Picnik collage

Some holidays change your life forever. I don’t mean you come back the colour of roasted flamingo and 10 pounds heavier from eating your own body-weight at the all inclusive buffet; I mean the best holidays alter your outlook so you come back a new person.

The hospital where Mark was born

My life changing holiday happened in Gibraltar, on a family trip to celebrate my brother Mark’s thirtieth birthday. This was a dream holiday because the destination meant so much to us. Mark was born in Gibraltar while my Dad was stationed there with the navy. I’d like to point out that while he can claim such a glamorous background I started life in somewhat colder Dunfermline. I always think this explains why he has a year round tan, while my milk bottle legs scarcely alter beyond pasty white .

The Rock Hotel

We stayed at the sumptuous Rock Hotel which nestles snugly underneath the Rock of Gibralter. For my parents this was a lifelong dream which didn’t disappoint. My mum used to push the pram up the steep path past the hotel everyday and imagine diving into the pool.  The rooms were the most luxurious I have stayed in, with amazing views across the Bay of Gibraltar. However the grand colonial style of the hotel was lost on my young nephew. For him the best part was the monkey shaped room keys.

ice cream
A British pub

monkeyAlthough attached to Spain, Gibraltar is a British oversees territory and in some ways it feels like you have never left home. There is a popular myth that while there are Barbary Macaques in Gibralter it will remain under British rule. If that’s the case then nothing will change, as there are monkeys everywhere. You have to be careful as one particularly cheeky monkey stole my Dad’s pen and is probably writing his memoirs with it at this very moment.

Across the boarder

In order to experience a taste of a different culture we travelled across the boarder into the Spanish town of La Línea de la Concepción. This was a shock: one minute you’re in what seems like a normal British town, albeit with more monkeys, the next you’re in a foreign land. We enjoyed mooching round the busy market selling everying from antiques to fresh fruit and the highlight was eating fresh seafood overlooking the vast sandy beach.


This holiday shines in my memory as a haven of peace and relaxation. We spent a lot of time reading by the swimming pool, the water of which was saltwater, ice cold and every bit as refreshing as my mum had imagined.

So what did I learn which changed my life? At the centre of everything was my little nephew. It was time with him which made the holiday so enjoyable. Back home our lives had a child-shaped hole.


Within a few months we had crossed the boarder of our carefree childless life and were in the foreign land of parenthood. Nothing was ever the same again.

before after

This is my entry into the Tots 100/Al Fesco competition to win a family holiday with Al Fresco