After getting her 100th birthday card from the Queen Mum decided enough was enough and left us. In her will she left a bit of money and we decided that we could remember her with a family holiday. It was two years in the planning.
Family holidays have always been adventures, from a night in a tent, two weeks in a caravan, a week abroad- as long as we’re together it’s going to be great.
And this year my OH, aka Shed Man and I were able to take three of our four children, two of their partners and five of our grandchildren aged from 1 -12 to a villa with its own pool, access to some great theme parks and a long flight home. It was fabulous and although we had some grandchildren who liked to get up early, very early, we had a great time, eating together sometimes, swimming together every day, meeting cartoon characters. We came home absolutely exhausted but pleased as punch that it all went so well. After customs and collecting suitcases we all hugged each other goodbye and the various family groups split up to retrieve their cars and head home. We just had one son with us now, and two grandsons, 12 and 8 to drop off on our way home. And then we lost the car! When I say we I do of course mean he (Shed Man) for it was he and he alone who had parked the car in the car park near the hotel and quite near the airport. I remember him coming back and proudly showing me the picture that stated which Zone he had parked in. How modern I thought. But at the end of a long flight and with the sun coming up he seemed distinctly unsure which direction to take.
‘Ah, that’s it,’ he pointed, ‘let’s get on this bus.’ I agreed readily, any bus would do.
We piled on lugging big suitcases and held on tight as the shuttle crossed the first roundabout. At which point Shed Man howls, ‘This isn’t the way.’ A frantic talk with the speeding driver affirmed his concerns, but he wasn’t going back as he was clocking off after this trip, he told us. He did tell us how to get back to the airport on the shuttle though. We arrived back and found going down in the lift was practically impossible, so we wandered around for a while before finding a long ramp to descend, which took us back to the hotel where we had slept the night before departure. Oh, I so wanted to grab that comfy bed now. Take 2 – still unsure we set off for the very same bus stop in the hope that their was a second route. After waiting a while, one turned up – going to the same destination. At this point son points out that maybe we should look for the paperwork. After all hand luggage and pockets had been checked a case was duly unzipped and found to be full of dirty washing and little else. Son again voices his thoughts, ‘but Mum you must have had some paperwork, emails, receipts, anything?’ And I replied, maybe a little snappily, ‘for fifty weeks of the year I take care of everything, pay the bills, do the insurance, and buy the TV licence, take the dog to the vets, everything but on holiday your Dad takes care of it all’. Son looks distinctly glum at this point. I checked my phone, as I had indeed booked the car park (not in remit for Shed Man, outside the scope of his two weeks) but I had deleted all mail after forwarding to Shed Man, and he couldn’t find on his phone either! But I agreed to him checking inside my backpack just in case any paperwork had crept into my bag. And there it was, details on car park! I shall never find out how it got in there. However, Take 3 and we are directed to the onsite car park two minutes away and mystery. Having parked there two weeks ago why did he not know how close it was? Life is a puzzle sometimes, and it’s only getting worse. But this is good news, so we caught the proper bus for a very short time and alighted near the car, the picture was splendid, showing the car parking under the Zone pole and there it was – still gleaming in the watery morning sun. We looked like a camel train crossing over to it, from biggest to smallest all pulling what is now essentially a large laundry basket each. We took a while to pack the bags in; they seemed bigger now so we had to juggle a while. Then we piled in and headed for the exit, all sucking Werthers Originals that had been abandoned in the car two weeks ago. But we couldn’t get out, we didn’t have a ticket. And Shed Man was baffled, ‘I never had a ticket’ so off to the office we go and after a few minutes of ‘you must have had one,’ and a ‘no I didn’t,’ and a ‘but didn’t you stop to get one?’ And a retort of ‘no, you took my picture at the gate, I saw it flash, I went in and I went and parked. A lovely patient attendant smiled and said kindly, ‘well you won’t be the first and you certainly won’t be the last. Do you mean there’s more like him? After form filling which involved returning to car to get ID and signing a declaration of lost ticket we were let out to join the M23 traffic all heading in the direction we wanted to go in. Not quite the perfect end to a holiday but we got home safely.
Our next family holiday will be passport-less, by car, a rural idyll, a cottage in Cornwall sounds absolutely great, and I presume parking is included? And, of course, we may have to draw lots with which family we bring with us?