Friday, 13 July 2012

En Vacances - Semaine 1

Bonjour! Je suis en vacances et j'aime ca. Ici, c'est 29C et le soliel est comme un ami perdu. Vrai, j'etais desole en maison avec pluie, pluie. pluie.

Anyway, it has been a fantastic week since I last wrote. Friday evening saw Siggy finally finishing work for three weeks (although he does seem to still be doing a fair bit from here) and we went to see Tom Jones in concert. He may not move the way he used to, but that voice is still uncannily perfect. I am pleased to say that I did not, unlike some of the other women embarrass myself either by throwing knickers onto the stage (there were plenty who did) or by falling over drunk on the way out (again, there were plenty who did). I was dignity personified and I said so to Siggy as we left. I think it was just when he was putting the two small wine bottles I had smuggled in into the bin. I also pointed out that all those women who were so drunk were a disgrace - they really should do as I do and put in lots and lots of practice to avoid such drunkenness in future.    

The weekend was fairly quiet with just a few last minutes items to be picked up and packed. I don't do any of the packing as that is Siggy's domain and he wouldn't even allow me to be in the house whilst he packs, on the basis that we always fall out when I come up with an odd item or two that may have been forgotten. So I went shopping instead and got some more last minute items to take home after he had packed. He's so easy to wind up.

Whilst out shopping, however, I was involved directly in a horrific domestic. I had to go to Rutherglen as I was getting my nails done there and went into Savers to get sun tan lotion and the like. Whilst I was in the queue, the couple behind me were going at it hammer and tongs - effing and blinding at each other and clearly both more than a little drunk. I thought at first they were maybe still under the influence from Tom Jones the night before, but then remembered that there were a lot of Orange Walks on, so most likely they had been at it since early morning. Anyway, as I stood in the queue trying to ignore the bedlam behind me, the volume and venom just kept rising from both of them. Interestingly, most of the argument seemed to focus on him "making a total arse a hissel' " and her "being a daftie that wis making everyone look at them". Of course, you then have to look, don't you?

Not a great idea, as the shrieking then intensified with added "What the f**k you lookin' at?" "Snooty Cow" and "Nae wunner when you're being such a dick". I looked away again but was aware of the screaming match now involving a bit of pushing and jostling with the trolley. Just as I went to put my basket up on the checkout, he decided it would be a good idea to push the trolley forward and knock me over with it - sun tan lotions and creams spilled everywhere as I tumbled to the floor and both of them ran out, still yelling at each other and blaming each other "Noo look whit ye've done daftie"

The staff were very good and sympathetic and helped me get everything gathered together and put through the checkout. They still used the opportunity to flog me another tube of moisturiser for 99p though. I admit I am an easy target for sales at the best of times, but that really was a bit much.

Once out in the street, the pair were continuing to rail at each other and I joined several others in standing back to watch the spectacle before taking my purchases back to the car and heading off to get my nails done. On the way back, I have to say I was absolutely delighted to see the pair of them being driven away in the back of a police car, still seemingly arguing at high volume.

When I got back, Siggy had only actually packed one case - mine - as a result of his parents visiting, so I had to go out again. Not before he had told me - and friends via BBM that he had packed 10 of the pairs of shoes for me that I had left out and that he assumed the other two were for travelling. He was right, but he seemed to be suggesting that twelve pairs of shoes was too much for a 17 night break. Honestly, for someone supposedly intelligent he can be really thick at times.

My second shopping trip of the day was pretty successful as I had taken Donald's phone to the Forge to get it unlocked. His own phone was going to cost almost £100 to repair and he had managed to get a friends old Blackberry to use in stead (much to his disgust as he has always prided himself on being the only one in the house who doesn't hvae a Blackberry and thus doesn't answer to the demands of BBM. Anyway, it was locked so I went with Donald to get in unlocked and we had to listen to the lifestory of the guy who was trying to unlock it, all about his Turkish girlfriend and such like. After about half an hour of this, and with all the other shops and market stalls closed for the day, it became apparent that he was not going to be able to unlock it, but he was clearly wanting the sale. It was also fairly obvious that I wasn't going to move until I had an unlocked phone for Donald on holiday, so eventually he sold us a new Blackberry for only £5 more than he was going to charge me to unlock the old, scratched and dented one. Result!

