If you are reading this, it means I have survived my week away in Brittany.
The sun refused to put his hat on and only shone on occasion, the rain beat profoundly and the wind blew hard, but despite the unusual June weather we made the very best of our week away and made sure we had a good time.
The whole of the mad house took off to Plymouth on May 31st to hop on board a overnight ferry to Roscoff - France. After a 3 hour drive Leo was getting irate and he was more than ready to vacate the confines of his car seat and explore the car. A very excited Leo was freed upon arrival at the ferry port and made his way straight to the open window, he poked his head out to have a look around and beamed from ear to ear. As the car drove along slowly Leo let out ear piercing squeals of delight while the wind brushed through his long mop of hair.
Among the excited squeals, Leo also put his new word into action in every imaginable fashion. I did not realise exactly how many different ways you can say 'bear' but Leo taught me a thing or Two right then and there. You can growl it, you can say it and you can shout it. In fact you can be as creative as your mind will allow, and Leo is very creative!
The whole week had a bit of a bear spin to it, and now he says 'bear', every where I look I see bears! It is not just me loosing my marbles either... On the ferry the mascot of the children's disco was....A big brown bear, and who did Leo bring along with him for the ride? Alfie Bear of course!
Now I don't know if this is just me...But Leo most certainly looks like a baby Boy and I find it hard to believe that he could be be mistaken as a baby Girl, so when he was referred to as a gorgeous baby girl twice on the crossing...Yes Twice! I was pretty shocked...Then one of the accusee's even went on to tell Luke just how cute his little baby brother was!
Of course Luke corrected the lady by informing her that he is actually Leo's daddy. The lady seemed incredibly shocked and was met with the open mouthed reply of 'wow you are so young!'
With all of the attention that Leo was receiving on board the ferry, Leo was not in the mood to go to sleep. It took me retreating to the quiet room to finally get him into his pushchair and get him off to the land of nodd. He finally drifted into a dream but around 4am he awoke crying after his Milk, but before I could even make up his bottle, the tears turned off and he decided the time was right to growl 'Beaarrrr' for all the other sleeping people in the quiet room...
I was optimistic that when I got the Milk bottle firmly in his mouth, he would lie there quietly in my arms and drink his Milk.... However Leo sipped his Milk before proceeding to spit the bottle out every few sips to growl bear at me and smiling, and then taking the bottle back for a few more sips - repeating the process over and over again. Silent giggles from myself and Daddy started, and then hysterical chuckles from his aunt and uncle rang out. People had started to wake up so I decided to take that moment and leave the quiet room before we caused even more disruption.
After a long night on the ferry and no real sleep to speak of, we drove the Two hour drive and finally arrive in Benodet with a car full of luggage, and no where to put as the caravan would not be ready until later that afternoon.
The sun was shining brightly and we were optimistic for a very sunny week....With the beach right in front of us we decided to go and see what we could find.
I was so excited to show Leo the beach again, Leo's first visit to the beach was when he was 5 months old, and now he is 11 months he had so much more he could experience for himself. Leo took in the sights and sounds, as we walked him to the sea front. He excitedly kicked his legs and waved his arms as we got closer to the incoming tide.
All around were rock pools that crabs and other sea creatures were taking refuge in until they could plan their escape on the next high tide. Leo's Aunt and Uncle started to find star fish along the beach front that had been washed into shore. In my whole life I have never seen a star fish on the beach and I was amazed at how many there were to be seen!
We finally make our way to check into the camp site, and were pleased to realise just how close the beach front was to the site. The beaches were all rocky and there were rock pools galore! I was looking forward to leaving Leo with Daddy and having a climb over the rocks to have a little peek into them for myself.
Leo got his chance to explore the sand for the very first time, his face was a picture as we buried his little feet. He chuckled as the sand trickled over them and he began to pick it up in his grasp and watched it free falling through his tiny grip. Smiling as it went. I wish I had captured this special moment in a photograph but I had neglected to bring the camera down at this point.
We spent the day trying to keep the sun off Leo, suncream was applied and I kept his pushchair shaded even as we stayed on the shady parts of the beach. We were all deceived by the rays believing it was not too hot, as the breeze from the sea brushed past us. Our greatest efforts were not enough to keep the sun from kissing Leo's delicate skin.
Leo had a red face and arms, leaving Luke and I feeling incredibly guilty. How could we have let this happen? Leo was his usual happy self but that did not ease our guilt. Leo was not burnt badly but just seeing the slightest bit of redness on him made my heart sink.
Leo had his dinner and soon my very tired little man fell asleep in his pushchair, just in time for the rest of us to eat. When he awoke he was confused and upset. His routine was completely turned on its head and he had no idea what was coming next. I could not just pop inside and put Leo to bed as for the duration of the week we would be sleeping in the living room. Not ideal....
Sleeping in the caravans living room with everyone else running around was no way to get our little man off to sleep as he is not accustomed to the hustle and bustle around him. Before we could even think about getting him down for the night we had to get him bathed and ready for bed.
With no bath facilities in the caravan we had to attempt giving Leo his first shower... This did not go down well at all, and we were left wondering how we were going to get him bathed every evening.
The shower rained down on Leo and he began crying, he wound up getting hysterical. We took him for a walk to try and calm him down which did the trick...For the duration of the walk anyway. He soon forgot all about crying and soon took more of interest in everything around him. Taking him back inside to get him settled resulted in even more hysterical crying and as I am sure you know... caravan walls are not very thick...So everyone got to hear my usually very happy baby boy, screaming.
Upon admitting defeat and standing back outside the caravan, a lady camping next to us strolled by and smiled a sympathetic smile. Then turned towards me and asked whether he was 'the loud one' to which I could only answer yes. For some reason or another I felt I had to explain myself and let her know that it was completely out of character for my happy go lucky little monster.
