Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

My husband and I spent our honeymoon treading water outside a swim-up bar in a resort. Fact.

We’d never had a holiday like it and we’ve never had one since. It was pure R&R – we ambled lazily between bed, buffet, beach, bar and back to bed and were left wanting for nothing. It was the perfect way to de-stress after our wedding – at least for me, that is. My husband had himself a bad case of scabies and spent all day and night itching like fuck, but that’s neither here or there. *I* had a great time and, as we all know, it’s All About Me.

At the time, I remember thinking the resort would be the perfect place to come for a family holiday. But now that I’ve been initiated into the Parent Hood, I’m not so sure.

For one thing, while I haven’t seen anything formally in writing, I expect Social Services frowns upon tying your children’s swimming rings in a row behind you (like so many ducklings) at the swim-up bar, while you knock back absinthe-based cocktails with names like ‘Monkey Gland’ and ‘Sweaty Bollocks’.

For another thing, something like the ‘Kids Club’ might seem an ideal way of claiming some ‘Me Time’, but the cost of sending three kids for the day? You might as well be sending them to a Swiss Finishing School. Although I have to say that I’ve long-since been planning to sew a special suit for my kids so that they look like conjoined triplets and get in for the cost of one child. The age differences would take some explaining but I could probably say I was in labour for over six years and squeezed them out in two year intervals… which, now that I really think about it, might garner me some sympathy over at the Sunset Bar in the form of a complimentary cocktail served in an ice bucket with an extra long swirly straw and half a pineapple stuck on the side. Yes, I’m an Ideas Person.

Look, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “A family holiday isn’t about the selfish pursuit of relaxation (i.e. drinking) but about creating special family ‘together time’ away from the stresses and strains of everyday living.”

Sure, I love spending time with my family without living in the shadow of the undone dishes, dirty washing and cooking. But as a notorious tight-arse who smuggles her own home-made popcorn into the cinema, I balk at the idea of buying three meals out a day as you invariably do on holiday. When you’re an adult, you can always substitute real food with more alcohol,  but kids need feeding – especially when you have a teenage boy-in-training  like Mr Justice who can work a buffet better than his mother can work a free bar. Of course, if we only paid for one meal a day at the resort buffet, I could get turn all Fagen-esque and train the kids to stuff bread, cold meats and salads into their Conjoined Triplet Suit… Ideas. Always with the ideas…

In any case, the bottom line is this: almost every family holiday we have ever taken has ended with severe car failure, acute vomiting and/or friction burns from swiping our credit card too much. It hardly seems worth it.

Which is why my holiday of choice is getting all three kids asleep in their beds before 9PM and beating a clear path to my arm chair with a large box of Cadbury’s Roses tucked under my arm.

Of course, I’m happy to be proved wrong…

This post is my submission to the Kidspot’s Top 50 Blog Your Way To Dunk Island competition (which you might have guessed by its title). You can vote for me here and help me win a family holiday where I’ll get to jump up and down on a beach in a crocheted bikini, punching the air and alarming innocent onlookers.

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You would have thought we’d learnt our lesson from the last mini-break we took. But noooooooo. 

There were some minor wins: for one thing, when my husband booked our accommodation via the internet, he avoided words like “Retreat”, “Shack” or “Shanty Town” in the search terms he used. And this time, he decided to play it safe by booking a big ol’ cabin at a “Big4” site, the McDonalds of the caravanning world. 

I have often wondered what the “4” in Big4 actually stood for and now that we have stayed at one of their sites, we have come up with a few theories. My husband claims it’s actually short for the “foreplay” the owners indulge in before they totally and utterly screw you. My own favoured theory – a variation on a similar theme – was that the name was short for the Big Four Fingers: the double two-fingered salute that said “We’ve got your money now, so up yours…twice!”. 

For $190, we got a demountable slightly larger than a size 18 shoe box, where the internal walls appeared to made of fortified cardboard, the television was so high up it was like watching an aero-acrobatics display and, though the cabin boasted it could sleep six, it only slept two of them in sheets. AND we had to do our own dishes. AND the games in the games room and the (unpowered) go-karts all required coins, deposits or both. AND the advertised “internet kiosk” was a single computer with an A key that stuck and that outright refused to take my 50 cent pieces at a strategic moment and resulted in me shouting: “Only like the gold stuff, eh? Well, SCREW YOU!”. 

And where do they get off charging $20 extra for Tiddles McGee, the child who tips us out of the standard family’o’four classification? At 22 months of age, he doesn’t exactly consume a lot. Even his intake of oxygen into those little lungs is considerably less than the rest of us. Since he didn’t have any sheets and we washed the dishes he used and he shared the bath water with the older two, I calculate that the $20 was for the towel he used ONCE. If it costs $20 to launder a single barely-soiled towel, the Big4 should take a long hard look at their pricing structure and/or their laundry procedures. Sheesh!

That’s enough of my bitching… now for the confessions. There are always confessions…

Part of the reason we set off on this adventure is that we woke up on Friday morning with the sun shining, the birds singing and the joy of Spring in our step. By the time we got to our destination, it had not only clouded over but it was pissing down with rain. But of course, we were contractually obliged to take the kids to the beach – we checked with our legal representatives but they said the deal the kids had brokered was watertight (unlike my shoes). And of course, we had to walk to the beach – one of the reasons we’d chosen the place was because it boasted “a short stroll to the beach”. However, when you factor in the rain, my inappropriate footwear and the heavy load I was carrying (in the form of Tiddles McGee), it may as well have been the Kokoda Trail. 

