Actually, who am I kidding, that IS still my idea of a perfect holiday (although maybe not the cocktails until dawn part)...it just doesn't often go hand in hand with two children aged 4 and 6 who want constant entertainment.
When you become a partner or a parent, holidays have to change to accommodate the other people now in your life and although James and I generally ticked along quite nicely together when we went away, as the kids get older and their interests change and develop, so has the way we holiday together.
For me, I am still a sunbathing, book reading, relaxation seeking bod. Throw in some exploration and I'm yours. The writer in me loves to discover the stories of the places we go and (much to the chagrin of Meg and Eli) I would happily spend hours wandering around museums and ruins, imagining myself at the heart of whatever great events took place in times gone by.
Cobbled alleyways call my name and I love nothing more than roaming around, never knowing what to expect around each corner. My nosy streak has seen me taking part unexpectedly in a traditional Zambian wedding, sitting at the centre of a market atop a drum whilst stallholders performed for me and even eating lobster in total darkness at the end of a pier whilst on my travels.
James is the foodie of the family. He is always willing to try local delicacies, never worrying about his digestion (if it came from the side of the road I would almost certainly steer clear of it!) but loving the experience of trying something new. He's also a sunseeker like me, but whereas I prefer the slow pace of the warmer weather, he likes to be active. Give him football, give him watersports, give him swimming and snorkeling, give him hours with the kids running backwards and forwards along the beach...he'll take it all. As long as he gets a big hearted meal at the end of the day of course!
Meg is the thrill seeking water baby. Since she learned to swim she has loved nothing more than hours spent in the water, whether that water is deliciously warm or bone-tingling cold. She's also the child you will find longingly staring up at the rollercoaster with its 18 loop the loops and deadmans drop, just wishing she was tall enough to go on (she never will be, for the record. This mama could not cope with the fear!) She's also creative and loves dancing or drawing; making pictures in the dirt or doing yoga in the sand. She'll take it all in her stride. Just give her a heady mix of activities and water and she's content.
Eli is our adventurer. If an experience doesn't leave you messier and muckier than before you started it then it's not worth doing in his opinion. He has a huge amount of energy from the second he opens his eyes in the morning until the second he crashes on his bed in the evening and he likes to be on the go-go-go. Sitting still is for the weak...this boy needs to be kept occupied. He likes nature and exploration and discovering the new and especially the unanticipated. Whenever we go somewhere, James and I have to frantically read up on it before we arrive because we know that we will be peppered with questions from the moment we arrive. The obscurer the better! Although he does also enjoy the sun, Eli really thrived when we visited Oslo as we were constantly on the move (mostly because it was so bitterly cold!) and he got to learn a whole new host of facts about things like grisly vikings.
So how do we find a holiday which suits all of our different temperaments? Perhaps the one thing that we all agree on is the fact that we like the new. We like trying things as a family which we have never done whether that's learning a new skill like ice skating or just visiting a place we've never been before. We like the excitement of the unexpected and the joy of doing something together.
Our perfect holiday is one where we find a mix of time when we can relax (or play and charge around nearby in Eli's case...) and time when we can go out and explore. Hand Eli a map and tell him he's responsible for directing us and you never know where you might end up. Give Meg the chance to do something a little bit challenging and she won't stop beaming from ear to ear. Give James a new dish and me a good backstory and we'll combine them all into a magical family memory, cherished for years to come.
Does that sound like a tall order? Or a feasible possibility? I certainly hope the latter as this is our entry for the Mark Warner Family Blogger Ambassador Programme (the creative writer category) and we would love the opportunity to give it a whirl.