Travelling en famille can be testing. In our case, four individuals with very different ideas about what makes an enjoyable summer holiday, and each of us highly skilled in the subtle art of infuriating to extreme any, or all, of the others. Lazing beside the pool while the little darlings splash about like demented otters for hours is no longer an option, as they are now neither little, or darling.
We have recently discovered, however, that city holidays offer a broad enough selection of diversions to keep each of us happy. Ish. The idea is that, as a small tribe venturing together into potentially hostile new territory, we should find ourselves bonding, growing closer through cultural stimuli and a shared experience of other civilisations. In theory, our family holidays ought now to be punctuated by fewer moments of murderous hate.
One of us though, is still charged with singlehandedly researching, booking, planning, map reading and executing the entire excursion from start to finish, while the others relinquish absolutely all responsibility for anything, (in some cases that includes personal hygiene). The only occupation that they undertake with enthusiasm, is the casting of aspersions on the tour-leader’s ability. With doubtful expressions they ask if I actually know what I’m doing. To be fair, the incident with our rail ticket (see previous blog post) and our once being stranded on Paxos Island because I mis-read the ferry timetable means that I am not as infallible as I like to make out. It’s a self-appointed role, born of a fact that Danny freely admits: If it were left to him, we’d never leave Yorkshire. But it drains the life out of me, and a martyred resentment sometimes builds which, left unchecked, can simmer over into dark curses muttered under my breath and secret vows to never travel with my family again. It’s nothing that an icy little aperitif can’t cure.
My feelings are matched by those of The Breadwinner, who, in the first instance is only here under duress, having long ago fulfilled a lifetime’s travelling goals, declaring with the confidence of a seasoned explorer, that most foreigners are shifty and dangerous. Then, not only is he torn away from his faithful and beloved hound, a comfy chair in which to complete the Telegraph crossword and a safe and familiar environment, he is now sparking international concerns of a possible run on the banks, required as he is to withdraw huge wads of his hard-earned Euros every day to pay for numerous tourist-taxed bottles of Orangina and other necessary holiday sundries that burn gaping holes in our pockets. An ice-cold beer tends to soothe his nerves (as long as he doesn’t check the bill). On a trip to Barcelona we coined the term ‘Poppatunity’ which describes the moment when we become aware of an imminent meltdown and quickly abandon whatever hair-brained mission we were on to seek out the nearest bar until the feeling subsides and the mood lifts back to ‘jolly hollies’ level.
Then there’s the offspring, for whose benefit the whole expedition is designed. When they’re not colluding with each other like a sly band of monkey pickpockets they find ways to out-do each other in the surly disinterested stakes and bickering is the preferred form of communication. Their room is transformed, within minutes of arrival, to the scene of a terrible war crime. Dirty pants hang in improbable places and every available towel lies in damp atolls across the floor. It must be some form of territory marking, but still, it causes me to hyperventilate and I avoid going near.
So off we go on another Whelan adventure to faraway lands. Find out in my next blog how we fare on our stay in Marseille. Did we make it out alive? Would we go back there? And just how many tattoos did we get?…