OK, Donald was mortified that we had to be escorted out of the building by security via a fire escape as the whole place was locked up and empty by then, but a bargain is a bargain.  

Somehow, by the time I came back in, all the cases were packed and the car was ready to go, so Sunday was a bit of a non-event with very little last minute rushing around apart from taking Gordon to and from work, dropping off Dappy and birthday presents at Siggy's parents - I always hate that bit (dropping the dog, not the presents), giving keys to Phoebe and Bobby as Bobby will look in at the house whilst he's out and about in the area anyway, getting new car chargers because the ones from Amazon didn’t arrive in time, downloading copies of books onto the Kindle and my ipad from a dodgy disk, dropping the fish off at Peter's girlfriends, arranging for the papers to be sorted out with the lady along the street who is taking over whilst we're away and going to the shops (again) for supplies of sweets and energy drinks for Siggy for the journey. So after that quiet day, it was nearly 7pm before Siggy could go for a sleep as we were driving through the night. I say "we", but as the worlds worst passenger, Siggy does all the driving. I wouldn’t mind doing the UK bit but have to be honest and say that the continental driving does scare me silly so I wouldn't even attempt it. I did it once on a frantic drive to an Italian hospital when Scott was two and had split his head open and don't fancy trying it again in a hurry. Siggy was holding Scott’s head and trying to stop it bleeding, so he really couldnt drive too. I actually didn’t get the car out of the campsite but bringing it down to the front gates was scary enough!

So we set off at just after 10pm and by 10.15 were still sitting at the end of the driveway arguing about a missing 25euros from the envelope which the boys holiday spending money from gran was in. As usual, some had taken theirs and put in wallets and others hadn't but somehow it was short. A heated discussion ensued, as is often the case when we are going off on holiday and Siggy was refusing to move until the 25euros was found. Various trips in and out of the house still didn't find the cash and it was variously blamed on each of the boys in turn, mostly by Siggy I should add. Eventually, Siggy found the money lying on the floor at the side of our bed. He apologised (kind of) and said it must have fallen out when he "condensed" the electricals (straighteners, tongs, ipad) and other stuff that I had in an extra overnight bag into one of the other cases. I asked him what he did with our money, which was also in the bag.

"What money?" he asked

"The half of our spending money that you gave me because you always like to keep it in two different places, "just in case"" I replied, only a little sarcastically.

"It wasn't "half" it was "most". 800euros to be exact."

"Whatever. Where did you put it?"

"I didn't put it anywhere. I gave it to you" he snapped back.

"Well I put it in the extra overnight that you've "condensed", so where is it now?"

"Oh," was all he could say as he stomped back out of the car and went back into the house yet again. He returned a minute or two later with the money, which had been just where I left it in the zip pocket of the overnight bag that he had emptied and put back under the bed, spilling out the original 25 euros from the boys envelope in the process. "That was lucky," he said as he got back in.

Lucky? It was almost a total disaster and I had already told him that the money was in the bag when we got in the car. He just didn’t bother to mention that the bag wasn't in the car as well!

So we were off to a good start but the rest of the journey went relatively hitch free and we arrived in Paris by lunchtime on Monday and spent the afternoon in and around our overnight hotel near Disneyland. To be honest, we've probably done Disneyland to death over the years, stopping off in one direction or the other as part of our holiday and the only reason we chose the hotel there this time was because everywhere else in Paris would have needed at least two rooms and been more expensive. This did have the added bonus of a pool, so we could unwind a bit before taking on the last 500 miles of the journey the following day.

We went down to the pool and found that they wanted 2euros for a towel and you weren't allowed to use the hotel room towels either, so I trudged back up to the room to get "our own"  towels and came back to find Siggy waiting outside the pool for me. "Why didn't you just go ahead without me?" I asked.

"Because you'll never work out how to work the lockers," he replied. I was disgusted that he could have such a low opinion of my ability to work a simple locker, and told him so.

