As my beautiful wife is British and courtesy of her being a Maid of Honour at a friend's wedding we decided to spend three weeks in the United Kingdom for the Xmas holidays. This seemed like a daunting task due to a number of reasons. The first was the cost of the entire affair, air travel is not cheap! Second was whether the sensible Brits would be able to cope with the unruly Farrell's invading their quite little villages. Lastly, would we be arrested for not keeping our children in helmets, knee pads, goggles etc. to adhere to the many health and safety requirements to ensure your child survives being alive?
On the first count we managed to scrape pennies together with the kind help of family members. On the second count we seem to have not disrupted the general psyche of the British public at large. I am not so sure they get my humour, but that is a mute point as I enjoy my humour very much. For instance I do wonder if the friendly teller in Tesco's will ever understand the following exchange. Let me set the scene first.
I was walking around the store with little Eden sitting on my shoulders. Shock horror she did not have a helmet, knee pads or elbow pads fitted to her person. What she did have was a father Xmas hat on. We finished our requisite shopping experience and headed to the tills, still with her sitting on my shoulders. When we approached the teller she looked up and exclaimed "What a nice hat!" I immediately responded "It's not a hat, it's a child!" She looked at me sideways and asked me if we had a Tesco loyalty card; at least I laughed.
On the third point we did not have any confrontations with law enforcement or social services over our lack of health and safety compliance. Even though our children did run around like hooligans in public areas at times, we seemed to be deemed to have made the health and safety grade. I did notice that my wife's sister did remove their two year old cousin from the roundabout before I spun it in a very fast and unsafe manner for my two. After the spinning the idea is that you stop it and tell your offspring to run across the park. This is purely for my entertainment so that I may see what happens. If they fall in the mud then it seems that your wife's enjoyment of these moments will be less.
We learnt a few things about our children as well. We discovered that little Eden is really not a fan of Father Xmas, to the point that she is rather keen to see daddy hurt him. If we brought up Father Xmas in conversation the exchange between Eden and myself would go as follows. "No like Father Christmas!" "What must daddy do to him?" "BOP him!" "And then?" "I kick him and poke him in the eye!" So this was the usual summary of how she would like to see Father Xmas treated. Of course she did say that we should take the presents first. I guess Eden is a proper South African and is looking to have a career as a mugger one day, jeez we have done a good job. Look to be honest I do think that she shows a wise head for such a young age. I would also be nervous of an elderly man who keeps asking me to sit on his lap!
We discovered that it will freak your children out when you take them from the middle of summer to the middle of winter. When the girls left it was 31 degrees and the sun was setting around 8 o'clock in the evenings. They arrived to 3 or 4 degrees and a sun that set at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. The temperature wasn't so bad for them it was the darkness that they did not like. They did get used to this and didn't complain too much. With regard to the temperature what they were fascinated with was the temperature of the tap water. They could not believe that it came from the tap and not the fridge. When they first arrived Julia would notice that there was a strange quiet in the house and only the sound of running water. She would investigate and find two children standing shivering with big grins on their face with their hands under the freezing water.
I did have the distinct pleasure of not travelling with the kids when we went to the UK. This was courtesy of work constraints as I left three days after them. It was very nerve racking watching their flight on the internet just counting the hours till they were out the sky but otherwise I enjoyed a peaceful few days and flight. Julia did not share my glee at the travel arrangements but it all worked out in the end.
Not travelling with my brood did mean that we got to surprise them. We told them that I was not coming and that they would have to survive with just seeing daddy on the computer everyday. I really wanted to tell them but I am glad I didn't. I arrived at Julia's Mom's and Dad's place whilst they were all out. Caught up with Julia's folks and had a much needed shower.
What I had wanted to do was to wait for them to get back and come running up the drive with my backpack looking a bit haggard from my "long run" from South Africa. Alas due to the early darkness I had to settle for sitting on the couch and waiting for them to come in. The look of shock was priceless. Eden was especially surprised; it was like she could not believe her eyes. She came over, sat on my lap and kept touching my face, as if to make sure that I was real.
I was quite cruel to them though. After five minutes of cuddles and smiles I told the girls that it was only a quick visit as I had to go home to feed the dogs. My amusement was short lived when Julia reprimanded me for devastating the children as the lounge was filled with wails of discontentment. Eden was especially devastated and would not let me out of her sight or grip until we all collapsed into bed together.
Whilst overseas Bella learnt that puddles are not the same everywhere in the world. At home she is used to putting her gumboots on and jumping in them at will. This is not the case in colder climes. We would go out walking in the afternoons whilst Mommy and Eden slept. I took her along a dirt road to the seaside on one of these occasions. Of course there were puddles everywhere and Bella was prepared with her gumboots. She was in for a surprise when she jumped into her first one. Bella was shocked to find out that people would leave glass in the puddles in this strange land. I let her experience her shock for a moment and then showed her that she had in fact stepped on a sheet of ice. This was of great interest to her and she proceeded to smash every puddle that she came across.
All in all both parties survived the December holidays. The United Kingdom seems to still be in one piece and the Farrell's are back safe and sound in sunny South Africa. On a side note all the Father Christmas' on the mud island have also managed to keep their health and not get mugged by our two year old terrorist!
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