Friday, May 28, 2010

Guest Post Day - Welcome aboard Angels & Urchins

The wonderful Erica over at Little Mummy has declared it another Guest Post day and I was delighted to find that my swappee was the MAD's finalist Angels & Urchins.  She has a wonderful blog and website covering anything and everything you need to know if you are a parent in and around London.  If you have a little look today on her blog you might also see a little guest post by myself.

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One of the first things I said to a friend at university is, ‘When I’m a mother, I’d love to have four boys’. She thought it an odd thing for a 19-year-old to say over cut-price pints of lager, especially when I followed it up with, ‘And hopefully I’ll marry a diplomat and spend the rest of my life travelling the world’. Apart from the bizarrely retro housewife way my teen mind clearly worked, life has a funny way sometimes of almost giving you what you wish for. Nearly 20 (gulp) years on, I’m a mother of three boys, with another baby (sex as yet unknown to anyone but the scanning notes) due in a couple of months. I didn’t marry the diplomat, but my husband is a keen traveller who loves nothing more than throwing the children in a backpack and heading to the hills. Which sounds gung-ho, and might well be, if he weren’t usually tied to the office where he works pretty hard as a lawyer. So when I heard I’d drawn to swap with Very Bored in Catalunya, I confess that I was jealous.

The expat life has always appealed. The chance to become immersed in a different culture, eat different food, have your cosy assumptions about life challenged in ways small and large. As a child, I lived abroad for three years when my parents moved from Dartmoor to Swaziland, a tiny kingdom in southern Africa. Although I don’t want to be one of those people described in Alexandra Fuller’s autobiographical novel Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight as, ‘Someone who lives in Africa for five years and talks about it forever’, it was a very formative experience. We returned to Britain when I was nine, and I was pretty homesick for the heat, wide-open skies and schoolfriends I’d left behind. And after singing it daily in school for all those months, to this day I can still remember most of the words to the Swazi National Anthem.

What I don’t remember, of course, are the daily frustrations involved in being somewhere so different to your own country. When we moved over, my parents were in their twenties and early thirties, with four children aged from a few months old to eight to organise. My father, a teacher, had been promised a government house (he was there to teach in a local college as part of a Brit government program). This house didn’t materialise for some weeks because a Swazi princess (the King of the time had over a hundred wives, so there was royalty in every classroom and street) wanted the house, so we lived in a hotel and hung out with the resident cabaret girls. This was in the days of Apartheid, and – unbeknownst to us children – Swaziland was where South Africans would come to gamble, marry or have mixed-race relationships, all of which were illegal in South Africa at the time. As we discovered during holidays to places like Cape Town and Johannesburg, even the playgrounds there were strictly assigned to different colours. As such, Swaziland had acquired a racy reputation as something of a grown-up playground.

Our school was mixed-race, with white faces like mine very much the minority, which made the unfairness of Apartheid across the border seem even more shocking. Ditto the poverty that’s still very much a part of the Swaziland experience to this day. We were by no means wealthy expats, but our three-bedroom bungalow had servant’s quarters and a relatively large garden, and we had plenty of clothes, shoes and food, all of which were out of reach of most of the country’s inhabitants.

So when people ask why on earth we bother travelling with our children (our oldest is five) when they’re too young to take anything in, I have a very simple reply: ‘When exactly do you start experiencing life?’ As far as I’m concerned, you’re never too young to start learning. Otherwise, why would we all sign our littles up to everything from music and baby signing groups, almost from the time they’ve learnt to focus their eyes?

I know expats don’t have an easy time of it. I’m told it can be lonely and often frustrating. I don’t know what it’s like to have to organise getting signed up to an electricity board, make friends when you’re the one speaking a different language, and learn the social nuances involved with children’s birthday parties. But there’s a lot beyond the niggles that I also won’t experience. Very Bored in Catalunya’s son Joseph, aged three, is being brought up to speak three languages. He’ll gain a different perspective on Europe to a child solely being brought up in Britain. He’ll probably spend a lot more time outside, interacting with a wider cross-section of society – as Very Bored in Catalunya puts it in her guest post, ‘Children are much loved by all. The saying it takes a whole village to raise a child is very much a living and working thing here’. Not something that springs to mind in the UK where only yesterday my three-year-old was chastised for accidentally dropping a piece of Lego on to a shop floor.

