Wednesday 17 September 2008

Here endeth the lesson

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...


  1. I saw a news story on the BBC news website today "snake found in Dutch toilet". Given your colourful tale, I'm wondering if you had anything to do with it. But you talk about that red wine in a way that suggests to me that you might not remember...

  2. Go girl! Who needs sympathy when you can go and behave like a teenager again! Hurrah to that!
    Tomorrow, sedate boy no. 2 with Piriton and sleep until school pick-up. (got that tip from a pharmacist - I remember being scandalised at the time....) t.x

  3. We have just had old friends from the UK staying with us. I will only say that a lot of our miss-spent (a misnomer if ever I heard one) youth has been comprehensibly re-enacted. We have eaten and drunk with reckless abandon. Oh frabjous joy!! We also did a LOT of whistle-stop tours of the local 'oh wow' spots too. Now going to recover over the next week or two....

  4. What a total bummer that trip was. I wouldn't have wished it on my worst enemy. Not any part of it. I am glad you are home safe and will be recovering soon. No more of that screw top red wine, okay?

  5. At least you were out living! You got rather entertaining stories to relive when the mundane of everyday life gets to you. :)

  6. I too have had a hangover a result I've given up drinking, tea next week?
    I have huge sympathy with you on all counts
    And the wrangling boy?
    Get him some reins, you can dangle his feet just ever so slightly above the ground so he can't get away. A small rucksack with handle on the top give the same effect!

  7. Iota, who knows?

    KP, what, you didn't work that one out for yourself? (Actually, what am I saying? A doctor in paediatric emergency gave me the same tip - and I was similarly shocked. Until a long plane journey loomed...)

    Sharon, sounds like you had a ball. Especially if it's going to take you a week or two to recover!

    Irene, as ever, I bigged it up a little. Well, a lot. But one thing I would say is that in essence the post is all true, and whilst inconvenient I was amazed at how little we were all fazed by it (with the exception of me and my hangover, obviously). Maybe Husband and I are finally growing up...

    Good point Ped. Another one for the scrapbook - and for the in-laws to bring up when they want to point out how rubbish our car is.

    Frog, reins are definitely the fashionable option given the number of suggestions I've had about them. And TEA next week? Do we have to? It would be rude not to have just the one glass of wine, don't you think?

  8. all that in the name of fun. Makes you wish you were an old grump with no friends who never asked you anywhere. Hindsight's a swine, isn't it?

  9. Milla, too true. Pass me the dry bread and water - I'm feeling like celebrating...

  10. And you're giving us all these tips because...? You know we'll all agree furiously and then completely forget them when faced with the same situation.
    I must admit tho', I'm fast going off red wine. It gives me a headache before I've even finished the first glass. Trying to tell me something I think.

  11. Look on the bright side - what else would you have blogged about?

  12. Besides having so much fun you got to blog about it -----

    Do you have any receipts from the mechanic or tow truck place? You could always send a tip via the mail or whatever....they sound like they really really tried to make your life a wee bit easier.

    How's your head now?

  13. At least with blogging you can turn a nightmare into a great funny story - only once back in your home (and over the hangover) can you see the funny side... maybe? Screw top red wine - far to easy to access and therefore keep on drinking, even when you know you've gotten past the point of no return. Glad it's not just me!

  14. "Never laugh smugly - until you have actually booked a place on one of those ferries."
    All I thought when I read that was shiiiiiit!
    At least you can laugh about in now . . . you can can't you?

  15. oh fabulous! PottyM, the journey from deepest hell. I was shuddering with horror, but delighting in your delivery. Of COURSE you drank too much red wine. Did you fall over on the dance floor and show your knickers???

  16. EPM, actually it was myself I was trying to remind. Because of course I always print off relevant sections of my blog and carry them round with me to refer to in pressured situations...

    the dotterel, good point, well presented. And of course unless I'm completely misunderstanding things in blogland, no one really wants to read about a perfect life anyway, do they?

    Aims, head much improved thankyou. And Husband may have a record of where we were, so will try that (though I think we were both so desperate to get away that there is a strong possibility that all got left behind in the rush).

    TG, true, for me, that is largely the point with blogging. if you can find something funny to write about situation then it was never a total loss!

    Tara, yes I can laugh - thank god! Not quite as loudly as our family did though when they heard our oh-so-reliable skoda had let us down, though (Husband comes from a family of petril-heads who take it as a personal insult that he - note, HE, chose that brand of car over something more flashy because it's so 'reliable'...)

    Pig, what I WANT to say here is 'what knickers?' Of course, since I was with family, I can't say that... But no, in any case, I didn't show them. Mainly because I was wearing opaque tights against the cold and when I fell I was fortunate enough to be out of view...

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  18. i just want to put in a good word for the screw top on a wine bottle. i can get into it a whole 50 seconds quicker than with a corkscrew, which is more than a gentle swing in its favour. and what a great trip you took! that is the proper way to enjoy yourself. well done, pm!

  19. I never get to have such adventures. You are one lucky girl...lucky girl with a hangover, but you know....still...lucky.

    Did you get rid of the fleas yet? :-)

  20. I am sneding laughter and sympathy in equal quantities. It does get to a stage in such nightmare days when you just have to laugh or you'd cry. Looks like you took the second option! and earned every gulp of dodgy screw top wine!

  21. Wow - now that was a story worth waiting for! You have such a talent with words PM. My condolences for your rainy adventure. I had one myself in the mountains of Virginia in the pouring rain about 10 years ago. Self and husband broke down on a famous bridge and trudged a mile to reach a phone. Pre-cell phone days. Good times.

  22. Oh PM - what a great post, v amusing to read. But am sorry you had such a challenging journey. Hangovers and small peeps never mix do they, but worth it I feel for that rare moment of drunken escapism. Good for you!

  23. Fantastic post as friend Eliza and her two children (one over excited daughter Ashley who is OBSESSED with Sally from Monsters Inc) who were unable to go to Euro Disney as planned spent five hours trying to rebook for this week. Ashley helpfully pointed out to the harrassed booking clerk that "if I don't go next week I shall get very cross and then you'll be sorry, you'll ALL be sorry". Eliza said she didn't know whether to apologise or agree with her daughter.

  24. Grit, thankyou. Never let it be said I don't know how to amuse myself in the company of alcohol!

    J's Mommy, thank heavens we never actually had to sleep in the bunks (hence the 2am arrival at the hotel). If we HAD had to then I suspect that my remaining good humour would have failed me.

    Mud, thanks, and in the company of small children laughing is usually the only option. Mainly because they see tears as a sign of weakness!

    Thankyou SB, and oh, those pre-children jaunts. How we laughed as the airconditioning / car / train broke down, the flight / bus / ferry was cancelled... Well no, actually we didn't. We got cross. Because frankly, pre-kids, we didn't really know when we were onto a good thing!

    M/M, thanks for the compliment and in hindsight, it could all have turned out very differently so am simply grateful for that!

    N/H Mum, thankyou and it sounds as if your friend should be writing a blog about her daughter...


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