer anymore with henna tattoos and an infected dodgy nose piercing. We shall just have to go back to do the “Chocolate Hills” and “Root Climbing” next time. In hindsight, I think trying to explain to Arlo that the Chocolate Hills WEREN’T actually made out of chocolate would have been very difficult. Dodged a bullet there.

Kitt finally better, and Arlo finally getting a semi sun tan, (well freckles) time had come to say goodbye to my parents (off to Nepal!) and my brother and his new wife. So sad as you just don’t know when the next time you will see them again. Who knows, maybe next time they will have children (hint hint) as long as we hadn’t put them off

I ate lots of chocolate that’s night:(

Couple more days in paradise then it was time to hit the road again. Arlo said an emotional goodbye to his girlfriend from Honk Kong (well emotional on her side, he had a girl in every town) and we tucked in for our last night in Bohol.

We got moved to a different room- equally as lush. The bed was fricking HUGE. That night we all slept in the same bed, zero sleep was had obviously but I remember feeling so happy and content that everything I needed was right next to me

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Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

PART 3 coming soon…….actually might be 4 parts all together as so much more to tell!

 

 

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The Philippines- PART 1

PRE TRIP JITTERS

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I really thought my back-packing days were over. I was wrong! They have just got better (albeit very very different).

There were highs, and there were lows, but I honestly found back packing with 2 kids in the Philippines almost easier that being at home??!

Before I explain, here is a brief run-down of the trip……..(ended up being longer than expected so part 2 coming soon, story of my life, just have so much to say!)

As any mother would be, I was apprehensive about out 3 week “back-packing” (loose term as we had 2 kids, suitcases and only 3 weeks) in the Philippines with our 2 boys, 21 months (Kitt), and nearly 4 (Arlo).  My husband and I had done quite a bit of travelling pre-kids, but this was going to be our first taste of proper travelling with kids.

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My brother was getting married to a lovely Filipino girl, Janice. They lived together in NZ but we having a wedding in her home town of Davao. We were to spend a week there, then 2 weeks travelling.

I had a million and one things I was worried about- rabid dogs with red eyes, loosing luggage, loosing kids, kids being sold for goats, husband selling me for a goat, kids eating random shit off the floor, kids licking random shit, Kitt using random flip flops as teethers, drowning, getting eaten by sharks, swallowing dirty water, shitting dirty water out, getting poorly, getting bitten, earthquakes, tsunamis, sleep being even worse, loosing passports and having to stay in Philippine forever (should have done this), inhaling cockroaches whilst asleep etc etc. Weird, I would never have worried about so many things pre kid travelling. BUT the main thing I was worried about was the 14-hour flight.

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THE FLIGHT

Pretty sure I’ve blocked most of this out? From what I can remember……my 1 year old cried for maybe 10 out of the 14 hours? He was on my lap for the duration…but of course wanted to be either on top of the seat, on top of passengers, in aisle 45, under the seat or in food trolley.  Zero sleep from him. I let him feed from my empty boobs for 14 hours in awkward positions to try and keep him still, quiet and happy. Zero sleep from me. My 3-year-old couldn’t get comfy, angry that he couldn’t get comfy, husband angry that he couldn’t comfy, I’m angry that husband is angry etc. Zero sleep from them. Ran out of snacks. Ran out of Peppa Pig episodes. Ran out of nappies. 1 year old had diarrhoea, had to use 3 year olds pants-sanitary pads-nappy bag to tie round. No baby change, so had to change shit nappies on seat or toilet floor. Our cocky “lets book a night flight then they will just sleep” statement totally backfired. It’s like they were on crack. Babies crying everywhere on flight, setting each other off. Apart from one baby opposite that slept the whole way. The mum even had a glass of wine. Yes, I was watching you. I’m surprised this flight didn’t end in divorce.

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I literally balled my eyes out when we saw the bright lights of Manila as we were about to land. Part of this was probably pure relief that we had made it. But most of it was I just felt so emotional that we were DOING IT, travelling with 2 kids!!! Giving them their first taste of the world. Such an amazing feeling. I felt more like “us” again.

