We got back from a week in Spain last week. I have just about recovered. It was our first ‘proper’ family holiday, abroad, on an aeroplane, with no grandparents to help out with a toddler and a preschooler. We stayed at the Roda Golf Resort near Murcia airport on the Mar Menor, just up from La Manga.
I’ve been telling everyone it was great, though rather ‘full-on’. This is a very handy little euphemism that means, in this case: ‘We are all completely knackered after a rather up and down week together. I now need a holiday. Or at the very least to lie down in silence for some time’.
Here’s the highlights. Actually, some of them are lowlights:
1. The shock-and-awe on the kiddies’ faces when they saw our easyJet plane pull up at the stand at Gatwick.
2. The shock-and-awe on our fellow passengers’ faces on the delayed return trip (thanks, bastard French air traffic controllers) when overtired DS kicked off and screamed for an hour and a half. Young couple in front, still pissed off that we had refused to let them recline their seats on the basis that, er, there was no space with small people on laps, said in response to our apology on landing ‘well, it was a bit much’. DH replied: ‘Let that be a lesson to you, young people in love. Do not have children.’
3. Doing the whole siesta/stay up late ‘like Spanish children’ thing. It sort of worked, sometimes. Sometime they were just really tired and whiney, and we had hardly any grown-up time.
4. Sneaking up to the sunny roof terrace of our stunning, huge two-bedroom apartment while everyone else was asleep to read another Ian Rankin.
5. Driving all the way around the Mar Menor peninsula because the ‘shuttle boat’ didn’t start until July, then finding the ‘exclusive beach club’ bit of the golf resort , though stunning, was barely open. We waited over an hour for our lunch order before being told they didn’t actually have anything for us to eat.
6. We then drove 200yds down road and found the most perfect Spanish local’s place with three yummy courses for ten euro, full of smoking, noisy male labourers on lunch break, where they loved the kids.
7. The day we spent at the natural mud baths at San Pedro del Pinatar. Me and DH enthusiastically covered ourselves in mud (great for excema and rheutmatism, apparently). DS freaked at all the black mud people and DD with her dog nose went completely mental at the admittedly rather poo-stinky smell and ran off down the beach screaming. It was Not A Good Day after that.
8. Floating round the lovely pool with DS in his water wings and DD hanging out on the steps in her Barbie ring pretenting to be a mermaid. Then she’d refuse to go in any further to try swimming and get all stroppy, and DS would through his blow up ball directly into the wind so we had to run miles to get it. Again.
9. It was properly hot. I even burnt my back after forgetting to put suncream on myself (everyone else in factor 50, obv) and peeled like some teenager on her first trip to Greece. By the end of the week, though, it was extremely windy, overcast, rainy and stormy. That’s early season for you.
10. It was lovely and quiet, with no other kids about. This was a goodish thing, but also a bit crap for DD not having any other little girls to make holiday friends with. This did, however, force her and DS to spend a lot of time playing together and they were a proper little double act, laughing a lot.
So what did I learn? Take grandparents. Don’t fly with DS again for a couple of years. Don’t believe anyone who says ‘Oh, you don’t need a car. It’s all within walking distance!’. It’s OK to chill with routines, but possibly not going straight from 7pm to 11pm bedtime. Overtired kiddies do not a fun time make. An organised Mary Poppins-style day bag is a thing of beauty. Go to the Isle of Wight, Cornwall or the Peak District next summer.
Still, the photos look amazing. It looks like we had a splendid time. And after some of the more nightmarish memories have faded, I’ve got hundreds of pictures of happy, gorgeous, smiling, frolicking children. Perhaps it wasn’t so bad after all.