This time two weeks ago I was frantically trying to pack for five people and a dog to go to Norfolk for a week. As any of you who have undertaken this task (and it seems that at the moment we are a nation of people undertaking this task), this is not something you come to on the day of departure hoping to chuck a pair of knickers and a toothbrush into a bag and be on your merry way. I had been washing and getting stuff ready for weeks.
After trying to count out the necessary number of pants and socks, I then started trying to gather the items of clothing that I had been secretly stockpiling. That would be all of the clothing necessary for every possible type of weather that could be encountered on the east coast of England. Rainy, obviously. Windy, undoubtedly. Sunny, possibly. Just the selection of footwear was enough to fill a skip. Toiletries for cleaning unwilling children were essential. A bizarre first aid kit was required because when you’re seven and you don’t want to go to bed you simply do not know what previously unknown ailment may strike. And it could be a different one each and every night for a week. Then I had the Hound to consider. Apparently he would want feeding and generally tending to as well. Damn him! And let us not forget that I also had a size restriction in that I had to fit it all into a car along with five humans and said Hound.
My thoughts started to run away with me. What if there was a freak hurricane and we needed special weights in our shoes? Would I have the right type of pants for an unexpected Summer fete? What if we happened upon some morris dancing – was I prepared with a sufficient number of hankies? Things were starting to get out of hand.
Did I mention that I was also trying to exchange contracts on the pre-school project before 3pm that day or all bets were off this Summer? (See Abacus blog if you missed it). And collect and deliver sold raffle tickets and tombola prizes for our village fete to a neighbour at the bottom of the village at a time when she was in because she would need them ready for before we got back? Oh, and I was packing stuff from the lounge into boxes so it could be decorated while we were away. Apparently it is easier to decorate a room without three kids and a dog in it as well. Who knew?
Man of the House arrived back from work and announced that he had been rushed off his feet all morning but if he could possibly just have a sandwich, as soon as he had eaten he would be ready to “load the car”. I see some of you have raised an eyebrow there and have muttered “would he?” Yes, he would. If I could just pop and get the kids from school, then by the time I got back he would have finished and we would be ready to go. I was a donkey on the edge. He took one look at my face and knew that I was a donkey on the edge. He drove all the way to Norfolk.
In the end I resolved that we were remaining in the UK. Not venturing into the Amazon rainforest (although I have had a bottle of Coca Cola in the Amazon Rainforest) and not foraying into rural India (where I was still able to buy a banana). But Norfolk, England. And if for some reason I had omitted to pack a sufficient number of knotted hankies or emergency cravats, then we would just have to buy it when we were there or go without.
Since my return, it has occurred to me from the white-faced and starey-eyed look I have observed on several people’s faces that I am not alone in experiencing the horror of “packing for holiday”. One friend told me that he had been ironing the children’s clothes at ten o’clock at night (no, I don’t know what he’s doing ironing the children’s clothes for holiday either, his standards must be infinitely higher than mine) whilst his wife (also a friend) was working. Wife is a beauty therapist and apparently the minute she announces she’s going on holiday, all of her clients have to book in a treatment. I have heard of people getting themselves waxed and buffed ready for their own holidays, but I must admit that having to rush in an intimate wax at ten o’clock at night before your therapist goes away had completely passed me by.
Meanwhile, across the county, another friend is also preparing for her annual week of ice-cream testing. As he keeps on growing (how selfish!) she had purchased her son some shorts and invited him to try them for size. They were returned to her a few minutes later with a declaration that they were too small. Son had already removed the labels thus making an exchange questionable in an already tight timescale before the off. When she raised this with him, my friend was treated to being shouted at and a slammed bedroom door. I bet he’s looking forward to a beach holiday with his family. In his pants.
Finally, another friend is also undertaking the clothes gathering exercise prior to cramming it all into a selection of bags and sitting on them to get the zips done up. She was opining as to the reason why her Man of the House had not yet produced any clothes to pack. Was it a) he wasn’t intending to join his family on holiday b) he was intending to join them but had already washed everything ready or c) he would hand her the clothes he needed to take the day before departure and mumble something about them needing a bit of a wash?
Oh the joy. The sheer middle class horror of it all. The bickering in the car. The being two miles down the road and someone needing a wee. The dropped Mr Whippy. The sand. The bloody sand. And let us not forget the enormous pile of washing when you get back.
Have a lovely holiday.