Monday, 22 September 2014

Troublesome Teeth! ⌗whatsthestory

So things developed rapidly since DD was complaining of toothache last week when, on Wednesday morning, she woke up to a puffy cheek on one side looking like a sleepy chipmunk.

Fortunately, we had recently done the paperwork to have the kids registered with DH's dentist, so he whizzed over to hand them in and then booked an emergency appointment for DD. 
With the appointment booked for after lunch, DH had to go back to work so I nervously took her in. However, the lady dentist was lovely, putting Chloe at ease, and she eagerly clambered into the chair. The examination confirmed decay in one of her baby molars which was causing an abscess to develop, hence the swelling, so she drew up a prescription for antibiotics and we made an appointment for next week to have the tooth removed.
DD seemed unperturbed by this news, only focussing on the silver lining of having £1 from the tooth fairy afterwards!

Having taken two doses of antibiotics by bedtime I was expecting to see some improvement by morning, but although the cheek didn't look any worse, she had a slight bruise under the eye. I was a bit concerned but DH said to carry on taking the antibiotics for the day to give it a chance to work and, as she was fine in herself, eating and drinking normally, we decided to wait. It didn't seem to get worse by the end of the day but it also didn't seem to be lessening.

However, this morning she woke to find her eye more swollen so we immediately decided to take her to A&E at Stoke. She was still well otherwise so I wasn't panicked, I just wanted the infection cleared up.

We were seen very quickly and A&E was quiet, but once we'd explained the situation to two different staff members, the doctor explained that they couldn't drain it as it was too specialised and that she probably needed a stronger dose but as she advised we go back to the dentist anyway, then they could write the prescription.

So back to the dentist we dutifully went, who seemed bewildered as to why the hospital couldn't do the draining as other hospitals in the Hertfordshire area she dealt with offered that service. She decided to have a go at draining the abscess which was a horrible, painful procedure for poor DD and unfortunately only a small amount came out, so it was back to A&E again, this time armed with a letter and pre-visit phone call from the dentist!

More waiting, rehashing of events and paperwork, we were finally transferred over to Oxford where they had specialists in the field who would extract the troublesome tooth along with a couple of wobbly ones and a molar on the opposite side to balance it up!

DD was very happy to learn that she would be asleep whilst they did this so she wouldn't feel anything, unlike at the dentist's, and that she would be getting even more money from the tooth fairy!
After a good sleep she woke the next morning feeling "starving" and after two rounds of toast, yogurt and juice she was feeling much better and the doctor said she could go home once the medicine was ready.

So, the moral of this story is, even though I wasn't keen on dentists, I wished I had seen one regularly for their check ups as this could all have been avoided!

A much happier DD now the
troublesome tooth has gone!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Best Experience Ever! ⌗whatsthestory ⌗magicmoments

Apologies for not posting this yesterday as promised, I had a slight emergency situation with DD and her tooth (as mentioned here)! She's on the mend now so here is my post!

On the second day of our stay at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Elephant Lodge, we awoke to a slightly misty start to the day but, undeterred, headed off after breakfast to explore the park.
We started at the top with the tigers, DS2's favourite animal, and delighted at one who paced right next to the fence. The other looked on, uninterested but still a magnificent sight!

Making our way downhill through the park, there was plenty to see - we were lucky to see the lemurs being fed, the rhino couple having some sort of flirting game, monkeys misbehaving, and a lovely gorilla family. Normally when we go to a zoo, the animals are so far away or hiding indoors which can be very disappointing, but we saw plenty.

The walk was fairly difficult, especially for my mum, but there were quite a few benches around the park and when we reached the bottom we asked for assistance from a keeper with a radio who was able to call for a minibus to pick us up, which took us all back to Elephant Lodge.

After lunch in our tent, we excitedly made our way to the gate for our eagerly awaited giraffe-feeding tour!
We had a slight advantage to other guests as my cousin's husband worked at the park and knew the rangers, and the one who drove us was a good friend of his. Driving to the entrance of the African Safari route, he paused to cut some willow tree branches for the giraffes (quite a lot actually!) and then set off to find the giraffes.
Spotting them quite far uphill from the road, he radioed base camp to enquire if he was allowed to go off-road, and, given the all clear, started a slow climb up a very steep hill!

Gently coming to a halt a couple of hundred yards from the giraffes, he waved a few branches to get their attention and they began to approach in that lovely slow, graceful gait so unique to them. The children thrust branches eagerly towards them and delighted when they began gently stripping the branch of its leaves. I was completely stunned and in awe just to be that close to them, taking in their beautiful faces and markings on their coats.

Up close you could see their long lashes and gorgeous colours and the texture of their coat. I watched the kids excitedly offer more branches to these gentle giants who were guzzling them at the rate of knots, and they were completely unafraid despite the size of them. At one point we had five surrounding the land rover but the only one showing any fear was M, my cousin's daughter and she is only 2 and not that keen on any of the animals at the park!

