It’s been a wonderful year!

31 December 2018

I had such peculiar dreams last night! Ian and I were late for a flight and were racing for a shuttle train to Gatwick when he raced onto the train, leaving me with all the luggage. I tried to grab it all and get on to the train but the doors closed and off it went. I managed to get on the next one, but decided there was no way we’d catch our flight now (it was 10:40 which, for some reason, was particularly relevant) and went to a pub (so me!!!) instead where I stored the cases behind the bar and ordered a beer. Then Ian rang and asked where I was – he was collecting our tickets and the plane was being held for us. I was, by now, with my sister, who recruited her ex-boyfriend (who was sporting some very dubious clothing, which included grey sweatpants and a sweatband) to help me with my things. I raced to the train station where three Arabic nuns, two of whom were blind, were struggling to get aboard. I offered to help, and once we were on the train, one of the nuns took off her gown to reveal a My Little Pony sweatshirt, and she started yelling at everyone for not knowing the meaning of her surname which was Watkins. And then I woke up! Maybe the cockroach spray we used last night tampered with my brain!!!

Thankfully, it hadn’t messed with Cornelia who was enjoying an epic sleep as we packed up, glad to be leaving the dirty house, and in fact she didn’t wake up until 09:00!  She lingered over breakfast until we booted her off the breakfast table, washed those final dishes, checked on the dead cockroach (in the wardrobe – phew!) and drove the very short distance to the beautiful Mantra @ Salt hotel.

Although we were very early to be checking in (it was only just after 10:30), our apartment was available – and what a contrast to our previous accommodation!  We had a one-bedroomed suite with an ocean view and a large balcony.  The only downside was that it was a long walk to “Wing 6” from the basement car park, with all of our bags.  We were lucky enough to get a trolley, but even pushing that all the way gave Ian a bit of a sweat on!

Cornelia retrieved her Lego immediately and started playing with it – today she made Elsa an underwater jet pack that could do all sorts of things!  We had no plans, although Val’s friend, Emma, was also staying at the hotel with her son, Harry.  Val and Belle were arriving later, and originally I had thought they would be here at around 12:00 and we would go for lunch, but a check of later messages revealed that it would be after 14:30, so we went ahead and ate sandwiches out on the balcony.

I then went to the supermarket to buy supplies for the evening.  We were hosting Val and her two friends, Emma and Chelsy, in our apartment, together with their kids, as we could hopefully get the children to sleep in our bedroom, so that we could continue our celebrations on the balcony.  I messaged Laura (Sydney Laura!) for Phil’s amazing potato salad recipe, and set about preparing that, while we waited for V and Belle to arrive, as they were staying in our apartment on the sofa bed.

As soon as they were here, we raced down to the beach together, which was just a couple of hundred metres away.  Cornelia and Belle were so happy to see each other again, although Cornelia’s love of V did occasionally annoy Belle!  Cornelia just loves everyone so much, and is completely aware that it may cause some jealously.  Despite the occasional “No, that’s MY mummy!” they had a wonderful time together.  Emma and Harry eventually joined us there too, and although Emma was concerned about Harry’s ongoing cough, the kids were soon in the water, jumping the waves, chasing each other around and having the best time in glorious sunshine.  Once they were out of the water, the fun continued in the sand, making lots of different recipes and building sandcastles to crush.  Ian, bless him, had nipped back to the apartment for beer, and the four of us sat in the late afternoon sunshine watching the kids and drinking our cold beers.

Before we left, V and I decided we absolutely needed to have a “last day of the year” swim, so ran down to the water and dived in for five minutes, playing in the waves and enjoying the time together.  It made us both appreciate how our friendship has endured and how special it was that we could spend these few days together.

It was 18:00 when we finally left the beach, ready to start our evening celebrations.  Belle and Cornelia bathed together, while V and I had (separate!) showers.  Weirdly, the girls decided to “play dead” lying face down in the bath for as long as they could, before jumping up and letting us know that they were, thankfully, still both alive.  Cornelia, it turns out, has her mother’s ability for holding her breath for a nervously long time!

Once scrubbed and sparkly clean, they dressed in their party outfits and eventually Harry and Miela (Chelsy’s daughter) joined them together with Emma and Chelsy who had also now arrived.  The kids watched some TV while we poured gins etc, and finished the food preparations.  Poor Harry’s cough was not getting any better, and although I offered a sachet of Calpol to bring down his slight temperature, he didn’t like the taste of it, so he ended up not having anything other than the Nurofen Emma had given him earlier, which we hoped would work its magic.

We managed to feed the children first, and then they were happy watching a bit more TV while we ate and drank and chatted.  The fireworks show was at 21:00, just after darkness had fallen, and we had a prime spot for it.  They were being set off on the beach, and we were just three apartments from the sea front, so could see everything really well.  There were lots of people down on the grassy communal hotel area (who had had picnics there) but our apartment really was perfect for our own private celebrations:  we had the loos on hand, the TV for the kids, food and snacks were available without being crawled over by bugs, and we had immediate access to the ice for the gin!  The children all sat with their hands over their ears, but were completely fascinated by the display, which was really excellent.

Once the show had finished, it was time to try and get the excited gang to sleep.  Miela went to sleep first, crashing immediately on the blow up mattress in our bedroom that V had brought with her.  Emma managed to get Harry to sleep on the sofa in the main living area.  But those two naughty girls…. Belle and Cornelia were TERRIBLE!!!  They were in the huge double bed in our bedroom, but Cornelia kept getting cross because Belle wanted to be close to her (in a total role reversal from earlier today, when Cornelia wanted to be near Belle, who was having none of it!), then Belle was upset.  Then Cornelia wouldn’t settle.  Belle went to the loo several times, and came out for V a few times, and Cornelia was not being a very nice friend, yelling at her if she rolled too close. After several attempts at settling them, I went in and lay between them, stroking them both until FINALLY at 23:30, they were fast asleep.  Success at last!

We remained on the balcony talking utter nonsense.  I was glad I’d set an alarm at 23:59, as I suspect we would’ve missed the countdown, and then at 00:00, we all cheered, clinked our glasses and welcomed in the New Year together with hugs and kisses, and another brief fireworks display.  Once those celebrations were over, we started talking about our New Year resolutions.  I think, as I have become older, I have tended to avoid making resolutions that involve giving up something, choosing instead to start doing something.  2018 has been such an epic year of discovery, that 2019 will be hard to beat, but I have a few things on my list!

It was nearly 02:00 by the time we decided to call it a night.  Emma and Chelsy (who was staying in Emma’s room) managed to pick up their children and escape our apartment without really disturbing them at all, and they remained fast asleep on their mummies’ shoulders. We opened up the sofa bed, and V lifted Belle onto it, and within fifteen minutes or so, we were all in our respective beds with sleeping children.  Yahoo!

Happy 2019 everyone!

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