June 5, 2017

In May we went to Crete for a week. Al and I have different ideas about what constitutes the ideal holiday. I enjoy self-catering cottages that involve driving around, exploring and then stopping off at interesting places for picnic lunches or dinners at quaint restaurants. I like long drives because that’s when Al and I have our best heart-to-hearts and bonding chats. These sorts of trips don’t work well with kids and, when we do holidays involving lots of driving, it is always Al who does it so it is not as fun or relaxing for him. Al is an all-inclusive kind of guy. He dreams of island/beach holidays at a hotel where breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided and you can spend the day in the pool resting on a lilo while sipping a pina colada with a mini cocktail umbrella in it.

We forgot how much children love the beach – running from waves and building sandcastles … the simple things.

I agree that these types of holidays, especially with children, are great (although you can no longer bob about on a lilo). It is just that after a while I find the waste and gluttony of all-inclusive hotels to be excessive. I chose the last mini-break which was to a camping site. We stayed in a prefab hut that was the size of a shoebox and we all had to sit on the bed while the other person manoeuvred about the tiny cabin. It rained and eventually I admitted, ‘Ok, this sucks’ and we left a night early. This time I am glad we chose an all-inclusive option in a hotel. We saved up for the treat and, after Al’s intense busy period at work, he needed to be sheep-dipped in instant relaxation and happiness.

Al at lunch – happiness!

One of the reasons Al adores all-inclusives is because I think he has four stomachs, like a cow. He takes advantage and gets value for money by eating every meal as if it is his last on earth. I know we should embrace life and live in the moment but sometimes, when I look at Al’s plates at the buffet, I suggest that maybe he shouldn’t embrace it quite so much.

What gets to me about all-inclusives is the sheer quantity of food involved. I also generally overeat at a buffet. It’s difficult not to. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t indulge at an all-you-can-eat set up. I adore Greek food – tzatziki, the yoghurt, the olives, the feta, the phyllo pies, the pitas, moussaka, souvlaki. Eating at a Greek buffet is a bit like cramming a month’s worth of clothing into a child-sized suitcase. I enjoyed the meals but then after each one I felt so bloated and roly-poly and it was as if I was constantly incubating an immense, round food-baby.

Our strategy to keep the children still and quiet so we could tuck into the buffet

A thought on Greece

This is the second time I’ve been to Greece and every time I go there, I wonder, ‘What the heck happened to the Greeks?’ They were once one of the most sophisticated civilizations on earth and it is as if they sat back and thought, ‘We’re done now!’ and let themselves go. Everything about Greece feels clapped up and incomplete. Many of the flat roofed buildings have metal spikes poking out the tops, as if they intended to erect another level but never got round to it. I’m blown away that Greece is allowed to be part of the EU. It makes a mockery of the whole set up. They’re like the EU’s shady second cousin who keeps borrowing money and can’t hold down a job. They don’t even recycle! Shocking!

Classic Greece – half finished or abandoned buildings with metal spikes poking out the top

Grumpy old goats

Most of the people at the hotel were couples in their 50s or 60s. It amazes me how people forget what it is like to have little children and they are quick to judge those that do. I think they forget the pain, like one does with childbirth. When the girls were overtired and weepy or happy and exuberant, I sometimes got the feeling that the people around me didn’t approve of the noise level. There is very little grace from adults who no longer have regular contact with toddlers. They think they did better or could do better. You could see it on their faces.

Take the aeroplane as an example. During the three hour flight to Heraklion, Jessica fell asleep and I had to wake her for landing. She was enraged so people turned around and many gave me The Stare. It’s that deathly look where they hope to direct the situation by the depth of disapproval on their faces. People do not have a right to sleep quietly on an aeroplane just as I do not have the right to make a noise and be disruptive. Sunbathing old fogies do not have the right to dead silence round the pool so they can read a book, just as my children don’t have the right to be too boisterous, wild or over-the-top.

Sometimes little old ladies stop to ogle or tutt-tutt at a tantrum in the supermarket but they don’t appreciate that my child is hungry and exhausted or maybe I’m in the process of teaching Megan or Jessica that they can’t have everything they want when they want it and I would love some grace and sympathy from the greater community. You can’t assume someone is a bad mother or that a child disobedient just because they are having a wail and a bellow. It’s hard for a two year old to be woken from a deep sleep when they don’t understand why. I dreamed of saying to the lady in front of me in the aeroplane, who turned around and huffed, ‘Hey lady, I see your scowl and I raise you my middle finger.’

Happy moments with my favourite people in the whole wide world