A family holiday, or was it?
Holiday: A holiday is a day set aside by custom or by law in which normal activities, especially business or work, are to be suspended or reduced.
Having just arrived home after an eventful few days ‘holidaying’ in Wales, I am currently sat with a much needed hot cup of tea and a large mountain of chocolate beside me, looking at the photos of our few days away. After the success of our last family holiday in France I was looking forward to another break away, and another chance to build more memories. Which technically, we did…but not in quite the same way, as the weekend was more of a comedy of errors than a restful break away. I shall start at the very beginning, and I apologise for what is rather a long, and possibly at times, rather rambling post…but I needed to get it all out! (skip to the end for my profound response to it all if you choose! ;-))
So…my husband was supposed to have the whole week off work before we were due to got I Wales onThursday, but as always in his line of business, there was some sort of ‘deal’ happening and he annoyingly needed to go into work on both Monday and Wednesday. Now I have to admit to not being too amused by this, however as there wasn’t really anything I could do I (mostly) kept my mouth shut. It did mean however, that as I had all three children to myself my brain wasn’t completely focused on the packing and by Wednesday night it still wasn’t done and we were due to leave by Thursday lunchtime. I don’t know what it’s like in your household, but generally here…I do ALL of the packing, partly because I’m a total control freak, and partly because my husband wouldn’t have a clue what to pack even if I asked him. Normally I’m very organised and in control of the packing (I do love a list!)…..however this time, I did it very quickly and I didn’t do it very well. (not a list in sight)
It quickly became apparent that I’d forgotten quite a few things. Never has the phrase I uttered as we were driving down the M4 and across the bridge ‘I’m sure I’ve forgotten something’ been more apt, for I had forgotten some quite vital things as you will discover as you read on…
We arrived at the cottage and let ourselves in as we’d been told it was unlocked. Small and quaint, but perfect for what we needed we were quite pleased! There was as strong smell of air freshners which turned out to be those stick things you put in a jar of smelling liquid, it took about five minutes for us all to start sneezing so I hid the offending freshener in the downstairs toilet. The smell stopped, but the sneezing didn’t….all sodding weekend. Fresh air was in order and we were just around the corner from the ‘Mountain Cafe,’ where there were apparently amazing views of the Brecon Beacons. Not today however, as just as we got back into the car to drive there the heavens opened. We found the centre, surrounded by mist and rain clouds and not a single pleasant view, and all ran inside. It was about four o’clock by now so we went to the cafe for a cuppa and cake. There was a nice softplay there, yet as always, my 17month old wanted to wander where he shouldn’t, which was on this occasion around the tables that weren’t being used and had chairs upside down on top of them. I asked my husband to get him (he was closer!) as I could foresee a nasty chair falling incident and got the reply, ‘he’s alright he’s just walking,’ and then, yes, you guessed it, two seconds later and the boy decided to pull a chair in top of his beautiful little head. Cue screaming, cue looks from everyone judging us for letting him walk there in the first place, cue me shouting ‘I told you so,’ and everyone feeling slightly awkward. Thankfully the crying stopped and we could see there wasn’t much damage done to my little one, yet everyone else was left feeling a little bit tense.
We went back to the cottage where were discovered that it really isn’t set up for small people. There were no stair gates, no secure fire guards next to the log fire, no high chair, hard corners everywhere, cleaning products in kitchen cupboards where the doors could be easily opened….I could go on. I take it for granted that at home, and the majority of other homes I’m in, that there are things put in place to make life easy, to keep children safe without you having to follow them around every single second of every minute. The toddler jammed his fingers in drawers, picked up firewood and got splinters, changed the channels (to no channel) on the tv, ran up the stairs and all sorts of other mischievous things…and that was with two of us watching him constantly! It was not relaxing AT ALL!
Thankfully he goes to bed at six and it was then I discovered the first of my packing errors…I had not packed a bottle, not one single bottle and he will currently not go to sleep without one at night…so this resulted in me having to do a very quick dash into Brecon hoping that the local supermarket sold bottles, which thankfully they did. I raced back to find a very overtired little boy, a rather stressed out Dad and that the majority of the lounge had been moved or altered in some way to make it a bit safer…for everyone!
The boys went to bed and the second of my packing f*** ups became apparent…I hadn’t packed the four year old’s blow up sleeping bag bed. No bed. FFS. Why couldn’t I have forgotten socks or toothpaste or things that weren’t really, really important? After a frantic search and brainstorm we found some cushions that are meant for the sun loungers that were outside. We found a spare duvet cover to use as a sheet and a lovely blanket for a cover. Sorted.
Wine was now in order and then I cooked dinner (priorities!) We had a relaxing evening in front of the tv and then went to bed. Day 1 done.
Day 2 was ok, we discovered a lovely farm and spent hours there feeding lambs, holding rabbits and chinchillas and watching spooky shows. The only things that weren’t perfect were that even after we’d ordered our lunch it didn’t appear, and when we asked it turned out that they’d lost our order and had to start again from scratch, cue three very hungry and grumpy children. Then the 17 month old walked into a (unpadded!!) metal bar in the toddler soft play area and added another bruise to his already colourful little face. Poor little chap, he is so accident prone at the moment and every time he falls over and hurts himself I feel soooo guilty. We spent most of the day there and then after the older two had completed a challenge and collected two pumpkins on the way out, we left.
Back at the cottage the four year old suddenly went very pale and quiet and wasn’t himself at all. Thinking he was just worn out from the day we had early nights all round, however when he woke up on Saturday it was clear that he was poorly with a nasty high temperature. Turns out he picked a good day to make us all stay in as there was a storm outside. A massive, huge , horrible storm that was worse than we experienced last week in Bristol. Garden furniture was blown all over the place and the road outside became a river. Keeping our fingers crossed we didn’t have a power cut as there was only one candle in the cottage and no matches, we all huddled in the over crowded slightly unsafe lounge. I cooked a roast thinking that would cheer everyone up, but the toddler threw his on the floor and it wasn’t the happy family meal I’d envisaged with my husband and I having to take it in turns to look after him and eat our roast cold. I was in bed by seven that night as I was utterly exhausted.
And today, well today on the way home, we visited Caerphilly castle and froze our butts off walking around and exploring it for a few hours. Nice and fun…but freezing cold!!
I’m not entirely sure what the point, moral or message of this post is (I usually like to have one) but I guess writing about it has helped me as blogging usually does…putting the last few days in perspective has taught me not to expect anything when there are children around (and that I need to think carefully and write lists when packing!) I’d imagined us all walking up the mountains or around the beautiful reservoirs of the Brecon Beacons (which we couldn’t have done anyway because I’d forgot the blimmin sling) I’d imagined cosy nights in, laughter, rest and relaxation and I guess I came home slightly disappointed that there wasn’t really any of this, and that sadly, this weekend, the errors and mishaps didn’t make us share laughter, or rest, or relax….they just served to frustrate and exhaust my husband and I even more.
Yet ask the children if they’ve had a great time and the reply would be a resounding ‘YES!!’ For them there wasn’t a forgotten bed, but an opportunity for an exciting sleepover in big sister’s bedroom on a brand new bed! There wasn’t a dangerous storm, but a thrilling show through the window of magical moving furniture and blowing leaves. There weren’t banged heads, but adventures and places that had been explored. There were new experiences, new memories being stored, new things done; and even though my husband and I have come back exhausted, the children have come back energised (apart from the slightly ill one) A change for them it seems, really is as good as a rest….
Do you find family time away relaxing…or exhausting??
I’ve linked up with the lovely @PODcast ‘s What’s the Story? this week, luckily she let me tell this story with lots of photos! 😉