Our Staycation: ‘Home is where the heart is’ sang Elvis

During lockdown my husband and I were in isolation without our children. It was the longest time that we have ever not seen them and even with Zoom, Skype, and all other forms of modern communication we still desperately missed them. Finally when we all met up we decided we should book a family holiday together as this would be something to look forward to.

Of course we couldn’t agree where to go in the UK or find somewhere that could house all 9 of us. Suddenly I had this lightbulb moment and said why are we going away when we could all stay in Henley-on-Thames and enjoy all that our home on the banks of the river Thames has to offer. And so the idea of a staycation was born.


Everyone loved the idea and so our two daughters ran with it and created an itinerary which was terrifyingly active but did allow the oldies to have the occasional nap!

It was an exciting, exhausting and exhilarating week that has made 2020 a year that we will never forget (as if we could forget it after Covid-19 ripped it apart.)

Everyone arrived on Sunday including our Ocado order which all got eaten over the course of the week.

It was early to bed as Monday we were under starter’s orders at 7a.m.



7.00am and we were all off to our local Nubodi Pilates studio for a group lesson on Reformer beds. The men may have been stronger but us girls were so much stretchier.

This activity was swiftly followed by ‘Garden Games’ and picnic lunch. Boules seemed to be the favoured pastime as I believe a few members of the party were a little exhausted (and sore) from Pilates. Monday evening was Paddle boarding and Pizza (build your own) evening. Luckily the weather behaved for the paddle boarding and we all fell into bed relieved that the next day was a ‘Mindfulness’ one.


Our eldest daughter has a girlfriend, Lizzie, who has recently trained to be a sound healer and she had agreed to come and give us a session. (Follow her on Instagram). I knew nothing about Sound Healing but I can honestly say it was the most meditative and relaxing one hour I have ever enjoyed. If you have never experienced Sound Healing it is difficult to describe it adequately. It affects people in different ways. I felt as if my body was floating and my mind was completely empty. The sound waves are so musical (at one point many of us thought it was a CD) and they travel through your body and if you allow them to they become your focus. I am sure this is a bad description so click HERE to find out more.


Feeling suitably chilled we were relieved that, after lunch, our eldest daughter got us to pick a name (of those present) out of a hat and we then had to paint that person. She provided the acrylics and canvas. It was a perfect antidote to the morning’s event as we were all quite drained physically and emotionally.

A quick paddle board where I fell in (no pics thankfully) when my youngest daughter, who was busy chatting so didn’t see me slow down to avoid a branch, crashed into me. But it was all good fun and no damage done.

That evening we had a Greek evening with an outside chef (Matt Woodley) providing all the themed food. He cooked, served the food and did all the washing up – now that is a real holiday for me.


It was International Dog Day so it was time for a long walk with our two Doodles. Of course it started with breakfast at the Blue Tin Café in Stoke Row, a long walk and then lunch at the Cherry Tree. As it was the penultimate day for Rishi’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme everywhere was packed. Numbers were down on this activity as a few members needed to catch up with their work.

Home to get ready for Margaritas and Fajitas evening sitting around the newly acquired outdoor log burner. We had to dress up – to be honest I cannot remember the theme but it seems as if colourful was somewhere in the title.


It was Boozy Brunch day in the garden and a highlight of the week. Our daughters were throwing the party and had invited amongst others BackPacking Granny, The Page Turner and Jane Gordon.

The weather was definitely on the turn and the sun did not even make a guest appearance for the party. However that did not stop the revelry which was helped with Fried egg & bacon baps, Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Bagels, Bloody Marys & Bucks Fizz and so much more. What a spread!

The afternoon was recovery time as Matt, the chef, was back with Italian evening followed by card games which woke everyone up and got the competitive spirits roaring.


