Family Holiday Essentials - Al Fresco Holidays

My gang has been guests of Thomson Al Fresco for the past two summers.

We’ve enjoyed lazy summer days and lovely hazy nights at their parcs Pra Delle Torri in Caorle on the Venetian Riviera and Castell Montgri Estartit in Northern Spain.

We wouldn’t swap those weeks for the world.

And we’ve learned a thing or two.

Like, no holiday is complete without a football and a hairdryer.

Let me qualify this statement. If you have two young boys – 13 and 8 – and a teenage daughter – 14 – a football and a hairdryer should be the first things on your ‘to pack’ list.

If they’re not – you’re doing it wrong.

I’d go as far to say they’re holiday essentials. Certainly as essential as clothes.

You wouldn’t go out without clothes. And, if you’re a 14-year-old girl, you will simply refuse to go out unless you’ve spent the best part of two hours perfecting that retro 1980s ‘big’ hair-do with your hairdryer.

Trust me on this. Forget the hairdryer and you may as well turn round and go home if you have a teenage daughter in tow.

So, the football? There were a few nights I’d like to have thrown it at the teenage daughter. However, that wasn’t its primary use in either Italy or Spain.

Anyone who has young boys will tell you they have more energy than is humanly possible at the most inconvenient times of day and night. The ‘f’ word was invented for teenage boys – Fidget, of course. They never stop.

But, give them a football and they’ll tire themselves out without destroying your lovely Thomson Al Fresco holiday cabin, without teasing the teenage daughter to within an inch of killing her brothers and without picking fights with each other over who gets to sit on which chair on the decking outside the holiday home.

That football cost me the princely sum of €4 from the site shop at Castell Montgri in Estartit and it was the best cash I have spent in ten years of holidaying. Like Tom Hanks in Castaway, I gave it a name – The Moderator.

It became our family holiday superhero, like a spherical Arnold Schwarzenegger, ready to jump in and ease the tension whenever it arose. It became part of the family. I almost served it dinner one night.

Oh, and the vino. End of the day, kids in bed, lovely, warm, balmy Mediterranean night air around us. Mum and dad knocked back a bottle and slept soundly.

What are your tips for keeping kids of different ages happy on holiday?

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