Cottage Cheese

October 18, 2012 2:00 pm

There are ingredients that make a holiday, and there are the secret ingredients that add the touch of magic and make them memorable. When I think of holidays that I had as a child there are certain highlights, which have stayed with me after all this time. Why does a cooked breakfast taste better in a holiday cottage? Or toast made under the grill smell more inviting? Why does a hot bubble bath feel more relaxing after enjoying the local countryside? The funny thing is, I really don’t want the answers to these questions – they are purely rhetorical. It may sound cheesy but these things really did add a touch of charm and always made the holiday feel extra special.

My fondest memories as a child are those spent at holiday cottages in the Lake District with my family. The anticipation of what the cottage was going to be like; the usual, however endearing, arguments between my brother and sister that one was invading the other’s space, or my mum getting more and more frustrated because we were lost and uttering the inevitable “We might as well turn round and go home.” Then there was me, the youngest and most oblivious. My main concern was that I had enough tins of spaghetti hoops and my box of coco pops, oh, and that I got to share a room with my big sis and play with her make up.

My mum went to so much trouble packing up a picnic every day and finding us a pretty spot to pitch up at. I have this image in my head that will stay with me forever, my mum being adamant that we were setting up the deckchairs and table regardless of the threatening sky. We just got set up and the heavens opened. That wasn’t the funny part, it was when my dad was chased by sheep after trying to find a place for a call of nature, which still makes me smile.

Some of the cottages that we stayed in did leave a lot to be desired but I can honestly say it didn’t alter the fun that we had; if anything, it added to it. I recall an old farmhouse we stayed in that had an outside toilet and the seat kept falling down. For me this was hilarious, however, not so much for my dad and brother. There was a cottage near Ambleside that was so remote even a recluse would have felt isolated. The Lancashire part-converted barn, “part” being the operative word…it was half-finished. But my most memorable of all was the tired, cobwebbed Gate House near Pendle Hill. The previous visitors were still there…Mr and Mrs Bed-Bug and Master Creepy Crawly. We all felt out-of-place with just two legs each.

So what does make the perfect holiday? Of course, the answer will be different depending on who you ask and what they look for. For me though, it was the time together as a family, with no distractions, no routines, just time together. Because even after all the petty squabbling and questionable accommodation, it always meant enough to everyone to want to go again next year.

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