Attempting to make it as a writer

Posts tagged ‘holiday’

Magaluf Express

DSC_0242The decision to take a family holiday was a non-event this year.  The older boys not even sure if they wanted to join us unless of course we are going somewhere hot, abroad and within close proximity of Magaluf or Ayia Napa. One thing was assured by the summer the whole family would  need a break and a get-away to enjoy maybe a hint of guaranteed sunshine.  Deciding where to go to suit a whole family of individuals with needs and desires of their own can be a long and onerous task and the more people inputting requests would mean a long and arduous battle of wills resulting most likely in another year without a holiday, if we could not agree.  I knew what everyone wanted so  I alone trawled the internet for something to fulfil my stringent list of criteria.  Sexy Sporty Dad cast an agreeing look over the 5 shortlisted destinations and then unprompted selected my preferred choice.  Booked and paid for before he or anyone had second thoughts.

So I find myself surrounded by the excited hub-bub of the check in queue at Gatwick Airport; already hot, stressed and tense.   Note to oneself – do not fly on a busy Friday evening in the summer.  The world’s largest car-park; the M25, lives up to its fictional name.  Having done the same journey up and down for work two days earlier, I could not believe it took us over double the time to reach the airport this evening.

We reach the front of the queue and a check-in desk becomes available.  The girl checks the clock behind her before calling us over.  The downcast shock flashes across her face as she realises I am not alone and that there are five of us to be checked in; she glances swiftly at the clock again.  She begins to rush us through asking questions in her heavily accented pidgin English.  I am not sure I understand so despite the scowl I ask her to repeat herself on several occasions.   We are so close; the very last case is being weighed and sorted when her system goes down.

She taps repetitively becoming more and more insistent – the system ignores her aggravation, then we notice other check in operators are having the same issue.   The whole of Gatwick’s check in system has hiccoughed.  The operators not programmed to deal with stoppages are baffled and look at each other blankly.  One or other tried to get back in intermittently with no luck.   No one came along to guide these youngsters, or even to explain to them or us what was going on.  It didn’t occur to her or any of her colleagues to walk over and find a supervisor or even to explain to the ever growing queue.  We luckily were at the desk we knew what was happening but anyone in the ever building emotional and stressful queue could just see all these young operators shrugging shoulders and blankly staring at screens or jabbering quickly in a multitude of differing languages.

With nothing better to do now was the time of polite conversation, I mentioned how busy the airport already was, she agreed with me saying there were a lot of flights this evening.  What time did she work till?  About 20 minutes ago – she was now late leaving but could not go having started checking us in she had to see us all through.

With the same silent swiftness it went down, 10 minutes or so later it came back up; no explanation, no apparent issues.  Having to log back in again she offered slight concern that the baggage already loaded would be separated but hoped it all reached the same destination eventually.  As did I, pondering what essentials were packed in the separated case.  It crossed my mind that it could be the other cases that could go astray and that would be just as catastrophic.

Heat and noise within the airport rose in direct competition with the excitement of boarding the Magaluf express.  Parties of already celebrating girls adorned with shorts or mini skirts revealing previously tanned long legs; some in tops so skimpy some not going that far and just in slithers of so called bikini tops. Groups of young lads staring; eyes out on stalks, not sure if they were the luckiest people in the world or terror they were about to be drawn into a web spun entrapping  the more powerful drug of lust.

The groups of lads were not the only ones harbouring contrasting feelings; as a mother I tussled with tug of war emotions – lots of older teenagers for my boys to be entertained with their own ages.  Against the predatory knowledge and memory of girls released from the confines of their stringent home rules to the freedom of being on holiday.  Further memories of the programme Sun, Sex and Suspicious parents flashed through my mind as I watched the groups circling each other.  I offered a silent prayer of thanks that although we may be travelling across with them we were passing Magaluf for the North of the Island.

We touched down amidst a powerful and spectacular lightning storm.  I suspect the thunder was there but the noise of jet engines and tired emotional children at a local time of 2am overshadowed any rolling or clapping the thunder could muster.   Another note to myself;  am I getting too old and tired for this night-time travel?

A flood of endorphins re-entered my system knowing the family had all survived the flight; mainly asleep so were unaware of the chaos of the battle raging outside.  Our luggage arrived in fits and starts but was all there and with relieve we retrieved it and found our way to the car park; to start our few days of sun, Sangria and sleep.

