Our last weekend was always going to be a high stakes operation, and one that was somewhat fraught with multiple conflicting emotions. Overall we did pretty well. The girls picked Saturday activities, James and I took Sunday, and Monday was something new, cool and distracting for us all.
So Saturday comprised a return visit to Waterbom. It was the water park to end all water parks, and it certainly finished me off!
Having been before with James, the girls knew their way around, and exactly in which sequence they wanted to inflict the torture. They lulled me into a relatively false sense of security before lunch with Boomerang (the name says it all…..) and Bowl (essentially a ginormous plug hole!).
Despite the overall clientele being a far cry from the glamorous Omnia crowd, lunch was pretty decent. They were kind enough to swap the dressing on my salad (they served salad!), and green enough to serve everything on banana leaves accompanied by water in innovative recycled plastic bottles.
Us adults were allowed an hour ‘off’ after lunch ‘to digest’, but the girls needed no such allowance and took themselves off for their own adventure in the park.
After a strict 60 minute respite we were dragged back into action, with a sharp hike to the ‘thrill’, ‘drench’ and ’speed’ ratings of the slides.
We bombed down the Twin Racers several times before hitting the first of the ‘Speed Level 5’ slides, Fast and Furious, where you are strongly advised to cross your arms and legs. The arm-cross feels a bit like preparing yourself for long-stay in a coffin, and the leg cross is mandatory to avoid some kind of colonic episode.
Bella and James braved Smash Down, the killer slide that has no queue (go figure…….). It comprised a >10 story monster of a side where they stepped into what essentially WAS an upright glass coffin suspended over one heck of a drop. After a disconcertingly unspecified time period, the glass floor of the coffin flew open and they free-falled for several seconds before hitting the slide and whooshing directly to the ground. It was TOTALLY FREAKY! Emily and I did the marginally lower version that dropped you out of a similar glass coffin, but then swerved you round a few loops to slow you down on the way to the ground. Not entirely sure the deceleration was worth the additional duration and spinning!
In a posture to ‘calm down’ a bit, the girls took us up the Python, which they pitched as a ‘family ride for 4’. We did indeed all 4 get into a giant inflatable ring together, but the little pickles ended up tricking me on 2 counts. Firstly, as we mounted, they pointed out the sign with an image of stars flying round a dizzy head warning of ‘potential nausea caused by tight corners in the darkened tunnels’. Then they had a small spat about which of them (sitting opposite each other to balance the ring) should get to go backwards (apparently this is desirable) at which point the pesky attendant announced that ‘Mama could go backwards!’ and launched us off with a hefty shove for good measure…….. I was very jelly legged by the bottom, and wobbled my way to a seat while James and the girls hit a final few adrenaline highs.
We stopped for dinner at fabulous Famous on the way home, and raised a glass to Rob – it didn’t seem quite right to be there without him.
On Sunday James and I chose a return visit to the Virgin Beach where we’d had such an idyllic day with Robin. As creatures of habit, the girls were keen to go back to the same restaurant and same loungers. Sweetly the owners recognised us and gave us a warm welcome, and a warning about the waves (shortly after they had swept away my flip flops!). As alluded to, it was super-high tide, and as the waves hit their crescendo in their cycle of 7, they whooshed right up the beach and encircled our loungers. Once we had got all our possessions out of the danger zone it was quite fun being marooned, every few minutes, and we enjoyed a last blast of sun, and a last swim in the sea.
The girls got henna tattoos, and picked out bracelets to take home for their friends?
We had a final fly of the kites. Dad’s fish swooped around in circles before making a dive for the sand:
……. but Bella’s owl took to the air with wings of wisdom.
All in all it was a very special place to spend our last day of Monicofamily travels:
After a slow drive home, a long evening of packing ensued, interspersed by very welcome BBQ chicken from James (who had finally found a workable BBQ!). It felt strange to be filling the packing bags for the very last time. We were not really ’thinking’ too much about the end of the trip at that exact point, but we had prompted plenty of mental preparation for us all over the past few weeks.
Our final morning, we welcomed Cass and Astri (fab yoga instructors) back to Villa Arcadia to introduce us to Acroyoga (and in doing so distract us from what could have turned out into a bit of a melancholy last morning). Acro is essentially creating balances in pairs. The experts add in graceful sequencing and transitions between postures. We started with some hilarious mental and physical warm up exercises, before having a good go!
Acro is a super fun family activity which builds trust, strength, balance all while having a good laugh. We’d love to do some more of it if we can find an instructor in London. We all surprised ourselves what we could achieve, both as ‘bases’ and ‘flyers’:
More emotional farewells ensued to the gorgeous staff at Villa Arcadia who had embraced us like family, and been such a warm and friendly bedrock of our lives in Bali:
We flew home via Bangkok, and had an enlightening episode in the Novotel Suvarnabhumi where the all the contestants for Miss Grand Thailand were congregating at the breakfast buffet to see how long they could string out eating a lettuce leaf. The girls were (thankfully) fascinated, yet not remotely put off sneaking past me with chocolate milk to pour all over their coco pops, and rounding it off with bacon sandwiches, all washed down with hot chocolate.
The flight home was uneventful. Back to back movies for the girls, some movie edits for James, and blog-catchups for me.
I don’t feel sad – it just felt like were flying to the next place on the crazy adventure of our blessed lives. We had my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary, and a trip to Ibiza to reunite with many of our closest friends to look forward to. I have a feeling ‘the end’ won’t hit us till long after we actually set foot back on British soil, or maybe (I hope) it will just feel like ‘the next beginning’.