Unless you live under a rock (and if you do, it’s your choice, I’m not judging) … you will have heard that it’s that time of year where Mark Warner Holidays launch their Ambassador programme.
I’ve applied before and unfortunately wasn’t successful. But, being the magnanimous person that I am, I haven’t held it against them 🙂 and thought I’d apply again. I’m nothing if not annoyingly optimistic.
As a single parent, my family is small, yet, in my opinion, perfectly formed. So for new readers especially, I’d like to introduce us all.
First up …
Ben. Aka ‘The Eldest.’
Ben LOVES having his photo taken.
He’s nearly 20 and every time I write those words down, I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that a) I have a child who is an adult and b) I’m old enough to have a 20 year old son! (I remain permanently 27 years old in my head.) He’s tall, very tall at 6ft 3”, and awfully handsome. (He’ll HATE that I said that, but he is.) He’s in his second year of Uni, studying Politics and Media at Bournemouth University, and when he’s not studying, he’s cooking meat ‘stuff’ on a grill in Wetherspoons. He lives for music and regularly DJs in his spare time for random house/block parties his friends throw. He has great taste in music, which no doubt he got from me! I talk to him every week on the phone but Dexter and I always get very excited when he comes home for holidays. So much so, we are both normally in tears by the time we see his National Express coach come over the brow of the hill and drive towards us – makes for awfully awkward conversations at the bus stop. Because Ben doesn’t live with us permanently, he got relegated to the box room at our new house, but didn’t complain once. He’s incredibly funny, smart, a great cook and a loving big brother. Which leads me onto …
Dexter is my youngest son and also my resident side-kick. Where I go, he tends to go too – mainly because he doesn’t have much choice. He has the best hair I’ve ever seen on anyone – a combination of my European curls and Afro-Caribbean spirals. Nowadays, we have to keep his hair relatively short as he’s not so much a fan of the whole combing thing. He lives for football – both on the pitch and virtual (in the form of FIFA on the PS3) but I’m a definite ‘soccer mom’ as he trains twice a week and plays a match on a Sunday. That’s in ALL weathers, believe me! Dexter seems to have inherited my sense of humour, which I only see as a positive of course, and is now old enough to get my sarcasm. His favourite film is Cool Runnings, about the Jamaican bobsleigh team, his favourite food is (any) burger (or Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice Cream) and he hates tidying his room. We love travelling together. He’s my navigator and has become great at reading maps and telling me where I need to be – but ask him to find his homework and he has a sudden memory loss. Bless him. He features a lot in my blog posts and vlogs and is always trying to push his own YouTube channel by shouting out randomly “SUBSCRIBE TO THE GAMING AFRO” in all my videos.
And then there’s me.
Regular readers will know me fairly well because I do have the tendency to occasionally bare my soul (and sometimes my bikini) on my blog but for those who don’t know me, I’m Kate – tall, redheaded, horrifically unlucky in love (but quite chipper about it all), single parent, writer, oasis of calm (mostly) and cycler. I was going to say ‘keen’ cycler then but my undercarriage said otherwise.
I have been extremely fortunate to have been on a Mark Warner press trip with 12 other bloggers before and you can read what we got up to here. It was fantastic. Seriously, I’ve never been more impressed with a holiday resort before but as wonderful as it was, whilst I was there, I just kept thinking, “Would Dexter prefer to sail or wakeboard?” “I wonder how many waffles Dexter would eat for breakfast?” “Dexter would love trying out each and every one of the swimming pools just so that he can give me his verdict on what he feels is the best.” It’s difficult to switch off being a Mum when you’re away … although the Strawberry Mojitos helped enormously.
We haven’t holidayed together in eight years as a family – a combination of a family split and never having enough money and, if I’m honest, I don’t even know if Ben would want to holiday with us. I personally think we may cramp his style a bit, but he may (hopefully) say otherwise! But my idea of a perfect holiday is having my boys (or at the very least, my youngest) with me when I explore somewhere new.
I’ll give you an example.
