Published Friday, 25 July 2014
Most years we go abroad somewhere, but having spent thousands of pounds in the past, I've learnt the hard way that going away with two young children does not make for a relaxing break, even if we could afford to choose a five star hotel with all the trimmings. The fantasy is something like this. We lounge by the pool, cocktail in hand while the children play ecstatically until they grow tired and fall into a peaceful deep sleep. We then have our dinner on the balcony watching the sun set over the horizon. Bliss.
Ok, reality check! What actually happens is this. It's too hot, the kids get very grumpy in their unfamiliar surroundings, there's usually an allergy of some sort thrown in for good measure (which then involves a trip to hospital with lots of misunderstandings and a big fat bill at the end). Sleep? No, we all toss and turn, sweaty and bothered every night. In summary, it's miserable.
Everyone keeps telling me "they're still too young; leave it for a few years then it'll be great". So armed with this deeply wise advice, this year I decided to keep it local. I rang around my friends, who are littered in villages and towns across Ireland and called in a few wee favours (everyone's happy to put you up for a night, right?). I packed up the car and off we went on our merry way. Road tripping around Ireland with two very excited little rascals and an angelic friend who helped out no end!
This was not only far more enjoyable because there are no airports, long travel days and there's no luggage allowance to contend with, but it also transpired to be far friendlier on the old bank balance. There was the added bonus of catching up with friends too, some who now have families of their own, and so there were plenty of new toys for my pair to get stuck into. My child-free friends loved the novelty factor and even bought new toys in anticipation. For Liam and Kate, it was a second Christmas in summer!
I didn't get off totally scot-free though (there was still a trip to the doctors due to a fall off a trampoline and yep thanks very much that'll be fifty euros please). All of us also suffered from that ailment known as 'Northern Irish sunburn' due to a deceptively cloudy day. Overall though, I couldn't recommend it more highly. If you're debating whether to venture abroad with young kids or stay closer to home, I'd say go for the latter every time.
Of course, it all seems like a distant memory now we're back. This week, just as it was all getting too much, The Black Keys saved my soul. I'd forgotten how music has the ability to move and inspire you. On cue as I'm being taken away into that fourth dimension, I'm brought back to reality by a toy fight.
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