We are on holiday!! Our first one as a three person family and so far, touch wood, it’s not been as bad as I expected it to be. I had worked myself into a frenzy over packing and flying with her and had convinced myself that it probably wasn’t even worth going.
Every April or May for the past 8 years or so we have gone to the States and either flown to Washington and driven down to Miami and back up, stopping along the way, or straight to Miami or Orlando. We rent a villa on a lake, have a private pool, near a huge supermarket with all the food you could ever dream of, and I shop and eat to my hearts content. Everywhere has air con, (almost) everyone speaks English and I can replace my entire years wardrobe for next to nothing. We know where we like and do what we like.
Except this year, now that we have taken on this extra traveller, the States has become a far away (pun intended) dream. A combination of the price of tickets with our newly stretched budget, and the thought of trying to restrain Savannah for 11 hours on a small plane with other less tolerant people, made us realise that we would not be able to make our annual pilgrimage this year. So we started looking for somewhere closer to home that we could go to. Neither of us really like excessive sun, our child is near on albino, and we knew that most countries are not all indoor malls like America, so we initially tried to think of places that weren’t too hot. The next criteria was not too expensive. And after that came child friendly. When we had brainstormed for long enough we realised that we had essentially crossed off everywhere but America and were pining for past holidays.
With a friend of mine having moved to Spain recently we decided it would be nice to take a short 5 day trip out to see her and her baby, and to be able to go to the beach and visit Marbella, Gibraltar and all the Brits on Tour highlight spots. So tickets and hotel were booked, but we had none of our usual enthusiasm. I am normally a psychopath when it comes to organising holidays and start making to-do and packing lists weeks or months in advance, but this has been completely missing this time. Without sounding excessively spoilt, I just want to go to America and have my usual holiday.
However, the more I think on it the more I realise that this will never happen. None of my past holidays included stocking up on a year’s supply of Calpol, Ella’s kitchen, nappies and wet wipes. None of my previous holidays were based around a family friendly car, car seat hire, taking the pram along and picking which toys would be best to take with us. All of my planning prowess has been concentrated on what I can take for her in case we get stuck in a nuclear holocaust and Spain runs out of pampers or baby food.
I am aware that I won’t able to shop like normal, and am making an educated guess that sunbathing for hours on end or having late night dinners and cocktails will be out of the question. I am also fully aware that my hatred of sand and it’s unique ability to lodge itself in the most unlikely, unwanted and uncomfortable places is likely to be at odds with Savannah’s love of rolling in, and eating everything in sight.
But this is where I have to realise that this is a new type of holiday for us that we will have to grow up and enjoy. It can’t be all about us anymore, and it won’t be long before we can take her further away and feel more comfortable about doing so, even if we have to completely change up our old routine. She loves new experiences and places and I’m sure she will enjoy Spain as much as a nearly 11 months old baby can, and we are just letting our preconceptions and pre child selves stand in the way of enjoying ourselves with Savannah.
Ian took her out for a couple of hours the day before we flew so that I could get cases out of the loft and pack our stuff up. I felt quite ahead of the game having had piles of baby food, toys, clothes and medicines semi-sorted around the house, but still I kept having a niggling feeling that I had forgotten something. Five hours and three suitcases later the majority of the stuff was packed! Then it dawned on me that we had booked a taxi without thinking about a car seat. Ian told me that you don’t a baby can sit on your lap in taxis but I didn’t like he idea and so we hired one and she absolutely loved being in a forward-facing big girl chair, something I hope she doesn’t get too used to as she already hates getting in the one in my car.
Getting out of the house was an ordeal as we struggled to get one baby, 3 suitcases, two carry-ons, one pushchair, one handbag and one changing bag down four flights of stairs, but luckily the airport is only 15 minutes away and we dumped he luggage as soon as we could and stuck her on me in the carrier. We had booked business class for the space and this came with the added bonus of the lounge entrance, but as nice as it was, lounges are no places for young babies that just want to be in the floor crawling and walking. You also get a fair few dirty looks from people, like we used to be, that want to relax and have adult time before their flights. But hey ho, what can I do about it? There’s only so many crisps and boob you can give one girl!
Getting on the plane was fine as we had priority boarding for the first time and so didn’t have to push past people or cram luggage in and instead managed to get comfy without rushing. We sat with her for a while before belting her to me and sticking her on the boob again; luckily I managed to time it right so that she fell asleep literally seconds before taking off.
She slept for an hour so then woke up and was awake till the end of the flight when her ears began playing her up. Luckily for us everyone on the plane loved her and found her talking very cute and funny!
We landed in Gibraltar and walked across the border, in intense heat and feeling a tiny bit like one of the Calais runners, to the car hire place, where we picked up our Nissan Qashqai and drove to Sotogrande 30 minutes away. And here we are now, shattered from our day of travelling with the most hyperactive and sleep-fighting baby ever, lying in the bed whilst she is in her pram, wondering how the fuck we could’ve done America with her!