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Like most families, we loved our vacations, and our camera tended to see the light of day most often during vacations . . . .

Living in California with five children and a parent born in France, we vacationed a lot there. This was taken in a Metro station in Le Marais in July 2004.

Where? Well, you may know Yosemite National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada. But we also vacation in Saint Mâlo and Brocéliande in Brittany, which are their own kind of paradise, and once even in each of New York City and Vancouver BC.

We also have the advantage of living in a tourist town, complete with its very own funfair, enabling us to take mini-vacations weekly!

We lump some of the common vacation themes together too: swimmingpools, a sand castle, more swimming pools and, oh yes, more Disneyland!

Not to be outdone, London was also a regular vacation destination. There was only one member of the family born in England, but he had enough influence to vacation there regularly. Here is a classic vacation tourist shot, Big Ben at dusk at 9.00 pm in July 2001. We were just arriving in London after a Eurostar trip from Paris. It was a beautiful luminous evening. Tom and Alex, on the left of the photo, and Charlie and Nick, on the right, surround their dad. We were standing on Westminster Bridge over the Thames.

Ever fancied a train trip across the entire USA, courtesy of Amtrak? Now that was a vacation, and what better way to introduce the children to all this wonderful land? How about a boat trip across the English channel? Or a charming little English town, or an English Funfair?

August of 2000 saw us all in Florida, living the good life at the Sonesta Beach Resort on Key Biscayne, alligator spotting in the Everglades and, you guessed it, visiting Disney

As we got older, we took more and more vacations in smaller groups, so that the teenagers could do their own thing, or should I say because the teenagers were doing their own thing and it rarely included us!

In June 2004, a less usual vacation duo, Tom and Ian, took a short but wonderful road trip to Colorado.

Vacations for us meant family and friends most of the time.

In 2007, for example, we spent most of our summer vacation in France, and most of that time at Grand-père‘s place, La Grée, in the Morbihan. On a day trip down to Carnac, on the coast of south Brittany, we stopped in on Denis (Marie-Hélène’s brother) and Claire’s summer place that year. In addition to Alex, Charlie and Marie-Hélène, the below group of Berhauts in the garden at Carnac includes Denis and Claire (front left), Denis’s son Bertil (in front of Marie-Hélène), tante Lucette, Grand-père and Denis’s older son Cédric (behind Grand-père).

A week of this same 2007 summer vacation was spent in England, visiting Ian’s family and friends. That was the typical breakdown: I’d spend a week in England, and Marie-Hélène about a month in France.

Marie-Hélène with Ian’s cousin Ron and his wife Louise. Aunty Vi, Ron’s mum and my mum’s last surviving sibling, sits in front of them. This was taken in the pub where we all ate lunch.

It would have been easy to regret the relative absence of other summer vacation choices: we’ve never been to Hawaii, for example, or to South America, both of which would have interested me. They still do. If I ever have a lot of vacation time, I’ll try these other destinations.

But going home always felt good, as a vacation should, for me and for Marie-Hélène.  I don’t think that either of us really missed these alternatives, however compelling they were in and of themselves. We lived away from our respective families most of the year, but emigrating never cut our ties with them. It doesn’t work that way.

In Le Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, where Marie-Hélène and I courted all those years ago. Charlie and I racing down the summer water ride in July 2004.

My only regret was the occasional year that we (principally Marie-Hélène: this was her obsession) elected to make improvements to our Santa Cruz home rather than take a proper summer vacation. It didn’t happen often, and we did live in the house all the rest of the year, but we both dearly needed the change of scenery of a decent vacation.

And vacations give us the classic justification for fooling around!

Special days give us another reason to bring out the camera: Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, birthday parties, more Christmas, . . .