Tuesday, 19 January 2016

We're All Going on a Summer Holiday

I've been on a lot of holidays. I'm not saying I've seen a lot if the world, but I've seen a lot of sun loungers. If I look back at the last 21 years of holidaying independently, I'd say the key changes are the internet, terrorists, budget airlines, clamping down on piracy, and of course, parenthood.

The 20-28 years were spent holidaying with Sister to lots of different places that were all really the same.  The list reads like a 1990’s diary entry for Judith Chalmers…Magaluf, Benidorm, Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos, Tenerife (various), Lloret de Mar…you might spot a pattern.

But regardless of the destination, I think there are a number of incontrovertible truths:

  • At least one item of clothes will return unworn, but several hours will be spent lamenting the absence of another item of unpacked clothing;
  • I’ll arrive more tanned than I leave (thank you St Tropez);
  • The placing of sockets and mirrors in the hotel room has been at the bottom of someone’s thought list;
  • Placing of said mirror will mean that in the dim light ‘more is more’ becomes a makeup mantra until mistaken for the drag act;
  • Pledges to ‘take it easy’ on food and drink become a myth as soon as you’ve passed through airport security and it is entirely acceptable, nay compulsory, to have a pint of lager/glass of prosecco (depending on the decade) with breakfast (or for breakfast).

The joy of packing has been entirely smooshed by the new airport security measures.  Yes, I know it's essential, and yes, I'll rather be safe.  But I feel a bit sorry for those who never experienced the joys of liquids in hand luggage. Sister and I were proud carriers of the Vanity Case. Oh yes.  In addition to your bag.  Stuffed to the gills with goodies over 100ml.  Choice of perfume.  Factor 8 sunlotion (well we didn’t want to burn…) Large bottles of Finesse shampoo and conditioner (Finesse!  Where did that go?!)

The joy of the vanity case was that it left your 22kg free for clothes.  And when I say 22kg, that was pretty flexible.  Father used to chauffeur us to the airport, and like all good packhorses helped us right up to the desk.  And then he used to lift it on to the belt, keeping a bit of weight off so that our true excess didn’t register.  Talk about going over and above your parenting duties.  But if they didn’t slap a ‘WARNING – HEAVY’ label on our cases we thought we’d forgotten something.  And of course, security was simply ‘Did you pack this yourself?’ and the detector arch thing, which I still set off every time I go through.  Clearly some kind of secret metal body part that my parents have decided I’m better off not knowing about.

But despite the capacity to pretty much pack anything, I can describe several holidays where Sister and I were woefully ill prepared…

Benidorm 1994

The rep (remember them!) had bright, bright pink lipstick and could have benefitted from a dollop of Finesse.  She welcomed us with tales of a heatwave.  Ha!  Clever us.  Excellent thinking not to travel in our usual jeans.  Too hot.  We won’t need them.  We went to sleep to rain.  We woke up to rain.  For a fortnight.  We were cold.  We got wet.  Sister bought some fake tan, but we refused to buy over-priced brollies.

Cyprus 1998, 1999, 2000

Nice little Easter breaks.  Scorching, we were told.  One bad day of weather a year in Cyprus, they said.  Unexpected then, for us to have to seek out indoor bars, and revisit the German bar with the real fire.  But lovely resort, lovely people, good fun, so we booked again for next Easter, told by all we’d had bad luck.  We clearly travelled by Tardis rather than plane, as we found the same again.  Only a pair of idiots would book a third time, right?

I don’t know where we were when we watched Jim Davidson Live (on the telly, not live live) and I have blocked it all out of my memory.  We all make mistakes.

So what did we do on these inclement jaunts?  Museums, trips, immersing ourselves in the local culture?  No.  We sought out beer for 100 pesetas a pint and watched every episode of Only Fools and Horses and films that had only just hit the cinemas.  And there’s my next complaint about the modern holiday.  Where are all the bars showing pirate films and back-to-back comedy telly?  Gone.  I don’t want Sky Sports or miserable news.  I want to see Del-Boy falling backwards through the open bar hatch.



The biggest change is the small person that accompanies me on my holidays now.  She’s turned me and Husband into the pack horses, and seeing that she hasn’t quite developed a palate for lager yet, she’s not keen to seek out a cheap pint, or watch a just-released film with shaky camera work and shadowy images walking across the screen.  She is happy to while away an hour or so thrashing us at Top Trumps though, so there’s a new holiday activity.  And crazy golf.  You’d think they were at the Open (or some other golfy type thing).  I’m not allowed to play, just keep score and carry the cardigans.  Pack horse…it must be in the genes.

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