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Sanity takes a family holiday



Now that I have a family of my own, I have a whole new appreciation for my childhood vacations.

Of course, the way my mother tells it, we never cried once in any plane, we never had a tantrum in any public place (or privately for that matter), and we never once spoke back.

She never had to pack a backpack full of things to entertain us - the DVD's, the puzzles, the colouring books. She tells me this as I madly pack up Dollar Store gimmicks for a recent trip to Costa Rica. Apparently, my brother and I just sat quietly in our seats every time the airplane made its way across the Atlantic... unless we were sleeping peacefully from things called sky-cots - hammocks above the seats.

Hmmmmm, a little hard to believe? She swears it's true.

Oh, if she could only be a fly on the wall to watch my husband and I cart a two and a half year old and a six month old on planes, ferries and van shuttles for a three-week vacation in Costa Rica this year.

Even with children as wonderful as ours, it takes a bold kind of parent that will forgo trips to the Caribbean Islands to laze around the beach and instead take their kids around every castle ever built on the British Isles. I've been in them all.

When I was about 10 we ventured off the Isles and onto the Continent, driving my dad's gold Rover from Glasgow to Marbella in the Costa del Sol in Spain.

Spain - land of sun, sandy shores and topless beaches.

Good-bye ancient castles with your turrets and moats and dank rock walls! Hello ancient Catholic churches, the oldest bullring in the country, the caves of Gibraltar and the shopping for Lladro figurines.

And we never, not once, had a tantrum?

So, it was a special kind of treat for my brother and I when my parents announced that we were going to a water park for the day.

We took out our swimsuits, our beach towels and our flip flops with uncontained glee and dutifully sat still and quiet as mum lashed on the sunscreen. This may have been more than 25 years ago but even back then there was some kind of an understanding of the power of the sun... especially the Spanish sun. Far, far, far different from the Scottish sun, which is where we spent the majority of our summers trying to eke out a tan.

Despite "summering" in Scotland and England every year, I had always managed to burn my nose.

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