Singapore

We are home from Singapore. I have a wealth of material I’ll blog you all to boredom with over the next few weeks, but right now I’m planning to just luxuriate in SINGAPORE for a few lines.

What a place. I had worried myself into knots in the weeks leading up to our trip. I was worried about being in an aircraft for near-on 14 hours with a sensitive 3 year old. I was worried about how all of us would deal with the humidity. I was seriously concerned Blake would not deal with jetlag and we would find ourselves sitting miserably four days in with an awful farting laughing you-frittered-your-savings-on-this trumpeting elephant in the corner.

And so I’d gone all out denial. I had done barely any research beyond asking a couple of people for recommendations of things to do out there, and of those the only thing I had actually looked up, in a moment of weakness, was Gardens by the Bay.

‘If you are unprepared, you cannot be disappointed’ was my mantra, chanted sternly and steadily to myself during 3am anxiety attacks, immediately after people asked about the trip, and at regular intervals throughout the three weeks leading up to fly-day. ‘If you don’t research it, then you won’t know what you’re missing.’

(It’s really great being married to me by the way – you should all just take 2 minutes to envy James and the life he must lead being married to this mellow, positive spirit right here.)

So I knew virtually nothing about Singapore when we landed. And boy, did I quickly fall in love. It’s not for everyone but it is very much my cup of Twinings Everyday. What an amazing place. Strange and yet familiar, so clean you could lick the pavement if you felt so inclined (actually, don’t do that, we didn’t see any but there are cockroaches), friendly people, cultural melting pot, family friendly, visually spectacular – I could easily go on all day. We’ll skip over the price of booze.

I think what I liked most about it, and this was really unexpected to me, was that the Singaporeans are big on fun. I don’t really know why this was a surprise – a random preconception I’d quietly nurtured, but I expected a place that was hi-tech and clinical and a bit up tight. What I found was a tropical island where they are big on fun. An Island built entirely about fun you say? We give you Sentosa. Random bits of sea bobbing about between shipping lanes? We will reclaim them and build you places for leisure. These are a people who conceived the idea of Supertrees and the Cloud Forest, the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands, and all manner of other things that are there to be enjoyed.

When we’re not binge drinking, I often think we’re a bit stuffy over here in the UK, a little bit uptight and worried and unable to really let go and enjoy the moment. Maybe that’s just me. Regardless, Singapore is all about the moment. I found myself unexpectedly emotional at several points during our break because I was having such a good time, or because I was just blown away by the place these peoples have built. I’m not sure there are many places where they could come up with the idea of Supertrees. Made of a sort of mesh, they light up at night and you can shuttle up them and walk between them on a treetop platform, gazing out at Singapore. Sounds a bit gaudy in writing but the reality was completely breath-taking and I found myself saying over and over to James ‘I’m not sure I’ll ever see anything like this again.’

I think that was the nub of what made this trip the holiday of a lifetime – knowing that this is a place entirely in its own right – a place that is somehow familiar and yet different, captivating and unique and engaging and truly extraordinary. I will never forget it.

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dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

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Photos

On Monday we fly to Singapore. Spicy nuggets Batman, Singa-freakin-pore. We never do stuff like this, we are ordinarily really rather dull. But for once we’re going for it, and PRAYING that Blake copes with 13 hours on a plane and jet lag and humidity.

And I am resolute about one thing (aside from attempting to not have a packing induced breakdown or freaking out totally as I watch my toddler’s bedtime routine slip away as our plane takes off from Heathrow). We are going to photograph the shizzle out of these ten days.

We could not be more useless when it comes to photos. We bought a fairly decent camera, on the recommendation of our brilliant Wedding Photographer, for our Honeymoon and we got some great pictures. Look:

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And then we came home, put the camera away and did not get it out again until Blake was born at which point we took approximately three photos of him and then I clobbered James square in the face with it. I bent down to take Blake from him having forgotten (there was a lot of forgetting going on at that point thanks to the total absence of sleep from our lives) that the camera was around my neck and would do as gravity bid it and swing forward straight into my poor husband’s forehead.

And really we have barely used it since. I feel horribly guilt that Blake’s childhood to date has been captured in grainy detail on our phones – phone cameras are great when you want to plaster your child all over Facebook, but a bit of a let down when you actually print the pictures off and realise how pixelated (smart arse) they are.

