Just returned from a week away in the wondrous climes of South Devon and, surprisingly for the UK the weather was actually acceptable (for us this means only half the days begin with rain/snow/Tsunamis). What this meant was the opportunity for what is known as a 'traditional holiday.'
Now clearly traditions vary across the world and indeed country. For some traditional holiday means incinerating upper layer of dermis and drinking until they are incontinent whilst the kids steal their cigs. For others it may involve exclusive hotels with a fabulous view of the poor (preferably within rock range). And for others Scrabble and domestics in a two berth caravan.
For the Kitsons it means something akin to the holidays I had as a child. I had a great upbringing, and part of that evolution was our summer holidays. For me it was Norfolk- a hotel in a small village near Cromer, which several families used to go to every year. It was beaches, and sea, and ice cream, and windbreaks, and imaginary adventures with my brother in the woods around the hotel. The wife's was similar, agreeably between Northern Victorian resorts like Scarborough and southern tranquility of Dorset.
In this day and age of data, electronic gadgets and Internet it feels almost more important to get back to basics. Where we go in Devon has an advantage of Mobile phone dropouts galore and no 3G. It's like an Internet void. And in an effort to capitalise this we had a hefty restriction on all gadgets in the family- no tablets, phones, 3DS etc- for most daylight time. And that extended to me: I left the phone in the cottage most days, and only picked up urgent messages on my return. It trod the fine line between liberating and unnerving ("what if my house is blown away by a tornado to Oz and someone needs to let me know..?")
And the 'tradition' that act honoured was to create some space, some opportunity, wherein my kids and me could find some common-time. Goofy stuff with sand, seaweed, buckets, shells and sea so cold it eliminated the prospect of a fourth child once and for all. Because as I lumber into middle-age I have become acutely aware that time sifts through my bony digits at an accelerating rate. Big Son is hitting High School this autumn, and although his geekiness ensures we will maintain common interests for a good few years yet, gradually his friends and girlfriends will supplement my place in his life.
Seems like a moment ago he popped out a worrying shade of blue and wailed baby-tongue for "welcome to the rest of your life, dude."
So I suppose the tradition of spending time with the kids without them tutting about me interrupting Minecraft is what we aspired to achieve. And I think, as I trawl through 500 e-mails and face a Twitter-mountain, that we managed it well. With the added bonus of ice-cream, of course. And a castle... always a castle...