Life of Pip


Food. Wine. Friends.


November 17th, 2011

We take a break from my account of our trip to Spain. Given that the last report was over a month ago, I think that the break has already started. Anyway…

A bit of background: Our days start between 5:30 and 6 (yes, even on weekends) with Hamish waking up. Sometimes he yells. If we don’t answer soon enough for him, he’ll add hitting the wall to emphasise his desire to get up. Sometimes he wakes and is quite content to lay in his bed, talking to himself: “teddy”, “no, no, no”, “bath”. I always wonder what he’s thinking to get such a random assortment of words. Perhaps he’s just practicing. Usually a “mummy!” or “daddy!” gets thrown in for good measure.

When I’m ready, or he gets too loud, I go in to get him. Most of the time, upon seeing me, he lifts up his arms and says, “Ka?”, his word for milk.

I take him into the kitchen, and make him his bottle. If it’s a weekday, we sit downstairs, cuddling in the armchair. If it’s the weekend, we go upstairs to the leather chair and watch the sun rise over the ocean. He’s getting quicker at drinking, but he seems to slow down in the mornings, or maybe it’s just my imagination. We generally have a good 10-15 minutes together, enjoying the quiet (interrupted only by his slurping) as we both wake up.

I do realise he’s probably too old for a bottle, and maybe even for milk in the mornings. But I wouldn’t trade this time with him for anything. Eventually he won’t want his morning bottle any longer, but I hope I still have a little more time yet. I’m in no hurry for him to leave this part of babyhood behind.

And now, a picture from just before we left for Spain. I think he’s saying, “Yeah? What you looking’ at?”

Yeah? What you looking' at?

Wherein the chicken dance makes an appearance

October 8th, 2011

Jim, my father-in-law, is a volunteer fireman with the Bomberos. They are a very social group made up of Spanish, Brits and Germans mostly. My parents’ first Saturday in Spain coincided with the 30th Anniversary dinner for the Bomberos. Jim had organised usall tickets, and with Hamish left with a babysitter, we headed to Casa Pepe’s once more for dinner and dancing.

The dinner was fantastic, the wine flowing and the music very entertaining. After dinner was finished and the speeches over, my Dad took me up to dance. It was a waltz but, neither of us really knowing how to waltz, we danced the chicken dance. I swear the melody was identical. Jeanne, my mother-in-law, was aghast that we’d do something so crass. Well we probably further embarrassed her by loudly requesting that the band play the actual chicken dance. They catered to our whims and Dad and I had a great time dancing. Dad tried to get them to play it a second time, but I guess they thought once was enough.

(Before writing this post, I’d just been listening to “The Duck Song” – one of Hamish’s favourites, and I couldn’t remember what the dance was called. With a bit of googling, I came across this video, which made me giggle – my Dad and I were much better and cooler I’m sure!)

(Sorry Jeanne – I must have took the one with you in it with Mom’s camera!

Duncan and I

Mom and Dad

Drinks on the front

September 28th, 2011

As it was Mom and Dad’s first day in Spain, after we said good bye to the Stephens, we took them down to the beach front. There are a number of bars, restaurants and souvenir shops along the front. Most are quite touristy, but they all have a wonderful view of the beach.

There’s one place called Scallops that Jim took Duncan and I to when we visited Spain over 7 years ago on our way to moving to Australia. We’d just been in England and we were both suffering from colds – a side effect of spending a week with 3 young boys. Jim took us to Scallops for a coffee and brandy one morning. The brandy was ostensibly to help our colds – it was about four times larger than the coffee, and both were obtained for a euro. The restaurant is renowned for giving every diner – every diner a bottle of wine. And now it seems they also give them free vouchers for breakfast the following morning.

Anyway – back to drinks on the front. Mom and I ordered cocktails which came with a slice of lime. Hamish apparently likes slices of lime. It’s true what they say about kids taste buds not being fully developed. It could have been an orange!

Hamish also met his first girlfriend. Her name was Lois and she was a few months younger than him. Hamish kept going in for a kiss and cuddle and she’d run away. And then Hamish would wave, but wave up like he was waving to someone really tall. We couldn’t figure out what he was doing. This went on for a good amount of time – Hamish chased Lois, she’d run away; Lois would chase Hamish and he’d run away; Hamish would wave up inexplicably; repeat. Eventually Lois and Hamish gave each other a kiss and there was some clapping from the roof of the bar. Their antics had drawn a crowd and Hamish had been waving to his ‘audience’!

