This time last week we were waking up in The Alps, near Valberg, holidaying with H’s family for two whole weeks; the first week spent by the sea and the second in this stunning setting, where any number of clichés could be used to describe these views but none can truly convey it. It was, however, genuinely breathtaking to venture up the mountains on long sunny walks, on account of the altitude and not being *quite* as fit yet as I’d like. H’s older nephews, aged five and almost seven, went swimming and luging and tree-walking and hiked up the hillside to sharpen sticks in a den, had chocolate milk for breakfast and went to the funfair twice; it was like something out of an Enid Blyton story, though I don’t recall any of the Famous Five unwinding after a hard day’s detecting with a game of Club Penguin or Sonic the Hedgehog.
As for Zee, he mainly hung out with his eight month-old cousin and ate his legumes et poulet mush and pomme peche puree in considerably lovelier locations than our kitchen; overlooking harbours and marinas and lush green mountain tops, sandy beaches and saltwater swimming pools. Once again, holidaying with a baby is an entirely different experience to the holidays H and I have previously enjoyed. During this trip, we went to many places we’ve been to pre-Zee, and I kept seeing ghosts of ourselves in restaurants and bars, ordering the next bottle of wine or lying on sunbeds in the heat cracking open a cool 1664, strolling through the tiny, brightly coloured streets before dinner or staying out way past sunset without the faintest clue that one day 11pm would signify the start of a bottle feed and not the end of happy hour.
These are fun memories and what we now love is sharing all of these new sights and experiences with our baby boy, who grows more delightful every day. I was stopped numerous times by French ladies declaring ‘Il est mignon! Il est plus mignon!’ as Zee beamed and cooed away, to which I modestly exclaimed ‘Merci beaucoup!’ instead of ‘I agree!’ because obviously I think he’s The Best Thing Ever.
At the end of July, we spent a perfect week at a beach house in West Sussex with my family and Zee’s two little cousins, and for the foreseeable, family holidays are where we’ll be at, watching all the children as they grow up together and making the most of their grandparents aka babysitters-on-tap . . .
But after yesterday’s flight home, I’m not wishing for Zee to be growing up and talking any time soon. In front of us sat a mother in between her two sons. The eldest, aged approximately ten, asked a series of questions without seeming to pause for breath, which his lovely mum answered patiently and thoughtfully whilst those of us within earshot smiled to ourselves.
‘Mummy, why are there clouds?’
‘Mummy, why does lightning strike?’
‘Mummy, why doesn’t lightning strike twice?’
‘Mummy, is lightning striking twice rarer than cancer?’
‘Mummy, how rare is cancer?’
‘Mummy, how wide is this plane?’
‘Mummy, how big are the engines on this plane?’
‘Mummy, who invented the first-ever motor propelled plane?’
I wanted to ask ‘Mummy of the boy asking all the questions, please will you go home and have a large glass of well-deserved wine?’.