It was only after Bene was safely home from hospital and had been here for a few weeks, taken a few trips in the car, been out to visit places once or twice, that Max and I really started to consider the logistics of life with 5 children in the house. I mean, we had ‘considered it’ when we decided to have Freddie; a larger car was purchased, the finances were scrutinised (laughable really, by the time we finally had Bene, most of those were no longer quite as well shaped as they could have been!), things about the house were looked at and a virtual space was made. And we very certainly made a decision that expensive holidays on the Med were not likely to be coming are way any time soon. We made decisions on whether I would work much, or at all and accepted sleep would become a thing of the past again. And by and large, albeit without the baby we expected it to be built around, life is pretty much how we expected.
In the couple of years before Bene arrived we altered our holidays from camping ones to cottage ones. We chose the holiday, that cottage,because it had an affiliation with our family past that made it feel like a safe haven at a terrible time. Max did a very specific search for a cottage in an area, found something familiar and that’s where we went – and we’ve been back for a further 4 weeks since. You might say that isn’t very adventurous (and you’d be right!) but given we had also camped three times at the same Devon campsite, 6 times at one holiday park and youth hostelled 5 times in one other place, you could fairly say we go for familiarity as a regular thing. When you go away with 5 children in tow, one of them a baby, there is something to be said for familiarity – knowing you’ll fit, have fun, be accommodated, find everything you need. It’s tempting (and quite likely) to go back again and again until we die
As we packed to go this year, I did tentatively moot to the children that with life on the up, we might try a new part of the country another year – and if we moved to Devon, we might holiday somewhere else EVERY year – the suggestion was met with blank horror. We’ve brought up a nation (it feels like a nation ) of conservatives. But Max and I have never visited the Lakes and quite fancy Scotland again, or Northumberland. I can’t say we want to go back to North Wales much, but perhaps it has changed in the 14 years since our honeymoon Recently I’ve been tempting the girls with looking at sites like Sykes Cottages and TripAdvisor, trying to encourage them to allow some exploring in 2013. So far, all I have persuaded them to consider is 1 week at our old Devon campsite BEFORE we go to the farm for 2 weeks
To get back to that first paragraph though… what has actually occurred to Max and I is that in only a couple of years, we won’t be taking 5 children away. Our car might last us as a 7 seater because Fran will be off doing her own thing, closely followed by Maddy, Amelie, Josie. In ten years time we will probably only be taking 1 child away with us and ten years will go quicker than it should. While Max and I still have the backs and hips to cope with camping trips and one bed cottages with the children in a tent, we probably should. Our girls don’t seem to mind (phew!) and if all they want is a holiday walking up and down hills and sitting on a Devon veranda together each evening, so be it. Time enough to explore another decade.
So maybe those far flung cottages on enticing sites will not be financially out of reach then, because we won’t be looking for one to accommodate 7 people. Maybe we can traipse the country then, leaving behind glorious Devon for a few short weeks each year. Bene might camp in the garden anyway, an intrepid and brave boy with no desire for a comfy bed, but Max and I can keep retiring to the fireside each night, planning our next day out with 3G and wine. Maybe we’ll do canal holidays then, or fly abroad – I can probably be safely valium-ed with only one child to take care of I’ve nearly been tempted by channel tunnel but really I think I could happily explore the UK for many years, there is so much of it I’ve never seen.
What’s your perfect holiday? Where do you go? How do you like to holiday? Tent, cottage, boat, camper? When all the children fly the nest, what will you do then? Will you do things differently, do you have a secret plan or does it not quite bear thinking about?