A wedding and a Wacky Warehouse

Having heard about little else for the past few weeks, it was finally time for us to get our things packed and head up north for possibly the second biggest wedding of 2011. My Dad was getting married to his partner/lady/girlfriend (not really sure what you are supposed to call a mature woman - so wife is now definitely easier).

We packed the car Wednesday night (hubby’s theory that we’d set off quicker on Thursday after he returned from work). He declared the boot almost full as he came back in Weds evening, pleased with his manly packing abilities. On Thursday of course I found the girls suitcase hidden under the spare duvet which was drying on the airer, oh and my hatbox was still in the top of my wardrobe, we needed to pack the steriliser for Izzy’s bottles, as well as a bag of food for the journey, plastic bowls, spoons & half a dozen baby bottles etc, oh and the toiletries bag (which isn’t so small). I wasn’t looking forward to seeing his face when he came in from work!

So on Thursday with Jasmine now totally excited about Grandad’s big party & the fact she was going to finally wear her princess dress & carry her flower basket, my hubby came home, face dropping the instant he walked through the door but professionally he took it all in his stride, repacked the boot & off we went at 4pm.

Now getting out of London isn’t easy at the best of times but at just about rush hour its awful. One thing we knew for certain there was no way we were going to try travelling across London with the sat nav (it thinks it offers the fastest route - yeah right if you go through at 3am when the whole population of anything south of Birmingham is in bed) no, I argued we need to get to the M25 asap, lets go towards Dover (wishful thinking that hubby might forget where we are going and in autopilot drive onto a ferry & home to France…) It worked, we got onto the M25 near the Dartford bridge and as we sat enjoying the chaos of the tolls, both of us imagining we were in France again.

After sitting on the London Car Park for about an hour (road widening apparantly, although as usual it must be magic road widening as there was no-one actually doing any such thing) we then headed onto the M1 (also full of mystical road widening roadworks). So as we headed slowly up the M1 with Izzy screaming (she seems to have adopted Jasmine’s car seat hatred but thankfully hasn’t been sick yet although does a good impression of doing so) in fact we ended up stopping at the first services on the M1 because of her theatrics! and at this point we realised this was going to be a long journey.

As we reached Birmingham & again paid a toll, both girls were thankfully studying the insides of their eyelids. We joined the M6 & with peace restored soon arrived near Manchester Airport to the hotel venue of the wedding.

Having slept in the car, Jasmine now decided at 10pm it was a good time to chat about the party & would not go off to sleep until midnight! We on the other hand were shattered.

At 5.30am Izzy woke up bright eyed & bushy tailed, promptly waking up the rest of the hotel no doubt. The morning whizzed by and soon it was time for the ceremony. This was going to be fun, a 7m old who wants to crawl everywhere & wriggles/squirms on your knee and a 2 year old seeing her two 2-3 year old cousins for the first time in ages & wanting to play. As expected they all had ants in their pants & we let them play at the back of the room (seemed the quietest option although as always I’m sure there were 50% of the room who disapproved) You can’t win sometimes!

I gave a reading, my adaptation of a Pam Ayres poem he never leaves the seat up which seemed to go down well.

The ceremony over I was now feeling very sorry for my hubby, Dad had insisted I sit on the top table with him, leaving hubby to try to feed & entertain 7m old & 2 year old for the best part of 2 hours. Good luck! Thankfully my Aunty was sat next to Jasmine and she did her best to keep her happy but just before dessert Jazz went into meltdown & my hubby had to take her out (leaving his roast dinner totally untouched & stone cold). After half an hour I went in search of them and found hubby had attempted to put Jasmine to bed (she had other ideas and as soon as I came in the room shouted “Mummy I’m awake”. Having retrieved them both the rest of the dinner went ok & soon it was time for the ‘evening do’ and lots of dancing. Jasmine now found her hidden power supply and danced until 11pm when we dragged her off to bed.

My highlight of the wedding was having conversed en Francais with a glamerous French relative of the bride who exclaimed I looked like a French actress. To say I was chuffed to have such a complement would be an understatement.

The following day we took the opportunity of being up north to meet up with my grandma & mum. My grandma is the best example of growing old both gracefully & beautifully, that I can imagine. Even now at 83 she has her nails painted, hair done, rouge & lipstick on as well as being appropriately dressed & accessorised. I love that about her, no matter how she is feeling healthwise (and she has had more problems than most her age) she never lets it show. I held her hand and wished she could be with me forever. Every year that goes by I feel a tinge of sadness that I haven’t been able to spend more time with her but that is one of the sacrifices of living away from your family. At least with Skype we now see each other regularly but there is nothing like holding her hand. I can still feel that feeling now and it stings my eyes.

We arranged to meet up for a pub lunch not far from the airport and were pleased to find the pub had a wacky warehouse attached. If you’ve never heard of these, they are basically a large indoor soft play area with ball pools, slides, ropes etc a bit like the inside of the chimpanzee’s enclosure at the zoo.

But nothing prepares you for the volume of noise in there, if my Grandma wasn’t deaf before she went in I’m sure she is now. Screeching, squealing, screaming, laughing, shouting, climbing, hanging, jumping, crouching, hopping, throwing, squabbling, noisy, loud & bouncy kids everywhere. It was to be fair my hubby’s idea of hell.

I took Jasmine into the ball pool (recommended for under 5’s) she loved it, but wasn’t so keen on the 8 year olds who bombed in off the slide instantly drowning her beneath the balls. I ended up climbing in so that I could help her surf the balls after each Tsunami. It actually takes quite a lot of effort to keep afloat in these pools & I have to admit was good fun. We bought a small version in Cyprus with 200 balls but it was nothing compared to the thousands that must exist in this size of pool. We didn’t explore the rest of the wacky warehouse as the other kids were just too boistrous. It was great physical activity for kids though and I wondered if anyone knows if anything like this exists in France? Perhaps near Montpellier?

Not surprisingly, Jasmine slept most of the journey back to London even through the chorus of Izzy’s screaming. Finally we arrived back to the apartment both of us with headaches which lasted 2 days. I am so NOT looking forward to the 12 hour drive back home to France…I’ll spend a week afterwards with a headache! But at least I will be at home!