London is a fabulous, cosmopolitan, dynamic city. I personally feel it’s a great place to bring up young children. But that doesn’t stop me wishing I was brave enough to experience Spanish skies, or their equivalent, for longer than the occasional holiday.









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Thursday, May 27, 2010

When to Let Go...

You know how it is, you really like them, but they in turn seem to hate you.  No matter how hard you try you just cannot get them to see the best of you.  No, I'm not talking about people, I am talking about clothes!  Especially summer clothes.

For someone who has precious little storage space I seem unable to let go of some of my favourite items of clothing.  Some articles are probably approaching their tenth birthday, actually some may even be older than that.  Stuff was obviously better made back then, hmm or maybe the longevity of these items is due to the fact that each summer I get them out of the suitcase they'd been stored in over winter and realise that a) it is at least 2 dress sizes too small, b) the colour doesn't really suit me, or c) I'm too old to get away with wearing it.  Why then, pray tell, do I fold the bloody thing up and put it back in the suitcase for next year or store it at the bottom of the ironing pile in the vain hope that I'll drop three two dress sizes in the next couple of months?

Even more puzzling is why I still have two size 8 very mini denim skirts, seriously even if I did by some miracle get back to a size 8 again, my legs are shot thanks to pregnancy doing something horrible to my veins. Not to mention I would look like mutton dressed as lamb.  So why the hell can't I throw them away, or at least put them in a bag for charity?

Dresses that just don't sit right on the bust and require a network of safety pins to keep everything in one place, why can I not bear to be parted from you?  I look a right tit in you and you are hell bent on showing the world my tits.

I don't need wardrobe guidance so much and the fashion police don't need to come a knocking.  I know I look bad in these clothes, well the ones that I can get past my knees anyway, so I don't actually leave the house wearing them but I cannot bring myself to get rid.  I won't ever be that small again, well not if I continue to eat 2 kitkats (4 fingered ones) in a single day plus a magnum ice cream (it was a mini one in my defence).

Image from Boston_babes_4_U.com    Seriously!

I need someone to sneak into my place in the dead of night and steal them (they are in the spare room, bottom of the ironing pile - anything size 8 or 10), or maybe a small controlled fire to break out, outside of course and with permission from the local ajuntament as they quite rightly get a bit shirty when you start random fires all over the gaff.   How about someone mid twenties and skinny popping round and declaring themselves destitute and only in possession of the clothes on their back?  Failing that anyone know of any swarms of selective clothing eating moths doing the rounds?




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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pushing Past the Fear

When I first started this blog I was pregnant, sadly things didn't work out and I miscarried (my second miscarriage)  which went on to be diagnosed as due to a Partial Molar Pregnancy.  Part of my treatment of the Molar Pregnancy was to be monitored on a monthly basis to make sure that I didn't have any hCG hormones, which meant of course that I couldn't get pregnant again.  6 months passed and each blood test confirmed zero levels so I was cleared to start trying again last month.

Brilliant?  No, actually it seemed anything but.  I was terrified, sorry, I am terrified of getting pregnant again.  Absolutely petrified.  I could, right now, on the spot, make up a thousand and one excuses as to why we should wait, most of them would be down right stupid.  The one I don't speak of is my fear. I lost two babies in less than a year, surely the same will happen again?  I am not so stupid as to think that my husband doesn't recognise my reticence or that he doesn't understand why I am afraid.  I am sure, in fact I know, that he feels it too in his own way, although he probably has a more optimistic outlook, but whatever happens doesn't physically happen to his body.

