‘Can we have a proper holiday this year, Mum?’ said James.
‘Huh? A proper holiday?’
‘Yeah, you know…one that isn’t some last minute panic. A proper, thought-about, planned, booked holiday, where we don’t argue, where nobody’s stressed… Abroad. Somewhere hot but with air conditioning.’
We have a bit of a problem when it comes to holidays. I love doing and seeing things that are a bit different, out of the norm, a little extreme even. I dream of the Himalayas, of galloping on camels across deserts, of flying for hours and getting off the plane in a place so very different from rural Somerset that it takes my breath away. Adrian, on the other hand, is a cautious traveller.
Every time I suggest a destination, he cites excrement, war, terrorism, plague, sodomy, open drains, raw sewage, excrement, kidnapping, torture, excrement, stomach bugs, sunstroke and…excrement. Whenever he suggests a destination I yawn. Unfair? I give you Belgium. Not that I have anything against Belgium per se. I mean, Belgium does great chocolate and I’m sure the beer is superb. It has some very pretty cities. Good frites. But, for a summer holiday?
‘Well…’ I say to James. ‘Where would you like to go?’
‘Morocco,’ he says. ‘But Dad won’t like it.’
We look at one another and sigh.
‘He won't. Definitely not. We could go kayaking in Poland?’ I try. ‘Or how about snorkelling in Croatia? He’s keen on Croatia.’
James shakes his head and a look of resignation comes over his face. ‘I really would love to go to Morocco.’
And I think about how he’s fourteen and time is running out. How many more years are there when he will want to go on holiday with me? And then I thought about how I'm always jetting off here, there and everywhere for work (as is Adrian) and poor James is stuck behind and, bless him, never complains (though maybe that's because he's not too keen on having colonics in Italy or pretzeling himself in Spain). And I think about our past holidays which have been fine but a bit haphazard, a bit last-minute, a bit flung together on a wing and a prayer. And I look at my credit card and think...sod it.
And then it hits me. ‘How about if just you and I go?’ I say. ‘And then maybe you and Dad could go to…’
‘Germany!’ he says, eyes lighting up. ‘We could go to bars and war museums.’ He knows his father so well.
And I thought Adrian might baulk at this idea but he grasped it like a drowning man. With unseemly haste, actually.
So I told my friend Rachel what we were doing and she looked wistful.
‘I’ve always wanted to go to Morocco,’ she said. ‘But Charlie’s never been keen.’
‘Well…come with us,’ I said.
A glint came into her eye. ‘You know what? I will,’ she said. ‘I’ll bring Gabs.’ Gabriel. My godson. Adorable, edible child.
So that is how we came to find ourselves getting off an airplane in Marrakech. J
Okay, so it didn’t quite pan out the way we planned (more anon) but still…sensible, huh? So, tell me, do you always holiday en famille? Do you compromise furiously? Or do you split up and do the things you all really want?