Rain on our holiday parade certain to ruin the occasion
If I asked what you considered the most important thing about a holiday you'd come up with a dozen suggestions.
But I reckon it is the weather that ranks top. No party-pooper on earth can spoil a holiday like bad weather. I know people who have returned home drenched after what was meant to be a sunny week on the Gold Coast, to bravely say "oh, the weather doesn't matter, there was lots of other stuff to do besides sitting on the beach”. Really?
Even if you avoid the beach because of your delicate skin, you still want to see it at its best, not deserted and lonely with the rain pelting down on the sand and the sea the colour of milky coffee.
It doesn't matter if your holiday doesn't involve a sunny beach or tropical resort, grey skies, cold winds and drenching rain can spoil everything from a city excursion, a hiking trip to a cultural vacation.
Who wants to wander along Paris' Champs Elysees under an umbrella? Stroll through Melbourne's glorious botanical gardens in a raincoat? Gaze up to Gaudi's quirky buildings in Barcelona through a solid mist? Nothing is as good, interesting or exciting when the sun doesn't shine.
We've had more than our share of holidays ruined by the weather, but still we brave on, because once we've made our plans we are loathe to back out.
My daughter had this attitude recently when she and her family said: "We are going camping on the Noosa River, we don't care what the weather is like.” It was the first week of the school holidays and she and her husband had taken precious time off work to go camping with their young children. Plans had been made and had to be carried out.
Every one of the five days they were away, the rain fell down from grey skies, the wind shook the trees and frothed up waves on the normally calm river.
I cursed and cried for her. Three children and two adults in a tent in an empty camping ground with relentless rain does not make for good holiday memories - even if you have stuck your head out of the soggy tent each morning, looked up to the heavy skies and sang "the sun will come out tomorrow” with all the optimism of a ginger-haired Annie.
In a resort in Phuket one year on a convention with a group of travel writers I was not particularly bothered about the dreadful weather, there was too much conferencing going on. But each day I looked out of my window to forbidding skies and lashing rain and watched a lonely family sit by the deserted pool determined to get their money's worth out of their holiday. They sat on sun-lounges with the rain pounding them, got up, dived into the pool, sat down on the lounges again to be pounded once more. At least towels were not necessary.
My worst bad-weather experience is embedded in the memory. Me, my sister, my three very young children, her three even younger children in a caravan by the river in Yarrawonga on Victoria and NSW border.
The men had gone back to the city to work (lucky them) and we stayed on for another week of fun and sun. Torrential rain came the minute they left, rain so solid it was impossible to put the head out the door let alone make the hike over to the toilet block. The toddlers' potty was called into use by all of us ... but who to empty it? I'll say no more.
All we could do as we watched the river flood and flow and take with it our outside chairs, esky, sun umbrella, was sing "the sun will come out tomorrow...hey, whose turn is it to empty the potty?”
Read more of Ann at www.annrickard.com