Best gift ever

28 May 2018

Honestly, I woke up in the morning expecting my legs to ache as if I’d just run all those miles!  Thankfully, I was perfectly fine, if not still a little jaded, but I could just imagine those runners trying to get up in the morning!  Argh!!

We had to leave our apartment by 12:00, so I left Ian packing up the van and took Cornelia to Steve’s hotel for one last visit before we went our separate ways.  She has been desperate for a swim, and I duly took our kit so we could make use of the hotel pool.  Needless to say, despite the 30 degree heat, I jumped in, and she decided it was too cold for her.  (It wasn’t – it was really the perfect temperature!)

There was a little girl there, Alysa, whose mum was working at the hotel temporarily, supporting the hospitality laid on for the various countries over the weekend.  Despite the language difference, she spent a good couple of hours playing with Cornelia, even persuading her into the pool for ages (*rolls eyes*) with the use of her inflatable ring.  Cornelia has not practised any swimming since we’ve been away, and I’m hoping that as summer approaches, the various pools in the campsites will be warm enough to persuade her in.  Alysa spoke Italian as well as Romanian (she lived there with her mum for the first six years of her life) so, thanks to Google Translate (again!) I was able to communicate a bit with her.  She was a really sweet and sociable little girl, but I was horrified to see that almost all of her (hopefully baby) teeth were rotten or missing.  These are the small differences that I’m noticing on our travels – it would be rare to see such a thing in the UK, but it is commonplace here, despite access to the same things needed – toothpaste and toothbrushes – and (as I’ve come to discover) plenty of dentists!  I suppose if they have to pay to access a dentist, I would understand it, but then surely one would take extra care to ensure your child is brushing properly and not eating too much sugary stuff?  Anyway, therein lies a big difference.

Steve was holding up pretty well.  His legs were “a bit achy” but he wasn’t having any problems moving around, and was in really good spirits.  When we arrived at the hotel to meet him,  we had just missed most of Team GB leaving which was a shame, but at least I felt I had said my goodbyes last night.  Then Steve told me the most amazing thing.  Pat Robbins had given his silver medal to Cornelia to thank her for all of her fabulous support.  I was a bit gobsmacked and emotional, to say the very least.  Steve presented the medal to Cornelia who, despite not realising the enormity of the gesture, posed for photos before racing off to check out the pool.  I shed a tear as I messaged Pat to thank him – but the words felt inadequate to reflect how I felt about this.  Such gestures are more than physical.  Although she may not consciously recognise it yet, these sorts of behaviours will rub off on her, and hopefully she will learn how it is possible to deal with a “difficult day” in a really positive and selfless way.

The generosity towards us continued.  Steve offered me his old Team GB kit bag and a t-shirt that he’d worn when his team won Gold a couple of years ago.  When I showered up in his hotel room post-room, I was also able to take their leftovers: teabags, some notepads for Bugsy, chocolate biscuits for all of us, amongst other bits and pieces.  It was all just a day of being completely overwhelmed by people’s kindness towards us.

Before we said goodbye to Steve, I saw a couple of the other runners that I’d been cheering on during the race too – Sylvie from France and Linda from The Netherlands – who both recognised me and came up to give me a hug and tell me how important it had been to them to have some additional support.  I sort of knew how nice it was from my own experiences (seeing the same people in the same spot during Ironman marathon loops) but I don’t suppose I had particularly thought that everyone would feel like that.  I have to say, I left Timisoara feeling pretty bloody marvellous, and full of inspiration and a desire to get my running back on track.  So to speak.

The drive to Budapest was boring, apparently.  I fell asleep for an hour or so, whereas Cornelia fell asleep five minutes into the journey and stayed that way until we reached the car park at the end of the journey.  Poor old Ian drove all the way without any company, and with uninspiring flat landscape.

After a few problems finding the entrance from the car park to our apartment check in, we were rewarded with a terrific apartment.  We’d been upgraded to a three-bedroom apartment, which was massive, and had tons of space to play around in.  We didn’t have anything in mind for tea, so just wandered down to the mall where there seemed to be a decent Italian.  I was keen to go there, as I knew Cornelia was on the edge of being “overtired” but Ian suggested we went for a bit of a wander first.  Big mistake, and I should’ve listened to my instinct.  They were both tired and I can’t really remember what happened, but she ended up having a complete meltdown on the streets of Budapest.  I’m doing my best to support Ian and not undermine him, so gave her some time to try and work through it, and him some time to calm down.  She sat on the steps of a supermarket, bawling her little eyes out.  Every now and then, someone would stop to make sure she wasn’t on her own, and a security guard even came out to check on her.  I was just a couple of metres away so she was never in any danger, I hasten to add.  Anyway, eventually, she ran up to me to grab hold of my hand, and said sorry for hitting me.  But she carried on screaming at Ian, who eventually became so fed up that he just picked her up (which ironically was one of the things he’d refused to do earlier that had contributed to the meltdown) and we stomped off to the Italian restaurant that I’d suggested in the first place.  (I’m hoping there will be mummy sighs of agreement and understanding from you…..!) Anyway, once everyone was calm again, we had a really lovely meal before heading upstairs again, and putting a very tired toddler to bed.

As it happened, she was SO tired, that she couldn’t settle, and ended up clambering into our bed and on top of me, before zonking out.  I finally managed to remove her at about 2am, and get some much-needed sleep myself!

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