Spring Has Sprung


We’ve had a nice couple of weekends, nothing special really, just a bit of sunshine entering our lives and giving us a promise of things to come.

The boys didn’t really want to do anything or go anywhere. They have a lot of sporting commitments on a weekend, in fact all week, so they are often content to just hang around being lazy when they have free time.

A sort of picnic in our garden!
A sort of picnic in our garden!

So we spent some time in the garden. We enjoyed a picnic (of sorts), putting the blanket on the table in the end as it was a bit wet to sit on the ground.

Doing a spot of weeding
Doing a spot of weeding

 

We did a spot of gardening – well, the boys enjoyed getting muddy and getting all the tools out!

 

Ladybird came to the picnic
Ladybird came to the picnic

 

We looked at the buds and blossom emerging, and even shared lunch with a ladybird!

 

 

Week 1 buds emerging
Week 1 buds emerging

I took some photos to see what my phone can do, and to compare the growth between two weekends, which I thought was fairly amazing actually.

Week 2 blossom in full bloom
Week 2 blossom in full bloom
Apple tree blossom emerging
Apple tree blossom emerging

My son obviously enjoyed our time too. He gave me a big hug before bed and declared excitedly “Mummy, spring has well and truly sprung! It has sprung up into our mouths, and we have drunk it up, and it has made us fill with energy, and fun and madness” – 7 years old and a little poet in the making?!

That boy never ceases to amaze me, not least because if I had asked him to write something, to be creative, to be imaginative, I would have been met with a total blank! But I love the clever little Wordsworth just the same!

Picnic snacks 'Scooby style'!
Picnic snacks ‘Scooby style’!

Then this morning we awoke to snow! I know, hilarious! We live at the coast, it’s nearly May, and suddenly the weather decides to give us snow. In fact, we’ve had hail, sleet, the whole lot! Time to dig out the hats and gloves again. I wonder what the poet will have to say about this?

Doing a bit of digging
Doing a bit of digging

 

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A Look Back At Our Holiday As The Ski Season Ends

This year our family went skiing with Ski Esprit to Obergurgl in Austria.

I’m an experienced skier and have visited many resorts in my time. A few years ago, I would have always been the first on the mountain and the last one off, but these days, due to advancing age and injury ( and the family of course), I tend to concentrate more on style and technique than the need for speed. My boys have developed a keen interest in the sport, this being Hugo’s 6th time skiing and Toby’s 3rd. Cal is one of those rare breeds, the non-skier! We therefore had a range of needs to cater for.

Gorgeous Ice Sculpture in Obergurgl
Gorgeous Ice Sculpture in Obergurgl

Obergurgl is a great family resort because it is compact, all the runs are interlinked, and there are plenty of places to meet up along the way. The transfer from Innsbruck Airport is relatively short and easy, which is a great advantage when travelling with children.

Being at high altitude, Obergurgl is pretty snow-sure. It’s not a tough resort, which makes it good for families. There are a variety of runs for all abilities. For the children, there are some fabulous snow parks with trails, jumps, and turns, half-pipes, obstacles etc. There is plenty to keep adults skiing happily, but also plenty to give confidence to younger skiers. All the nursery slopes are in the resort, right near the hotels, and there is direct access to the upper mountain from the same place. Our children could easily ski back to the hotel from the mountain.

Hugo after his ski race
Hugo after his ski race
Toby's ski lessons finished for the day
Toby’s ski lessons finished for the day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obergurgl has some fantastic mountain bars and restaurants including the newly opened Cross Point at Hochgurgl which has a motorcycle museum within it (of all things!). The food and drink are excellent and reasonably priced. Not to be missed are night skiing on certain days and fantastic apres ski including live band and dancing on the tables at the Nederhutte on the last run home. The ski instructors hold an evening display once a week, and the Festkogl gondola runs especially so you can watch the display and enjoy fondue & drinks at the restaurant.

H warming up Apres Ski (this grown-up looking boy is only 9!)
H warming up Apres Ski (this grown-up looking boy is only 9!)

Ski Esprit run an excellent service of wrap-around care for children of all ages. Our children were collected every morning and taken to ski school, with fun and songs along the way. They were given lunch and then had the option of further skiing or ‘snow club’ fun and games in the afternoon. I met them off the mountain and did some runs with them most afternoons. They were then given high tea and returned to us. On an evening, they could either attend cocoa club whilst parents had dinner, or could go to bed and have a baby listening service.

Boys proudly displaying their medals
Boys proudly displaying their medals

We’ve holidayed with Esprit before and always found them excellent.  I also enjoyed the ski hosting by the Esprit reps, as this service isn’t provided in all resorts, but since I was skiing alone this was a great way to familiarise with the resort and meet equal level skiers. I met some great guys this way, and really enjoyed the guided days.

Ski school for the children was excellent, all instructors spoke perfect English which is important for little ones. Our children really developed well, our eldest boasting having completed all black runs by the end of the week. The poor ski instructor was so exhausted after skiing with him, she had to go for a lie-down!

The area has found more recent notoriety following the filming of the new James Bond film Spectre, in the nearby resort of Solden. I visited for the day on a trip organised by Esprit & Inghams, and it was only about 20 mins away by bus. There is a new high-tech gondola which takes you up to the heart of the ski area. From here lifts fan out in all directions into the surrounding mountains and glaciers with great snow conditions and long, sweeping runs back into the resort.

