The same...but different!

Working for Rockley has meant that we have been fortunate enough to holiday in France for the past four years now and while in my younger years I’ve always been reluctant to go back to the same holiday destination year on year, despite the obvious perks – knowing the people, the set-up, the best places to eat and visit etc, it feels like this year, more than any other has really been a holiday of firsts!

As my children get older Daisy (10) and Joseph (8) it feels like things get that little bit easier - they are now growing into confident young people and I no longer feel the need to coax them in to trying out new things. This year, they demonstrated a real thirst for adventure and were duly rewarded by learning a plethora of new skills. My son who is super sporty – mainly if it involves a ball, really had not taken to sailing in the slightest. Before this holiday that is. He’s always been confident on a football, rugby or cricket pitch but being out on the water, on a boat has always been a whole different ball game (excuse the pun) and completely out of his comfort zone. If he isn’t instantly good at something he tends not to be interested. Knowing which tack to take has been a real parenting lesson so in the end I just hoped that in time, he would see that sailing could be great fun and would become accepting of the fact that you don’t have to be the best at everything right away. Difficult indeed for a competitive 8-year old to fathom!

Maybe we'll make a sailor out of him yet!

You could say however that this year has been a major breakthrough which saw him sailing every day on holiday! He did utter the words ‘this is only happening in France’ but despite his best efforts, he has since done a course in the UK! As well as the inevitable sense of achievement I’ve noticed a new-found confidence in him and he’s made some great friends along the way – I guess that’s the beauty of both sport and camping!

Let's go windsurfing

Another first was windsurfing. Their eagerness to delve in to the world of windsurfing has really pleased me. Firstly, I love it (although admittedly I’m not very good!). Secondly, it’s a cool sport and thirdly, it’s cheaper than sailing so I’ll be encouraging the purchase of second- hand gear off Gumtree/ebay should they wish to pursue it. I obviously won’t stand in their way however if sailing trumps windsurfing as their chosen sport!!

Surf's up

Surfing was another joyous first and having a lesson by the nearby beach od Vieux Boucau with six other friends proved to be the highlight of Daisy’s holiday. I could tell that both Daisy and Joseph were a tad nervous but literally within seconds of being bashed around by the waves followed an element of success after 10 minutes - they were completely in love with the sport. After their one and a half hour session, they were also completely knackered however a mid session chill (laying on their surfboards which looked like a hynotizing session where I believed they would suddenly turn into pro surfers......why didn't he do this at the start I thought?!) certainly rejuvenated them.

Daisy and Joseph unsurprisingly took very different tactics during their surf session which was very much reflective of their character – Joseph worked continuously and would try and make every single wave while Daisy would sensibly bide her time and attempt to identify the right wave!

Smiles galore!

As designated photographer it was lovely to see all of them not only improve and actually stand up on their surfboards but also having fun, and lots of it! Youngsters smile all the time (pre-teenage years I hear) but there are a few occasions where you capture absolute pure delight and this was one of them for me. It may be the fact that they saw this as a real challenge and therefore the sense of achievement was so much greater, or just the pure relief that they weren’t being hurtled from a board or overwhelmed by a wave. Whatever the reason it was lovely to watch and I wish I had put myself forward to be part of this gang of newbie surfers.

Let's go for a cycle

Our family bike ride to Messanges was another first. In the past we’ve done the short trek to Soustons for an ice-cream but this one through the forest was beautiful and certainly more challenging with its undulating and often hilly path. Of course we were all rewarded with a chocolate Gauffre and a bit of beach time when we reached lovely Messanges and the promise of the swimming pool was just the incentive they needed to get them back to the campsite in record time! At home I am guilty of not cycling enough with them due to the lack of cycle paths and the countless ‘crazy’ drivers on the road so to freely cycle on endless forest filled designated cycle paths was absolutely great!

Could this actually be the perfect kind of holiday?

It’s incredibly hard to find a holiday which appeals to every family member however this year more than any, I actually had a moment where I felt like this really was the perfect kind of holiday. I was out windsurfing on a sunny, windy morning (minus a rash vest or wetsuit – a real plus for someone who suffers from Raynaud’s disease), Jospeh and Rich were having some ‘boy time’ together on a fusion and Daisy was with some new-found friends just doing everything from paddleboarding on the MegaSup to generally jumping off the pontoon. To have a bit of ‘me’ time while everyone else was also having loads of fun felt very liberating and not something you can always achieve on a family holiday. In the words of my daughter ‘Good times’ indeed!

Memories, challenges and exciting adventures

As to whether we will be back again next year, well… Daisy and Joseph wouldn’t want to go anywhere else and I can’t actually think of another kind of holiday which embraces everything we love – camping, adventure, activities, making new friends and very little access to any technology. It’s adventures like these which create positive, confident and happy young people and ultimately adults. I hope my children will continue to enjoy these experiences, cherish the memories we have created as a family and continue each year to conquer fears, take on new challenges and enjoy everything that outdoor adventure and this kind of family holiday has to offer.

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