I really miss going on great family holidays... I am aching to be able to be in my living room with the rest of my family, while the mountain of crap by the front door piles higher and higher as we prepare to leave.
There's always that beautiful moment where you wonder whether Dad will ever be able to stop doing shuttle runs from the door to the car as mum continues to find things we've never used before but couldn't live without for 2 weeks in France. Mothers have an incredible capacity at times like these to both produce and secrete things that you had no idea were even on the cards for such an occasion. Be impressed with Blaine all you want, but watch my mother somehow manage to get 4 tubes of Pringles into a car that's being packed by the very people she's hiding them from, and you will be gasping in delight.
Family holidays are always brilliant with lots of siblings. There was always one sibling who inexplicably didn't want to go (for some unknown reason) and would sulk merrily away whilst declaring "I don't see why I should have to do this..." while everybody else declared either loudly or swearily "Because you're going on a free holiday you bellend".
There's that point where you think you'll never actually get in the car and then suddenly you are... all of you packed into a tiny tin box that contains half the house and more necklaces than one fourteen year old can possibly wear in two weeks. We'd get halfway to the ferry point and my brother would realise he'd forgotten something vital like his swimming trunks or his legs. Not even a debate as to whether we'll go back for it, we'll just let him figure it out when he gets there - it's dog eat dog.
The car arrives in the ferry and everybody wonders whether the car deck will smell like cheese, sick, dog poop and petrol - a quick assessment by whoever is first heaved out clarifies that it does. Everybody spends a minute sniffing it and deciding it's awful and then sniffing it again. Then you're ploughing your way to the deck... hopefully it's a night ferry and you can let Dad point out all the same features on the Portsmouth skyline that he's been doing for years and you've still not committed any of them to memory. Mental note - I'm going to need to do that before I start tagging along with the nephew's holidays.
The ferry journey is one of the best bits of any holiday - never, ever fly your children anywhere. Put them on an enormous boat filled with excited children and games and the first opportunity to use the different money that's been burning a confused hole in their pockets. The ferry is the time to decide that you know you shouldn't have a croissant because it'll be crap and you really would like your first croissant of the season to be great, but damn it you want a croissant...
The holiday will run it's course after that. I used to get burnt, get deliriously happy, have some kind of eating competition, go on a day trip that only Mum wanted to be on, swim for so much of the day that Mum wondered why she hadn't raised children with slightly higher aspirations... One of my favourite memories was a holiday where we camped in the Dordogne region in France. Did it rain much Laura? I practically grew gills. It was a little bit wet... So one day we decided to go kayaking... how on earth do you spell kayaaking? Kayakking? It now sounds like I have phlegm issues... Anywho...
It was Dad, little sister, brother in kayak number 1. It was Mum, older sister and me in kayak number 2. Theory says that the considerably older people should have been far better at keeping a kayak upright and going straight... theory can go suck something sour. The afternoon ended with three very grumpy women in a wet kayak going about 1 metre an hour down a river while a kayak with two infants and a hysterically laughing man did loop the loops around the grumpy kayak, whilst all the time singing their new kayaking song which had been penned to irritate the grumpy women.
That holiday remains the only time in my living memory that my mother has expressly asked us to swear as loudly as we could at the disappearing back of my father.