Summer, summer, summer, summer, summer, summer, summer, summer…

20 Jul

 ‘Summer, summer, summer, summer, summer, summer…’  The beginning of High School Musical 2 encapsulates perfectly the excitement of impending school holidays.  Six weeks juggling childcare brings with it its own problems but the anticipation of the holidays is tangible and parents who normally only grunt each other at the school gate were all smiles sharing plans for the weeks stretching ahead. 

We had booked flights to Malaga for the first week of the holidays and having cheered Spain on to semi-final and eventual world cup glory were in the privileged position of watching people dancing on the roofs of their cars, waving flags, letting off firecrackers and jumping in fountains as the celebrations commenced.  I made the rash move of jumping into a fountain myself wearing a DVF dry clean only dress which apparently didn’t translate as I pleaded with marauding Spaniards to stop dousing me with water.  It was a wonderful, wonderful experience and one which I hope the children will remember forever, not least because as the final whistle went we realised that the spot where they had been playing on the beach was also a site for an impromptu firework display going off over their heads reminiscent of war torn Iraq.

It was the third time we had been to Nerja and the second we had stayed in the beautiful white washed villas of Capistrano.  The children dashed into our apartment overlooking the pool as if they had arrived home and spent the next week happily sharing their time between the various pools and eating their bodyweight in ice lollies.  It is a popular spot. We had known that various friends were going to be there at the same time but on the flight over bumped into an NCT friend who I hadn’t seen for some time.  Like us they had opted not to be fleeced by Ryan Air into paying for the privilege of sitting together but it backfired horribly as, unlike us, they hadn’t elbowed their way to the front of the queue and she found herself a single mother, unable to sit beside her 6 and 7 year old on the plane.  Thankfully we had a spare seat so my oldest was delighted to be joined by a friend and someone else kindly gave up their seat enabling my friend to sit across the aisle from her young son.  It was only at the airport that I learned that she and her husband were getting divorced and her daughter blithely filled us in on the silver lining to be gleaned from the situation – she had been given a phone and was getting a DS and a puppy.  She seemed remarkably cheerful in the circumstances.  My best friend also separated from her husband this year but her kids are older and it somehow seems more shocking when it is someone with kids the same age. 

I barely have the time to think about who I am married to, let alone the state of our relationship.  Holidays used to be a time when we sat on the balcony, sinking a bottle of Rioja and catching up on the previous 12 months.  Now that the children are old enough to stay up late they are more likely to be with us on the balcony or at a restaurant on the beach and there are no tete a tetes by the pool as we take it in turns to be on lifeguard duty. Both have shed armbands and spend the majority of the time under water although it is never entirely clear whether it is intentional or not, resulting in a few Baywatch moments as I plunge into the pool sunglasses still on head, book still in hand.  Surprisingly it was the older child and not the younger one who got into the most scrapes this time.  Day Two was marred by her first ever sunburn, the result of her mother using the Factor 50 on herself rather than the kids who were permanently in the pool. Day Four was marred by her falling from the climbing frame on the beach leaving us terrified that she had damaged her back and broken her arm and Day Six found me trailing the supermarkets and (closed) chemists of Nerja in search of the Spanish equivalent of Calpol after a sleepless night with her screaming in pain with earache.  I failed in my mission but eventually swapped a bottle of wine for a bottle of nurofen with a fellow holiday maker and drugged and happy our holiday ended on a high.

It was a wonderful break and we returned sun tanned and relaxed to a rather rainy Edinburgh.  I have since been shopping for essentials for our next break on the Island of Islay and a package of wellies and waterproofs arrived in the post this morning.   A far cry from the 15 kilo (we’re talking Ryan Air) suitcase of bikinis and summer dresses we took to Spain but every year we set off for Islay, car laden, prepared for every possible climate I know that it is a trip which will benefit my soul if not my skin tone.  In his wedding speech my father described Islay as ‘that beautiful island where I met her mother, married her mother and where our daughter was conceived’.  This year we return with his ashes.  I hope that the island can still cast its magic on our souls when our hearts are breaking.

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