WE might not seem like the most rebellious family, but in just one morning on holiday we managed to break pretty much every swimming pool rule – and there were A LOT of rules.
After a long journey to France we expected Santi and Ezra to have a lie in, giving us a chance to unpack and make a plan of things we’d like to do during the week. Nope. We were all up with the larks, full of croissants and exploring the Domaine des Naiades site by 9am. Santi had been looking forward to going swimming since we booked and had caught a glimpse of the water as we drove in the night before, so he was raring to go.
It was a lovely sleepy morning – you know, for people who don’t have children – and we passed middle-aged couples enjoying breakfast on their decking, and campers just rousing from their tents as we shattered the peace with Santi demanding we march like the elephants on The Jungle Book.
Encouraging holiday lay-ins, the pool didn’t open until 10am, so we had an hour to pass … and ended up discovering Santi’s new love – petanque. It’s a French form of boules, and not a sport (can you call it a sport?) you’d expect a two-year-old to be into, but he LOVED it. He quickly caught on to throwing the black ball and then trying to get the other balls as close as possible to it. Of course Stew wouldn’t just let him win, even though he’d never played before, so he also had a lesson in losing graciously. Not being a pushy parent or anything, Stew has already calculated which year Santi is going to be an Olympic medal winning petanque player…
Despite all the nagging to go swimming, it was a bit of a mission dragging Santi away from petanque and then the basketball court where he decided to have a quick game of . He asked to play every day, and we ended up watching locals playing most days in the town squares … he couldn’t get enough!
We eventually got to the pool, and were faced with a Takeshi’s Castle style obstacle course just to get in. First, there was the round of (potentially wet) tiled stairs which we had to get down with Santi, Ezra in the buggy, our huge bag, Santi’s pre-blown up arm bands and the lilo we’d borrowed from the Eurocamp office. Having safely made it to the bottom, we had a “foot bath” to contend with … a river of water blocking the path to the children’s pool and leading along to the entrance to the main pool. This was too deep to push the buggy through, so one of us had to walk through with Santi, go back through to carry the buggy between us while watching to make sure he didn’t get in the water alone, and finally get the bag and lilo. Those French certainly make you work for your fun!
This is where all the rules came in. Along the footpath was a list of dos and don’ts, which we made light work of breaking.
- No suncream
- No food or drink
- No inflatables (there went the lilo we’d borrowed five minute earlier)
- No shoes
- No shorts
And so on…
The first rule we broke was no suncream … in 25 degree sun and a swimming pool with no shade we instantly cracked open the factor 50. Secondly, it was snack time, so out came the biscuits and juice, breaking the no food and drink rule. We ditched the illegal lilo, and Stew went on to commit the worst crime of all, which saw him banned from the big pool for the week.
The appeal of the main pool was too much for Santi and we were soon on the move. It was safer for Stew to take him and Ezra first while I went back and fore carrying our things through that damn foot bath. Feeling like a donkey, by the time I got there Stew was having a stern “non” with a shake of the head from a strict looking lifeguard. A few snacks and some suncream they can accept, wearing swimming shorts on the other hand is just too much to handle. Stew’s lack of Speedos meant he was banished to the sun beds.
There went my plans of relaxing with a book and I was on pool duty. Santi didn’t seem to mind that he was stuck with the less fun parent and immediately threw himself into the water. There was no shallow end, so luckily the no inflatables rule didn’t extend to arm bands, but he wasn’t put off … he was jumping in off the side, then off a higher ledge, and trying to swim the width of the pool. He really is a water baby.
The pool was heated so it was nice and warm, unlike most on holiday when you end up shivering in the water. I was relieved because we were in there for so long we’d have turned blue! Santi enjoyed so much that even when we tried to leave (with the excellent reason that the pool closed for lunch … not a lie, for the cynics among you) he made a break for it and launched himself back in.
And best thing about all that activity? A nice long afternoon nap!