Hardly a week goes by when I am not asked, “Any plans?” Well, of course, I have.
There is the no working plan and the no-school plan, closely followed by barbecues and trips to the beach plan. However, I know no one is interested in these plans, what they really want to know is, where am I going on my holidays?
For 20 years, answering this was easy. With joy and delight, I would proudly announce we were going to West Cork.
“West Cork?” they would say, with a look of pity about them.
“West Cork is lovely. We always went there as children. Where exactly?”
“Allihies,” I’d reply.
Upon hearing the exotic name ‘Allihies’ they would shake their head,
“Never heard of it.”
It was as if by not having heard of it, they were happy to imagine it didn’t exist, or if it did, it wasn’t an exciting destination. How wrong they would be.
We spent most of our children’s summers in Allihies. While they were minded, and cosseted here at home, their summers were weeks filled with a freedom we could never have explained to them, roaming the hills, enjoying the beaches and playing in rock pools.
As teenagers, they learned to walk away from their phones, not much use holding one when the signal was non-existent.
All was going wonderfully until child number four came along.
She ran as wild as the rest of them in Allihies but each year groaned when we told her we’d booked a house.
“Why can we not go abroad?”
I didn’t pay much attention to her whinging until at the age of seven I discovered she had given a detailed account in school of her summer holiday… in Disneyland!
So, the following year we broke with tradition and headed off to Italy.
Can you imagine the family’s excitement at this change of venue, which included taking a plane ride? At last, they could tell their friends about their holiday without the pity.
The exotic shine soon wore off, though, when we arrived in blistering heat into a tiny mobile home, with one miniature bathroom, a bedroom with two and a half beds and a second bedroom which was, in fact, the kitchen/dining room.
I’d also failed to notice when booking there was no air conditioning. On the positive side, our bedroom wasn’t too bad.
Thankfully, a day spent in four swimming pools, eating ice cream and riding bikes soon stopped them moaning, until the following day when our daughter woke crying with the heat and asked, “What will we do today?”
Her face was a picture as I explained we’d be doing exactly the same as we did yesterday for the next 12 days.
In the end, we thoroughly enjoyed the holiday, but I missed the hills, the scenery and the people of Allihies.
The following year I was determined to return, only to realise we’d created a monster. There was mutiny. They wanted the sun.
I was all for putting my foot down, but Himself got all nostalgic and said, “How long more do you think they’ll be coming on holidays with us?” Five years later, we are still asking that question.
So, you may wonder, what are our plans for this year? Surprise, the family win again. We are off to Croatia, flying out of Dublin. Himself has booked his holidays off work and all are looking forward to it.
Except... I’ve not actually booked it yet and since I first announced it the prices have soared.
Maybe it’s time to remind them how wonderful Allihies is?