Our First Holiday With Max | Kent / London / Bruges
I should probably start this post by saying that this is not going to be my usual kind of holiday roundup – because this was not our usual kind of holiday.
I have hardly any photos to remember it by, for one thing: or, rather, I do, but most of them were taken on my iPhone, in a hurry, and with very little thought – so I have zero outfit photos, for instance, even though I spent an entire week surrounded by perfect backdrops for them, and, despite my repeated insistence that we MUST remember to ask someone to take some photos of the three of us together, well, here’s the only evidence I have that we were all in Bruges at the same time:
Honestly, it’s hard to understand why I’m not a famous travel blogger by now, huh?
All of which is to say that travelling with a baby is a very, very different experience from travelling on your own. Fun, yes, definitely. Exciting? Sure. But also occasionally stressful and exhausting, in ways that we hadn’t really anticipated, and which meant that, for the first time in my life, I came home with just a couple of hundred photos, as opposed to the 7,876 I usually take on holiday. I mean, who even AM I, seriously?
Anyway! I have another post planned on the logistics of travelling with a 7 month old, and what we would and wouldn’t recommend, but, for now, here’s a quick photo diary from our week in the south of England…
So, as I mentioned in this post, the main reason for our trip was to visit Terry’s brother and his family, who generously allowed us to stay in their beautiful home in Kent, even though we pre-warned them that Max was going through a bit of a sleep regression at the time, and would quite possibly want to introduce us all to the joys of being awake at 4am. (And yes, he did do that: thanks, Max!)
Staying with family was awesome – not just because it meant we had a selection of willing helpers to hold the baby when it all got too much (Special shout-out here to our nephews, George and Jonathan, who cheerfully carried/pushed Max around Bruges for us, AND volunteered to carry my selection of changing bags, containing everything a baby could possibly need for a day out, plus quite a few things that NO ONE could POSSIBLY need, but which I took anyway, “just in case…”), but also because it was just fantastic to see Max spending time with his aunt, uncle and cousins. Oh yeah, and also with Pandora, who he found absolutely hilarious:
Pretty sure he thought she was actually a human who just looked a bit funny, because he would chuckle to himself every time she walked into the room. I can’t WAIT until he’s old enough to start begging for a puppy, seriously.
One of the great things about where my in-laws live is that it’s just a 30 minute train ride from the centre of London, so, on day 2 of our trip, we once again packed up all of our worldly goods, and headed into the city, to be shameless tourists for the day – although, with that said, if we’d been tourist-ing appropriately, we’d have taken approximately 2 million photos, and instead we took about five. WINNING!
We also spent way too long trying to recreate this photo from our last trip to London…
… only with a fairly significant addition:
And then I obviously spent a LOT of time banging on about how, if the two people in the first photo had somehow been shown the second one, it would’ve totally blown their minds – and not just because I’m wearing sneakers in the second one, and 2015 Amber would NEVER have worn sneakers through choice, nuh-uh.
This was the most time we’d ever spent out of the house with Max in one day, and, before we left, we were a little bit worried how we’d cope with getting the stroller and all our stuff on and off the public transport, as well as keeping Max fed/changed/happy for 12 hours, without access to all of our home comforts. As it turned out, though, it was absolutely fine: so much so, in fact, that we felt confident enough to take another, even longer, trip a couple of days later – this time to Bruges, in Belgium, and accompanied by my brother and sister-in-law, plus two of our nephews:
Again, I’m going to do a separate post on Bruges, because I don’t really have time to do justice to it in this one (The second post won’t have better photos than this one, though: sorry. Like, neither of us noticed that Max’s face was totally obscured by the handle of his stroller? SERIOUSLY, GUYS?), but, suffice it to say that if you haven’t been, you should go. Go now, in fact: don’t even bother finishing this post – it just degenerates into a bunch of random photos of beaches, anyway. In other words: we really liked Bruges. We will definitely be back – and this time I’ll try to remember the fake tan, so I look a bit less like I’m haunting the place…
Other than those two trips, we spent the rest of our time in Kent, hanging out with family, doing some more sightseeing, and consistently failing to remember that the bar on Max’s stroller, although apparently tasty, didn’t exactly lend itself to great photography. Here we are, for instance, in…
Margate is one of those English seaside towns which is a little bit past its prime, and yet to be gentrified, so it’s all faded grandeur and modern-day… well, tat, basically. I wanted to go because of that one line from T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland (Which he actually wrote in the town…): On Margate Sands/ I can connect nothing with nothing. Which, I mean, yeah, doesn’t exactly sell the place, but it did have a very Wasteland-esque feel to it, and that was what I came for, so…
This was where I became absolutely obsessed with winning – or getting Terry to win for me, rather – a cheap stuffed toy from one of those “claw” machines you get in arcades, which are so obviously fixed that no one in their right mind would even attempt to try and beat one. And, honestly, I didn’t even know I WANTED a stuffed puppy dog, but as I watched it fall from the metal jaws of the machine for the fifth time in a row, and Terry turned to me and said, “I’m not even using my last go, because THIS GAME IS A CON,” I literally thought my heart would break. Literally.
