We go on holidays. A week away in the sun with my kids. Great excitement. There will be lots to visit, much to do and fun to be had. We are meeting friends over there. The cases get packed. The dog gets minded. We get to the airport. Travel sickness tablets taken. We are off!

When we arrive, I pay the exorbitant price for the taxi and out we get at our apartment. It's 10 o'clock at night but there is no one on reception, there is no one at all in fact except a phone number and a safe for residents' keys. But there is none for us. The phone number goes to answering machine. We have nowhere to stay.

A lovely couple invite us into their apartment. I think they are the kindest strangers I have ever met. Worst case scenario they say my children and I can sleep on their couch. The kids are hungry and thirsty and the couple feed and water them and we all manage to have a laugh.

I secure us a night in a hotel at 1am. Another taxi and dragging bags and keeping the kids upbeat despite the upset. The hotel is grim, gloomy and smelling of body odour. The only photo we take there is the view from our window the next morning - a corrugated shed in a car park. The kids climb into the double bed (no one is chancing the dodgy looking camp bed). We three will sleep together. While protesting they are not tired, they fall asleep. I go into the grimy bathroom and have a little cry.

At 6am the next morning, I book us a bright, cheerful apartment that turns out to be a gem. We can't move in until that evening though. We go for breakfast. Sitting in the sun with the most delicious croissants and juice and coffee, I take a breath. Everything is going to be alright. Our holiday can begin.

Not for the first time, a friend asked me 'Why do things always happen to you?' It is true that life rarely seems straight forward. However, it does mean I meet some fascinating people along the way. There is always a story to tell. When we meet up with our holiday friends, it is the imagined adventures in the seedy hotel that amuse all the kids most!

For me, the anxiety can kick in after the event. I am in complete control in an emergency. But many days after, it can hit me. Something small, an item carelessly broken, a dinner not eaten or a sarcastic comment and I feel it deeply and overreact hugely - appearing like a crazy woman! Is that delayed anxiety? Hyper-sensitivity? Motherhood?! All of the above? Perhaps it's also a touch of the holiday blues - because despite the dramatic beginning, we had a super time...

Salt Water Mum
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