We’re just back from a short break on the Isle of Wight, off the UK south coast. The British heatwave gave us the opportunity to spend some sun-filled time together; on the beach, splashing in the pool, and enjoying breakfasts outdoors, on the veranda of our safari tent.
We had fun on the Isle of Wight, but we’re still working out what our little family likes to do best on holiday. I’m sure it’ll change as the years go by, but the great thing about holidays is that every break spent together – whether it’s camping in a muddy field in Devon, or taking a vacation in the Maldives – is a vibrant stitch in the tapestry of family history.
Our perfect holiday might resemble a children’s storybook.
1. Little House on the Prairie
Travelling with young children can be stressful, so it’s important that our holiday accommodation feels like a home from home. In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic series of books set in 19th Century America, the Ingalls family roamed across America, making a cosy dwelling wherever they went. Just like the Ingalls, wherever we roam, we need to find a homely, comfortable, safe, and pleasant place to spend some family downtime.
2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Fooooood! A holiday’s success or failure often depends on the quality of the grub. Like Eric Carle’s caterpillar, when I’m away I like to eat….and eat….and eat. All sorts of weird and wonderful things; whatever the locals like to put on their plates.
On my first ski trip with D, I bought a selection of dried sausages to sample in our self-catering chalet. To my horror, as my A-level French came back to me I realised what ‘saucisson d’ane’ meant. Donkey sausage! Aargh! It didn’t taste that good, either…..
Apart from donkey sausage, in the evenings D and I did nothing but gorge on cheese-based dishes (raclette and fondue…yum!). But we both came home half a stone lighter. All that fresh air and skiing had burned off the evening’s calories; like the hungry caterpillar, who eats loads but then emerges as a beautiful butterfly at the end of the tale, we’d returned as happier, healthier, glowing versions of ourselves.
Plus, as well as losing weight we’d managed to consume a mountain’s-worth of delicious foodstuffs. Now that’s the kind of diet I like….
3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
We live in central south London; as someone who grew up in deepest Welsh countryside, I sometimes pine for wilderness. So, on our holidays, we like to travel to places where the scenery is eyecatching, and the majesty and mystery of nature is all around. Just like in CS Lewis’s classic adventure stories.
4. Peter Pan
At three years old, Gwen is the youngest of the family. Both she and Austin are playful little souls; they love splashing in a swimming pool; and, of course, jumping around with them brings out the child in me and D.
JM Barrie’s Peter Pan is the boy who never grew up; and the best holidays are ones where all of us can let go and fool around like big kids. In the snow, sea, water, sand….just wherever there’s fun to be had.
5. Green Eggs and Ham
D has a fear of heights, but he pushed himself to try paraskiing when we were on our last ski trip before children. And – like Dr Seuss’s character, who thinks he won’t like green eggs and ham, but decides to give it a whirl, and loves it – once he’d got past his fear, the paraski was one of the best things D has tried.
6. Swallows and Amazons
Austin is the big adventurer in our family. No physical challenge is too great for this little five-year-old.
And, like Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, he’s happiest when learning new skills and having adventures in a gang of other intrepid explorers.
What do you look for in a holiday?