Not that this was uppermost in the minds of my brood (not even Big Sister who is studying Classics at school) when we booked a last-minute holiday there. We just wanted a cheap deal on a week in the sun.Then, a few days before we were due to fly, Kos hit the big time. Not as the home of the father of medicine, but because it found itself in the forefront of what is referred to as the ‘migrant crisis’ (I would argue with the term ‘migrant’; I think most of these people qualify as refugees). Anyway, my family, reluctant travellers at the best of times, now thought they had a cast-iron reason to object to going. Thank goodness we couldn’t get a refund. We had a great time, not least because on this occasion Big Brother was with us. The island was not overrun, as the media suggested. Yes, there were a large number of displaced people, but they were mainly concentrated in the immediate vicinity of the main Police Station and the Stadium, where they were waiting to be processed. There was no trouble while we were there; no one was accosted; there was no begging. Those with tents had tucked them in beside the railing along the sea front opposite; not on the beach, and not obstructing the footpath or cycle lane. I saw one lady sitting beside her tent busy with some sewing. It made me wonder what things I would choose to take with me if I had to flee for my life carrying just one bag. I’d only had to pack for a week’s leisure, yet we had more baggage with us than these poor souls.
Thanks to the experience gained on our earlier trip, we were better equipped this time. I only forgot one thing, but it turned out to be a biggy — the sunshade for the buggy. Oops. It was much hotter in Kos than it was in Menorca in May.On the second day, Big Sister insisted on buying Freddie something she found in one of the local shops — a pack containing some Peppa Pig stickers, a hairbrush and a small swim ring. She and daddy took freddie down to the pool, ceremoniously threaded him into the swim ring and carried him into the water.
Big Sister has had a lot of swimming lessons in her 15 years, and she proved adept at passing on the experience. She soon had him kicking his legs in the water (whilst holding onto the ring with his arms). From then on they spent most of each day in the pool together, with Big Sister never more than a couple of inches from Freddie’s side.
By the end of the week he was confident enough to turn tail and shuffle himself off to the opposite side of the pool whenever he saw me approaching with the sun cream.Poor Freddie – he’s so blonde that we even have to plaster sun screen in his hair, because he simply will not keep a hat on. I managed to get him to wear a bandana by telling him he’d have to sit in his buggy in the shade and not go in the pool if he didn’t. After twenty minutes he agreed, and he did keep it on for a while, but as soon as my attention was distracted he whipped it off — because he is as stubborn as I am. We had to pay extra for air-conditioning, but it was a must in our room — we daren’t leave doors or low-level windows open as freddie is an enthusiastic absconder.
Big Brother and Sister didn’t have air-con in their room. Neither of them has been anywhere that hot before, and although the heat didn’t seem to bother Big Sister, Big Brother didn’t like it at all. But he soon figured out the most common-sense ways to deal with it. He dragged his mattress out onto the balcony to sleep, and in the day he retreated to the shade, or even indoors during the hottest hours (where he did some of his pre-uni reading). Once it began to cool down again, he’d emerge, order himself a plate of hummus and pitta bread, and a large ice-cold beer (he is 18) and enjoy them at a table by the pool.We used the buggy more than usual for Freddie if we were going into town, as we didn’t want him getting exhausted or dehydrated walking in the heat. More often than not he had a little siestaunder the make-do shade of an umbrella that Big Sisterhad, for some reason best known to herself, decided to bring with her. I don’t pack for my older children, they have to do it for themselves. Credit where credit’s due — all the seemingly random items that the packed which I wouldn’t have turned out to be very useful.
all-in-all we had a lovely week, we kicked back and relaxed, and we learned a lot — not so much about the country we were visiting as about ourselves and each other.