To the seaside

As a child my parents would regularly take me and my brother to visit places around Britain, some close to home and others further afield. I want the same for my boys, Finley has been quite a lucky boy travelling to quite a few places in his two years. Now Chantelle and I also have Arlo it can make things a little more tricky but I want them to have as many experiences as possible. This is made more difficult due to my working pattern and the amount of hours I work a week.

Over the weekend, 24th – 26th June I wasn’t at work on the Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday. I wanted to take the opportunity to take Chantelle and the boys away. Being a man of organisation I looked for places a week before I wanted us to go, this left limited choice in limited places. I wanted to go to the seaside, Cornwall was out of the question due to distance, a hotel Chantelle and I have regularly visited in Dorset was fully booked so I decided to look at Norfolk.

Norfolk is somewhere I’d visited a few times as a child with my family and have fond memories of playing on the beach at Cromer to travelling on the steam train at Sheringham.

After a little research I wanted to located somewhere in North Norfolk close to Cromer or Sheringham. I was able to find a hotel through booking.com, because there was going to be four of us wanting to stay I phoned the hotel to check, they said it wouldn’t be a problem.

On Friday while I was at work Chantelle gave an heroic effort organising the boys and packing the car ready for when I arrived home from work.

When I did arrive home we all jumped in the car and set off, in my mind we were looking at a two and a half hour drive. This was possibly a little optimistic on Friday afternoon but after a stop for a nappy change I wasn’t expecting the journey to have taken nearly four hours.

On arrival at The Pheasant Hotel we were all warmly welcomed by reception staff, that was lovely after a long journey. Normally after a long drive I like to have a lie down, not with Finley around. He was so excited about our room he kept running around, playing with the phone and bouncing on the bed, the room clearly had his seal of approval.

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Saturday morning after a lovely run along the beach, the hotel served a substantial English breakfast, along with many other item. Finley thoroughly enjoyed the toaster. One of those you only see in a hotel, like a hot conveyor belt. After breakfast we headed off to find the sea. We went to Sheringham, a lovely seaside town I remember from my childhood. As soon as we drove into the town memories flooded back of the railway station and the beach.

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Being as organised as I generally am meant that I hadn’t checked the tide times, it was high tide. This meant instead of building sand castles with my boys we were playing with pebbles. Arlo seemed fascinated by the sea and Finley loved the pebbles. Finley was really amusing actually collecting stones as if they were going somewhere and then plopping them in the sea. We spent a little while on the beach before walking up and down the seafront. Poor Finley was a little reluctant to leave the water’s edge but he was getting tired.

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To allow the boys a nap I suggested we went to Ness Point, admittedly a little drive away in Lowestoft. I’d never been before but being the most Eastern point of England I was expecting something similar to the most westerly point, Land’s End. I was underwhelmed with what we found. After driving through an industrial estate, past a gas works where some youths were skateboarding and a drunk sitting on a wall. At least the sun was shining. Chantelle and I took a photo to prove we’d visited this point and headed back to the hotel. I can’t say this is a 5 star visit on TripAdvisor.

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On returning to the hotel we choose to eat in the hotel’s Orangery. I had suggested to Chantelle getting some fish and chips to eat overlooking to sea but it probably would have been a little much after a long day for the boys. The Orangery at the hotel had a laid back atmosphere and there were some toys for Finley to play with which he enjoyed. The food was pretty good too, I particularly enjoyed the Cromer crab and there were some lovely options for the boys.

Sunday started off with another lovely breakfast, eggs benedict, before packing up the car to head back to the Midlands. En route, me and Chantelle had decided to go to the SeaLife Sanctuary in Hunstanton so we drove along the coast, I fancied a quick pit stop on Blackney but it was really busy so we passed on that. We arrived in Hunstanton at late morning, I couldn’t remember if I’d been before but where the SeaLife Centre was located wasn’t particularly pleasant with a large caravan park and amusement arcade not ringing any bells.

