As we anticipate with pleasure our family holiday this summer I started reminiscing about our family holidays as children. We were enormously lucky in that my parents were, and remain, enthusiastic travellers and we enjoyed trips not only in this country but abroad too. France, I think, is the first foreign holiday I recall with any clarity, and while I may have more than one trip amalgamated in my mind, I do remember with slight hilarity a journey on which my father’s Volvo developed a fault resulting in the horn peeping every time we turned a corner! I think it was this car too that regularly required a rubber mallet to be retrieved from the boot in order to encourage the starter motor into action. We stayed in a static caravan somewhere in the Dordogne and my younger sister and I both remember somebody finding a squirrel’s dray, something which to this day I have never seen again although in fairness I haven’t been hunting for one! Perhaps one day we’ll have a family of squirrels at Oak Tree Barn.
These shared memories of childhood feel like important anchors in our lives, part of the glue that helps families stick together perhaps. A favourite memory, which I think must be shared by my sisters, would have to be on a holiday to Spain. We arrived after some fairly major downpours and were intrigued to find tadpoles in some of the larger puddles close to the hotel in which we were staying. The hotel lobby was (in my memory) resplendent with a marvellous fountain into which my naughty elder sister transplanted a good mugful of tadpoles! I don’t remember how long they survived in the fountain, but it wasn’t very long before the water was drained and I suspect those little froglets weren’t found a happy new home in which to grow. I remember feeling impressed by my sister’s mischievousness, rather in awe of her courage but mostly a bit jealous that I hadn’t thought of it myself!
I suspect our most memorable holiday was the one on a canal boat. My own recollections of this week are a little vague, though I most definitely remember the sparkly princess shoes that I persuaded my father to buy me in Norwich. Other than this highlight for me, the week was not a resounding success, most certainly not as far as my mother is concerned! The week apparently commenced with my being ill and tucked up in my bunk, and was followed by my father having to stop and leap off the boat at every phone box along the way in order to deal with some crisis at work. He ultimately returned to Bristol to resolve the situation leaving my mother with three children and a dog on the boat. This would be trying enough I think, but with no communication, no other adult, a sick child, a dog who fell in the bilge pump and a small collision at a lock, this week is not amongst her holiday top ten!
Had I been able to pin down my own children this week for long enough I would have liked to uncover some of their favourite moments of our family holidays to date, we’ve certainly been lucky enough to enjoy some amazing places together but not without our share of mishaps and illnesses like everyone else. Perhaps if they read this they’ll comment below 😆. I am so much looking forward to the four of us spending two weeks together this summer, it has been a very busy year and it will be nice to really enjoy one another’s company along with the inevitable irritations of spending so much time together. We always enjoy some games after dinner, we’re rubbish at the rules and I never remember how to play, but we make it up as we go along and usually have a good laugh all together.
Following yesterday’s workshop with the really lovely Catherine East I am hoping to have a collection of family photos that the girls might cherish in years to come just as I love the ones my Mum found for me. Catherine gave us a lot of good advice, tips and tricks that I will strive to remember as I snap away. I am really hoping she’ll come back again later in the year so that I can continue to improve.
Anyway, here’s to happy holidays wherever you may spend them, cherish the good moments and remember that even the frustrating ones will be remembered fondly in the future!