If only it could be half-term every week ...

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You may be wondering why so many men came to work early this morning. That's right, it is half- term. A wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with your beloved offspring - so important in this era of commuting career women and overworked dads.

For you lucky parents who managed to get the week off, here are some ideas. Have fun!

Monday

Today is Chinese New Year. Why not visit Chinatown? Wonderfully colourful, and multicultural, too. The children will love the bright shop windows. Off we go!

No, that is not dried bear's gizzard, darling. Is it? Oh dear. No, we can't go in. No! Come over here and look at this lovely procession of dragons. Tempting to run after, I know, but Chinatown is very compact. And there is a police station round the corner. What did I tell you? Nice Mr Policeman found them in a trice. All better now? Off we go!

Tearful, are we? Must be all the excitement. Though, yes, the fireworks are rather loud. Why not cheer ourselves up with a plate of dim sum - children are not conservative eaters, given half a chance. And only a half-hour wait for a table. No, I am afraid they don't sell fish fingers, but crab soup is just as delicious. Yes it is! Here comes the aeroplane ... Oopsadaisy! Can we have some more prawn crackers, please? Without monosodium glutamate if possible. Oh, I see. Never mind. They'll calm down eventually. Well, at least they don't have to go to school tomorrow. And didn't we have a lovely day!

Tuesday

Pancake day! Children love cooking and batter is so easy to make. Simply whizz up four ounces of plain flour, half a pint of milk, two eggs and a pinch of salt, and hey presto. Self-raising wholemeal is fine. I'm sure it is. Simply sieve out the weevils! Has anybody seen the Magimix?

Oh dear. Are you sure that's a non-stick pan? Perhaps you had the ring on too high. Never mind! I'm sure they taste delicious. No? Well, the supermarket sells wonderful ready-made pancakes these days. Only pounds 1.35 for six. And gosh, we've suddenly run out of whisky. Wasn't there half a bottle left over from Christmas? No, we are not going back for lemons. Bedtime, darling. Daddy's just having a little drink. For his sore throat.

Aren't we having fun? Three glorious days to go! Five, if you count the weekend.

Wednesday

Unfortunately, Daddy had to go back to work today. Some kind of emergency, apparently. Never mind, we can have a lovely time with Mummy, even though she is a bit hung-over. Naughty Mummy!

So, what shall we do today? Unfortunately Legoland is not open yet. Yes, I know it's raining. How about a trip to the swimming pool? Mummy will just sit here quietly in the spectator gallery, because you're so good on your own now. Believe me, that is what lifeguards are for. Yes, she can see you from the cafe. If you swim in the bottom right-hand corner. Honestly. Well, I had to go outside. The only one. Our little secret, OK? Aren't we having a lovely half-term?

Thursday

No, we can't go swimming again. No! I don't care if Bettina always takes you after school on a Thursday - she's on holiday. For the last time: LEGOLAND IS NOT OPEN. And if you ask one more time, you are not going when it does open. I don't care if you tell Daddy about the ciggies. Believe me, your father is not on the moral high ground at the moment.

It's not my fault it's raining. Whatever happened to creativity? Why don't you do some painting? Or read a book? It is not boring. It's just that Mummy needs a little kip. All right, you can watch telly. And will you go to the shop for some sherry? Tell Mr Patel that Mummy's in making a trifle. And 20 Bensons. For Mummy's friend. OK, some Easter eggs. Very important spring ritual. See you in a bit, darling ... Bettina? Is that you? There's a flight tomorrow at 9.05am.

Friday

Daddy's taking you to the office. Yes, he is. Believe me, sweetheart, the emergency is over. He can't wait for you to arrive. You can go to the canteen. And use the lift. There's a vending machine. And there will be lots of other children there, too, spending quality time with their parents. Mummy's going shopping with Bettina.

Happy half-term!

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