‘Mummy where’s my other slipper’. We’d been at our holiday cottage for one day and Florence was looking for her slippers – the gorgeous stone floor was a bit cold for her little feet. I’m sure it’s somewhere I mumbled – I do remember packing them both, but I think they travelled separately in and amongst the many bags we packed. The very fact that I’d remembered them at all was a miracle – because we don’t seem to travel light anymore! Luckily we didn’t have to attempt to pack everything under 15kg and squash onto a plane – we were having a staycation.
It wasn’t too long ago that, as a carefree couple we were jet-setting off to New York, Prague and Krakow for city breaks and enjoying long lazy days on sun-loungers in Spain.
However we knew this holiday wasn’t going to resemble the days when we were young, free and childless. We are now middle-aged (well one of us is…), skint and have lots of children! We needed something that suited our new family set up but more importantly we needed a break. A friend recommended a fabulous cottage in Cornwall and, despite the long drive from Manchester, it looked and sounded perfect. Now just the small task of transporting 3 tinkers down there with the right clobber!
I’d started to pack for the hols a few days before – had made several lists – and checked the weather report various times. It was going to be showery, sunny and cloudy in Cornwall. So there was no way around it – every type of outfit for any eventuality was packed. Shorts, suntan cream and shades were crammed into our various mis-matched bags, (note to self – must invest in better travel luggage) alongside wellies, raincoats and cardis. All times by five.
I dug out my ‘holiday clothes’, which are hidden away in the loft gathering dust until it’s holiday season. They usually come along in my bag, excited by the prospect of maybe getting worn this year and I usually dismiss them again – favouring newer items or old favourites. Maybe this was the year I would wear them…
The car was loaded up to the brim, the children were strapped in and provided with a variety of in-car entertainment and we were raring to go, car snacks at the ready, shades on and the sat nav telling us it was only 5 hours 30 until we reached our destination…. a breeze!
We survived the drive with only a small amount of hearing loss, only a slight stench of carsick and surrounded by a mountain of empty packets of biscuits, crisps and various drink cartons. On arrival we were greeted by a beautifully quaint cottage, a welcoming bottle of wine and enough bedrooms for us all to have our own. Phew – everything was going to be alright!
After a few days we really started to relax and settle into our surroundings. The days started to fly by and were filled with beach visits, fish and chips, boat trips and cream teas.
We even managed a day trip to the Eden Project, which was really good and felt like we had done something grown up. The evenings were equally enjoyable and filled with wine, beer, bbq’s and more wine.
However, it doesn’t matter where we are – the day-to-day realities of having twins will never leave us…. It’s just the surroundings that change. One baby screams while the other smiles. One sleeps, one doesn’t. Logistics are tricky and the simple act of just getting out and about continues to be a challenge. And the fear of being constantly outnumbered by three very dependent children doesn’t ever leave you.
The cottage was such a lovely place to hang around though so we didn’t feel too bad about just pottering there. I thought I’d found the missing slipper mid way through the holiday and went downstairs to match it up with the other one – only to discover the one I’d found must have been the same one I kept finding – because the other one was still nowhere to be seen. Hmm.
Is it just me or is ‘the idea’ of going to the beach always better than the actual experience. I knew I wouldn’t be able to read my book and doze off to the sound of the waves but I thought it would be slightly more relaxing than it actually was. Crawling babies and sand don’t mix – neither does sharing one ice-cream between five..it leads to tears and tantrums and a sandy Mr whippy!
We were also terribly unprepared for the beach – we should have had a shady tent, a windbreak and some cold beers in a cool box. There’s always next year. For our toddler – the sea was just a bit too cold, the sand a bit too hot and the boat we built for her wasn’t as exciting as the one she’d seen further down the beach. She did however find hours of fun just burying her feet in the sand – the simple things are always the best. We carried on with smiles on our faces and discussed how it will never get any harder than this. We had romantic dreams of years to come when all three will play nicely together while we sunbathe and relax…!
Sylvie had been having a really tough time teething over the weeks and had gone through her fair share of Calpol. She didn’t need any more mouth irritations. Our trip to the Eden Project was all going smoothly and we even found a children’s area where they could finally have a crawl around after hours in the buggy. We dressed them as bugs and laughed at their expense.
Suddenly there’s the sound of a screaming baby – Sylvie had slipped and was rather upset. On further investigation there was blood in her mouth and she had bit her tongue. Oh joy.
Back at our ‘holiday home’ we were still looking for the missing slipper but had found that we could explore our surroundings and it was one big adventure. The endless garden that led to the woods were perfect for hunting for the Gruffalo! We’d also discovered that we were less that 10 minutes walk from a rather splendid pub with a nice beer garden so this made us happy on more than one occasion.
Sylvie had been suffering from a mild cold as well and so we’d come well prepared with more than enough lotions and potions – however – one evening a silly mistake nearly turned into a major emergency. I popped into the bedroom around 10.30pm to check on the babies when I was confronted with a very strong menthol smell… Christian must have really gone overboard on the Olbas Oil! But then I looked in Sylvie’s travel cot and noticed the bottle of Olbas Oil lying next to her…with the top off. The sheet she was sleeping on looked saturated in the oil and she was lying there asleep in the middle of it all. It must have been left on the table next to the cot and her enquiring hands have pulled it off.
Now I tend to panic at the smallest of incidents – so this wasn’t a good scenario to be faced with. Christian tried to calm my nerves by saying something about it all being herbal but on further investigation the bottle said if swallowed seek medical attention immediately. Hmm – we had no way of knowing if she’d ingested any but there was a fair chance as babies always put things in their mouth. So we were 20 miles from the nearest A&E in south Cornwall with a possible emergency on our hands – or not. We decided to seek advice from the 111 line and managed to rouse Sylvie enough to smell her breath and feel reassured she was just sleeping and perhaps had only swigged a drop or so from the bottle and then had being put off by the terrible taste. It was a very sleepless night from me though as I lay next to her and watched for any suspicious symptoms to appear. In the morning she woke up, was bright as a button and, not surprisingly, her cold had gone!
Our week away had finally come to an end, it was time to pack up and head home. As we packed everything away, including my unworn ‘holiday clothes’ we noticed just under the travel cots, there on the floor was a little furry purple slipper. The pair was reunited at last.
And so after clocking up nearly 800 miles – our first holiday as a family of five was certainly an adventure and even dare I say a success! Bring on next years!