15 August 2019, The Tablet

For a long time, holidays felt like the hardest hill on an already arduous journey


For a long time, holidays felt like the hardest hill on an already arduous journey
 

The sandy beach. The twinkling sea. The coastal villa; the away-from-it-all gîte. The family-run hotel; the rustic farmhouse. This is the sacred landscape of the longed-for annual holiday – and who doesn’t look forward to it for the 50 weeks of the year when it’s merely a hope and a memory? Well, here’s a confession: I never did. Not for years, anyway. Because for a long time, holidays felt like the hardest hill on an already arduous journey.

Before you dismiss me as a spoilt cow and turn the page, let me explain. Taking four children on holiday is, to put it bluntly, no holiday; in fact, unless you have a team of nannies who travel with you – which we neither had, nor wanted – being on holiday is tougher than being at home, for the simple reason that you are cast adrift from the props and buoyancy aids of parenting – the playgroups, the teas-with-friends, the after-school clubs. And, of course, the respite of school itself.

For the rest of the year, life is mapped out so you can share the care of your kids with others: on holiday, they are yours round the clock, to feed and entertain and educate and amuse, from first light to midnight – and sometimes, through the small hours as well.

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