I am about to go on my summer holiday.
Am I excited?
Trying to be.
Am I looking forward to it?
Am I driving my family mad?
Do I need my head examined?
The thing is, however good a holiday sounds, I am one of those people who would be quite content to stay at home, in theory if not in practice. This may surprise you given that I have already told you all how I left my home and family and travelled 5000 miles to spend three weeks with an eccentric, undeniably strange and sometimes bizarre woman, the likes of whom I had never met before.
Was that ‘out of character’?
Well, no – snap decisions and the urge to take risks are as much a part of me as is an occasional inability to commit. I suppose we are all more complex than we think.
You see, whilst being reluctant to commit to a trip, I do really enjoy myself once there – apart from an assortment of allergic reactions that seem to afflict me on arrival.
I have found the antidote though, if not to the allergies, then to the aversion to the thought of the holiday itself. I write lists.
My lists are not of what to pack or of what to remember (I write those too) but of the benefits the holiday will have, the good things about it. I also set down anything I can think of against it. The good list invariably outweighs the bad, which proves to me that I do really like going on holiday. There is normally just such a lot of stuff to get through beforehand!
When the children were small, I’d prepare for our annual three-week trip to France with the caravan, by carefully washing and ironing everyone’s clothes and stacking the clothes ‘to go’ in seven neat piles on the bedroom floor. Needless to say, seven piles take up a lot of room.
I’d have seven other piles of clothes, close by, containing the clothes we were going to wear on the journey and invariably, would be washing and ironing until the minute we left as that ‘must have’ outfit appeared to have been worn to school or work and could not be left behind.
Having the caravan made life relatively easy of course in some respects. I didn’t have to pack suitcases. I just packed the clothes straight into the wardrobes. The caravan would of course need a thorough clean before use to rid it of its ‘stored over winter’ feeling and it had to be loaded with patio table and chairs, tents, camping larders and every item of ‘useful’ equipment you can imagine. In fact, by the time we left, not only was the caravan packed to the hilt but so too was the car. Five children normally became six as a friend often accompanied eldest daughter or her younger sister and our eight seater Peugeot 505 (later to be replaced by a Toyota Previa) was full. The travel bags of each child would be wedged firmly between the seats with towels and sheets shoved beneath.
A twenty-minute car trip to the ferry, followed by a four-hour trip across the Channel to Caan or St. Malo was then followed by a twelve-hour, non-air conditioned car journey. An overnight stop was essential. It was always, hot, stuffy and uncomfortable and I would develop a migraine at some point as I finally relaxed after the marathon of preparation I had just undertaken to get us here.
Despite this, those holidays were the best.
My youngest son was almost one when we first took the caravan to France. He was almost nine when we left the caravan at home and flew to Portugal with him and his elder brother – the start of slightly more relaxed family holidays. (The girls had outgrown us for the most part).
True, these days, I only have to think of my own packing and a small bag will suffice. We can jump on a plane or a boat without worrying about pushchairs and car-sickness and all those things that one has to be aware of when the children are small. Somehow though, I miss the hurly burly of those days – am I looking through rose-tinted spectacles per chance?
Surely, when I think clearly about it, the best holiday I have ever had was a week spent in South Africa just four years ago. We chose South Africa because the time difference is virtually nil despite the twelve-hour flight, due to the longitudinal line it sits on. The flight itself was hideous (I shall never fly economy class for such a distance again!) but the week we enjoyed there more than made up for it. In truth we needed more than a week but being limited to a certain number of days, made us extra keen to see everything and do everything that my friend’s brother – himself familiar with Cape Town, had thoughtfully written down for us.
We came back with memories and mementoes to treasure. Therein lies another tale that I shall one day relate.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that the holidays I have loved the most have also been the busiest. I love lazing by a pool and reading – but not for an entire fortnight. With the caravan, there was always a chore to be completed, children to organize and the added bonus of being able to speak French and lose the rustiness that may have crept in since school.
This year we are off to Lindos in Rhodes. This is a place I have never visited before. It is apparently a favourite with writers, artists and film directors. Sitting in the blue Aegean Sea, the island is rich in culture and steeped in history. Our villa looks delightful and my friend, who has researched it well, appears to have made an excellent choice. I really don’t have anything to put on my ‘bad’ list. This year it is all good.
Hey, I’ve talked myself into it. I am looking forward to going there – I really am!
Ok folks, I am ready – bring it on!