So the camera has been taken out and dusted down and I trotted off into the centre of Birmingham today and bought each and every pack of AA batteries I could find. As family holidays go, this is a pretty unique opportunity for a three year old, and I am determined to make up for my total photographic inadequacy to date by creating a lasting pictorial record of it. Lord I hope that will not be comprised of 700 photos of Blake crying because he was tired, or hot, or decided he did not like rice for the entirety of our stay.

And this leads me briefly to one other topic. Being photogenic. I am not. At all. See:

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How do people do it? My friend Hannah is quite literally the most photogenic person you will ever meet. It verges on disturbing. I do not think a bad photograph has ever been taken of her. I can only imagine how dazzling her Wedding Album must be. She has this innate understanding of how to arrange her face and body in front of the camera without ever looking especially posed or pouty or anything. I do not have this skill. She has tried to teach me but I am the student who flunked the class. My attempts at taking a good photo are comparable to what would happen if you stuck a Giraffe in a New Look dress and asked it to pose. Awful. Look:

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This is upsetting because I am conscious that there are not many pictures of Blake and I together. This is generally because I am the one wielding the iPhone. There was an advert a while back that talked about that – how it’s always the Mum’s feet or shadow in the photo, but rarely the full person. I would like to be in more photos with my Son, and I will try to facilitate that this holiday (probably by thrusting the camera at my Husband and screeching TAKE A PHOTO HONEY, BLAKE SMILE.)

I know the results will be far from photogenic on my part (Blake luckily IS photogenic) but I would love for us to look back at those photos and remember our 10 days in a place a world away and smile, even if Mummy does look like a wally.

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P.s don’t expect I’ll be doing much, if any, blogging for the next 2 weeks. But, as I chant at the end of each blog, dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused, so if my phone co-operates out there maybe I’ll share a photo of my hair, which will no doubt turn into an Afro in the humidity. See (blog?) you soon!

To Blake (who is nearly three)

Dear Blake,

You are nearly three. I can scarcely believe that three years ago I had been in labour since the early hours of the morning, with no idea that we would wait another two days until you joined us, and changed us and our world forever.

I will be busy wrapping presents, baking biscuits and cakes and swearing under my breath at fondant icing from tomorrow, so I am writing something for you and to you now. I hope that this will mean more to you, in a few years time, than the Thomas puzzles and toy kitchen and playhouse that you’ll be unwrapping over the next few days. Because you are always on my mind, you see, and I hope that this letter will be something that will last longer than any of those toys.

You were so wanted Blake. We talked and planned and when we found out I was pregnant with you we were over the moon. And from then on, life has been unexpected.

I don’t mean the trials and tribulations – the nine months of sickness, the tricky delivery, the sleep deprivation, the realisation that it is tough being a parent, especially the first time when nothing is anything like you’d imagined.

I mean the positives.

When you were born I had not thought much beyond having a tiny baby and I certainly had no idea of how extraordinary it is to watch your child become a person and make sense of the world. The daily, tiny triumphs as you have mastered something previously unconquered or understanding has dawned on your face.

Because this really is the year that that has happened – from two to three. You have emerged as your own little being – a charming, funny, caring and extraordinarily stubborn child. It has been mine and your Dad’s joy to watch you. I think both of us, before you, would have struggled to name much that we were sincerely, truly proud of. But now, we have you. We are so proud of you and I hope in time you’ll know that. That we will always be proud of you.

You have more conviction than most adults I know. I greatly admire people with conviction – who believe their truth and speak it without fear. That is one of your unique gifts. You will not be swayed or cajoled, bribed or bullied into anything you do not want to do. For a while this was a challenge for me – the countless hours spent murmuring ‘try some banana for Mummy. Eat some cucumber.’ Now it is one of the things I love most about you and I hope you will remain as true and dedicated to your own mind in the future as you are now.

This is the year you have mastered language. It has been a very special thing for me to watch you learn to speak. The first few words rapidly giving way to conversations – inflections that are so clearly mine or your Daddy’s or your Grandparents’. I love chatting with you as we walk to places, drive in the car, sit snuggled on the sofa or have tea together.

All of this I was simply unprepared for. I did not know to expect it and it has been the highest of highs to discover what being your Mum means. Most of all, I was unprepared for the love. I did not expect it to be so fierce. There are times when I watch you deep in your own little world of trains, or peep in at you as you sleep, or watch your face light up as you watch fireworks and laugh your deep hearty chuckle, and my heart swells with the love I have for you and it feels almost too much for me.

You make my heart soar sweetheart, and I love you more than I can say.

Happy Birthday.

All my love,
Mummy x

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dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused