Tuesday, 12 June 2007

En France

Leaving Hubby to go into ferocious battle with a floor sander – it has been known to reduce him to tears, I packed my girls into our Espace for our 11pm crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff. The wind blew, the rain lashed down and even the Torpoint Ferry laboured across a swollen river. I started to pray.
“Do you think we should have taken those Sea Legs tablets earlier mum?” asked the 11 year old.
My stomach was already feeling dodgy but I put that down to anxiety. My house was in disarray – dust and books, ornaments and old carpet were littered everywhere in preparation of Hubby’s floor sanding. Also, we were not the only ones going on hols, my son too was packed up and ready to go to Rome with his granddad. I had left him with strict instructions of what to take, how to behave, what to eat and where to keep his money before he lost his patience with me, “Alice dear, you may consider me a deaf old codger but I think I am capable of looking after myself and a teenage boy for a few days”.
Now in front of me was a horrific cross channel crossing, driving in France and the happiness and safety of my daughters and. No wonder my insides were playing up.
Having joined the queue in Millbay Docks a tannoy system informed us that the ship had been delayed, a collective groan emanated and I thought we may as well go and have a coffee inside the terminal.
Unfortunately there was a man in there only too happy to share horror voyage stories with me.
“You going on this ship tonight love?” he asked. I nodded. He sucked his teeth.
“Crikey, hope you’re a good sailor. I’ve just received a phone call from my wife. She’s on the ferry you’re waiting for. In the sick bay actually. Quite an apt name as she said she’d never seen so much sick in her life. Everywhere it is. Swilling down the passageways”. By now the five year old was all ears.
“Aw mummy I don’t want to go” and she started to wail. This started the Red-Head off, who joined in the refrain with, “Me no go France, me see Daddy” over and over. The eleven year old was fishing in my handbag.
“What are you after?” I asked
“This” and she poured half a vial of Bach’s Rescue Remedy down her throat. Wind lashed and damp we returned nervous and edgy to the car. The ship finally docked and in fairness to the crew they must have been a dab hand with the Dettol because there was no evidence of any vomit on board. We bothered not with any on board amenities or entertainment. I just wanted these girls asleep before the ship sailed into a perfect storm. Lying down on my pillow, pleasant thoughts of George Clooney filled my mind and I drifted off to sleep. A few hours later we arrived in Roscoff to a sunny, if breezy day.
I consulted the map and set off for Perros Guirec and in just over an hour we pulled into the campsite. We weren’t to enter our accommodation until 3pm and I wondered what we would do with a car full of stuff but the Keycamp rep had already prepared our mobile home and within half an hour the kids were playing and I was playing little house in my new kitchen, putting everything in its place.
The biggest draw back of this holiday, apart from the weather and absence of spouse, was the position of the mobile home i.e. directly opposite the kids clubs. Rather frustratingly, Key Camp don’t start theirs until July although other holiday companies had and you try telling a two year old that she is not allowed to join the other little children because mummy didn’t book with Canvas Holidays. Every five minutes I had to remove my daughters from irresistible craft activities.
Fortuitously the British Chav fraternity were also on holiday and alive and well on our camp site. No sooner had I gone to bed than a commotion made me sit up and draw my curtain back. A gang of young teenagers swinging vodka bottles and fags were entering the kids’ club tent. Up I jumped, slippers on, fleece zipped and running across I undid the zip of the kids club tent – immediately seven teenagers scarpered, leaving me to find the courier. She was a lovely girl and had been very apologetic that my daughters couldn’t join in her fun and games. Having found her, we rushed back only to find that the yobs had trashed her club; little plastic chairs had been broken, paint spilt, glue splattered. We cleaned it up the best we could but from then on we had an unspoken agreement that my children would go and quietly join in.
A couple of days later, the weather peeing down as much as it was peeing me off, I found a local indoor pool and after a good few hours we emerged happy, wrinkly and hungry. As I removed my rucksack from the locker my mobile beeped. A text message from my son read: ‘Lost granddad for 5 hrs. Contact me ASAP’. On the verge of texting the Pope, I shakily rang my son first, “Don’t worry mum, just found him!”Apparently whilst waiting for an underground train to the Vatican, a sea of people had pushed my dad on the train, the doors had shut leaving my 14 year old boy on the platform. He had kept his wits and navigated himself back to the hotel, leaving my dad demented. Not as much as me, by the time I put the phone down the bottle of Bach’s Rescue Remedy was drained. Other than leaving my wallet in the mobile home and it being delivered to me on the return crossing – no other dramas ensued but oh my it’s good to be home..

