Tag Archives: France

Guest post: Holiday thoughts from home

Holiday thoughtsAfter a lovely family holiday where I actually managed to read a book (an actual book!) my dad sent through some of his thoughts. Here’s a Granddad-eye-view on our extended family holiday.

I am very lucky – or at least I think I am – as my family seem to want to spend some holiday time with my wife and me, and not just in Cornwall. Whether Scrip’s and D’s Dad feels the same I don’t know, but I think he does, or at least he is a very good actor!

We have all just returned from a holiday in France having made our respective ways there at different times by land, sea and air. No doubt growing older decreases tolerance and distance lends enchantment to our view of the past, but it did seem that nowadays a significant number of children on our ferry were left to their own rather annoying and noisy devices, whilst parents – especially fathers – sat glued to their iPads or iPhones. Fortunately, we could escape to the luxury of a daytime cabin, something my family were keen to point out that had never figured when we all travelled together.

Looking after children is a tiring and stressful job and I admire the way that Scrip’s and D’s parents have coped – albeit, as I am sure they would admit, with help and support from their aunts. There is no more important job than bringing up the next generation and I am full of sympathy for parents today who have so many pressures on them. Life was much simpler for my generation, although I shudder to look back at some of the things we did – driving in an open-top sports car with the baby tucked up in a carry cot behind our seats or travelling through France with three unbelted children playing school in the luggage space of an estate car.

Of course we had had concerns in those far off days but personal computers were still a thing of the future, so there was no online ‘information’ immediately available to worry you or to make you compare your children to the apparently perfect family; phones were fixed, and not hearing from family members, often for weeks on end, wasn’t a reason for concern.

This holiday meant we were able to see how Scrip was coming to terms with a new baby and this was fascinating. Clearly having been the centre of attention for 3 years, adjustment was bound to be necessary. Her physical expressions of sisterly love sometimes bordered on the over-enthusiastic and D’s feeding times coincided with extra attention-seeking but she was able to vocalise and play out her feelings both about D, as well as her recent entry to a nursery, with help from a French supermarket acquired ‘Sofia the First’ doll – once I’d learnt to say the name right! Sofia was obviously able and did to say things that might have been taboo for Scrip.

As always the speed of change in the children came as a surprise, both in the case of baby D, who looks increasingly as if he will play in the second row, and Scrip. Her co-ordination and ball skills, helped no doubt by attending Playball regularly, and her increasing command of the subtleties of language lulled me into subconsciously regarding her as older than she is and made the few occasions where tiredness and frustration led to tears seem deliberately contrived when, on reflection, it was clear that they were not and it was my understanding that was at fault.

Still who can blame me when in the middle of ‘playing’ table tennis pre-lunch Scrip paused, look thoughtful and said ‘Hang on, there is something in the sky that shouldn’t be there’. Indeed there was, a full pale moon – try explaining to a 3 year old why despite being always the moon can only be seen sometimes. No wonder I am tired.

A very pleasing feature of the holiday was the way in which Scrip took to French food both at home and in restaurants. Frites of course, pain chocolate and croissants, and crepes, both sweet and savoury, were polished off with gusto, albeit at different times! Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, when she comes to Cornwall we have to buy in extra olives. D meanwhile stayed on his diet of mother’s milk provided with scarce a disapproving glance from the French.

The best part of the holiday was the privilege of seeing things – not just the moon – through the un-jaundiced eyes of a child and thus being able to rediscover the wonders that surround us daily, especially deep in the French countryside.

A mini-break to Arras with a toddler in tow

Vimy Memorial Toddler StandingWe did something we haven’t done before last weekend – we went on a mini-break as a family. As we were warned by others who’ve trod the path before us, these aren’t like the mini-breaks of old with lazy breakfasts, sight seeing all day and a bottle of local wine each night. This was a trip punctuated by playground stops, sandcastles Continue reading

Five things we’ve learnt on holiday

We’re just back from a week near Limoges in France – freshly bronzed (those of us who weren’t plastered in factor 50) and so relaxed that we feel even more tired than when we went away. We had a lovely week and we’ve come back wiser (on at least five things):

IMG_50251.  Swimming pool alarms are no substitute for a gate. Apparently, it’s the law in France to have either an alarm on your pool or a gate around the outside – ours had an alarm. It was fiddly and temperamental – we forgot about it on one occasion and my husband was half way through a length when it sudden went off. We watched Scrip at all times and introduced the ‘holding hands near the pool rule’ (rather unpopular) but I’d have felt a lot happier if there was a gate instead.

2. Saying ‘thank you’ works. Those repetitions have finally paid off – Scrip can now say thank you (in her own rather appealing way) and seems to understand what it means. Unfortunately, she also thinks if she points at Continue reading

Time and space

When I first went back to work, one of the things I realised I hadn’t missed at all during my ten months off was my daily commute. I’d hardly used the tube since Scrip was born – apart from struggling into town from one step-free access station to another, a handful of times. As an adopted Londoner, the tube should be my default mode of transport – so how, I wondered, had I never realised how crowded and claustrophobic and generally unpleasant it was?

photoI’m now back into the working groove and hardly notice when I’m squashed up against someone’s shoulder for 30 minutes on a rainy morning – I can keep my head down and read my soggy Metro with the best of them. But I do still long for the luxury of space – and time, as I rush from one meeting to the next and then home again. And that was one of the benefits about my husband’s wonderful birthday surprise to me.

On Saturday, we set off from Kent for a day trip to France that he’d arranged. It was just the two of us – we did consider taking Scrip but the idea was that this was a day to do exactly what we wanted to do – and that we didn’t compromise her routine and our mini mini-break along the way. And it was lovely.

Scrip spent the day playing with her Nana and Grandpa and we spent the day pootling down the coast road from Calais to Boulogne, stopping wherever we fancied and enjoying the bright sunshine and gorgeous scenery along the way. There couldn’t have been more open space to roam around – on the beaches, the promenade in Wimereux and around the edge of Boulogne Old Town. We had a lovely French lunch outside, stocked up at the supermarché and took our time along the way. And we were even back in time for bathtime.

I couldn’t believe all this freedom was just a 35 minute Eurotunnel train ride away – a very different kind of train journey to my daily commute and one I’d wholeheartedly recommend.