This blog post is a collaboration with On the Beach.
I am sat here in our living room, and to be honest, I am on the cusp of being just that little bit chilly. There was frost, tickling the tips of the grass on our lawns this morning, and Daisy looked outside and shouted: “Snowman! Brrr!” And she did a little fake shiver to illustrate that point!
And while I am very much enjoying the Autumn and Winter months and everything they bring to our table, my mind is creeping towards next year and what lies beyond that final countdown to midnight, and that goodbye to 2018 forever.
My mind is already thinking of the first, the third and the seventh birthdays that I will host. Our house extension, which I am both bursting with excitement and awkwardly nervous about. And the holidays.
This year we were lucky enough to have a Beach holiday. And a little escape to Wales. Both were amazing. But when my toes are turning blue (I need to find my slippers) it’s a beach holiday that is talking to me.
I’m not a particularly well-travelled person. I have had the good fortune to go abroad, but I haven’t been to many places. Part of that is down to funds and having three kids, but it’s also because I seem to be a creature of habit, a creature of comfort, and a creature that doesn’t often know where to start (maybe I need to get on On the Beach and get out of my comfort zone!).
But then there’s also this – the memories. The old familiar.
You see, when I was a small, while sometimes we deviated off path and went somewhere else, we would, for most of the years of my childhood, go back to a little place in Menorca, called Binebeca. We would stay in very basic villas, right near the beach. They were white-washed, terracotta tiles underfoot, and dark green shutters. My parents would book the same villa every year. Number 1 if I remember correctly. They were managed and taken care of by an old couple called Antonio and Delores. We got to know them well enough for them to remember us. And for them to introduce us to the many cats who roamed Binebeca. ‘Gato Negro’.
Our villa looked out to the sea, beyond a small, wall, only a foot high, were cliffs. My brother and I jumped in once, when local children beckoned us down. It’s hard to believe I did that. I seem to be more of a chicken as I grow older. More aware of dangers and ‘what ifs’ – back then, I just wanted to see the fish and swim in the sea and fly through the air, as I jumped.
We knew the restaurants. We knew the roads. We knew the people. We knew the beaches. I remember the Chinese restaurant that would give you a china cup of some sort of wine at the end of your meal, and when it was empty there would be a rather cheeky illustration of a naked lady at the bottom. I remember my dad and my gramps laughing about it, in shock.
My parents had been going for years, even before the arrival of me and my brother. My dad carved their initials on a table at the beach hut that serves a simple menu. And I remember my mum tracing the marks in the wood with her fingers many a time.
My brother and I used to do the Baywatch run out of the sea towards my parents. Who would laugh their heads off.
My parents would always hold hands as they walked in the evenings. We would run on ahead.
Sometimes my grandparents, my aunties and uncles, and my cousins would join us. We’d take a villa each and we’d do lilo pile-ons in the shared pool. And I’d beg my dad to the Dirty Dancing lift with me. The first and last man ever to manage it with me – as I’m not exactly dainty these days!
We’d get pastries from the SPAR round the corner every morning. And I remember my parents sending me out once for ice creams and out of nowhere came a storm. Torrential rain. I hid out with the shopkeeper for a while. Until I decided to chance it and run back. I was soaked. They laughed. Story of my life!
These were the days where you could take a cool bag onboard with you. My family brought bacon and sausages and condiments from home. I would take my SONY Discman with me, and a folder wallet of my favourite albums. I would sit and lie there and read a book a day as a child. Something I wish I could do now as a mother.
I fell in love with that place. I really did.
One of my wishes now, especially now our little family is complete, is that one day, I can manage to get as many of our family as we can, to come back. I think we need to go back. To walk the same shores. See my kids do the things I did. And make some more memories there.
And so, part of me, is hoping that my family members are reading this too…
*Thank you to On the Beach for collaborating with me on this post – who knew it would make me feel so nostalgic and emotional!