Holidaying with your parents

Do you go on holidays with your parents? A few years ago I would have considered it the lamest things ever – who would voluntarily go away and spend extra time with their folks? – but these days it seems much more normal. Fun, even. Everyone away from their daily chores, work and housework, enjoying the good weather, exploring new places and experiencing things together.

It’s times like that spent together that make you appreciate them much more, rather than the passing visits when you are all stressed and rushed with daily life.

But what sort of things would you do, if you went away together? Would you go and see things that you’ve all always wanted to see, introduce them to places and experiences that you’ve tried before and think they’ll love or go off and enjoy new and unexpected things together?

Bucket List

We’ve all got a bucket list, a list of places we want to visit and things we want to try in our lifetime, but have you ever compared yours to those of your parents?

There are plenty of experiences that you want to include in your life that your parents probably/possibly won’t be interested in joining in with, like trying all the drinks in the cocktail book you picked up at the car boot sale, but I’ll bet if you put your heads together there’ll be plenty they would.

You may well find that you’ve all always wanted to walk along The Great Wall of China, sunbath on the beach from the Bounty advert (which is called Finikodassos and is on the Greek island of Crete) or go whale watching around Norway.

Sharing a past experience

northern lights in Lapland

We’ve all been to places  and done things that we’ve known someone we love would enjoy just as much as us. And sharing something you’ve really loved can be a great bonding experience with loved ones. so much of our lives is lived without our parents around that we have all experienced so much that they’ve never seen.

Whether it’s taking them on a Saga trip to see the northern lights that blew you away on your trip to Scandinavia or to visit the Alps off season in the summer and take them walking across glaziers and watching cute marmots, I’ll bet there are loads of things you’ve done that your parents would love. And that you’d enjoy showing them too.

Putting your parents in charge

minack theatre

Just as you’ve been off exploring the world and discovering new things since you left home, so have your parents. They’ve no doubt relished the freedom and chance to travel without the hindrance of whinging kids and have been all over the place. Maybe they visited a really cool amphitheater in Cornwall or took a trip to Thailand.

No doubt you’ve been shown endless photos, but probably only because they really think you’d like it there. So why not put them in charge? Task them with organising a trip to somewhere they think you’ll love that they’d love to share with you.

Try new things together

You don’t have to do something profound or take them to a certain place to enjoy your time together. A simple beach holiday where you get the chance to poke around in a local market and lie in the sun chatting can be just as bonding.

And you don’t even have to go abroad to do it. I’ll bet there’s a bunch of places that neither of you have visited in the UK. Why not try out some places together?

An interview with the children

interview with the kids

1. What is something Mummy always says to you?
Girl: Bed time
Boy: Bed time

Erm yeah, I do. But only because they need it repeating 340934 times before they actually listen and you know, go to bed.

2. What makes Mummy happy?
Girl: Nice children
Boy: Happy days and happy children

They got it pretty spot on, but also missed out wine, Pride and Prejudice, a new bag of wool and really good sex. It’s probably a good thing they did.

3. What makes Mummy sad?
Girl: Dead people and angry children
Boy: Worse days, horrible lives and bad children

Well, yeah.

4. How does Mummy make you laugh?
Girl: By being funny
Boy: By telling jokes that are really funny and being funny

I didn’t realise I was such a comedian. At least if they don’t follow any instructions I give them, they find my jokes amusing. I guess…

5. What was Mummy like as a child?
Girl: I don’t know
Boy: Playing outside

Umm, Boy’s answer probably has a lot to do with my constant telling them that we didn’t have all these fancy computers when we were kids and we just played outside. Christ, I’m turning into my mother.

6. How old is Mummy?
Girl: 34
Boy: 35

Tsk, clearly I’m 21. Silly children.

7. How tall is Mummy?
Girl: i don’t know
Boy: 132km

Wow, we really need to do some work on length and measurement.

8. What is Mummy’s favourite thing to do?
Girl: Hangout with friends
Boy: Crochet

Phew. That could have been awkward.

9. What does Mummy do when you’re not here?
Girl: Hang out with friends and drink wine and watch scary tv and go camping
Boy: Crochet

Ahh, I knew wine was going to make an appearance somewhere. Still, at least I look pretty restrained – it’s not mentioned on every ‘what does mum like’ question.

