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- 15 Jul 17

We’ve just come home from a camping holiday in France.  The post-holiday tiredness (don’t even get me started on that) has subsided and I’ve been reflecting on the highs and lows …

Things you DEFINITELY do NOT want to hear while you are on a family camping holiday include:

He’s teething. Ohhh, what the chuff, it’s molars!

Day one of our holiday and we were feeling pretty smug. The ferry crossing, epic drive through France and tent set up had gone alright – hard bit over surely? But then I spot the tell-tale nappy rash – uh oh, then come the hot cheeks and ever increasing tetchiness. This can only mean one thing. Teething. Don’t worry too much, say I, he’s not been too bad with it so far. Last words of a fool and all that. Turns out molars can be somewhat more traumatic.  Night 2 in the tent was bad, really bad. So bad in fact that at 4am the campsite security guard approached our tent with his professional grade torch (seriously, it was like Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and gave us a stern talking to. As my husband attempted to persuade him to direct the strobe away from our daughters sleeping face (“what’s the French for go away??”) I desperately tried to shush the feverish, tormented boy. So far, this was not quite going according to plan.

That toilet seat was very sticky Mummy!

As my three year old gleefully uttered these words, my stomach turned and my heart sank. After several unpleasant camping/tummy bug incidents in the past (the most memorable of which involved a group road trip where nearly all of us came down with gastroenteritis. My now husband and I getting engaged on this ‘holiday’ was literally shat all over) I am now somewhat paranoid about hygiene. Thankfully my incessant nagging about hand washing,  laundry (note to self, allow an additional €100 for use in washing machines on future trips) and anti-bac gel paid off this time!

The sound of  boob slappage

Picture the scene; we’re on a bike ride to the beach, riding through the sand dunes and pine forests, the sounds of chirping cicadas are the only thing to break the peace. Until I ride over a bump on the track and ‘thwack’! This is the result of already sizeable bazumas,  post breastfeeding two babies droopiness, still wearing a tatty, unsupportive nursing bra and a tree root. Horrified, I stealthily look around to see if anyone else heard … no obvious reactions! I’m pretty sure they’re not too polite to have kept quiet if they did realise. I can only assume that they thought it was a nearby branch falling.

There were a lot of happy times though. How can there not be when you’re in the sunshine, with freshly baked croissants every morning and local red wine every evening? So, in better news, here are some things that you really do want to hear when living in the great outdoors :

I’m happy to babysit …

Oh the joys of holidaying with grandparents!  Since having children, I’ve become a big fan of going away with extended family. A better adult:child ratio, opportunities for childcare shifts and perhaps a sneaky date. But it wasn’t just child-free time that I relished, it was the chance to have some time with each of the children alone. Our daughter was so excited to go on a turtle finding canoe expedition with us and her happy shrieks as we all jumped into the lake together were priceless. Likewise, having a couple of hours of sleepy, feeding baby cuddles felt indulgent and precious.

Bar??

After some initial apprehension,  I went along to the bar one afternoon with the children. My husband was intent on being there every day at 4 to watch the Tour de France so it was a case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. Well, what a pleasant surprise it was! I know that children are generally more welcomed at bars and restaurants in Europe than they are here at home, but I was still amazed. The staff really went above and beyond; they provided toys, chatted and played with the children and entertained our three year old’s attempts at speaking French. A pre-dinner hour in the bar soon became part of our daily routine!

She’s doing it!

After a few days I finally realised that the normal routine was most definitely NOT going to be working and thus gave up on the idea of adult evenings spent drinking wine under the stars. My initial bitterness about this was turned around when we started having fun in the evenings, with the children! Dancing in the bar with glowsticks, sunset swims and (proud parent moment) our little girl learning to ride her bike. So yes we missed the post-bedtime quiet, but they did lie in and they did nap, sometimes simultaneously!

So despite the insect bites and the sandy nappies, the 6 hour drives and poor sleep, I’d do it again! Children thrive outdoors; the freedom and fresh air, being exposed to the elements (don’t they have some cracking thunderstorms in the south of France!) and exploring nature. We came home with two feral, exhausted but happy children 🙂

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