If there’s one thing I want to pass onto my children as they grow up, it’s the memory of summers spent as a family, exploring somewhere new. This is a legacy that comes from my own parents who took me and my sister on long adventures every summer, travelling to every corner of France.
Growing up with two teachers as parents meant we were lucky enough to have a full six weeks to play during the holidays. We took our first trip to France when I was around six years old, heading to a campsite in Brittany. I can still remember the excitement waking up on the back seat of our car, wrapped in a sleeping bag, looking out of the window to see a huge ferry waiting to take us away to somewhere new.
Over the years we built up traditions associated with our holidays. The family dance around the kitchen while chanting, “HOLIDAY! HOLIDAY! HOLIDAY!” on the last day of term. The sleepy 4am wake-up, when me and my sister would be scooped from our beds still in our pyjamas, before being deposited on the back seat of the car ready to wake up properly at the ferry port. And that first trip to the supermarket to stock up on our favourite French treats (Orangina out of glass bottles – bliss).
Our family holidays were about more than a few weeks off work. We would create memories that I still carry with me now, spending time together away from the distractions of everyday life. Those holidays instilled certain values in me as a child – the ability to relish adventure, meet new people, appreciate experiences over material things. These are the same values I want to nurture in my own children, as they grow up in an age of shiny toys, screens and squeezed family time.
As our second daughter is a mere nine weeks old, we have yet to experience our first holiday as a family of four. Although we’ve had a few wonderful holidays together as a family of three, now there are four of us it seems even more important to create some memories for Frog to share with her new sister. I can picture the two of them playing on the beach together, just like me and my own sister did twenty years ago (TWENTY YEARS?! Now I feel old.).
So far, holidays for my little family have been to beautiful Cornwall, barring one holiday to Turkey with my parents when Frog was a baby. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of experiencing a holiday through your child’s eyes and, since becoming a parent, I can see why my mum and dad treasured our own summers in France. My dad often refers to them as “the golden years”, and I can now understand why.
Our last holiday to Cornwall with Frog was a very special one. I was coming up for eight months pregnant, so we were making the most of our time as a three before we became four. The laziest days were the best – lounging on the beach, peeking in rockpools and eating more than our fair share of ice-cream.Frog had just turned four at the time and was fresh out of her leg cast having spent seven weeks with a broken leg. When we arrived at the campsite she was barely walking, but by the end of the week she was running around with the best of them. Proof that a holiday has magical healing powers!
The beauty of social media means that I captured that whole week on Instagram, so I have a modern scrapbook of our adventures that Frog regularly likes to look back on.
I love that my four year old is already starting to build a bank of holiday memories to take with her through life. As a 31 year old, some of my most vivid childhood memories are from family holidays, and I hope that I’ll be able to offer my own girls the opportunities to create their own shared experiences to treasure.
Every holiday memory I own contains my sister in there somewhere. Riding our bikes around the campsite, jumping over waves, meeting new friends at the campsite park (sorry for ditching you every time I made a new friend my own age, sis!) and eating new foods.
There would always be new holiday clothes, some more tasteful than others…
We would go on bike rides as a family (something me and my husband also love to do). I can still picture my sister’s face as she sat on the “Captain’s seat” on the back of my dad’s bike, while I pedalled furiously to keep up with them. She would look back with this smug grin on her face – pleased to have finally got one up on her big sister!
But while there were the obvious moments of sisterly rivalry, there were countless ones of loyalty too. Like when we would go to the campsite bakery together in the morning, chanting the French phrase for “One loaf of bread and three croissants please”, clutching the money in our hand with pride.
These are the moments I want my own girls to experience as they grow. The bond of shared memories is a powerful one, and a huge part of my own family holiday legacy from the 1990s.
Tell me, what do family holidays mean to you? Have you got any treasured holiday memories from your own childhood?
This post is my entry to the Mark Warner blogger ambassador challenge for 2015. We would love to be ambassadors for this brilliant travel brand and share our experiences as well as making new memories on our adventures.
I’ve enjoyed reading about some of the family trips from the Mark Warner blogger ambassadors this year (Katie at Mummy Daddy Me shared some beautiful photographs from her trip to Greece – check out the pictures here) and would relish the opportunity to be part of the team for 2015.