The summer holidays are only just over but we’ve already booked next summers (they book up early you know!) and are now looking to see if we can get away for a few days over the October half term holidays. This particular term always fills me with dread; after the late August bank holiday, the next official day off work for me is Christmas Day, so we always try to do something over half term, even if it’s only for a day or two, just so that we have something to look forward to.
While company’s like Original Cottages offer unique locations to stay around the UK, the weather is something that can’t be escaped towards the backend of the year, so what can family’s do when the sun has gone and Autumn has set in with it’s usual severity? After a disappointing staycation last October half term, we came up with the idea of a staycation at a holiday cottage. That sounds barmy doesn’t it but hear me out, it will, I promise make sense.
One of the things we tried to do on our actual stay at home staycation last year was hold our own mini music festival (we’d missed out on our favourite one, Nozstock, due to ill health), so we set a day, intending to have a BBQ, music, some bunting making sessions and everything. Intentions were one thing but what we actually ended up doing was spending half the day tidying up and doing chores, then doing a supermarket shop, and finally firing up the BBQ at about 6pm, with a bit of music on. Even that was a failure as the kids were properly browned off by then and I couldn’t blame them. Staycationing at home doesn’t work because all the stuff you need to do at home still needs to be done, be it chores, DIY or all the other things you escape from when you’re on holiday.
This is where the idea of a holiday cottage staycation comes into it’s own. You take your board games, your video game console (current, or like us a retro game console), a bluetooth speaker and you spend some time reconnecting as a family, away from the routine and the routine distractions of home. You don’t even need to go out exploring if they weather is duff, you can simple stay in and chill together.
We’ve recently started playing board games as a family (Ned, who is five goes on a “team” with one of the older kids) and took one away with us the other week- Codenames (a Golden Geek Best Family Board Game Winner!), and we had great fun playing it one evening without all the usual distractions of tablets, Netflix and routine.
Almost every cottage we’ve stayed in over the last 3 or 4 years has had a TV with a HDMI port. This comes in to it’s own with my secret weapon, our RetroPie retrogaming set up. Modelled like a Commodore 64 cassette deck, it lets us play old Super Nintendo, Megadrive and arcade games in a package thats only marginally bigger than two packs of playing cards stacked atop each other. The kids can’t wander off into their bedrooms and do their own thing, they’re stuck in a perpetual round of family time that there is no escaping from, and you know what? It is strangely comforting despite the initial reservations they have. I’m a big fan of secondary communication when it comes to finding out how our kids are getting on. If you just sit them down and ask them how they’re feeling, they don’t open up much. Work your way through 100 levels of Bubble Bobble with them, using a credit each in turn, and they volunteer all sorts of information that you can use to help them through life with.
Finally, have you ever come back from a holiday and been asked how your break was by a friend or work colleague and answered, “It was brilliant but I need a holiday to recover from my holiday!“? That’s a response I frequently give because we tend to pack our holidays- last week alone we visited 5 castles, a wool mill, went on 4 long hikes AND still spent half the day on the beach body boarding every single day. On top of a six hour drive each way, a staycation a couple of hours drive away would be the perfect antidote!