So, I guess you could say that, on Margate Sands, we connected nothing with nothing. Well, we certainly didn’t connect me with Coggles the plushie, which is what I think T.S. Eliot was probably getting at, no?
Broadstairs is basically Margate’s slightly more upmarket cousin. Isn’t it pretty in that glorious sunshine?
This is where Max pulled my hair out by the root, punched me in the mouth and then vomited down my arm in a carpark, while Terry circled like a vulture, desperately hoping that the space he’d just paid £4 for would miraculously materialise. It didn’t. So we found another one, and I had a brief meltdown (Look, it was hotter than the surface of the sun, I hadn’t slept, and also, “Drama” is my middle name…) when I realised I’d used the last of the baby wipes trying to clean the vomit from my arm, and now Max needed changed. Still, pretty little place, Broadstairs – and another one I think we need to go back to, when we’re a little less vomit-covered.
Sandwich is where we ate a sandwich, because, obviously. Oh, don’t look at me like that: like you wouldn’t take the opportunity to eat a sandwich in Sandwich – COME ON, people!
This was also where, as soon as said sandwich was placed on the table, Max suddenly lunged forward, grabbed the top slice of bread, ripped it in half, and then had to be forcibly restrained from repeating the process with the rest of it:
The sandwich didn’t look quite so photogenic after that, but it was still pretty tasty, so two thumbs up to Sandwich, basically.
Terry and I have visited Folkestone before, but our nephew, George, lived there for a while when he first moved to Kent, so he gave us a bit of a guided tour, and showed us some parts of the town we hadn’t seen on our first visit. This was where we drank sparkling wine from plastic cups, and felt a bit like we were on holiday in the Med or something, rather than on the south coast of England. We all slept well that night:
(No, I’m joking, we didn’t: Terry and I vastly under-estimated the importance of Max’s usual routine in helping him sleep through the night, so it was another 5am wake-up call for us both … but that’s another story, for another time.)
And then we came home, to dark skies, pouring rain, and temperatures around 10 degrees cooler than the ones we’d just left. So that was cute – and by, “cute”, I mean, “My heart is broken, and I just want to be back in the sunshine again: woe!”
When we were planning this trip, Terry and I saw it, not just as a chance to catch up with family, but also as a bit of a test run, to see how well we’d rise to the challenges of travelling with a baby, and decide whether or not we’d be up for possibly venturing further afield next time.
And the verdict?
And, I mean, sure, there were definitely challenges (Lack of sleep being the biggest one), and it was a different kind of holiday from the trips we’ve taken in the past, but it was still a huge amount of fun, and something we’d 100% do again. For me, although I knew it wouldn’t exactly be a rest for us (Looking after a very active 7-month old is hard work at the best of times, and that doesn’t stop when you’re on holiday…), I was very much looking forward to the break from the usual routine, and just being somewhere different, and, although I wouldn’t say we came home feeling refreshed, (Terry actually came home with a really heavy cold, so that was awesome…), we did come home feeling like we’d had a bit of an adventure, and made some great memories, that will be with us forever. Max, of course, won’t remember any of it, but we will, and, thanks to my innate ability to endlessly repeat the same stories forever, I’m sure he’ll feel like he remembers it, even though he doesn’t.