We all love a bargain and when budgeting for 2 holidays for a family of 5 we were prepared to take a chance on trying something new. After booking up our Sun Holiday for the first week, hubby found a very reasonable chalet for 5 in the Devon countryside “surrounded by breathtaking scenery and a short drive to the picturesque beach of Seaton”. It was a private hire through Ebay and the pictures were very promising. The accommodation looked spacious, the views from the windows were lovely and it offered a secluded play area for the children. The chalet is on a private resort with no facilities other than a shop at a petrol station next door and after a busy and noisy week at a caravan site, it sounded like a very relaxing alternative. Can you feel the catch coming yet??
As the Sat Nav directed us through quaint little villages we finally came upon the quiet and pretty seaside town of Seaton, the kids were giggling with excitement as the Joanna Lumley-esque voice informed us that we had “arrived at our destination”. We pulled into the petrol station and almost choked on the appalling smell that was seeping into the car. As the kids all accused each other of being responsible for the potent aroma, to our horror we saw that the entrance to the chalets were smack bang opposite at least 4 fields of pig farms! Hubby went to fetch the key as I explained to the kids that the piggies were very smelly and that we may have to grin and bear this smell for the rest of our holiday. They all pretty much begged to go back to Dorset, with daughter point-blank refusing to leave the car. As hubby produced the key and by only talking on out breaths, we exited the car and walked through a gated entrance to a small field of about 30 chalets. As the thoughts of “could I swing a cat inside” popped into my head, the smell was enough to make us take shelter inside as quickly as possible. The completely wooden shed sorry… I mean chalet was a bit of a Tardis and housed two fairly spacious bedrooms, a double (woohoo) and a family room that sleeps 3. There is also a large bathroom, living room and kitchen. Totally liveable just with a damp wood smell but compared to the pig smell outside it was heavenly. Eldest son christened the toilet much to the complaints of my daughter so I instructed him to open the window for the sake of our noses. Unfortunately by doing this we were engulfed with the smell of pig poo again, tough call on what was worse but we closed the window and dug out some air fresheners from the kitchen cupboards.
I am not a holiday snob, admittedly I would like money to be no option so we could rent or even own a gorgeous country cottage by the sea for our holidays or jet off to foreign climates whenever we chose too. But with a young family, caravan’s and chalets are the norm for us so that we can afford to holiday at least twice possibly three times a year. I don’t really mind and have learnt to adapt to blow heaters and damp towels. But what I can’t bear about chalets, especially dark wooden ones like our pig poo one, is the human to spider ratio. I seriously think they are on holiday too as there are too many visiting us for my liking. I’m not far off an arachnophobia but feel I line myself up for an encounter by staying in places such as this.
Amazingly, after a day or two we had adapted to the smell of the pigs, not enjoyable but bearable. I no longer had to wear a polo neck over my nose to get something from the car and I even did a washload and hung it on the line. I have instructed my parents to make sure that we don’t stink of pigs on our return though, as the smell may be too ingrained for us to realise now!
A main reason for our destination choice of Devon is that hubby has a lot of family in the West country so we have been visiting aunts and cousins a lot during our stay. They are all a lovely welcoming family and it’s a good opportunity for my kids to experience the hours of grown-up conversation that I had to endure as a child when I had to visit my great-aunt and great-uncle in Richmond along
with my parents and older brother. During my Richmond visits, we were force-fed trifle laced with sherry clearly unsuitable for children, while me and my brother were instructed to “amuse their dog” which was a toothless poodle who was intent on trying to attack us by sucking us into submission. Thankfully, our kids were brilliantly behaved without one complaint, though I’m sure I will be paying them back in Easter eggs for the rest of the week!
With April showers really kicking in this week making a laughing-stock of hose pipe bans, we were finally rewarded with a dry sunny day and after perusing a stack of “places to go” leaflets settled on a botanical gardens promising lots of fun activities for kids along with an Easter Egg Hunt! The gardens were gorgeous and after finding our first few clues settled into a picnic on the grass with the kids. Eldest son started complaining of feeling sick and not wanting to eat his lunch. Now my kids take it in turns to be fussy eaters, some days they eat anything and other days the sight of a cauliflower will send them into quivering wrecks. I don’t have a great deal of patience for it, especially when time isn’t on your side and there’s an egg hunt to complete (bit too competitive for my own good sometimes). I quizzed eldest son about the reality of this queasiness as he had done the traditional Easter Sunday thing of eating chocolate after breakfast earlier that morning. He reckoned it was youngest son’s sick bug which I’m still convinced was a chemical reaction to the food colouring in the slush puppy. I firmly begged through gritted teeth that I needed him to have a go at eating at least half a sandwich, I even tore it up and helped pass/feed it to him much to his disgust. Next thing he is white as a sheet hissing “bag bag” at me. I emptied the rest of the packed lunch on my lap to free my plastic bag which he then projectile vomited into, all in front of quite an impressive audience of picnickers. Afterwards he felt completely better so I was convinced it was due to over-indulgence of easter eggs, fellow parents are not privy to this information and are instead shooting me the filthiest of looks that would suggest I am force-feeding my child to the point of vomit! We quickly headed off to continue our egg hunt, which seemed ludicrous in the recent events of the vomit lunch but I like to see things through and eldest son had bounced back.
As we headed to the next clue we saw a 6 foot “Easter Bunny” in full white bunny suit reluctantly waving as a stream of kids headed in his direction. My 3 clocked him and gave chase as he quickened his pace, he gave them the briefest high-five and then practically sprinted off into the distance. Me and hubby had to reassure (lie) the kids that he was very busy checking the whereabouts of the eggs and didn’t
want to give anything away so that’s why he ran away from them! When we were on our final clue, we saw him again, it was a quieter part of the gardens, relatively kid free so he didn’t seem too pleased to see us turn the corner (which was a body language assumption as he was wearing a false bunny head). As our 3 surrounded him, hubby quickly snapped a photo before he made a run for it again, poor guy is probably the caretaker that had been roped into doing it.
The holiday is almost over and we have had a lovely break. It has been a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with the children even with the fussy eating, bedtime refusals and occasional whingeing. As we prepare for home and the mountains of washing to look forward to, I am ever so slightly pleased to be heading back to a larger living space, central heating and a hard water area so that my hair can stop looking like something Kate Bush styled in the 80s!