Every picture tells a story

It was March Break and we got away – not to the warm sunshine of the south as many do, but a little bit north and west of us to Quebec City – as far as our budget would take us. All six of us. Nowadays that is a rare occasion and a reason to be excited. All together for a few days on the road and having fun. That’s the story the pictures tell and for the most part it’s true.

These days we get to look at all our friends holiday pictures on social media. Everybody’s great times. I know I’ve often been guilty of being envious that such and such a family always seem to have so much fun together. Why can’t we be like that?

Anyone of us will know, that any trip with any combination of people has its high and low points, the moments of tension and the moments of fun and laughter. I smiled when I posted our pictures, thinking of the stories behind them.

We had lots of fun and laughter at Villages Vacances Valcartier. Tube sliding down snowy pistes of varying inclines and bumpiness. It was a great family memory building day. On most slopes we could hang onto each others tubes and slide down together, screaming our heads off all the way, we laughed at each other plonking ourselves down onto the tube lifts and sometimes missing. A great way to escape the stresses of everyday life for a bit. Each one had a fantastic time. The Bicknells like a thrill ride.

The next day we headed for Old Quebec City. It was sunny. The wind was biting cold. No matter, I resolved that we would appreciate the pretty streets of the old city, stroll around, stop to drink coffee and eat crepes and so on.

I love cities. I love exploring. On days when I didn’t have lectures as a student in London, on the pretext of going to the University of London Library, I’d take the tube into the city and wander, on occasion finding myself alone in the back streets. I like that sort of meandering, seeing where a road will lead me even if I end up having to double back or get a little lost. The rest of the family? Not so much. They like to know the how, what, where, when and why of anything we might be visiting. After all these years I haven’t learned from this, I just try to keep everyone moving.

We found a place to park, walked through the upper town to the Terrace Dufferin outside the famous Château Frontenac hotel, then walked down the steps to the oldest part of the town, Le Petit Champlain – think narrow cobbled streets reminiscent of European cities. At this point one daughter already complained of freezing feet. Another wanted to go inside every single shop, though they all sold the same set of magnets, sweatshirts and souvenirs. Another asked, ‘What exactly are we doing here?’

Walking on historic streets. Enjoying the surroundings. Finding murals on walls. Seeing the sights.

The ice flows on the St Lawrence River were quite a sight in the bright morning sunshine so I suggested walking down to the riverside to take some pictures. We got there. The children did not want a picture. My husband asked our son to take a picture of the two of us. It’s a great picture. It looks idyllic, but my son had to take the picture in seconds with his gloves off before his fingers turned to ice. What you can’t see in the picture are our three girls hightailing it back the way we came towards the narrow streets and shelter. At that point I gave in trying to get them to appreciate it all. They all went to a souvenir shop, I ran back through the square by myself to find the wall mural on one of the buildings. I took some pictures to prove that it did indeed exist and ran back to them. We rode the funicular up to the terrace to continue exploring the city and find a place to eat. The café I’d been looking for on Trip Advisor was packed to the gills so we went across the road to a kind of bakery place which wasn’t quite what everyone wanted, but by then we were all hungry and grumpy and made do….and then found our car and did other things for the rest of the day.

This is the story behind our pictures. A few slices of a normal family break – fall-outs and fun.



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