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With mother’s day fast approaching, it’s time to remember the lady who was most likely your first travel partner. We’re especially fond of mum-and-me holidays, so we’ve canvassed our offices to hear tales of unusual, hilarious and downright disastrous family jaunts. From flirty mothers who behave like teenagers to creepy encounters in French caravans, it seems we (and our mamas) are an adventurous bunch – clearly, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

HELEN BAILEY

Got into a spot of bother with French château owners

‘The last time my mum and I went away (this was when I was 15, mind you), we went to Paris. Forget the Marais and Montmartre: we were booked into a mad château run by a doddery old couple with trousers pulled up to their armpits. Rather than staying in the main house, we were put up in a static caravan – though we were invited up to the dining room for a group supper with the other guests, where I was forced to play piano as the “entertainment”. All in all, it wasn’t my idea of a holiday!’ – Helen Bailey, global head of PR

Santa Barbara, USA, Mr and Mrs Smith

AMELIA MULARZ

It seems gambling and gargantuan birds are a family affair

‘Never content to sit by the pool, my mum’s goal on just about every trip is to find the most oddball activity within 50 miles. Thanks to her, I’ve been to a pickle museum, the world’s largest water park and the LA Coroner’s office (for fun!). So, when we went to Santa Barbara together I knew we wouldn’t just taste wine and walk on the beach. Instead, she lured me to a nearby casino where we spent five hours hooting and hollering at a slot machine called Kitty Glitter, then stopped at an ostrich farm to feed the flightless birds pellets from a metal dustpan. In the end, I did win $300 that weekend, so I guess mother really does know best.’ – Amelia Mularz, editor

BECCA DUNN 

Tried (and failed) to control her moody ‘teenage’ mother in Florence

‘After a prolonged period of adult tonsillitis (and enforced starvation), my appetite returned with gusto on a mother-daughter mini break to Florence. Navigating the streets by our noses, we were led on a journey of gelato discovery, the highlight of which was the day we snaffled down no fewer than four cones. It was a selfless task, for we can safely crown artisan gelateria Perché No! as the winner.

I should also explain that on holiday our roles were reversed: I became the guidebook-wielding bore determined to explore every nook of every museum, restaurant, rooftop bar and cobbled palazzo, while my mother acted as petulant teenager, dragging her unsuitably-shod feet. On our last evening together I looked across the table at my 60 (cough)-year-old mother, ice-cream dripping down one wrist and the other holding a jaunty amaretto; I’ve never been more proud.’ – Becca Dunn, editor

KATE WEIR

Her mother played temptress to local carabinieri in Roma

‘When in Rome, in between stops at all its grand, elegant monuments and ancient wonders, we stopped to watch a parade of carabinieri (military policemen). Handsomely dressed in full regalia, including elaborately feathered hats, they were extremely taken with my mother and lavished attention on her, paying her compliments, kissing her hand and yelling “bellissima” with exaggerated posturing. They ignored me, but it did put a spring in mum’s step.’ – Kate Weir, editor

Venice Street, Mr & Mrs Smith

JAMES LOHAN

And even the original Mr Smith couldn’t avoid a mother-son slip-up in Venice

‘The last time we took a mother-son trip, things soon became rather awkward. “So, how long have you been together?”, the words no son ever wants to hear when standing next to his mother. “Er, she’s my mum and I’m taking her to Venice for her 70th birthday”, I quick-fired back at the foreign-exchange teller with machine-gun rapidity, in a vain attempt to quash further embarrassment. After all, there was a bored queue behind us, within hearing range. “Oh, sorry sir”, the teller clumsily said, digging himself in deeper, “I mean, it’s arguably the most romantic city on the planet, so I just assumed you must be a couple.” My mum was in hysterics. She’s hasn’t let it slide in a hurry.’ – James Lohan, co-founder

She’s looked after you, so time to repay the complement with our mother’s day hotels

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