Back in January, you may recall, there was a day the travel agents named ‘Blue Monday’. A clever marketing ploy to remind us how much we all desperately need a holiday. Adverts showing sparkling blue shores with golden sands were distinctly unavoidable. I tried to pay as little attention to these as I could, in fact, I had quite a happy monday, local playgroup fun amongst other things. I will admit, I did find conversations steering themselves towards holidays, which is clearly the subliminal plan behind this ‘special day’. I resisted for a while but inevitability there was no avoiding it, the message sunk in, and within days I had planned out and booked our half term and Easter breaks….(don’t get me started on Summer, the hubby clearly cannot cope being organised that far in advance!)……
However, I did not book the blue shores and golden sands that you may imagine…..
So I write this blog as an ode to the Great British staycation. My thoughts on not just surviving it with a toddler in tow but, dare I say it, relishing the pleasures and treasured memories that it brings!
You may question how a Southern girl who once worshipped the sun (as much as an English rose can do so!) came to resign herself to the simple pleasures of Britain and it’s not so hidden treasures. Well, let me enlighten you!…Firstly, becoming a parent means you can no longer sleep on a sun lounger all day long…Funny that! However, most parents we know, still hop on a plane each year in search of guaranteed sunshine and far off shores and clearly have a lovely time. So why, you might ask, don’t we?….Well, apart from being advised against air travel (for now) with Bubbins (quite a deciding factor for us), I still do not think, to this day, I could convince the hubby to board a plane!
I will take you back to our first, and to date our last, family holiday abroad. Before I do, it would be prudent of me to remind you of those adverts again…..crystal white sands, turquoise shorelines, blissfully relaxed parents, drink in hand, overlooking blissfully happy children. It’s the dream, or so they tell us in the ads!
Now imagine, upon arrival, you’ve finally got an overtired toddler into bed, you’ve congratulated yourself on mastering the degree course to erect the travel cot and after emptying the cases to locate the baby monitor, sterilising kit and general rigmarole that comes with a child, you are ready for a drink! Next comes relaxing on your private balcony, book and welcome bubbles in hand – yes, I did say book, a rarity, the bubbles on the other hand are a simple necessity! Let the enjoyment commence, the sheer bliss of warm summer nights, care free, for all of ten minutes before hearing on ‘said’ baby monitor the sound of vomiting!…..oh dear, oh dear!…..To this day we will never know if it was a bug or travel sickness (either way, not helped by endless shovelling of a cheese panini on the plane to keep the peace), all I can say is, vacation or staycation, takes spares, plenty spares!
So, after a miserable 24 hours, wishing we were back home, we all perked up in time to enter the next new phases. Starting with the toddler refusing to eat or drink anything foreign….so that would be everything then! (Shakes head in desperation, seriously, how does a Greek cows milk taste so different?!) Followed by a constant hunt for shade and battles with a trowel to apply the factor 50 to the fair skinned, sand covered Bubba, and in turn dealing with the very public meltdowns as a result (ginger and sun mix about as well as sun cream and sand!) Not to mention Bubba being terrified of the pool and sea, ruling out many of the holidays key features….All in all, you can imagine the speed at which I ran to the beach bar each day when nap time arrived….”Another drink madam?” Cue quick check under the buggy shade….”Absolutely, make it a double!” I am not ashamed to say, this became the highlight of my day, and yes, I rocked the pushchair frenziedly with my foot to extend the pleasure!
So, back to those adverts……false advertising in our experience at least! I could whole heartedly appreciate when my hubby said the words “we’re never going abroad again!”
Safe to say, the memory of our lovely ‘vacation’, followed by the arrival of Bubbins and his need for land/sea travel only, has meant we’ve firmly stuck to our staycations but what wonderful staycations they have been….Happy, happy times! Yes, we have previously been incredibly lucky weather wise, as, let’s face it, Britain does not have a guaranteed blessing on that front. However, we have just returned from our most recent staycation and can honestly say, making memories is just as much fun in the torrential rain as the blazing sunshine, possibly even more memorable, with not a blob of suncream in sight, just lots of puddles, child heaven!!
