Holiday memories

There is an advert on the TV currently, trying to persuade us to spend our holidays here in the UK. There are various very valid reasons given, including no visas needed, no airports  There are several famous people trying to persuade us to stay here. None of them mention the unreliable weather, that often we can spend a whole week without seeing the sun, that the UK in the rain is often a miserable place to be.

I’ve experienced both sorts of holidays. I’ve sat in airports and watched people and wondered where they have chosen to spend their holidays. I’ve watched the information boards and felt sympathy for the people affected by delayed flights. I’ve experienced the excitement that is being flight-side at the beginning of a much looked forward to holiday. I’ve felt the trepidation at take off and landing. I’ve been crammed into a seat that is barely big enough for a ten year old child, I’ve eaten food that I wouldn’t have looked at if I was in a cafe, and I’ve queued for a tiny, cramped, not-very-clean toilet.

At the other end of the journey, it has all been worth it. Sunshine every day. A leisurely stroll through beautiful gardens to the restaurant for breakfast. Bougainvillea tumbling over walls and guest accommodation.  Blue skies and blue sea, sunshine and relaxation. Nothing to think about beyond where to sit, which book to read, whether to have a beer or a soft drink, or which restaurant to eat in next. These holidays have varied a bit, depending on where we have been, but the one constant has been the sunshine.

I’ve enjoyed these holidays because I’m an adult though. A child would be bored to tears. I watched a family with young children last time we were in Turkey. We liked to sit under an umbrella near the swimming pool. All round the edge of the pool were sunbeds, and every day the same family would come down and set up camp near us. Actually, the only resemblance to setting up camp was to claim five sunbeds, and put towels on them. Their three children, aged about three, five, and seven, were left to entertain themselves for hours on end whilst their parents topped up their tans. The children didn’t have a toy or a book to keep them occupied. To be fair, they didn’t run around making a nuisance of themselves, I think it was too hot for that. They just sat around, occasionally lying on a sunbed completely covered with a towel. Sometimes they whined that they were bored. Once for about half an hour, their father took them into the pool.

Contrast that with the holidays my own children had when they were young. We started with a tent, but progressed to an old touring caravan, with an awning. We couldn’t afford holidays abroad, but wouldn’t have wanted them anyway.  

We would arrive at our chosen site, the children busy exploring and helping us by fetching water, and unloading the caravan of its cargo of necessities for a good holiday. Out would come bikes, dolls prams, boxes of Lego, books, drawing books and crayons, kites, plus any other toys the children had decided they couldn’t live without for two weeks. We were like a magnet for every other child on the site. New friends were made immediately, as they swapped bikes and went off to find the swings and slides.

Every day we would look through the local tourist guide and decide where to go for the day. Britain has an amazing number of visitor attractions, far more than in any other country I’ve visited, and we were spoiled for choice…a farm where we could pet the animals? Stock car racing? The beach? a picnic in the forest, by a stream where the children could paddle and build dams? Or should we just stay at the caravan, where we parents could relax and make tea when we wanted it, and the children could play with their new friends?

In the evenings we would go to the campsite club, where we would be entertained whilst the children went to their club, coming back to us from time to time to check up on us. At bedtime we would round them all up and wander back to the caravan, tired but happy and relaxed.

It all sounds, and indeed was, idyllic. This was Britain though, so there were days when the wind howled through the awning, when rain drummed on the caravan roof, and we really didn’t want to venture far. Out would come the board games, and we’d sit and play with the children. At the first sign of the rain abating, we would be in the car. Even a drive round with a stop for a drink and a piece of cake or a biscuit from the box in the boot was an adventure.

The point is, that when you contrast our children’s experience of holidays with those of the children in Turkey, our children, I think, had far more. My holidays were more enjoyable because my children weren’t bored. I wasn’t being constantly whined at. I might not have had the hot sunshine every day….(though we did have a lot of hot weather), but really, did a little bit of rain and some mud in the awning spoil it for us?….Not at all!  

I’m not sure how much my children remember of holidays. If they don’t remember very many details, I hope they remember the feeling of happiness they had. The anticipation when they woke up, of a whole day ahead full of doing things they enjoyed. Of being carefree. 

Add to this the experience of seeing different parts of our beautiful country, of coming around a bend and being confronted with the most stunning scenery, it really doesn’t get much better. Holidays abroad are wonderful, I love them, but for families with children, nothing compares to a holiday at home in the UK! 


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