I had one of the best holidays of my life last week. I know what you’re thinking: how has she possibly been on holiday? But it wasn’t really a holiday in the traditional sense. I didn’t even leave my village. And I only include my village in the geographical parameters of my holiday because I had lunch in the pub, for one hour – if I disregarded that, for neatness’ sake, then I didn’t even leave my HOUSE!
So there was no travel involved with this holiday, which would usually be a given – neither was any booze involved. No gin and tonic at sundown, no miniature prosecco bottle on the plane to be decanted into a plastic beaker. There was no rampant, cystitis-inducing sex at improbable times and there was only one meal (the aforementioned pub lunch) that was prepared and cleared away by someone else…yet still it was the best holiday I’ve had for years. I didn’t get a lie in, but then neither did I have to have that awkward shouting-through-the-hotel-room-door conversation with a cleaner about whether I wanted my towels changing. (They always burst in anyway, usually when you’re doing something holiday-ish like Veet-ing your bikini line or foot-filing the sides of your big toes.)
Yes, dear readers, I stayed at home for my best holiday ever – it was the ultimate Staycation and it was the best break I’ve had since Greece 2014. Bear in mind that the holiday was also only from 9.15am until 2.45pm Monday-Friday, to fit around school hours, and you’ll start to realise just how epic this time was. Twenty-seven and a half hours of holiday bliss and I’ve been wanging on about it to anyone who will listen.
The sharpest tools in the box will already have twigged as to why it was the best holiday since 2014: the kids were at school! I took a week off work and there was nobody to look after! I’ve said this before, somewhere, and I’ll say it again: if you have kids and you’re continually at the point of total exhaustion then try and take a Staycation week during term time. I cannot describe to you the level of pleasure it brings to return from the school run, throw your car keys down on the hall table and go back upstairs to bed. I did this every day and slept from 9.30 until noon, waking with just enough time to get hungry for an early lunch thus giving myself an hour or so in the afternoon to lie about in a deckchair (it was very sunny, praise the weather Gods) and/or read a book.
There is nothing, I repeat nothing as restful as being in your own house with no children about. Oh OK, yes, being in a hotel room with no children about, or in one of those sea huts in the Maldives, with no children about, but how the hell do you get away for more than a day or two to do that? That takes a lot of engineering, that does – family who are prepared to step in, people to do school pick-ups – and it also relies on your kids being old enough not to have a total shit-fit at the fact you’re going away.
So actual holidays, away from home, are a bit of a no-go without the kids. And let’s face it – what’s the point of having kids if you don’t schlepp them on holiday with you so that not only do you ruin your own opportunity for anything resembling relaxation, you ruin everyone else’s too? All the people on the plane, everyone in the queue for the luggage carousel, anyone in your vicinity at the same hotel… Lol. It’ll be fun, he said. Think of the excitement when they see the planes on the runway.
Just forget the away holidays and focus on what I’m telling you. The away holidays will always be there, whether it’s camping in the New Forest or jetting off to somewhere hot, and they will almost never be properly blissful. Even without kids in tow, there’s still the delay at the airport and the hire car that has scratches already on it but not marked on the damage sheet, that you don’t see until you’re halfway down the autostrade because you just wanted to “get on the road”. There’s the room not ready when you get there debacle, and then the noisy man in the nextdoor hotel room who likes to parade about in a towel taking business calls on his balcony at eleven o’ clock at night. If you’re camping then the tent will leak and you have to wee in a bush and eat food that has bits of charcoal in it.
Forget all of that, forget it all, and believe me when I say that the lone Staycation is the way forward. I had to shift heaven and earth to make my week off happen – I worked almost double the hours the week before it and I’m doing the same the week after – but it was worth every single second of eye strain and screeching stress levels.
I keep using the words “alone” and “lone” but of course Mr AMR was here a bit too. He hadn’t fully subscribed to my holiday idea and annoyingly kept going off to do things, like take stuff to the tip, or mow the lawn, but he was mostly about and it was lovely.
The best part was that there was a sort of mini demi-heatwave for the latter half of the week – I say demi-heatwave because the weather couldn’t quite decide if it was in Ibiza mode or Arctic mode. It felt like about 25 degrees with no wind blowing but if there was even the slightest breeze it was like being hosed down with a dry-ice machine. Thus I sat in my deckchair with only knickers on and a sunhat and had an old cardigan to cover myself with when the breeze got up. I devised a way of turning the cardigan into a wind-break-cum-cover-up by sliding one of the sleeves over the top part of the frame of the deckchair and, quite frankly, the genius of that invention alone made the Staycation worthwhile.
This Staycation was long overdue – I had actually booked it in at the start of January. I was so done in after moving house in the previous lockdown, and then Christmas with two kids who were permanently hyped, that I cleared any commitments for the first week back at school in January. No work calls, no work full stop, no house renovations, no cottage renovations, no visitors, no nothing. And then the third lockdown happened! Literally the night before my Staycation started. I’m embarrassed to admit that I did cry with disappointment. The promise of the Staycation, just a few hours a day with total quiet, had seen me through what was quite an intense Christmas.
