Tuesday 1 January 2008

Mummy on the Edge Families Magazine Jan/ Feb 2008

Mummy waaaaay back from the edge, positively inland.

Angelina Melwani visits the volcanic island of Lanzarote in search of some fun in the sun for Mini-Me… and finds a skill she thought she had lost forever.

What a difference a week of winter sun makes to someone who had resigned herself to never going on holiday until and unless she won one in a competition (thus negating the need to pay for it; the agonising over where to go; and the burden of being blamed should it turn out to be disastrous.)

We were in dire need of a proper break in the sun away from it all. (“It” being a euphemism for so many things, impossible to list within the confines of this column. Just think about your own worst “its” and substitute them.) The truth is, this need had been waxing for about a year, reaching an apex in the middle of our sopping summer, when it seemed every one Mini-Me and I knew was buggering off to climes hotter and more exotic than Bushey. She would come home from school sometimes sullen after her little pals had spent the entire duration of wet play regaling her with magical tales of sun, fun and kiddi-clubs.

“Mummy, one day I would like to go to Mooltah and Disneyworld and Doob-eyed.”

So, for many nights after tucking her into bed (when I should have been doing Sing and Sign admin or writing this column), I would trawl the web until the early hours, drooling over last minute offers, fingers hovering over but never quite hitting the “book now” button. I became quite doob-eyed! This went on for months until my holiday-booking and decision-making muscles were verily flexed and toned. I investigated where would be hot (The Canaries) and I looked on www.tripadvisor.co.uk (where you can read real reviews by real people) for a hotel recommended for children. I decided on H10 Lanzarote Gardens in Costa Teguise which had won an award for family-friendliness (I hoped it included single-parent family friendliness). And then I booked it! Justlikethat. I prepared a treasure hunt of rhyming clues for Mini-Me and trailed them about the house (in the washing machine and under the bathroom mat) ending at our packed suitcase which had been hiding in my bedroom for 2 days. (I had thus far managed to keep her out by telling her I had seen a huge spider in there). And then we left on our big adventure, just she (superb company, I have to say) and I.

Mini-Me spent the first few minutes of the four-hour plane journey to Lanzarote asking if we were there yet until I told her that the more she asked, the longer it would take. She soon settled in with a dogeared copy of Pippi Longstocking which I had picked up for 30p at the School Christmas Fair - bargain. I spent the entire plane journey worrying that the hotel would deny all knowledge of the very reasonable booking which I had made direct with them after meticulously consulting all the price-comparison sites mentioned on moneysavingexperts.com. We arrived without hitch, my face constricted with the maniacal rictus of someone who has decided that they ARE in control and WILL have a good time, NO MATTER WHAT. I sought validation from my five year old (“See, babe? We can do this! It’s gonna be great!” “Yes, mummy, we didn’t miss the plane, we haven’t got lost…”)

The apartment in the hotel was big and clean and lovely and the people were friendly, welcoming and most importantly looked like they were enjoying themselves. The entertainment team seemed to be made up of Cameron Diaz, Cat Deely, Enrique Iglesias and Shaggy from Scooby Doo. Mini-Me and I excelled at daily poolside yoga classes alongside 3 pensioners who happily discussed life, the universe and everything with my chatty little daughter. And I discovered a skill I never knew I had: relaxation, which I now practice at Olympic level.

Holiday. Mentioned that word to us last month and you would have received a pained look of yearning and desperation (or a thump). Mention it to us today however, and you will see us jumping up and down singing “We gonna ring reng dong for a holiday. (Put your arms in the air lemme hear you say!)” I’m going to start saving for the next one. Unless I win one first.

Angelina Melwani runs Sing and Sign baby signing courses in Harrow, Bushey, Stanmore and Rickmansworth. More info at www.singandsign.com