We have been going on holidays to France with our best friends for the last 6 years now. We usually go the same week every year, to the same house and have fallen into a comfortable routine for the week. It is the one week of the year that I really look forward to, quality time spent with my son and friends without the interference of the outside world.

You see this little place of tranquility is out in the Charante countryside, away from traffic or noise and is a haven without television, broadband/fibreband or wifi..We have to make our own fun, which is exactly what we have been doing for the last 6 years and we have become professionals.

The lovely couple that owns the house has it set up with plenty of activities for children/teenagers/adults alike. There are toys, a pool table, bikes, darts board, playing cards with poker chips, trampoline, swimming pool and a radio – what more could anyone want! Our children have had great adventures cycling on quiet country roads, never to see a car or worry about stranger danger. They have had diving competitions into that swimming pool and have thought of many different ways to entice us over to the edge to either splash us or push us in.

Our running joke every year is if a car does pass by (usually a neighbour going to town) that the traffic is getting worse every year – this is usually followed by howls of laughter. The only noise we heard this year was in fact a ‘Sonic Boom’ – two fighter planes flew so low over us at such high speed our ears are still buzzing from it….we found out that there was a military air base a few hundred miles away, and the flight path for their practice runs was over our area.  It was the first time we had ever seen or heard them, you learn something new every year.

I will never forget the time I turned some of the black and white, ancient photographs upside down in the kitchen, playing a prank on the boys.  I did this during the day thinking they would see them soon after, they didn’t and I forgot about it.  Later that night my poor friend came in as white as a sheet asking who turned the pictures upside down….Before I could answer, her husband said that he did it.  I was very confused!  When she left the room I told him that I had done it, and why did he say he had – he told me she wouldn’t sleep for the night if someone hadn’t owned up! He thought the boys had done it as a prank.  I felt terrible and went after her to explain myself.  Thank goodness she forgave me, I think she would’ve seen the funny side if it had been the boys and not her that found the pictures.

As for our brave boys, they have seen ghosts in the barn (really us playing tricks on them) and have encountered anaconda sized snakes out in the sunflower fields (again, us crawling around trying to trick them).  The lengths we have gone to catch these guys out is unbelievable but hilarious when it worked out! We have also become fairly friendly with the little old woman who weeds her vegetable patch at the fork in the road – she used to point blank ignore us but this year she actually waved at us when we passed – we talked about this for a good few hours, it was a massive breakthrough!

The year we flew into Charles De Gaulle, Paris was something we never repeated. Nine hours driving saw us eventually pulling up to the familiar gates to our beloved getaway – we thought we’d never get there. And our driver never once complained, he is a hero!! And our boys once again showed their bravery when the airport went into lockdown due to a suspected terrorist attack – another highlight to our holiday that year.

One of our favourite activities every year is spotting buzzards – we will usually hear them screeching before we see them circling for miles and then suddenly dropping out of the sky to catch their prey. We have explored nearby towns and the history they have to offer, we have gone on car trips to zoos and theme parks but what stands out in all our minds are the evening times when we all sit around the table for dinner – under the stars – and chat, play poker and spend quality time with our children.  All the while we have made avoiding the dreaded May Bugs an olympic style sport – often jumping up mid-conversation/poker game and running into the house screaming, the children usually follow with some measure of calm!

Over these 6 years we have never had a cross word with each other, or a row – we have enjoyed every moment of those weeks spent in that little house.  These times are few and far between but we cherish them, because we know that a time will come when our children won’t want to go on holidays with us anymore.  I can’t thank my friends -Jane & Michael – enough for inviting us on holiday with them that very first year, because we could never have made these amazing memories not only for our children but for ourselves too!!

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