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Sybilla Hart: School holiday antics

PUBLISHED: 10:16 06 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:19 06 June 2016

Back to Basics column

Back to Basics column


Sybilla Hart reflects on her new life in Essex after leaving London. This month: school holiday pandemonium

You know it’s the school holidays when you’ve sobbed your eyes out during a Disney film, someone (who will remain nameless) has broken the TV by throwing the remote at it, the toddler has racked up an enormous telephone bill by pressing redial, the car battery is flat and the car refuses to start.

What is more, someone has broken the drinks fridge by hanging off it and the moment you decide to leave the house to go to the park, the most enormous dark cloud hones into view. To add insult to injury, the sports activities you signed your children up for have been cancelled due to poor weather. All of the above actually took place within 24 hours in our household during the Easter holidays. I wasn’t quite sure whether to laugh or cry by the end of it, but one thing was for sure, my rule about no foreign travel until the toddler turns four is beginning to wear somewhat thin. You may just find that I book an illicit holiday abroad before the four years is up.

I have to stop myself dreaming about sunning myself on a golden sandy beach while the children frolic in the warm tropical sea. I would be wearing a silk sarong while the toddler is playing happily in the shade with sand. The reality would probably look more like a sunburn white blancmange of a mother screaming at her children not to attempt to drown each other while trying to keep tabs on a toddler who has wandered off to the other end of the beach to inspect the premises.

This time, in a bid to holiday at home once again, we decided to go on a few day trips, namely to visit the chapel of St Peter on the Wall at Bradwell on Sea after fish and chips for lunch at Maldon. After an hour spent dealing with jump leads and lots of phone calls to the local garage, we did eventually manage to charge the car battery and took off to the Blackwater Estuary. What a beautiful sight the chapel of St Peter on the Wall is, set against the backdrop of the marshes and sea.

We took our dog Seymour, who took advantage of the crabs only to bring them back up in the back of the Land Tover afterwards. I’m not sure that, even after the premium valet service, the Land Rover will ever be the same again. But for all the chaos and rigmarole of it all, I wouldn’t swap it for anything (although I wouldn’t say no to escaping to a spa for an afternoon).

Even though we are one TV down, the house is covered in bread dough and the piles of laundry dotted throughout the house make the place look more like student digs than a family home, I was able to pack two of my four children off back to school safe in the knowledge that they have been able to let off a bit of steam, even if that did involve breaking most of the white goods in the house.

The children have asked me when I plan to replace the TV and I am prevaricating on this decision. A month or two with no television would do nobody any harm and if I do decide to replace it, it will be one of those prehistoric indestructible things that looks like a box. I’m sorry I ever got rid of my old one. I know I sound like my grandmother, but life is so simple when you get back to basics.


Sybilla Hart is a freelance writer and mother of four. She has contributed to The Telegraph and The Lady magazine among other titles. She recently moved to North Essex from Fulham and she shares her experiences of this change of lifestyle in Essex Life. She has just passed her driving test and tries to stay on top of things with four children under the age of eight.

Follow Sybilla on Twitter: @hart_sybilla


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