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We’ve just experienced an incredibly rare thing – a sunny weekend in England.
No, of course it wasn’t WARM. Heavens, it’s only March! It won’t get warm until July, when it will peak at 25.5 degrees C, just before the end of the school term, as BBQ and patio furniture-buying hysteria hits the shops… and then plummet swiftly into two months of solid rain, followed by winter.
But it WAS pleasant. And when the weather is pleasant, and I remember how pretty trees, hills, cobbled streets and patios look in the sunshine, I get the untrustworthy urge to book a holiday.
When I was a child, we didn’t really go on the types of holiday OTHER people went on, even though my Dad worked in the hotel industry. I could never really work out whether we were too middle-class, or not middle-class enough – but either way, with one exception, we didn’t ‘do’ the whole ‘hotels, pools, sunbathing, and table-tennis’ holiday.
Most of the time, any spare money went towards going to Japan, or going to Denmark to stay with our Danish family, or my parents would accompany me on orchestral tours. With a busy schedule and Dad’s work, that left very little time for any other kind of holiday.
Only once, when I was about 7 years old, we went to Portugal and I spent a blissful week splashing about in the hotel pool, being waited on hand and foot in the hotel restaurant, and feeling glamorous and important because I didn’t have to make my bed. I loved that holiday.
Funnily enough, a generation later, our holiday situation has evolved in exactly the same way. At first, when our kids were babies, we were too poor to go on holiday – instead, setting a humble budget and going on day trips. Then, when we had a little more money, we saved it for trips to Japan or Denmark. And now, due to Hubby’s insane concert/contest schedule, we tend to do short city breaks rather than full blown holidays.
I’m ambivalent about holidays anyway. I like the IDEA of them… I have a good enough imagination to dream about the sun; the delicious food; the hours spent stretching and basking like a cat by the poolside; the enjoyable AND educational trips into old cities, interspersed with ice-cream and coffee breaks at chilled-out, town-square cafes; not to mention the sultry evenings in the bar, sipping cocktails.
One year, my imagination got the better of me, and I persuaded Hubby that we should totally go on one those holidays.
I’d never even set foot in one of those holiday agencies (is that what they’re called?) before – you know, the ones with hundreds of cards in the window, with incredible holidays at ridiculous prices scribbled over them in red ink. It was quite a strange experience.
We sat down and explained what we wanted. We informed the nice lady that we had two kids, and that we wanted to go somewhere warm, comfortable, not too noisy, and where there was only a slim chance of a political coup during our stay.
She looked at us appraisingly for a moment, then with a quick business-like pirouette towards her computer, starting typing. She said, “I know just the place. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s quiet and there’s no riff-raff.”
And that’s how we booked a holiday to Lanzarote for a week. All inclusive.
It started off well. I especially enjoyed packing lots of bright colourful summer clothes. Hubby laughed at me when he saw me dubiously dithering, wondering whether I should pack a heavy jumper and maybe the kagoules.
“It’s going to be hot! There’s 0% chance of rain for the entire week!” he said.
- It was COLD for 6 out of the 7 days we were there. Too cold to make use of the 5 pools, apart from the single heated pool, which was busier than Kings Cross on a Monday morning.
- Our son went in the pool for about 5 minutes, then said he was done. And bored.
- Our daughter LOVED the pool. But a) shouted ‘Look at me!’ every time she jumped in, or did some other manoeuvre that she’d already done about 617 times… and b) needed accompanying to the toilet every 7 minutes.
- The all-inclusive food and drink, which included churros every morning, pancakes at elevenses and ice-cream in the afternoon was very exciting, until I remembered that I have the world’s slowest metabolism, and would probably be barred from boarding the plane home due to weight-gain exceeding my entire luggage allowance.
- The kids were too tired to attend any of the evening activities. So we took it in turns to put the kids to bed, while the other parent drifted around the resort, lonely as a cloud, before returning to a snoring family…and going to bed. (remember the sultry cocktails? What the heck happened to those??)
- We took the children to Kids’ Club one morning, hoping they’d enjoy it and maybe even want to go back the next day, so that us parents could relax for an hour at the spa or whatever. They both absolutely HATED it – said it was the worst thing they’d ever done, and they never wanted to go back. Oh good.
- We took a trip into the town centre, where every restaurant was showing football, and boasting an all-English menu – as in English food. Ugh.
- We bought ice-creams. Son promptly dropped his on the floor and began to sniffle. Hubby gave him another extortionate amount of Euros to buy another. Son picked up his fallen ice cream, and threw the mess into a nearby bin…along with the Euros. *sigh*
The only good thing – we had a secret weapon every time we wanted a little peace… as in, “I’d like to finish this chapter of my book. If you keep interrupting me, I’m going to take you to Kids’ Club tomorrow.”
That worked a treat.
All in all, we came home feeling that holidays like that definitely weren’t for the likes of us.
It would be nice though, wouldn’t it? It’s been so cold and miserable… I fancy a little sun, and cocktails by the pool… Maybe we should try again. This time it would be PERFECT.