11 years of journey with a baby


It’s one other milestone birthday for you, my pretty lady – whereas final yr marked a complete decade of you being in my life, this yr spells the top of your time at main college and the following steps in direction of turning into a youngster and an grownup your self.

Sparkly figure 11 in yellow and purple against a blue background - looking back at 11 years of travel with a child

Not that you just’re fairly prepared for that – waving farewell to your acquainted college this yr, plus the combo of nerves and pleasure concerning the new college, you’ve had loads of sympathy with Peter Pan not too long ago and his need to not develop up.

However whereas he may need wished for everlasting childhood, time in the actual world ticks ever on (even when we’d each wish to sluggish it down generally) – though as I look again on the previous 12 months, for my customary birthday put up, we’ve made the many of the days and weeks.

Re-reading final yr’s birthday put up, I’d already observed flashes of the teenager I assumed you would possibly grow to be – these are undoubtedly getting increasingly more frequent!

At instances, you’re nonetheless very a lot a baby – having deliberate a brief go to to the brand new Gruffalo Clubhouse in Blackpool to evaluation it, we spent far longer than deliberate as you embraced the prospect to play.

My daughter looks out onto the beach at Blackpool and one of the three piers during a holiday discovering some of the best things to do in Blackpool with kids

At different factors, I really feel I’m quick forwarding to your fifteenth birthday. In some methods, that’s implausible – you’re creating your personal pursuits increasingly more, that are influencing our travels and days out (and extra enjoyable for me than smooth play!)

A go to to the Hallyu exhibition on the V&A to feed your rising obsession with Okay Pop, a visit to Kensington Palace collectively for the combo of movie star and vogue on the Crown to Couture exhibition, plus a donut tour of London and bubblewraps in Chinatown.

After your Yr 6 manufacturing of Alice in Wonderland, we’ve additionally bought an escape room themed round Lewis Carroll’s basic novel lined up, as we head off for a mini metropolis break in Oxford in autumn too. After a busy yr making ready for 11+ entrance exams for secondary college and SATs, I can’t assist surprise in case your path would possibly in the future lead right here?

Given your spectacular outcomes, I’m sure you’ll be able to obtain something you wish to. I’m so, so happy with you.

There are particular moments of teenybopper angle too, and firmer opinions on what you’d love to do whereas we journey (fortunately you’re not but bored by every part I counsel although)

My daughter holding an ice cream looking along the Riva waterfront promenade lined with palm trees to some of the old buildings of Split - my pick of the best things to do in Split with kids

For now I can – normally! – drag you away from any screens to discover with me, even should you insisted on a while chilling out whereas we have been in Break up at Easter, reasonably than packing each second full. Even when I flatly refused to allow you to watch Sport of Thrones, regardless of how typically you requested whereas we have been there…

This yr has seen one of the vital memorable journeys we’ve ever finished collectively too – and that’s up towards some stiff competitors. Again in 2020, I’d been arranging a safari in Africa, earlier than the pandemic scuppered all our plans.

When the chance got here up once more final yr, the most important battle was not telling you instantly. Your face if you opened the mini suitcase and scratchcard I’d purchased and revealed we have been off to Kenya was an image.

After all, that was solely the beginning: seeing Africa’s unimaginable animals within the wild within the Masai Mara’s Naboisho Conservancy was unforgettable, your impatience at hanging round ready for a leopard vanishing when he lastly appeared to climb again up the tree to devour his kill.

My daughter with her camera phone taking a photo of three elephants, including a baby, in the Mara Naboisho conservancy in Kenya - my tips for visiting Kenya with kids include advice on a family safari

Your slight nervousness about whether or not the lions typically ate guests turning to thrill as we watched lion cubs enjoying like overgrown kittens.

And your realisation that whereas hippos look cute, if dozens of them lurk collectively in a small stretch of river with comparatively low water, they don’t odor anyplace close to as cute! Just some highlights to remove.

Regardless of a busy yr together with your more and more full diary, we’ve had escapes nearer to house as properly – glamping in Kent, the place your pleasure on the scorching tub was matched by your pleasure of getting a USB plug by your double mattress on its excessive raised platform.

There was a ship journey to Brownsea island to attempt to discover pink squirrels – with out success, however I did get to fulfil the promise I’d made to you earlier than Covid, when our deliberate time out on a earlier journey to Dorset had been rained off.

My daughter holds the leading rein of Mungo, our light brown and white llama, as we walk through the trees - the Surrey llama walk was part of a stay at the Merry Harriers in Hambledon

We did discover llamas in Surrey at The Merry Harriers in Hambledon, heading out on a stroll within the Surrey Hills with our new furry buddy Mungo, who immediately received us throughout.

You fell in love with Venice nearly as shortly as with Mungo, hopping on the vaporetti to get round, snapping dozens of your personal images of Burano, attempting to find lions and settling all the way down to make your personal carnival masks at our Venetian Masks Workshop – all these hours of drawing and colouring coming into their very own.

We retraced our pre-pandemic steps to Bruges and Ghent, the place copious waffles and scorching chocolate helped to take the sting off the freezing temperatures of our midwinter escape.

And added one other Greek island to our listing too, spending two weeks exploring Crete – seeing the house of the minotaur at Knossos fed your love of Greek myths, you endured the mountain roads with me to discover a pink sand seaside and braved the terrapins to swim in Lake Kournas.

Close-up of the pink sand on Elafonisi beach in Crete with my daughter sitting in the shallow clear water of the lagoon - my tips for visiting Elafonisi Beach with kids

Though the much less stated concerning the colony of ants which had made its house within the kitchen of our second villa, the higher…

Hopefully our subsequent island, Rhodes, will embody fewer bugs! Someplace I final visited once I was about your age, it’s humorous that trying again at myself then, I appear so younger, whilst you abruptly appear so grown up.

Though with extra strikes on the horizon, hundreds of cancelled flights and who is aware of what different journey disruption forward, getting away remains to be not easy crusing. Let’s hope that by subsequent yr I can cease writing that sentence!

I’m decided to get pleasure from this summer time collectively although, that no man’s land between main and secondary college. I ponder if issues will change as a lot as I feel over the following 12 months, once I come to learn this put up again in a yr?

For now, we even have the sunshine of the Algarve and a few days out in London to get pleasure from as properly. I do know that, proper now, you’re unsure you wish to develop up too quick.

My pretty lady, that’s completely positive with me.

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