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Although it wasn’t the most picturesque of locations SeaLife was well worth a visit as only Chantelle and I had to pay, the boys were free. There is a wide selection of marine life to look at but Finley was most interested in the seals. I was amazed by the number of seals the sanctuary rescues a year.

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Before we headed home we had to test out the play area, Finley gave it the thumbs up. If you’re in the area the SeaLife Sanctuary is certainly worth a visit and from what I saw of Hunstaton, it would really be racing back.

Big thank you to Chantelle and the boys for letting daddy get his fix of the sea, although I think they enjoyed it too.

If anyone has any suggestions of place to visit with the boys, I’d love to hear – especially if it’s by the sea!

Two years of being a dad

Today marks the day I have been a dad for two years. Over the past two year I have had some many wonderful experiences watching my boys, Finley and Arlo, grow. Finley today is two and Arlo is four and a half months.

Both of my wife’s (Chantelle) pregnancies were a little unusual and as a dad (or man becoming a dad) this period was a rollercoaster ride.

My oldest son (Finley) was an early arrival, five weeks premature. Chantelle had enjoyed a reasonably trouble free pregnancy until the 10th June 2014. After going out for a meal to celebrate my mum’s sixtieth birthday and returning home, Chantelle thought her waters had gone. I wasn’t too bothered by this as Finley’s due date was weeks away and I assumed Chantelle had probably just had some sort of accident. My mind was completely put at rest after a call to the maternity ward said not to bother and chat with our midwife if we had any concerns at our next appoint (11th June).

The following day at the midwife’s appointment our midwife was not best pleased with the maternity ward for not asking us to go in and she suggested we should have just gone if we were concerned. She sent us to maternity and phoned ahead. This is where me and Chantelle spent the next four day as we waited patiently for things to happen and for our, not known then, little boy to arrive. If I’m honest, four days stuck on a hospital ward is a long time with not a lot else to do apart from eat chocolate bourbons , only made worse knowing I should have been in France on a friend’s stag do.

Labour on the 15th was very quick, well compared to what I’d seen on One Born Every Minute. Chantelle doesn’t like to mess around though and after one hour and seventeen minutes I was holding my baby boy in my arms. I was overcome with emotion, I was so proud to see my little boy for the first time and the amazing effort Chantelle had gone through to provide this beautiful moment. I have to admit it was one of the best moments of my life!

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Baby Finley

Just before Finley’s first birthday Chantelle and I found out we were pregnant again. All sorts of thoughts ran through my mind. How could I possibly love another small person as much as I loved Finley. Could we afford two children, do we have the space, how would two children fit in the car? So many silly thoughts.

Chantelle had a lot more difficulties with the second pregnancy and became bed bound during December. It was horrible to see Chantelle struggling. Fortunately she recovered for Christmas and felt better into the new year although we did go to the hospital a couple of times due to lack of movements. Our final hospital trip came on the 1st February, Chantelle and I were at the hospital for a few hours in the evening but after observations and checks we were sent home. Chantelle struggled across the car park and into the car.

Arriving home Chantelle was unable to rest, she asked me to phone the hospital. They suggested she took some paracetamol, she nearly hit the roof. Chantelle phoned back and things got serious. A lot of blood. The hospital said to phone 999, this was a first for me. On the phone they suggested things to make Chantelle comfortable before putting me on hold. I remained calm and tried to keep Chantelle calm but she became hysterical at times, I suppose she was worried for the baby’s safety.

A 11:27 baby was born, in our shower. Chantelle was amazing unwrapping cord from baby’s neck and removing gunk from his mouth. The pair lay on the floor and I wrapped them in towel and blankets until paramedics arrived at 11:45.

Another experience I’ll never forget and I was so thankful Chantelle and Arlo were ok.

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Baby Arlo

With this blog I’m going to try cover my family’s experiences and what has helped or not along the way.