Well, we’re back from our fortnight in Alykanas in Zante, a small resort on the east coast of the Greek Island, where we self catered at the Alykanas Village, a fairly basic but very clean and convenient resort slap bang on a lovely safe beach. Perfect!
We’d chewed over the self catering versus all-inclusive debate prior to booking, but in the end the cost of this last minute holiday was too good to miss so self catering it was.
What self catering means in this sort of establishment, of course, is that you have to attempt to cook meals in a kitchen with about a 3-inch square of surface preparation area and temperamental, sometimes malevolent, hobs. A watery salad here, a suspicious sausage pasta there, self catering is about accepting nine Hob Nobs as your main meal while the BUBs conk out for hours, exhausted from all the swimming or making emergency scrambled eggs while dripping wet in your bikini fresh from the pool for someone who cannot and will not wait until later.
As a result, we soon abandoned the self catering notion and ate out for most meals apart from breakfast (Honey Nut Loops, yoghurt and hard local bread).
Foraging for food shouldn’t be hard in a resort full of restaurants – most with children’s play areas – and indeed even the snack bar in the hotel was really good. We had some lovely authentic Greek meals in these restaurants on those evenings when the BUBs stayed awake until a bit later. We took the Phil & Teds double buggy and the Ergo carrier and we were good to go, safe in the knowledge they could sleep if they wanted to (they didn’t, they were clambering and bouncing on badly-maintained, fit-to-collapse slides and bouncy castles until we dragged them home).
One evening, at the start of the fortnight, we managed to get them fed and both to sleep in the double buggy as we walked along the beach and parked them next to us as we enjoyed a peaceful meal with just the sound of the waves and some Greek music filling our ears. But generally, as they are only three and 15 months old, eating out in the evenings meant keeping them awake long after they should have been asleep, resulting in grumpiness and glazed eyes on the beach the following day.
So, when abroad you can spot the self catering parents of tired, hot, small children a mile off – they’re the ones with their nose permanently in a jumbo packet of Lays crisps or with a bag of long-life croissants tucked under their arm, fearful of where and when the next real meal is coming from.