DS2 realised that it was better to try and keep hold of the branch and let the giraffe strip the leaves off with their strong tongue - that way you didn't lose the branch and they would come closer to you. He was astounded when one fearlessly put his head into the back of the land rover to help himself to the willow, and DS2 managed to stroke the giraffe's nose! Looking over to DD I saw her stroking the flank of another standing right next to the vehicle, with a huge grin on her face. I loved to see the kids enjoying it so much, the smiles on their faces and squeals of delight as the giraffes munched their way through our offerings was priceless.

Sadly, the stash of willow became depleted and the feeding was at an end, so we set off back to the road, followed for a short while by one giraffe wishing for more, and then even he drifted off back to the others. Breathing a sigh of contentment, we headed back to our tent, with a phone full of photos of our amazing adventure!

I have linked this post to What's The Story at PODcast and Magic Moments at Olivers' Madhouse

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Glamping Is My Kind of Camping!

At the end of August, just before the kids went back to school, we had booked a weekend break to an animal park in Kent, and although it's been a couple of weeks since we went, it made such a lasting impression on me that I just had to share it with you!

We had booked it a year ago, a treat from my mum who loves a new adventure and spending time with the grandchildren. My cousin's husband (parents to the lovely M whom I helped to look after as a newborn and then again as a toddler - read about her here) worked as a park ranger in Port Lympne and raved about the new safari experience they were offering at the Elephant Lodge, sleeping in safari-like tents on site with views of the park. Mum excitedly booked two of their large tents, one for us and one for my cousin's family, parents and all, and before we knew it the weekend approached and I thought I had better google it to see what to expect. A mixture of reviews, positive and negative featured on Trip Advisor, along with a meagre amount of photos which made it difficult to know what we were letting ourselves in for! The mobile website written information was better, and I got ridiculously excited about the promise of a private toilet and shower facility! There was some confusion as to whether we had cooking facilities but the couple of photos of the outside and inside of the tent showed that it really did look like a safari experience. However, having now experienced it I can honestly say the information available on t'internet didn't do it justice!

Arriving at the site, we were warmly greeted and a park ranger took us through what was available during our stay. The authentic addition of a South African accent was a bonus and, although some may feel pressurised into booking trips/tours, in hindsight it was essential to get the most out of your stay. We actually arrived half an hour early to the booking-in time but it turned out to be fortuitous as we got first choice of times for the tours! It's first come, first served so if you do decide to book later you run the risk of being disappointed.
Most of the feeding trips are reasonable at £5 pp but there are private ones which, although considerably more, are amazing experiences. We opted for feeding the giraffes at £25 pp, and although I thought it a bit steep, the experience was totally worth it! (More about that later)

We were shown the restaurant where we had planned to have at least two evening meals and all the staff were informative and very welcoming. Jasmine always greeted us with a smile and asked how we were, answered any queries we had and coped easily serving all 11 of us!
Then, she showed us to our tents which were 1 and 2, right next to the restaurant and reception, which was great for my mum who can't walk too far. Tents 1-9 run along the front of the site with an unblocked view of Romney Marsh and right out to the English Channel. There are other tents set back but 1-9 are best for the views. The view was amazing and, just below the fence, was the cheetah and elephant enclosure. The kids were so excited when they spotted the cheetah family, not quite believing how close our tent was to the animals!

The tent itself was fantastic! When it comes to camping, I steer well clear - the closest I'll get to "roughing it" is staying in a static caravan a la Park Resorts. I went camping once with the family as a child and the only memory is that of cold and rain. I like my creature comforts and do not relish the thought of trekking to a toilet/shower block in my dressing gown, clutching a wash bag, sharing said facilities with the rest of the camping site!

But no worries at Port Lympne! Electricity to each tent runs a small refrigerator, lights and spare sockets for charging iPhones or plugging in my trusty hairdryer. We had our own toilet and shower housed in a wooden structure especially built at the back of the tent, accessible from the back two bedrooms - one with a double bed and the other a bunk-bed.

The third bed is imaginatively housed in

another wooden structure in the living area, with shutters to make it feel more private, and then there is a sofa bed which pulls out to another double so the whole tent can sleep up to 8 people.

A three night stay is around £800 at peak season (July/August) but, if you can share the cost between 8, it's not too bad. Although food isn't included, there is a fantastic restaurant by the tents, serving three course meals (if you want!).

Main courses are around £10 but they are freshly cooked and very good quality in my honest opinion. Everyone raved about the Mongolian barbecue so we gave it a go and it makes for an additional experience for your stay. It was delicious but there are equally good options on the main menu. The curry we tried as the chef's speciality was amazing and made to order depending on how spicy you wanted, and the puddings were so tasty!
In addition to your stay, you do get unlimited access to both this park and Howlett's Wild Animal Park (its sister park only half an hour away), plus safari tours when the park is closed to the public. There is a children's play area in the centre of all the tents, a meerkat enclosure at the back to see whenever you want, and also a Scottish cat enclosure where a mesh runway for them goes above the path so you can see them up close. It's a lovely green area, kept clean and tidy, and the kids enjoyed being outside, just exploring the area near the tents.
Knowing that camping can be very cold, especially at night, we came armed with blankets, warm pj's, woolly socks, dressing gowns and slippers. However, I was pleasantly surprised that blankets were supplied and actually with the log burning stove we were fine - on the first night I was too hot and had to take off my blanket! The duvets were lovely and thick and the beds very comfortable - after a day of tours and walking in the park I slept like a log. The base of the tent was simply decking so I was glad to have brought my hard soled slippers, and a trip to the toilet in the night was a bit nippy so a dressing gown is useful!