As it turned out, however, the lockers were a bit complicated. There was a central keypad for all the lockers and the instructions were in French, so really I would havs struggled. You had to put your clothes in a locker then type in the number of the locker at the keypad. It then asked you to make up a four-digit combination and, when accepted, you had to close the locker within  30 seconds or something. Siggy did this and quickly closed the locker door, turning to go to the pool.

"Oh, " I said, "I've still got the room key" as I realised I had been standing with the swipe card in my hand whilst he had been fiddling with the locker codes and stuff.

A heavy sigh and a look were the only reply I got as he started typing on the keypad again. However, it didn't work the first time which Siggy put down to the original 30 seconds not having elapsed, so he said we would wait and try again. Whilst he again started to put in the code, I hit on the great idea of just sliding the swiped card in under the locker door, which would save all the opening and re-closing. Siggy turned around just in time to see me let go of the swipe card and we both heard it drop - straight into the locker below our, which was locked. At the same time, the door of our locker opened as the code was accepted this time.

Another look and a quick unsuccessful attempt to open the other locker followed and we had to admit defeat and go to the desk where the girl on duty was clearly not amused - she had already tutted several times in that annoying French way when I arrived with towels that were clearly from our room wrapped inside one of our own -at being asked to come and rescue our key. Honestly, the lack of service with a smile is quite shocking at times.

We had our swim and got changed without further incident - well, that's if you don't count the boys mucking about on the slides like 5 year olds, but it was great to see them all so happy in the middle of our marathon journey (I refuse to change it to a Snickers journey, no matter what marketing think says). We then went on the shuttle bus to the Disney Village for dinner, which saw us end up in Planet Hollywood and generally had an enjoyable evening, incedibly seeing us all in bed by 10pm for a full ten hours sleep.

Next morning, we set off again for the last leg of the trip at about 11am. It should have been at about 1045, but there was a bit of an incident when Siggy was putting the cases back in the car. Donald had taken a yoghurt out as part of his teenage "graze constantly" diet as it had been nearly half an hour since breakfast. Whilst Siggy was putting the overnight bags back in, Donald had left his yoghurt on his seat. Unfortunately, as Siggy pushed the cases back in, a bag fell forward and the yoghurt - quite literally - exploded all over the inside of the car. Everything was covered in a way that really was surprising from such a small pot of yoghurt. Seats, windows, the steering wheel, dashboard, windscreen, even the roof took a bit of a hit. Fifteen minutes of frantic scrubbing with baby wipes removed the stains but the car did smell of strawberries for most of the remainder of the journey. Better that than soured yoghurt, but still not ideal.

We arrived in Portiragnes just after 7pm, which was just as the shops were about to shut, so we got the essential supplies of milk, beer and wine and got unpacked before heading off for a takeaway pizza, which turned into an eat-in pizza as the prices were the same in the restaurant anyway. By the time we got to the restaurant, about 8.30pm, the boys had already met some friends who were on the same site as them a couple of years ago, so they really settled in quickly which is great.

Unfortunately, this also meant that they went to the onsite disco on the second night here and were hassled all the way back at 1am by camp security telling them to keep it quiet, apparently "Bouche! Bouche!" was all they kept saying and they were making more noise than the boys anyway. I was sitting outside waiting for them to come in and didn’t hear a thing, so security did seem to be a wee bit over the top. We were told to expect a visit the following day for them to tell us that they had spoken to the boys, but it never materialised. So, last night we decided, after a wine or two ourselves, to go down to the disco and walk home with the boys at 1am just to make sure that security didn’t get heavy-handed again. The disco doesn’t finish until 2am anyway so I think that security were maybe just bored. Anyway, Siggy, Scott and I went down and I had a few more wines. Siggy took Scott home and I decided that I should go and explain to the security staff myself. Once I had told them that i didn’t want any more hassle from them and we've have told the boys to keep the noise down, I left them looking a little embarrassed. Or maybe bemused, it was hard to tell and they didn’t really say much.

So I was then left walking up the road myself. My navigation skills are not greta in the daytime and sober, so inevitably, I got lost and had to call Gordon to come and collect me.

