The family holiday. A time to relax with loved ones, treat the little darlings to beaches and ice-creams, and take lots of photos so that you can look back with fondness at the happy times in all you holiday destinations.
So that’s the theory. The realtity is that despite the holiday snaps showing smiley happy families with ice creams in hand, you can bet that the little darlings will behave like fully fledged little shites for a significant proportion of the time. Grievances will range, but as the little darlings get increasingly knackered as the week progresses, so their reasons for tantruming will become all the more absurd. We like to explore new places, but also to go back to new haunts. This week, we have returned to Cornwall, a favourite of ours. Today, as we visited a lovely little fishing village, I realised that I do not recognise towns or villages by their views, restaurants or amenities, but rather by the “incident/s” which occurred there. So that you get an idea of what I mean, I have compiled a list of my personal top favourite holiday memories (warning- you may feel inspired to create your own incident related holiday memory book after reading this):
1. Porthleven, Cornwall
Ah, what a beautiful little fishing village. I remember this place because it has a Rick Stein restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I do not remember it for the fabulous fish. I remember it because they have an outside balcony which we chose to eat on as we thought we would be the fartherest away from other diners. Sadly, our efforts were in vain. So serious was Daddy and Mummy’s concentration on the wine list, trying to work out which wine would best go with 4 screaming infants, we failed to clock the kids antics. We were alerted by screams from passers by on the street below. We realised that the twins were taking turns to fire the buckets and spades over the balcony onto the passing public in rapid succession. We had 4 buckets and 4 spades, so it rained a fair amount of plastic. As Daddy ran down to the street to apologise, compensate and retrieve, I realised that our table (painted baby blue) was being given a distressed makeover by the other two kids who were happily using the cutlery to scrape off the paint in various patterns. As Daddy ran panting back up the stairs, the drinks arrived. We pretty much downed the wine, threw some cash on the table and legged it. We didn’t go back there today when we re-visited Porthleven. I recognised the waitress, and she clearly recognised us. Her glare spoke volumes.
2. Rhos on Sea, Wales
Wild and rugged North Wales. A beautiful place to explore with kids. Rhos on Sea is a great place to stop for some good old fish and chips on the seafront. After lunch, why not wander down the slipway and let the kids have a little paddle? My resounding memory of this destination is the slipway, the paddling and the fact that the slipway comes to an abrupt end, which may not be readily apparent to a paddling toddler. Said toddler, fully clothed, plunged off the end of the slipway. Now, given the amount of time and money which I have invested in infant swimming, I fully expected the twin in question to at least make half an effort to swim. Even wiggling his arms would have been fine. Was my time and money well spent? NO. the twin sank like a stone. As I frantically screamed, hubby had to leap in fully clothed and shod, iPhone and wallet in his pocket, to retrieve the twin. The twin screamed a lot. The stocking wearing fish and chip eating blue rinse brigade stared and oohed and aahed like this was the best fucking thing they had seen since last weeks Emmerdale (or whatever it is the blue rinse brigade watch. Actually it’s probably that Oompa Loompa David Dickinson and his car boot sale or whatever he does). Anyway, criticism of our parental supervision was obviously the sole topic of conversation in the entire borough that afternoon. As we stripped and dried the twin in question, we heard a shriek and then howling. The blue rinses approached with tissues at the ready. The older two, bored waiting for the twin to dry, had been climbing the wall. Patch had kneed Lou in the nose prompting a bleed which didn’t properly stop for over a week. Daddy ran for the car clutching the naked twin and the dog. I follow in quick succession clutching the bleeding child, with the remaining two clinging to my legs. I don’t think we will go back to Rhos on Sea.
3. A campsite somewhere in Brittany
I appreciate that going camping with a 4 year old 2 year old and 1 year old twins may seem like a twattingly stupid idea, and actually, having done it, it really was a twattingly stupid idea.
It was their first time in a tent. To be fair, the older two were OK. It was the twins that we particularly struggled with. The fact that they had us up around 8 – 10 times a night at home should have acted as an indication of the difficulties we may face camping. Pure desperation for a family holiday in France within budget meant that Daddy and I applied our parental blinkers and barged on ahead with the booking.