Solden - The Clinic from Spectre, the James Bond movie
Solden – The Clinic from Spectre, the James Bond movie

There are fantastic views on a clear day including the restaurant which was the clinic in the Spectre film. It is also possible to ski the run which was made famous by Bond piloting a wingless plane down the mountain!

Hotel Hochfirst, where Daniel Craig stayed during the Spectre filming
Hotel Hochfirst, where Daniel Craig stayed during the Spectre film

The cast, including Daniel Craig, stayed at a hotel in Obergurgl just down the road from ours during location shooting.

 

We did our own bit of movie filming whilst there, as it is such a good opportunity to document the progress of our boys’ skiing. For the first time, I also took a head-mounted video camera out, although I did leave it until the last day. I managed to film the inevitable final day wipeouts which both boys encountered!

It seems a shame that a sport which we love so much can only be enjoyed once a year, so Cal had the idea of getting the boys to join a ski club when we got home. Our nearest dry ski slope is in Sunderland, around 30 minutes away,  so we decided to pool our pocket money resources and let them join. So far, it seems to be one of the best decisions we’ve made in a while – they love it, work really hard, and return home absolutely exhausted but happy every week!

First day at Tigers Ski Club in Sunderland
First day at Tigers Ski Club in Sunderland

Pin for later:

Family Skiing in Obergurgl, Austria with Ski Esprit - a comprehensive review
Pin for later…
Family Skiing in Obergurgl, Austria

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My Random MusingsThis Mum's LifeDiary of an imperfect mum

Travel Monkey

Splat!! An Afternoon of Games and Mess…

OK, this isn’t what you expected from a post about ‘Gaming’, but here’s the story:

A dreaded bug had swept through our house, rendering H and Daddy asunder. H spent two days in bed (this is so unlike him, nothing usually keeps him still), and Daddy blacked out in the garden and hit his head off the wall! Oh dear, it was a disastrous week. Now Mummy’s back is so poorly as she’s had to be nurse to the sick, as well as all the usual stuff.

Then Uncle G came to take Toby for the day to give us a break, and his car nearly set on fire on our drive! There was so much smoke we didn’t know what to do! Fun and games indeed.

So, to calm things down a bit and aid our respective recoveries, we decided to have an afternoon of playing games, only the game of choice happened to be ‘Splat!’, a pie in the face game. Well, it raised a laugh, that’s for sure, so I decided to film it to share the fun with you. (Look at the dark circles under Hugo’s eyes – he might sound better but he’s still not fully recovered here, bless him).

This is a cheaper version of the original game, but just as much fun. Maybe I should have done the movie in black and white to add to the old fashioned movie type slapstick feel – what do you think?

It never gets old, does it, the hilarity of a pie in the face? I giggle every time I watch it! Am I just cruel?

Whipped cream splat in the face - it never gets old!
Whipped cream splat in the face – it never gets old!

We then moved on to a more sedate game of good old fashioned Monopoly, but it didn’t last that long. H is very competitive and plays very seriously, but Toby is easily bored and a bit of a sore loser, so before long it got a bit too silly and we had to put it away.

A very serious game of Monopoly
A very serious game of Monopoly

Time for Mummy to give in and let them switch the X-box on….

Proud to be linked up with:

Cuddle FairyRun Jump Scrap!Diary of an imperfect mum

Bravery and Daring at Go Climb

This week, as a treat for the Easter Holidays, I took the boys to a new climbing centre which has recently opened near us. It is called ‘Go Climb’, and is located within Billingham Forum.

We had been to our local park the day before, and the way the boys could reach the top of the climbing frame within seconds made me realise that they needed a much bigger challenge!

Boys ready to Go Climb!
Boys ready to Go Climb!

Go Climb is relatively inexpensive, at £8 per person (even during school holidays – excellent!), and you can fill half a day really, as although the climb itself is only one hour, there is a 30-minute briefing before. Add in travel and drinks afterwards, and you start to see the activity stretch out! Then of course you can always make a video afterwards. That’s a challenge for Mum if nothing else!

Although Hugo chose the music, and I think he’s made a good choice actually – “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” seems to be a bit of a motto for my boys! What do you think?

This is what the boys had to say about it-

Toby contemplates the big leap
Toby contemplates the big leap

Toby: “Probably the most exciting climbing experience in my life!
My favourite wall was the tyre wall.
When I did the big jump I was absolutely shaking, then I splattered into the bag! I felt relieved to get down from such a height, but I was proud that I did it.”

 

 

 

Hugo: “The best climbing place I’ve ever been to! My favourite wall was probably not a wall, but a kind of chimney or cave. I liked it because it was more of a challenge.It made my arms and legs a bit wobbly as it was so tricky.

Hugo, King of the Castle
Hugo, King of the Castle

The big jump made me feel tingly inside because it was a bit scary, but when I jumped I managed to hold onto the punching bag. Then it felt like I was a butterfly floating down to the bullseye on the ground.”

 

 

 

 

Did we get any sponsorhip for this trip? Nope! This was just a normal family day out, and all opinions are entirely our own.