Am I the only one who heads home after a trip away in a state of near exhaustion? I have just spent a very enjoyable weekend exploring a beautiful part of the country, but have woken up this morning feeling shattered. I used to believe that holidays were conceived to provide an opportunity for rest and recuperation; it would seem that I now need to come home for that to happen. It doesn’t help that I rarely sleep well in a strange bed, but this is more than just lack of sleep; this is wrung out and bone weary. On days like today I am so grateful that I do not need to go out to work.
When any member of my family is to stay away from home it is left up to me to sort out what needs to be taken. My eldest child will do her own packing, but everyone else expects me to fill their cases. Camping trips are the hardest to prepare for as we have to take absolutely everything that we will need whilst away. This is undoubtedly more straightforward now than when the children were younger as their entertainment needs are less bulky, but I still spend a lot of time checking through mental lists and trying to figure out what it is that I will forget on this trip. There is always something.
Having sorted out what needs to be taken and somehow squeezed it all into the required array of cases and boxes, it is transferred to the car where my husband will inevitably complain about the volume of stuff that I expect him to load. I have no idea how we would cope if we ever decided to fly away on holiday; we do not seem able to do minimalist packing. We will drive to our destination where I am left to unpack and set up our temporary home while the other members of the family explore their new surroundings. Our days will involve numerous long walks to places of interest, which we will investigate and examine until we run out of time. We will then go through the whole pack up and travel procedure again in order to head home.
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy our family holidays. Having time to spend together out in the fresh air is very satisfying, as is the break from our normal routine. It is simply that I find the whole thing very wearing; the near constant activity coupled with the lack of sleep leaves me feeling drained of energy. Whilst away I seem to be able to keep going; it is amazing how enjoyment distracts us from the messages of need that our bodies send. On my return home these demands hit me and, in the worst cases such as this morning, it feels as though I have crashed.
Feeling as I do I am glad that I managed to complete most of the required post holiday tasks before I climbed into my own bed last night. Just as I am expected to do the packing, so it is left to me to unpack and put away all of the travel paraphernalia on our return. The mountain of laundry that I put through the washing machine and that is now adorning every hanging place in our house needs to be sorted, but the cases are emptied and stored away ready for next time and most of their contents have been returned from whence they came.
I do not resent being left to complete these tasks; everyone else in the family had to return to the routine of work and school today so it is only just that I should be the one to re-establish order. What bemuses me though is the common perception of a holiday being a time of rest and relaxation. Perhaps it is more the benefit of a change rather than a physical wind down that should be emphasised; or perhaps others do not fill their time away with activity as we do. I cannot imagine how my boys would cope with days spent idle; I suspect that my daughter may rather enjoy trying it.
This past weekend we managed a long, linear walk over the Quantock Hills to the coast and then along the cliffs to the seaside town of Minehead. My husband and son stopped to watch some of the cars start out on the Somerset Stages Rally before boarding a steam train on the West Somerset Railway back to our start point. On our second day we visited Dunster Castle and spent several hours exploring the buildings and grounds whilst learning about the history of the area. I will be mulling over the fascinating facts learnt for some time.
Today I will take it easy and appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to do so. We had a lovely weekend of fine weather, good food and enjoyable activity; a few days of rest to recover from these exertions is a small price to pay for the happy memories. Life would be so much more dull if it were not interspersed from time to time with such breaks from the daily routine. I am grateful that we have the ability to offer ourselves such indulgences.