I am drinking lager on the loo. My husband is hunched over his pint in the shower. We are waiting for the kids to fall asleep so we can drink like civilized people: sitting on the corridor outside the cabin. The depths to which one sinks as a parent never cease to amaze. We could have just gone to bed at the same time as the children and listened to them not falling asleep. But we are on Holiday! New place, new rules. Not all of which should be brought home.
Never having a dry moment.As the 'loo lager' incident highlights, drinking on holiday is like a reflex that won't stop giving. Muddled time zones (yes, even a one-hour difference counts) seem to make drinking acceptable at all times, and unmitigated exposure to one's family is excuse enough. Back home: Apart from the old 'turning up drunk to work is a no-no' thing, the damage to your liver and potential slide into alcoholism / clinical obesity, Sangria at lunchtime just doesn't taste as good on a grey, rainy day with a Pret sandwich and a bleary colleague.
Not washing.A rinse in the shower at the pool / beach is fine, right? You're only going swimming again in the morning. A break from the straighteners is good for your hair, you're always being told. Back home: You owe it to society to bathe. Beach hair just looks like yeech hair in the real world.
Not washing your clothes.There's nothing like having no washing machine to make you reconsider your definition of 'dirty'. "He'll only get messy again anyway", you say, as you rub that Nutella (you hope) splodge into your child's shorts. "They're in their swimsuits most of the day!" as you notice the tar from the beach on the back of his top. "Who's going to notice anyway?" as you flick the jam from your nice fresh croissant off your dress. Back home: You wash stuff. But only if it's really dirty, attempting to make small recompense to the environment for driving round and round France trying to find your campsite / an open supermarché.
Having chips with everything.Holidays used to be about sampling the local cuisine, trying new wines and being gastronomically inspired. Now we base our restaurant choices on whether they serve frites. Back home: I never want to see a chip again as long as I live. Or until next summer holiday.
Dressing unusually.The much-vexed question of when one is too old to wear a mini-skirt is irrelevant once you step on that ferry. You're on holiday! No one here knows you! Haul on the hotpants! Wear fluoro! Get your hair braided like the tweens! Just remember to change for your Facebook updates. Back home: Wear your kaftan round the house only. Over your woolly jumper and jeans.
Spending it like Monopoly.Everything is half price abroad! The pound is so strong it's straining the pocket of your hotpants! By your creaky mental arithmetic - you can't use the calculator on your phone because it's back at the gîte (you're "eschewing social media"...until you find somewhere with WiFi) - those novelty hats at 15 euros a pop cost about, well, zero pounds! Back home: Question necessity of buying sombreros for all the family. Which you then left behind. Along with the 15th spade, bucket 'n' dumptruck set you have bought as a parent. And countless uneaten 'kids' meals'.
Letting kids rule.Another ice cream? Sure! Swimming at bedtime? Dive in! Run around in nothing but pants? When in Brittany... Back home: Power is an illusion, kiddos. Now, back to bed!