I can put the toilet paper in the loo

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Really, you have to look on the bright side when you get back from a good holiday, don’t you? Otherwise it’s way too easy to sink into a mire of post-vacation doldrums.

There’s not a lot I don’t enjoy about Greece, and we’re luckier than most in that we have family there and, as such, an access to the lifestyle and culture that just can’t be summarised in a guidebook paragraph. Not to mention the man who bears the title of ‘uncle’ alongside that of ‘World’s Best Loukoumades Maker’ (loukoumaster, if you will).

The bin by the toilet thing doesn’t particularly bother me when we’re there. And I admit that I’m slightly clutching at cheerful straws when I raise it now. But it is kind of nice to live in a city with a reasonably reliable flushing system. And I think my youngest agreed when I took him to the loo at Gatwick this afternoon: on finishing, he reached out for the nearest receptacle, a sanitary unit. “No, no,” I said. “Not bins now, just in the toilet, it’s fine.” He looked at me incredulously. “So I can just put my paper in the toilet?” he asked. “Yep, back in London now, that’s fine,” I replied.

“Yes! I LOVE London!” he shouted, complete with Henman-stle fist pump. Like I said, we’re clutching at cheerful straws. But truly, we’ve had such a good week away. We’re not about to let that holiday feeling go down the shitter, are we?

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I collected driftwood

Of course, I’m happy about almost everything at the moment. We’re on holiday in Greece. It’s warm – hot, even – and sunny. We’re staying at The Lost Unicorn, one of the most enchanting places in which you could wish to stay and, luckier still, it’s owned by two of my favourite people in the world, my sister-in-law and her husband. Every morning I take one of the five dogs and go out for a long, mountainous, run; every afternoon we bask on one of the many glorious beaches in the vicinity. Every day we eat too much, laugh a lot and put the children to bed too late.

Today, at Agios Ioannis, I came across a piece of driftwood, perfectly bone-like in its smooth whiteness. Another and another piece beckoned, until we had such a collection that talk of ‘making something from it’ was as irresistible as it was inevitable. Whether we do or not, the meditative satisfaction in finding and amassing it, the pleasure in watching the children arrange, and rearrange it, the feeling of its smooth warmth in my hands: today, these things gave me a quiet joy.

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we did a nervous

“Have you done a nervous?” asked my husband, as we made ready to leave our hotel today. I had; well, kind of. Under the beds, in the wardrobe, next to the bath. I sort of felt obliged to do something by way of response, however, so I kind of flicked the bedspread around in a desultory fashion.

And there was my bear.

The thought that he might have been left behind, especially at this time of year, is beyond horrible. He was given to me by my friend Steph, aka Mama Marmalade when we lost – 8 years ago next week – our first child, at 20 weeks. The Teddy Love Club, with whom she was working, aims to ease the heartbreak of the empty arms that attend the loss of a child by giving you something to hold; I placed this bear on our daughter’s tiny coffin and have had him in, near or on my bed every night since – yes, even on holiday.

I’m sure he would have been restored to me by the lovely folk at Bedruthan if he’d been left behind. But I feel much better knowing that he’s tucked safely into my bag as we thunder back down the motorway towards London.

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the holiday isn’t over yet

Most years, we leave the Cornish holiday park where we meet up with an ever-larger group of friends (ever-larger because there seems to be a new baby every year, although surely this will start tapering off soon) with a car rammed with soggy towels, sandy wetsuits, damp duvets and piles and piles of laundry. Consequently we also leave with a disgruntled face – mine – and the prospect of hours of unpacking, laundering and sorting.

My genius husband knows that the past few weeks have been slightly less than fun-filled for me. It’s been unseasonably cold and he’s been away working in sunnier climes. There’ve been poorly children and end-of-term ennui to grapple with.

So yes, we packed up the car yesterday, crammed it with all the aforementioned things, and hit the road. And drove, not 6 arduous hours back to London, but a mere 50 minutes up the coast to Bedruthan Steps

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We were last here 4 years ago, when I was pregnant with our youngest, and it’s down in my memory as one of our best breaks ever. Totally family friendly and chilled out, we had fun with our children and time alone. There was a kids’ club, which left us free to swim, spa, read and relax. There was the option to eat with the children, or to feed them earlier and, later on, when they were asleep, exhausted from the raucous post-meal entertainment and sea air, change for dinner and feast on delicious, largely locally sourced meals with stunning views over the bay and a baby listening monitor placed strategically next to our bottle of wine.

And here we are again, my enormous bump now a strapping 3-year-old running around and insisting that he, like his siblings, remembers this place. I’ve just had a breakfast of mushrooms and tomatoes that I didn’t have to cook, and coffee, real coffee, from an Orla Kiely mug. Our bed is large and luxurious, the shower warm and the bath deep. The sky is vast and the beach wide, the view of it unblocked by, in the words of my second-born, ‘hairy’ dunes.

The mouldering pile of laundry will still be there for me to tackle when we get back next week, but my recharged batteries will be ready to deal with it.

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