So, children, what did we learn last weekend?
1. Always - but always - stay tuned to local radio when approaching the Eurotunnel turnoff on the motorway. That way, when there is a freak accident (for example, a train catching fire inside the tunnel) that just happens to co-incide with your weekend trip and which closes the tunnel for the forseeable future, you will be aware of it 10 minutes before you are due to exit the motorway. You can then cruise past, laughing smugly, on your way to Dover and the still empty ferries...
2. Never laugh smugly - until you have actually booked a place on one of those ferries.
3. Do not get annoyed when trying to book a place on the ferry if the operator at the end of the phone refuses to sell you a crossing to Calais. She is just doing her job. It sails to Dunkirk, numpty.
4. Never assume that once you roll off the ferry in France your problems are over...
5. Get as much sleep as you can early on in the drive through Belgium to Holland. That way, when the car breaks down at 10.00pm in the worst rain you've seen outside a monsoon and drifts slowly towards the inside lane, you will be fully alert and not dribbling like an idiot when Husband asks you to steer the car as he pushes it to the hard shoulder (in said pouring rain).
6. Always remember to extend your AA membership to cover mainland European trips before you leave the UK. FYI, once you break down sur la continent without cover, you are screwed and it will cost you a fortune.
7. Always remember to take two winsome and beautifully behaved children with you, to smile prettily at the tow-truck driver when he picks you up, prompting him to call ahead to the garage and have a mechanic on standby to fix the broken-down car on the spot at midnight.
8. Carry local currency - lots of it - for tipping said driver and mechanic. We didn't, so couldn't, which I regret as they were so helpful...
9. Never lose it when confronted with the bedsit that the mechanic is suggesting you spend the night in if he can't fix the car. Remember that your sons think bunkbeds are a great adventure, you can always shower when you finally make to the hotel sometime the following day, and that you have no proof - only your suspicions - that there are fleas in the blankets....
10. Keep smiling; if you do this your sons will too and frankly, that makes the whole thing so much easier at 2.00am when you finally arrive at the hotel after a 5 hour journey that lasted 10.
11. Do not drink too much screwtopped red wine at the wedding party the following evening. Red wine and tiredness usually result in falling over at some point.
12. Count yourself lucky if that falling over happens away from public view.
13. Do not get upset if the dj at the party has never heard of Pulp's Common People. This is darkest Holland, after all, what did you expect?
14. Stop drinking - now.
15. If you must drink, make it water.
16. Oh, for Pete's sake. I said water! Is water red? Does it taste like wine?
17. Do not expect your Husband or children to show you any mercy the following day. Or the day after that...