 

Tiggy

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Question of Balance

It is half-term and as usual we welcomed the break from school routine with friends coming round and a late night party.    The format of the night has evolved as the children grow up and have social lives and work commitments of their own.  The celebration remains just that a celebration that we have made it to the half term without too much stress and strain.  A few bottles are opened and a take away ordered.

So what does the week’s break mean for my family.  Sexy Sporty Dad still has to go to work, although he has managed to secure three days holiday with us.  He plans to paint the downstairs rooms and try to find a few hours to do a practice cycle ride.  Practising for what doesn’t really matter as long as he can get out on the road and feel the chill of the wind whipping past him as he pushes his body onwards through the pain barrier, ignoring the beads of icy sweat freezing before they have a chance to fall.   I suspect the gym will be well frequented this week  although he may use the better weather to go on a run.

No 1 Son will be bored.   He should be studying and has a stack of homework he could be doing but he will go out of his way to avoid.   He too will spend the time running, visiting the gym, playing tennis.  He will train for a rugby match that he will not play in as it is for the older colts cup but he will train.   He will turn his nose up at the meals I put in front of him because their calorific  value is too high.   He will forgo his breakfast in return for a whey product that he assures me is not banned or illegal.   He will pick at his lunch only eating the bare minimum before exercising to the point of collapse and stuffing himself with a snickers bar, a wispa bar and a packet of crisps.  Then he will return to bother his brothers; getting bolshy about their time playing x-box not through any concern for their slouchy lack of exercise but because they are hogging the machine.   Still full of chocolate and crisps he will only allow a tiny plate of food in front of him at tea time.

Middle Son who should be spending his week revising for GCSE’s will entertain his friends and Mini son’s friends on the x-box, I-pad or PS2 before cycling down to the local supermarket to stack up on his private supply of chocolate, pizza, croissants and crisps.   His allowance which is meant to help him survive the month with some independence will be blown probably in the first couple of days.  He will do some studying for his maths module which he takes soon after the holidays are finished.  The effort put in to get the studying done should guarantee an A but unfortunately the effort will be from Sexy Sporty Dad and I who will be drained by the end of the week remembering how to do factorising and line graphs.

Mini son will enjoy the holidays as his friends all live locally and he will probably go to stay over at his best friends for one day possibly stretching overnight.  He will play on the x-box but get bored quickly and want to go out and run around.  He will find himself playing rugby, football, cycling or scootering  around the estate with any children prepared to forgo the constant trigger thumb of  console battles.  He will be up early so he doesn’t miss any of the holiday.   He too will come up with elaborate plans and excuses not to do any reading or writing; despite my best efforts to get him to enter Chris Evans’ 500 words competition.

So what will I do with my week.  It may be half term week but working at a school is only one of my many jobs.   Having a school holiday will give me time to concentrate on

Weighing it all up

Weighing it all up

one of the other tasks that I try to balance.  I will write some articles and get the magazine to the printers, I will update both blogs and the magazine web site.  I will have my hair cut and coloured so that I have a few hours to read my writing magazine.  I will come out revived and determined to find time to rewrite memories, planning my time to include editing time as well as writing time for new fresh copy.  I will spend time cooking, clearing, chauffeuring, washing, shopping and being wife and mother on constant call for anyone else’s needs.  I need to pop round and see a couple of houses for my mother who is toying with the idea of moving close by if her house sells. I may, late at night steal a few moments to browse some holiday destinations;  I know we can’t afford them,  we cannot pick a suitable time to go and do the boys really want the same thing as Sexy Sporty Dad and I;  for that matter do we want the same holiday.  I can dream! Sun, sea sand and someone on hand for my every need ahhhh.   One day when my ship comes in the scales will balance until then I continue dream and keep writing.

Writing

I don’t normally double up on my blogs but inspiration comes in funny ways;  this is the piece I have sent into the magazine for March.

Following the Dream   When I was little I was subjected to the age old question; “what are you going to do when you grow up?”  It was easy I wanted to write a book,  I wanted to see my stories in print giving pleasure to generations of readers.

In those days my heroine was not J K Rowling but probably Enid Blyton whose Famous Five stories  left me thirsty for adventure. I saw criminal conundrums  or puzzling problems requiring  solving in everything I did.  My poor teachers would tear out their hair complaining that my imagination was just too vivid and could I not just do the homework devoid of embellishment and fictitious characters.

Obviously my parents were concerned about this ethereal world I frequented and over the years I was persuaded to grow up and get a job that paid money with firm foundations in the world of security and career paths.  