After exploring our tents, sorting out beds and putting fridge items away, we had our first safari tour at 5.30pm. The meeting point was just outside our tent so we didn't have to go far and, after a quick explanation of what we were doing, we followed the park ranger through the gate and down the path to our safari truck. They used to be army trucks so very large and robust, but with little suspension so were warned about a bumpy ride. Some drivers were careful than others commandeering the potholes but parents with small children were advised to strap them in or hold on tight!

The driver slowed down at each enclosure if the animal was close so photos could be taken, and gave an informative talk of the park as we drove round. Entering the African Safari part was the most exciting as the animals roamed free, and we took it at a leisurely pace, gently lurching over the uneven road. There was plenty to see and the views over the hills were beautiful.

We got back with time for a glass of wine before heading to the restaurant to try the Mongolian barbecue.

Amarula cheesecake!

The fresh air must have made us ravenous as we all opted for starters, main and pudding, finished off with a glass of Amarula, a cream liqueur from South Africa similar to Bailey's!

Our first night in the tent was exciting, there was lots of chit-chat between us as we snuggled under our duvets, and something magical about knowing the animals were out there, not far away. I woke in the night to the sound of rain but as the tent was so big and double-layered, it was a gentle sound and I soon drifted off again.

Read about the rest of our stay tomorrow, including our incredible giraffe-feeding trip!

To Go To The Dentist or Not To Go, That Is the Question!

Along  with probably most of the population, I am not a big fan of dentists. 

As a child I had a lot of fillings even though the only sweets I ever got were bought with my meagre amount of pocket money from the newsagents at the bottom of our road. I remember buying a lot of half penny sweets to get more for my money! I think 20p was the going rate in those days….

The only time we ever had fizzy drinks was when my Dad picked up an old soda machine in a car boot sale when I was a teenager so that wasn’t even the cause, I was just unlucky to have bad teeth.

Then, when my adult teeth came through, it became apparent that I would need braces and a few pulled out as I had a “narrow jaw” - great!
Starting off with a removable brace (what a joy that was, especially cleaning it after eating, bleurrgh!), I was moved on to a fixed brace with attractive head gear to be worn at night - bit of a shock for my DH who I was dating at the time but, bless, he took it in his stride!
My teenage years were then filled with a lot of pain - aching teeth every time they adjusted the brace to slowly pull them into place, ulcers where the metal rubbed inside my mouth (so bad I could barely speak), not to mention the emotional pain of being called “metal mouth”, always conscious of how I looked.
That being said, when they were finally removed just before I was 18, I had a much improved smile and, although still not perfect, I suppose it was worth it. On the positive side, having it done early in my life meant that as an adult I didn’t have to live with crooked teeth!

When I was pregnant, I learnt that I could receive free dentist check ups so thought I would take advantage of it. Attending my first appointment in years was a little worrying but thankfully, due to my stringent teeth brushing, I was given the all clear and only needed a clean and polish!

When the kids were born, I brought them to my appointments as I had read it was the best way to introduce small children to the dentist. At the end of my appointment, my dentist invited DS1 to sit in the chair and, if willing, had a look in his mouth. It was all done very low key without pressure as the dentist industry by now had realised that people were actually quite scared of the whole procedure and would rather stay away than go for regular check ups! It was a much improved outlook and I was impressed by the training my dentist obviously had.

However, as DS1 got older, his adult teeth were becoming awfully overcrowded and it was apparent he suffered from the same narrow jaw as his mum. We were referred to an orthodontist and he confirmed that at some point he would need a brace and perhaps some teeth pulled.
This brought back horrible memories and suffice to say I was not hugely keen, especially knowing that DS1 was a sensitive soul and I didn’t think he would cope! When my dentist forgot to contact me for our next check up (they had a weird system where you couldn’t make your next 6 month check up appointment until nearer the time when they would text you?), I’m afraid I let it go and by the time I considered taking the kids I knew I would have to re-register them (NHS) so didn’t bother. 
I felt that as long as I made sure they brushed their teeth twice a day that was enough, and we would only contact a dentist in an emergency. 

However, earlier this year when DS2 asked what could be done about his adult incisors growing above the baby teeth and was not put off when I explained, DH and I discussed possibly registering the children with his dentist. He assured me that he would take charge of appointments involving teeth pulling and/or orthodontistry so I relented.

And this came not a moment too soon as last week DD started complaining of toothache! Checking it wasn’t a wobbly baby tooth, I told her to try brushing her teeth and that seemed to do the trick, and today she was tucking into a Curly Wurly bought with her pocket money (inflation bringing it to a huge 32p in this day and age!) and cried out in pain. I suspect she may need a filling as teeth brushing stopped the pain again, so, if we weren’t already going to the dentist, it looks like I would be booking her in anyway!

Wish us luck!

Me with my lovely fixed brace