Thursday, May 6, 2010

Guest Post - Life's a Beach when you have Kids

And so onto my second lovely guest blogger, who has even written her own introduction so I barely need to lift a finger:

Hi, my name is Julie, and I blog over at The Sardine Tin . My blog is a relatively new one – I only started it at the beginning of March – and is mainly about my life as a working mother, with other random ramblings thrown in for good measure. I know, sounds dull, right? Don't worry, I have some lovely readers who write fabulous comments saying what I really wanted to say all along but couldn't find the words for. Check it out for that reason, and that reason alone.

Anyway, this is my first ever guest post on another blog, so not only am I excited about that, but I am also beyond thrilled that it is on Very Bored in Catalunya. I am naturally drawn to anything travel or expat-related, as for many years I lived a similar lifestyle. I spent a lot of my childhood in Germany, with a Finnish mother and English father, who both have relatives that seem to be scattered around most of Western Europe. We therefore invariably spent our summer holidays visiting friends and (what seemed to me to be mainly elderly) relatives in various European countries, having to endure various coffee mornings and comments about “how much I had grown”. I was always envious of my school friends that spent their two weeks in Magaluf, and used to wail about how I wanted to go on "proper holidays like normal people”.  

Of course, with hindsight, I realise how incredibly lucky we were to go places that were out of the ordinary for most - Scandinavia, Germany, bits of the UK (depending on where we were living at the time), the various Alpine countries. The memories themselves are always happy ones, generally involving pottering around in streams and lakes, and being stuffed full of delicious cakes by elderly aunts.

The experience of having different holidays to our friends is something my husband and I have in common. His mother is French – although his relatives live in the South of France, rather than Helsinki or Barnsley. When we got together, our holiday styles were therefore thankfully generally compatible. Neither of us are beach people – we would rather get out and explore historic cities, strange cultures, exotic food and vaguely try to be active. We attempted the beach thing a couple of times, and once spent 4 days in the Maldives as an extension to a Sri Lankan tour. As neither of us wanted to attempt diving, we had finished all our books and were bored stiff after two days. I have fond memories of a week’s cycling holiday in remote parts of Catalonia, trying to get by where nobody spoke English, and where trying to use our Spanish phrasebook would have been an insult to the Catalan population.

(*Please pause at this point for a moment's silence to remember those heady childless, globe-trotting days*)

I think it is inevitable that having children has changed our holiday style dramatically. Not only do monetary considerations come into play, but hours on a long-haul flight are suddenly very unappealing, and the definition of a good hotel is no longer about whether it has Molton Brown toiletries, but whether there is a playground.
I’m sure you know the cliché; Happy Children = Happy Parents = Happy Holidays. The thing about clichés, however, is that they are generally true; and none more so than in this case in my humble opinion! 

I would love to say that I am one of these people that took her children backpacking around India in a sling at 3 weeks old. Sadly I am not that adventurous, and therefore holidays since having children have mainly revolved around a beach or a swimming pool. We spent a week in Fuerteventura last year, and did nothing other than beach, pool, eat, sleep, and it was probably the most relaxed we have ever been as a family. I learnt so many new things in that short time - not least of which were the delights of the "mini disco", which my kids loved. Yes! There was AGADOO!

Picture from

I think our Agadoo days will last another year or two, but I am looking forward to when they are a little older and we can drag them around the museums of Florence, go cycling in the Loire or wine-tasting in Rioja. That will have to wait for now. 

And this year? Well, we’ll be taking the kids to Finland to see the relatives for the first time...