It didn’t go away; that niggle, that itch to put down on paper a story made up in the dim recesses of my mind that had escaped my teachers’ tyranny and my parents’ persuasion.  Recently I was rewarded by seeing a fellow blogger publish her first novel.  Hannah Evans is someone I identify with strongly and her book MOB Rule epitomises my life nearly as well as if I had written it myself.  MOB  = Mother of Boys.  She is me ten years ago except; she has taken the bull by his proverbial horns and accomplished what she set out to do rather than waffle around the issue and keeping  the desire hidden.  If ever I need a prod to kick start my flagging writing career here it is. 

I have followed Hannah Evans for a while having met a friend of hers who commented on how similar my writing and hers is.   I came away determined to find the blog the friend had shown me.   All I  could remember of her was she was a mother of boys and had a blog –  you try googling MOB.

Mob ruleFinally my birthday arrived and unsuspecting, my sister asked me to wait for my birthday present;  she would explain when she gave it to me.   A week later I received the gift.   MOB Rule  the book had been published only that week; hence the wait.   I had a copy literally hot of the press.  It was not only finding this writer that delighted me, but Sexy Sporty Dad who rarely; except under severe duress reads anything I write, was hooked.   He has not put the book down denying me any chance of reading it.  However from his comments and gales of giggling I know he is identifying closely with FOB.

Go Hannah go and yes those scales will tip towards giving me time; after all my boys are old enough to join in and be an active participant in this family of ours.  She is still coping with the young demanding 24/7 needs of tiny tots so here goes.

 

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Dreams

What of the dream?

The holiday brochure looked so appealing.  Those descriptions online were incredibly irresistible with their crystal clear waters and multi water slides.   Shops, bar and take-away all there on site so you do not have to move from your accommodation.   Just look at the photos and check out that deep azure sky, not a cloud in sight. So what are we waiting for?

Hours on the phone negotiating ferry times and co-ordinating which accommodation will be available on the dates the ferry allows us to arrive.  Of course if madam wishes to upgrade to the deluxe chalet, that is available anytime!

No madam, you have to book a seat or cabin for the ferry crossing.  Yes I know madam that it is a daytime crossing and with such an early start you will be in the restaurant to start with, but we have to charge you for a cabin or seat.

Oh and does madam need bed linen and towels?

Can we not bring our own towels?   Of course you can bring your own but if you require bed linen then the towels come as a pack.

The one concession I do agree willingly to is the welcome pack: – tea, coffee, milk, washing up liquid, tea towel and matches, the essentials in life, just waiting when we arrive. The extra cost will be worth it and Sexy Sporty Dad need not concern himself too much over little details such as cost.

It does not matter what the starting price in the brochure or on-line says.  The final pay up front deal will always be more than you budgeted for, whether you fly, ferry or remain firmly fixed in this country.

The deal is done and we have 6 wonderful months planning it, what it will be like, what we will do and eat while there.  How we will use the facilities and all the French we will talk, how many friends we will meet and make.  Those French teenagers ooh la la!

With six weeks to go the final payment is handed over and the travel documents arrive.  The car is booked in for service to check that it is up to the journey.  The insurance is checked, we are covered by our car insurance and by our travel insurance.  A search reveals we have not lost the paper parts of our driving licences and all our passports are current with the E111 which now has an expiry on them but are still in force.

A week to go and I remember to order the Euros, we check whose swimming kit still fits and who needs new shoes.  Suitcases are dusted off and packed.   The old travel wallet is dug out from the back of the wardrobe where it has languished idly since the last European trip.   A zipped compartment reveals £30 worth of Euros which were not worth changing back into sterling so have been forgotten,  together with £20 worth of Turkish money which we will not be requiring on this holiday.

It’s here!

All of a sudden our holiday is upon us and with a very early start we arrive at the ferry point for 7 o’clock in the morning.   Despite the only half wakefulness, crammed into the car with three growing boys and enough luggage I swear for a month away, emotions are hyper, expectations are hopeful and excitement is heightened. We creep slowly onto the ferry and into the allocated parking spot.   Unload what we think we may need for the crossing and follow the tide of passengers surging up the metal stairwells.

We have ordered and begun breakfast even as the ferry edges its nose away from Portsmouth Harbour out into the clear open sea ahead.   Apart from a few seagulls and breaking waves the view is uninterrupted sea, to the front, to left and to the right; sea.

