by PAULA DAVIES
A HOLIDAY. according to the Oxford Dictionary, is "a cessation from work, a recreation." Recreation is defined as something which refreshes, entertains. Having just returned from a wet week in the Welsh mountains I am convinced that recreation is not to be found in an endurance test and that holidays as such are not the best way to find rest and recreation.
Why do people go on holiday, anyway? 1 am rapidly coming to the conclusion that they go because they always have to—to the same place and to do the same things for the same reasons. Rest and recreation is what they think they have had because that is what a holiday is supposed to mean.
"Rest" is one of those emotive words that is essential to having had a "good" holiday. It is also one of those things that other people think you have had and you know better.
Recreation is the other essential ingredient of a holiday, but neither rest nor recreation can exist on a holiday with
children. -What entertains an adult bores a child and vice versa.
A holiday with children is not a holiday—in the dictionary sense of the word—it is a task, the problem of keeping them amused by thinking up diversions and feeding them.
We decided to make it a spartan holiday, at least spartan to my way of thinking. We were staying 700 feet above sea level in a house which had no electricity but plenty of hot
water, no drinks licence but plenty of entertaining talk despite this. The communal dining table was friendly, if a trifle embarrassing to those unused to the directness of young children.
Surrounded by mountains, lakes and rivers, we were superbly situated but for the fact that the scenery was obscured by the rain. And however breathtaking the mountains when we did see them, the kids might just as well have been at home for all the notice they took.
We went to Wales to walk and ended up driving. We enjoyed what scenery we saw and the kids enjoyed their ice cream. That, in short, was our holiday.
To say that I would have been happier at home would be churlish and not entirely true. If the weather had been clement it would have made a lot of difference. Even so, whoever said that "a change was as good as a rest" must have been thinking of a restful change.
To ski, to swim, to sunbathe —these are all changes which are probably as good as a rest. To swap one's reasonably comfortable house, however, for a damp week in the lightless back of beyond is merely a change.
Two valuable lessons were learned on this "holiday," though I doubt whether we shall be able to do anything about them. The first was that parents need a holiday to recover from the children's holiday and the second was the children should never be taken abroad.
Imagine Italy remembered for its pistachio ice cream, France for its croissant, Spain for its tomatoes. I suppose there are worse ways of remembering a country but I can think of better.
While chuntling through Snowdonia on the miniature Festiniog Railway our two kids were blissfully happy, heads down, tucking into ice cream. If you ask them how they liked going on the little train their reply is an invariable, "we had ice cream."
Don't tell me I shouldn't have given it to them. Not to do so would have made our holiday task impossible.