I’ve been a bit lackadaisical with my posts, haven’t I?
Well, I’m (sort of -ish ) back now. Batteries have been temporarily re-charged and, whilst life is still a little hectic, my head fog is very slowly clearing.
So, what’ll I mumble on about this time then?
Well, given the nights are drawing in, it’s getting colder (my hot water bottle is already out!) and we’re about to turn the clocks back here in the UK so we’ll hardly see any daylight for the next few months *sigh*…let’s warm ourselves up a little and talk about holidays.
I always think it’s a privilege to be able to go away on holiday, don’t you?
We visited our beloved Cornwall not so long ago. It was a MUCH needed and long awaited break away from life back at Broccoli HQ and all the stuff that’s happened this year and Hannah had a brilliant time….although I wasn’t too enamoured at her getting up in the middle of the night – EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT! So, she ended up in bed with me…and STILL woke up around 5.30am – EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING!
Anyhow, you’ll be pleased to know I’m not going to groan about my sleep deprivation or get all maudlin in this post about why the break was much needed, nor am I going to give you a lecture on why you should visit Cornwall….well, erm, actually…it is THE most beautiful place on earth…and maybe if you haven’t ever been, it’d be worth checking out: turquoise, clear blue sea (yeah! In the UK – fancy that!), great beaches, lovely people, delicious food…Oh, alright then, I’ll shut up about it.
But it is amazing…really!…
Anyway, seeing as I started on the theme of holidays, I’d better not digress (as is often the case with me)…
I’ve been really fortunate in that I’ve visited many places in the world; many of which I hold fond memories…although I’ve never been too happy about the malaria tablets and the vaccinations in the derriere!
However, since Hannah came along, any holidays have been spent in the UK (that’s if they’ve not been cancelled or delayed due to some virus or other that she’s contracted or, as was once the case, suspected meningitis)
Trust me, THAT was scary!.
Anyway, when I decided to write a post about holidays, I began to reminisce about the ‘olden days’ and trips before Hannah came into my world; holidays where I had nothing at all to worry or think about and no-one else to consider.
Gone are the times when I used to lie in the shade on a sun-lounger, blissfully content at just reading a book and drinking something fruity through a straw and adorned with an obligatory paper umbrella…I mean the glass was adorned, not me!….and then diving into the pool or the sea every now and again, just because I could…and most definitely NOT because I needed a sneaky wee.
Ew! WHY do people DO THAT?!
Gone are the days of lounging in bed until late morning, then wandering down to breakfast and pondering on what to do that day, or having lazy afternoon snoozes whilst the gentle sea breeze floated in through the balcony, or stretching out on a sofa on a balmy night in a chic outdoor bar, drinking cocktails and just watching the stars, whilst the cicadas gently sang their song in the background.
Gone are the day trips to places like Iceland…not the frozen food shop (obviously!)…the actual country…blimey, it’s expensive there – but nice…and bobbing about in the naturally warm water heated by the volcanic earth.
Gone are the days of accidentally (honest!) drinking a little too much gin, then lying as still as I could, on a bed that just wouldn’t stop spinning, in a Turkish hotel suite for risk of throwing up for the billionth time (slight exaggeration there – but it felt like it!), whilst staring at a temporary tattoo of a salamander (why?…why?…WHY???) I’d got on my arm on the walk (ok, I admit, more like a stagger/stumble thing) home the previous night whilst my then boyfriend, now husband, sat on the balcony and constantly made attempts to placate me by shouting into the bedroom that, despite my protestations, I didn’t ‘actually’ need to see a doctor and I wasn’t critically ill…I had just got very, very, stupidly drunk….and needed a day in bed and to drink lots of water and take some paracetamol….and (probably said in his head and not ever dared to say out loud) that I should shut up and sleep it off so he could get back to sunbathing and reading his magazine.
Actually, I blame the aubergine and yoghurt dish I’d ordered in that restaurant….it must have been off…it couldn’t possibly have been the gin!
Gone was the time I was chauffeured (twice, I hasten to add – only because I couldn’t remember the second time where the exit was) out of Haifa’s dockland in a black armoured military van by an extremely nice Israeli Soldier and then, taken (on recommendation by the taxi rank boss when we enquired about a nice place to eat) to a ‘hostelry’ called London Pride by a driver called Jesus. London Pride was on the outskirts of the docks; the air in there was thick with the smell of cannabis and was crammed with some rather dodgy looking gents and a variety of ‘ladies’ whom, I presume, may have been self-employed entrepreneurs specialising in the art of ‘horizontal pleasure’…or maybe vertical…who knows?…I didn’t stick around to ask!
Let’s leave it at that shall we?. I’m sure you get the picture!
Anyway, the happy ending to that one is that Jesus could tell that I and my companions weren’t best pleased with the suggested venue and so he took us to the most amazing outdoor restaurant.
Good old Jesus came up trumps.
That’s the condensed version, btw, there’s a little more to it than that.
…Oh, and then there was the time I found myself sat in an Italian Police cell, being offered a hold of the Police Chiefs gun – that’s not a euphemism btw! – he did actually want to show me his gun…and I hadn’t done anything wrong either – he was the best friend of my travelling companion…and very proud of his station…and his gun!
I couldn’t make any of this stuff up if I tried!. In fact, reading that back I think I shall write my holiday memoirs one day…it’d make a rather interesting read…although I may need to edit some parts…quite a lot!
Ah, *stares fondly into space and reminisces*, gone are all those heady days without any responsibilities or worries or cares whatsoever.
