Do you remember that? Hi de Hi, classic TV from my childhood and I can’t go near a camp site without hearing her voice.

bar

We weren’t going too far afield Just In Case. So we headed off towards the North Kent beaches and Paul decided we’d try out the Two Chimneys campsite as he used to go their as a child. 

However, tent up, bedrooms ready it was time to hit the beach and take the girls to their Peter Pan party. 

tent

We returned around 6pm and ordered dinner from the take away on site, they’d run out of fish and chips already (?) but 2 x chicken nuggets, a chicken Kiev and scampi and chips they had. We watched the poor lady work on her own to get it already whilst there were others in the queue waiting. A bit slow but we made it and headed back ‘home’ for our meal. 

paul and girls

Afterwards, we took the girls to an excellent play area and on to see the swimming pool which was quite handily next to the clubhouse. It was disco night and so we stopped for a drink and took the girls to cut some carpet for their first time. 80’s favourites, I was in my element! 

So would the girls sleep in their new fun bedroom? Noooo, we had screaming, tears, ‘No daddy! No mummy! No na’nights’ and eventually they sat in Pauls’ lap whilst I read them The monkey with a bright blue bottom by Steve Smallman and eventually dropped off. We separated them, one in each bedroom so they wouldn’t wake each other up. 

dancing

Dancing queens

A bottle of wine later (This is Mari’s idea of camping Paul!) I crawled into my sleeping bag in full pyjamas as I wasn’t taking any risks. Had I known I would be sleeping in the girl’s room with Bessie I would have blown that mattress up to its max as well, as it was, “It’ll be ok for the girls”, clearly wasn’t enough. I slept like a banana, my bottom to the floor, my head and legs higher, so infinitely more difficult to turn and get comfy. 

I didn’t sleep well, admittedly the atrocious amount of wine didn’t do me any favours either. Alice was awake and sparkling at 6am on hearing a flock of seagulls shriek overhead and Sunday was born. 

Even the delicious ‘Full English breakfast baguette from the take away did nothing for my head and after a walk around the park to check out the static caravans we headed home, camping for this year crossed off the To Do List. 

Do you like camping?

lake garda

 

We arrived on Lake Garda Italy on a Friday afternoon in the most incredible heat, apparently they were the hottest days of the year so far and didn’t we know it!

Our Keycamp rep took us to our mobile home where we discovered there was no air conditioning. Having booked Spain last year with AC I had assumed all homes in hot countries had it. Wrong.

We opened every window in the home and turned on the fan whilst we set about settling in. The home was a three bed and they had set up travel cots in one for the girls, it had a lovely decking area outside with a gas BBQ and the road in front was pedestrian meaning the girls could roam on the grass and surrounds enjoying a tiny bit of freedom.

I had ordered two baby packs which included, cots, high chairs, baby bath and a potty (which I never saw) which allowed us to free up a lot of space in the car which was packed to the hilt anyway.

Keycamp mobile home Lake Garda

Our campsite was on the southern end of Lake Garda in Peschiera a pretty fishing town with a wonderful Monday market! During our stay we managed to visit Sirmione, Bardolino, Lazise and Desenzano del Garda. I think my favourite still has to be Lazise.

Gelateria Peschiera Lake Garda

Ice cream counter -mmmm

One of the most enjoyable pleasures for me in Italy is the ice cream parlour. The one photographed here is in Sirmione and has fridge after fridge of trays of piled up high ice cream in every flavour imaginable, of course I had one and on another occasion I treated myself to an Eis Cafe which is sublime…a tall sundae glass, with scoops of vanilla ice cream, drowned in a hot espresso coffee, topped with whipped cream and a squirt of chocolate sauce. To die for. I think I ate mine so quickly that Other Half didn’t even get to taste it. Ooops!

Peschiera market Lake Garda

I came home with some beautiful ceramics from Peschiera market, some clothes (Of course! we’re in Italy) some no make that lots of wine and a sun tan.

Me and friends in Italy 2010

I managed to catch up with some of my very dear friends who I know I won’t be seeing for a long while again but isn’t it lovely how you just pick up where you left even if it was a couple of years ago?

Swimming pool Lake Garda camping

The girls adored the swimming pool and our camping, Camping del Garda had a fantastic pool perfect for toddlers as it went from very shallow to a foot or two allowing them to move around freely and safely. Admittedly we started off with arm bands and rings but as time passed they got more confident and the bands came off.   They didn’t even mind the compulsory swimming hats as seen above!

Trombe d'aria Lake Garda Peschiera

All in all a wonderful holiday. The only snag being the dreadful weather we had half way through including a ‘tromba d’aria!’ Which literally blew our garden furniture away. When there’s bad weather on the lake you certainly know about it.

