This is a post from Ruth, who blogs as DorkyMum. Ruth has recently moved from Edinburgh to Hertfordshire with her husband and 3-year-old son. She posts about parenting, politics, current affairs and photography, and is a finalist in the Best New Blog category at both the BiBs and the MADS. You can always find her for a chat on Twitter or Facebook
Holidays? I’ve had a few! They change though, don’t they? Not just the places you go, but who you’re with, why you’re going and what you remember!
As a wee girl it was always about family. Staffordshire, to stay with my Grandpa. It was long hot summers playing tennis in the back garden with my brothers. It was lying on my back, looking up, and seeing aeroplane trails above as though someone had dragged a fork across the sky. It was the sound of the ice cream van. It was day trips to Buxton and Ashbourne, and having tea on the way back at the Little Chef. It was playing in Grandpa’s caravan, which never went further than his driveway.
Then, one time, it was something new. Abroad. With Dad, but not Mum. It was Yugoslavia. Crazy golf, an amphitheatre, folk with funny names. A lady in the lift with false nails – blue spots one night and then red stripes the next. It was tongue and smelly cheese for breakfast. It was a day trip to Venice, ice cream, pigeons, sweating men blowing glass. It was whooping cough, and coming home to Mum, who had acquired a new puppy in our absence.
A few years later, when I was older, it was package trips to Spain, Portugal, Tunisia. It was samey hotels with hot buffets and hideous local entertainment. It was palazzo pants and karaoke, and it was seeing numerous, nameless cities from a bus window. It was pre-teenage awkwardness, badly dressed with frizzy hair. (I have hidden the photos from these years)
Then, older again. It was camping in France, during the worst flooding of the decade. It was big spiders, dark slugs, and water up to my knees. It was brilliant omelette and chips in a motorway service station, and the best hot chocolate of my life in a café whose name I forget. It was playing petanque, reading Agatha Christie novels, and being thrown in the sea. It was the sound of steam trains in the middle of the night.
Then it was Greece, where I became a woman. It was warmer, more blue, more white than anywhere I had been before. It was fresh fish, ouzo, watermelon. It was soft language, henna tattoos, market stalls, watching the boats come in. It was falafel, and hummous, stray dogs and sleeping on the balcony.
There were a couple of transition holidays – ones without old family or new. There was Crete, with friends, to celebrate the end of exams. Cheap alcohol, kisses with strangers, dancing on tables, staying up until sunrise. Eating cream cheese on tomatoes at the airport. There was Dublin, for Guinness, soda bread and friendship.
There were the two life-changers – the Arctic to study climate change and the West Bank to campaign for access to education – but I’m not sure that I count either of them as holidays. Is travel always a holiday?
Six years ago, it became couple holidays. It was Prague, for shots of dangerous liquor, pints of beer bigger than my head, late night dumpling dinners and then breakfast in bed the next morning. It was Paris, for wine and walking, for dingy bars and Michelin stars, for a haircut, and a diamond ring. It was New York – first class – proper cutlery and comfy seats. It was a hotel in Times Square. Pancakes for breakfast, and a hotdog in Central Park
It was Athens, where they were rioting. Finding somewhere quiet to sit in the sun, to drink cold beer and eat chicken and chips with our fingers. It was just catching the last whiff of tear gas in the air as we walked back to the hotel.
And then. Then there was DorkySon… and I am back to family holidays again. That makes it hard to dance on tables, (and hard to have breakfast in bed, too). When we travel now, my backpack is bigger. Instead of just my camera, for shoogly-handed self-portraits, there are now snacks and wipes, new toy cars, tissues and sticker books. Now we gravitate towards friends and far-flung family, to small places in the country, to beaches that are not too hot for toddler toes.
These are the best holidays of my life.
What do holidays mean to you?