I can't tell you what makes a relaxing holiday but personally I think sunbathing all day, reading nine books in a week and drinking beer before midday is a good start.
What I can definitely tell you is what makes a not very relaxing holiday: Three children under three. That was our situation in Phuket, Thailand. We were there with my partner's family from Sydney, including one-year-old twins, and while it was wonderful for Baby Bird to be with his cousins and hey, I love babies too, with their different schedules and play requirements it was a chaotic and full-on few weeks with no time for sunbathing and we were drinking before midday for very different reasons... I jest. We didn't drink before midday. Before five o'clock yes, but I think we were still caffeinating at lunchtime.
But what does it matter if I'm reading more childrens' books than steamy bonkbusters (not my cup of tea to be honest but a lot more amusing in this scenario than contemporary literary fiction) if the sun is shining, we have a swimming pool to enjoy and delicious Thai food to enjoy. Right?
Well, no, apparently. Unfortunately the gods weren't smiling on us for this holiday. Two days after our arrival, I was in bed with bronchitis and laryngitis and once I'd recovered an unseasonal typhoon meant we had near constant rain for the last week of our holiday. But let me tell you who did have a good time, my son. At two years old and a few months, having a new space to run around in, two younger kids to argue over toys with, and a swimming pool to splash around in, he didn't care if it was raining in the slightest.... until his lips turned blue and his mother made him get out of the pool.
But there were all the good moments of a family holiday. Playing together. Laughing together. Singing together. Sitting together. Reading together. Running together. You know, just doing a lot of things together. While at the time a small part of me was crying out for some time alone with just a book, the sun and some SPF 8 lotion (sorry, Mum!) I know I'll look back on this time as a family and remember my son's smiles and my full and heavy heart.
There is also something about being bed-ridden ill that re-sets your perspective. You are overwhelmed with joy just to have your health back. You find it an unending source of pleasure that you can speak again. You fall in love with your ability to climb stairs without feeling your lungs burn. At least that's how I felt after a few days in bed and many more without a voice...
Thanks to the weather I may not have had the sunbathing session I wanted, but I did have a little time to myself. In a nearby spa one afternoon, and one morning I went for a walk on the beach in between rain showers. These were the photos I took on that walk...
Now before I go, can anyone give me some advice for taking (decent, non-blurry) phots while also in parenting mode. It seems impossible... anyone?!
Frances M. Thompson
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