The Easter Holiday

Supplied © A lovely old caravan with bunting outside to illustrate our family short story


Booking an Easter break in haste meant that Jenny’s family were going to have to adjust their expectations…

The sun drizzled sparkles over Honeybrook Cove’s clear blue waters and sugar sand beaches. On the cliff top above, a lush green field packed with holiday lodges, caravans, and wildflowers was abuzz with happy campers enjoying their Easter holidays.

Huddled at the edge of the campsite, a family dressed in shorts, T-shirts and trainers peered across a small wooden gate into an adjoining field. The grass here was straggly and overgrown, except for a thin sandal-trodden path winding up to an old, abandoned caravan. The campsite manager offered a hesitant smile.

“Welcome to Honeybrook Cove.”

Jenny barely heard him. Her heart sank into her trainers as she gazed upon her family’s home for the Easter break.

She clutched her face in her hands. No! How could their holiday have gone so terribly wrong?

The lid slammed down on the crammed car boot; suitcases, beach towels, rucksacks, and a hamper full of secret Easter eggs squeezed into every nook and cranny of the family’s shiny estate car.

“Right, are we sure we’ve got everything?” Jenny’s anxious eyes flicked between their house and the car. Her stress levels had been sky-high lately.

Her husband, Martin, wrapped a reassuring arm around her waist.

Relax. There’s absolutely no room left in the car for anything else anyway, other than happy faces, of course.

“Yeah, come on, Mum, smile for the camera,” chuckled Lois, their teenage daughter, snapping her camera phone at them as younger sister Ava dived to the front of the picture pulling a silly face.

“Yeah, like this!”

Lois spun her phone screen round displaying the photo shot. As they all burst out laughing Jenny felt the strain of the last few months slowly starting to lift.

Since the start of the year, their life had been a whirlwind of changes. Due to a well-deserved work promotion for Jenny, the family had moved two counties away from their hometown.

It had been disruptive to say the least: the house move, the girls starting new schools, Jenny taking on more responsibility in her new role at the marketing agency.

Fortunately Martin worked from home, so apart from the occasional commute to his office, he and Jenny could still share school runs and running the household.

It was only in the last few weeks the family had felt settled in their new routines. Martin had a new social group at the golf club and the girls gained new friendship groups and enjoyed after school clubs.

Jenny, however, had been struggling; her new job was far more time-consuming than she’d anticipated, and she felt guilty for spending less time with her family. It had all been rush, rush, rush lately.

That’s why she’d booked the holiday lodge at Honeybrook Cove for their Easter holidays. With pictures online showing off its hidden sandy cove, bright blue sea, surf shack and beach bistro, not to mention the brand new holiday lodges with hot tubs and barbecues just in for the Easter break, it was the perfect place for Jenny to finally spend some quality time with her family.

Hurriedly clicking back onto the website between work calls a few weeks prior to Easter, Jenny selected the Super Deluxe Lodge and tapped in her credit card details. Just as an email from the campsite popped into her inbox, her next work call came in; she scrabbled to answer it, telling herself she’d check the confirmation email later.

The estate car crunched through Honeybrook Cove’s clifftop holiday park, Lois and Ava peering through the open back windows.

“This place looks amazing!”

Some children, eating ice creams outside the site shop, waved as the car rolled slowly past. Surf boards, wetsuits, fishing nets and bright inflatable unicorns covered the shop’s outside walls, while rainbow spin wheels, pirate flags and pastel bunting spelling out HAPPY EASTER! billowed in the clifftop breeze.

“They’ve got an outside swimming pool!” Lois looked impressed as they drove past a large heated pool complete with helter-skelter fun slides. “And look, some of those lodges have even got hot tubs on their verandas. Will ours?”

Jenny’s head spun proudly from the passenger seat, Martin’s smile reflecting in the rear view mirror.

“Of course! I promised my family a five star holiday, didn’t I?”

Trevor, the campsite manager, tapped his computer keys again, brow furrowing. “I’m sorry, but I definitely don’t have a booking for you here.”

Jenny swiped her phone, irritated.

“You must have; I booked a Super Deluxe Lodge for a family of four, weeks ago. Look! Here’s the confirmation.” She clicked on an unread email headed HONEYBROOK COVE BOOKING. “See?” She tilted her phone so Trevor could see, clicked on it and assertively read out: “Your booking for a Super Deluxe Cabin at Honeybrook Cove has –”

Her face paled.

“– has not been successful due to payment error.” Trevor finished reading aloud the email, as an uncomfortable silence descended over reception.

“That can’t be right!” Jenny protested. “I remember…”

A flashback of how busy she’d been that day came rushing back to her. She’d forgotten to check the confirmation.

Martin rubbed his hand over his face.

“You’ve used the wrong credit card. Remember we were sent new ones a few weeks ago when the dates expired? You must have typed the old number in.”

Jenny stared around her family’s disappointed faces, and desperately tried not to burst into tears.

“Mum, is our holiday cancelled?” Lois and Ava exchanged worried glances.