I do think you have to choose wisely with your destination and plan in advance, not just what you intend to do but what you intend to wear. A downside of the staycation is having to pack for every weather occurrence. We experienced, rain, sleet, snow, wind, rainbows and sunshine, all in 4 days. A plus side is that you have your entire car, not just 20kg, to fill your boots with, and if you are extra lucky, a roof box too! I am strangely thankful to the rain this time too, I managed to reduce my post-holiday washing load from 7 to 4 washes, all because the boys wore their waterproof suits the entire time (it amazed me how clean they remained beneath!) Literally, every cloud has a silver lining! I can wholeheartedly recommend a bit of rain to brighten your washing day!
Another thing I have learned from much experience, is that investment is key to holiday bliss. By investment I mean, a trip to your local toy shop and going wild in the aisles. The return, if you have indeed invested wisely with your purchases, will be in the form of a couple of relatively stress free hours of an afternoon to indulge in some pre-dinner drinks (the upgraded version of the aforementioned ‘beach bar’ drinks for when nap time no longer exists!) Worth every penny!!
Yet another bonus of the staycation, is the distinct lack of foreign food. Although I have to say on this occasion, it would not have mattered what food was placed in front of our youngest this week. After being offered some delicious tasting morsels he perfected his stubborn refusal and instead consumed a total of approximately 10 chips and 2 pieces of soggy garlic bread, only to refuse the exact same offerings two days later! Joy! The eldest, who is thankfully now much less fussy, relished the fact that he can now read the menu and choose himself his own dinner (again, it helps that this was not written in another language lol). It appears this was high up on the memory stakes too, as the first thing he did upon his return home was draw a picture of ‘said’ dinner!
One of my favourite aspects of the holiday was simply getting waterproofs on and heading out to explore. Now that Bubbins is that bit older he can manage to walk (be dragged) on lots of beautiful trails. In fact this time we clocked up 16.1km of rocky, tree root ridden, hill climbs over the space of just 3 days. That’s a lot of walking for a little person! He only once stopped like a stubborn mule. The rest of the time he was encouraged by the endless puddles, mud, a treasure hunt, chocolate energy boosts and an unlimited supply of praise, lightly tainted by sprinkles of mummy complaining her elbows hurt from pulling him, I mean encouraging him along! We obviously had a hidden agenda behind all of this exertion – the added bonus of sleepy humans and silent restful nights for all. Sadly this comes with no guarantee, as demonstrated by our miniature insomniac! Bed at 9pm every night then for mummy and daddy, yawn!
We haven’t entered foreign soil now for well over four years and have no immediate plans to do so either (at least not with the kiddies). Although I’m not sure we will still be able to make this claim post brexit when we hop over the water to the republic but that’s another blog altogether that I don’t fancy getting into! We’re hopeful that eventually we’ll be able to jump on a plane and then the world is our oyster. In the least it would make for much easier travelling to Grandma and grandads (1 hour flight vs 8 hour drive hmm!) For now though, the kids seem more than satisfied, in fact elated, to spend all day jumping in puddles, squelching through mud, digging in rivers, building dams, kicking a football and scooting about.
Of course you could argue that much of the above can occur at home or abroad and I’ll give you that! It absolutely could. But whether you choose to stay or vacate, by far the most memorable holidays are the least complicated. Long may we remain content to stick with these simple pleasures that come with the beautiful scenery our kingdom’s treasures have to offer and more importantly, watching the delightful expressions on our beautiful boys little faces. Some of my most distinct favourite childhood memories were made from the exact same ingredients (and it’s no secret family recipe).
Upon return from our holibobs Grandad asked Bubbins “What did you do on holiday?” Without hesitation he replied in a most joyous manner, “I used my umbrella” – evidently the highlight for him……enough said! Then, when heading to bed that evening Bubba was trying to decide what to dream about, as you do, and said, “I know, I’ll dream about our walks – the waterfalls and streams that you could walk through, they were incredible weren’t they!?”
So there you have it. Our recipe for success this staycation was a couple of umbrellas, endless puddles, a handful of streams and the odd glass of wine thrown in for good measure. We loved it. Simple!
The Great British Staycation | Simple pleasures | Memories to treasure!