10. If Mummy becomes famous what will it be for?
Girl: Telling jokes
Boy: Being a pop star

I really had no idea that my daughter found me so amusing. I’m beginning to think maybe she’s laughing at me rather than with me cause I’m certain I don’t tell that many jokes in a day…

11. What is Mummy really good at?
Girl: Making me happy
Boy: Crocheting

My daughter is such a suck up. My son however seems to feel he is being neglected in favour of wool. In my defense, wool is rather quiet and doesn’t constantly bombard you with fascinating facts about Minecraft…

12. What is Mummy not very good at?
Girl: Making me sad
Boy: Right hand crocheting

Bloody hell Girl, enough of the ass kissing. Yes, you can have an ice cream. Sheesh.

13. What is Mummy’s job?
Girl: Writing things down
Boy: I don’t know know. Crocheting?

Alright already, I’ll put the wool down. A bit.

14. What makes you proud of Mummy?
Girl: Everything really
Boy: How much she loves us and how she treats us

Clearly Boy has cottoned on to Girl’s game plan here.

15. What is Mummy’s favourite food? –
Girl: KFC
Boy: Ice cream

I don’t know what they mean, I’m all about the low carb, healthy, organic option. *Wipes greasy chicken from fingers*

16. What do you and Mummy do together?
Girl: Play games, watch TV, go camping
Boy: Watch TV

Actually Boy, I think you’ll find what we do together most is you try to break mummy’s ears and spirit with a constant running commentary on mind-bendingly boring computer games and all their inner workings whilst I nod and smile and try not to lose the will to live.

17. How are you and Mummy the same? –
Girl: Mum’s a girl and I’m a girl. Mummy’s pretty and I’m pretty
Boy: Hair

Yes son, we both have hair, well done. I’m not even going to comment on the mash-up of sucking up and narcissism that is Girl’s answer.

18. If your Mummy was a cartoon character who would she be?
Girl: Mickey Mouse. You are joyful like Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse is never sad
Boy: Michael Jackson

Erm, what the actual fuck?

19. How are you and Mummy different?
Girl: Hair colour
Boy: By the tallness

And possibly by the fact that my every waking moment isn’t spent working out how I can get more ice-cream and screen time.

20. How do you know Mummy loves you?
Girl: She always says I love you, she kisses me and she hugs me
Boy: She always treats me goodly and she always lets me have food

Yup, that’s me. Forever handing out food. Actually that pretty much is what it feels like to be me – a giant food dispenser.

21. What does Mummy like best about Daddy?
Girl: That he takes care of us a lot
Boy: That he’s a good dad

I concur

22. Where is Mummy’s favourite place to go?
Girl: Home or camping
Boy: Harry potter

Harry Potter? I’d ask for clarification but I’m not sure i’m ready to disappear down whatever rabbit hole train of thought led to this answer.

23. How old was Mummy when she had you?
Girl: She was in her 20s.
Boy: 28 years old

Weirdly, this is a question they ask me a lot. Irritatingly, despite asking me this question almost once a month for the last 2 years, Girl is still very vague with her answer. Almost like she doesn’t listen to me or something…

Choosing the Best University with Your Child

 

choosing universityIt will take a while for you to get used to your child moving on to the next phase of their life. But the truth is they will need your help throughout their higher education career and that will start with choosing the right university. A lot of parents think that the process of picking the right uni is part of the education experience for young adults and I think this is true but the reality is they are likely to need your guidance. The problem is, very often it has been quite a while since parents have been to university themselves (if they have been at all) and they are not accustomed to the process and how much to get involved. Here is a brief guide on how to be part of the choice without being overbearing.

Choice of Course

This is something your child will have to figure out with the help of their careers tutors and teachers at school. While you can give advice based on your own experience, it is best that they make their own decision based on their own research and what they want to get from their undergraduate course.

Focus on Employability

While university used to be about the experience as much as it was the course itself today the focus of a lot of courses is how it prepares the student for the world of work. This is something to consider when choosing the course with your child. Many more people have degrees than they used to, so it is worth thinking about a course which equips students as fully as possible.

University Location

While it’s only natural that we want our children to get placed at a university that is relatively near to where we are, again we should leave it up to them. One issue which may influence their decision is whether they would prefer a campus or city-based university. City universities come with a higher degree of independence as well as the benefits of city life on the door step while campus universities have more of a community feel with convenience and security.

Application

choosing university

Your child’s school will help them with their UCAS ‘Apply’ procedure. Things to bear in mind are the 15th January deadline (most schools try and get students’ applications in much earlier than this) and the grades need to get accepted on to your first options.

