We may have found our perfect family holiday location and being only an hour and ten minute flight from London, I may be able to grin and bear it on a more frequent basis (just a shame about the taking off part..).
Rifling through a magazine or travel blog, I often fall headfirst in lust with their idyllic picture postcard holidays, longing to be transported to their little piece of paradise.
It’s not that we haven’t had some stunning trips abroad, it’s just that sometimes there’s a catch. That award-winning hotel with the leaky tap that you lie awake all night cursing, the trendy loft apartment with the drum’n’bass obsessed neighbours…that type of blot on the perfection.
You’ve probably got the gist that I’m partial to unique hideaways when I go on holiday – charm, originality, interiors to drool over and the opposite end of the chain-hotel spectrum..
So I was smugly pleased with myself when I stumbled upon Les Hamaques in the Catalunia region of Spain. A sea of greys and ultra-cool decor – I was sold even before I discovered it’s the home of former interior designer Dominic and his wife, Ino, a journalist and stylist – clearly a couple with impeccable taste and a natural eye for the creative.
I am 110% biased about this place– if you do go along and for any reason don’t like it, please don’t tell me or I might cry or send you gone-off kippers in the post.
Back in the writing days of yonder, I was sent (with Mr B, bonus) to a tiny village called Chilington in Devon on an assignment about sea scavenging. This was a highpoint for me as I usually ended up with the dregs none of the editorial team wanted – previous form included a dodgy hotel in Newquay in a room 3cm squared, sleeping with my iPod turned up to drown out the screaming hen do banshees hurtling down the corridors all night.
Ah Barcelona, a city that can do no wrong. We enjoyed our first trip there so much, we went back three years on the trot. It’s a city that exudes charisma and excitement, like a new puppy let loose in the park for the first time – boundless energy and happiness.
Mooching into work on that first glum January day following Christmas (the most wonderful time of the year, as wise old Andy Williams so rightly put it) always fills me with dread. I moan about it so far in advance that I think no matter what marvellous joy could await me in the office on 5th January, I'd still be a miserable git regardless.
If you’re looking for perfect self-catering in South Cornwall, you need look no further than Boutique Retreats (the clue’s in the name).
Every property has that attention to detail that I wish I had the time, money and energy to put into our own London pad – it’s all about the Smeg fridges, Roberts radios, Dualit toasters and White Company linen. You know, the kind of place where they’ve inevitably shot an uber stylish magazine feature about, “Tilly, an interior designer who runs her own business from home, looks like a supermodel and had two impossibly cool daughters called Juno and Matilde.”
I've mentioned before that trying to find a great place to stay when your checklist is as nit-picky as mine AFTER having a child, is somewhat of a challenge.
Oh yes, there are zillions of bloody gorgeous hotels I can find in any given city but the reality is, it 'aint much of a holiday when it gets to 7pm, your toddler goes to bed and you're holed up in your hotel bedroom making manic signs at each other not to breath in case child awakens - there's a reason most sane parents want to shuffle their kids into their own bedrooms as soon as they are of reasonably non-newborn size (it only took us two months and I swear we all slept the better for it).
I’ve been to the French capital four times, each a very different kind of vacances.
My first visit was with a pal on a last minute getaway for which my lasting memory is being followed around by oddball near the Louvre one evening to whom we, as mere youths, gave too much female attention because we thought he was trying to chat us up, which then ended up with us pegging it in a screaming teenage fashion to be rescued by the Maître d of the nearest restaurant.
Cornwall deserves a special drumroll all to itself as my most favourite in the UK. I have driven the juggernaut of a journey from London down to end of the A30 more times than my car likes to remind me and life events of lovely meaning have all taken place here.
I’d heard great tales of The George hotel – cosy, inviting, great food and boutiquely stylish - my kind of place. Rye is one of those towns where they most likely film Agatha Christie programmes back-to-back, a quintessentially charming spot that has lost none of its historical appeal. If anyone saw the brilliant Mapp & Lucia three-parter over Christmas they will know what I mean – the fictional town of Tilling was based on Rye and where Steve Pemberton filmed the latest adaptation.
When it comes to holidays, Mr B and I aren't what you'd call adventurous (European cities we have in the bag, a flight longer than 3 hours is yet to be accomplished because I don’t think the GP will give me that much Diazepam to get me past the old flying freakout) but one thing all our trips have in common is that we’ve always stayed somewhere really bloody nice. And not by sheer luck or trickery I’ll have you know but by me trawling t’internet to find THE ONE.