We’ve just returned from a little sunshine break in Spain with family, and boy was it just what the doctor ordered. 6 days of sun, sand, sea… and an extra two pairs of hands to help with Evie – it was bliss.
We spent our time in a little seaside town just outside Barcelona called Sitges. Stu’s brother is doing some work there at the moment and so the opportunity of an affordable holiday away from it all was too good to pass up. On the Catalonia side of Spain, Sitges isn’t like the tourist trap resorts of the Spanish isles, in fact it still had a very local vibe to it, despite welcoming droves of holiday makers over the summer months. Made up of those adorable intertwining pedestrianised streets full of restaurants, bars and local shops, it was a dream to get lost in. Our apartment was in the heart of the town, a five minute walk from the beach front and two minutes from a supermarket and plenty of eateries. The boulevard at the beach front reminded me more of the South of France than my experience of Spain, with palm trees lining the walkway, a tall and picturesque church which looked out onto the ocean and those rustic white buildings lined with bright blue doorways, colourful shutters and bright bougainvillea flowers spilling over windowsills.
The beach was clean, the water as clear as anything and the waves just perfect for jumping. It was a solid run of 24 and 25 degree days while we were there, and it felt SO good to feel warmth on my skin, sand between my toes and swim in the beautiful ocean. We haven’t been on a beach break since our honeymoon almost a year and a half ago and I’d forgotten just how therapeutic it can be.
I’ll admit that when we booked the trip a couple of months back I was apprehensive. Doing anything out of your comfort zone with a baby is difficult and it would be very easy indeed to never leave the house or break from the safety of your regular routine. The night before our flight, we stayed over at a friends empty flat nearer the airport to make life easier, and with it being cold and stormy out we planned to get an early night in preparation for our 4am wake up call. Of course E had other ideas and simply wouldn’t settle in the new travel cot we’d spent a small fortune on, got herself all worked up about being in a new environment and wore us both down with endless screams. After two hours of trying and failing to transfer her into the cot, I gave in and let her fall asleep on me, all while panicking that my spray tan was getting darker and darker by the second and wondering how on earth I’d move her in order to get in the shower. When that alarm call came, we’d all had a maximum of two hours sleep – me on the floor, Stu on the sofa and Evie, like a true diva, taking up the whole double bed herself as it was the only place I’d successfully managed to move her to without her waking.
As we got ready to leave for the airport, I honestly considered telling Stu to go alone as I tearfully imagined a full week of feeling THAT exhausted and drained, but I pulled myself together, told myself that if she didn’t sleep then so be it, we’d cope, and surely coping while surrounded by sun, good food and the odd Cerveza would be a darn sight easier than coping at home.
And we had THE BEST TIME.
Evie was an absolute star on the journey and made our time at the airport, flight and onward travel a breeze, and she was just her happiest self all week as she got to see and do so many new things. She laughed and giggled her way through every new experience we exposed her to, and took every change and first totally in her stride. She adored being doted on by her two Uncles, and was hugely excited by the addition of a dog in her household.
Her sleep patterns and ability to settle in the travel cot only got marginally better as the week went on (once she’d got used to a new environment, new bed, no sleepyhead, being back in the same room as us and 24 degree heat), we still woke up most mornings exhausted and drained, but honestly it didn’t matter.
We’d wake up to the sun shining in through the large double doors of our room which led out onto the balcony, and have a slow morning at our apartment sitting out under the awning with a coffee in hand, feeding Evie while we cooked up a bit of breakfast. We’d spend the rest of our days walking the pretty streets of our little town while Evie slept in her buggy (thank goodness for the Snoozeshade), stopping off for cold drinks and bites of Tapas, hitting the beach and taking a refreshing dip in the warm ocean and enjoying many a beer in the afternoon sunshine.
There’s no doubt that travelling with a baby in tow is very different to our holiday experiences as a couple; Our evenings were spent at home where we’d cook a meal in rather than eating out and aim to get Evie down to sleep so we could have a glass of wine and a game of cards on the balcony. Our days were slower and much less fast paced as instead of setting a full itinerary, we took each day as it came with a relaxed approach to activities, usually opting for a morning at home before an afternoon at the beach or vice versa. And our focus really was on making sure Evie was happy and not too unsettled throughout, while making sure that we got a chance to relax and let our hair down a little too.
And being forced to take a slow approach was certainly no bad thing and probably exactly what we needed. I worried less about work and the constant juggle, I forgot about Instagram likes and blog analytics, I didn’t have to think about how messy our house was or whether I had enough energy to occupy a baby all day on my own, I didn’t have to look at mountains of washing, or endless flagged emails which needed to be replied to and I didn’t have to give head space to any of the niggling day to day drama that we seem to allow to occupy so much of our brains.
I simply enjoyed being with my little family, felt proud of my little girl every time she took to something new so happily and tried to imprint every wonderful memory in my mind forever more. Because I know how special this trip was, and I know in time we’ll look back on this – our first holiday as a family of three, the first time Evie dipped her toes in the ocean or played in the sand or ate a bit of spanish tapas for lunch – with such fondness.