We have recently returned from a fantastic few weeks in France and are ready to enter Autumn and the new school season with renewed energy and zest. We did a mammoth road-trip to the Pyrenees for our summer holidays this year, after taking the overnight ferry from Rosslare to Cherbourg. We enjoyed a mixture of camping and staying in a gite along the way, avoiding the toll roads so that we could stop off at cute little French villages and savour the endless miles of gorgeous countryside.
We visited some beautiful places during our break and even had the most spectacular hike to the Lac de Gaube in the Midi-Pyrenees, a stunning glacial lake situated at almost 1800m in the vast mountain range on the border between France and Spain. In terms of scenery that day was without doubt the highlight of our family adventure. I honestly don’t think I have ever been anywhere so jaw-droppingly beautiful in my life and being there with my family is a memory I will treasure forever.
We’ve been home less than a week now and with the back to work routine started and organising the kids to go back to school, not to mention the other mountain in my life(laundry!) I’ve barely had a moment to reflect on our trip away until now. Isn’t it funny how we can travel to all these amazing places, see and do so much, spend our hard-earned cash on accommodation, food, souvenirs and so on, yet when we take a moment to remember, the highlights of our holidays are actually the small, in-between, ‘non-instagrammable’ moments!? Today, looking through our family snaps from France, the moments springing to mind are of us sitting around a candlelit table playing Top Trumps, lying in a tent as a thunderstorm raged outside and the 3 boys snoring through it all, swimming in a lake as the sun set, roaring with laughter as middle child impersonated a howler monkey while on a trampoline, snuggles on the airbed with my youngest, choosing patisserie treats with my eldest for his birthday, drinking early-morning coffee on the beach with my husband while the boys still slept in the tent. There are no photos of these moments and yet somehow they’re the precious, sacred moments of our time together. I guess that’s what holidays are all about aren’t they? It’s not just about seeing new places and trying new things, it’s about taking that time-out together to rest but also within that space of unwinding that we cement our bonds – where brotherhood is deepened through daft games and hours with no agenda, where marriage is nurtured with late-night chats and where family ties are strengthened during card games and joke-telling, swimming races and bug hunts. For me, that’s the main takeaway from our getaway.
I find that the slower pace and time to chat away from the usual routine is also when creativity is ignited, when ideas are born and vision is unveiled. Free time to talk, to mull over hopes and dreams felt like such a luxury and I am really looking forward to this new season we are entering as a family. We have an allotment that needs much work, a few creative home projects to get stuck into and a 5-month old husky to get out exploring with. I love how holidays can help us focus on the things that matter to us the most – the months ahead for us will involve learning to grow our own veg, enjoying our beautiful country and continuing to live slowly and simply as we learn more about reducing our impact on the land we are so fortunate to inhabit.