The highs and lows

Tides? Walks? No, just the best and not so best bits of our holiday (so far).

Good things (in no particular order):
1. Being out of the routine of normal family life.
2. Treating each day as it comes and not planning every minuscule detail (still some planning going on but mostly just on the catering front and ideas of things to do depending on weather and mood).
3. Seeing some beautiful scenery and being able to take time to enjoy it.
4. Not having much in the way of phone signal or wi-fi so having to find alternative means of planning journeys or researching places – i.e. using maps and reading leaflets. Sometimes just “chancing it”.
5. As above (i.e. no wifi) so having to talk to each other.
6. As above so not feeling compelled to share every moment on social media or feel compelled to know what everyone else is doing,
7. Treats feeling compulsory and not naughty. More a case of where shall we get an ice cream rather than should we get an ice cream.
8. Being relaxed about bedtimes and mealtimes (this does come under point 1 but I feel it deserves expanding on).
9. Staying in a house that you’re not responsible for cleaning or maintaining. We’re not behaving like sloths but a cursory wipe down of the kitchen surfaces and toilet are all that’s really needed. No angst about how much dust is building up or whether the vacuum needs putting round. Ok, I did vacuum at the first house as it was a particularly nasty carpet that seemed to form another layer of fluff and “bits” every few days. And it made the place feel a little less sad when I’d been round with Hetty – Henry’s female counterpart – who, incidentally, smelled like she was going to combust.
10. Not caring what we were missing on telly. Apart from a reminder I have set myself on my phone for Bake Off tomorrow night, and watching the news to see what the weather could possible be like the next day, we haven’t watched more than an hour of TV the whole time we’ve been away.
11. I’ve been avoiding saying “spending quality time together” as that’s a bit bland and cliched (and you know how I hate to be cliched -much!) but we really have actually had quite a nice time being together 24/7. I got a bit ratty yesterday but once in 10 days isn’t bad. There have been some incidents but as we’re on holiday I’ve been grown up and not sulked, instead choosing to let things go and smooth things over. Most of the time.
12. Persevering to find a parking space in order to visit Watersmeet. Not my best day by a long shot (see below) but well worth the upset and wasted time.

The not so brilliant (again in no particular order):
1. K having a “heated discussion” with a progressively more and more irate golfer. We were trying to find the cycle route through to the next village and had inadvertently ventured onto the course. I was happy to slink away, pushing my bike back to the road, but K felt it important to speak up for the common man (or mountain biker in this case) and suggested that as the man “lived round here” and “knew the rules” he should perhaps ask the nature reserve people to make the “no bikes on The Burrows” rule clearer to the general public. As we got further round the route (once we got back on the right track) K noticed the rather large sign informing cyclists to stay to the roads. Not one to be proven wrong he got chatting to one of the reserve volunteers who agreed that the golfers were “a nasty lot who only rent the land from us and yet behave as if they own the place”. He suggested that we were quite within our rights to use our judgement and go off road if it wasn’t disturbing anyone (as was clearly the case earlier on) but we were not to quote him on it. Hmm. I found this to be rather dubious advice but K took it as him being completely exonerated of any wrongdoing in challenging the golfer. I’m still dubious.
2. K having a “heated discussion” at the swimming pool when the lifeguards asked everyone to vacate a section of the pool that they were cordoning off for a private party. To be fair, it did leave a very limited amount of space for the hordes of other customers and if we had known this was going to happen we wouldn’t have bothered paying to go in, but it was excruciating to watch him refusing to leave the area until a member of management was called over to explain themselves. He was eventually mollified by the offer of a refund of our entrance fee and joined us behind the ropes. If I was a bystander I would have thought he was to be applauded for standing his ground but as his wife I was a little uncomfortable to say the least.
3. Eating far too many treats and feeling ridiculously full and uncomfortable. Dreading the return home and the inevitable self-loathing at the realisation that normal clothes won’t fit anymore. Having to stop eating (not just treats, but food of any kind).
4. Selecting the wrong address on Google Maps (on a rare decent signal occasion) and sending us in the wrong direction. Who knew there were two Crossways Cottages in the area? Idiots. Back to the map.
5. Sending us down incredibly narrow lanes in a bid to find “hidden treasures” that the National Trust insist our lives will be enriched by. Having to watch K struggle to perform multi-point turns in order to get back to civilisation, having abandoned the quest to find the pot of gold. The only one we persevered with was Watersmeet which took us ages to finally get parked at after what seemed like hours driving around afore mentioned narrow lanes (“this can’t be a bloody A road!”) navigating the busy streets of Lynmouth and then returning back up the winding hill to finally bag ourselves a space. Everyone’s reactions to the beauty of the place completely overrode all of the hassle and aggravation of the previous few hours.
6. Not bringing a hot water bottle. I thought about it and decided not to on the basis that if A saw it she might think she needed it. And she hasn’t needed it until tonight. She’s been constipated for a few days and the medicine and extra water and fruit hasn’t kicked in yet. Bad mum.
7. The weather. It doesn’t matter how much you brace yourself for the weather to be crap, it still has the ability to slap you round the chops and tell you you’re an idiot for not planning more wet day activities.
8. The accommodation. It’s such a risk and huge responsibility to book somewhere to stay based on someone else’s photos and descriptions. If we’d had the ability to look round places before booking, we definitely wouldn’t have booked a few places over the years. We’ve been very lucky with some holiday homes and we’ve returned to one in Suffolk several times, but we’ve also been pretty disappointed with some too. The first week of this years holiday falls into the latter category. I’d had my reservations but wasn’t sure why. I will make sure I listen to my gut feelings more often as they are proving pretty reliable. It wasn’t awful but it just wasn’t great. Unlike holidays abroad, where you really only sleep in your accommodation, you can find yourselves spending a certain amount of time in your UK holiday home and if it’s not as clean or as comfortable or as well equipped as you expected it can be a bit of a let down. The saving grace was the cottage we’re in this week which is exactly as lovely as we’d hoped. In fact we would almost consider returning. Just not next year.
9. The last few days of the holiday. I get twitchy and restless. I dread the journey home, but look forward to being home. I dread going back to the routine and work and all the washing but I look forward to sleeping well and having everything we need at hand (hot water bottle springs to mind). I worry that we haven’t made the best of our time away but can’t wait to tell M&D about our days out and show them photos. I wish the days together would go on and on but know that we would burn out eventually and would start to annoy each other. T would start missing his friends and his freedom to go out on his bike for hours at a time. A would start missing all her stuff and baking and her own space. I would miss my life. K would probably be quite happy but I might end up pushing him off a cliff. (He’s not that bad really). (No, really).

Happy that my highs are more abundant than my lows. And I don’t think it’s just me being positive. It’s been a great break and we’ve made some lovely memories, with two more days to go still.

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