Sometimes making memories isn’t pretty. At the time you feel aghast and dumbfounded, there are literally no words that pass your lips other than “I am so sorry!”
At the beginning of this year we were battling red numbers on bank accounts and a seeming never ending bombardment of unexpected bills. My budgeting spreadsheets made me groan out loud as I loaded in our living expenses and my hands frequently held my head as I tried to come to terms with our financial chaos.
As far as the eye could see those red numbers were there, with no end in sight. I toiled over how I would afford us a holiday so my hard working husband could have a much needed and deserved break. I had promised a holiday every year before we got married – he had spent nearly 2 decades without even a week a year off and that was for Christmas, I had to make good on that promise and not let him go a single year without a break, even if it was just a long weekend.
Ridiculous pressure to put myself under I know, and he would have been happy to just spend a few days at home if that’s all we could manage. He’s good like that, always opting for the sensible options, and maybe we should’ve stayed at home but I’m pig headed, stubborn to a fault and so a family holiday was found.
Sometimes Google is your friend, other times not so much. This time I found a cracking deal on a holiday flat not 5 minutes walk from the beach and the price was bargain basement! I assumed, foolishly I grant you, that it would be an amazing place and far above the price we paid …. like I said, sometimes making memories is not pretty!
After scrounging the pennies together to pay for the holiday and paying it all off, our finances took a turn for the better. I got more hours at work, we reached a stable point with the bills/savings balance and so our bargain holiday would now come with a few treats along the way.
We arrived at our location, seemed OK from the outside, and then we went in.
I spent the first two days apologising and muttering things about “not as advertised”.
Sometimes you really do get what you pay for and sometimes you get even less than that. The flat was horrendous! It was in a damp Victorian house and I’m pretty sure it used to be a hostel. The kitchen was barely big enough for one person making a cup of tea let alone two people trying to prepare dinner. The beds were creaky, old and uncomfortable. The living/dining room was at the end of the longest corridor I’ve ever had the misfortune of walking down – our girl made Hobbit references at every opportunity and often asked if we had destroyed the one ring yet. The “shower over bath” was a rubber shower thing you push on the taps, and the bath suit was something from the 70’s. Basic wasn’t the word I’d have used.
It was shockingly bad! I was disappointed to say the least. The rest of my family laughed, with Phil hugging me and telling me that this will be one of the holidays we laugh about in the future – “it’s one to tell the grandkids Soph!”
I know he’s right. We will laugh about it, and it will be one of those memories that has us both belly laughing with our grandchildren looking at us like a pair of weirdos! But it will be something our kids will be in the know on and that makes it worth it.
Most of the things I remember are not necessarily the things that went well but the things that at the time were terrible. We remember them with laughter and fondness for the ridiculousness we got into as a family. Like my own Dad stood under a brolly because he didn’t want to disappoint his 3 kids with not doing a BBQ. He served us through the front window of our tiny touring caravan. At the time he probably felt like he had let us down, but we’ve laughed about it and have recollected it with fondness for decades, and that is what it is about.
The beautiful photos are great but the stories behind them are what matter the most. My kids won’t remember the effort made to get them a holiday, the sleepless nights trying to work pennies out and find somewhere we could afford. They will remember the crappy flat with the tiny kitchen and the laughter that filled it. They will remember the walks to the beach from the flat and spending all day at there. They’ll remember laughing, and making the most of it.
That is a good enough memory for me, and I look forward to watching the joy in their faces as they recollect the crappy damp flat in Exmouth where we had so much fun together!