So, regulars to my blog will know that we had an unexpected staycation back in June 2016, visiting Bristol Zoo and Legoland instead of enjoying some much needed Spanish sun in Murcia. With baby number two safely delivered in early July my attention quickly turned to getting a holiday planned (again the novelty of changing nappies and night time feeds quickly wore off!). Perhaps naively I thought that it would be relatively easy to book a holiday for early September given that the majority of schools would be back in full swing….how wrong I was. I quickly realised that anything and everything in our budget was booked up! Yikes….what were we going to do?!?
During one of the night time feeds (and there were plenty!) I remembered that my wonderful NCT teacher had recently posted about her new holiday home in Menorca. I quickly looked it up on Facebook and sent a message (at some ridiculous time of night!) seeing if it was free the week we wanted to go (being married to a doctor means we don’t generally get a lot of choice over the week we take!).It was free and was well within budget! Flights booked (irritatingly from Luton rather than Birmingham….it was far cheaper!), carpark sorted and car hire arranged. We were ready to go! Cue lots of people passing judgement about the challenges of taking a baby away and the risks of taking a baby abroad (to Menorca for goodness sake) without their first jabs (is it really any different to taking them on a bus in London?!?). Anyway, we were not put off. In fact, it’s amazing how much more relaxed we were about taking a baby away this time around…packing seemed fairly straight forward – we had a far better sense of what we actually needed.
The villa was located in Addaia on the north-east coast of the island, approximately 30 minutes from the airport. It was a very spacious four bed home in a small community, sharing a wonderful communal pool with 11 other villas. It had loads of outdoor space and the most wonderful terrace for family meals and evening drinks (yummy Menorcan gin!). Whilst we we weren’t within walking distance of a beach there were plenty of gorgeous (and pristine) beaches within 10 minutes of the house. We’d never holidayed with children on an island before….I highly recommend it. Nowhere was more than 30-40 minutes by car and the transfer time from the airport (including a stop at one of Mahon’s numerous supermarkets) was easily less than 40 minutes.
Most days were spent soaking up the sun either at the pool or by the beach. I even managed to sneak away for some r and r on the roof top terrace (conveniently up 2 flights of stairs and out of ear shot of tantrumming toddlers or crying babies!).
Ok, so being on holiday with an 8 week old baby doesn’t mean they will miraculously start sleeping through the night (that would be nice!)…but waking to feed a baby on a roof top terrace with the sun rising is pretty spectacular!
So in many ways my husband and I are incompattable when it comes to holidays….I love sun, sun and sun and he likes shade, shade and shade! What we do both enjoy though is good food, drink and some sight seeing. We had a number of lovely afternoon trips. The first of which was to Ciutadella (one of two main cities on the island), located at the western end of the island. We set off for here post lunch to enable the children to snooze in the car. We enjoyed a gentle stroll around the historic and picturesque streets before polishing off a well deserved ice cream in a square overlooking the cathedral (followed by a dash to a pharmacy for wet wipes!). We thankfully stumbled across a lovely play park for our daughter on our walk back to the car….always a highlight for her! On route home we enjoyed a evening meal in Fornells, a wonderful fishing village that has retained its charm despite the mass of holiday homes on its doorstep. Its reported that the King of Spain comes here for his fresh fish and it has a much more Spanish feel (thankfully!).
We booked in to Restaurant la guapa (29 Carrer Major. +34 971 15 84 97) on the recommendation of the lady who owned our villa – we were not disappointed. The food was outstanding, and service impeccable and the perhaps most importantly the children were welcomed with open arms (I do love how relaxed the Spanish are around children).
Another afternoon was spent visiting the vineyard at Hort San Patrici Cami de Sant Patrici, Ferreries. Sant Patrici is a farm/Menorcan cheese and wine maker and includes a restaurant and hotel. Definitely book this place for lunch as the food and setting are fantastic (20 euros for 3 courses) – it was probably one of the best experiences we’ve had! They cooked child friendly food for our daughter (don’t imagine fish fingers and chips….think instead of home made chicken in bread crumbs, with herb roasted potatoes and honey roasted carrots!) – surprisingly (!?!), fig with local Jamon wasn’t really her thing!
So we had a lovely week and couldn’t of asked for a nicer or more relaxing break as a family of four. Well it was almost totally relaxing….that was until it was nearly scuppered by a huge forest fire.
At 4am one morning I woke to feed my son….at first I was surprised and delighted in equal measure that he’d slept through (believe me this was a miracle) but then became concerned about a strange smell. I woke my husband (how do they always manage to sleep through everything!) and went to explore. The villa had air conditioning in all the bedrooms (a god send even in September!) and the only window that was open was the bathroom. I went up to the roof top terrace and all you could see for miles around was a forest fire. I quickly packed. To this day my husband is amazed that it took me 20 minutes to pack everything we had into the car, including the pram…I even managed to sterilise some bottles and put clothes out for everyone….but it can take me 3 days to pack when we’re at home. Anyway, car packed, children in (with the two year old told we were going on a day trip!) we quickly left the villa. The town was deserted and the fire scarily close (we didn’t put our headlights on for 5 miles….we were driving by the light of the fire!). Our daughter was mesmerised by the stars (otherwise known as sparks!) and we were trying to speak in code. The roads into the town were shut….but with no information available, we had no idea where to go. We decided to head to Mahon, figuring there was loads to do there should we need to spend the day away from the villa, plenty of supermarkets and near the airport (should we need to get out!). Now at 4.30am it doesn’t matter how well stocked a town is nothing is open! We parked outside a supermarket eating our picnic breakfast (yes I’d also managed to sort that!) with our daughter watching fireman sam on the iPad (oh the irony!). The children eventually dozed off and we could finally talk openly….we decided to book into a hotel (with a pool!) on the off chance that we couldn’t get back into the villa. The thought of having nowhere to go with temperatures of 35 and two children was not one that appealed! As the sun rose we found a patisserie and picked up some of the nicest chocolate croissants I’ve ever had. With the children still dozing in the car we drove back towards the fire and parked up on a hill overlooking the fire (now put out, thankfully). We were back in the villa by lunchtime and back by the pool in the afternoon (with the dulcet tones of helicopters dropping water on the fire!). This is really an experience I hope never to have to repeat but if you can survive this with a 2.5 year old and an 8 week old baby you really can do anything.
A wonderful week full of memories and one adventure too many!