Our holidays with extended family are some of the best holidays.
Sometimes being a single Mum can be a bit lonely.
Often, life is just me and Flea. I think it’s natural to worry about that, sometimes. I worry that Flea misses out on the sort of holidays other families have. With big family meals, and other kids to play with on the beach.
This week, though, we had JUST that sort of holiday.
We headed up to Dumfries and Galloway with my parents for our annual holidays with extended family. We were joined by my my brother, aunt and uncle, along with two of my cousins, their partners. Everyone brought the children. Oh, and dogs.
I love this little corner of Scotland. Way back in the 1970s, my grandfather found these six wooden cabins on an estate. They all sit on the waterfront, with some woods to the rear, and not much else. They’re simple, with bunk beds and tiny kitchens, and no TV or mobile signal. But it’s beautiful, and peaceful, and has everything we need.
My extended family have been here almost every year since I was three years old.
There are memories everywhere. These are the woods where Dad helped us build shelters and find the best sticks for swords. These are the rock pools where we collected whelks that my grandfather would cook over an open fire. Here’s the verandah we used to hide under.
It’s been over 40 years that we’ve been visiting. What’s special about holidays with extended family are the memories. I love that the fire pit is surrounded by rocks that our children have painted each year, getting more faded with each passing season. I love that the kids still aren’t too old to paint fresh rocks – we added some new rocks to the pile this summer.
It’s a week of family rounders games and barbecues. There are long dog walks on the beach, and games of catch, and kids running from one cabin to another.
If we need civilisation, there are a couple of small ports nearby. One day we headed into the local harbour town to watch a crabbing competition. We had a go, but nobody caught any crabs.
The local beach is reached down the tiniest, steepest road you can imagine. I think most of the world has no idea it exists – certainly most of the time when we visit, we have the whole place to ourselves.
My brother and my cousin bring kayaks, and there are boogie boards and wetsuits and huge picnics. It’s one of the most peaceful places I can imagine.
I love having the chance to spend time with my family. We don’t all live in the same part of the world, so it’s good to catch up with cousins, and to see their children growing up. But I especially love what this gives Flea. A chance to be a part of a bigger story, a family with lots of different voices and characters, and people who love her.
And at night, we light a fire and sit around playing games, laughing and catching up. Flea loves to sit and watch everyone in the firelight, before rolling into bed in the small hours, stinking of smoke.
There are more glamorous holidays, I’m sure. There are definitely holidays with more reliable weather.
But this one? This one takes some beating.
Do you take holidays with extended family?