Last year we stayed in the World's Worst Bed and Breakfast (unofficial designation) for one night so the children could play on the beach. There is a long and horrible story attached to this, but suffice it to say that we ended up at the B&B due to a belt-tightening strategy that was unrelated to losing any weight.
I think everyone felt a bit sorry for us. Perhaps we told the story of the horrors we had endured a little too often. So my Mum and Dad are kindly taking us to the Lincolnshire coast in July, along with both my sisters and their families. Most of us will be in one house, but my eldest sister, husband and their three children are staying separately but nearby. This is probably a good thing, for them as well as us..!
Beginning to organise it has been a feat of planning that has been almost military in scale. Even so, it's not possible for Steve to come, as he is working all summer, except one week, and that is the week that three other people can't make. I hate it when he is missing at family occasions, and it happens so often, you might think it was deliberate if you didn't know him. (I know him, and still think it might be deliberate.)
I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I'm going to look forward to it and hope for nice weather; grey skies on a wet English coast are not very appealing, but even in July that's what we might get. But I'll dig out the sunsuits and suncream, and hope for the best.
But in true bus-like fashion, two holidays have come along at once. My lovely in-laws phoned two weeks ago to say they were booking a huge house on the coast of Wales at Easter for us all to go and stay in - with Steve's glam sister and her husband, and Steve's ageing Nan. We pointed out that our school holidays didn't coincide all that well, and they went quiet. Then they phoned back, triumphant, last week - they'd booked a place! We could join them for a mere fraction of the true rental price. We wrote the date in the diary and discovered that Steve is working, and won't be there - hmm!
And now I'm feeling nervous. Who is going to cook and sort food? What if we all want to do different things or argue? Much as I love the in-laws, it'd be nice to have Steve with me, offering moral support. But there's no point wishing - if I put my mind to it, I know I'll have fun, and it might even be worth taking some books to read or even my novel to work on while there are willing baby-sitters on hand.
But what are the chances of sun in April at the coast? Well, this is Britain. I'm thinking we'll leave the sunsuits at home, and take waterproofs and lots of games. Surely everyone will be happy to play endless rounds of Hungry Hippos while I read in a corner?