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Category Archives: Fun

Ah, what a pleasant holiday. A week in Mallorca was just what the doctor ordered.

We had ummed and ahhed a few times about shelling out for a summer holiday but decided to go for it ealrier this year and I started to investigate possibilities. We decided to go to Mallorca as a number of friends had been to Cala D’Or and similar places and had said good things, especially around the kids opportunities.

I found a website called ownersdirect.com which allows villa owners to rent out their properties and is a really good cost effective way of getting some really nice villas or apartments. We were adamant we did not want to go to one of those big hotels full of English people and in fact did not want to have all 4 of us in a single hotel room so that meant an apartment or villa with at least 2 bedrooms. Obviously this makes it a bit more expensive but we found a place for around £750 for the week for 2 bedrooms and very close to the beach with a nice swimming pool.

Then I needed to book flights. Jesus, Ryanair are a bunch of money grabbing scumbags. I was willing to go with the lack of comfort and extras as I thought they would be cheap but once you add a bag or two (kind of necessary with kids) and taxes etc it still cost £800 for the four of us to fly. The annoying thing is online check-in. This costs £12 per person (£6 per flight). It means you can print out your own boarding pass. OK, sounds great. Does this mean you don’t have to go to the check-in desk? No, it does not. You still have to queue up and show your passport and the piece of paper you have printed out. OK, so what happens if you don’t use this service? That is not an option. You can’t actually remove this extra. So what is it for? Surely it is simply part of the price. Then you have to specifically opt out of travel insurance by finding “Don’t cover me” buried in a drop down, pay £2.50 for a confirmation text, refuse to buy a cabin bag, pay for your bags (£35 each way for 20Kg bag), and finally confirm, ignoring the push to try and make you get car hire and hotel rooms through them as well, nefore you come out of the other side felling as though you have been held up by your ankles and shaken until all your change has fallen out of you pockets like a cartoon bully. And that is just booking. You haven’t even gotten on the plane yet.

Next time I think it is probably worth spending a little more to go with someone llike Monarch or BA just to feel a little less like a victim. When going on your own somewhere, you can put up with this kind of crap but it makes the whole process pretty miserable when travelling with kids.

Car hire is not much better. I booked a car for the week which cost about £140. Not bad. Except I needed car seats for the kids which cost an extra £7 per day each (£98 total), then we find that on arriving, the car is full of petrol which we have to pay for and return the car empty. What a con. How am I supposed to return it empty? We managed to use about half a tank so basically paid twice as much for petrol as we needed to and it probably wasn’t a prticularly good rate either.

Travel insurance and airport parking were both brilliant though and pretty darn cheap by all accounts.

Got to Mallorca and found that neither of our phones worked abroad as they had not been enabled which then made it difficult to contact the people we were supposed to meet and could not use Google Maps when my pre-planned directions seemed to be inadequate.

We got there though, finally and after all the faff, it turned out be a wonderul place. The agents for the owners had called me whilst I was going through the security line at Stansted and told me of a double booking meaning we had been upgraded.

We spent 2 days in the first apartment which had a lovely balcony with a sea view and was very good quality before moving over the road to a 3 bed bungalow. This still had a sea view and was set around a different shared pool, Katie loved spending most of her time in the pool and went brown very quickly. I burned  my shoulders a bit on the first day but otherwise there were no sunburn incidents as we slapped on the sun cream every day. Harry really enjoyed the little pool as well as he was able to run around in the shallow water for hours on end and we got him a blow up  ring which he enjoyed using in the big pool.

We also went to the beach a couple of times. Once to a sandy beach that was in a really nice cove but unfortunately was very dirty. This was a bit of a shame. Another beach we went to was nicer and Katie and I swam out to a platform with a slide on it for a while. Katie enjoyed this a lot but there were a lot of teenagers there messing about which was annoying. She has no fear though. I don’t really like it that much when the sea gets deep.

A third beach we went to was a bit more rocky and stony and had a lot of coral under the water. I did a bit of snorkelling here and it was really interesting seeing the fish. What was weird though was when you stood still for a few moments in about a foot of water, these littel fish about an inch long came along and started nipping you. It freaked us all out a bit but you just had to keep moving. Again, Harry really enjoyed himself and surprised us how much he went in the water.

We had some really nice meals out too and had some good fish. Prices were pretty varied and we got stung a bit on one meal where Lesley and I had John Dory which ended up costing £60 on it’s own. Oops. Nice though.

Everybody was really friendly and we are defintely considering going back there.

At the end of the week the agent people pointed out that one of the apartments was for sale and I have to say I am sorely tempted. I doubt whether I could make the finances work but apparently they have a 2 bed aprtment, fully furnished for €180, 000. That is damn cheap. It would be interesting to work out what the mortgage would be like for that and how much you would get in rental just to see how the numbers stack up. It is a buyers market in Spain at the moment with the economy out there being a bit on the knackered side so you should make money back over 3-5 years.

Well, I can dream can’t I.

Right that’s enough about holidays, I might try and attach some pictures to make it a bit more interesting.

I had an excellent weekend camping with the cubs. We went out to Henlow for 7pm on Friday and were picked up again on Sunday at 4pm. In between we crammed in so many activities I am still struggling to focus on Wednesday. Some of the leaders usually take the Monday off after camp and I can understand why.
As a rule, we were not allowed to go to bed until after all the cubs were definitely asleep. Given that lights out was not until 11pm anyway and they were all hyper, I did not get to bed until 1am Friday and Saturday night.
Couple that with getting up at 7am and an exhaustive program with 8 and 9 year olds and I was understandably shattered at the end. I’m getting too old for this shit.

Still, it was great fun and we got to to do the climbing wall, archery, rifle shooting and raft building as well as number of other games and excellent camp food and it was well worth the small amount paid.

Sleeping in a tent was surprisingly comfortable but then I shared a 4-man tent with one of the other dads and we had a “bedroom” each so plenty of space.

We were lucky too that the weather was so great. Spending so much time out in the sun was a rare privilege and I did catch the sun a bit too much on my face I think.

Highlight for me was the climbing wall I think. Katie was one of only 2 cubs (9 in total) who made it all the way to the top. She is like a monkey. She made me very proud. I also made it to the top and only a few dads managed that so I was very pleased too.

We had great fun with the rafting too splashing each other as much as possible using the paddles. Wouldn’t have been so much fun if it wasn’t so warm.

With the rifle shooting I was again very pleased with Katie on the second set of 5 shots when she understood how to use the sights and got all 5 shots in the scoring zone.

And I’ve got a nice bruise on my left elbow from the string of the bow when it twanged in the wrong place and missed the arm guard. Bloody hurt.

Also, on the weekend they got on a bit of a recruitment drive and tried to get me involved with being a leader for the scout group. Lots of flattery ensued “you’ll be great at it”, “you’re an outdoors type of person”, etc and I admit I am really keen to get involved but just cannot give over the time needed to do it. I am sure it would be really rewarding and think I can probably give a lot but I don’t see my family much as it is so it’s a no for the moment.

I’ve been working from home all week because Lesley has been away but today I am working from home because this evening I am off on a camping trip with Katie and the cubs. It is Cubs and Dads camping weekend. We are only going to Henlow so not too far fortunately and I have been keeping a close eye on the weather forecast. It appears that the weather is finally going to improve next week and I am desperately hoping the dry weather will start from now. I don’t fancy camping in a soggy field.

It is about 20 years since I last went camping and I am a little nervous about it. I am sure it will be good fun though and I anticipate eating lots of burgers and sausages over the weekend and getting virtually no sleep. I imagine I will be quite tired come Monday morning.