We’re baaa-aack. Back in merino undergarments and three layers worth of pyjamas. Back to cranking the heaters and willing the sun to stay in the sky past 5pm. Back to kindy, to work, to the supermarket.

We were looking at photos of the glassy, glassy Croatian sea about one hour after we arrived home.




Holidays. Sweet holidays. How to keep the memories from slipping through your fingers?? To retain the energy, the sense of adventure, the spiritual tan, radiance from those busy, challenging, mind-stretching, sparkly days? I’ve been reading travel mate and blogging doyen Beth‘s posts on BabyMac to get ideas. She always has good’uns. Make a photobook quick-smart? Book the next adventure? Buy thicker sox and suck it up, buttercup?


Our holiday seemed to be in the process of evaporation days before it was over. Matt and I were reminiscing long before we even boarded our plane, on one of our nights in Paris, overlooking St-Germain. There were leftovers in the apartment fridge and the kids were almost asleep in the vicinity of their beds (I think one was still engrossed in an emotional, dramatic saga unfolding between her miniature toy unicorns. Unicorns, it seems, are very emotional.) Matt went out for a stroll and came back with Breton cider for me and sweet chilli fish on rice for him. We sat together, eating unglamorously, occasionally hustling kidlets back to rooms, feeling sad about our vanishing holiday. Out there, beyond the window-frame, date nights were happening, first dates were happening, pretty, elegant girls who had made great lipstick choices sat with guys blowing cigarette smoke into the air. People whizzing by on the grey, public bicycles, people coming out of the Metro, people selling roses. The hot, summer night barely dark blue let alone black. The sounds of traffic, of clapping for the capoeira dancers down the street, of conversations, of cutlery chiming against plates.




We sat by our window and watched it all, sipping the warm cider and eating the cheap Chinese food, talking about how three weeks had practically vanished and yet it felt as if we had been away for months. Looking forward to getting home and missing Europe already. We reminisced and got nostalgic and argued about whether this meal was better than that one, all of them better than the terrible chilli fish. A couple of warm ciders in / down and we decided to play a game, ripping a page from a notebook and grabbing a pen. Have you ever played that game where one person draws a head, folds over the paper and passes it to the next person to draw the body? And then the same for the legs, same for the feet, etc? It was a bit like that. One person poses a question related to the trip (Best lunch? Favourite purchase?), writes their answer, folds over the paper and then passes it to the other to fill in their answer. And then they switch roles, the other person posing the question. And so on until the page is full.


We got through five pages and most of the cider by the time the restaurants were emptying out and the people we had seen come out of the mouth of Le Metro were going back into it. Questions got more ridiculous – Who is your favourite child? How old do you think that guy is by the ATM? – and ridiculous answers followed suit. It was fun. And today I found the answers and pages folded inside my notebook.


I love that we answered the same questions differently and each recalled parts of the trip the other had forgotten. I love that at least a third of the questions are about food, another third about the kids and a fraction left over for silliness. I love that some of the questions are about worsts and the answers are funny and remind us it wasn’t all roses. {A friend recently wrote to me “I think travelling in general is 80% delays, getting lost, arguing, jet lag, illness etc and then 20% little moments of pure joy and happiness even if they do only last a moment. I think the brain has a way of siphoning out the nasty stuff and highlighting the good stuff; otherwise why would we do it?”  Too true, wise woman. Good Gawd there were some challenging moments. But, really, we are so very privileged to have those challenges, to have each other and to be able to make these magic memories.} I love that the whole game was geeky-cheesy-clichéd and that the dinner was un-special and that when Matt went to chuck the pages in the bin I took them and kept them. So that now, rudely beamed back to winter and nights that are truly black and quiet and elbow to take over from afternoons, I get to think about that hot evening, overlooking St-Germain. And read about the best crepes, the most intriguing person, favourite roast potatoes and a family swim. Be living back in those sparkly moments for a moment longer.


What do you do to make your holidays last? To keep the adventure going?



Hannah x


PS. Les Vacances – Part Two – is going to be all about Food. The food I ate, the foodie souvenirs I brought home. If it doesn’t make you hungry I am doing something wrong. Stay tuned, one fortnight from now. Fork in hand, naturally.