We’ve spent a lifetime going on picnics, exploring National Trust properties and English Heritage sites, dressing up as Romans or Vikings or knights and completing treasure trails. Many of these adventures are documented over the years in this blog. Summer holidays were usually trips to grandparents – Pembrokeshire to do beachy stuff or London to do sightseeing and museumy stuff. It wasn’t a bad life and now that stage is passed I’m naturally nostalgic about it. Times change. In a few weeks we five will become two when the youngest heads off to University with her brothers. Grandparents pass away; children grow up and become more independent; priorities change. Disaster could strike when the National Trust family membership no longer applies and reenactment is deemed to be only for the truly dedicated.
For a few years now we’ve booked a summer holiday in the UK – smugly ahead of the game in sustainability and avoiding the potential for airport calamity. We’ve invited the children to join us but not necessarily expected them to be there for the whole week or, indeed at all. And yet the adventuring continues. What university student is going to turn down free pub grub and coffee shop visits for a week, I hear you cry. Quite often all five of us still do something together but it is more likely to be an ever-changing combination of two, three or four these days. There are even rare solitary moments of the type you can only dream of when you are the mother of toddlers. Who knows? In future it may be six, seven, eight or more. I hope so.
We’ve been to Devon, Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and Guernsey in recent summers. Last year we stayed at this National Trust Cottage in the grounds of Upton Park in Warwickshire – a real gem, decked out in an authentic thirties style with plenty of country walks from the doorstep. On our TV detective location tour we also visited Oxford ( Morse, Lewis), Stratford on Avon (Shakespeare and Hathaway) and Blockley (Father Brown) during the week. This year we braved the probability of rain every day in North Wales, staying in a lodge just outside Llangollen and visiting Chester, climbing up to Castell Dinas Bran, swimming in Lake Bala, checking out the ambience and vistas at the Horseshoe Falls and Pontcysyllte and exploring Chirk Castle and Erddig.
We’ve made more memories and established new family rituals. Lord knows, parenting is a dark art for which few of us are very well-prepared but one of the keys to successfully parenting adults seems to be a form of ‘build it and they (sic) will come’ and, in the words of Jim Burns, whose book I picked up in a charity shop recently “Keep your mouth shut and the welcome mat out.”
Happy parenting and happy holidays, people. I’d love to know your tips for negotiating the next stage of parenthood.