I'm a village girl at heart and in location. I find cities a little daunting (especially London where I don't think I've ever completed a successful tube journey from start to finish - the ladies at GLTC will attest to that as they're more than used to receiving random texts asking how far the office is from bizarre stations across the city), crowds of people aren't for me, and I simply can't keep up with anyone that walks at a faster pace than a leisurely amble.
Made for hustle and bustle, I am not.
And so, for the most part, I tend to shy away from busy events and locations when thinking of things to do with the boys. Yes, they were born in a city and lived there when they were younger (but Zurich is hardly a whirlwind of a location) and I have braved the odd festival or two with them (so what if one was the local apple festival ... still counts, right?) but on the whole, if it's going to be busy, noisy and hot, well, I'd rather play out in the garden with easy access to cold drinks and ice lollies.
But at the weekend, we took the boys to the Family Funday at Chester Races ... somewhere guaranteed to be very busy, incredibly noisy, and due to the amazing weather we've been having, seriously hot. Hooray!
We had access to the fancy pants stand but didn't fancy wearing fancy pants clothing so we donned shorts and sandals, packed a picnic and headed for the open course area with its family friendly games, music, food wagons and multiple bookies (don't think of it as gambling, more as maths homework - odds and probability form part of the curriculum, right?).
And it was so much fun. Picking favourite horses by their colours, mainlining more than a weekly allowance of ice cream, losing betting slips, chasing betting slips through throngs of excited people, being able to afford the Lego of your dreams when Gossip Column and Kimberella romped home, having an epic meltdown because your brother chose Gossip Column and Kimberella and you didn't, and then realising that you've missed a spot with your factor 50 and your nose is every so slightly red.
And that was my only criticism of the day. No shade! There really was nowhere to run from the sun. Next time we go, I'll forgo a gin and tonic to be able to drive on to the course and bring some sort of gazebo/umbrella to sit under. It would be worth the parking cost. I'd probably save the equivalent in not needing to liberally apply suncream every 43 seconds anyway.
So can this country girl be persuaded to enjoy slightly more chaotic surroundings? Well, now and again, yes. We had such a fun day and even my noise-sensitive five year old was so caught up in the craziness of it all that he didn't ask for his headphones once. I think we'll be up for leaving the confines of the village at least once a month now. But I still don't think I can be trusted on the London underground. Ever.
P.S. We stayed at Chester Crowne Plaza rather than going home after the races. I can definitely recommend it if you're looking to stay over in the city. Such friendly staff ... super kind to the kids and very knowledgeable about gin (what more can you ask for, hey?!). We actually stayed there back in 2006 for a few days before we moved to Switzerland when our house was being packed up so it was great to return and reminisce.