I have always been one to shy away from the idea of ‘making memories’. Actively setting out to do something that will stick in my childrens’ memory bank seems forced, false, fake…it sticks in my throat somehow.
But here’s the thing. So often, the things I do with my kids for a laugh, for some fun, are triggered by childhood memories. Whilst there were many times growing up when we didn’t have a bean, I mostly remember laughing and a sense of adventure. I remember ‘times’ rather than things. It’s quite a gift to give your kids.
Our family ‘catchphrase’ (tell me you didn’t say ‘catchphrase’ in a bad northern Irish accent and I’ll tell you your age!) for 2018 is ‘Seek Adventure’. My husband and I are polar opposites, but the one thing we both love and remember most from our childhood are holidays.
So, we’re taking the kids on a road trip down memory lane – on holidays where we revisit good times and make new ones.
And so to Spain
Our first stop will be Spain. My accommodation of choice would be one of these incredible Spanish mansions, I know that I’m destined to travel and relax in the lap of luxury and to lounge about in an incredible swimming pool after a hard day at the coast.
Our childhood memories werecamping trips in Spain, Dian under canvas – please God no – whilst I remember our blue VW Camper van. Back in the day I was teased mercilessly about our fantastic pop-top camper – I bet the girls who teased me then, lust after one now and dream of ruining it with a dodgy half-baked refurb. I still have owning one on my bucket list and my fit out would be amazing – watch this space school bullies! My parents also owned a bright orange beetle, the ‘set-zoomer’. The girls at school hated that amazing car too – they dubbed it the ‘sewing machine’. I loved it then for the good times we had in it and crave one now. We were ahead of the times. Our camping trips were full of fun and adventure just like the wonderful Spanish people. It is a wonderful place to visit as a child.
I want the kids to play on the beach until it gets dark, to taste new foods, for Ella to practice her Spanish ordering food and drink in restaurants that we find off the beaten track. I want her to make friends with Spanish kids and have pen-pals (do people even still do that? – they should – I don’t think a snap-chat streak would have quite the same magic as a letter dropping on the mat). I want to see if either of us can remember how to sail a boat and take the kids out on the waves, to collect treasures on the sand and play cards into the small hours drinking wine with strangers who become friends.
Next Stop France
We couldn’t really take a memory road trip without going to France. It was the destination of many a wonderful family holiday for both me and my husband and the country that I credit for many things. As long as you don’t actually want to achieve more than one task in a day and don’t need to rely on broadband speed, it is a wonderful place!
The Making of Me
In the summer of 1994 I left home a shy retiring teenager, always hiding in the back of the photos, to be an ‘animatrice’ in a French holiday club. I returned five months later wearing outlandish clothes having experienced many a ‘first time’ and singing to a coach load of 70 kids down a microphone. I also left home a militant vegetarian and returned home asking for a bacon sandwich – I couldn’t stand one more raised eyebrow when I asked for the vegetarian option and being asked if I would just like to ‘try’ the boeuf-bourginon, any more than I could stomach another omelette.
The France of my Childhood
Now clearly I don’t want my little ones to party hard just yet, in fact I cringe at the very idea that my kids may do some of the things we did. But I do want them to stuff their little faces with fast-melting ice creams and crepes with Nutella and to potter to the bakery to buy crinkly paper bags full of croissants. We will take them to see my parents who live there and dance outdoors at ‘Blues Passion’ (a fantastic open-air music festival) and fall into bed at unacceptable hours. We will swim in the river and spot kingfishers on the river bank, collect buckets and buckets of shells and jump the waves at the seaside. We will trawl the brocantes for vintage finds to bring home and the kids will buy sparkly tat the same as they buy everywhere. Happy days.
A little closer to home for a Yorkshire Lass…
Many of our best memories however are firmly rooted on British soil. As a Yorkshire lass, my happy days were spent yomping about the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, eating picnics in wild countryside and hopping from one National Trust treasure to another. Our much longed-for puppy is about to join our wild tribe. She will undoubtedly bring us more chaos and calamity and long-running arguments about whose turn it is to pick up the poo… But we can’t wait to take her on muddy walks along the hills nibbling on Kendal Mint Cake and pretending we like it, before stopping to admire the breath-taking views and sipping warming hot chocolate from a wonky thermos!
…and a Cornish Boy
My husband is a Cornish boy at heart. He grew up climbing the sea cliffs, bunking off school, riding his bike down country lanes and generally getting into mischief. We are heading down to Devon in July for the incredible ‘Camp Bestival’ and may pack in a whistle-stop trip to Cornwall to eat saffron buns and clotted cream ice cream topped with clotted cream before sipping a pint or three at a little-known drinking hole whilst dangling our feet in the water.
Our childhoods were spent making memories without trying.
Bring on the good times and buckle up for the ride kids – we’re off to have fun.