I am almost ashamed to say that I am most afraid of the physical side of the miscarriage itself rather than the emotional side of it.  It's almost like I don't see the end prize, only a 2-3 month journey that will end in a hospital stay and a medical procedure.  I don't think of me being pregnant anymore in terms of 9 months and a beautiful baby in your arms at the end of it all. Just blood and pain and horrid hospitals, being prodded and poked and then spending months trying to pick up the pieces. Late at night, glass of wine in hand when no-one can hear you cry, no-one gets to know what you're really thinking and no-one sees how much it really hurts.

Yesterday I stumbled accidentally upon a breaking point. Something that made me realise that yes, my next pregnancy will be high risk, yes I may well have to endure all the shitty awfulness of another miscarriage, I may even have to go through all the rigmarole of being monitored for another Molar Pregnancy but it will be worth it.  Yesterday Joseph's homework was to ask his Mama how old he was when he learnt to walk and to find a photo.

Nothing, but nothing can make you more broody than digging out the photo albums and looking at pictures of your baby.  Revisiting his early months and years made me realise that I really want to do this all again, so much so that I am willing and ready to risk another miscarriage if it gives me the slightest chance of being able to go through those wonderful times again.  Let's face it when you look at pictures like these you can see why I am going to push past the fear and go for it.  The last pack of contraceptive pills have been finished, we are both in the same country which I find helps somewhat, so watch this space for an announcement in the not too distant future, fingers crossed.   




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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I am Grumpy, Again!

I know I've already done this, in fact it was my brainchild in the first place but seeing as I've been tagged by Metropolitan Mum and because I am in a foul mood I'm going to do it again.  There really aren't enough outlets for spleen venting I find...

So without further ado, seven things that have got my goat recently.

1.  Top of the pile and probably the main reason for my grumpiness today is the twat (and no I am not apologising for my language) ringing on our doorbell at 5.45am this morning, waving an empty wallet about in my sleep deprived face, volunteering his services to do work on our terraces.  Seriously, fuck off!  Firstly, our own wallets are just as empty, secondly our terraces are not big enough to employ someone to do something with and thirdly it's sodding 5.45am you moron!

2.  The security in our apartment block is cack, the door to the lobby doesn't lock, hence complete morons are free to come and knock on my door at stupid o'clock in the morning.

3.  More burst water pipes.  Luckily we were in at the time, we were watching England last night when we suddenly heard a huge wooshing sound.  The second bathroom's pipes under the sink had gone, thankfully we got the water shut off quickly and escaped any major incident such as this one.  However, t'husband went and had a look at all the other water pipes and it looks like we need to replace them all as they all look like they could go at any moment.  Our apartment is just a mere 4 years old!

4.  Spanish bureaucracy,  especially anything involving the hacienda.  I've just printed off a form that we need to sign for our tax rebate. 27 pages of complete gobbledegoop, it may as well be in a foreign language as far as I can comprehend it all! (I know sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but it's all I have today).

5.  Our accountant who keeps suggesting that we are under-declaring our income and reckons the hacienda will be down on us soon if we don't declare a more believable figure.  AGGGGGH, there is a recession on, the euro is shit against the pound, there is a big fuck off volcano blowing ash into the sky that makes our customers have to cancel their trips.  There is no more income!

6.  Reading my sister & brother-in-laws domestic quarrels on Facebook, ironically about Facebook.  It'll be Jeremy Kyle next, please stop wash your dirty laundry in private.

7. Sunscreen.  It's a ball ache.  First apply to son, (factor 50) then apply to self (Factor 50, 30, 15 depending on area).  Repeat several times a day.  Come out in spots on face because skin obviously doesn't like sunscreen.  Burn on back on bit that my arms can't reach.  Get white marks on all clothes.  Get squirts of sunscreen on clean tiles.  Get sand on sunscreen.  Get scratched from sand in sunscreen. Get sunscreen in eyes, eyes water all day.