Eating limes at the beach front


September 20th, 2011

Jim bought Susan and I vouchers to the local fish spa. I’d never even considered a fish spa before. On arrival for our appointment, you clean your feet, and then it’s straight to the tanks where you sit on the edge and dangle your feet over the side. Within seconds, your feet are covered with tens of tiny guppy-like fish, nibbling at your dead skin. It tickles but you rather quickly become desensitised and then it’s just pleasant. Unless of course you’re my mom. (I took her towards the end of our holiday.) She wasn’t quite as enthralled as i was. She kept thinking they were leeches and wouldn’t even look down into the tank! Unfortunately, or fortunately?, I have no pictures to share.

The day before, we’d all spent the day at Aqualandia in Benidorm. Benidorm is one of those places you go to with a purpose; I would never stay in Benidorm. Aqualandia is reason enough for the day trip. It’s a park of water slides. Fantastic water slides. We had a great time trying them all out. Though the boys did far more than Duncan and I combined – I think they were nudging 30 slides by the end of the day, which is quite the accomplishment. I did manage to do the tallest slide of the park – you climb about 10 storeys and then it’s straight down.

Susan, Simon, Angus, Duncan and George’s holiday finished our second Friday – also my parents’ first full day in Spain. To celebrate the comings and goings, we met up with 2 sets of Susan and Simon’s friends at Casa Pepe’s for a paella lunch.

There were 21 of us, and the paella was some of the best we had in Spain. After lunch, the kids went for a swim in the restaurant pool. Yes the restaurant has quite a decent large pool in the middle if it’s outdoor seating area. Not a bad idea in such a warm climate as Javea’s.

We had a great time with the Stephens and were sad that it wasn’t longer.

Campbell clan

He’s a neat freak. For now.

September 19th, 2011

Why is it that kids are obsessed with the chores their parents do? Kids toys quite often include dustpans and brushes, lawn mowers, shopping carts, vacuum cleaners. Before this trip to Spain, Hamish had only shown a mild interest in being tidy. He will put his crayons back in their tub, and he doesn’t mind wiping his own mouth after eating. But that’s pretty much where it ended.

Then all of a sudden, he’s scouring the floor (of the airport terminal, of the ground outside, of the aisles on the plane) for items that he can pick up and toss in the bin. (He can even now say the word ‘bin’.) He also was obsessed with brooms. At Duncan’s parents, he would follow Duncan around with the broom while Duncan was cleaning the pool area. At a party that Susan and Simon’s friends threw, he found their broom and wandered around quite happily with it for most of the time we were there.

Can I hope that his desire to clean stays with him through his teens??

Hamish and his new-found hobby of sweeping

Bringing Australia to Spain

September 18th, 2011

As gifts, we brought Darrell Lea liquorice and Tim Tams. It was therefore a must to introduce the boys to Tim Tam slamming.

Duncan made up a big bowl of hot chocolate, we gave a brief explanation and let them go to it. I think it was a success.

Angus tim tam slamming

Duncan with a mouth full of tim tam

George and his tim tam

The European family

September 17th, 2011

Our destination for this holiday was Duncan’s parents’ villa in Javea. It’s a lovely home, with a pool – across the road from a German bakery and a German-Spanish pub, El Farro. The house is all on one level, but to get to the pool and paved area, there are two, rather large (from the point of view of an 18-month old) steps from the naya. Also the pool is not enclosed. The first night we got there, it was an exercise in chasing after Hamish to ensure he didn’t go forwards down the steps or jump into the pool.

We quickly learned however, that he had 3 built-in babysitters – his cousins, Angus, Duncan and George. All 3 boys seemed quite happy to follow Hamish around. And we were happy to let them. Though Hamish seemed comfortable with his cousins from the start, his favourite was Uncle Simon. Hamish went to Simon quite happily, allowing Simon to carry him around and show him things. This was quite a surprise to everyone as not even Simon’s boys went to him easily when they were babies!

The boys were quite excited to teach Hamish how to play football. (Soccer to any of my Canadian relatives reading.) We tried telling them that Hamish was only just mastering the art of walking, and that catching and kicking may be a bit of a stretch for him. They had fun trying though! And I’d like them to know that on our last day, though they weren’t there to see it, Hamish kicked his first ball.

Hamish with his cousins

An inauspicious start

September 14th, 2011

We were meant to leave at 9:15 Tuesday evening for our Sydney > Abu Dhabi > London > Madrid > Valencia trip. As it was our first trip with Hamish – and a rather lengthy one to start with – we arrived early. Though it was past Hamish’s bed time, he was in a good mood and quite happy to stand in queue to check in. While in line, an Etihad rep started coming through saying that the plane had arrived but there was a problem and they were holding off continuing check-in until they were given the all clear.

About 15 minutes later, the queue started again. When we were right near the front the queue stopped again. This time we waited maybe 30 minutes. Hamish was no longer interested in standing in line. Enter must-travel-with item 1: the sling. After only a little effort, he was asleep.

