So we are back from our two weeks in the sun in the South of France and boy could I do with a holiday. We stayed in a lovely villa with a private pool, the sun shone, the wine flowed, the cheese oozed and the children were relentless. As anyone who reads this blog is aware, I love my boys, but my goodness they are hard work.
At home I have a support system of nanny, grandparents, school and a Early Learning Centre's worth of toys. On holiday I was stripped of all of these luxuries and left at the coal face of parenting for exuberant small boys. I am exhausted, worn out. I need to lie down on a beach for two weeks to recover.
During our 'holiday' we enjoyed such pursuits as fishing twin one out of the pool - which he fell into a grand total of five times over the two weeks - you'd have thought he have learned his cornering skills left something to be desired after the second splash landing, but no in he went again and again, only to be instantly scooped out by one of his ever vigilant parents.
Other fun and games included watching like hawks to ensure none of the boys sneaked down to the pool while we weren't looking, carting a disconsolate twin two around as he was only happy when glued to his mummy, screaming wails of despair at all other times, or refereeing incessant fights between the two older boys, whose favourite holiday game was baiting one another.
Then there was the fun hunt for high chairs. Despite staying in a child friendly resort, most restauranteurs looked at me as if I had asked them to serve up a dirty nappy when I requested two high chairs. The blanket response was a French shrug of the shoulders and a sharp 'Non' when asked for somewhere suitable for toddlers to dine.
The end result was many meals spent with both parents fielding wriggling toddlers on their laps, trying in vain to make a safe zone on the table cloth that was free of knives, glasses or any other sharp objects that could be used for damage and destruction of either property or people. I think the reason the English believe French children are so well behaved in restaurants is because the French are more sensible than to try to take them out to eat until they are old enough to understand reason and work a knife and fork for themselves.
As we drove around the delightful Provencal countryside, I was almost drooling as we whizzed past little vineyards offering desgustation of the local tipple, or shady courtyard eateries hidden away in delightful medieval villages. I longed to stop and hike to see the view at the top of some ancient ramparts or to splash my feet in they crystal waters of a deep green river.
Instead we went to a hot and dusty park filled with animated cartoon characters singing piped French pop, ate hot dogs while under attack from the vicious local wasp population and marvelled at the sugary confections on offer at the Haribo museum.
I concluded that perhaps the south of France is not the dream destination for a family with four small children. Next time round I think we will travel a deux to the delightful looking luxury hotel I spotted in the gorgeous village of Gordes, and the children can stay at home.