Fees

This can be the trickiest part of the university application process and likely the part where your child will need the most help. Fees have risen over the last few years with the standard cost of a three-year course somewhere around £9,000. Applying for a student loan is a relatively complicated affair but there are plenty of sites such as thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk which can give you guidance.

Accommodation

Your child will be given the choice of university halls, private halls or private housing when they first go to university. Many opt for the ease of university halls but it is worth bearing in mind private providers. Accommodation such as WBSA has great facilities, is safe, secure and offers lots of opportunities to make friends while living in one of the most vibrant areas of London.

My Dog the Sandwich Stealer

the sandwich thiefDon’t be fooled by his cute little face and sad eyes, this isn’t the face of a half starved, neglected animal that never gets any attention. Nope, this is the face of a well fed, pampered pooch who just can’t resist face height food.

You know, the sort that small children carry around in their sticky maws. Ice cream, sandwiches, lollies; he’ll have them all. Hell, he once ran off with a packet of crisps he’d ripped out of some poor unsuspecting child’s grip.

This is the face of a bad, bad dog.

And mine is the face of a very sorry owner. Ooops, sorry, sorry about that. Really sorry. Here, have £2 and buy another ice cream. Sorry.

Not embarrassing at all. And I’ve certainly never simply walked off and pretended he wasn’t with me until we got around the corner. A trip out to the park can get rather costly in ice cream, not to mention in potential vet bills if he grabs something he really ough not be eating. Let’s face it, it’s unlikely he’ll be stealing carrots and other healthy dog treats now, is it?

I think we’ll be avoiding the parks this half term after yesterday’s incident and stick to the places only other dog walkers go.

alt text

 

Oddly footballs don’t appear to be on this list of food to avoid. Oh, didn’t I mention he also likes to steal kids footballs and run around chewing them, avoid capture until they pop?

Yup, he’s a real sweetheart.

There’s a reason that the phrase ‘in the dog house’ became a popular saying.

A buyer’s guide to prosecco

buying prosecco

Image: Anders Adermark

Habit is a strange thing. As often happens, we do not see how much habits influence our lives – from small details to important milestones. Deciding on health matters, marriage, having children, education, career, the mission of life may predestine the future life to come. And healthy habits may encourage the right decisions. However, the decision on which bottle of sparkling wine to buy is often treated as unimportant and is made automatically and unconsciously. We spot French wine brand name Champagne and make a reach for a bottle to celebrate any special occasion. Imagine you knew another type of wine that was cheaper and equally tasty, would you change your habit? If the answer is yes, then welcome to the world of prosecco!

Homeland of Prosecco is Italy. This wonderful land gives birth to Glera grapes from which the Italian fizz is made. The picturesque vineyards are spread out over the hills in the province of Treviso, Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions, around the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Here, using the Tank method (known as the Charmat method and the Italian method), winemakers produce the Italian sparkling wine and distribute it all over the world. This way of production is worth mentioning. First reason why is that, since the second fermentation takes place in steel tank, the labor costs involved are relatively low, and hence, the final price is very customer-friendly. Champagne has a far more manual process, which leads to much higher prices. The second reason is that because the wine is kept in tanks bore bottling, Prosecco should be opened soon after buying, and not put in the back of a cupboard for a special occasion. So, be wary of anyone offering ‘vintage’ prosecco!

prosecco growing hills

Image: Lorenzo Benetton

The following terms will help you to pick the right type of Prosecco:

  • Spumante, frizzante and tranquillo are the Italian words meaning that Prosecco Spumante is sparkling, Frizzante is semi-sparkling, and Tranquillo is still wine without any effervescing.
  • The level of sweetness is measured in grams per litre of residual sugar and indicated by the terms ‘dry’ (17–32 g/l), ‘Extra Dry’ (12–17 g/l) and ‘Brut’ (up to 12g/l ).

Once you buy Prosecco, chill it, find a tulip shaped glass, fill it up and try it. Fruit and flower aroma will be the first thing your taste buds and nose will feel. The bubbles bursting on the surface are frothy and light. Try to identify and enjoy the notes of vanilla, banana cream, hazelnuts and honeycomb. Prosecco is quite universal in food pairing. You can drink it alone, before meals or together with meals. Here are some good choices of Prosecco:

This article is just a tiny path which runs to the big world of Prosecco. Do not be afraid to discover new flavours and aromas of this amazing Italian sparkling wine.

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