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One more short flight and we arrived in Davao. We knew what to expect when you walked out of a foreign airport: the heat, the craziness, people everywhere, people grabbing at you. Even though I felt like a total zombie, I kinda enjoyed this. I had missed this craziness. The only westerners I saw, what we must have looked like (ginger, blonde, freckly, back combed hair, whiter than ghosts). Jumped in a taxi and drove through the back streets (and rabid dogs) to our hotel. Realised we had been totally ripped off but didn’t care as WE WERE THERE.

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Had struck the gold mine with our hotel. S-W-A-N-K-Y (we didn’t pay for it). Checked in, all in one room, but had air con and a Snickers in the fridge. Must had been about 3 am? And I can’t remember how we did it, but we all went to sleep.

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FIRST STOP DAVAO

The next morning, opening the curtains onto the tropical gardens of our new home for the next week was a lush moment. Our balcony (hello!) backed onto the pool. Yes, we were going to be very happy here.  Jet lag is a wonderful thing, the boys slept until 8 am, unheard of at home. And we all napped, also unheard of at home! All you can eat buffet breakfasts are also a wonderful thing.

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Here was our first taste of how much the Filipinos loved western children. Literally everywhere we went “hey baby, what’s your name”. They were like celebs. I should’ve started charging, would have made a fortune. Dread to think how many FB they have ended up on. Everyone thought Kitt was a girl, in the end I just rolled with it as I had always wanted a girl!

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We stayed here for a week, did little trips out but mainly chilled by the pool. Poor Kitt was suffering, constantly crying and HATED being out in the heat (turns out he was actually poorly but we just thought it was heat/ teeth). Old ginger Arlo was loving it however, totally surprising us how well he took to it all. I ended up chilling in the air con quite a bit with Kitt, (he needed my boobs) watching the boys tan by the pool…..I think I became whiter this week

THE WEDDING

Then the wedding was upon us. Like any Asian event, to an outsider it all seems chaos, but then it all comes together at the last minute and is the most beautiful thing ever. What wasn’t so beautiful however, was my face!

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I was a bridesmaid and they spent maybe 2 hours doing my make-up, telling me how beautiful I was. I’ve never had my make-up done before and I was so excited for “the big reveal”. He held up a mirror for me at the end and wow…….I looked like a lady boy!!!! Maybe it was just because I looked so different, but I think I looked a bit like a tranny?! I kinda got used to it as the day went on and by the wedding and by the end of the day, I had grown to love “Kevin”. I think the amount Kevin’s face sweated during the day softened the tranny effect.

Rich obviously refused to wear anything Filipino. Rich wasn’t keen on Kevin

The ceremony was just magical. My brother said his vows in Filipino (no idea what he was saying but it was so emotional). Janice was beautiful, the view was beautiful, Kevin was semi beautiful. Just everything was perfect. Paige boy Arlo even walked down the aisle holding a sign like he was supped to. And didn’t piss on any of the wedding party.

Poor Kitt was hysterical during the ceremony, so luckily Rich took him off to try and calm him down. There was no air con and it was 35’. Just before the reception Kitt was at the peak of his illness. He had a fever and was going all floppy. Only wanted me. There was a doctor there and she thought he had an infection from the water and might need to go to hospital. Obviously, everything starts running through your mind.

I had to make such a hard decision. Do I go to my brother’s wedding reception, who I haven’t seen for 4 years, who I might not see for another 4 years, flown half way across the world to see……or do I stay with my kid, who was really really poorly by this point and needed medical attention???

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I stayed with Kitt. I hope this was the right thing to do. It felt like it was, but I still feel so guilty on my brother

Anyway, so no wedding reception, saw bits from the outside whilst waiting for the taxi, it was honestly like a full-blown theatrical performance! Like something you would get on an all-inclusive holiday but way way more classy. My brother even sang and danced. Ricky Gervais springs to mind (sorry bro, stick to the day job).

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ISLAND HOPPING

We were really limited with stuff we could do in Davao as Kitt was still poorly. But we did squeeze in a little island-hopping boat trip when he perked up one day.

This was AMAZING. Arlo went “snorkelling” (put his face in the mask for 3.5 seconds) and we all went swimming off the boat and hung out on beautiful beaches. Kitt had diarrhoea in the sea and Rich nearly swallowed it through his snorkel.

