Last week we had a family trip to Scarborough, which has become a favourite destination for us as a family in recent years for short weekend breaks. Oliver isn’t keen at all on beaches or the sea, but there are enough other things to do there to keep him happy, so we felt pretty confident in taking him there once again based on our past experiences.
This was an ideal weekend for us actually. Louise and I were going down first on the Friday afternoon whilst the boys stayed over at their Grandparents. We were looking forward to staying in our favourite apartment complex on North Bay. It’s called The Sands and it’s an absolutely amazing place to stay. I always feel like I am living like a footballer whilst I am there, and this time was extra special as we were actually getting one child free night to ourselves there before Louise’s parents and the boys came down to join us on the Saturday. This was a rare treat.
We dropped Oliver with his Gran early on Friday afternoon and set off for The Sands, which is about and hour and a half drive away. George was still at school and his Granddad was picking him up later. So off we went, child free, and boy does that feel strange. It takes a bit of getting used to. Doing things in our own time, not having to plan meticulously, and just doing whatever we want. It’s so weird. We even stopped off at Whitby on the way to have a little coffee and a walk around. This would have been unthinkable with Oliver.
Anyway, we got to The Sands and checked in. One of the highlights of this weekend for us was that we were going to see McBusted play at the Scarborough Open Air Theatre on the Friday night. We had seen McFly the year before at the same venue and it was really good. We got to The Sands at around 3.30pm, checked in, and basically lounged around for a few hours before heading off to the concert. Getting such relaxation time is just so nice, but it’s also quite an alien feeling. No matter how much the boys can tire us out, we always miss then, even if it’s only for one night.
So, the next morning we were up and out pretty early and went for a walk in the park while we waited for the boys to arrive. We were quite nervous as to how Oliver would handle the journey there. The last time we did it with him he had seemed a little anxious and looked a bit pale! As they arrived in Scarborough late in the morning, I went down the parking garage to greet them. I opened the car door and Oliver did indeed look anxious. I got him out and started carrying him towards the apartments. George happily followed me while Gran and Granddad went to park their car and sort out their luggage.
Oliver became very distressed as we crossed the garage and entered the apartment complex. We had prepared a social story for him about what would be happening that day, but he was obviously very anxious about where he was going and what we were doing here. His distress increased as I took him toward the apartment and he started to try and wrestle free of me and run away. I have learned how to safely handle him in these circumstances, but it is not easy. I made it to the apartment in good time and we were in. Louise was ready with his favourite Thomas DVD playing on the TV, and some of his favourite toys to make him feel at home.
It took a little time for him to get used to his surroundings, but once he settled down, he started to explore and get comfortable. He seemed reassured that everyone was with him, and we explained we would be staying here tonight. Gran and Granddad bringing him his iPad also helped a great deal.
We were keen to get out and explore as soon as possible, but we gave Oliver a few hours to settle before we risked this. We eventually coaxed him into his shoes and out of the apartment around mid afternoon and we took him for a walk towards the miniature railway that we had all enjoyed going on many times before. We wondered if Oliver would remember it. We needn’t have had any concerns about this. He gladly boarded the train and smiled happily and we went to the other end of the line and back again.
Next, we thought we would try the beach, as George really enjoys this. So, off we went confident of having safety in numbers. Louise, George, Gran and Granddad happily played on the beach, but as expected, Oliver would not go near it. He held tight to my hand and watched from a safe distance for around twenty minutes before dragging me back to the door of the apartment which was nearby. His memory capacity always amazes me. I shouldn’t have been surprised that he had already memorised the route back to the apartment, but I was. Anyway, I’m not a fan of beaches and the sea myself, so I was quite happy to go back to the apartment with Olly and chill out for a bit, so that’s what we did.
The rest of the day went like clockwork and both the boys settled to sleep well that night and we all woke around 6.30 on the Sunday morning. We would be taking the boys home after lunch while Gran and Granddad stayed on for a much deserved night to themselves as well. We squeezed in one more trip on the miniature railway at George’s request before taking a tour bus over to the South Bay to have a quick look over there. South Bay is less Oliver friendly but he did really well while we looked in a couple of the shops. We then decided to walk back to North Bay, which takes about 30 or so minutes, and Oliver seemed to really enjoy this and did really well – only asking for a carry from me a little way near the end. This was an example of real progress. A year ago he would have been in his pushchair for this, and in fact the last time we attempted this Oliver became hysterical and screamed the whole way. I had to get him out of the pushchair and carry him most of the way, and still he was pretty upset. So, the idea of walking him and him willingly going in the direction we wanted to go would have been laughable. This was a major achievement.
We went to the apartment for lunch, and then it was time for us to go home. The journey home was uneventful with Louise, George, and Oliver all napping in the car on the way home. As driver I was a little jealous of these naps I have to say. But the weekend had been a great experience for us all and could only be described as a complete success. As I wrap up this blog post, I am starting to realise that most of my recent posts have been quite positive ones, and that is a nice realisation. We do obviously still have daily challenges. This very sentence I am now typing was interrupted by me having to go and resettle Oliver to bed as he was becoming distressed with a book that he was trying to line up in a row, and it wouldn’t stand up exactly as he wanted it. We are used to this sort of thing though and we deal with things as they happen.
When it comes to trips away such as this one to Scarborough though, I think we are always better prepared for the things that can happen, and we know most of Oliver’s triggers now, and this gives us the best possible chance of making these trips successful and enjoyable for us all, and make us all the more keen to do more in the future.
Take care all!