Then, obviously, there was Home Schooling-ageddon, which went on for approximately eight years, and then, the day the kids finally went back to nursery/school, the floor restoration company moved in to sand and restain the floors and woodwork. Which I naively thought would take a week or so, but took seven. Seven weeks of noise and dust – I can only compare it to what I think it would be like if someone shrunk you and put you inside a hoover.
So being able to walk around the house, with just the ticking of the clocks and the sound of the birds outside? Marvellous.
And on a soppy note, before you all think I’m cruel for wanting a holiday without my kids, the best part of each day was knowing that at three o’ clock sharp the house would be chaotic and noisy again. And that there would be unanswerable questions to answer and bickering to endure and little plates of food to dish out… The joy seems to be in the extremes, these days. Oh, the rollercoaster that is adult life!
AD/press sample/affiliate link: dress in photos is the Camo Spliced Dress from Me+Em online here
In reply to Sarah Thomas.
I think these are? x
In reply to Anne.
Haha same x
In reply to Danielle.
In reply to Hayley.
OH MY GOD.
In reply to Lotten Lidén.
All I can find out is that production has stopped, whether that’s a permanent thing… I am really upset as it’s my favourite SPF by far. I have started searching for a dupe!
Is Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Great 8 Daily Defense Moisturizer SPF35 45ml being discontinued? It is impossible the get hold of – online, in store, it’s on their website it’s gone… I’m desperate, it’s the only spf I actually enjoy using and my face loves it. I hope you have a positive answer to this question, or a good dupe that doesn’t feel like an spf.
Everyone seems to be enjoying my more eclectic mixes of favourites, rather than exclusively beauty, and so this month I give you everything from interiors to – er – linseed. You need to watch the video, really, to get the proper lowdown on the linseed, but I’ve waxed lyrical about my other favourites below.
This has been on my wishlist for years – I have a sort of ongoing “fantasy” wishlist with things on that I don’t really need, but would really very much like. It always has some improbably-priced art on it, a bit of jewellery that I know would be a waste as I’m not a big jewellery-wearer, and then the odd ridiculous dress that would never get worn. But I’ve always wanted a bit of Liberty-print dressing gown because a) I love the prints and b) I know it’s something I will wear daily.
And here it is. This is the Rachel Tana Lawn robe and it is almost brilliant enough to wear as a robe, at a ball or something. I love it. The shoulders are perfectly cut with a bit of a glamorous edge, the cotton is crisp as anything and the print just brings me absolute joy. Yes, pricey, but I’m hoping to get decades – decades I tell you! – of use out of it.
You cand find the Rachel Tana Lawn robe online at Liberty here*.
Oh God, the story behind this flaxseed is for another time entirely. Honestly, it’s so long and drawn-out. But to precis it: a urologist looking into my weird old bladder (I feel as though I always need a wee when I don’t) said that sometimes slow bowel movements can affect your bladder. Or something. Anyway, he recommended a bit of flaxseed every day to “get things moving”. (One of my most hated terms and also subjects.) I’ve been taking these on my porridge or yoghurt every morning. They don’t seem to taste of much – annoying texture as they get in your teeth, but one must endure.
Charlotte Tilbury Hyaluronic HappiKiss
Have you always wanted the high-laquer shine of a lip gloss but not the stickiness and for all of this to be in a convenient, mess-free stick rather than a tube? Here you go then – Charlotte Tilbury’s Happikiss, which is online here*. I’ve been using Crystal, which is a barely-there pink, but there are a few different shades. I’m not sure that intense colour is the aim with these, it’s more the outrageous levels of shine and the impressively moisturising formula. Seriously, I still feel the effects well into the evening after just one application!
If you could bottle sex then this would be it: Amber from Laboratory Perfumes. I’ve narrowed down my favourite “masculine” scents to three now and I’m going to do a video on them. I won’t reveal too much but I can say that none of them are really from mainstream brands, it’s all rather niche.
Anyway, Amber is, as I said, sex in a bottle. Which for me is the scent of an incredibly skilled MI6 spy/assassin who has just finished trekking through the desert, hunting down an evil overlord. Sleeves rolled up, tanned forearms, he’s very cross about the fact that the evil overlord has nabbed the controls to the missile launcher, yet he still has enough energy to think about a quickie on the hot sand. Actually not on the sand, that would be a gynaecological nightmare.
Mad About The House Planner
Last of the “faves” for this month – the new planner from Kate at Mad About The House. This is Kate’s third interiors book and they’ve all been bestsellers for good reason – if you’re thinking about doing any sort of home renovations, re-jigging of layout or even just decorating then you need to read her books first. They are here* online and they are easy to understand, totally non-judgey and – almost uniquely for interiors books – free from titillating house images. Why would that be a bonus? Because her books don’t presume to either know your style or dictate it – you read her advice and your own imagination runs free, without being led by images of rooms you think you should be creating. She guides rather than tells.
The planner continues along this vein and it’s more of a workbook than an actual book – there are sections with great advice, with lists and so on, but the majority of it provides spaces to mess with floorplans or mock up colour schemes and the whole completed book forms a really lovely keepsake to remember the befores and afters and so on.
A lovely idea. The lady can do no wrong if you ask me! You can find the new planner online here*.
And that is it for March – do watch the video if you feel like you need to experience a small injection of springtime; I filmed outside and the birds were singing and the brook was a-babbling. Light at the end of the wintery tunnel…