However, whilst most of my ‘jaunts’ were pretty amazing…and maybe a little bonkers at times…things have significantly changed since Hannah came along.
But that’s not such a bad thing….and I’m not complaining.
The emphasis now is to ensure that Hannah has a good time and, completely excluding the gin, houses of ill repute and all the other stuff (obviously!), has the opportunity to experience at least some of the things (the appropriate ones!) that I did when I was younger.
So, what do we do on holidays now then?.
Well, anyone who knows nothing or very little about us or the special needs world, might just assume that we have a week or two of relaxation like everyone else; the routine going out the window and not possessing a care in the world – other than where you’re going to go for your lunch or if you need to get some more aftersun cream on your shoulders because your skins feeling a bit fizzy.
That certainly doesn’t happen for the residents of Broccoli HQ.
And most probably not for many other households who care for a child with additional needs either.
So, let me elaborate just a tiny little bit on what it’s actually like for us now.
It starts off at the booking stage…
We decide where we’re going to go (erm…that’s a no-brainer – Cornwall, obviously!).
I then check out the accommodation – just like anyone else would.
BUT, I may have to do a bit of research, because if the place we’re familiar with is booked up, THEN I need to consider whether the alternative is accessible, on one level, safe. I need to find out if the main bedroom’s big enough to house Hannah’s blow up bed – as she can’t sleep alone right now or in an average single bed because she will undoubtedly catapult herself out of it at some point and, four hours later, I will be sat with her in an accident and emergency department somewhere still waiting to be seen by a Doctor. I’ll also need to query whether there’s a bath, as Hannah can’t currently tolerate a shower or if the bathroom is big enough to change her in there.
All boring and basic stuff, but very, very necessary.
We can’t ‘do’ hotels so it has to be self-catering…and detached (we wouldn’t want our holiday neighbours to get cross when Hannah – not us, unfortunately! – gets a bit too raucous).
So, we’ve found the perfect place but then we have to:
Ensure a baby gate’s available for the bedroom…for those potential little wanderings in the middle of the night.
Ask the accommodation providers to remove all breakables before we arrive – Hannah is an inquisitive, slightly ‘boisterous’ shall we say, little girl and holidays are expensive enough without having to pay for broken stuff.
I need to consider whether the time is right to go – will the weather be too hot/cold? will the area be packed with holidaymakers?. Hannah doesn’t particularly relish unfamiliar ‘busy’ places – she has a tendency to ‘zone out’ and retreat into her world. So if she’s not having a good time, neither will I.
I pack for ALL eventualities – i.e warm and cold weather clothes, the super-duper blow up bed, changes of bedding (for those pesky nights of reflux!), something to sit in at mealtimes, 25 million bibs (yes, she’s 6, but things get messy at mealtimes!), familiar feeder cups, bowls and spoons, nappies, changing mats, blah, blah, blah.
At one time I would have also packed tons of NG tubes, formula, sterilising fluid, syringes, tape for the tubes, those funny little Ph checker things (can’t remember their names now), medicine, lotions and potions, steriliser or bowl just for syringes and even…up until only 2 years ago…the baby bath!.
Well, let’s look on the bright side here, at least it wasn’t the kitchen sink!
I also pack details of the current nearest doctors’ surgeries and hospitals – I don’t relish the thought of being stuck in a place with no mobile signal (as can often be the case in Cornwall) and have no idea where I can get help, if needed.
Then, when the time comes, I cross my fingers, hope Hannah doesn’t contract some dodgy virus and fill the car until it groans at the weight and set off…
Hannah’s a pretty good traveller, however, regular stops for nappy changes, to alleviate any potential boredom/frustration resulting in some self-harming behaviours and to coincide with mealtimes are all necessary.
Then we arrive….Hip Hip Hoorah!
But then we have to unpack all the stuff.
Unpacking gets tricky as Hannah also needs to be supervised at the same time. It’s often a logistical nightmare! I can’t just ask her to sit somewhere and entertain herself. Oh No!
So we’re here. In paradise…erm, I mean, Cornwall.
First stop, pasties at The Chough Bakery in Padstow. Om nom nom!
Right, that’s my fix sorted.
Well, mealtimes, bedtimes, usual routine pretty much needs to stay the same as Hannah gets a bit cranky and all the self-harm and giddy stuff rears its head if she’s tired, hungry etc.
I have to carefully consider where I can change her nappy when we’re out and about – there are very few changing places in Cornwall and public loos aren’t often too sparkly (sorry Cornwall Council, but it’s true!).
But then we get on with our holiday….trips to the beach and hoping Hannah will tolerate the sand or water on her feet, chomping on a bit of sand, playing, mooching around, chilling out, catching up with people we know…the usual stuff just like many people do.
So, as you can gather, there’s a tiny bit of a contrast to my holidays these days compared to how they were in the past. But if you ask me whether I’ve had a nice holiday, I’ll more than likely say “yes, it was lovely, thanks”…and I’ll mean it. But, there’s no spontaneity anymore and I’ll probably never have the luxury of packing a couple of frocks, a toothbrush and a bikini and just relaxing in the sun ever again…or visiting London Pride…or sitting in a Police Cell…or lying on a spinning bed…thank the Lord!
Despite all the planning and preparation that’s required…despite not being able to lounge in bed until late morning or lie on a sun-lounger for a whole day…despite being woken in the night…despite having to put someone’s needs before mine…I wouldn’t want it any other way.
If Hannah’s happy, then so am I.
So, that’s all for now my lovelies.
Thanks ever so much for stopping by
Until next time
Per Aspera Ad Astra – my new motto!.