Friday, April 25, 2008

So long, farewell...

As you read this I will be sitting, fingers crossed, Novenas said, praying for no last minute hitches to the first full and proper Allan family holiday.

It’s been seven years since I flew away “foreign” for some sunshine. In 2001 myself and the husband went on our honeymoon to the gloriously sunny (but sadly lacking in decent alcohol) country of Tunisia.

Since then, with trying to get our foot on the property ladder and start our family we’ve been unable to manage anything more exotic than a week in Rathmullan - and the last time we did that was three years ago (and it rained six out of the seven days).

So last year I made the firm decision that by hook or by crook we would be jetting off somewhere outside of Ireland for a week if it killed us. I hunted out suitable accommodation and suitable cheap flights and sat back patting myself on the back and looking forward to it.

What I failed to remember was just how much organising is involved. Not being a frequent traveller at all, I forgot until fairly recently that I would need insurance.

And then someone reminded me about those E111 leaflets (which don’t even exist any more!) and then on top of that it dawned on me that the boy - who before now hadn’t needed any form of photographic ID, had to get a passport.

Now getting a passport is not the easy task it once was. It’s no longer a matter of sticking a wain in a photobooth and telling them to smile. Now it’s more like a mug shot. You have to track some willing soul down to do it (not an easy task in this town) and then bribe a child - who has spent his entire life being told to smile at the camera - to keep as straight a face as possible.

And then I had to pack. Now I’ve always (you know, on that one time I’ve gone abroad) been an overpacker. When we went on honeymoon I took at least five pairs of shoes, as well as clothes enough to wear something different every day and almost everything from my dressing table - from three different perfumes, to full make up, to hair dryer - the works. Our suitcases got those dirty big “heavy” stickers battered all over them at the airport and we got filthy looks from the check in staff.

In the end, of course, I lived in two pairs of shorts, my swim suit, a pair of mules and stopped wearing perfume just as soon as I realised that it brought me out in a vicious heat rash under the glaring Saharan sun. (It’s very difficult to find anti-histamines in Tunisia when your knowledge of both French and Arabic is severely limited. Miming scratching myself all over to a baffled pharmacist was not my finest hour).

So this time I’ve been ruthless - well mostly ruthless. I have two pairs of shoes going with me, and I’m not bringing make up. (I know - it’s a risk...)

I have perfected the capsule wardrobe and I’m sure Gok Wan would be delighted with me and my efforts. But is my suitcase any lighter? Not a chance!

Instead my suitcase has been piled high with little shorts, t-shirts, UV protective hats, shoes, swim suits, goggles, snorkle set, Thomas the Tank Engine toys, sandals, new pyjamas and several stuffed toys.

The boy has, once again, made his impact on our holiday. But God love him, he is so excited. He has been screaming at the sky every time a plane has soared over head for the last six months asking if that’s the one which will take us to Spain.

For the last two weeks we have been counting down in terms of sleeps and this is where my nerves have taken the biggest battering. You see for the same last two weeks the boy has had the lurgy. And I’ve been informed that the chicken pox “are doing the rounds”. The poor pet has been subjected to daily spot checks to make sure there are no signs and now as we get even closer my worry has stepped up a notch.

It would be just my luck to wake up on Sunday morning and have the boy covered head to foot in blisters. (And it would bring back all too painful memories of when I had the pox myself as a child and had to miss the Brigini camp. I was disgusted.)

It has made me realise that all the planning in the world doesn’t really matter - things can and still will go wrong. I may have my insurance in place, and our passports stored in a safe place. I have the new European Health Card and I may have clearly labelled print outs of all our bookings - from the plane to the car hire to the accommodation, but I still know it’s in the hands of the Gods as to whether or not the boy will be fit to fly. (Pox-ridden children are not permitted on aeroplanes - and much as I’ve toyed with the idea of bandaging him ‘Invisible Man’ style, I couldn’t do it in good conscience.)

So as you read this column offer up a wee prayer than on Sunday morning me, and my heavy suitcases, make it on to the plane - because I’ve heard Rathmullan is pretty booked up this summer.

*In a Marian Keyes stylee, I'd like to point out that my house will not be empty for the next week. We have house sitters - so I'll not be blogging between now and departure as I have to clean the damn thing so that our guests don't realise what a complete slattern I really am.

See you in one (hopefully sunny) week.


Fionnuala said...

Have a fun pox free time Claire and co. Will miss you! Fx

Anonymous said...

Hope you have a great time!

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