It started when my husband suggested I might want a coffee rather than an ice cream. There are no circumstances under which this would be seen as an innocent menu alternative, but when you’re standing in a bikini on a bronzed-French-teenager-filled riverside beach half way through your hard-earned summer holiday, any implication that you should be concerned about your calorie intake is devastating to say the least.
The key words here are ‘half way though’. Had he attempted this suggestion a few days before we were coming home I probably would have rolled my eyes and reluctantly agreed to the coffee, no further discussion needed. But he picked the exact point of Mid-Holiday Melancholy, and he should have known better.
In normal life, feeling a bit tense, irritable, overweight, under appreciated is, well, normal life. But when these emotions appear after a week of holiday frolics, it’s unacceptable and hugely disappointing. And it’s then that I start to notice the cracks.
The wonderful feeling of freedom when the children insist that only normally-at-work Daddy sits next to them at dinner every evening has been replaced with the lonely suspicion that you’re a disliked and overpowering mother. And the expectation of fully replenished sleep banks has been replaced with the reality of aching temples and blood-shot eyes after endless happy nights sitting on the balmy patio drinking wine.
At Mid-Holiday point, I start to become emotionally burdened by the extra half stone that I promised myself last year I’d never bring away again. And I realise that none of the clothes I feel young, floaty and elegant in on holiday will ever make it out of the holiday bag at the bottom of my wardrobe in London.
But worst of all, the excited shouts of ‘That one!’ – which punctuate every car journey as each member of the family chooses their favourite rambling French farmhouse and reveals their master plan for a hermit farming existence or super tricky sunflower maze – make me question every single lifestyle decision I’ve ever made. I start to feel real melancholy about leaving behind all our friends and family to begin the new life that clearly everyone else desires so desperately, and only my love of a supermarket-in-walking-distance is preventing.
I don’t know whether MHM is a global phenomenon or a private world of pain, but luckily after a few hours of staring wistfully out of the car window it passes and I’m thrown, pulse racing, back into the holiday spirit. And I spot the perfect location for my boutique rural hotel. The A-list will love it.