‘You’ll never be able to go on holiday again.’ That was just one of the gloomy predictions made to us in the early days of Freddie’s life. I was determined that our family life would not be one long and narrow vale of martyrdom to his ‘disability’. Sod resigning ourselves to ‘Holland’, we’d bloody well go to Italy if that’s what we wanted to do — or anywhere else we chose, for that matter. But the first battle on my hands would be persuading certain other family members, creatures of habit and reluctant travellers, that we could, and should, venture outside the UK.
Taking things one step at a time I first persuaded Daddy that we ought to renew our long-expired passports. It proved a bit of a challenge getting a suitable photograph of Freddie, but we got there in the end. The new passports duly arrived. Now, where should we go?
To ease ourselves in gently I suggested we do a short-haul long weekend first, and then consider going somewhere further afield. A European city-break was agreed in principle, but looking online only resulted in confusion — about suitable destinations, pricing, what was included, and what WE needed to include, and how to arrange it all. The computer would be abruptly switched off and comments made about how lovely Cornwall is, and how incomprehensible it is that I don’t like the Lake District.
Not willing to give up and yield to yet another damp and shivering holiday in the UK, I announced this Saturday morning that I thought, while we were in town, it might be a good idea to visit a Travel Agent to do some ‘research’ — we could pick the staff’s experienced brains for some advice on the kind of things we might need to consider. After some initial reluctance, we went.
As soon as we walked in we were spotted by a member of staff. ‘You alright there, guys? What can I help you with?’ Daddy asked the lady to price up a long weekend in Barcelona for us (he’s really into architecture, so I knew this was one place that would pique his interest). As he digested the price she questioned why we particularly wanted a city break, because, to be honest, for the same price she could probably find us a whole week in a family-friendly seaside resort. The manager, overhearing, suggested that Menorca might suit us very well (having been there herself a number of times), and in a few minutes had put together a week-long package that included accommodation, flights, transfers, insurance, car-parking at the airport, the works, for less than the cost of three days in Barcelona. It looked perfect. There was just one problem — it was for the end of next month. No time at all to ‘think about it’ (while I embarked on some gentle and persistent persuasion), if we wanted it we would have to throw caution to the winds and book it there and then. But Caution is our middle name, and in my case, an aquired one. I held my breath.
By this time, Freddie was thoroughly bored and acting up, and we really needed to leave. I picked up my bag. Daddy looked at me. ‘Well?’ ‘Yes! Yes please!’ I said, with perhaps just a touch of desperation in my voice. He put his credit card on the table. ‘We’ll take it.’
All we have to do now is call the insurance company and declare that Freddie has Down’s Syndrome (and see how much additional premium we have to pay).
I’m super-excited at the prospect of some real sun on my back for the first time in the twenty-odd years we’ve been together. I’ve travelled with friends when I was young, free and single, but I’ve never travelled outside the Uk with children in tow — and Freddie is a real bundle of mischeif — and never with my husband either.
One way and another this promises to be quite an adventure.