Well, this last week has been exceedingly relaxing. My in-laws have made their almost annual pilgrimage from Nottingham in the UK to Auckland in New Zealand, a journey of some 12000 miles. Whilst I can see that appeal of taking a six week trip to the other side of the globe on an ocean liner, most of us can ill afford the time, let alone the budget that would be required for such a jaunt. The fact that in just over a day, one is able to travel halfway around our planet is to an amazed mind like mine, only a slightly shy of miraculous. We are in short very grateful to live in the age we do.
It has become a sort of tradition whilst they are visiting that we have a family holiday together. As if the expense of travelling to us wasn’t enough, Nanny and Gar-Gar, very generously pay for this too, and given that this really is one of the only times Team Fun are able to get away together, we really are very grateful for this.
This year we went to the historic town of Russell in the North of the North Island of New Zealand (it’s less confusing than it sounds), and spent 8 days in a holiday home there. It was idyllic; there was a little rowing boat and some kayaks from which we fished, and a swimming pool in which we could (you guessed it) swim. We were also a short drive from the town, and several beautiful beaches.
But best of all, I was able to spend eight, blissful days with my family, outside of our normal environment. This liberation from home has prompted some behaviour, which really couldn’t have been predicted.
Let’s take Boy Boy for example. Over the past few weeks, right under our noses, he has taught himself how to read. Please bear in mind that he won’t be four for another four months, and so this in itself is pretty remarkable. Due to both mine and Mrs L.’s lamentable observational skills we only discovered his new found ability when he disappeared at a birthday party, and was found reading to himself in the birthday girl’s bedroom. Now though, no meal can proceed without at least half a dozen books beside him, which he will leaf though and narrate to us as he consumes his grub. Unfortunately he has yet to master the cardinal rule of “not speaking with your mouthful” and so whoever is sitting next to him, by the end of the first course, will be wearing about a quarter of his food.
Jojo has made it clear that he wishes to become a mountaineer at some point in his adult life, treating every obstacle we put in his way, as a minor obstruction which should be climbed over in the most terrifying possible manner. It really didn’t help that the house we were staying in had terracotta floor tiles, so not only would Jojo have made a considerable mess of his head if he’d fallen off of whichever lofty perch he had clambered upon, they also looked exceedingly expensive to replace.
Finally we come to Fraboo. It seems that we have an aspiring model on our hands. Every time we came across a beautiful view (this is New Zealand, and there are plenty of them), we would be told
(not asked) to include our six year old daughter in the shot. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to taking her picture, but it would have been nice if just once she’d smiled, and assumed a natural position. Intriguingly she insisted on adopting some truly bizarre shapes, arms and legs flailing all over the place, and pouting into the middle distance (apparently it is exceedingly uncool to look directly at the photographer). Initially we found this carry on absolutely hilarious, which did little to discourage her, but it wore just a little thin.
As the week advanced, we were told that there was to be a make- over (each syllable of which, was accompanied by complicated arm movements, neck twisting, and facial contortions). This entailed a long session with Mrs L.’s flash new hair straighteners and a tiny coating of lip gloss, applied by Mrs L (had I been putting it on I’m sure that she would have ended up with singed hair and an exceedingly shiny face). I wasn’t left out though, as I became her official photographer, and have been instructed to prepare a portfolio for submission to a variety of agencies. We had several PHO-TO-SHOOTS (also said with accompanying gestures) in various locations; in the garden, on the beach and in the pool, and I have compiled a series of shots with which she can approach potential employers.
It is all very perplexing, and Mrs L. and I cannot work out where she has gleaned the poses or facial at expressions from. If you were to see how Mrs L. and I dress, it would immediately become apparent that we aren’t the keenest followers of fashion. We don’t have any fashion magazines around the house for her to leaf through. In fact the only magazines we do have are parenting ones, which tend to be a little bit light on haute couture.
It’s entirely possible that she has managed to find some of the photo’s from my plus size underwear modelling days, but I doubt it. In any case, the focus is so soft in them that it’s pretty difficult to tell if they are pictures of a person or of the gas giant Jupiter.
We have asked her where she has learnt this particular set of skills, and she insists that she just has them but one has to wonder. I can only assume that she has (perhaps subliminally) noticed the models who appear in shop windows or on advertising hoardings in the malls we occasionally go to.
Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with modelling, I would just like for my children to be involved in an industry which has a little more substance. But as I have said before, as long as they are happy, I will be happy for them.
In any case the kids aren’t only family members to embrace new activities. To my in-laws alarm, I have decided to become a naturist.