“No!” said Jenny, pulling herself together. “Of course not. We’ll just book a lodge now.” She reached for her purse.

Trevor shook his head awkwardly. He really did feel for the family.

“We’re fully booked, I’m afraid. There’s nothing I can offer you.”

“OK, so we’ll drive around and see if something is available at another park.” Jenny looked to Martin, panicking.

“Jen, it’s Easter weekend. Everywhere will be fully booked.”

Jenny clutched the counter, desperation filming her eyes.

“You must have something? It needn’t be a Super Deluxe Lodge. We’ll take anything.”

Trevor hesitated, thinking.

“Well, there is one caravan I suppose you could hire. But it’s, err, a bit older than the others. I wouldn’t normally offer it. It used to be my family’s holiday caravan.”

“That’s fine. We’ll take it,” blurted Jenny, relief calming her throbbing forehead. Panic over!

“What is that?” Lois’ horrified voice echoed what the rest of the family were silently thinking as they stared at the little old caravan in the wild field.

“Not a Super Deluxe Lodge with wraparound veranda and luxury hot tub.” Jenny’s voice was barely a whisper.

“No – though some might say it’s better,” said Trevor. “You’re looking at a 1987 Frontier Tow 4 Berth, right there.”

“NO. WAY,” said Lois, her tone suggestive of someone who’d rather eat her own toenails than live in a caravan like that for an entire week.

“Yes, way!” enthused Trevor, misinterpreting her reaction. “It’s a beauty, isn’t it! You’ve got your drop-down bunk beds at the back. The dining table and seating area folds up into a double bed. Then there’s your kitchen units, hob and mini fridge, a cupboard and toilet opposite – all the mod cons you could wish for!”

Martin stifled a snort of laughter.

“Looks great, doesn’t it, Jen?”

Jenny glared at her husband.

“Righty-ho then,” said Trevor, handing Jenny the caravan key, making to leave. “Enjoy. And, err,” he pointed to the ancient locked gate which had wonky treads poking out of it, “mind how you go climbing over the stile.”

“We’re not staying here, are we?” Lois looked aghast.

Four sets of eyes peered inside the old caravan. It was clean and didn’t smell musty, that was something to be thankful for, thought Jenny. But it was tiny, and with all its original features she felt she’d just been dropped back into the 1980s.

Mum-guilt swept over her – she’d let her family down and spoiled their Easter.

“I like it,” said Ava, excited at the idea of bunk beds. “Bagsy the top bunk!”

Lois rolled her eyes.

“That’s the spirit, Ava.” Martin smiled. “And Lois, weren’t you saying in the car that you wanted fresh pics for social media? You can have retro holiday vibes.”

Lois gazed around the caravan, her dubious eyes trying to see it in a new light.

Martin squeezed his wife’s shoulder, while peering out of the wide front windows.

Hey, come on, Jen. It’s not what we expected, but look around. We’ve got a field to ourselves, and look at that view!

The family leaned across the brown velour seating, following his gaze out to Honeybrook Cove’s stunning horizon. As the grassy field petered down towards the cliff edge, distant blue seas rippled and glittered beneath the afternoon sun. Jenny’s brow furrowed. Could they salvage this holiday from disaster?

Ava and Lois jumped over the stile, clutching baskets of goodies.

“Look what Trevor gave us.” Ava emptied a woven basket full of straw hats, tiny toy chicks, a fluffy rabbit ear headband, spring bunting and paper flowers onto the picnic blanket Jenny had spread on the grass beside the caravan.

“Wow,” said Jenny, brightening. “We can decorate the van for Easter!”

“That’s what Trevor said.” Lois bit into her choc ice, splitting the chocolate. “And look what else.” She produced a leaflet.

“An Easter Parade!” Martin read cheerfully over Jenny’s shoulder.

“Martin, take those rabbit ears off!” Jenny laughed through a mouthful of barbecued burger, keeping one eye on Ava who was running around the caravan with her new holiday park friends.

Lois snorted.

No, Dad, leave them on. I want to post an ‘Embarrassing Dad’ holiday pic of you on social media!

Martin grinned, flipping more burgers onto a barbecue borrowed from Trevor.

They’d spent the afternoon decorating the old van with bunting and paper flowers until Lois approved its retro status. Jenny had hidden chocolate in tiny cupboards and drawers, ready for their traditional Easter egg hunt. And with Ava’s toy bunny sat on the top bunk, the van was starting to feel like home.

The Easter Parade on the cliff top road had been quite the spectacle; giant chicks dancing behind bright musical floats, while performers wheeled past in sparkly outfits.

The family had got chatting to fellow guests, and curious to see the caravan themselves, a small gathering had spilled out into a beautiful sunset Easter party.

Jenny sipped her sparkling drink, staring out across Honeybrook Cove’s glittering horizon, and felt a harmony in her head and heart that she hadn’t felt in a very long time. It might not be the holiday they’d planned, but listening to the laughter and chat around the little old caravan, she realised that maybe it was the holiday they’d needed.

Enjoy more Easter-themed short stories now:

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.