TIME FOR A HOLIDAY

At last, the sun is shining again and it’s almost half term, so of course it’s time to think of holidays. We’ve already had a couple of blogs about Russell’s holiday in USA, and I’m hoping for a few more soon, so this one is more about family holidays. Russell had his first proper holiday (ie. not staying with grandparents) when he was three; we had a great time, so decided to be more adventurous the following year and booked a two-centre holiday for the end of May in Slovenia and Croatia. Looking back that was probably a stupid idea with two small children, a pushchair and enough baggage for an army, as we had to fly between the two areas, but we all survived – just.

 

Walking in the Alps
Walking in the Alps

This holiday sticks in my mind as one of the first times Russell turned on the charm to get him out of a sticky situation – and as usual it worked! While in Slovenia we stayed in the Alps, very near the border with both Italy and Austria. We found out that there was a fairly easy walk up into the mountains to the point where the three countries met. We caught a bus to a small village near this point and began our walk. However, we hadn’t bargained for the changeable alpine weather and it wasn’t long before the skies opened and it started to rain, and rain, until we were very wet, so we decided to abandon the walk and go back to the village. It was a pretty little village with whitewashed houses and paintings on the walls; luckily there was a village inn, so we popped in for a drink and snack before we caught the bus back to the hotel. The owner of the inn welcomed us in, and after we had ordered gave Russell and SJ a toy each to play with. However, playing with new toys in a strange place is never easy and it wasn’t long before Russell knocked over SJ’s drink, making a real mess of the nice white embroidered tablecloth. SJ protested – loudly, John told them both off and Russell then also started crying. One by one, all the locals who had been in the bar finished their drinks and left. This prompted John to give another telling off causing more loud protests; meanwhile the spilt drink was now dripping off the table and onto the floor causing even more mess. We decided it was time to go; I told Russell to hand the toys back and also apologise for causing the mess and making a noise. He wandered over to the innkeeper, blond hair, blue eyes and cheeky grin at the ready, and came back – still with the toys. So this time I took them back, only to have the innkeeper tell me what lovely children we had and they could keep the toys even though they had ruined his tablecloth and emptied the inn of all the locals! We still have the toys ( a bag in the shape of a teddy bear and a small furry animal) in the loft.

 

the village inn where Russell first turned on the charm
the village inn where Russell first turned on the charm

Later that week we visited Lake Bohinj, one of the beautiful alpine lakes in the area; it was here that SJ started what is now a family tradition of bringing a rock or stone back from everywhere we visit. Again, what could have been so simple turned into something much more complicated. There were pretty white stones all around the shore of the lake, but the one that looked the best was a few feet out into the water. Before we could stop them, there was a rush to get this stone and SJ tripped over and went head first into the water. Needless to say, we all got wet pulling her out. But she got the stone! And we still have it!

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SJ collecting stones just before she fell in the lake
SJ collecting stones just before she fell in the lake

Before we left Slovenia, we went on a day trip to Venice – four hours each way on a coach. This was where Russell almost had his first alcoholic drink. On the way back we stopped at a motorway service area and I went in to buy a couple of cartons of juice for Russell and SJ. Back on the bus we opened the cartons, which had straws attached just like a normal carton of juice. I was just about to hand Russell his when he asked me what flavour it was; this was lucky as I took a sip and found we had bought cartons of red wine not juice.

 

Russell in Venice
Russell in Venice – the bag over his shoulder is the one given to him by the innkeeper in Slovenia

We spent the second week of that holiday in Dubrovnik. Our flight was delayed due to high winds; it was not safe to land at Dubrovnik airport in bad weather and as it turned out, we were the last flight in that day. This week was mainly without incident until the last night when SJ fell out of bed at about 2am and got concussion. We spent the rest of the night having her head x-rayed in Dubrovnik General Hospital, trying to explain to a doctor who only spoke Serbo-Croat that she couldn’t stay in hospital as we were going home later that morning. So he sent us home with the x-rays after we had promised to see a doctor as soon as we got back (we did and SJ was ok), so we also ended up with some extra holiday snaps that we hadn’t bargained for. And yes, we still have these as well!

 

Russell in Dubrovnik
Russell in Dubrovnik

A couple of years later, Croatia was at war. I remember watching the television news with horror and sadness as parts of the beautiful old city of Dubrovnik were destroyed, and soldiers were firing machine guns from the windows of the hotel we had stayed in. We always planned to go back one day; we haven’t yet but there’s still time. I would love to revisit all those places we visited 26 years ago, that hold so many special memories – and maybe collect another stone from lake Bohinj (without falling in)! But even if we don’t get back there, the memories we have of they holiday will LIVE FOREVER.

 No blog next week as SJ and I will be on holiday!!

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