I’ve quickly learnt that the knack to enjoying a holiday is to ensure the adult to child ratio is in your favour.
We’ve just returned from a week’s holiday in the Algarve, which included three generations of family that live 360 miles apart from each other – yet as my cousin observes, we spend more quality time with each other than with our own brothers who live down the road.
In no particular order, the holiday party included myself, husband (Mr P), Olivia (aged nearly 5 going on 15) Bryher (aged 2 going on 19), brother Dan, cousin Nicola and Baby Daisy, 7 months; Grandad, Nanny Shaz, Aunty Sue, Uncle Alan, other cousin Matt, plus family friends Linda and Graham. And don’t forget Eva, a 9-month old Portuguese Waterdog, whom is possibly now vying for top spot as my brother’s favourite lady.
Observing the Pareto Principle – 80/20, it was 80% relaxing, 20% not so relaxing (at times downright stressful).
80% relaxing – Switching off my email (rare), luxury villa with private pool, plenty of time on asun-lounger /lilo/inflatable tyre with a cold beer, reading one and a half books (rare these days), wine at €8 for 5 litres, wildly over-catered evening meals, long lazy lunches and beautiful sunsets. Also attempts to experience Glastonbury coverage without a telly but with cousin’s iPod and €8 wine.
20 % not so relaxing: 12 hours door to door to get to luxury villa, including return trip via A303 packed with Glasto revellers. 35 degree heat and a tantrumming toddler. Attracting dirty looks from fellow plane passengers when toddler refuses to sit down or observe the seat-belt sign during take-over. 5 year old who refuses to come out of the baking mid afternoon sun because the pool is just way to fun. Negotiating the food and wine kitty. And a phenomenon that can only be described as “villa politics”.
Villa politics arises on arrival, where you remember that when you throw together 11 adults, three children and a dog, you are forced to experience how other people prefer to holiday. For my family, that means maximum amount of time horizontal on a sun-lounger, and a lot of alcohol. For Mr P’s family, that usually means sightseeing, experiencing local attractions, getting up early.
I found myself using tactics often employed in business, known as “managing expectations” of all parties. So if Mr P was hankering after a Pickens-only trip to the beach, best pre-warn the small Pickens early before a more attractive invitation of playing in the pool with Nanny Shaz.
But it was totally worth it. I’ve returned to my desk fatter, browner, poorer, slightly insect-bitten, and definitely more chilled. And who wants to be thin, pale and rich anyway?