Why every family needs a summer holiday
I REALLY did think that the family holiday thing was over.
We began to live completely separate lives over the last school year. My two teens and one pre-teen don't need to go anywhere. They seem to lead very full lives entirely on their phones.
Whenever myself or their Dad suggests doing something together - no matter what it is - there's a collective groan.
Sorry, that's not quite true. We can get them to do something with us if we add in a big spend on food or clothes or entertainment.
So when the work colleague offered us the house in the West I was nervous. We work hard and we needed our holiday, I muttered darkly, during the endless journey west.
My heart sank as we tried to find our way to the holiday cottage, deep in the countryside and on the side of a mountain.
We ended up abandoning the car and humping our bags the rest of the way. At least me and Dad humped the bags. The kids were busy fighting over the bedrooms.
I was about to do my old, familiar, "That's it, I'm leaving!" routine, except I looked up the mountain and I didn't fancy it.
Which was just as well because that was when the eldest said, "Let's all go swimming!"
Myself and the husband nearly fell over. What was this, enthusiasm? Surely some mistake?
It was 10 o'clock at night but we threw the swim bag into the car. It was a beautiful night. The sign pointed to a pier. There wasn't another soul in sight.
Just our voices ringing out in the warm air as we entered the water, screaming with the shock. All six of us, splashing and laughing.
We're like sulky teens ourselves, most of the time, myself and their Dad... stuck in our computers and our urgent discussions about whether the boiler needs changing or a colleague's marriage will last.
There's six of us in it, this parody of family life. But that night was just the start of an incredible holiday. We played cards, we cooked, we had amazing swims off rocks and piers and beaches.
A lot of money was spent on plates of chips, your Honour. And the weather was with us. This country is just so stunning in sunshine.
I'm not saying that family holidays are cheap or that they always work out.
I'm just saying that they're worth trying, every single year.
I don't know how many more family holidays we'll have: two or three?
I don't even know if the family feeling will survive the journey home.
But at least we all of us hold inside of us, like a secret weapon, the memory of swimming through warm water together on a summer's night.