Those of you that have been following our journey will know that 2016 has been a tough year. We have been through more than we ever thought was possible and we have memories of times we wish we hadn't had to go through.
Despite all of this we have kept going and learnt to replace these bad memories with lots more good ones. With the help of an amazing charity called Willow we were able to go on a much needed break away recently to make some extra special memories and bond as a family after a rocky few months.
Willow are an amazing charity who work with young people aged 16 to 40 who have been unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with serious illnesses. They work to put smiles back on their faces during some of the hardest moments they will ever have too face and we are so grateful for their support.
When Joe was asked what he would like to do for his special experience he instantly knew it had to be something for the whole family. After all despite Joe being the one who was unwell, his cancer had such an impact on us as a family that we all needed a pick me up. Willow suggested a weekend away in Butlins might be nice. We agreed, a break away was just what we needed. They booked everything for us and took all of the stress of planning a break away from me which was so helpful.
We arrived at Butlins Bognor Regis after a reasonably stress free journey, despite being held up on the dual carriageway by a stray swan which the police had to chaperone to the edge of the road...I know it was totally Hot Fuzz territory! I haven't been to Butlins since I was about 6 and a lot has changed since then. I am planning on writing up a full review post soon of our Butlins experience but for now this post will be about the memories.
Arriving in the Pavillion we were all in awe at how big it was and Ted's little face lit up, there were arcades, sweet shops, rides, stages for big shows, an epic swimming pool and activities galore.
We went for a lovely lunch when we arrived and the staff were brilliant with Ted, talking to him about Pokemon and giving him a colouring sheet. Joe got a beer and I enjoyed a delicious mocktail. We were beginning to relax already. After lunch we were able to check in to our apartment which was the perfect size for the 3 of us and Ted had the choice from two beds in his twin room. It felt so good to be alone with my boys without any stresses and just concentrate on spending a few days as the McDonald's.
During our break we spent so much time walking around the site and along the beach catching Pokemon (which made the boys very happy!). We went swimming, watched a few shows, drank lots of Costa coffee, spent too much on the arcades and ate fish and chips and donuts on the seafront. My heart felt like it was going to explode and on the final night I was so emotional about returning home, in my hormonal preggers state I sat and cried because I wanted so badly to stay there in that Butlins bubble with my boys.
It was amazing to see the smile on Ted's face having both his parents well and happy again. He slept so peacefully every night, despite being woken by the odd seagull 'screaming' in the morning. That little boy has understood more about the past few months than we gave him credit for and although we always reassured him that Daddy would be ok it has taken months for him to feel like Daddy is going to be staying with him for the long haul. I hope that those 3 nights away and all the joy we shared will be something for him to treasure and hold on to. Something that when he looks back on being a toddler his little brain will remember over the sadness and worry he had to see when Daddy was in and out of hospital.
We want to thank everyone at Willow for making this weekend happen. We are so thankful for all of their help and support, they are an amazing charity and I hope so many more families will be able to replace any sad memories with wonderfully happy ones just as we have.