Earlier this year, I had the mad idea that I wanted to relocate to West Yorkshire. No idea why I chose there, other than it seemed like a good idea at the time. I hadn’t even visited before but just felt the need to at least explore it as an option. So October half term, I packed the car and drove up to Leeds, Scarborough and York with Dexter to see what we thought of it. You can read about our trips here, here and here. But one of the overriding reasons for our little adventure was to show Dexter that there is more to this world than where we live. It’s all too easy to become overly comfortable with staying in one town for your whole life – I should know, it’s exactly what I did. And I don’t want that to happen to my boys, so as much as the potential move up north may be on hold for now, the principle remains.
The world is only as big, or as small, as you make it.
I love the idea of showing Dexter how it’s OK to be nervous about trying out something new, like scuba diving or kayaking, but that if his ‘ancient’ Mum can do it, so can he. There’s nothing greater for improving a child’s self confidence than trying out new things and because his Dad isn’t around, it falls to me to show him the way on my own (which can be a little daunting for me too sometimes!)
Mark Warner wanted to know what my idea of a perfect holiday is, and so it goes something like this …
We will start our days with watermelon and waffles for breakfast, then see who can go the furthest underwater without coming up for air. That was a game I always played with my Dad growing up and you never know when you might need to hold your breath underwater, right?! We will then go our separate ways for an hour or two so that I can finally read the book I’ve been trying to read all year and Dexter can go and see the watersport guys on the beach to see what takes his fancy that day. We will rendezvous for lunch and catch up on each others’ news … although mine will mainly be ‘What factor of suntan cream did I use?’ and ‘Do they sell Maxibon ice cream sandwiches?’
Lunch will be Souvlaki and salad with me introducing Dexter to Feta cheese, him turning his nose up at it, and then eventually realising it’s delicious and he shouldn’t be so blimmin’ fussy. We will treat ourselves to a white Magnum by the pool, recline on a sun lounger under a parasol … until Dexter jumps into the pool, ensuring he splashes me in the process.
We currently cycle to school together (6 miles a day) so I think it would be fun to hire a couple of mountain bikes from the resort and explore the area that way. Suffice to say, I’m not great at the whole ‘driving abroad’ thing after I tried to join a motorway in Italy … but from the wrong direction. A lesson learnt all round I’d say. So a bike ride would be perfect, and a whole lot safer.
Early evening may (will) include a brief disco nap (me not Dexter) but thankfully, he’s not a needy kid and is quite happy chilling in his own company. We’ll eat early, hopefully fresh fish and more salad, with the promise that if he gets hungry later, there will always be somewhere we can find a snack if we get peckish. Dexter isn’t a fan of discos – after all, at aged ten, he’s way too old for things like that. Apparently. So our evening would consist of a few drinks after dinner and a game of cards on the terrace watching the sun set. I’ve just taught him ‘Pontoon’ and he derives much pleasure from shouting ‘hit me’ in public when he wants another card. I tend to get a frosty reaction from passersby. But it’s always imperative to have some form of entertainment on your person when you’re a parent!
We’re lucky in that we really do enjoy each other’s company and so by now Dexter will probably want to go back to the room to watch a DVD on the laptop before going to sleep. It will either be Harry Potter then Lord of the Rings … or, Lord of the Rings then Harry Potter. He will want to stay up late because … HOLIDAYS … but little does he know, he’ll be asleep by 9pm because of all the exercise he’s done during the day!
And that leaves that last hour or two of the day that is just for me. To sit on my balcony with a gin in a tin, reading a book, people watching … wondering what everyone’s story is.
I think other people may find my idea of the perfect holiday quite simple and yes, we’re not rock climbing or jumping out of planes. But the perfect holiday to me is about spending time doing things you like – together and apart, and to me, everything I’ve just written sounds perfect.
And finally, I thought I’d do a little Draw My Life type video to show you how much I’d love to win. It’s worth watching purely for my picture of an aeroplane.
• This post is an entry for the Mark Warner Ambassador programme – they’ve asked bloggers to write a post about dream holidays and a lucky few will go onto become an ambassador for the brand in 2015.