First published in the Portsmouth News, Tuesday 26th August 2014.
It’s that time of year again, the time when parents the length and breadth of the land entertain their offspring for 6 weeks.
Being teachers, my husband and I are fortunate in that we are both off work, at the same time. Contrary to popular opinion we still work in the hols – he was back in school the day after we broke up – but we do get a concentrated period of time together, which I love.
Term time is a flurry of madness, with both of us working in the evenings and, like many people, receiving umpteen emails at all times of the day and night. But when it comes to our summer getaway, the phones go off.
This year, as with last, we travelled down to the Lizard Peninsula in South Cornwall. Glorious beaches, some of which are practically untouched and deserted bar for one or two families at a time, and great stretches of lazy, uninterrupted, child-centred days.
To have a total break from social media, texts, phone calls, emails and so on, always feels as though a physical weight has been lifted from our shoulders. Our patience returns aplenty, time is devoted solely and unhurriedly to the children, and hopefully they are building memory banks of a happy family upon which to build their own futures.
Days spent building sandcastles, exploring rockpools, laughing at mum and dad body-boarding and shoe-horning ourselves into wetsuits. Mornings of white sunshine and a marbled sky, a dome of blue stained-glass above green fields, unblemished by the dirty architecture of city living. Evenings sat around a campfire, toasting marshmallows in the embers, and then running off into the twilight with new friends, safe in the farmland and dipping a toe into their first real taste of freedom, away from the vision of watchful parental eyes.
We had a perfect week on the Lizard, thanks in no small part to the wonderful Polly Smith, Bryony, and their family, at Tregeague Farm, where we stayed in one of two yurts. The accommodation was spotless, with private bathroom, barbecue, and a shared kitchen area. When the kids finally made it to bed, we sat by the wood-burning stove in our yurt, reading, talking, and watching the children sleep, their tiny forms picked out by the warmth of flame and candlelight.
Our phones have barely been switched back on since our return, and the break has been tremendous. Roll on next summer.