Did I tell you that this holiday was basically just for Arlo?
Well, for me and Arlo.
After what has been one of our toughest years – not tough like the baby days, where his constant need for me felt so great, but tough in a different way, where we were both adapting to needing each other a bit less, or needing each other a bit more but having to compete for it against new factors, such as a little brother, a new life away from me at preschool, and a new-found desire to be independent, stubborn, and three years old – I was desperate to claw back some REAL time with him, away from our usual routines, with Sam there to focus on Rory whilst I could be (almost) completely free to focus on having fun times with my biggest boy, showing him new experiences. Like we used to. Like I missed. Like he wants to do with others but never with me. (Does anyone else feel that juggling day-to-day routines, other children, work, etc means that they are always playing ‘Bad Cop’ whilst everyone/anyone else is SOOO FUN?)
And so we booked a week at Coombe Mill. Not only because it is in one of my most favourite parts of the country ever, but also because it caters so well to children of Arlo’s age. I knew that he would love the daily tractor ride and feed run, and that he would be so excited about the miniature train ride every evening. I knew it would seem so special to him, a place of awesome fun, where he has the freedom to run free, picking and choosing where to explore, at his own pace. And it did all of that.
The Cornish part of our holiday was a bit of a nostalgia trip for me, revisiting lots of places that I went to over twenty years ago, when I was the child holidaying on a farm, (actually just 6 miles away from where we stayed this time with our own children). We went there so many times – nearly every year from the age of about 2 until the last trip when I must have been 10 or 11. I have a lot of memories of this part of North Cornwall. Except this time I was the driver, and it was interesting to connect all the navigational dots of places in my memory – “Oh, I never realised X place was round the corner from Y place”, etc.
Beaches in Cornwall are my favourite. As a child, I loved exploring the sea caves and rockpools with the waves lapping a warning at our heels. Staying until the tide was almost in always felt a bit daunting, yet exciting. I could sit and watch the long, changing tides forever. It’s where my fascination for the sea and waves developed. I loved clambering up the rocks, seeking out the highest point, or the most difficult route to climb. I was pleased to see that this part of the coastline hasn’t changed at all from my memory, it’s still wild and rugged, as it always seemed to me.
Arlo had never been to a sandy beach before (well, not since he was a baby). The last time he went near sand (Frensham ponds), he freaked out about the sand on his hands and feet, and was really not keen on the water either. We weren’t holding out much hope that he would appreciate the beach on holiday. But this time, things were different, and I think the beach was his favourite place. As soon as he hit the sand, he was transformed. He just ran and ran, appreciating the wide open space. Watching Arlo enjoy the beach absolutely made the whole holiday for me.
Rory’s development has come on in leaps and bounds whilst we’ve been away. He learnt to pull up, and to babble away like a pro. He didn’t learn to sleep whilst on holiday, but then that really would have been asking too much.
When the responsibility for something falls on me, I can’t help but get irrational worries whirling round in my head. Half way through the holiday, I confessed to Sam that I’d never really believed we’d actually make it. It was my money invested, it was me in charge of transport. I worried that I’d be too poorly or sleep-deprived to drive us there. I worried that Arlo would come down with one of his week-long tummy bugs (he’s had five in the last half year. FIVE.) I worried that the weather would be awful all week and everyone would get cabin fever. I worried that our old car, having never driven that distance before, would break down. Sam just laughed and said “Of course you did”. It is just like me to always be worrying about the future and making sure there’s a plan B, whereas it is just like Sam to be happy to live in the moment, crossing any bridges as and when they arise. But someone’s got to do the worrying, right?
As it turned out, the transport gods were kind to us, as were the health gods, and the weather gods were exceptionally kind to us. Our first family holiday couldn’t actually have gone more perfectly. I think Sam has almost forgiven me for stamping my feet and insisting it was about time we went away somewhere, so much so that it’s made him really eager to try and do a trip away every year. It was such a fun, happy, carefree week, there has been a lightness in all of our moods since we came home – even if it’s not the most sensible thing for our bank balance, there are other, perhaps more important benefits.
few lot more snaps, featuring Padstow, Rock, Lundy Bay, Trebarwith Strand, Daymer Bay, and Cardinham Woods: