Monday, 21 September 2009


After the disaster/fun adventure (depending on whether you ask my husband or I!) that was our Bank Holiday weekend camping trip, there was no arguing that Family B were really in quite desperate need of another holiday. It's all relative of course, we're not talking food, oxygen or money (although we'd also quite like some more of that please) here, I know holidays are not one of life's essentials, but the week before last saw us tired, grumpy and worried about the new arrival. We'd finally washed the last of the mud from our clothes and dried out the sodden tent, so a last minute booking was made and we began the marathon trek from our home in Lancashire to the Cornish coast.

And what a week we had! Sunshine, blue skies and a cool breeze met us every morning. The cottage, chosen for its wet weather friendly swimming pool, barely got a look in as we explored beautiful beaches, made (and demolished) sandcastles and ate rather too many scones with clotted cream and jam on.

There are an awful lot of companies flogging holidays for families. Soft play, kids clubs and baby listening services were on the menus of many of the locations we considered and dismissed. Well, mainly they dismissed us, even a clear fortnight after the end of the school holidays there was remarkably little availability. It was amazing how many toddler families of almost four we saw on our travels, a plethora of bumps who, like us, had taken heart in the long range forecast and made the trip in search of some Indian summer sun. It got me thinking though, what do you need for the perfect family holiday?

There are practicalities of course. Schlepping stairgates, highchairs and travel cots across the country isn't fun. But beyond that, what are the key ingredients for a good time?

It pains me to say it, but Mummy, Daddy, a few toys and books and the space to run around are T's key happiness-makers. I loved seeing his face as the waves on Widemouth beach tickled his tiny toes, but it pains my husband to note that he loved the Lake District rain just as much.

Admittedly happy parents make happy children, and it did make a huge difference to have a cheerful husband rather than a constantly complaining one, but for me, future holidays could definitely be of the cheap and cheerful variety. Now where did I put that mallet?!

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