"Where are you?" he said.

"If I knew that I wouldn't be lost would I?" I replied. Stupid boy. 

"Well what can you see?" he asked, rather too sensibly for a teenager to my mind.

"Mobile homes, of course, I'm on a campsite" I said, stating the obvious. Why do men always ask such daft questions? It's like that favourite of Siggy's "Do you actually need it?" whenever I'm shopping.

"You'll need to find something better than that or I'll never find you." Gordon said, sounding a bit irritated. 

"Oh, right," I said. I looked around and realised that the swimming pool was quite close along one of the rows. "Ah, I can see the pool,"  I said, "I know my way from there."

"No, just go to the pool and wait there. I'll come and meet you". Gordon really is very untrusting, but I suppose he did at least come and get me. Mind you, I didn’t see him until the last second as I was looking for him coming from completely the other direction, thinking that's where our mobile home was. Maybe he was right not to trust me..   

That apart, we've done pretty much nothing except laze around and read. My ipad doesnt react well to the heat around the pool - or may be it's just the heat from Mr Gray (on book 2 at present) - and I've had to restart the ipad several times, which is a bit annoying, but otherwise all is good. Siggy managed to contain his excitement until yesterday when he could bear it no longer and we had to do the big supermarket shop which he strangely enjoys when we're over here. We also had to buy trunks for all the boys as swim shorts aren't allowed in the pool. This is often what the sites ay over here, but this year they are actually enforcing it and Scott had to leave the pool on Wednesday after he tried to go down the slide with swimshorts on. Stupid rules. The Boys were all adamant that they weren’t going to wear “gay speedos” before we came but they soon changed their tune when they realised that it was that or no going in the pool for the duration.

We went to the Carrefour a few miles away and got supplies for what should be at least a week. Siggy likes the fact that you have to pay for carrier bags here and therefore no-one ever has carrier bags. Everything just gets loaded into the boot and unloaded at home. Due to the space for parking the car being quite tight, Siggy unloaded everything and passed it up to Donald and I for us to take into the house. He was, for some strange reason, speechless when he came in and found that everything was in the house but nothing in cupboards. I hate that bit so I left it to him as I know he enjoys it so much. Selfless or what?    

Anyway, I have to get back to the sun and Mr Gray.

Au revoir pour maintenant.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Nearly Aud Revoir......

First and foremost, I could not start this weeks post without mentioning a very moving and sad day last Friday. AG, the mother of one of our dear friends, John, passed away and the funeral was a humbling experience. Siggy was asked to help carry the coffin in and was genuinely honoured to do so and more than a little spooked when John repeated his own sentiment that "it was the least he could do."  It was a humanist ceremony, and I have never been at one before. I don't know what any of you believe but recognise "each to their own" in that respect, and a service with no hymns did at first seem unusual. Then I listened to John saying his poignant final farewell to his mum and whether you believe she could see it or not, it would have made her proud. I had thought about this a lot during the week before and even more since.

Everyone should cherish what they have before it's gone. 

On the way out, Siggy and just walked in silence, reflecting on a lovely ceremony. Siggy was more moved than I realised because when I did comment to him on the way back to the car, he was actually speechless - not something that happens often.

Of course, he later claimed that the reason he was temporarily speechless was because I happened to mention, as we were passing the hearse, that it would be a good car for me if I wasn't married - I had noticed that the registration was AM 10 AMM and those were my maiden initials. I don't believe that though, because he did respond to that when we got back to our car - something about when I was in that car HE'D no longer be married. 

Funerals always bring out the blackest of humour in me and I have a terrible fear of breaking out into giggles, but so far have been fairly lucky in that regard. Perhaps that's why I've never followed up on my idea of becoming an undertaker - I really think I'd suit the black outfit with that nice purple trim.