PART 2 COMING SOON– trikes, waterfalls, beach huts and cock roaches, coconuts (not mine)

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Devonshire Dartmoor Dabbling

I just wanted to tell you briefly about our little adventure the other week up onto the Devonshire hills known as Dartmoor.

Now if you asked me how to get to this place again, I honestly couldn’t tell you. So maybe this blog wont actually be much use to anyone (although you could ask my Dad, he’s pretty clever and knows all the secret gems). Dartmoor is this amazing landscape of open barren hills, wild cattle, coarse nature, huge rocks, winding rivers and little hidden streams. And if you are lucky, you will find one so hidden that no one else is there (and you can’t remember EVER how to get there again). You will have your own little private lagoon for the day; hence the skinny dipping (see photos, more Arlo than me). But we will get onto that in due course.

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After ticking “finding Sheep/ wild Horses” off the list, we were lucky enough to find some Highland Cows. Ginger. Arlo was fascinated…..of course. In all honesty, I think he thought he was a part of their family. Really could not understand why he had to be kept in the car and couldn’t go and play with them.

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Off to location number 2. Less animals, more water. Arlo in fact loved to water so much he couldn’t wait to get in and forgot to take his clothes off. And obviously as a very responsible mother I was way too busy taking photos to change my child into his swimmers. So after retrieving my child from the water in his sodden clothes, there was nothing else for it. Stripped off to his birthday suit. A chance to be at one with nature and to give his clothes a chance to dry on the bushes in the baking sun.

It says in all the baby books that you should give your child some naked time anyway so they get comfortable with their body? Once Arlo had finished examining himself (!!!), he quite got into the nudist thing. He was so relaxed by the end, I found him crouching behind a bush. Thank god no one was there and thank god I had some doggy pooh bags with me (originally for the dog funnily enough)!! Naughty boy, but good potty training stuff I guess?

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Playing with sticks (ironically pooh sticks), throwing stones, wading in the water, splashing and even a bit of rock scrambling were all on the agenda (must be careful if child is still without clothes with “dangling” bits). Finished off with a naked picnic (again, just Arlo….may well have joined if my parent hadn’t been there too).

Clothes dried, nappy reluctantly re-applied, it was time to go. Arlos first taste of Dartmoor and the Dartmoor Fishes first experience of a little naked red-headed boy.

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So if you get a chance, bundle your baby/ toddler/ kid up and take them for a Dartmoor adventure. Don’t forget the swimmers. We are so lucky to have this on our doorstep…..even gets snow in the winter;) Hopefully you can find your own little hidden treasure up on the Moors, and fingers crossed you don’t end up in the same place we went to and find any of Arlos “treasure” accidentally left behind!!!!!

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How Megamum.com Was Born

So the lovely guys over at The Board Basement in Exeter asked me to be involved in their new project #wearetakingoverthisshow

Basically they are getting people involved in the UK Snowboard Industry to write about interesting stuff! Of course my entry had to be about something to do with babies and snowboarding. So here is a link to the article up on The Board Basement Website. Hope you like it………..

How Megamum.com Was Born

 

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Baby Beachin’

Picture this……stretched out relaxing on a towel, toes wriggling in the warm sand, evenly tanned body adorned in a tiny bikini, cocktail in one hand, book in the other, listening to the waves lap gently at your feet. Pondering life with not a care in the world (apart from when you need to turn to tan the other side). Breathing in the summer beach breeze, at one with yourself and nature.

Well that’s not you……that’s the lady next to you.

Maybe that was you a few years ago pre children, but this is you now……….

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A trip to the beach is a totally different experience for me these days. Still fun, but different, oh so very different. Here are some “trouble” areas to be mindful of now you have a baby/ toddler in tow:

Luggage Allowance
Why have you got a small van full of stuff for one afternoon at the beach?? Now you have to figure out a way to carry 5 bags, tent, towels, beach blanket, toys, lunch box ….AND TODDLER (who refuses to walk in a straight line) down to the beach. Everything is perfectly balanced around your body, god forbid if you drop anything. Must even leave nipple that has accidentally popped out the side of your bikini top, sure no ones looking anyway.