Right then I declare the following bloggers must find their inner grumpiness.

DearDullDiary
Lax Parenting
Mum's Gone To...
The Life and Times of a Househusband




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Monday, May 24, 2010

I'm Back...

Actually I've been back since Wednesday, 2 days delayed due to that bloody volcano, but I've been a bit slack on the blogging front.  I did write something for Heather over at Notes from Lapland though if you want to take a little look.  I want to thank all my lovely guest posters who have contributed to my blog whilst I was shivering over in blightly.  Dear Dull Diary, Mum's Gone to..., The Sardine Tin, Miss Cherry Red, Mid-Atlantic English you are all legends.. mwah.

Normal blogging service will resume very shortly.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Guest Poster No. 4 - Whatchamacallit Culture Shock

My fourth and final guest poster (you'll have to read my random ramblings again after this, boo hiss) is the fabulous Michelloui from Mid-Atlantic English. Michelloui is an American who has been living in England for the past 20 years and she very kindly put a post from me on her blog so I thought it only polite to ask her to write something for mine.

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Whatchamacallit Culture Shock

Whatchamacallit? No, seriously, Whatchamacallit. It’s the name of an American candy bar. The one that got me into trouble in about March 1993. Not my favourite—well it was when it first came out when I was about 8 or 9 but it wasn’t my favourite in 1993. Its attraction was that it was uniquely American (especially the name). You can get Snickers and Milky Way and Mars and all those sorts of things in the UK but no Whatchamacallits.



My UK work visa ran out and boyfriend and I decided we’d probably be together forever so we got engaged. Marriage would allow me to work again. Until the wedding I spent my time going to the Bethnal Green library and I went for a lot of walks. Even though I had already been living in London for two or three years there’s a lot to see in the East End.

On reflection I probably had too much time on my hands. I now know that culture shock happens to us all, at some point or another, and often in the most unexpected ways.

One day I was homesick. Deeply homesick. I was tired of all the grime, the rough tussle of bodies walking with and around me on the streets, the loud taxis grinding through junctions, and the weather. I missed the soft shoosh of wind in the pine trees from my Northern Minnesota home. I missed the effort of American shopkeepers to help complete strangers Have a Nice Day. I missed familiarity.

I went into a shop for a chocolate fix. All I could think of was Whatchamacallits. I knew they wouldn’t be there. I looked anyway. None. I looked for a suitable replacement. Nothing similar. Sad face. I suddenly felt oddly alone. Everything seemed familiar, and yet it wasn’t right. The language was the same, I knew the shops that lined this street, but the right things weren’t there. How could the absence of a chocolate bar spark that lonely, alien feeling?

I walked back across the park to my flat. Tears rolling down my cheeks in that overflowing way tears do sometimes. I knew I was filled to the brim with them and I knew no amount of psychology with myself was going to get rid of them. A hot shower and a fierce wailing cry was what I needed. Except, we didn’t have a shower, just a bath with a hose attachment. Damn British bathrooms and their lack of showers. More tears.

I reached the flat, climbed the four flights, unlocked my door and went inside, dropping my bags and heaving out of breath as usual from the stairs. I stood in the galley kitchen and stared out the windows across the park to the NatWest tower in the City. The tears started again and this time I opened the door to all my miseries and sobbed, great heaving sobs of loneliness and woe.

Stupid Whatchamacallits. When I went back to the States that summer for the wedding I didn’t buy any, not even to bring back to the UK for a homesickness fix. What disappointed me that day back in 1993 was not the lack of a Whatchamacallit, but the lack of opportunity to pick one up, mull it over and set it down again. I was tired, frustrated with constant stimuli of the newish place and I just needed the comfortable familiarity of the world I grew up in.

Now, twenty years after moving to the UK do I still have those moments? Less so. I crave things, but most of what I crave can be easily substituted or forgotten about. I’ve learned that there are fantastic things in the UK and there’s fantastic things in the States, and if every country had the same things there’d almost be no point in travelling.

