Why my house has to have the ‘we’ve got visitors’ look

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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Today we will get home from a week’s holiday in Yorkshire. We will open the door and walk into a clean house. Why is this? Because I, like so many other women, clean before I go on holiday.

Men just can’t get their heads around this concept, the need for cleanliness on return. I will use my long-suffering husband as an example.

But I’m sure that I’m not the only woman married to somebody who stands at the front door, hands on hips, surveying his domain and itching to leave because he is ready, while their partners run around completing the necessary preparations, like pushing the vacuum around one last time.

His idea of getting ready for a holiday is sending me to panic-buy a couple of pairs of shorts and then putting those, some deodorant and socks into a bag. Then he hides his wash bag, with just his toothbrush in it, so he doesn’t have to share with the children and their overenthusiastic use of paste and the resultant white stains.

Meanwhile I’m the one rushing around looking for boots and checking that all the clothes are clean and dry, that swimming costumes fit and making sure we have ‘staples’ (toilet roll and coffee) to take and that the children haven’t locked each other in the bathroom.

He prints out the directions with a flourish and thinks we’re ready while I’m just beginning to think about which dresses I can still squeeze into – and that’s before I start the cleaning.

Men don’t seem to understand the pleasure of coming back from holiday to a clean house. Who wants to come home to chores?

Especially if you’ve been staying in a cottage, which is lovely but not exactly a holiday. After all, I’m still the one doing the majority of the cooking and cleaning.

The old adage is that there is no place like home, but when I get back from holidays I want home to be on its best behaviour. Not the scruffy affair where we live on a day-to-day basis, but the groomed, ‘we’ve got visitors’ look.

However fraught the journey back, I know that when we get back and put the key in the lock, that’s what we’ll get. For a few seconds until we step into it, of course.