The emotional wins of travel with kids

Val d'Isere-59

As the coach weaves us out of Val d’Isère I suffer a pang and tears threaten. I don’t think it has anything to do with my aching legs or the grey clouds that have appeared – as if to mark the occasion. No, this strange homesick feeling is more about the end of a beginning. For this was not just a holiday, not merely a week of hanging out with the family, away from the chores of laundry, the routines of school, and the demands of work. This was a first in my children’s lives – a whole raft of incredible firsts, and it was my privilege to be there for such discoveries.

Their first walk on the mountain: after a day of travel, an arrival in the dark, and a delicious first dinner, we took them out, across the little town, to the sparkling lower slopes, snow twinkling in the moonlight. Cold little faces lit up as they spotted Christmas trees, and marvelled at the majestic Alpine scenery. “This is way bigger than Hemel Hempstead!

First ride in a cable car: “How did they even build this?!” First mountainside cafe: “Is it really ok to have Crepes with Nutella for lunch?” First white-out on the mountain: “Mum the snow feels like needles on my face!” and a hot chocolate stop to thaw out numb fingers. First cheese fondue, served with the typical gruff demeanour of a French waitress, declared awesome.

Cheese fondue

It was this holiday that saw my 9 year old lover of nursery food progress to a more grown up palate, relishing Confit Duck, Boeuf Bourgignon, and Dauphinoise potatoes. Perhaps she simply needed French cuisine. And The Bug, ever the adventurer where food is concerned, progressed to new culinary heights with Salmon Tartare and a caper mayonnaise, declaring chicken liver terrine yummy.

First realisation that skiing is something they adore. My home boy who likes to chill out, loves his everyday things, goes along with most things but rarely gets excited; he thrilled to every day, approached every slope with calm confidence, and his stock phrase each time we paused for breath was “Shall we go now?” My fearless girl, so proud of her progress in lessons, secretly so pleased with her status as ‘demonstrator’ to the rest of her group that she wouldn’t move up to the next level when her teacher suggested it. And who learned the limits of her fear on a nasty fall – but got back up and tried again (after a long chillout in our favourite bar).

Lac Ouillette beach bar

But it is over. Pristine snow turns to slate grey earth, and finally to the lush green of spring valleys as we complete our descent, and I wipe away a final tear. For my children are the skiers I hoped they might be, and behind me Actually Daddy is leafing through the Rough Guide to skiing, already planning for next year. The adventure has only just begun…

 

30 thoughts on “The emotional wins of travel with kids”

  1. I always feel a bit sad leaving a holiday, especially when we have all have such a fab time.
    Yours looks amazing, I would love to go skiing. Have linked up x

    Reply
  2. Ahhh Helen – I LOVE those photos- top one especially. So blooming lovely to hear that the kids have found something they really love to do – and it happens to be something that you love too!

    Reply
  3. It sounds like a wonderful trip and it’s brilliant that your children have taken to skiing. My daughter (15) went on her school ski trip this winter and loved it, which is fab because she usually tries to avoid PE and sport!

    Reply
    • I’m not a sporty person at all, but there is just something so thrilling about the buzz you get from skiing, that the exertion of it is just a side-effect!

      Reply
    • I really shocked myself by how emotional I was to be leaving. Normally I’m keen to get back to my own bed and normal food, but this was just an extraordinary holiday and I really didn’t want it to end x

      Reply
  4. What an amazing trip, it sounds fantastic. And I always get that sad feeling when a holiday is over too, and I’ve yet to take the kids on a proper holiday so heaven only knows what I’ll be like when I do. x

    Reply
  5. We only can really afford short trips and there are times when I dont want to go home cuz its going back to reality which is nice but not who wanted to leave a dream world. If i feel this way I can already imagine how heavy it is to leave such awesome place. Like what youve said youll have next year, another chance to experience more first with your kids.

    Reply
  6. Firstly congratulations on a fabulous set of photos and best quote ever about Hemel Hempstead!
    Secondly, congrats on the whole skiing thing. I never took to planks of wood on my feet. But I can take a lot of the views and alpine bars 😉

    Reply
  7. Aww this is so lovely. The anti-version of my holiday post but I do remember feeling like this. Once. Last year in fact. And I think even when yours become surly teenagers it’s difficult up stay surly on ski holidays. They are always so invigorating. I don’t think I’ll try skiing for a few years yet with ours ha ha 😉

    Reply
    • I remember my brother went through a spell of taking his family skiing when my nephews were teenagers. He said it was a way to spend quality time with his kids, with everyone enjoying each other’s company. Interestingly, I had a conversation with my youngest nephew this weekend, who confirmed that ski holidays were the thing which brought him and his brother together, and created a firm friendship when previously things had not been good between two teenaged boys. So I think you may be right Amy and I’m going to work hard so that we can ski every single year and be a family who bond over a shared interest x

      Reply
  8. What a fantastic experience, with so many memories you will never forget. I still remember my 5 year olds first time on the beach, he took a donkey ride with his nanny running alongside taking pictures, she was so engrossed that she ran through all the donkey poo on the beach!

    Linking up from #PlugYourPosts

    Reply
  9. Oh we had a holiday like that too!! I am usually ready to go home at the end of a holiday, but this one was so idyllic that I could have stayed forever. We even lingered outside estate agents’ to see how much it would cost to buy a house there – but that was way out of our budget, sadly… Hope you get to go back soon!!

    Reply
  10. There’s something about holidays, isn’t there? Especially ones that are out of your usual comfort zone. We always come back from trips away saying that it feels like T has grown up more in those 2 weeks than he has in the previous 11 months of the year, and it sounds like your lovely little folk have had the same. It’s funny isn’t it, because that sense of freedom and courage that holidays provide continues well into adulthood. It’s like we get to step outside ourselves for a fortnight, and be someone bigger and better. The challenge is letting a little bit of that holiday feeling stay with us even when we get home. Lovely, lovely post Helen. Really like it when you write so much from the heart. Your BiBs nominations are very well deserved xxx

    Reply
    • Ahh Ruth thank you so much for this comment. I agree, it’s so easy to slide back into the norm when you come home from something so magical, but capturing something lasting from a break, to go forward with, is such a lovely concept. I’m going to consciously try to do that from now on x

      Reply
  11. I can so relate to this. We had the privilege of a massive 6 monther going around Latin America with our 4 little-uns, and the first night back, the images going through my mind weren’t of the wonders that we saw (and believe me, there were many). They were of my kids faces with all those “first times”. There is a fleeting preciousness that you want to hold on to forever, but they grow so fast that we’re just left holding on to those memories.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Jude Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.