So that made for a fairly quiet and reflective weekend. A quiet night in on Saturday with a Chinese meal at Pheobe and Bobby's as they had came back from their holiday and let's be honest, any excuse for a few drinks is a good one. It was also another part of our ongoing teenage babysitting programme. Scott is only 11 and therefore still needs a sitter, but as we have the three *TEMs in the house, we have now decided that sitters should be paid in board and lodging in future (I think Siggy would have quite liked some of our previous sitters to have had board and lodging, but that's another unpublishable story). Saturday saw Gordon take his turn and he managed admirably. Strange to see the reversal of roles starting to kick in and find HIM sleeping on the couch waiting for US!  We reckon if we adopt/foster/borrow another 10 children or so, and therefore have each of the TEMs babysitting for a straight 15 years each, they will just about have repaid us. 

So we kept the trial going and actually went out on Monday night as well - Blood Brothers at The Kings. My favourite ever, ever show with Marti Pellow as The Narrator (need I say more?) That was when the wheels came off. Siggy, in some weird pang of responsibility, has decided that we need to cut back on midweek nights out as "it's not right". Nonsense, he doesn't have a term-time contract, I do. He's Jealous. Simple. Twat.

That aside, though, I've had a really busy week. I've been running around chasing my tail all week trying to get ready for our holidays. oh, apart from Monday afternoon, when I went out with my friend Ruby for Afternoon Tea with cocktails. That was an odd experience and actually meant that Siggy was speechless for a second time. You see, he seems to think that just because I have lived in the same city for, lets say over 30 years, and just because the hotel I was meeting Ruby in was in the same street as HE worked in for five years, which happened to be one street down from where I had my Saturday job for about five years, too, that I should know where that is and not need Google maps printed off to find it. In fairness, asking him to print off the map wasn't what rendered him speechless, it was me asking him to print off the map and, when he asked me where I was going, responding "I don't know"   

Afternoon tea with cocktails,it must be said, does not include a lot of tea. Text or BBM me and I'll let you know where it is. Ruby and I did feel it would have been rude to turn down the offer of the remainder of the wine bottle as well. Term time contracts make for some really nice afternoons. Like the one later in the week with Fee, Jen and Jan. How I ever managed to fit in shopping for our holidays, I don't know.

Especially as I, like everyone else, have been a bit pre-occupied this week with a certain Mr. Grey. Writing's awful, but who cares?

So, a really quiet week to build up to our holidays. Siggy has spent almost every waking hour either trying to clear his desk for the holidays, booking our hotels on route or, lucky me, proving that he really doesn't need to borrow my book for tips when I'm finished with it. (he needs to borrow it, I just haven't told him yet.)

The on route hotels have been a nightmare this year. You see, every year we drive to the South of France or Italy  and every year we need to find a hotel to stay in en route because we have travel with the worlds worst passenger. Now, I know many of you are nodding sagely thinking "Yes, I have a child like that as well, just dope them up with Kalms (other herbal remedies are available) and you'll be fine)" but you couldn't be more wrong. Kalms don't work for our terrible passenger on account of the fact that he insists on driving the 1000 miles or so himself. OK, I will never, ever drive abroad, but there are lots of UK miles I could help with. Except we drive that section overnight and after my Manchester experience of last week, I'm not driving overnight under any circumstances. Over £700 that puncture cost in the end! We even considered flying briefly but Siggy views the drive as part of his "easing in " period. Like I said - Twat.  Who else do you know that needs preparation time to relax?

The pace of preparation is really hotting up as well - I'm starting to feel my usual nausea at the thought of leaving Dappy with the outlaws and Siggy has booked his and the boys holiday haircuts for later today. Mind you, he "helped tonight by tidying up my fringe for me as it wasn't quite straight and I was really struggling to see - anyone else noticed how hard it is to cut your fringe with both eyes closed? Mind you, as Siggy managed to cut my eyelid, he won't be "helping" again. He claims I moved, I know I didn't. So what if he was the one with his eyes open? Personally, I think he was  just being miserable and trying to save the cost of me getting my eyebrows done tomorrow,

A girls work really is never done.

Next weeks news will be from the South of France, but for now I need to go as I'm really, really busy now - the 2013 holidays have just been released and I'm busy again looking at options.

PS - Well done Andy Murray and good luck later today!

*Teenage Eating Machines (in case your reading this for the first time)