Sunday, 8 August 2010

Summer update

The summer has raced by this year - it's hard to believe we're nearly midway through August and about to head back to the UK for an end-of-summer holiday. Compared to last year, when the weeks seemed to drag, only punctuated by the once-a-week music class for the boys which I looked forward to more than they did, this summer has been a whirlwind of activity, what with summer camp, playdates, swimming lessons and weekend day-trips.

The Littleboys' swimming has improved enormously thanks to the scorching heat that has sent us scuttling to the pool most afternoons. Littleboy 1 is now swimming, if not like a fish, then like a pretty confident tadpole. He swims underwater with goggles, can jump off the pool diving board and swim to the edge, and spent yesterday bodysurfing the waves off Fire Island. Littleboy 2, a little more cautious by nature, loves swimming in my arms but is too scared as yet to let go. He spends beach days meticulously collecting sand and shells and making 'pancakes' - his name for mud pies and sandcastles.

Meanwhile my own swimming has also improved thanks to those evenings ploughing up and down the pool lanes - a man swimming with his young son even complimented me on my crawl the other day. (I wondered if he was actually flirting, because my swimming is not that great, although after watching him swim realised that he was just a really bad swimmer and probably did admire my very mediocre strokes....) The Doctor has similarly improved his own pool stamina and also perfected his barbecuing skills - he makes a mean grilled corn and ribs, to rival that of any American cook.

I've really come around to the idea of summer camp this year - last year, you may remember I was mystified by the whole thing, still believing it involved log cabins and weeks away from home. (This, I have subsequently learned, is called Sleepaway Camp, and usually takes place somewhere upstate or in New England). The boys head off in their swimwear every day and are treated to a morning of creative craft-making combined with outdoor activity and water play that tires them out until, ooh, at least 3pm, at which point I must do something else with them. The holidays are so long here, and the weather is good enough to be outdoors, that summer camp turns out to be a simply brilliant idea, and one that I would love to replicate in the UK.

What else have I learnt about August on Long Island?

That when people say they are 'headed out East' for vacation, they mean the Hamptons, not a trip to Asia.

And if they say they are headed for the Shore, this means the Jersey Shore (you never refer to it as New Jersey). These appear to be the two most favoured holiday destinations - and there is no question that anyone will ever go abroad (well, why would they need to?).

If you go on a playdate to someone else's house, take mosquito repellent. Everyone's gardens are a hotbed of insect life (including our own) and I only need to be outside for two seconds to be eaten alive. Weirdly, this doesn't seem to affect the people actually hosting the playdates.

Like last August, there is absolutely nothing on the TV - except for something called the Real Housewives of DC, which started last week and is true car-crash reality TV*. So it's a good thing we have a subscription to the New York Times and a box set of The Sopranos handy.

Sand gets everywhere. I keep finding it around the house; in beds, on the floor, in the Littleboys' hair. The car is a mess of sand and suncream-y finger marks on the windows. This is one downside of living by the sea.

In a real New York summer, you really don't need anything but shorts, t-shirts and swimwear. So it's going to be quite a change, heading to England and Wales next week, and having to pack jeans and jumpers along with our summer clothes.....I wonder what the Littleboys will make of it?

*Mothership has quite rightly reminded me that Mad Men has started. Definitely the best thing on TV in the US; I only wish it ran all year.

10 comments:

TheMadHouse said...

I so wish we had better eather in the UK. I would be at the beech with the boys everyday.

Maxi has been going to something similar, a kind of sports thing at the nearby youth club, but they only do them for 5's and over. He loves it and comes back shattered, plus me and Mini get quality time together.

PantsWithNames said...

Looking forward to seeing you when you get back. Make the most of those American summers. The three we had in DC as kids are up there as the top three summers ever!

Elsie Button said...

very envious you are near the sea. loved the confident tadpole!
you must be very excited about your impending trip. where abouts in wales? we are headed into the depths of wales tomorrow, with a tent...
Have a fab time! x

Mothership said...

Two things, watch Mad Men (can't remember now if you have cable which we don't but I'm watching on iTunes ), and ask LLG where she got he hair done in NYC - she had somewhere amazing and not too pricey and looked fabulous afterwards!
Summer seems to be over here already as I've had a note from school telling me what to buy for Six in order to get ready!

nappy valley girl said...

The Madhouse - The UK weather has a lot to answer for! Camp is a great idea, but it does rather rely on some outdoor activity.

Pants - I am definitely trying to make the most of it. Let's hope it doesn't race by too quickly.

Elsie - we will be in Anglesey, although not under canvas. Hope you enjoy the camping!

Mothership - I forgot about Mad Men. That is the one program I watch religiously. And yes, I have already bought a list of school supplies from Staples - horrors.

Nota Bene said...

So you'll be heading erm VERY east then...

Calif Lorna said...

It looks as though you've had such a heatwave in New York this summer - maybe some Welsh rain will be refreshing?!

Hope you have a lovely holiday.

pbee said...

This is a question more than a comment - how far is the Hamptons from where you live? I'm not good with distances - I'm convinced it's all really close so can't imagine it constituting a holiday! My husband assures me that 'short' distances are vast in the States.
There's a famous quote about how many Americans have passports...

nappy valley girl said...

NB - yes, I should just say I'm heading East too, and leave it at that....

Lorna - I certainly won't miss the humidity, or the bugs!

pbee - The Hamptons is about 100 miles from here but it can take hours to get there due to the streams of traffic pouring out of New York every weekend. So, it's similar to taking a holiday in The Cotswolds from London.....

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

I love reading your LI observations, they are all really true! Ahhh, I do like a good American bbq that can happen any old day and is not "pre-planned" for the one anticipated day of good weather in the week coming. I do appreciate not being bit to pieces by mosquitos in England though because they love me too!