Despite zipping, snuggling and practically tying the twins into their sleeping bags, it never took less than 30 minutes for them to shed the sleeping bags, undo every tent fixing they could locate and start wailing. To be honest, we were stressed. Mummy sampled large quantities of French wine, and we told ourselves wer were doing ok. Apparently, our camping neighbours felt differently. We found a little note on our table one morning. It was frankly outstanding in its arrogance. Now, I will confess that I am still not ‘over’ this experience/note. Give me another 6 months or so, and I will post it along with my response. In summary, the note told me that I was totally fucking up as a parent. It said that I didn’t recognise the true value of good sleep for children, and gave me suggested methods of soothing (bathing, reading to my child, lying next to them). Apparently, sleep in the car or pram does not count as it is not quality sleep. I should ensure 12 hours per night etc etc etc…
I am going to try hard to keep my rant in this post brief. The first point is that they were behind a hedge from us. I cackled with slightly wine induced laughter when I realised that they had no fucking idea that it was twins, rather than just 1 child. We can cut the cry time by 50% first off. Secondly, if I had, at that stage, had any twatting hope of getting the twins to sleep for 12 hours, then obviously I would have taken it. What did she think? That I was going in and wakening the twins every 30 minutes just for the fuck of it? Because hell, what parent actually wants their child to have quality sleep so that they themselves can sleep? Anyway, I left a note back explaining that I was a Paediatrician, and my husband was a child Psychiatrist, and with all due respect, we were perfectly well aware of our children’s needs. I explained that I could write a detailed response, but would rather spend quality time with my children than waste it writing notes to an arrogant interfering bitch. I referred her to our recently published texts on children’s needs including sleep (titles made up, but convincingly realistic I felt).
(Just to be clear, Daddy and I are lawyers, and clearly have no sodding clue about kids or I would not be in a position to write this blog – still, childish as it is, it made me feel better!).
Anyway, I no longer like France.
4. Winchester, Hampshire
Bit of a cheat as this is now home to us. However, at the time, we had not long moved. My one and only little darling was turning one. I called on family from far and wide to attend this monumentous event. I booked a pizza restaurant as little Patch loved pizza.
It was busy, and as we waited, Patch had water, and a straw. Patch liked the straw. In fact he couldn’t get enough. He worked his way round the table finishing off everyone’s water through his straw, and crunching the ice cubes. Finally, pizzas arrived. Mummy cut up Patch’s pizza, and then went to take a bite of hers. As mummy opened her mouth to take her first bit, Patch gave a little cough. Mummy turned to him, mouth still open, and at that moment, he vomited. Repeatedly. It took him about 10 minutes to vomit up all the water he had drunk. He vomited into Mummy’s open mouth. It took a lot of blue paper on a big role to mop up. Mummy and grandma had to split grandmas clothes as mummy’s were in a bad way. Mummy will never have a party for a 1 year old again.
5. The New Forest, Hampshire
If you have kids, or even if you don’t, the New Forest is not to be missed. Lovely scenery, free range ponies, wild pigs, and wonderful pubs serving local produce. It is a huge area, and the choice of walks is really huge. We have a walk we like/used to like to do. Due to the nature of this blog, I shall not be more specific.
All I can say is that you should imagine you are running through the trees with the kids, looking for deer antlers, and finding wonderful looking fungi. A child says “Mummy, I need a wee”. You are in the arse end of nowhere, so you crouch the infant down for a quick forest wee. Imagine now how you feel when you realise that the toddler is doing the hugest stinkiest pooh they have ever done. Baby wipes? What baby wipes. 16 oak leaves later….just as you think things cannot get any worse, and you are dragging 4 whinging infants back through the forest to the car, they discover a ditch filled with water. They start jumping. You start yelling no in your most bossy voice, as you can see what will happen. The little darlings are only encouraged by the coos of passers by about how lovely they all are. And oh look. Splish, splosh, splash, face first in the ditch x 4. It’s only 1.5 miles back to the car….
I am going to stop at 5. Frankly, reliving these has left me a bit bloody knackered! I will post more again. If you have any experiences along the same vein, I would love to hear them. Xxx ps. I am trying not to think about the wind up crab…