Scarlett Brady is mum to Carter and the editor of Gurgle magazine. She started her career at ELLE under the late, great Sally Brampton and has since edited titles for Harvey Nichols, Tony & Guy, Hotel du Vin and New Look. She worked as a TV reporter and producer, covering New York Fashion Week for six seasons and has written features for Vogue and The Guardian, amongst others. She’s a fan of short-haul flights and the space and freedom that self-catering provides.
What is your first childhood memory of travel?
Chewing Starbursts in Mallorca. Mum and dad had let my great aunt Lily and uncle Stan take me on holiday there when I was four. Lily would get me to chew on a Starburst sweet at breakfast before retrieving it, burying a pill inside and firing the lot back into my mouth. I guess she was worried I’d succumb to Delhi belly but, whatever, it was a thrilling ritual. Stan captured chunks of that holiday with his Cine camera and I used to love watching it when I was small so the whole adventure is etched on my memory. Years later I went to Snappy Snaps and got the lot transferred onto DVD. It’s class.
Where have you had your best holiday to date?
Even though I fell madly in love with Venice, I’d probably still have to plump for my honeymoon in Ibiza. We’d got married in the glorious Saint Etheldreda’s Church in Ely Place, London and at midnight my husband and I strolled through Smithfield market back to our suite at The Rookery hotel (me in my Alberta Ferretti gown). We flew out the next morning; I’d booked a fabulous two-weeks-for-the-price-of-one deal with (now defunct) Magic of Spain. We stayed in a rambling, beautiful, old four-bedroomed villa in the hilltop village of St Josep de sa Talaia and played mummy’s and daddy’s for a fortnight. When I got home my breasts were prickling. Sunburn, you think? Nope…I was pregnant. Last summer, we took Carter back to check out where he came from and it was fun rediscovering old haunts. Destino, the stand-out tapas restaurant on the main drag, is still going strong. You need to book in high season but that’s where formality ends – there are no menus so you simply pick and mix from the juiciest dishes of the day, whilst knocking back your vino under the setting sun. And then, of course, there are the beaches. Cala Saladita (a hairy scramble over cliffs) is as magnificent as ever. Set beneath a pine forest a few miles north of San Antonio (bear with) it’s a crystal clear pool of lapping water that attracts teeny-tiny fishes – beyond exciting for kids. And I don’t know how they cater for it but at lunchtime you can nab a frozen Mojito from a passing hippy, too. What more could you want?
Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?
I had four months maternity leave and was determined to squeeze a spring holiday in before I went back to work so we rounded up our parents and headed to a chocolate box cottage near Cartmel Fell in the Lake District. We had wonderful days out, in and around Troutbeck, Hardknott Pass and Wast Water before my son got a stomach bug. A local doctor prescribed dehydration sachets and, thankfully, he recovered quickly but not before flooring each of the party one by one. Poor granny, who was running a fever, collapsed in the bathroom in the middle of the night and spent the remainder of the trip in bed. Kids, hey…
How do you find the experience of travelling with children generally?
Being on a sunny travel adventure with my son is my absolute favourite thing to do. Getting him there, not so much – although that’s got much better. He’s autistic and, when he was a toddler, flying was nerve-jangling because you never knew when a meltdown might strike. He lost the plot when he was four while we were queuing at passport control. Lord knows what spooked him, but I’m definitely scarred by the memory of hundreds of my necklace beads bouncing off the tiled concourse at Pisa airport after he’d yanked it off. Jaws were dropping all around me. Mmm… that was a low.
Do you ever travel with your child for work?
Well you’d think not but, actually, my boy loves nothing more than a stylish home from home and, nowadays, he’s incredibly well behaved so I wouldn’t pass on a fabulous UK rental or a Mediterranean villa with a fancy pool if anybody were offering. I’ve got a soft spot for National Trust cottages, too – not only are they beautifully atmospheric places to hole up in, but they also tend to be in the most glorious locations. We probably book two a year for special celebrations. The last was The Little Fleece for my birthday – a medieval gem for five in the quintessential Cotswold town of Painswick – our twinkly Isles in December, you just can’t beat them. I get about but not necessarily to write travel reviews, mostly it’s to switch off and dream – and it’s mostly during the school holidays. Ouch!
Where was your best holiday with your child?
OMG we’ve had so many best times. The first time he swam the width of the pool in his little frog armbands in San Gimignano I thought my heart would burst; the single gauge train ride through the mountain and orange groves from Palma to Soller (in Mallorca) when his eyes almost popped out of his head with excitement; Him whispering ‘I am happy’ after demolishing a giant cone of lavender ice cream by the harbour in La Flotte, Ile de Re; paddling like a pup at Rosses Point in County Sligo with all his cousins during a rare Irish heatwave; our scorching hot Isle of Wight adventure (as memorable as any Caribbean trip I’ve been on); the hypnotic spell that Porthcurno and Sennen’s pounding waves cast on us all when we toured Cornwall in our camper van; and always, devouring hot donuts and tea from The Forge in Whitstable.
And your worst?
I’ve never had a bad holiday with my son but I have found some hotel rooms quite challenging. Suites or interconnecting rooms are definitely the way to go (first discovered courtesy of Luxury Family hotels, thank you). One ill-fated evening at the tranquil Lake Vyrnwy hotel in Powys I was informed by the toddler that the telly and all the lights had to be turned off just as the final credits for In the Night Garden began to roll. We tried all sorts to get the little sod to nod off but, in the end, daddy and I had to lie in the pitch dark for hours, literally twiddling our thumbs. This is most likely why we’ve opted for elegant self-catering ever since.
What are your must-have travel accessories when away with the children?
A Halifax MasterCard, Minion Rush and a library of songs. We like a good dance or mellow singsong.
And, in no particular order, my top tips for family travel are:
Explaining the drill to little ones before you set off.
Morning departures – everybody’s at their most chilled – including Daddy.
Splitting clothes between suitcases – a lifesaver when mine was nabbed by security at Stansted (yeah yeah, I’d left it unattended) and we had to fly without it.
Chewy sweets and water – for ears that pop and to stave off dehydration.
Fluro tees – you can spot a runner at 100 paces.
Airport valet parking – worth every damn penny.
Spare everything – but mostly snacks, wipes, cash, pants and surprise downloads.