For me, Summer isn’t Summer without a ‘Great British Holiday’. Sandcastles and sandals and sticks of rock. Postcards and promenades and pots of tea. Fending off the scavenging seagulls whilst munching on vinegar-soaked chips. Binge-reading piles of tourist-attraction leaflets whilst licking ice cream. Watching boats, jumping waves, collecting pebbles. Paying admissions, taking photos, ambling around gift shops. Carrying blankets and books and beach-mats and buckets, from car to sand. Experiencing sun and rain and wind and clouds, all in one day. A few weeks ago, we went on a Great British Holiday to Weymouth with our best friends… Summer has arrived!
It was a small miracle that we were able to be there together. A mere month earlier, Madi and Ally had welcomed their second child, Soraia, into the world. Her first week was incredibly scary- ventilators, sedation, emergency hospital transfers in the middle of the night. Consequently our scheduled holiday plans were obviously abandoned as we all expected a difficult struggle ahead for the little one. However due to a combination of baby Soraia’s strength and fight, and the wonderful amazing NHS… four weeks after she was born, we all sat on Weymouth harbour wall eating fish-and-chips. The youngest healthy and recovered despite her traumatic first week. Relieved, thankful. It was the perfect start to our holiday!
Phil’s lovely cousin had kindly offered us use of his holiday home in Weymouth for the week… and happily it fitted our restricting criteria! Downstairs bedroom and bathroom (tick), dog friendly (tick), less than 3 hours from Harefield (tick), near a castle and a fort 😉 (tick). The house was brilliant- bigger than our actual home! There were two large living areas for Nate to run around in, a warm sun-room for me to sunbathe in, and a garden terrace for Phil to drink beer in. And conveniently the other bedrooms were upstairs, so we happily slept soundly downstairs each night, whilst the tiny human alarm clocks awoke Madi and Ally regularly 😛 .
Since being ill, going away with others makes me nervous beforehand. Would the children exhaust me? Would the other family want a busy itinerary? Thankfully my worries were unnecessary. Baby Soraia was the perfect age for an ill aunty- cuddly, sleepy, light to carry- and I could hold her atop my legs for ages without tiring. Conversely Nate was pure entertainment- always keen for a game or a book or a chat, but equally able to ignore me when I needed rest. In fact, he replaced the TV as my entertainment of choice when exhausted- I spent hours lying on the sofa watching him follow around Lottie, or play firemen. Furthermore, thankfully, due to new baby-mania they also wanted a relaxed itinerary! So mornings were usually slow and lazy, pyjama-wearing, tea-drinking, chit-chatting affairs. And afternoon trips were a manageable two or three hours long, as they also needed to return home frequently to express and feed the baby. Very compatible!
Our holiday home was in an amazing location in Weymouth- 100m from the cliffs with wonderful sea views across Portland and the outer harbour, and a ten minute walk from the picturesque inner harbour. The new smooth promenade from home to town was perfect for my scooter. And as it didn’t have a tall sea defence wall blocking the view, for a mile I could admire the pebble beach and blue sea from my seat. It became a favourite walk of ours. We also loved wandering the harbour, picking out our preferred boats ready for a lottery win. Weymouth also had an enormous sandy beach with a handy ramp for me to scoot down to reach it. With steep steps, beaches are often inaccessible, so it’s always novel when I can bury my feet in the sand! Meanwhile Lottie ran around in circles, Ally paddled the cold water, Nate excitedly flicked sand, and baby Soraia slept through it all!
Like the rest of the beautiful Dorset coastline, the seascape further afield from Weymouth is stunning. Forts are dotted either side of the town, with impressive views from their arrow-slit windows over the bobbing boats and buoys in the outer harbour. Enormous cliffs and bashing seas surround the nearby picturesque island of Portland, and from it’s highest point, offer an impressive panorama of famous Chisel Beach below. The waves bashing this beautiful 18 mile long tombolo are notoriously impressive, but were terrifying (“too scary”- Nate) when we visited on a very windy day! As my scooter can’t drive on beaches, I experienced the thundering waves through a 360* video from the dune top kindly taken by Ally. We dressed up as soldiers at Portland Castle, cooked an Indian feast one stormy afternoon, and rescued an injured lady on my scooter at Portland Bill. We ate a seafood platter next to the beach at Chiswell, had a picnic wrapped in blankets next to the Olympic sculpture, and tried whelks with vinegar and pepper over-looking the harbour (think large chewy snails!). And on the Wednesday we celebrated Lottie’s 9th birthday with doggy cake and doggy beer (and human cake and human beer!). It was a fabulous week.
My body was amazing! It survived the week better than any holiday in the last two years, due to a combination of adrenaline, excitement and using tested coping strategies. Showers were nightly so I could sleep and recover immediately after, and not need to find time and strength each morning. I spent minimal coins on chores- everyone kindly fed and watered me! (my contribution to the workload was to cuddle gorgeous Soraia 😉 ). We took the Bumblebee on visits, so I could sprawl in the back if tired. By restricting activity to shorter excursions, and not full-day trips, I didn’t spend too much energy daily, so could visit somewhere every day 🙂 . Whenever we were home, I rested to help my body recover. (On holiday with others this normally means lying on my bed alone… however amazingly I was able to heal whilst sprawled on the sofa watching them all -a first!).
Despite these strategies, as holidays are inevitably far more activity than my body can cope with without repercussion, for a week I live with (and try to ignore) continual symptoms. Normally at the first sign of tiredness, I stop and recoup the next day to abate the symptoms. However on holiday, for that one precious week… I keep going for as long as I can, until my body cannot move for need of recovery. When memory making is important, fun is cherished, being with loved ones a priority… I would rather not lie in bed for half of my limited seven days. When there are places to see, people to be with, laughs to be had… I would rather cram in as much living as possible during those mere 168 hours. So for one week only, I ignore my body, and cope with the continual and increasing nausea, breathlessness and weakness. For one week only I plunge further into my reserves each day, and not worry about the repercussions ahead from continually pushing myself. For one week only I chose living life over comfort, I chose the immediate now instead of the future. And then when I return home, I face the consequences… and spend the next three days ill and asleep. But it is worth it…. always. 🙂
So it was a week of sun and rain, tea and cake, castles and forts. A week of cuddles and snuggles, pebbles and sand, promenades and cliffs. A week of friendship, fun, and fish and chips. I love a great British holiday!