19 comments:

Rodrigo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alice Band said...

Que?

Sally Lomax said...

Hi Alice

I put this into Google Translate and he's a Portuguese guy selling t shirts! Spam!

Great blog as usual. We've been there. I remember when Keycamp didn't allow children under five in the kids club, and at the time we had three children all under five. They allowed ED in, as she was very nearly five, but not the other two...

I felt for you with your Son's phonecall. There is absolutely nothing you could have done but being 14 his insinct would have been to call you, but not think for a moment what that might have done to your sanity.

Hope the floor looks good!!

Sally's hubby said...

I agree with Sally - another really good yarn.

And also as per Sally's comments, I can relate to much of what you've said. We've done a fair few Keycamp holidays over the years. I'm not sure we ever experienced the chav issue, though. What an irony that that their being there actually worked in your favour!

The worst of these holidays for us has been the interminable hours in the car, through the UK to the ferry, then onwards from Calais or wherever to South or South West France. Much better to be able to do what you did - a short hop from home to Plymouth, a bit of kip on the boat, than another short hop to the destination. Even with the rain, I would imagine it made for a nice bit of relaxation.

Lisa said...

Wow, glad to read you, but I think you need a holiday after your holiday!
Glad it ended up right, though.
I dealt with some Chilean youths on our last vacation. I don't think it's anything about enthnicity, at that age they must all be idiots the world over!

Alice Band said...

Sally, Sally's lovely Hubby and Lisa,
Thanks for stopping by and explaining who the Portuguese geezer was!
It does make one hell of a difference being this close to the cross channel ferry, although it is bloody expensive - that same week a friend and her family drove all the way to Dover as it was a fraction of the price. Her children are well in their teens though so not as likley to mither. Having said that another friend has just returned from Venice for a significant birthday. I begged her not to take her young teenage girls. I vowed to have them for her to go with her husband a deaux but she was under some romantic illusion that they would be captivated by Venice's beauty. Yeah right. She ended up on the vaporetti, shouting at the most prolific winger of the two to "F*ck off". I screamed with laughter! Thank God it's not only me...

Mary Alice said...

Oh Alice. What a vacation you had. I think I would have thrown up a little, if my son had called to tell me that he had lost Grandad in Rome. Yikes. You raised him well obviously, as he was able to take care of it all himself.

You posted on my blog and I am only just now getting back to you. We are currently stationed in New England, a far piece from Idaho or Michigan.

Alice Band said...

Mary Alice,
I left a long message on your blog. I am having a terrible day. I genuinely think I have done a crap job at this mothering palaver.
Sally - please tell me you've had issues with your teenagers. I don't know what to do.

Yvonne said...

You have done a fantastic job of bringing your kids up, they are a credit to you. Don't doubt yourself.

Alice Band said...

Yvonne - thankyou! Is that my Yvonne by the way. If it is ask your mother about your brother and my youngest daughter's birthday!!

Mary Alice said...

Alice dear - your morning with the spilt tea and the houseguests and the evening with the incessant computer, well let me just say, ugghh and I can completely empathize. I think you should go with the element of surprise and shock your children right back into model behavior. Try this out on them - a great American colloquialism that my husband’s grandmother was known to say to her own five children during trying times - "You do that again and I'll kick your ass up astraddle your neck." Her children were so shocked they would immediately cease the offensive behavior and they still talk to this day, some 60 years later, about Mom B. getting mad enough to say that.

Alice's 'Hubby' said...

It was wonderful to have them home and I can confirm that the floor(s) look great.

Alice Band said...

I don't believe it - 'my hubby' has left a comment! Well hello darling!

Sally Lomax said...

Dear Alice

I sent you an email..........

OF COURSE I have had issues. We all have.....

You honestly have not done a bad job. Of that I am certain.

Yvonne said...

Yes its your Yvonne and she told me - shocking the pair of them!

headless chicken said...

Oh god...journeys on boats or ships are my worst nightmare especially if the sea is rough. I think I must have drowned in a former life!

sally's hubby said...

Hi Alice's hubby.

Well done with the floors - you're a better man than me!

And many congrats on your brass hat!

drmathew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ferries said...

First of all kudos to you for putting up such a nice blog and sharing your experiences with us. It seems you had a very torrid experience traveling. Sometimes it happens when you don't plan things and chose the right carrier. Anyways I usually travel by ferries to France, and I love to be on sea. It is quite comfortable.