Emotionally, I am just not cut out for family holidays. “Is it the catering?” you ask. “Does your family bicker?” “Is it tough spending so much time in each other’s company?”
No. None of those. It’s more….metaphysical.
You start the week with a sense that there are endless possibilities and that you will have limitless time. You will play board games with your children and cook them their favourite meals. You will read the Booker Prize Winner, make watercolour sketches of the view from the window. There are any number of historic properties and sites of natural beauty within reach.
Then, after a couple of days, one of the children returns home for a work commitment, soon to be followed by another. By the end of Wednesday, you are more than half way through your week. It becomes clear that you should have prioritised, should have pursued more single-mindedly the things you really wanted to do.
Finally, there is the struggle to quell panic as the end of the break zooms up fast.
My problem is this: surely the family holiday is a metaphor for Life itself.
But as soon as I get home, I start looking forward to the next family break, whenever that will be. And that really is the chief pleasure of a holiday – the anticipation of it. It is there at the back of my mind, like Narnia at the back of the wardrobe - a land where time will stand still and all will be perfect once more.