If you’re in the UK and you’ve looked out the window pretty much any time at all since 2016 began (or what feels like since the dawn of time) you’ll have noticed that it has been grey, rainy and distinctly dismal. And there’s nothing like a bit of dreary British weather to spark off a little holiday browsing.
It’s been over seven years since we went on a holiday abroad together. It’s something we have never done since Orange arrived, partly through fear of what may happen while we are abroad, partly because other financial priorities have prevailed and partly because it’s been so long we’ve got a little decision phobic – if we’re going to fork out for a holiday abroad after so long, it had better be a damn good one, but where to start?
When I was growing up, we didn’t go on what I would call normal holidays. Most families we knew would choose a week in France, perhaps Spain, maybe the States or the Caribbean or a winter ski trip. Whereas our family holidays were distinctly more rustic and, er, character building. Usually involving tents and fields, often in force ten gales. Or if we were lucky, a really ancient house with mice that ran around in frying pans in the night or lobsters that arrived on the front doorstep in a bucket, still alive, ready for us to literally boil them to death and hack them to pieces with a hammer.
Often there were lots of very long walks. Not because they were supposed to be long, but because someone thought it was a good idea to go off-route and promptly got us lost. Pretty much always in the rain or a thick blanket of fog. And nowhere near a pub.
These holidays obviously struck a chord somewhere because now we live right on the shoreline in Cornwall so we can experience these interestingly windswept meteoroligical conditions and wildlife encounters any month of the year.
One of the lovely things about living in Cornwall though, is that when the sun does come out, we are right here to enjoy it. We have been very lucky and had some cracking summers since we moved here and I guess this has allowed us to fall into a certain malaise about actually booking a holiday.
We’ve been able to avoid the difficult questions brought about by Orange’s needs such as special assistance at airports and whether the accessible rooms in the hotel are up to scratch.
The thing is, though, we want our children to experience the world just like their peers do. But browsing for holidays knowing you need to factor in an Orange is not straightforward. My hopes were high two weeks ago when I found a beautiful resort in Greece. Ikos Resorts – everything I would want from a holiday. A little luxury, eco-credentials, great food and enough activities to swerve couch-potato-dom. We really liked the look of their bungalow suites with private pool. Spacious, perfect for all of Orange’s kit. Private pool, spot on for two little water babies and two exhausted grown ups. Stylish too. Excited, I got in touch.
“Sorry, our bungalows are not accessible” was the reply. “You might be interested in our disabled bedrooms in the main building. But they aren’t for families.” Oh.
And this has pretty much been the story of my holiday search so far. Even the legendary Scott Dunn didn’t have anything that would suit. Almost unanimously, what ‘accessible room’ means is a room for an elderly couple. Not a family with a complex little dude and a riotous seven year old.
Slightly crestfallen, I started looking at tour operators who specialise in holidays for people with disabilities. But their ranges were limited in a whole different kind of way. Call me spoilt, but I don’t want to spend my summer holiday in a static caravan in Wales or in a Costa del Complex that looks like something out of Holiday Nightmares.
We haven’t yet found the perfect holiday for us, but the whole experience of searching has got me thinking about what would make the perfect holiday for us:
- Guaranteed sunshine and just enough warmth to make swimwear the outfit of the day. Not too much though as Orange won’t cope.
- Luxurious accommodation of the white fluffy towel variety. Infinity pools with a pool hoist. Space. Peace. Quiet. A few well behaved children from naice families for Bea to play with.
- A gentle, flat stroll in to a pretty marina, with waterfront restaurants that will welcome the children, accommodate a wheelchair and spoil us with gastronomic delights. And wine. Lots.
- A nanny on hand who has experience of complicated little dudes, is confident using a hoist, feeding small people who can’t chew and administering medication (I know, I know).
- Flights and airport transfers that can accommodate a tiny wheelchair user with ease and confidence. With dignity for Orange, and peace of mind for us. And a huge luggage allowance.
- Simple arrangements to send equipment and supplies ahead of time – special milk, medication, nappies, specialist car seat, a beach buggy and a specialist bed. Probably a mobile hoist too.
- Four hours or less flight from the UK, with sensible flight times that don’t involve hauling ourselves out of bed at sparrowfart.
All of this, but for less than a gazillion pounds, please.
Mark Warner are looking for ambassador families to be part of #MarkWarnerMum and #MarkWarnerDad. I guess this post is a little bit of an inclusivity challenge for Mark Warner, as we have found that most luxury travel companies (and non-luxury travel companies too), don’t really acknowledge that there are families with more complicated requirements than the average who want to go on lovely holidays too.
It would mean the world to us to be able to travel on a lovely holiday as a family. To do normal things, in our slightly abnormal circumstances, but also to make memories too. We don’t know how long we’ve got Orange with us, being brutally honest. And while it’s hard to think that way, we must remember that life is often short, sometimes shorter than you might anticipate. And if we want to do things like travel as a family, we must find a way to do them now.
****This is my entry to become a #MarkWarnerMum for 2016. Wish us luck****
What would be your ideal holiday?