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Picking a Good Spot
Important. As close to the car as possible, far enough away from the sea so your toddler doesnt feel the need to go skinny dipping, close enough to other families so you don’t feel alone, but far enough away so your toddler isn’t constantly trying to become part of another family. Not next to volley ball pitch, not close to rock pools so you have to go crabbing allllll day, not next to “lads on tour” gang or young/ fit/ business lady peering disapprovingly through her dark sunglasses as you turn a blind eye to your toddler bashing seagulls with a spade (you get ’em boy).

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Sand
Pre baby, LOVED it, couldn’t understand why people found it annoying. Now I understand. Literally gets everywhere, sure i’ll still be finding 2016 sand in 2020. At least when it’s just you, you can control the sand, but when its down to your free-spirited toddler, the sand knows no bounds. It gets into every orifice, yours and theirs. I found a sandcastle in his nappy and a crab disguised as sand in my bag. Also, due to the sand, Thomas The Tank was sent to an early grave. RIP. As if chucking him in the paddling pool the day before wasn’t enough.

Beach Picnics
Someone told me that a baby will try to eat sand once and then never again. Not true. In my experience so far, babies/ toddlers LOVE eating sand, over and over again. If you take a picnic to the beach, they even like to use sand as salt to season everything. In fact, sand can even make a lovely alternative to a peanut butter SANDwhich. Note to self, don’t take any “sticky” food to the beach.

Good for their immune system?!! That old chestnut

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Suncream
Following on from the sand theme, I would recommend applying suncream BEFORE you get to the beach. We had an unfortunate/ funny- wished id taken a photo- incident at the beach. A healthy layer of suncream was applied to my sons face, he then wished to exfoliate by falling face first into the sand. On the plus his face looked extremely brown! On the minus, it made him very unhappy and he was totally embarrassed in front of his mates. Poor lad.

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NB. Don’t forget to put suncream on yourself too, easy to miss when you are chasing your toddler around with the bottle.

Hat/ Sunnies
How on earth do you keep these on for more than 1 minute (enough time to get a pic of course)? Cue ridiculous suncream styled hairdo if cute striped beach hat has failed.

Burying Stuff
Great fun game to play with the little ones. Hours of entertainment. But then totally backfires when you start loosing stuff: phone, purse, Thomas The Tank (was he actually digging his grave??!), sunnies and even a tampon (Mummas special sweet in a wrapper!!!)

Ps. Can bury child to keep in one place

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Collecting Shells
Another good game to play, but then you’ve given them the “addiction” that they have to pick up EVERY SINGLE SHELL. Takes ages to get anywhere. Small shells always seem to find their way into their mouths.

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Feeding Seagulls
“Small white round thing, that’s not a human, must be a dog, i’ll feed it my lunch”. Now whole family of Seagulls have come visit our spot as they think it’s a free sunday roast.

Ice Cream
Would you like sand with that??!

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The Sea
Not interested in going in it when you want them to (don’t blame you, its bloody freezing), but love throwing things into it and trying to run out to sea when you’re not looking. Pretty funny when Mumma has to wade half way to France to retrieve a flip-flop huh?!

Rain

Due to the english weather, there is a chance you may get caught in a downpour. Two choices here……..quickly get sand off EVERTHING, dry/ dress toddler, pack 5 bags, roll towels/ beach blanket, retrive floating flip-flops, un-bury phone/ purse/ sunnies/ Thomas/ tampon, empty crab/ sticks/ a billion shells from bag, fend off seagulls tucking into left over food, put nipple back in bikini top (oopse forgot about that) and remember how on earth you managed to carry everything to get down here in the first place (why have you got more stuff now??!)…..OR sack it all off and put a towel over your baby/ toddlers head and beach blanket over yourself and wait for the rain to pass.

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So once you have changed your mindset and realised that beach time now is less about relaxing and more about exploring/ building/ burying/ eating/ catching/ collecting sh*t, the experience becomes a lot more enjoyable and somewhat more adventurous. I actually feel so lucky that we live so close to the beach and my son can grow up loving the beach life and all it has to offer, including sand eating!

Can also experiment with pebble beaches.

