Last year I wrote a blog post for Sue that detailed some of my family’s experiences on vacation. And though my husband and I are tempted to stop going on vacation because of said experiences, we keep doing it. Maybe we just have a thing for pain.
So in the spirit of embracing the unexpected, my family and I will be visiting the United Kingdom later this year in the fervent hope that our trip will go better than it did the last time.
Before you say That’s great! or You’ll have so much fun!, let me take a moment to tell you about our last vacation. Not the last time we went to the UK—just our last vacation. Period.
We went to Hawaii. I know—gorgeous, everything is in bloom, the weather is perfect, the blue Pacific, blah blah blah.
The night before we left we stayed in a hotel near the airport. The morning of our flight, the first few minutes set the tone for the trip. One of my children refused to get out of bed. The other two lambasted me for snoring, though I continue to maintain they were both dreaming. The conversation went a little something like this.
Kid 1: “Mom, thanks to your snoring I had the worst night of sleep I ever had.”
Kid 2, not to be outdone, made unbearable grunting noises, as if in imitation of the sounds I had allegedly made during the night. “I didn’t sleep at all.”
Kid 1: “No, seriously. Every time you inhaled it was deafening, then you ended every exhale with this huge explosion of noise.”
Dad (really? He couldn’t leave well enough alone?): “It was actually pretty bad.”
I guess he had the same dream.
We finally managed to get Kid 3 out of bed with the promise of getting breakfast at the airport.
I was the only one not chosen for TSA pre-check.
We sat on the tarmac for several hours before departing, meaning we missed the connecting flight even before we were off the ground. My husband was furious, but I had taken a Xanax because of my crippling fear of flying.
I woke up to Kid 1 staring at me. “Are we in the air?” I asked groggily.
My husband glared daggers at me, as if I somehow caused the flight delay. “No, and we’ve missed our connecting flight already.”
“Well, it is what it is. We can’t do anything about it now,” I said in a singsong voice, lolling my head back. But then the Xanax started to wear off and before long I was in a full-blown panic, feeding off my husband’s stress. Blessedly, the kids knew better than to ask a lot of questions or, God forbid, start fighting.
Long story short, we ended up getting a connecting flight on a different airline to another city, then getting on another connecting flight to Hawaii. We only arrived eight hours late.
Over the course of the next two weeks, one child never left his room (unless under duress) except to eat, use the bathroom, and go to the pool after dark each evening to hang out with some new friends from Canada. One child was never home, opting instead to be on the cell phone every single second in places where we could neither hear nor even find her. The third child stayed home, but slept during the day and talked on the phone at night.
The day we made them all get in the car to visit the volcano you would have thought we had threatened to sacrifice them. The complaints from the back seats (when we travel we get minivans with three rows to keep them separated) ranged from “I hate hiking. Why do we all have to go?” to “Why do we have to do things together?” to “I can’t believe how boring this is.”
You’re jealous, I know. But the fun doesn’t stop there.
One night I was sleeping on the couch so I could hear my son when he came home from the pool. Turns out I didn’t hear him come in—with three friends. Instead, I woke up to a blinding light in my eyes and my son saying, “Mom, don’t move. I put a baby gecko on your face and I’m trying to video it. Oh, by the way, these are my friends.”
“Nice to meet you, boys,” I murmured, trying not to move. “Get the gecko off my face, please.”
“But he’s so cute,” my son said. “I don’t want to move him.”
Did I mention our kitchen also caught on fire when my husband and I were out to dinner? My son managed to put the fire out before any significant damage was done, though I should hasten to add that the fire wasn’t his fault. It was his sister’s fault, though I won’t say here which sister.
All in all, I would say it was a pretty typical vacation. Amid choruses of “Can we take one of those feral cats home?” and “Why can’t I go hang gliding?” and “Don’t look now, but I may have said something rude to those local kids and now they want to kill us,” we managed to get home without injuries or major legal incidents. Only one leg of our trip home was cancelled and when we got back to the airport we only had to wait an hour or so for the guy from AAA to come and start my car for me because the battery was dead.
So to say I’m looking forward to our trip to the UK (which we planned and paid for prior to going to Hawaii) is a stretch. But just like all our other trips, we’re bound to have something to laugh about later. Much later. Hopefully.
