|If this was always my writing view, I feel this blog would be a whole lot cheerier.|
I haven’t been on a family holiday in years – I can’t be the only one who hit 17 and decided that the thought of spending a week in one place with only people I’m related to for company was, well, A Bit Much. Plus, my family are strongly in favour of beach/pool holidays, whereas I can do that for about three hours and then start to go a bit crackers and need to find a museum or an art gallery or a church tower to climb, stat.
But something about working in an office 9-5, Monday-Friday, has made the whole doing-nothing-for-a-week holiday seem much more appealing, so when my mum asked if I wanted to join her and my sister in Greece for a week, I said yes bloody please.
It’s beautiful here – all I’ve done since Monday is eat, swim and gaze in stupefied awe at the crystal-clear Aegean Sea (sorry sorry sorry). So the following is what happens when I don’t really have anything to write about…
1) Hotel restaurant buffets make fools of us all.
“What do you mean, I wouldn’t dream of having a bowl of bircher muesli followed by French toast and an entire pot of tea for breakfast at home?”
2) Related: no-one does any exercise on holiday.
I tried doing some ‘proper’ swimming – it’s a pain in the arse being one of those irritating people who’s just found out how good exercise is – but people kept getting in the way, being leisurely and having fun – so eventually I gave up on that one.
3) You quickly identify that one family you either want to befriend or be adopted by.
It happened on day 2. They arrived at the pool – two couples, with five children between them. Dads in Ray-Bans and Boden shorts, mums trying to keep track of little ones (more on that in a moment). One dad looked a bit like an older version of Drummer Boy if I closed my eyes and thought about it really hard. Children with names like Oscar, Florence and Oliver – obviously. It was love at first sight.
4) You quickly identify that one family you hope either suffer a freak incident of food poisoning or all get nibbled to death by mosquitos.
It happened on the evening of day 2. They were on their way to the marina, as were we, and I overheard them say something incredibly rude about the Russian family standing about eight feet away. Who does that? In front of their kids? Come on.
5) Mothers are mothers, no matter where in the world they may be.
During the course of the week, Mother Dearest and I came to verbal blows over the following: Caitlyn Jenner, me asking to borrow my sister’s lip balm, my relationship choices, her refusal to eat anything more interesting than salad. For us, that’s pretty good going. She also managed to plan my entire wedding (I’m not even engaged) before we even got off the runway. She’d written a guest list on her boarding pass.
I am now even more convinced than I already was that, whenever the time comes, myself and the unlucky gentleman are going to elope.
6) Airports are weird.
Our flight was at 6am, so we got up at 2.45. Ouch. Pro-tip: don’t spend the afternoon before a 3am start drinking beer and talking nonsense in the sunshine, no matter how much you enjoy listening to your love interest’s folk band. You will go to bed feeling mighty strange and full of regret in every shade. You will feel even stranger when you find yourself wandering round Duty Free at Gatwick at 5 in the morning, trying to buy perfume and/or sunglasses and wondering why your heart’s not in it. Dude, it’s 5am. You are not meant to be shopping, you are meant to be in the land of zizz. Sit down and doze off. Right after you’ve done Smith’s, though.
7) Boys will be boys to the end.
I was finishing a glass of wine in the hotel bar, after Mrs Lightweight and Sister had gone to bed, minding my own business and having a Facebook Messenger “difference of opinion” with DB, when a young man approached and offered to buy me a drink. I declined, but he sat down anyway and we started on the small talk. He looked rather nonplussed when I asked what he did, so I asked if he was a student, and when he rattled off the four subjects he was studying, the penny dropped. “Ohhh, you’re an A-level student”.
“Yeah. Are you at uni, or…?”
“No… I’m 25.”
8) Gender stereotypes rule on holiday.
When the family in (3) arrived, it was the men who took off with the kids – they couldn’t wait to throw their sons into the water and teach their daughters to swim without armbands. One mum was left holding the baby for a good hour – and yeah, it was a super-cute baby, but all it could do was lie on a sunlounger and dribble a bit. Not much fun for mum. After a while, dad came over and said “do you want a go in the pool, darling?” If it had been me, the reply would have been brief. YES PLEASE, AND A COLD BEER. NOW.
On the Bambi bookshelf: poolside edition
The former I picked up when I went into a charity shop to donate some books, somewhat defeating the whole point of the visit. It’s brilliant. Genuinely funny and touching – though some of the characters aren’t entirely realistic, but hey, they’re characters in a book – I can’t wait to read the sequel (The Rosie Effect).
The latter was given to me by Drummer Boy at Christmas, because he was very taken with the description of the protagonist, and knew I would be too: “I am Charlie Mortdecai. I like art and money and dirty jokes and drink. I am very successful”. And while I wouldn’t have chosen it myself, it’s a strange little treat – chock-full of so many evil, but oh-so-quotable lines:
“Women are great advocates of sex in bed because they have bad figures to hide (usually) and cold feet to warm (always).”
“I weakened some of the coffee with some of the whisky and drank it, suppressing a gagging shudder”.
“…I was wearing my Complete American Disguise: a cream tussore suit, sunglasses and a cocoa-coloured straw hat with a burnt orange ribbon. The effect was pretty sexy, I don’t mind telling you. Mr Abercrombie would have bitten Mr Fitch if he’d seen it”.
It’s like Withnail, or Black Books, but with art – equal parts wit, whisky and skulduggery (was trying to go for another ‘w’ there but nothing really fitted).
Got to go now, pool awaits.