(… We prefer to leave it in a different country instead.)
A.K.A. What we learned on holiday.
Not long ago we returned from our first family holiday; 4 nights in Hafan y Mor holiday park followed by a couple of nights visiting my saintly mother in law in Dublin. It was certainly an experience! Mostly good, thank God, but there were a few hairy moments thrown in there as well. Only to be expected when travelling with a bunch of small kids, I guess. (Or only to be expected when travelling with me and the Old Progenitor, truth be told…)
In the lead up to our trip, everything seemed to be going wrong. Our car was sounding like a tractor and we didn’t have the chance to have it looked at before we left. Pretty sure cars aren’t supposed to sound like tractors… But we had to resign ourselves to making sure we had decent breakdown cover instead and taking our chances that in the absence of flashing red lights on the dashboard, it could wait until we got back. Then the brake lights stopped working the day before we left. Both of them. At 4:30pm on a Sunday afternoon. Because OF COURSE THEY DID. We managed to find a Halfords that was open and they were able to sort it out — thank goodness it wasn’t anything more serious than just needing a couple of bulbs. (This may or may not have been caused by our car maybe bumping into a certain neighbour’s car, causing a big dent and a broken wing mirror that is costing a stupid amount of money to fix… Maybe. But I couldn’t possibly comment.)
On top of all this, the washing machine stopped working. My wonderful mother helped us out of a great big hole by washing, drying and folding several billion loads of laundry for us so that we’d actually have clean clothes for going away (and my wonderful mother-in-law did likewise when we were at her house), while we learned that it was beyond economical repair, that the landlord had no intention of replacing said machine, and that, due to the country practically shutting down for The Twelfth, we had no hope of getting a new one sorted before we left. The icing on this particular cake was that the landlord wanted to come over and paint the deck while we were gone, and had said that he intended in performing an inspection of the house while he was there…. So we had to leave the place inspection ready.
So, off we went, safe in the knowledge that broken washing machines, piles of dirty laundry, car insurance companies and dodgy sounding cars would all be here when we got back. And they were…. Well, mostly.
Here’s what we learned from the experience:
1. Checklists are brilliant. I was freaking out a little (okay, a lot) about forgetting something – particularly something that couldn’t be easily replaced (like the charger for the feeding pump)… So I had a great big checklist to help with the packing. Still forgot stuff, of course, but at least I had the charger, so Naomi didn’t starve.
2. Checklists only get you so far. You have to remember to put your packed stuff into the car. This ties in with my next point…
3. Always, ALWAYS check behind the door. You never know what you’ve left behind it until you look. On the way over, we almost forgot the formula and giving sets (basically the wherewithal to feed our youngest for the entire time we were away) but thankfully we looked behind the door and spotted them, just before we locked up the house behind us.
4. You really do not want to be feeding a family of seven on the ferry. Overpriced much?! I’m still in shock at having spent £60 on teeny portions of food that didn’t actually taste that great. And that’s without spending £2.40 per soft drink (I figured we wouldn’t die of thirst in the time it took to go back to the car).
5. The Mini Markets in the Haven Holiday Parks are surprisingly reasonably priced, though. But you probably still want to swing by Tesco or somewhere on your way and grab some supplies.
6. Don’t get too many supplies though. You may be full of good intentions of cooking x, y and z but you’re more likely to be throwing it out or bringing it home at the end of the week. Because life is too short and you’ll be too tired.
7. Don’t try to squeeze in too many activities. At the end of the week you will barely have scratched the surface of what’s there, and by the end of day one you’ll be planning next year’s trip anyway. The kids will be just as happy playing on the swings while the 3 year old takes a nap (napping the 3 year old is a crucial part of any trip).
8. It’s amazing how much (time and money) you can spend in the amusement arcades, even in 2ps. And it’s amazing how much sand will get everywhere. Absolutely everywhere.
9. Nobody is staring at you in that swimsuit and thinking how terrible you look. Put it on, get in the pool, have a good time.
10. 4 nights is not anywhere near long enough to take in that gorgeous part of the world. You’re just going to have to go back. And you’ll probably still forget something, get sticker shock on the boat, buy too much food for the apartment and eat out all the time. But you’ll create more great memories with your family and all will be well.
And one last thing:
11. Remember #3, about checking behind the door? Yeah. Recheck. Otherwise your laundry may be having an extra long stay in Wales and may need to be collected by a friend and shipped back to you. Ahem.
It’s one way of dealing with the broken washing machine, I guess.
Photo credit: JULZTphotography on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC
Other pics belong to me. Please don’t use without permission.
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