What do holidays mean to you?
Holidays when I was small didn’t happen often. I remember my first trip to the Isle of Wight, aged 7 where discos, soft toys and sweets were the most important element. As I got older I remember trips to Cornwall and Devon, dramatic scenery and eating chips on the harbour walls. But most of my summers were spent with my Nan and brother on the beach at home.
My first foreign trip wasnt until I was 21, and my boyfriend (now other half) treated me for my birthday to two days in Paris and EuroDisney. The trip has so many lasting memories, the rain, thunderstorms and lightning that struck the Eifel tower making the front page of the papers. Weird food and ending up in McDonalds where our lack of language skills, nearly landed us with 15 strawberry sundaes, and an everlasting love of all things Disney.
Being young, and carefree, holidays became our luxury and when we realised that we could choose our destination, without our parents dictating where we should go. Destinations of Austria, where we nearly got stuck on a mountain in a storm and made coats out of binbags. Cornwall, Blackpool, and Devon have always been favourites and the beaches are some of the best in the world. A tour of Italy where we drove for 48 hours with friends to the Tuscan landscape full of olive trees and some amazing views. We ate peaches the size of your hand, and pizzas that were unlike the ones at home.
Further afield now, and Las Vegas where we entered a slot machine tournament, and I won! You could eat for $3 a day, and the noise of machines throwing out coins deafened us. New York, we walked for miles and found some surreal shops. The Macy’s Parade was amazing watching huge balloons floating down narrow streets. We spent a month in America staying with families. San Francisco, Arizona, Utah and Florida, so many different states and all sorts of different people.
We had a budget last-minute holiday to Barbados, where all we could afford to eat was Peanut Butties. But in the sunshine it didn’t matter, we fished, with the locals, and saw a side of Barbados that the rich never see. Miami was another favourite where we ate grapefruits on the beach for breakfast, used public transport ending up in the “no go” area, where we quickly got back on the bus.
Our last trip abroad alone was when we married, having fallen in love with America and especially Florida. We decided rather than spend money on a big wedding we would get married in the home of Mickey Mouse, and spend the money on a cruise. This was an amazing trip, from the New York shopping, to the Florida Wedding. Then setting off for the Caribbean where we fell in love with the Island of Grand Cayman, the snorkelling, being eaten by fish and swimming with stingrays.
Then the boy arrived, and things changed. I didn’t want to fly for hours with a small baby, and just the thought of it filled me with dread. Instead voucher holidays, to caravan parks, it was thrilling to find somewhere new. The Isle of Wight where we went back to the places I remember visiting all those years before. They are still there, and pictures in the mouth of hell. In Devon and Dorset we travelled on trams, picnicked on the beach, watched cheesy shows and laughed every time we played Bingo. We took another road trip when the boy was young, with mountains, and even snow. We ate amazing fresh pizza, and saw Roman landmarks. Pisa was a favourite climbing all the way to the top for the amazing views.
We had dreamt of taking the boy to Florida and wanted to wait until he would enjoy and remember this trip so he was nearly 5 before we went. This trip was amazing, filled with smiles and laughter, we have so many memories of the things we did, people we met and mostly the look of wonder on the boys face. This is something I will remember more than the torrential rain.
The weather forced us return, and this time Halloween, the weather was much kinder. The trip was mixed as traveling with a 6-year-old, meant late slow mornings and pushing a sleepy child in his pushchair till the early hours! We discovered rollercoasters, the boy became a Jedi, and went trick and treating American style. We made friends with a dolphin called Dixie, ate lots of fries and blue ice cream.
Three years on and we have just returned again from Florida. This time the boy was 9 and could ride all there was to offer. We saw dolphins in the wild, and space ships up close, ate Dole whips and funnel cake, we made new friends and played magic games with mystical cards. In-between Florida trips we have filled our summers with days on the beach, weekends to Blackpool and Devon. Weekends away in hotels as we toured theme parks, and even the odd night in a tent!
In writing this I have learnt one thing, there is no such thing as “the perfect holiday”. Our holidays sometimes haven’t gone to plan. Sometimes the weather has been against us, other times just circumstances, with each one leaving a lasting mark in our memory.
So Mark Warner, my perfect holiday would be one with my little family, there may only be three of us, but we love to go out have fun explore. But most importantly we enjoy making new marks on our memory.