“Sorry, kids, it’s too cold for swimming”, I declared upon our soggy arrival on that bleak rain-swept beach. But before I’d even finished the sentence, Mr Justice and The Pixie had already shed half their clothing and were splashing joyfully in the water. Before too long, The Pixie was totally naked running up and down the sand (She’s a bit like Forrest Gump in wide open spaces). There were the inevitable passersby of an older generation, zipped up warm and snug in their Kathmandu trekking gear, who shook their heads at such gross parental negligence. I’m sure they would have shaken their heads even harder had they seen my husband and Mr Justice a few hours later, both wearing garbage bags over their clothing, trying to fish in the rain (and thus meet another legal obligation). 

And of course, we managed to do all the above without having brought a single pair of shoes for Mr Justice. Obviously they’re on some kind of rotating roster with the shoes thing. (And yes, we did remember the alcohol again… go figure!).  

Now some people might accuse me of going on these holidays simply to conjur up material for my blog – but had they seen me desperately trying to dry the children’s trousers under the bathroom’s heat lamp so that they’d something to wear the next day and wouldn’t get taken away by social services, those naysayers would have to agree that I did it all for the Love of Adventure.

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We simply should have known better than to try and enjoy ourselves. 

As we packed our bags to go away on a spontaneous mini-break – a night away from home – all three children were already in tears. Mr Justice was crying because we’d breached the Exclusivity Clause in his contract by telling The Pixie certain details of the trip before we’d told him. The Pixie was crying because Mr Justice had refused to buy into the fact her friend the Mermaid was already waiting at the Beach House we were going to. And Tiddles was crying because he had Genghis Cat’s jaw clamped on his left calf. 

We should have seen it as the sign it was, but we chose to ignore it and left on our mini-break anyway. 

The journey itself was non-eventful, if just long and less-than-helpfully punctuated by the question “Are we there yet?” from Mr Justice. The Love Bus, no doubt feeing rejeuvenated by its own mini-break at the mechanics, made good time and my husband and i enjoyed taking turns either driving in the school holiday traffic or fully-reclining the front passenger seat so that we could pass the kids an endless chain of crackers and drinks in the back.

Since it was still light as we neared the town where we’d booked accommodation, we estimated we had enough time to fit in the Real Reason for our trip: the inspection of a block of land my father had inherited from my grandfather’s estate. We’d been putting this trip off for a couple of years, mostly because my dad’s description of the land featured words like “steep incline”, “mosquito-infested” and “perilous coastline”. Still, for a piece of land that my grandfather bought off a plan without ever actually stepping foot on it and which lay on the wrong side of the state for us to get to easily, my father had a mysterious attachment to the idea of us getting some use out of it. Perhaps he just liked to imagine his grandchildren spending many a happy summer holiday there, merrily rolling down the incline swatting off mozzies or earning their stripes cheerfully swimming against the treacherous rips. 

As we navigated the gravel roads in the dying light using a map drawn some 40 years previously, for the first (and last time) in my life I wished we had a four-wheel drive with floodlights. By the time we’d finally sighted the plot of land, confirmed my father’s description (adding the terms “scrappy scrubland” and, looking at the neighbours, “Deliverance Country” to it), it was decidedly dark and already 45 minutes past dinner time. We decided we’d better hotfoot it to our accommodation. 

Now the inclusion of the word “Retreat” in our accomodation’s title – as found on the internet by my husband – might have warned him a little of its location. Let’s face it: retreats don’t tend to be within arm’s reach of supermarkets and restaurants. But then again, we are talking about the man who infamously booked a room at a hotel named “La Buffet de Rail” in France and was legitimately surprised when it was smack bang next to an all-night freight train line.

To my husband’s credit, the Retreat’s owner had explained that, while the accomodation was self-catering, we could “just pop over” to the pub for dinner. I think my husband can be forgiven for taking the words “just pop over” as any citydweller would: as a casual five minute saunter across a slightly busy street. But as we left the main road, some 10km outside the main town, and hit another seven kilometres of loose gravel road dotted with the occasional maruading gang of kangaroos, we began to realise that “just pop over” might have a very different meaning in the country. Unless we were able to find a way to crynogenically-freeze our rabidly hungry children for the journey back to the town, that pub-meal we’d been imagining was simply not going to happen. 

So when we finally stepped into our beach house, along with a small bag of canned groceries from the Resort Shop that cost us almost as much as the accommodation itself, we were feeling more than a little cranky. 

“Well, at least it’s tidier than home”, I said, in an attempt to rally. But somewhere between the word “than” and “home” our suitcase exploded and I soon found myself having to step over small plastic toys and sweep piles of paper off the couch before finally being able to sit down to my meal of fried Spam and instant noodles. It was almost enough to break a Not Drowning Mother’s spirit. 

Still, it’s hard to resist the enthusiasm of our children as they ran from room to room, gushing over small stuff such as the pink toilet seat and the flip top lid on the bin that actually works, and soon my husband and I began to shed our grumpy moods. We were, of course, vastly aided by the two bottles of wine I had managed to pack, even if I *hadn’t* managed to pack The Pixie any shoes whatsoever (Yes, that’s right, Mr DoCs officer, not even a single pair of socks to cover those precious pixie feet as she frolicked across the jagged rocks – but her parents were okay for a drink). Life started to feel not so bad after all.  

And then the worst thing of all occurred: we both went and had a good night’s sleep. Sure, we had to drive three and a half hours, pay at least $211 (plus petrol) and drink two bottles of wine to have it, but it was a Good Night’s Sleep nonetheless. Now, not only is my husband busy planning to spend money we really truly don’t have building a holiday house on a steep incline, but I also went and bought myself a summer dress that shows my arms. Which just goes to prove how mini-breaks should be avoided at all costs and how dangerous a Good Night’s Sleep can be to the perpetually sleep-deprived.

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