I grew up believing that holidays were all about spending weeks with cousins and playing in our compound. When I started my own family I continued to spend holiday time finishing postponed housework and ferrying the children to libraries, parks and summer parties. I remember my parents tried to ignite a love of adventure in us as children by taking us to Yankari Games Reserve but it didn’t work. I preferred to stay at home during holiday periods.
Several years ago it was my hubby’s special birthday and I struggled to find how to make it a memorable one for him. He had bluntly refused all suggestions of a party, to the disappointment of my friends who were looking forward to an ‘owambe’. My other half is the first Ijebu person I’ve met who doesn’t like parties. I had saved up a bit of money from my ‘girlie thrift group’ (you’d better believe that we have ‘ajos’ here in the UK!) so I had a bit of extra cash.
I couldn’t buy him gadgets because he had so many that I sometimes called him ‘Inspector gadget’. I bought him clothes every birthday so that wouldn’t count as special. I considered taking him out for a surprise dinner with friends but he only enjoyed Chinese food from our local restaurant and we had been there so often that he had a special table. So I consulted a few of my girlfriends (who have never failed me in giving excellent advice on matters of the heart) and I was asked to consider a romantic short break to a European city.
I searched and found one to Paris. I booked everything online with a silent prayer as I wasn’t sure that I hadn’t just been duped by an online scam travel agency. I arranged to drop the children off at their grandparents, got hair done and dieted for a grand total of 2 days. I took Monday and Friday off work :it was to be a 3 night weekend break.
I presented my other half with his surprise gift on his birthday, 5 days before the trip. I was very excited. He was very surprised, hugged me very tightly and said I was the best wife in the world (but of course!). After his initial excitement, he checked our travel date and became deflated when he realised that the football Premiership final was on the Saturday we would be away. His love of football was legendary but this was one time I felt like breaking something (apart from his head!). He actually asked me if we could change the date to the following weekend, or get a refund.
I did what any self-respecting wife would do under such circumstances: I turned on the waterworks. My hubby apologised quickly and profusely for making such suggestions and went on the internet to see if he would be able to watch the match online or at the hotel.
After a shaky start, we flew to Paris and settled in our hotel while repeating ‘Je nes comprends pas’ (meaning I don’t understand) to any comment made to us in French by the hotel staff. We visited the Eiffel tower, Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe and took a ferry ride on the Seine. We also went to a museum but we lost interest after looking round the first floor which was filled with naked human statues. To be honest, my main reason for visiting the sights was to take pictures to show my friends and family that we actually went to Paris but to my surprise, we both really enjoyed the sights.
We spent hours walking around and hopping off and on sight-seeing buses. We tried strange-looking food and we watched darkness fall on the city from our hotel window. We also talked to a few tourists who could speak English and tipped the hotel receptionist who kept winking at us when we asked for breakfast to be brought to our room.
The icing on the cake for my husband was when we stumbled across a café with a widescreen TV showing the UK Premiership Final. My hubby was in seventh heaven as he watched the match with a bunch of very loud French men who shouted praise and abuse at the players while I found a quiet spot to call the grandparents to check that the grandkids hadn’t made them visit MacDonald’s more than once. (They had!).
We had a brilliant weekend break and all this happened ten years ago. That was the start of our love for travelling during holiday periods. We visited Paris again a few years later, this time with the kids and fulfilled the Disney requirement (which I found rather tedious). We have travelled to a few states in America when finances have permitted. We have also travelled to other places within the UK as cheaper options. We once took a very memorable trip to Scotland with the whole family. The seven-hour car journey was an adventure in itself. We have visited London which is only 3 hours away by car (one hour by train) for many short holiday breaks.
Holidays shouldn’t be about visiting exotic places so you can brag to people that you have been to Casablanca or Bali. It shouldn’t be about housework or doing extra work to earn money. All work and no play will soon make Jack a ‘dead’ boy.
As we hit the holiday season, take time relax, unwind and get a change of scenery, whether local or foreign. Even a week in a hotel in Ibadan when you live in Lagos is enough to give you that boost you need.
Your holiday period is a time to reflect on blessings and recharge your batteries so as to be more productive at work and at home. It is a time to forget stress and worries and enjoy the company of those you love and create memories that will never be forgotten.
Let me leave you with the wise words of Thomas Aquinas, a much celebrated Philosopher from the 13th century: ‘I pray thee, spare thyself at times: for it becomes a wise man sometimes to relax the high pressure of his attention to work’.
Writer – Abi Adeboyejo lives in Birmingham, UK with her two children and her fabulous man, who by the way, prefers that his wife writes down her thoughts than listen to her musings on almost everything.