I rocked Leo to sleep with many a 'bear' being shouted at me, even when he was upset that was his choice of word. Leo slept until 4am which is when the whole process started again. I finally managed to get him back off after rocking him for a while. When he awoke at 7am he even fell back to sleep in mummy and daddy's bed.
Leo's routine had been completely turned on its head. He was in unfamiliar surroundings and did not really know if he was coming or going. So a few nights in our bed for cuddles if and when he needed them may be just what the doctor ordered!
The weather changed on our first full day and we were greeted with rain. Rain that stuck around for pretty much the rest of the week. A chilled day was called for and we did absolutely nothing. Leo's face looked to have gone down over night and I could not have been more thankful. With all the hustle and bustle in the caravan though...Leo resisted any sleep during the day. He did eventually relent and had a nice long nap after I managed to clear everyone out and shut all the blinds to give Leo peace and quiet. This is the only time he drifted off to sleep on his own during our week away...
Luke found an alternative to getting Leo bathed and ready for bed. The camping facility offered a baby bath and changing room, so Leo instead had a bath. This made all the difference and he splashed away happily before letting me get him ready for bed.
To finish off a lazy day, we took Leo for a walk along the beach, the wind was blowing Leo's hair all over the place, and you could see the excitement glowing all over his little face.
That night Leo refused to sleep, and more crying rang through the thin caravan walls. Luke finally managed to get Leo off to sleep in bed with him while everyone else hid outside in the cold tucked up in blankets. Leo discovered his love for pillows and snuggling him up in bed with us seemed to work for the first time ever.
At around 6am when Leo awakes for a bottle and once again refuses to go back to bed, we tucked him up with us, just for a little bit of extra shut eye. He quickly dozed back off to sleep and took over the entire bed. The next time Leo awakes he wants to get up for the day, he wants his breakfast and a bottle of milk. He makes his presence known by tapping Luke and I on the head, kicking us and giving us his not so gentle kisses with an open mouthed attack. That is our prompt to get up and out of bed!
We visited a zoo a hour away and Leo came face to face with a real Sophie giraffe. It was fantastic being able to get so close to them, they came down over the fence and got so close to us. Leo was fascinated...and so was I for that matter! Leo kept reaching his hands out to try and steal a touch of the cheeky giraffe who kept licking his lips with his big long tongue. Who knew just how long their tongues were!?
To put Leo's new word into action we even took him to see the bears! We were met with Leo's favourite word while he pressed his face up against the glass and peered in to see the big black bears!
Sleep came without a problem that night, snuggled up on the bed with me he tucked himself into my arm and closed his tired eyes. I lay there with him taking in every moment and not wanting to put him in his cot. A rare occurrence is snuggling with my little man in bed, I wonder if we are making a rod for our own back?
I finally put him in his cot and lay on the bed next to him, not wanting to leave his side. The rest of the mad house were outside on the terrace playing cards... But I just wanted to stay with my little man.
Over the past week Leo's been coming out with more new words. Amongst bear we have 'no' and 'Ught oh'! He is coming along so quickly and his understanding is getting better all the time. It is magic being able to watch him grow from a tiny baby to a little boy.
He is really coming into his own now and has the most amazing personality. He is testing his boundaries and finding trouble at every turn. If you tell Leo no, he has taken to shouting 'no no no' right back at you. He even uses his hand gestures when telling you!
On Tuesday the rain poured relentlessly, from waking up right through to the evening. This decided our plans for the day, the aquarium. Leo loved looking through into the unknown water, although he was just as impressed by the bubbles from the filter tank as he was the fish... He took it all in and followed the bigger fish with his finger. Trying to touch them through the glass.
Despite my prompting he would not say fish, but while in the 3d cinema Leo did say 'Ught oh' when he dropped his pair of 3d glasses to the floor. I did wonder why the lady gave him a pair...5 minutes into the film he had snapped them in half...
When we had walked the entirety of the aquarium we retreated to give Leo his lunch, and I am adamant he said 'yoghurt'. I was not the only one who heard this but I have not been able to get him to repeat it just yet!
We spent the Wednesday travelling a few hours to see the Megaliths - The Megaliths are prehistoric standing stones that date back more than 3,000 years. They were drawn from local rock and erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany, and are the largest such collection in the world. Local tradition and folk law claims that the reason they stand in such perfectly straight lines is that they are a Roman legion turned to stone by Merlin. There is also talk of fairies and pixies for those of you who are drawn to such magical stories!
I have to admit that it did seem like an awfully long way to drive to see some stones...but what we saw was very interesting. Leo enjoyed being allowed to crawl along the wall with Grandad and hold dandelions. He loved waving them from side to side and all around before casting it to the ground.
It was not long before the rep came by and told us that there was a storm on the way and to brace ourselves as it could be a rough night. She told us the winds would be fast and that some ferry crossings had even been cancelled. However the wind did not pick up any more over night and when we awoke to sunshine the next day, we were very surprised.
The bags were packed and it was time to head back to Roscoff to catch our ferry home after a exciting but very crazy week in the not so sunny France. As soon as the ferry left the port we were aware that we were in for a very rough crossing.
The boat was going up and down, making me nauseous in the very Pitt of my stomach. It was not long before Leo needed a change of clothes and I was seeking refuge in the toilets. It was reassuring to know that I was not the only one suffering with Sea Sickness and just as I sorted myself out to leave the bath room, I realised that the whole line of cubicles had people in suffering the same fate.
My biggest disappointment of the week was the weather, I had high hopes of showing Leo how to build a sand castle and letting him knock it down. The rain made it impossible for me to sit him on the sand and it looks like this will have to wait for another holiday.
I have to say though.....
I am so glad to be home....
How did you all spend half term and the grand jubilee weekend?