Take two flagging forty-somethings; a pair of sprightly seventy-year-olds; add a silent teen(r)ager and one busy, bubbly seven year old… place them all in close proximity without TV for a week, and what do you get?

Hellish summer holiday, or Heavenly respite?

Well, how about something between the two… Six of us went sailing on the river Shannon in the heart of Ireland; and (the same!) six safely returned home to Pembrokeshire , wind blown and refreshed – despite the additional six hour wait for the ferry, due to cancellation of the catamaran courtesy of high winds (in August!!) It’s funny how life sort of changes around you, without you noticing every detail. It’s as if one day you realise that you’re no longer playing the part of child; young adult; newlywed or shocked parent. In fact you are now practising a precarious balancing act of simultaneous child and parent, whilst also having to assume responsibility for the younger and older members of the party. Perhaps that’s why it’s termed ‘middle age’ – not because you’ve necessarily reached the mid term of your life; it’s more like you’re sandwiched in the middle of a family, and having to make sure that you, as the filling, is substantial enough to create a wholesome, digestible, and sustainable consumable!

It’s like any phase of life – completely envelops you whilst you’re going through it and yet when it has (inevitably) passed, you realise the transient quality of every aspect of your life.

And as we generally tend to reminisce the past through rose- coloured spectacles, I’ll choose to remember this holiday in terms of the beauty of deep, parker-blue ink of the Shannon; the freshness of the breeze blowing my hair; and the insightful things I learned about my (Irish) family heritage – the sort of things that only crop- up during heart –to- heart conversations. I could focus on the bickering of the last biscuit in the barrel, when we were all of an hour away from the next port and fresh supplies; or the reluctance to help out on the ropes as we approached yet another lock… But I won’t.

I choose to keep alive the sense of freedom that comes with the exploring of new places; to maintain the expanse of my own personal horizon; and to incorporate the fresh outlook and new experiences into the next phase of my life.

After all, isn't that what holidays are about?