“So where do you want to go” ?
“Don’t know, anywhere but our backyard…someplace sunny. How about Tuscany, my colleague Bart went there last year and had a blast… ”
“Well Tuscany is nice of course, but it means a long drive… “
We look into each other’s eyes and see the reflections of the others thoughts in the irises. We are thinking the same thing: a long drive with a three year old who is potty trained but is still prone to the occasional accident when she gets too enthusiastic and who has mastered the concept of ‘driving mama and papa nuts with the word ‘why’ to its full extend. A long drive with the baby, the baby who will then be two years old, who will talk, who will scream bloody murder when she sees something not to her liking, such as only two cows and a scraggy donkey in a field instead of the usual three cows and a moth-eaten sheep. A long drive with our two kids…. no effin way.
We stare into space for a few minutes, confused by that all time problem: the summer holiday. I know it is only February but we need to start planning our holiday already. No not because we are the kind of anally retentive people who like to map out their whole life from the moment of conception to the moment where they draw their last breath and who will break down in a sobbing heap when they encounter something that wasn’t foreseen. We must plan this far ahead because otherwise all the good holiday rentals are taken up by the planner-people and we, the go-with-the-flow-whatever-kind are left with the downtrodden shacks bursting with rodents.
It is new for us this planning ahead. Be gentle with us, will you, we are holiday planning virgins. Before we had kids our holiday planning consisted mostly of us deciding in March that we would go to say Hungary that year, we would buy some sort of guidebook and a map and leave them be until it was time to pack the bags. Then we would pick a starting point, load the bags in the car and set off on our wacky adventures, we would drive through the country of choice, visit when we felt like it and what we thought was interesting.
Here of course our opinions split spectacularly: I’m a history buff and Björn… not so much. To him the Forum Romanum is just a couple of muddy stones, while to me it is a place abuzz with deeds past. I mean come on: it is where they killed Caesar! This difference was most spectacularly illustrated in London: I had talked him into a visit to the Tower, once there I embarked on an enthusiastic tale of power, lust, seduction, murder and execution which had taken place between the very stone walls which then gave us shade. His reaction: “Hmpfh”. Just that: “Humpfh”. We are talking of history at its most glorious and gory and he gives me a “Humpfh”! Let it be considered proof of the strength of my love that I didn’t just leave him standing there in the middle of Tower Green.
Not so this year, this year will be the first year that we plan a holiday in the true parents-with-young-kids style. A holiday rental, with a pool or near a pool/seaside/lake/whatever as long as the kids can scream and run about and splash in the water to their hearts content, some interesting historical towns nearby where we can parade through the streets with the double stroller and break our necks on the cobblestones in an attempt to enjoy some local culture, while eagerly looking out for the nearest wine bar.
“I want to go to Normandy” my better half announces. “It is pretty, not too far away; it is by the seaside and has culture, and how can you – the historian – say no to a visit to Omaha Beach”? So Normandy it is, although I am far more interested in the Bayeux tapestry then in some beach. You would think that after 14 years he would now these things. Oh well…
So we started looking for holiday rentals:
“How about that one: near the seaside, it has a swing in the backyard and oh look, sheep!”
“Meh, it doesn’t have a laundry machine”
“You expect us to take along two weeks worth of clothes for us and the children”
“Ok…. not that one”
“Oh this one, it looks adorable…”
“Eh, read it darling, it is an old stable of an historical chateau, the grounds can be visited during summer..”
“And this is bad because…”
“ Meaning you will have tourist crawling over your front porch every other day.”
“Riiiiighhht… next one…”
“Ok this one: 7km from the seaside, not too expensive and would you look at that little bed! It has curtains, oh my the little one is going to adore that.”
“Oh, yes this looks just perfect and it is free. Let take this one, this is one is by far the best value. I’m going to book it.”
“Ooh, let’s Google the name of the town quickly, perhaps we can some more pictures”
Google results: Paluel Nuclear Plant
“NUCLEAR PLANT” (in chorus)
“Right not that one….”
“Eh, no not that one.. would you like some more wine?”
“Yes I do think that that is in order…”