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About the author
Amy M. Reade is a cook, chauffeur, household CEO, doctor, laundress, maid, psychiatrist, warden, seer, teacher, and pet whisperer. In other words, a wife, mother, and recovering attorney. But she also writes (how could she not write with that last name?) and is the author of The Malice Series (The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross), three standalone books (Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade), and a cozy mystery (The Worst Noel). She lives in southern New Jersey, but loves to travel. Her favorite places to visit are Scotland and Hawaii and when she can’t travel she loves to read books set in far-flung locations.
Her new book, Murder in Thistlecross, Book 3 of the Malice Series, is now available:
Eilidh Cameron comes to Wales from the Scottish Highlands following a tragic and bitter divorce. As the house manager for a centuries-old castle in the village of Thistlecross, it’s her job to make sure the three sons of Annabel Baines are comfortable and entertained while they and their spouses visit Annabel. And as Annabel’s friend, it’s her fear that Annabel’s sons are hiding something. From the moment the first son arrives with his wife, it’s clear there are tensions in the family that will have to be resolved for the sake of peace in the castle. And when a shocking murder takes place, Eilidh feels it is her duty to remain at the castle to help Annabel through the painful aftermath. But Eilidh’s fierce devotion to Annabel may prove to be more dangerous than she could have imagined.
Other books by Amy M. Reade
It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Greer Dobbins’ daughter has been kidnapped—and spirited across the Atlantic to a hiding place in Scotland. Greer will do anything to find her, but the streets of Edinburgh hide a thousand secrets—including some she’d rather not face.
Art historian Dr. Greer Dobbins thought her ex-husband, Neill, had his gambling addiction under control. But in fact he was spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. When a group of shady lenders threatens to harm the divorced couple’s five-year-old daughter if he doesn’t pay up, a desperate Neill abducts the girl and flees to his native Scotland. Though the trail seems cold, Greer refuses to give up and embarks on a frantic search through the medieval alleys of Edinburgh—a city as beguiling as it is dangerous. But as the nightmare thickens with cryptic messages and a mysterious attack, Greer herself will become a target, along with everyone she holds dear.
Trading the urban pace of Edinburgh for a tiny village overlooking a breathtaking blue loch was a great move for budding photographer Sylvie Carmichael and her artist husband, Seamus—until a dangerous crime obscures the view . . .
Sylvie’s bucolic life along the heather-covered moors of the Highlands is a world away from the hectic energy of the city. But then a London buyer is killed after purchasing a long-lost Scottish masterpiece from Seamus’s gallery—and the painting vanishes. As suspicion clouds their new life, and their relationship, Sylvie’s search for answers plunges her into an unsolved mystery dating back to Cromwellian Scotland through World War I and beyond. And as she moves closer to the truth, Sylvie is targeted by a murderer who’s after a treasure within a treasure that could rewrite history . . . and her own future.
“You are not wanted here. Go away from Hallstead Island or you will be very sorry you stayed.”
Macy Stoddard had hoped to ease the grief of losing her parents in a fiery car crash by accepting a job as a private nurse to the wealthy and widowed Alexandria Hallstead. But her first sight of Hallstead House is of a dark and forbidding home. She quickly finds its winding halls and shadowy rooms filled with secrets and suspicions. Alex seems happy to have Macy’s help, but others on the island, including Alex’s sinister servants and hostile relatives, are far less welcoming. Watching eyes, veiled threats. . .slowly, surely, the menacing spirit of Hallstead Island closes in around Macy. And she can only wonder if her story will become just one of the many secrets of Hallstead House. . .
Praise for Amy M. Reade’s Secrets of Hallstead House
“Danger, mystery, a brave but resilient heroine, and a hero at her side, coupled with a house that is almost a character in its own right: these classic gothic romances are all to be found in Amy Reade’s debut novel.” —heroesandheartbreakers.com
“Do you know what stories Sarah could tell you about the things that happened in these little cabins? They’d curl that pretty red hair of yours.”
Outside of Charleston, South Carolina, beyond hanging curtains of Spanish moss, at the end of a shaded tunnel of overarching oaks, stands the antebellum mansion of Peppernell Manor in all its faded grandeur. At the request of her friend Evie Peppernell, recently divorced Carleigh Warner and her young daughter Lucy have come to the plantation house to refurbish the interior. But the tall white columns and black shutters hide a dark history of slavery, violence, and greed. The ghost of a former slave is said to haunt the home, and Carleigh is told she disapproves of her restoration efforts. And beneath the polite hospitality of the Peppernell family lie simmering resentments and poisonous secrets that culminate in murder—and place Carleigh and her child in grave danger…
A dark presence had invaded the Jorgensens’ house. On a spectacular bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, something evil is watching and waiting . . .