If I’d married someone just like me, we’d have gone on holidays to Italy (we did), to a campsite (we did), to drink Prosecco on the deck every night (we did).
But being married to that person just like me would have meant quite a different holiday for the kids – no scary slides, no scuba diving lessons, no kayaking, and probably no bike hire.
In fact, when my husband first told me that the campsite we’d booked is quite big and most people hire bikes to get around, I shook my head and said “Do you even know our kids? Do you even know me?” No way was I spending two weeks cycling – something I hadn’t done in 20 years.
And as for the kids – we have one over-confident cyclist to the point of being dangerous, one under-confident cyclist to the point of being dangerous, and one who uses stabilizers and then asks to be carried half-way around the block.
“You can hire a bike and bring us everything we need,” I suggested, only half joking.
But just a few hours after arriving in Marina di Venezia, it was clear that walking everywhere was going to be a challenge. A 12 minute walk to the shops and 15 to the pools would be a step (pardon the pun) too far, especially carrying shopping, swimming bags, and a reluctant four-year-old.
So I gave in, and agreed that if the rest of them were getting bikes, I may as well too. I took hold of the bike outside the rental shop and looked at it suspiciously. I’m not a cyclist, I thought. This isn’t happening. And then just like that, off we went, and I was a cyclist again. It’s true what they say, you never forget.
And for many reading this, hiring bikes won’t sound like any real kind of boundary pushing, but for me, it really was. And once I got past panicking about the girls crashing into strangers or each other, I even began to enjoy it. Actually, it was going to be quite a practical way to get to the shop and the pool and the beach.
Oh, and to go out at night too, said my husband.
Now. This could be a step too far. I had dresses with me. And gold sandals (flat, I should add). And I planned to drink wine. And none of these seemed to fit very well with cycling. But my arguments felt flimsy, so this time, I didn’t make them at all.
I put on my dress and my gold sandals and my game face, and got on the bike. I cycled down to the restaurant with everyone else, and realised that you absolutely can cycle in dresses and gold sandals, and that everyone on the campsite was doing so. I also realised that the amount of wine you can drink and still safely ride a bike is about the same as the amount you can drink and still safely mind your own children.
I’m glad I didn’t marry someone like me, or I’d have missed out on one of the loveliest parts of the holiday. He is possibly sorry he did marry someone like me, after a badly planned epic journey to Verona. But I’d like to think I bring something to the marriage too. Like Prosecco maybe.