It starts at the airport. No standing for ages in an untidy queue waiting to struggle your way onto your place in the ‘plane. You, your partner and baby are ushered forward, taken onto the aircraft like minor dignitaries and shown to your seats where the emergency procedures are explained.
At your destination, everyone’s prepared to make friends with you, help you in every way they can.
Out at a restaurant, your baby will be the star of the show. He may be passed round for a series of cuddles while you get on with your meal .
If you have the sense to travel with two sets of the baby’s grandparents, you may only get a chance to spend quality time with your infant after bedtime and before breakfast. This may mean you see him mainly round about 3.00 a.m. , but you can’t have everything
So that was how our holiday in la Rioja, Spain, worked out. We’d gone there with three-month-old William, his mum Sarah and dad Tom (my son), and Sarah’s parents. Daughter Emily and her boyfriend Miquel joined us from Barcelona for the weekend too. We’d chosen an area unknown to us all, which seemed worth exploring. Our base was a tiny hamlet, El Villar, whose only claim to fame is that there are dinosaur prints, lots of them, all over the place. You’ll find them by looking out for life-sized models of Tyrannosaurus Rex and similar ranging round the area. But we spent time wandering round the extraordinarily folded and buckled landscape of hills and mountains and the tiny villages perched on the slopes. There were vultures, soaring high above us on the thermals as they searched for their next meal. There were ancient towns and churches. There were Spanish lunchtimes, lazy affairs that started at 2.00 or so and carried languidly along till 4.00 or later. There were evenings of fiercely competitive card games in which the best (wo)man didn’t always win
Most of all though, there was William. He was the centrepiece of a holiday in which an extended family had the chance simply to spend time together, getting to know each other better, and having fun. Babies make good holiday companions.