This year is the first in a while that we’ve not ventured abroad for a summer holiday.
Probably not surprising given the fact that we’ve got a new six-month-old in tow, but still, as we’re all now practically Portuguese it was quite hard to swallow for us all.
No guaranteed, red-hot Euro sunshine to fall back on, no sure-fire blue sky mornings to gaze out on, no mother-in-law to translate every waking five minutes - perhaps it wasn’t so bad after all?
Indeed it wasn’t, we have certainly not let the grass grow underneath us this stay-at-home summer - in fact it was just like it used to be when I was a not so desperate, non-dad.
We’ve done Center Parcs, camping and South Wales - not all at the same time I might add – yet a thoroughly good time was had by all.
For the former (other forest-based, rapid infused adventure destinations are available) - which I’ll refer to hereon in as simply CP - we committed the cardinal sin and took the boys ‘out of school’. *shock horror.
A begging email to the head teacher full of promises of ‘outdoor learning’ and ‘daily journal entries’, did nothing to grant his blessings I’ll admit, but without a spare couple of grand lying around or a freak lottery win, we just wouldn’t have been able to afford it.
It was an extra special occasion too of course, being new baby’s first official holiday and mummy’s 40th, and seeing as we’d done it eight years’ previous for Boy 2’s first birthday, seemed only right and worth the dreaded wrath of the LEA.
This illegitimate CP foray was between the final half term and the six-week school break so we still had camping and a Welsh week to come.
So next it was to be north Norfolk with a borrowed tent and minimal equipment in the first week of the summer hols proper -but this was a canvas commotion with a twist.
A boys only club, just Desperate Dad and grandad and two boys -mum and new baby banished to the comfort of our own home.
It was the first time I’d ever taken my Dynamic Duo camping, so with no paraphernalia of our own, we had to beg, borrow and ‘lend’ the tent and stove from another petrified parent.
My how times have changed - there were no ‘mind your eyes’ deadly tent poles in sight as we constructed our borrowed blow-up dwelling in record time and were cracking open the beers and Haribos before anyone could scream ‘don’t trip over the guide ropes!’
We were lucky with the weather too, and bar one biblical midnight downpour enjoyed scorching sunshine and beer garden afternoons most of the time.
A successful trip all round, even though we were glad to be back in our beds and away from the vicious mosquitoes, who’d enjoyed feasting on our pale and interesting skin for a few days it seemed.
And so to Wales and another holiday with a slightly ulterior motive- this one cunningly coinciding with a visit to the newest member of our ever-growing calamitous clan.
I became an uncle Barry this summer to my damn near perfect Portuguese, Newport-based nephew.
It seemed rude not to combine our introductions with a break in sunny South Wales and with a bargain bin cottage bagged as our base for a week, we spent a lovely few days exploring beaches, eating as much ice cream as is humanly possible and enjoying new baby cuddles at the end of most days.
The boys also loved their first taste of body boarding, as did new daught her first taste of rock pool seawater - another ‘happy splasher’ well in the making there.
Our trip was also made complete for me by a visit to the much maligned Barry Island. The customary ‘selfie by the sign’ was duly snapped and another tick crossed off the growing (sick) bucket list.
P.S. I’m told the locals call it Barrybados - not a patch on our own Skegvegas - but you get the picture. Well I did anyway!
So even if we didn’t quite make it abroad to sunnier climes this summer - with our trademarked forest foray, canvas debut and Welsh wanderings, we certainly proved that the UK has plenty to offer for young families looking to get away from it all.
Just remember to actually take the kids, a pub cellar worth of beer and wine and leave your patience at home and you might have the times of your lives.
We certainly did - even if it’s left me (ever so slightly) more desperate than before.
P.P.S. I wouldn’t have it any other way really.
Now where did I put my pint...?