And more importantly, because this is less about what I crave and more about how I cope with living in another country (and it always was about that even during the 1993 Whatchamacallit craving), I have learned that culture shock passes with time and you can make a home anywhere you decide to.

Whatchamacallit Culture Shock

Whatchamacallit? No, seriously, Whatchamacallit. It’s the name of an American candy bar. The one that got me into trouble in about March 1993. Not my favourite—well it was when it first came out when I was about 8 or 9 but it wasn’t my favourite in 1993. Its attraction was that it was uniquely American (especially the name). You can get Snickers and Milky Way and Mars and all those sorts of things in the UK but no Whatchamacallits.

My UK work visa ran out and boyfriend and I decided we’d probably be together forever so we got engaged. Marriage would allow me to work again. Until the wedding I spent my time going to the Bethnal Green library and I went for a lot of walks. Even though I had already been living in London for two or three years there’s a lot to see in the East End.

On reflection I probably had too much time on my hands. I now know that culture shock happens to us all, at some point or another, and often in the most unexpected ways.

One day I was homesick. Deeply homesick. I was tired of all the grime, the rough tussle of bodies walking with and around me on the streets, the loud taxis grinding through junctions, and the weather. I missed the soft shoosh of wind in the pine trees from my Northern Minnesota home. I missed the effort of American shopkeepers to help complete strangers Have a Nice Day. I missed familiarity.

I went into a shop for a chocolate fix. All I could think of was Whatchamacallits. I knew they wouldn’t be there. I looked anyway. None. I looked for a suitable replacement. Nothing similar. Sad face. I suddenly felt oddly alone. Everything seemed familiar, and yet it wasn’t right. The language was the same, I knew the shops that lined this street, but the right things weren’t there. How could the absence of a chocolate bar spark that lonely, alien feeling?

I walked back across the park to my flat. Tears rolling down my cheeks in that overflowing way tears do sometimes. I knew I was filled to the brim with them and I knew no amount of psychology with myself was going to get rid of them. A hot shower and a fierce wailing cry was what I needed. Except, we didn’t have a shower, just a bath with a hose attachment. Damn British bathrooms and their lack of showers. More tears.

I reached the flat, climbed the four flights, unlocked my door and went inside, dropping my bags and heaving out of breath as usual from the stairs. I stood in the galley kitchen and stared out the windows across the park to the NatWest tower in the City. The tears started again and this time I opened the door to all my miseries and sobbed, great heaving sobs of loneliness and woe.

Stupid Whatchamacallits. When I went back to the States that summer for the wedding I didn’t buy any, not even to bring back to the UK for a homesickness fix. What disappointed me that day back in 1993 was not the lack of a Whatchamacallit, but the lack of opportunity to pick one up, mull it over and set it down again. I was tired, frustrated with constant stimuli of the newish place and I just needed the comfortable familiarity of the world I grew up in.

Now, twenty years after moving to the UK do I still have those moments? Less so. I crave things, but most of what I crave can be easily substituted or forgotten about. I’ve learned that there are fantastic things in the UK and there’s fantastic things in the States, and if every country had the same things there’d almost be no point in travelling.

And more importantly, because this is less about what I crave and more about how I cope with living in another country (and it always was about that even during the 1993 Whatchamacallit craving), I have learned that culture shock passes with time and you can make a home anywhere you decide to.




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Monday, May 10, 2010

Guest Poster No. 3 - Sisters

My third guest poster is the gorgeous Amy from Miss Cherry Red.   In her own words:

"Miss Cherry Red is a half Irish, wine loving, working mum.  She has a hot boyfriend, a smart ass for a 4 year old and she used to be an individual.  She's also nosey and overly opinionated.  Don't hate her, she can't help it.  Oh, and she shares. A lot. Expect to see chatter about poo, tantrums, sex and whatever crap life throws at her.  Seriously, you're gonna love her..."

