Weekend in Rochester


Last weekend we were all away in Rochester. Not an obvious holiday destination, you’d have to agree. Why were we there, in the badlands of Kent? For a family get-together.

Back in June when we had Ella’s birthday party, we invited my step-father’s parents, Nan and Charlie. As they would be coming down from Edinburgh, they felt that the journey was too far, though they’d very much liked to have come. That gave them an idea of arranging a trip when they could see Ella and her cousins, Aliya and Lucy and I suppose Douglas and I and our wives. Therefore my Mum, Clare, booked up the Holiday Inn in Rochester, as it was convenient for them flying down from Scotland to Gatwick, Douglas’s family coming from East London, and sort of for us coming from the Isle of Wight.

Over the weekend Ella certainly had fun with her cousins and getting lots of attention. We were very surprised by how adventurous she was. During meals when we were all gathered in the dining area, she was quite happy to wander off down corridors exploring. Probably she would have stopped if someone wasn’t following her to make sure she was okay. Her favourite thing was walking into and out of the lift – whenever the lift arrived, she was straight in, and when we got to the destined floor, she was straight out.

There was a swimming pool so we had a session of swimming. As we’d not packed her inflatable ring, I bought some arm bands, but she didn’t like those. That meant she had to be held in the water, giving her less freedom. She liked being thrown through the water between Hannah and I, and climbing in and out of the small baby pool.

On the Saturday night, before dinner, Hannah, Ella and I went for a short trip out to see the arrival of Santa at Dickens World. This involved Santa climbing down from the roof of the establishment. It was a rather strange place, located in the back of a common or garden outdoor shopping mall, the sort of place you get Halfords or Brantano. Anyway, Santa climbed down the roof and abseiled down the front wall. We’ve got some photos of Ella looking mildly interested. She did enthusiastically point to Santa as he appeared lit up by spotlight. While we waited for the crowd to get into Dickens World, Hannah dragged us into an M&S Outlet shop, and then we followed everyone in and saw some carols being sung, and the start of a performance of A Christmas Carol, which we didn’t hang around for, as it would have made no sense to Ella. On returning to the car, we were surprised to discover we’d left the back door open, and the people neighbouring car had called security. Fortunately no-one had nicked the car or anything in it, so maybe Rochester/Chatham is a very low crime area.

We had a very enjoyable weekend, Ella took a shine to her Auntie Joanna, and was disappointed that she couldn’t be picked up by Joanna because Joanna is pregnant (congratulations to Douglas and Joanna). She had some good play time with Aliya and Lucy as well. Thankfully she also dropped off to sleep at night much more easily than during previous hotel stays, presumably because she was quite tired and because she was going to bed late.

The lateness of her bedtime had something to do with the speed of service in the dining room, which was rather slow at all times, except the buffet breakfast. The food was rather unexciting too. Hannah, Clare and Nan spent the weekend complaining, and secured various discounts and a free round of drinks (though that required Hannah to speak to the manager at his home after he’d offered it the night before and reneged).

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