The promise of a holiday has been in existence since the beginning of the year. Ever present but tantalisingly out of reach; always just too far ahead to get excited about. As work has become increasingly stressful I have stolen just a few minutes to look again at the web page; at the beautiful house with its private beach and boat house. “Almost holiday-time”, we’d tell each other, when the daily grind became almost too much to bear. “Only seven more sleeps!” we celebrated, like children, when marital ships passing in the night became ships who never even docked in the same place (except occasionally in the kitchen, as regular readers will know). A whole week together as a family.
And so we set off with the promise of glorious weather, the car filled to the gunnels with life-jackets, kites and picnic hampers. Throwing caution to the wind we left both the double and the triple buggy languishing in the garage, relying on Shanks’ pony and a rusty Maclaren stroller to give toddler legs a break.
It was roughly two hours into the journey before Twin 1 was violently sick. Too far to turn back; still unsufferably far from our destination. Vomit dripped from every surface of the car and permeated into the fabric of the car seat. Stripped to her nappy, we forced the poor girl back into her sodden seat and continued on our way, windows wide open in a vain attempt to repel the smell.
The Husband was due to play golf the next day and the weather was grey and unappealing. The prospect of a day with the in-laws being equally unappealing, I had located a toddler group not far away, and duly loaded the pygmies in the car for an early start, the offending car-seat cover appropriately laundered and replaced. Twenty minutes down the road Toddler boy threw up. And up, and up and up. His sister’s projectile efforts of the previous day paled into insignificance in light of the copious amounts of regurgitated banana and cheerios pouring into the footwell of the back seat. Stripped to his nappy, we returned home. I didn’t bother opening the windows – I was almost getting used to the smell.
The following day we woke to incredible sunshine, yachts sailing up and down outside our window, and a much improved Toddler. In a homage to Arthur Ransome we played on the beach all day, rowed the children across the estuary and collected shells to barter with the pirates in exchange for our lunch. As the day grew cooler we retired to the sun terrace where the hot-tub bubbled invitingly next to an array of cocktails and mocktails. I submerged myself into the warm water and felt my entire body relax, before coming to the surface to take the first child from my husband. The Toddler leapt into my arms, all sickness forgotten in his excitement. Twin 1 smiled gleefully as she was passed into my arms, all arm-bands and swim nappy. I reached out for Twin 2 and beamed at her as I brought her into the bubbles, watching my three beautiful children bobbing around against a backdrop of boats and seagulls.
It was all over in a second. A sudden pallor across Twin 2’s face, and the oasis was transformed into a bubbling mass of heated vomit, swirling around us and clinging to exposed skin. “Yuk“, she said. “Yuk“, said her sister, cringing away from the floating chunks of carrot. “Yuk“, said the Toddler. Wordlessly I passed the pygmies back out in turn to the Husband, waiting on the decking, and wrapped them in soft warm towels.
As the children trooped along the terrace I looked back to see where the Husband was, only to see him step down into the tub and lean back into a seat. Incredulously I wondered if perhaps he had somehow managed to miss the three-foot stream of orange coming from his daughter’s mouth just a few seconds ago.
“I saw it“, he replied. “But I’m past caring. And anyway, it’s still preferable to doing bath-time”.
Funny how your standards drop once you have children. I nearly fought him to get back in…