Every so often my Facebook feed becomes home to family photos from someone’s overseas holiday. Sunset drinks on the beach in Bali, ice creams on the street of Paris, tapas on a Spanish terrace…I don’t know about you, but these photos can have the simultaneous effect of inducing feelings of jealousy and happiness within me all at once. The photo above is a favourite of mine, a beautiful (albeit highly unrealistic) representation of our time in the French countryside. But as we know a holiday photo only tells a minute part of the story, as I was reminded the other day when my kids were reminiscing about our family holiday to France and Italy that we went on just under 2 years ago.
“Remember the farmhouse with the orchard that we stayed at in the Italian countryside?”, said Miss 9 wistfully.
“Oh, yeah!”, said Master 12, “and the little shop we walked to that had the most delicious pizza bread in the world.”
“I remember that!” exclaimed Miss 6, “we all had nits, and you had to buy the special Italian shampoo!”
Oh yes- holidaying with kids: glamorous for a millisecond and then reality comes crashing down!
Now, I wasn’t on Facebook two years ago (whatever did I used to do with my spare time!?) therefore I was unable to
bore excite you all with my exotic holiday snaps, so I have decided to pull out a couple from the iPhoto vault and give you the truth behind those perfect holiday photos.
Let’s start with a little multiple choice test for you:
When you think about visiting Paris what is at the top of your list to visit?
- The main tourist attractions, e.g. Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre.
- The wonderful restaurants, patisseries, and cafes.
- Every single park and playground you walk past every time you venture out of your apartment.
Yes, congratulations, if you chose number 3, you too have travelled overseas with small children, and know that the main tourist attractions are somewhat optional, compared to the lure of a French playground that is in all ways identical to an Australian playground (except for the addition of le French dog poo). Patience is very much at the top of the list of any parent with hopes of getting in some cultural immersion whilst on holidays (not to mention a never ending supply of Euros to buy ice creams, crepes, etc. to bribe the little darlings to move away from the playground and into the art gallery!)
Here is my youngest looking much more like the cheeky miss she is, than in the ethereal photo at the top of this post. It was taken in yet another Parisian playground. Do you see how it is different from an Australian playground? No, I can’t either!
After France, we drove to Italy. Long driving holidays with kids, that could really be another whole post in itself. It was guaranteed that our kids would start bickering and fighting just as the dulcet tones of Lady GPS would tell us to take the next exit off the toll-way. Naturally, we would miss it and have to drive another 20km before we could exit and retrace our steps- ah, good times…let’s just be thankful there are no photos of my head exploding at the sound of the 300th ‘Are we there yet?’
When we finally got there, we discovered that the 100 year old Italian farmhouse we stayed in for 10 days was charming in a rustic way. For example, the master bedroom had an ornately carved wooden bedhead (specially made for the twin beds that were in it- also original I would hazard a guess). It was situated in a picturesque valley in Northern Italy just outside a small delightful old village. It came complete with a fantastic veggie garden that we used to top our hand made pizzas, along with the delicious salami and vino rosso from the little alimentari down the road (do you like my casual use of Italian words to give you the authentico experience?). Oh, and it had a hazelnut orchard that supplied nuts to the local factory that makes Nutella. I mean come on, you are pretty jealous aren’t you? If you saw the photo below on Facebook you would be hitting ‘like’, right? Except for one small detail that I have as of yet failed to mention: at the bottom of that picturesque valley was a piggery. Yep, a dirty, smelly, grunty factory of pigs (no doubt helping to supply the delicious salami from our local alimentari!) At least, 3-4 times a day when the wind changed, the smell that wafted up the valley and through our windows was truly eye watering. Think of a strong mixture of pig, rotten cabbage, and manure, and you will get the not so molto bene picture! We still loved our time here, but the kids became very adept at running for cover as we scrambled to shut every window in the house before the smell was trapped in with us, only to sit it out until the wind changed!
This is the idyllic view from our farmhouse. Ten minutes after this photo we were inside with all the doors and windows shut trying to keep the stench out!
Now don’t get me wrong, I know we were extremely fortunate to be able to have had such a wonderful holiday, and I do appreciate that everyone who travels has good and bad moments. But, next time you’re feeling jealous of that glamorous holiday photo as you are scrolling through your newsfeed, please remember that you are seeing a carefully edited version of a holiday. After all, no one want to see photos of me buying lice shampoo at the local Italian farmacia!
I know I’m not the only one with some good holidaying with kids stories…let me know in the comments below if you can top mine!