Friday, 5 August 2011

Bliss meets late night flight fandango

Hello again, I’m breaking my silence. Part of the reason for it was that last week Chris, LLC and I jetted off to Malta for a last minute break. This was our first week long family holiday of three to somewhere hot, but not too hot, we’re talking the low 30s C / high 80s/low 90s F.

And it was bliss. I rarely (if ever) swim in the sea or an outdoor pool in the UK without being cold. I get cold easily, but still. To play in the water, to make drip castles in the sand, to be generally sun kissed on a daily basis was something I’m not used to and really appreciated. And so did LLC.

I referred to my tips for taking a one-year old on a long haul flight (even though this was short haul) and unsurprisingly found that some of them weren’t applicable (no more boob on tap for take-off, no bulkhead seats on offer, etc), though armed with snacks and lightweight distractions, we had LLC happily playing on our laps.  She even sat for about half an hour in the small space by our feet on the floor. She likes small spaces. Amazingly she didn't ask to parade the cabin.  But I quickly saw what others indicated – flying with small children quickly evolves into a different ball game, even with the passing of months.

And once we arrived, LLC drank everything in and coped with the heat like a native. We made sure to bring her inside during the middle of each day for a nap and some down time, but aside from that, a UFV sun suit and hat from Konfidence and a healthy dose of sun cream each day, LLC was business as usual. Running around, exploring, splashing, chatting and people watching.

Used to city breaks and more active travelling, I felt a little strange being largely resort based though our aim for this trip was to chill out, which we did, and I can't fault the resort's convenience for a child. Everything was on our doorstep, it was easy to pop LLC upstairs for a midday nap, she could eat for free at certain times in a couple of the hotel's restaurants and we also managed to wheel her out asleep in her pushchair on the nights we went for a late dinner or evening drink. I’m not sure how much more mileage we’ll get out of that night transplant from bed to stroller and back trick, but it’s handy while it lasts! And to satisfy our want of exploring, we did rent a car and visited Mdina, Valetta, Saint Julians and much of the rugged, barren limestone that is Malta - I hadn't realised it must really be only about the size of the Isle of Wight.

Refreshed and happy, we boarded our 9:40pm flight home last night hoping LLC would conk right out. Hope springs eternal. Conk out? She freaked out! Overtired, she did not want to be strapped onto Chris or my lap for takeoff. (This highlighted to me that although she will be under 2 next time we fly to NY, we will really need to get LLC her own seat). We fortunately had an empty seat in between us she that she could claim once cruising, but oh, to get to that point. She went mental. Crying, gasping, gagging, flailing, gouging, arching. Forget the snacks and toys. She was past the point of no return. A “well meaning” flight attendant, who I’m sure didn’t have children, asked "didn’t have any toys to share with her?" Had she not noticed the book or teddy that just flew through the air when proffered?

Finally, once we were allowed to unclip LLC, she moved to her “own” seat but took about 2 hours of the 3 hour flight to settle.  She kept laying down, popping up, cuddling us, standing up on the seat, trying to climb on us, all the while clearly tired but the well lit cabin didn’t exactly scream sleep. Unlike the long haul red eye flights to NY, there was  no dimming of the cabin lights.

So would we do it again? Most definitely; I'm not a resort-only type of person who can spend all day by a pool but definitely enjoyed the change of pace and the convenience of it. Ideally I'd mix these types of holidays with more adverture/exploring ones, probably "harder" with children but still near and dear to our hearts (and hopefully LLC's if she gets a taste for them growing up).  The only thing I would reconsider is taking a short haul night flight home – after a long day we were all tired but the environment didn’t invite rest and I quickly found my zen state fading fast.  The forever learning curve continues.
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