ONE of the best things about holidays, no matter where they are, is that life slows down. In contrast to the frenetic pace at which we live our lives, we can take time over the things which need time taken over them.

Eating lunch for example. What has become a hurried, functional affair during the working week changes to an agreeable event to be lingered over, in preparation and eating.

While camping, even the clearing up becomes a leisurely part of the process, an under-canvas equivalent of cigars and brandy.

Standing washing the dishes in the cool of the washroom, shooting the breeze with fellow campers was a daily delight. I probably spent as much time on this as I do on an average working lunch.

But this stretching of time is most noticeable when watching wildlife on holiday.

They have their own rhythms and routines, which while they are very busy themselves, you, for a while are not. And there is something very soothing to just watch them go about their business.

I once spent a weekend in a woodland in Oxfordshire as part of a foraging course. Part of the training was to sit for 15 minutes and watch what was around you.

After numerous dragonflies and butterflies hovered by, a muntjac deer wandered by about 10 yards away and I sat silent and open-mouthed as it walked by.

But the best of this slow time can be had with children. Many parents will recognise the constant refrain of 'come on, we're late for....' It's certainly one of the commonest phrases in our house as we rush to get the school bus, get homework done, get to swimming, etc.

So it was a rare treat when I was swimming with my daughter of the coast near Great Yarmouth when we were treated to the sight of some black headed gulls flying slowly only yards from us diving for food.

We gasped at each other as we watched them dive and surface with beaks full of glistening fish.

We talked about it again and again afterwards, and I'm sure this is a memory she will keep for a long time. I know I will.

It was good to take inspiration from Newport's own WH Davies and step aside from a life 'full of care' and take the time to 'stop and stare'.