More reflections – why we’re NOT all going on a summer holiday…

My friend Jo of Slummy single mummy fame has recently written a lovely blog entitled ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday‘ about the beginning of the school holidays, finding things to entertain her two girls and the challenges of juggling work and childcare during the long break in her first full year of self-employment. Looking at it last week I was suddenly filled with something a little like envy. Why? Because for the first time since our honeymoon my husband Peter and and I will be holidaying by ourselves this summer, whether we like it or not.

For our two week family holiday in August we organised a free house swap with my brother and sister-in-law who live in a village in Suffolk. They will be bringing our three small nieces and nephew aged between 5 and 10 to stay in our little terraced 3 bed, and Peter and I will, it turns out, be rattling around on our own in their five bedroomed house. Well, not quite on our  own. We are taking the dog.

James is off to University in September and is working, ostensibly (ha ha) to save every penny possible before he leaves, so I appreciate he doesn’t want to come with us. But Evie? She has grown up so quickly that her response to the suggestion that she might like to bring a friend with her took me by surprise. ‘God, what would we do! I’m not coming, I’ll stay with Auntie Jane.’ That was that. No amount of persuasion (and certainly not the Benjamin Britten House and beautiful nature reserves) could change her mind.  When she was invited to go to Dawlish with one friend, and the Beautiful Days Festival with another, there was no competition.

Now like Jo I have never really been into the potato printing or papier-mache but to be honest my two grew out of that a while ago. We did until quite recently still enjoy the odd trip to Crealy Adventure Park, or to various seaside towns, where as teens they gravitated away from buckets and spades to (horrible) amusement arcades and (boring) miniature golf courses. In homage to countless days out in my youth, we would occasionally drag the children round a cathedral or church (inevitably half covered in scaffolding and green tarpaulin) until James said, aged 11, ‘Oh no! Not another religious establishment!’

We did really enjoy doing Treasure Trails, a great idea where you walk around nice tourist towns having a good old nose in bits you wouldn’t generally bother with whilst all the time your children are finding clues to solve a murder or catch a spy (not a real one unfortunately, that would be fun). This year it is quite clear Evie won’t be following signs and crawling around old buildings and monuments trying to find a murder weapon, but I heartily recommend it to anyone with children who aren’t miserable spoilsports. (Can you sense the disappointment coming off the page? Do you think anyone would notice if I went round Sidmouth by myself muttering about Rob with a revolver or Archie with an axe?)

Of course, I will now have lots of time to write, read, draw, drink wine, go for long walks or just mooch about, go in second hand bookshops, museums and art galleries. Peter and I can be as quiet or as noisy as we like (the noisy bit will be good…). We can go in cafes where they don’t sell chips or lean against pub bars and we can sit in coffee shops reading the paper and putting the world to rights. The National Trust may find us walking round one of their country houses and beautiful gardens and catch us for lots of money in the gift shop. Is this beginning to sound really nice? What am I moaning about? Anyone with children under five, and/or a full-time day job is probably fuming by now at the injustice of it all – ‘Shut up woman, just one day to do some of that would be fantastic let alone a fortnight’.

But I feel sad, unprepared, a bit cheated and as I said, a tiny bit envious, tempted to secrete myself somewhere in my own home and go on day trips with my nieces and nephew. All those summers flew by, and life is beginning to feel like autumn.

Photo credit David Barry

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8 Responses to More reflections – why we’re NOT all going on a summer holiday…

  1. jomiddleton says:

    If it helps you can take Bee and Belle with you? I’d be quite happy here on my own with your cats going out for lunch in restaurants that don’t sell chips :-)

    • keatsbabe says:

      Ha! Don’t pretend you won’t be jealous of me hanging upside down on a fairground ride having just eaten a Cornetto and some candy floss and drunk a can of coke!

  2. Phil Furneaux says:

    I still remember how I felt when Tom (then 17) said he didn’t want to go on our annual ‘male bonding’ holiday in the Lake District! I’m not ashamed to say I cried. Of course, as you will recall, after you invited me to come to Coniston with you, he decided to join me anyway!

    This was also the boy, you may remember, who has regularly informed us that we have fulfilled our natural purpose (creating and raising a son) and therefore we are now simply waiting to die. Cheerful fellow.

    As time passes, you will come to terms with the fact that this is the natural order of things and, eventually, the little blighters will come back to you. Our good friend Barbara has just returned from a week exploring the Dales with her daughter – respective ages: 82 and 52!

    • keatsbabe says:

      Hi Phil. Thanks for the comment! Since I wrote this Evie has been picked for nationals again – The England Championships, proper stuff with her club. That is on the weekend she was supposed to be going to Beautiful Days when we are coming back from hols (she goes with the club anyway). Its in Bedford – you could cheer her on!

  3. jane earthy says:

    Think how romantic you can be together, absolutely no moaning kids, no getting them ready to go out, no sorting out different meals for all of them, etc etc. Enjoy for goodness sake. Melancholy thoughts need to be saved up for dank dark November days!!!!

  4. sally snaddon says:

    Hey Guess what Sue, we are also going on our first holiday alone since our honeymoon, 23 years ago. Claire, Scott and Hannah will be at home with our zoo of pets, while Thomas and I have a relaxing week in Barcelona. Just hope we come back to the same house, all three are having parties, one of them to last all week.
    Still, we’ve not had a problem before. Claire, Hannah and I have just come back from Girl Guide Centenary Camp and Scott had 27 sleeping over one night, and other than having to order our own glass and can recycling van next week the house is untouched.

    • keatsbabe says:

      You are a brave woman Sally!! You lucky things to be going to Barcelona. Went for a weekend with my mate a couple of years back – it was just the most fantastic place.

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