Please go check out her blog, it's fab.

Sisters.

God blessed my mum and dad with 3 children.

Two boys and me.

I was the eldest.

Daniel was two years my junior and Michael came another two years after that. 

But the testosterone train didn't stop there, oh no.  I have two half brothers.  8 and 9 years my senior.

So there I am.  Stuck firmly in the middle.

To my eldest brothers I was someone they had to look out for.  Someone they tormented with spiders and told wild lies to.  Lies like "if you eat the pips in that apple, apple trees will grow out of your ears".  I remember Lee (the oldest) had a duvet that looked like the cockpit of a helicopter.  It was every little boys fantasy bed set.  It was awesome fun.

But it was not for girls.  Especially not girls of the little sister kind.

And the 'boys only' bit didn't stop there either.  I wasn't allowed to play with their toys, their computer games and I most definitely was NOT allowed to play with their action men.  Nor could I refer to Action Man as a doll.  Calling them dolls had consequences.  Consequences like finding my favourite barbies had become a casualty of Action Mans war and had lost a leg.  Or an arm.  Sometimes even a head.

I was not part of the boys club.   

I had no one to play dress up with.  No one to help me put on my mums nail polish.

I desperately wanted a sister.

Don't get me wrong, I had my mum and my 4 aunts who would happily play girly games with me, but it wasn't the same.

Thank God though for Lesley.  Mum's best friend.

5 months 6 days after I arrived, Lesley had Rachael.

8 months and 1 day after Daniel arrived, Lesley had Claire.

11 months exactly after Michael (my youngest brother) arrived, Lesley had Michelle.

We were all inseprable.  We all the best of friends.

But Rachael, she was my very best friend.

We did absolutley everything together.  Watched movies, had sleep overs, styled each others hair, painted each others nails, talked about boys.

Everything.

Life at 13 was brilliant.

Until my parents did the unthinkable and opted to move.

But not to another town, or another city. 

My parents moved us to Northern Ireland.  A different country.  I mean, it took more than 9 hours in a car and a ferry just to get there.  We may as well have moved to another planet for Gods sake.  And worse still, we were now living on a farm.  What the hell was I, a 13 year old girl from an estate in Reading, going to do in the bloody countryside?

I had lost my best friend and I felt shattered.

I hated my new life.  I hated being in a school where no one liked me:  the Catholics didn't like me because I was english.  The Protestants didn't like me because I was Catholic.

I had no one to turn to.

Rachael and I kept in touch with letters.  Every week I'd run home from school desperately hoping the postman would make my day.

As life moved on, the letters got further and further apart until eventually the letters stopped.

We grew up seperately and our lives took very different paths.  I guess the letters were kind of a comfort blanket for us until we didn't need them anymore. 

I guess it was inevitable.

After I'd left university, I moved back to Reading and set off to find Rachael. 

I wont lie, it was a little weird at first.  I mean, we had the same childhood memories, the same personalities and we laughed at the same thing. 

Yet we were two totally different people and it took me completely by surprise. 

How naive is that?

But I think what surprised me even more was at how comfortable we were around each other and how we just slipped right back into each others lives.

This time was different though:  Rachael came with extra benefits.  Claire and Michelle.  I had almost forgotton about them.  They were no longer the two irritating little girls who used to follow us everywhere we went and who would steal our make up.

They were fully grown.  Instead of having to worry about them or babysit them they were suddenly sharing our world of boyfriends, upsets, heartbreaks, nights out and good times.

I never realised how much I'd missed them until I got them back.

Rachael, Claire and Michelle know me.  They've seen me at my very best and at my very worst.  We've been the best of friends and at times the worst of enemies.

I don't need to pretend to be someone I'm not when I'm with them.  I do not need to concern myself with airs and graces.

They are like my favourite pyjamas: comfortable, reliable, irreplacable.

That makes them more than just my friends.

That makes them my sisters.





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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 www.sarasotaforeclosuresnow.com

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...




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