Happy holidays


We’re on our way! Doughnut is settled in his holiday quarters (latest bulletin from Joy is that he is “relaxed and eating well”) and the flight leaves at 9am tomorrow. That must mean it’s time to pack.

I had spent the day in a constant shuttle between the washing machine and laptop, packing what I’d hoped were practical yet acceptable holiday wear – flat but sparkly flip-flops, shorts that trod the line between skimpy and Morecombe and Wise, and generally throwing everything that looked vaguely summery into the washing machine.

The kids were easy, all I had to do was pack their one pair of shorts and the few T-shirts each that still fit in a case and get the rest there – yippee!

Ella was packed and ready, and was printing out her itinerary. Cleo? Well, she’d ordered her new bikini online and assured me it would arrive in time to pack….

All we had to do now was arrange how to get to the airport. We were going for too long to take the car, and as the family railcard had handily ran out a week ago it was actually cheaper, with five of us, to go by cab.  Something about getting a taxi to the airport still smacks of being outrageously extravagant, so I resisted booking it till I imagined wrangling four dozing kids and eight bags down to the station, up the steps, down the steps on to one train, off the train, on to another train at five in the morning for no financial gain whatsoever. Suddenly the cab made sense.

Now all we had to do was set the alarm for stupid o’clock and relax. It seemed all back to front to be getting ready to leave London on such a warm evening. The girls were both heading out for one last night with their friends – Ella said she’d be back in by three at the latest, Cleo at midnight. I might as well just pick you up in the cab on the way, I said, I thought ironically. “Nah, I’ll need to come home to change,” said Ella…

Meanwhile we decided to head out for a “The holiday starts here” burger. Outside the street had turned into a Bertolli advert. Luca, who runs the lovely local Italian, was turning 21 and was hosting a party for his regulars. The pavement was lined with tables, the railings were decorated with red white and green balloons and an accordion and fiddle player toured the tables playing Sinatra numbers while Luca dished up plate after plate of pasta, garlic bread and antipasti.

The holiday really had started. After dinner I tucked up the kids, the girls headed out and Heather and Liz popped round to say goodbye. Between trips to the washing machine we talked about what I’d be doing in Canada for the next couple of weeks. Apart from the usual (swimming, sunbathing, reading, nothing) I wanted to fit in a couple of trips to the orchards that still circle the area of Canada we’d be staying in. We’d missed the strawberries and raspberries but we might still be in time to pick some peaches and apricots or even some early apples and blackberries. It sounded unbelievably decadent and Darling Buds of May-ish.

Just as I was thinking of turning in for my three and a half hours of sleep Cleo came home and I offered to put the dungarees in the wash “for the morning”. It was still hot outside and they’d dry in an hour even in the dark. I bundled them in the machine for a speed wash and toddled off to bed. When I reached in to the washing machine to hang them out a couple of hours later my hand plucked out something unwelcomingly hard and rectangular.

Cleo’s Blackberry. Oops, fruit-picking season had started even earlier than I thought….

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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