The girls playing with Gracey on the slides in the park

children on slide

And one last photo – all my four children together

My children taken June 2010 Lake Garda

pizza

The lake has numerous restaurants, pizzerias and gelaterie offering vast menus making decisions difficult with so much on offer. Fresh water fish is abundant as is sea water fish being so close to the Adriatic. Pasta mare e montagna, (sea and mountain) usually combining mushrooms and fish and a speck and raddicchio pizza, a firm favourite of mine ,which cannot be found here in Ol’ Blighty.

ice cream

However, I shall try my damned hardest to cram as much in as possible. One lovely thing about italians is they are very child friendly and welcomed in many eateries so lack of babysitters is no excuse.

I shall also be scouring the local supermarkets for products to bring home with me and that list will definitely include some wine, some balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

shop

And then the souvenirs, the beautiful towns of Lake Garda are packed with leather shops, ceramics, food, art and of course fashion. I can’t wait!

I shall also hope to be getting one of the water taxis on the lake to take day trips to the opposite shores and visit some of the other towns dotted around the edge such as Malcesine with its Scaligeri castle, Riva at the top, Lazise and Sirmione at the bottom famous for its therapeutic spa water that comes from the bottom of the lake.

Wish you were here? :)

Today I have left the country, car packed to the hilt off on our summer vacation (love that word!) and I am co pilot and will be reading directions from The Map – a Philip’s Multiscale Europe, 2009 to get us from Calais to Brumath for our overnight stopoff.

I have coloured post its attached to pages to allow me to move from page to page with ease and follow the yellow brick road all the way to Lake Garda. Our route will take us through Switzerland which will be a first for me and one I’m very looking forward to. I pray for good weather so I can take a few photos on our stop offs to share.

Last year I successfully got us from Calais to Playa Montroig in Cambrils, Spain, about an hour’s journey below Barcelona. We were quite scared at the prospect of driving around Paris, our friends had told us numerous nightmare stories, but we did it. Yes the traffic is intense, yes, there are many lanes and you have to keep an eye on the signs but we managed, we even took in driving underneath Charles de Gaulle airport runway! Very weird feeling.

So with my routemaster directions to follow and a 7.20am Eurotunnel crossing I will direct the family across the continent, to the beautiful region of Alsace where a delicious glass of white wine awaits me.

I find it hard to understand anyone (either sex) who can’t read a map as for me it’s so simple. How can you get it wrong? Is there a knack to following a road on a map? If you follow the road signs as you go and check them as you pass on your map, you automatically know the direction you’re going in and can continue safe in the knowledge you’re on the right road.

So how do people get it wrong? And why are women so notoriously bad at it?

So whenever I see ‘..and women can’t read maps’ I have to make it known  that I can, and very well indeed thank you very much.

Back soon x

Map of Lake Garda (Lago di Garda), Italy Designer: Markus Bernet)

…and I cannot wait a moment longer :)

Lake Garda Peschiera at the southern end is our destination and I am a woman of many lists right now.

Ours is a Keycamp holiday and we’ll be staying in a three bedroom mobile home with all home comforts to make sure we have an enjoyable stay. Luckily through Keycamp we were able to book travel cots, high chairs, a baby bath and a potty which cuts our luggage down dramatically, however I do need to think about the following

  • clothes, shoes, cardis, jackets etc x 3
  • Bed linen and travel cot mattresses for the girls, pyjamas, teddies, baby monitors, egg room temperature thing
  • Kitchen – sponges, tea towels, barbecue tools, mugs, salt and pepper mills, multipurpose cleaner, plus more
  • beach gear –  2 bags! Plus toy bag
  • Toys, books, puzzles, Twin DVD player plus DVD’s, My first Scribbler
  • blow up swimming pool plus bag of balls and bubbles with bubble maker
  • Portable docking station plus iPod, cards, Yahtzee (still can’t find it!)books, needlework and laptop plus dongle
  • First Aid kit ie plasters, savlon, germoline wipes plus our stuff ie Nurofen

and much more will be thrown in the car – just in case – as we’re packing.

We’re driving down through France and stopping off for a night in Hotel L’Escale in Brumath which we found on www.booking.com. The journey is 810 miles and we downloaded it from Keycamp’s routeplanner. We’ll also be using the Eurotunnel for the very first time and I’m really looking forward to the experience.

We shall be leaving home at the crack of dawn for our 7.20am crossing and I have a picnic planned for breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the day. I love the ‘Aires’ in France along the motorway which make for perfect stopoffs allowing a toilet stop, a run around in a green grassy area, tables to eat at and even showers at some!

To keep the little ladies amused I have invested in 2 x My First Scribblers from the Early Learning Centre and a bag full of books, teddies and little people which seem to be a firm favourite right now.

I am sure to have forgotten something as I have been packing our house up contemporaneously so as I seem to have lost the Yahtzee I will most likely forget other bits too but the important thing is going and once we’re there getting on with having fun together as a family. Of course, it mustn’t be forgotten to mention I’ll be seeing my other two children, my granddaughter and many many friends who I haven’t seen since last August.

Ciao ciao :)

Here’s what we thought of our Keycamp Holiday