As mid-day approaches we discuss what we should do for lunch.  After all we do not know how long the journey may take and what will be open at the other end on a Sunday evening.  We tucked in to a second meal on board the ferry before being ushered off the boat and onto the continent.

From this point on we were in the hands of the tour operators.   My tom-tom is unable to get European roads so I had printed off detailed directions from the operator’s web site.   They are; one would assume the most experienced at directing all and sundry to their campsites. They had also sent us with our documentation, a map to guide us.  Naively, I now realise; I should have double checked the map.  It only covered the small area of Brittany that the camp site was situated in.  According to the illustrated map of France on the back cover we need two adjoining maps to find our way from Caen to Quimperle.   Thank goodness I had printed the directions.

After 2 hours hesitatingly following the directions, discussing and debating why we needed to go to Cherbourg to get to the bottom of Brittany; we pulled off the road not far from Mont St Michel and finding a little tabac still open we managed to buy a road map of the whole of France.   As we suspected we had no need to be anywhere near Cherbourg or Mont st Michel; so under our own steam we turned tail and trekked back down to the right route.

Delayed as we were, we looked out for a service station to break up the journey and enjoy un tasse du thé and

Services without a smile!

a biscuit; at the very least to use the facilities such as they might be.  We left the main road following the signs two or three times to be met with ramshackle old buildings that had long since closed for the day.   One man would not let us in but was kind enough to direct me towards an old lean-to shed; I hesitated to close the door in case the whole structure collapsed.  The family convinced I would be hoisted in to the air chitty chitty bang bang style waved a furious good bye as I entombed myself in the dark.  At least there was a toilet and not just a hole in the ground.

Much relieved I dug around the depths of the packing to find a packet of biscuits meant for the morning but needed now and we picnicked in a very dodgy car park described as services, on biscuits and squash.  Onwards and downwards, we climbed back into the cramped car and resumed our journey south.  It got so late that I phoned ahead to inform them we were on our way and were near L’Orient and hoped to be with them before 11pm.  That was fine they did not close the barriers till 11.

Finally reaching the local town we didn’t dare stop to grab a pizza in case this brought us over the 11 o’clock deadline.  We got in just after half ten, having tried again to follow their directions only to be directed one way, while eagle eyed children insisted the sign said the opposite way.  We went with the children on this; only for them to be proved right.

Fearing we were too late we stood bewildered in the reception waiting for someone to turn up.  Finally the girl arrived, gave us a barrier code to let us drive through and led us to our chalet.  As she opened the chalet for us I asked about the take-away.  No that was all closed for the night now.  Ok could she point me in the direction of the shop and we could get something to make a snack.  The shop was back near the main reception and was all closed now.  What about the bar? Yes that was open.  Did it sell food?  Only ice-cream!

We entered the musty chalet; I suspect we were the first to use it this season by the old smell and dusty feel.  At least I knew a cup of tea would not be far away now.   But where was my welcome pack.  Deep apologies she would go and get one.  Suspiciously I wandered into the bedrooms; where was the bed linen and towels?  On the table were four swimming wrist bands, why only four when the chalet slept six and we had requested five sets of everything.

Had I really ordered all that?  Oh yes and paid for it, I produced my travel documentation and found the receipted list of extras.   Again deep apologies and she would be back in a few moments with it all.  True to her word she was and with her a bottle of placatory wine, although I am not sure that shouldn’t have been included in the welcome pack.   Only when I emptied the pack out did I realise the milk came in tiny packs of cream powder, the coffee was a tiny pack of filter coffee and the two tea bags were not going to go very far.   At least the wine was welcome.

Starving and shattered we all fell into the welcoming beds having made them first and were instantly asleep.  I woke sometime in the night to find torrential rain beating relentlessly on the roof of the chalet, matching my mood.   So much for deep azure blue skies!

The old junior choice song “Camp Granada” springs to mind.  “Mudda, fadda kindly disregard this letter!”

We overslept deep into the morning, then wandered leisurely to the shop in glorious sunshine to fetch fresh croissants, pain au chocolate, baguette and milk a plenty.  Laughing and hilarity from the water slides and swimming pool area hinted at the fun we were about to embark on. Music already blaring from the bursting bar beckoned us to join in.   Suntan lotion smothered over our winter whitened skins, swimming togs under our clothes we followed the sound of fun.

Have fun on your holiday this year wherever you decide to go.

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

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