We were eventually checked in and thought we were home free. Then the announcement came that the flight had been cancelled and everyone was to proceed to the desk for information. Through the gate we went, out to passport control (which wasn’t even staffed, so we had to wait for them to get organised), out to pick up our only recently-checked-in luggage, and out through arrivals.

There we waited – and waited – for someone to tell us where the shuttle bus was for the hotel. After getting fed up, and with a now awake and fairly cranky Hamish, I headed outside and looked far left. There I spotted a bus. I went in and grabbed the boys and off we were taken to the hotel. (God only knows how long everyone else had to wait. I was going to say something but was afraid of starting a stampede.) We checked in around midnight and were told to not be back down in the lobby any later than 6:45.

Though the bus didn’t actually come until 7:30 (and in fact those going through to London were not meant to catch the shuttle until 9:30), we made it back to the airport, only to queue for another 2 hours or so. (Enter the sling once more.) We made it to the front of the queue only to be told that because we booked through Virgin and not Etihad, they had to rebook us. So over to a ‘holding area’ for another hour or more until Virgin contacted Etihad with our new flight information – flying Qantas at 4:30 that afternoon, via Singapore.

While we waited for the Qantas desks to open, we had to rebook our second leg, London to Valencia via Madrid, that we were going to miss due to the cancellation. Only $1800 later, we had new flights from London to Valencia via Paris (Charles de Gaulle). More on that later.

Now for the silver lining: our seats on Qantas were in premium economy. Bigger seats, champagne while waiting for take-off, fantastic food. For a total of 21 hours, flying with a toddler who doesn’t have a seat of their own, this was absolute luxury and made the 22 hour delay in our arrival almost worth it. To top it off, Hamish couldn’t have been better behaved.

We should have known it wasn’t over yet. We arrived in London with no further incidents. We enjoyed a nice break, sipping drinks and waiting for our flights to Paris and Valencia. Our stop in Paris was quite tight but the lady we talked to assured us she does it all the time, and that we shouldn’t have any problems making the connection.

We arrived in Paris, found our next gate, and started walking. Charles de Gaulle appears (in hindsight) to be more or less a circle. We followed the signs to our next gate, which took us the the long way around this circle. As we kept going and going, and the time was starting to slip by, we started to jog. Not an easy thing to do with Duncan having our carry-on luggage, and me carrying Hamish. We made it to security and there was a queue. Our flight was to leave in about 20 minutes. I’ve never been so grateful to know French. They whisked us through and we made it on with seconds to spare. Unfortunately, as we were to find out when we reached Javea, Duncan’s bag didn’t.

And there ends the travel saga part one. Next, our actual holiday.

Waiting for second leg at Heathrow


July 19th, 2011

Pre-Hamish, though Duncan and I didn’t struggle to fill our weekends, looking back on it, they were certainly an exercise in leisure. We didn’t worry about housework – having a party every so often ensured the house got cleaned. Dinners out were a common occurrence and long Sunday afternoons at the pub were not unusual. Now the weekends seem to be a sequence of bending down, picking up, tidying and, now that Hamish is mobile, chasing after him to make sure he’s not putting something up his nose or something else down the toilet. I need to go back to work for a break!

Kip has been very patient with this intrusion on the routine she has come to know and expect. She does get out of sorts sometimes, trying to butt in on play time, adding her barking to Hamish’s squeals. In order to keep jealousy to a minimum, we have tried to keep her beds – of which she has one on each of the three levels of the house, in addition to our bed – hers. Hamish hasn’t quite grasped this idea.

Lately he has taken to testing his boundaries by diving on to her beds, looking up to make sure we saw him do it, and then grinning. No amount of chastising and time outs seem to help. He just does not equate his behaviour with being naughty. According to my mom, he takes after his mother. In an effort to help him understand, we’ve been slapping his hand and saying “Bad”. Unfortunately it’s had a rather unexpected consequence. He then hits his own hand and utters “Bad. Bad”. Sunday, I put him down for a nap as he was being a bit difficult. I was patting his back, and he kept popping his head up, hitting his hand, uttering “Bad. Bad.” and then popping his head back down again.

At least he’s just trespassing on Kip’s property. I guess I should be happy he’s not stealing sips from our liquor bottles.

(Don’t worry. Our liquor bottles are not within his reach.)

Mischievous Hamish

Classic fathering

July 4th, 2011

Duncan to Hamish: “Hamish, mum already told you off for doing that. You’re not Brittany Spears: you can’t just say ‘oops’ and write a song about it.”

And again, Duncan to Hamish: “Are you going to go down for your nap so that mum can go for a run and I can make muffins? … That sounds backwards.”

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