Posted in Family, Personal life, Travel

The Role of the Hill in Children’s Summer Holidays

Laura on top of a hill
Hurrah, I’m on holiday!

If you have ever travelled anywhere with a child, you will know that young eyes can spot a play park miles away. It’s strange how much their eyesight improves on holiday. If only they had the same visual acuity when searching for their shoes before school!

On the first day of our Scottish holiday, we are scooped up from Inverness Airport by my husband, who has already spent 10 days in the Highlands in our camper van. The sun is shining, so we head east for an afternoon at the beach, at the unpretentious seaside resort that is reputed to have been Charlie Chaplin’s favourite. Apparently he used to fly all the way from Hollywood to bask on the beach at Nairn. (Or so the Rough Guide to Scotland tells us.)

Ignoring the spectacular views across the Moray Firth that may have lured Chaplin all that way, my daughter Laura homes in on the large tiled paddling pool a stone’s throw from the seafront (but doesn’t throw any stones). It’s knee-deep on a child, and the local council kindly provides a lifeguard in the form of a kindly middle-aged lady in a cardigan. It’s not exactly Baywatch, but who cares?

To her parents’ delight, the pool is also a stone’s throw from an old-fashioned seafront cafe dispensing excellent cups of tea and ice-cream – bubble gum flavour for Laura, Irn Bru blend for her dad, while I favour the Scottish Tablet variety. Well, we are on holiday.

We savour our ice-creams while Laura cavorts in the paddling pool until closing time, the kindly lifeguard lady breaking it gently to the splashing children that they’ll have to get out so she can go home to have her tea. Baywatch, it ain’t. Then follows a short spell on the swings and slide, cleverly built into the side of slope between the pool and the beach, before we persuade Laura to head vanward for our own evening meal.

But the fun’s not over yet, as on the way back to the van she spots an even better source of fun: a good old-fashioned hill. Health and safety be blowed, you can’ t expect a small child on the first day of an exciting holiday to trip to pass by a hill without rolling down it a few dozen times.

Who needs theme parks anyway?

Laura on top of a hill
I came
Laura half way down the hill
I saw
Laura at the bottom of the hill
I conquered

I’m gradually catching up with posts written on my 2013 summer holiday, and more will follow soon, but in the meantime, if you liked this post, you might like to read the others that have made it onto the blog so far:

What Not to Discover on Your Summer Holidays

The Unusual Souvernirs of Camper Van Travel

Beachcombing in Ullapool – A Story Behind Every Stone


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

4 thoughts on “The Role of the Hill in Children’s Summer Holidays

  1. I agree there is nothing like a hill. When we took our son, aged 3, on his first visit to Bristol Zoo, he was much more interested in running up and down a grassy slope than seeing the animals. As for tablet-flavoured ice-cream, sounds like heaven!

    1. Maybe I should provide transatlantic translations with all my posts! My Scottish husband is addicted to Irn Bru, the best-selling soft drink in Scotland – which is the only country where Coca-Cola is not in the top spot! I’m not fond of it myself, but I LOVE Scottish tablet, which tastes a bit like maple syrup in solid, granular form!

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