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Tignes To- Do List

Before we went to Tignes I had a “To-Do List” of activities I wanted to do whilst we were there. Im pleased to report we ticked off quite a few. This could hopefully help people visiting Tignes with a baby/ children. Obviously we will need to go back to do the other activities we didn’t manage;)

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Build a snowman

Turns out building a snowman is harder than you think, although I’m sure kids manage it? So after some failed attempts with snowmen that looked like a saggy Mr Blobby, we just claimed someone else’s snowman. Way easier. Not sure why he had a tail, but Arlo seemed pretty taken with it, well eating it to be precise.

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Baby sledging

I thought Arlo would be WELL into this, adrenaline junky baby. We put SO much effort in, dragging him up the hills, and running down next to him. Then wondered why he wasn’t squealing with delight, and in fact, not even moving. I lifted his sunnies up and couldn’t believe it, he was having a sly 40 winks!! Caught red handed. Obviously sledging was waaaaay to lame for him. Next time bigger hills Mum!

Baby Snowboarding

The main reason to go to the mountains was for Arlos first training session. After all, if he’s going to make the Olympics we need to get him started!! Was difficult as he wasn’t actually walking, but we found some fun ways to include him in snowboarding (see my previous blog post). It was so lush to involve him in something that has been so special to us over the years.

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Baby Swimming

The swimming pool in Tignes is pretty epic. Mainly because of the amazing view …..plus the water slide. On a Sunday and a Wednesday they heat the big pool and baby pool up so its like a hot bath. Then put lots of toys and fun things in the pool and have an hour of fun. We went twice that week, saying it was for Arlo…..but secretly I think it was a good excuse to go and soothe our aching bodies from snowboarding ( actually felt like I’d been run over by a bus).

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First Croissant

When in Rome. Ended up being the main part of Arlo’s diet for the week. Why not, WE’RE ON HOLIDAY!!!

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First Crepe

Chocolate was the obvious choice here. Safe to say Arlo was a huge fan. Pretty expensive in the mountains but well worth it for seeing the stoke levels from your baby. It gets messy.

First Tignes Cusine

The best noodles in Town. A must! Sit out on the terrace and enjoy:) Arlo was intrigued by the worm like creatures we were eating.

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Walk along lake

The lake in Tignes is beautiful. In the winter you can walk straight across the middle of it. Unless you are partial to a bit of ice diving, this is not recommended in the spring. But a walk a round the edge of the lake on the sturdy paths is just as nice.

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Visit a Snow Park (for a baby!)

We were no longer looking for rails and kickers…..now we wanted to find slides and swings. Most of the winter the childrens park is covered by snow. We hit it just the right time of year when everything was beginning to melt off. We could call this “Dry Land Baby Olympic Training”

 

Apres (avec Baby)

Waaaaay too drunk to get any photos of this…….JOKING!!! We managed to visit our friends bar (La Queue de Cochon and TCs) one afternoon. Arlo found some little mates and had fun trying his hardest to become part of their gang. Sure they had accepted the little ginger one by the end. Not sure he even realised we were doing Apres but it was nice to be in a bar again. Very very different Apres than “back in the day”.

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We got 3 days on the hill, more than what we were expecting to be honest. And what a wonderful 3 days it was. You almost appreciate it a lot more when you have a baby (and have to pay for a lift pass!!!). You know your time is limited so you make the most of every second. No time for coffee breaks AND we got a powder day!!!

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Snow Angles

Falling flat on your face, getting snow wedged in your sunglasses and crying counts yeah? Not sure Arlo enjoyed ticking this one off the To-Do List.

Snow ball fight

Again no photos of this as Mum got battered. Thanks Arlo (Dad)

Show Arlo the ACTUAL spot where we first met…..

Quite cheesy and I wouldn’t expect other people visiting Tignes to go to this spot and share a moment. But for us it was nice to reminisce where we had first laid eyes on each other 11 years ago ( well I cant remember seeing Rich but he spotted me because of my baby blue hairy boots with pink trimming……HOT). Formally known as “The Red Lion’ pub, it’s now a Spar…..yes, as in The Shop. Very romantic. Arlo just wanted another Croissant.

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A massive shout out to Tignes Spririt for helping us sort everything out. See you next year:)