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by Karen

Holidays: Oh, How Things Have Changed!

We are going on holiday!

Readers of my previous post will no doubt be asking themselves ‘But what about the apples?’.  And you would be right to be concerned. By some fortunate unfortunate accidentally-on-purpose timing, our holiday this year is going to fall slap bang in the middle of the Hades that is apple season.  Personally, I was all for complete denial and leaving the apples to rot on their twiggy little branches, but my husband is having none of it and therefore responsibility for the apples will be handed to our spare fridge in the garage, which will preserve the little darlings until we return. So rest assured, I will not be relieved from my month long sentence of apple misery. It will merely be postponed.

So yes, our holiday. We’ve rented a cottage and will be travelling up to central Scotland in the next few days to spend a full week doing exactly what we do at home, save for a couple of farm visits, a zoo, and probably the odd ice cream (weather permitting, which it probably won’t).

Embarking upon the 8 day task of packing for a 7 day break with a toddler, I started to think of the pre-baby years and how ridiculously easy it used to be to go on holiday.  For your delight, I’ve compiled a list of all the smug rubbish I used to spout about holidays, before I knew any better. Here it is:

‘For me, the journey is part of the holiday.’

It’s no lie. I used to love the ‘getting there’ part of a holiday. I loved flying, long car dscn3676journeys, long train journeys – heck, I didn’t even mind taking the 6 hour National Express to London if I had some decent music to listen to and a good book to read.

Nowadays, a long journey is simply the ordeal which must be endured in order to stand a fighting chance of enjoying a holiday.

Without a doubt, it will involve all or one of the following:

  • My own ‘near-mummification’ by sticker, as I am gradually covered from head to toe in adhesive Cbeebies characters. Ever had to root around the back seat of a car for a rice cracker with a couple of Teletubbies stuck to your eyelids? You haven’t lived.
  • My very accurate impression of a contestant on The Cube, as I attempt to retrieve the world’s tiniest Duplo cat from beneath the passenger seat, whilst going round a hairpin bend at speed.
  • A desperate attempt to blind myself with a used crayon, as the ‘The Bare Necessities’ begins to play for the 17th time.

No, the journey is no longer part of the holiday.

‘I used to always pack so much more than I needed. Now I just take the essentials and travel light.’

Oh, how smug I was.

I realised that our travelling light days were long gone as we set off by car on our first proper holiday with our toddler earlier this year.  We looked like a modern day version of a gold rush family travelling across America in the 1800s, with our roofbox close to bursting, a couple of pillows pushed up against the rear window, and various household items dangling around the car like bunting.  The only difference between us and those gold rush families was that they were moving home permanently, and could justify packing the inside of their vehicle so full that they developed cramp only an hour into the journey.  We were travelling to a fully equipped holiday cottage. We probably did not need to take our own bedside lamp.

‘I have no intention of lifting a finger on holiday’

I’d always believed a holiday should involve absolutely no housework.   I didn’t see why this should change once we had a baby.


Another washing machine, poised and prepped to ruin your idea of a housework-free holiday

So determined was I not to use a washing machine on our last holiday, I packed double the amount of clothes that our little girl would need. I was convinced that the risk of developing DVT and/or gangrene in my feet as a result of spending 4 hours in the back of a car under a holdall of ‘just in case’ clothes, would be more than worth it.

And it would have been, had my little girl not rolled herself out of my husband’s arms as he lowered her into her travel cot on our first night, causing her to free fall the last 5cms. How she giggled, before then projectile vomiting her yet-to-be-digested milk all over the travel cot, the sheets, her grobag, and her clothes.

Three hours after our arrival and the start of our holiday, I was switching the washer on. And I cried.

‘I love arriving at our accommodation and checking out the bathroom and free toiletries’


This one was clearly special enough to warrant a photo

This may just be me, but in the pre-baby years, whenever I got to a hotel room, I loved to suss out the bathroom and free toiletries.  Once that was done, I would then scour the bedroom for the selection of tea bags and biscuits. And if there was something extra, like a bowl of fruit or a chocolate on each bedside table, I’d be fairly happy.  Nowadays, I still get that rush of nervous excitement, but it’s not for anything as frivolous as the freebies or the biscuits. It’s for finding out whether or not the TV in the room has the Cbeebies channel. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the outcome could make or break a holiday. To date, we have been lucky, but I know never to count my chickens.


‘I think you need to read up on the history and culture of a place before you travel there, in order to really get the most out of your holiday’

Yeah, anyway….you get my drift.

Holidays are not what they were, and if you’d said to me a few years ago that one day I’d be spending my holidays traipsing round a muddy farm looking at matted llamas and scraggy chickens, I’d have laughed. But it makes Little B happy, and what I never understood when I was appropriating surplus Molton Brown toiletries from our hotel rooms, drinking cocktails and taking in a bit of culture, was just quite how pleasurable a really simple holiday with a toddler would be. Yes, it’s stressful, it takes more organisation that the Olympics, and there’s very little relaxation. But when Little B goes off to sleep each night and I know she’s dreaming about the amazing day she’s had, there’s no better feeling in the world.

Except maybe making it through a full week without using a washing machine. Because that would be pretty special too…..

Written by Karen for her blog, Twice Microwaved Tea.

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Twitter: @twicemicrowaved

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