This was a very special day organised by OH. A boat trip on a beautiful Edwardian style boat to Sonning and lunch at The French Horn. However as soon as we boarded the boat the heavens opened and it poured all the way there. However summers in Helford, Cornwall had trained our family to just carry on. As someone said it is never the wrong weather, just that you are wearing the wrong clothes. We had come prepared with raincoats, rugs, alcohol and snacks. The rain did not dampen our spirits and the lunch at the French Horn was so good that by the time we did the return trip we hardly noticed the weather.


Time to chill, a few more card games and a bit more entertaining and gradually the team drifted away. The house is so quiet without them. On the plus side I can find my kitchen scissors, the coffee order is now just one Cappuccino and a Lungo, and I haven’t had to unload the dishwasher six times today. However the fun far outweighed the work and we have so many hilarious memories of the week. In a way the weather made it as we just had to be inventive and throw ourselves into all activities.

On the Sunday we opened Stella magazine and found this small piece ~

Would we do it again? Without a doubt. I think the lesson we all learned from the week was that we have so much to offer in our own houses and the surrounding British countryside, sometimes it is just nice to stay home and enjoy what we have.


  1. Enjoyed reading about your Staycation Annabel – sounds like an amazing week!
    Best wishes
    Stow Maries

  2. Wow what a fab week you had with your family… A lesson learnt that the time we spend with family and good friends is worth so much more in life than rushing to airports. I think this last 6 months has shown us we really appreciate spending time with others and especially family. I have been booking 3/4 night stays all over our lovely UK places that I’ve always wanted to visit, I have been to Northumberland, Somerset, next week we are off to Cheshire, then Liverpool, Norfolk, then Swanage popping home in between… I retired in January and moved to Wiltshire in February then lockdown came, did me a great favour as it has been one big holiday of enjoying getting the garden shipshape, cooking lovely dinners, and getting to know the lovely Wilshire country on my doorstep… :0)

    • Oh wow you are really making the most of your newfound ‘free time’. Good for you. We have so much here in the UK so staycations may become part of the ‘new norm’. Ax

  3. What a fantastic week you all had. I loved the sound of all the activities but thought that the portrait one was really fun. Hope you’ve put them up in the downstairs loo!

    • I think some people were upset by their portrait. My one looked like Donald Trump on a skateboard with an axe – it was meant to be me paddle boarding!! Ax

  4. Huge envy for your fabulous family staycation – wonderful piece. Can’t help but think you could market the idea all the Simons (and their partners) offering to organise similar weeks for an elite customer base. X

  5. What a wonderful week you had together. We also enjoyed being together in Cornwall with our three boys and their girls. We hadn’t been together since February. Like you we enjoyed family meals, playing games, salsa dancing and they provided me with a very special birthday. The only downside was the huge hole they left when they all returned to their respective homes. Happy times!

  6. An overview of the family staycation week with the addition of one or two funny details would have been a really enjoyable read …..but as the reader of this whole piece it was overkill and a little ‘over the top’ to believe that an all adult family unit living for a week under one roof didn’t – at some point – face a few sibling disagreements or challenging parental moments!

    • Do you really want to hear about family disagreements? Of course any adult group living together is bound to bring up some challenging moments but this week it worked, maybe because we were outside so much. Sorry that you did not enjoy the post but the point of it was to show how much fun one can have staying home and holidaying which for many people has been their 2020 vacation. Best wishes, Annabel

      • I thoroughly enjoyed the post. I don’t want to hear about family niggles – haven’t we all got enough to deal with already? I for one enjoy positive posts and I like to think that one of the positives of this year is that we have learnt to appreciate what is REALLY important in our lives and that time spent with loved ones is precious and we don’t NEED lots of ‘stuff’ or fancy hotels to be able to have a good time.

        Thank you for sharing your wonderful family holiday! (I might suggest a few of your activities to my brood when we’re next together)

        Stay safe, stay positive!


  7. I thought it sounded such a lovely time for you all (if a little exhausting !) it made me smile as we had had to shield from our wonderful families but they had enjoyed happy times in Cornwall without us. Thanks for sharing your happy family. I love your siite xx

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