A recent post by my friend and fellow blogger Mother Who Works, about their household battle with an outbreak of gastro, reminded me of a holiday many years ago with the men-children when they were just men-babies. At the time I penned an article about our travels entitled “The Holiday from Hell” for the Australian Multiple Births Association newsletter. 14 years later I thought it was a rather amusing anecdote to share.
And so the “M” family planned the perfect holiday. A week at South Molle Island in the Whitsundays in July. A direct flight to Hamilton Island (instead of a stopover in Sydney or Brisbane) and 30 minutes by launch to South Molle Island. All meals catered for (parents and kids alike), a crèche for the kids, babysitting service, golf course, tennis courts, pools, beach, long walks, etc etc. The perfect break for Mum and Dad after 15 hectic months with twins “C” and “H”. No supermarket visits at 10pm, no standing in front of the fridge wondering what they (and you) were having for dinner, no hectic morning or evening schedule with Mum and Dad trying to get to work on time (for once) or get the kids to bed after a long day in the office. Just pure relaxation for everyone, and a chance to spend valuable time with (and occasionally without) H and C!
The flight up was made somewhat easier courtesy of an upgrade to business class. I guess the Ansett check-in attendant took pity on the parents with bags, twin stroller, and two restless kids waiting in the longest queues ever witnessed at Melbourne airport. With extra room, H and C could basically trash a much larger area of the plane. Fortunately, business travellers were limited on our flight, and the hostesses very helpful. Of course, it’s difficult to enjoy the food, service etc in business class with a bouncing toddler on your knee throwing complimentary pencils everywhere. Plenty of cheese sticks, tetra bricks, dry biscuits etc kept us in good stead for the first two hours. However, as expected, the kid’s confinement was a little trying into the third hour of the flight. Thank God for Vallergan, although it is our misfortunate that is has never worked on H. He eventually fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion 30 mins from our destination, whilst C managed a one hour sleep.
Great to hit terra firma at Hamilton before a pretty uneventful (although somewhat rough) trip by boat to South Molle Island. We arrived on a Saturday at about lunchtime and checked in to our home for the next week – the Family rooms at South Molle are more than sufficient with a separate room for the kids, complete with cots, and a veranda with safety gate to stop two particular boys falling straight down the stairs. With two hungry kids we headed straight to the restaurant for lunch. The restaurant staff only had to see us heading in before they grabbed the highchairs and had them ready at a table for us. This exceptional service continued the entire period of our stay.
Not wanting to seem too eager, we immediately checked out the crèche on Saturday afternoon, memorizing the hours available, and effectively booking them in on the spot. Our kids had been looked after by a nanny since they were five months old, with little time spent in crèche or similar facilities. Nevertheless, H took to it like a duck to water, and instantly busied himself with the new toys, books etc. C on the other hand, always the clingier child, was not happy with his new surroundings. The crèche staff suggested a five minute walk by Mum and Dad, to see if our absence made him settle down. Unfortunately, we returned to a very upset little boy. Oh well, perhaps tomorrow it would seem more familiar (it better!).
After an attempt at crèche on Sunday morning, and again on Sunday afternoon, the staff finally won C over and we headed off for an hour long walk to the other side of the island, confident that the boys were having a good time. Indeed they did. So much so that we booked them in for Monday morning, so we could enjoy a round of golf on the 9-hole, short par course (basically ideal for amateurs like me). We picked up two very tired but happy boys and headed to lunch at midday on Monday. But before we had even ordered a drink to celebrate the start of the holiday we had dreamed about, H projectile vomited across the middle of the restaurant floor! So much for lunch. Needless to say H and I went straight to the resident nurse, who couldn’t diagnose anything particular at that stage, and home to bed for a rest. As he had had no unusual foods on the island, nor come into contact with any sick kids at the crèche, we ruled out any nasty bugs.
We spent a quiet afternoon with H recovering, and planned our activities for the next day. Dinner in the room was easy to arrange, in view of the sick child, so we had a night in. At 10.30pm that night, we were woken by the sound of a child throwing up – not H, but C, and yes you guessed it, in his cot. The same violent projective kind of throwing up as his brother. (Starting to sound suspicious????) By the next day (Tuesday), both boys seemed to have recovered, although unfortunately the crèche was out of bounds for 24 hours due to their illness, so we spent the day with them. An uneventful evening over dinner (they cleverly had a sitting for kids at 5pm and parents from 6-8pm whilst kids are in the crèche), although we were forced to do shift work with dinner because crèche was out. To cheer ourselves up we arranged for a babysitter to mind the boys on Wednesday evening so we could enjoy the only upmarket restaurant on the island.
By Wednesday morning H was clearly not well. His general state of lethargy over breakfast was of great concern, and so another visit to the nurse was arranged. By this stage I was starting to feel unwell myself, and the thought of spending half my day travelling by boat to the mainland to see a doctor was not high on my agenda. Fortunately a phone conversation with a doctor and a very sympathetic nurse allowed us a course of antibiotics to settle what appeared to be an oncoming ear infection (with a flight looming, who wants an ear infection?). And so the babysitter arrived that evening, and we left confident that the kids were finally on the mend. Arrived home to find no problems, and went to bed happy. Only until I had to make the dreaded dash mid-morning to the loo for you know what! So there goes Thursday, with still no kids in crèche, me feeling lethargic and miserable, and seriously considering getting on a plane to go home early, although who wants to fly with a gastro bug?
Friday, and with the holiday drawing to a close, we planned our last night out with the babysitter booked again. By this stage, we were all feeling better, although we sensibly stayed away from the crèche. Fortunately we were able to borrow backpacks, buckets and spades etc for the kids, so we could get out and about with C and H. After a great day with the boys we got organised for our “big night out”. No sooner had Father-of-Twins dressed, than he was looking for the nearest receptacle to throw up in. Of course we know gastro is catchy but this was ridiculous. Not wanting to be a party pooper, he cancelled the babysitter, but insisted I go out anyway while he minded the kids (if you call lying prostrate on the bed feeling shithouse minding the kids). I caught up with another couple, and had a great night, although I was sorry that hubby missed it.
By Saturday we were on the launch and on our way home. By this stage, it was the only place I wanted to be. Unfortunately it’s a little difficult to be upgraded on a flight that is fully booked (better luck next time). And so we joined the “zoo” in economy, indeed fortunate to end up with the only vacant seat on the plane between us. The kids spent the flight home standing on the meal trays and annoying the shit out of the people in front of us. Thank God they were a couple of ten year old kids, and quite entertained by H and C. I have never been happier to get off a plan than that Saturday in July. Home to the routine, our beds, the kids’ cots and high chairs, my own loo to throw up in when I want, and of course a mound of washing and a visit to the supermarket at 10pm on a Sunday night, to restock the fridge for the coming week.
Of course the faces of my colleagues told a thousand stories at news of our Holiday from Hell on Monday! In fact Rob’s company were so devastated for us that they insisted on sending us to Sydney for a child-free weekend to recover!! (And enjoy it we did).
And what may you ask did we learn from our well planned holiday? Never leave mainland Australia with young kids, never fly more than an hour with kids under 10 years of age, give up the notion that a holiday north every year is still possible with kids, and resign yourself to the sensible ways of our parents, who long ago realised that a couple of weeks on the peninsula with the kids was just as much fun, and only an hour from Melbourne if disaster strikes!!!
Ironically we just came back from another holiday in the Whitsundays at Hamilton Island – very much enjoyed by all of us this time. I do recall when we left South Molle Island some helpful staff member telling us that it was very common for mainlanders to get gastro on the island due to the poor water source. You can imagine how thrilled that made me can’t you?