My first husband wouldn’t fly so for the seventeen years we were together there was no ‘aeroplane-action’ and as such no easy way to go abroad. Instead we got round this via ‘ferry’; not a solution for the faint hearted as the patience of a saint, strong sea legs and a love of driving is necessary. After all it would be too easy to simply drive fifty minutes to the nearest airport, hop on a plane and arrive in the sun! Instead we were forced to fill the car until it heaved under the strain of enough shit to see us through two weeks in rainy Normandy and creak the four hours down to Dover. We’d then wait in a steamed up car with two pissed off kids to be ‘waved’ into our limited square footage of space aboard a massive bloody boat squeezed between a van and a lorry. After which we’d take our essentials whilst attempting to suppress motion sickness and nibble at something overpriced in the restaurant with fake smiles all around as we fight to maintain the family holiday spirit. After all we’d paid over a grand for this shit! Finally we’d disembark; green around the gills and head straight to the nearest cheap booze outlet to squeeze as many bottles of one euro fizz around the kids before driving yet another three hours to a damp ‘Gite’ in the middle of nowhere.
Worse than this transpired to be the following years when my second husband who had travelled the globe for 6.5 years and sold himself as an adventurer suddenly post-children decided that nothing more than a Haven holiday camp for the rest of his families yearly breaks was sufficient. Not even paying full price; thus giving you less choice. Instead it all hinged on buying The Sun Newspaper for ten weeks, collating codes then trying not to kill each other when selecting regions/dates and sites in the UK in order to secure either a 3 or 4 day break for less than 70 quid. Obviously the costs spirals when you realise you’ve got no bedding, can’t access the pool or club house unless you cough up more; nearly 200 quid later you still have either a 3 or 4 day break in a cheap caravan somewhere in the UK. I can boldly state that I am a leading authority on caravan holidays. That’s right leave your jealousy at the door I’ll not take on board your green-eyed shit for I have endured Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and paid extra for the ‘welcome pack’!
After an unpleasant motorway journey you’ll arrive at your ‘shoe box’ on wheels which has been heaved precariously onto bricks and park next to it; invariably you have parked on the wrong side. Inside the smell of ‘Shake & Vac’ may cause you to gag but to the untrained eye it appears clean and ready to receive you. Unless you’re rich or a seasoned ‘caravanner’ you’ll not have paid to have the beds made up for your arrival; at this point this is the single biggest regret of your life. For after several hours in the car with a couple of kids who’ve tipped crisps everywhere, smashed banana into their own hair and possibly vomited the last thing you feel like doing it squashing a questionable duvet into an open-ended cover. However when this is done and the kettle is on and you’ve arranged your full-sized toiletries onto a ledge the width of a postage stamp you’ll be feeling a little more chipper. With a cuppa in hand you’ll finally get seated and assess the room further; at this point don’t be surprised to note stains that evaded your first perusal. Still you’re on holiday so take in the vista! Warning this is likely to be a fattish woman wearing see-through leggings getting a toddler covered in what you hope is chocolate out of the back of a battered Skoda.
After making a pasta tea on one of the two rings that actually work on the hob you’ll be reminded that in fifteen minutes the kids wish to be in their best dress, with glitter spray in their hair and down at the Club House in time for some spotty teenage to don a Badger costume for a meet and greet. You’ll achieve this then spend an hour of your life you’ll never get back sipping on an expensive flat Coke whilst the kids scream their way through the Badger’s theme song. You will eye the two red-faced, over-enthusiastic kids entertainers with suspicion as they ‘go through the moves’ on a bouncy stage with aplomb whilst simultaneously wondering if at 45 your too old to join them and start snorting coke?
Still at least you’ll be home by 8pm if your savvy enough to have evaded the hard sell of the Bingo cards and associated 2 quid for a ‘dabber’. Just in time to get whatever is stuck into the kids hair out then use milk as an antidote to the E numbers they’ve just ingested and finally get them into bed in readiness for the early morning colouring club you’ve promised they can attend. Not to mention swimming; it is a caravanning law that each kid must go swimming every day. And you must accompany them into the Verruca plaster infested chilly pool designed to hold no more than 50 with 150 other kids who invariably have a cold. After which it’s fitting in a small segment of sightseeing the area outside of the park before heading back to do it all over again. After three days you’re wondering why you pushed for four and upon leaving you smile the smile of a prisoner released from death row and promise yourself next year you’ll rent a cottage somewhere nice