Twelve years ago, Spouse and I took a backpacking trip around Turkey. We had more or less decided by then that we were going to finally do the Baby Thing, but wanted one last joyous freedom fling before we did. And having done several backpacking trips without much funding, were revelling in the notion that this time around at least we had enough money to bail out of emergencies like sleeping on the beach as we'd done in the past.
I remember being very fed up before we set off as I was late, which meant the thought of coping with tedious women's things while travelling, plus I had a rather romantic notion that it might be nice to concieve while on holiday. I was actually six weeks late. Which should have told me something except a) I was irregular as clockwork and b) I had taken a pregnancy test which had proved negative (experience later taught me that my body doesn't operate the way of the textbooks, but I didn't know that then).
So we set off from Gatwick, flew to Antalaya, staying overnight in a rather grim Turkish b&b before heading off down the coast to Alanya, a beautiful and then quite unspoilt resort, from where we took a day trip to Northern Cyprus, climbed mountains, took boat trips (though thankfully in retrospect we didn't take part in a wander through a cave that ended up with you jumping fifty foot into the sea), before heading down to Side, an amazing town built entirely around the ruins of a Roman town.
It was only when we got to Side that I began to question why I was a) feeling sick all the time (I had been assuming it was Turkey tummy) b) felt knackered (Spouse kept saying I had become so boring he was going to go on holiday without me and c) was going off fags (I'd been blaming the funny taste of Turkish smokes). The penny finally dropped when we were sitting in a restaurant, I took a sip of beer and it tasted like poison. Suddenly I couldn't drink anymore. "Are you pregnant?" Spouse said in a rare moment of clarity, "I have no bloody idea," was my response, as my body was responding in the way it normally does prior to usual occurences. Besides, I'd never been pregnant before, so I really hadn't a clue. By number four I had worked out that a) my cycle being so erratic means that pregnancy tests don't work for me until I am at least a week overdue and b) About week 7 was the time when I stopped wanting to smoke/drink.
But I didn't know that then...
Of course, I came back, took a pregnancy test and voila, there was that very definite and scary blue line. I can remember sitting on the edge of the bath in a state of shock. I had only just decided to have a baby, and pretty much fell pregnant at the first attempt. I appreciate this an enormous piece of luck, but it was also pretty shocking and took some coming to terms with I can tell you.
So that was that. I was pregnant. We'd had our last swansong holiday, and we bid farewell to our freedom.
I only mention all this because we've just come back from Menorca, and for the first time since then Spouse and I have managed to relax on holiday.
Actually reading all the books I'd taken with me.
Not being too stressed when the kids were in the pool (apart from no 3 who has just learnt to swim but does this rather alarming impression of the Man from Atlantis, popping her head up every so often to splutter for another breath).
Swimming nearly every day in the sea and not feeling guilty that Spouse was having to deal with mayhem on the beach.
Taking no 1 out swimming with me and being amazed at how far she could come.
Taking a pedalo out and not worrying (too much) that we were all going to drown.
Going out in the evening, and thanks to cheesy entertainment at the bar, leaving kids enjoying it while we sat and had a grown up drink.
That last one was well worth it. It's been years since we've been able to all go out and have a relaxing evening without tears and tantrums.
Menorca isn't the most exciting of locations, but it was pretty, the views across the bay stunning and the beach really safe, which is great for kids.
After enduring years and years of stressful holidays, it was wonderful to just be able to chill out for once.
And remember, for the first time in twelve years, that holidays, actually can be fun...
PS anyone who wasn't hanging about this blog this time last year might be amused to go into the archives for last August and see what a contrast THAT was...