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Honest, no-holds-barred holiday review from the kids - Al Fresco Holidays

WHENEVER my brood gets back from holiday we have an inquest.

Not immediately, but usually about six months or so after we return, when the constant rain, the chill-winds of winter and the dark British nights make us hark back fondly to those warm summer evenings on the Costa Brava or the sparkling sunshine of Italy’s Venetian Riviera in August.

That’s when we measure how good our last family holiday was. And that’s when we remind ourselves, as parents, that it is not necessarily the cost of a holiday that ultimately makes it great and memory-laden.

More often than not it is the very simple things that form the strongest memories.

Ask the children. After all they’re the ones who will carry those family holiday memories – the stories with which they will regale their own children one-day in the future – the furthest.

We do it routinely now.

Ask the children. You’ll get a succinct, direct and honest assessment every time. Children are the best and the harshest of holiday critics. Sometimes they’re so direct they’d make Judith Chalmers blush.

If something doesn’t cut the mustard they’ll say so in glorious techni-coloured detail.

We’d planned all sorts to keep the kids – aged 13, 12, and seven – occupied when we visited the Thomson Al Fresco site at Castell Montgri on the Costa Brava a year or so ago. Day trips to nearby Barcelona, expensive meals out at nearby Estartit’s swankiest family restaurants, boat rides – everything and anything to make the trip as memorable as possible.

We needn’t have worried.

Two things stand out from that lovely holiday – yes, we’ve done our inquest and it gets a huge thumbs up from everyone concerned (so much so we’re talking about going back to a location for the first time ever in our family history) – the incredible panorama swimming pool at Castell Montgri and a tiny, almost anonymous family run, typically Spanish, cheap as chips restaurant in Estartit town called Restaurant Fancy.

Time and again the children remind us of how this little gem of a family restaurant was host to our “best night out”.

“Remember the lovely steak, Dad. It’s the best I’ve had,” is my 12-year-old son’s favourite line.

“They were just so lovely. The food was gorgeous. And we had ice-cream,” my daughter reminds us. Constantly.

“Did you remember me jumping in?” asks my seven-year-old son when he recalls the sunny days, filled with swimming pool adventures and childhood firsts.

The meal at Restaurant Fancy was the cheapest of the entire holiday, by some distance. And the pool – well it was free, wasn’t it. It was the hub of our holiday daytimes.

Needless to say, it looks like we’re going back to Castell Montgri. The kids have said so. Which tends, in our house at least, to mean it is happening.

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