Our first holiday abroad as a family.

Our first holiday abroad was one we’ll always remember. We booked a half board holiday to La Pineda, Spain. It looked perfect. Relatively cheap, two water parks nearby, a theme park too. It was on the beach, and was a beautiful modern hotel. In summer it would’ve been exactly what we were after. However we went in the October half term, 2018. The water parks shut down a week before we arrived. It was also cold for most of the holiday, not freezing but cold enough to need a big hoodie most days, and a coat some days. We had a day, maybe two of nice sunny weather, we were just unlucky.

The area we stayed was nice enough, the hotel was near a building site but that was okay, we had a 3 year old who loved cranes and diggers so that was a nice experience for him. The beach was long and beautiful and the town in general was obviously modernised with tourists in mind. We stayed in the Aparthotel Four Elements Suites and were immediately impressed with our accommodation. We were on the ground floor looking out at the pool which was stunning. Unfortunately it was far too cold to enjoy. Being Yorkshire folk our kids and my other half decided to try brave it anyway one day, even they couldn’t bare it for more than one width. The food was fantastic, I am a very fussy eater but there was no complaints here and there was a different selection each night.

We travelled by public bus to the nearby town of Tarragona, this was very much outside our comfort zone as most of the people did not speak English but we were able to buy tickets and get there and back without issue. Tarragona has an amazing ancient amphitheatre – Amfiteatre Roma – which is well worth a visit. I absolutely love history so this for me was probably the highlight of the trip.

We visited some typically Spanish shops in Tarragona and ate in a lovely little cafe. We had hoped to return to explore some more before the end of our holiday but unfortunately this wasn’t meant to be, but maybe some time in the future.

We flew with Ryanair. It was the kids first time flying, my first time flying since being a child, and after seeing lots of negative comments about Ryanair I was somewhat nervous. This was why we picked a short flight of 2.5 hours. Travelling with an autistic child too was a worry. However he coped brilliantly. We didn’t ask for any special treatment for him although I believe we could have. We also didn’t pay extra for priority boarding or for hand luggage. This actually worked out really well as when we arrived at Barcelona Reus airport we were straight off and ours was the only luggage on the carousel. We were through the airport in minutes. We didn’t fly in luxury, there were no TV’s in the head rests, but you could buy food and drinks and we were comfortable enough and had no complaints. It’s definitely left the kids with a lust for travelling again in the future.

My overall thoughts on our first foreign holiday were that we’d have had an incredible time if we’d gone a month earlier. We could’ve experienced the water parks and we would’ve been more inclined to go to the theme park. We couldn’t use all the facilities at the hotel due to the weather but that was the risk you take going at the end of October/beginning of November. If I was to rate it I would rate it as around 6/10, but would probably have been far closer to 10/10 in the summer months.

Life on the coast wasn’t what it was supposed to be.

It’s always been my dream to live by the sea – the sounds of the crashing waves, the amazing views, days on the beach – you name it I wanted it. We lived on the outskirts of Leeds with our 3 children, we were happy, fairly settled, we weren’t rich by any means but we were doing okay. We’d had our 2nd and 3rd children in quick succession – 14 months between them, and I had decided to quit my job to give them all my attention and raise them myself. I loved it. We had talked often about moving away but it always seemed unachievable, how does a family up sticks and move just like that? There’d be jobs to sort, houses to find and our belongings to move. 

Then in 2010 the opportunity arose. We were given notice on the house we rented (a long story which I may or may not write about in future), and we decided if we were ever going to do it, that was the time. We searched and searched the East Yorkshire coast for houses to rent, we narrowed down the list and eventually found the perfect home. We applied for it there and then and had the keys around a month later. My partner spent 4 days a week in Leeds until he was able to find himself a job nearby. It was almost perfect. We were a short walk from the beach. A short drive from my grandparents. It was everything we thought we wanted, but it was also very lonely. Adults have their friendship groups already, they don’t tend to seek out new friends. Our 3 year old was also going through a horrendous time. He hated everyone, everything, every sound. It was actually pretty awful for all of us and none of us had any idea why. It made for a very low dark time, especially for me, I was the one stuck at home with them constantly as I couldn’t take him anywhere on my own. In a strange turn of events he soon started the local school nursery who were quick to question whether he was Autistic or not. It turned out he was and as soon as we realised this was likely what was causing all the issues we were living, it was like a ray of light shone back into our life, I had answers and reasons and I could help him. Soon I started to get a little bit of myself back and live the life I wanted when we moved there. I haven’t looked back since .