Hey, hey, Summer is finally here! Bring on the long evenings, sitting in the garden, BBQ’s. Oh hold on…apparently it’s the 2nd October. I think I missed Summer. Still today is the first day of my Summer holiday and according to all the fashionable magazines October is the new July. Just to explain I have spent most of the Summer working on the BBC’s Premier (only) Make it Digital Tour. Today is the last day of my contract and I’m bunking off early to go on holiday.
When I got the job, Karen’s first question (well after calculating what my salary would be for the duration, using the universal unit of “How much stuff will that buy me from White Stuff?” Answer – not a lot) was when could we go on holiday. “Well it’s a Summer tour, so Autumn I guess”. That’s no hardship as not having children we usually go September or June anyway, avoid the kids and get a bargain to boot. (I can now feel all my friends with children slowly hating us more than they already do). Unfortunately the BBC’s idea of Summer included September…and teensy bit of October. Well come on, the weather can’t decide what the seasons are anymore, why should employers.
We just wanted to go somewhere warm, so we opted for Madeira. My sum total of knowledge of Madeira was this:
4) It’s good for walking
Well I enjoy 50% of the list (not bothered about walking or flowers) so I thought we may as well take a punt. We booked flights back in May, got an apartment via Air B’n’B and that’s where we headed.
We managed to pack relatively trouble free. We have different priorities when is comes to packing. Karen thinks that 7 resealable bags and and a poncho are essential holiday items. I on the other hand think that you should never venture abroad without at least 3 tripods and an HDMI lead. We eventually compromised (we are down to 3 resealable bags and 2 tripods) and we are still 6KG under on each bag. Result.
My first dilemma was what to do with my facial hair. Normally when I go on holiday I shave my beard and then just let it grow back over the holiday (Karen won’t kiss me on day 3 as that is “sandpaper” day). So this morning I showered, dug out the shaving foam and my “grooming kit” which only gets used in Movember and prepared to defuzz my face. I found my razor, but no blades. I then remember on 31st November last year saying “I need new blades, I’ll buy some next year”. Hmmm, what to do. I rooted around the bathroom cupboards trying to find Karen’s razor for her legs (I can’t grow a full beard but Karen can do a full Ewok impression when she doesn’t shave her legs. Life is cruel). I then remembered seeing it in the packed case (next to the pack of 40 Earl Grey T Bags. We are only going for 10 days). Ok plan B. Take my beard trimmer. That’ll be the beard trimmers I meant to charge up last week but forgot. So we’ll soon find out how much charge a you can get into a beard trimmer in half an hour.
We left for the airport at 9:30 (smashing a plant pot with a case on the way out. Sorry mum, I think that Gladiola that you gave us has had it now). Clear journey, quick check in and through security in under an hour. Karen was swabbed at security. We have no idea what for. The security lady just said she had to do it. I do like someone who is fully across their job and can communicate it to the customer.
After picking up the Boots Christmas Gift catalogue to read on the plane (I told you we were late in the season) we headed off for something to eat. Don’t ask me why we both wanted chilli dogs for breakfast, but we just did. I ordered them and the lady behind the bar had friendliness and menace in equal measure. She was making small talk about where we going, the weather etc. but with the tone of voice that implied that she may rip my throat out at any point. You know how air stewardesses have smiling mouths but contempt in their eyes? Well this girl could do the same with words.
As we sat eating our chilli dogs, we noticed 3 policemen lurking around. Karen was up like a mear cat looking around (to be fair Karen has to stretch up like a mear cat just to see over the table). They disappeared into a back room. This started a meal of speculation. What were they doing? Was there a drugs deal going down? A terrorist plot? Ooh the drama. They came out of the back room about 20 minutes later. Perhaps they had been interrogating a suspect? I then spotted that one of them had some tomato ketchup on his cheek. So basically they had been on their lunch. Who goes to a food court for their lunch! Doh!
Karen had been keeping an eye on the departures board and told me that the gate would open in 5 minutes. Then she squinted a bit harder and realised that she had been looking at “Frankfurt” not “Funchal”. The gate actually opened in 30 minutes. When we were eventually called we trundled along to join the queue.
It was when we were stood waiting to board I noticed something unusual. We were the youngest people on the plane. I have just spent the Summer with a young team (average age, well below 30) and I have been the dad figure of the team (due to my age, not maturity). Or the Grandad in some cases. When one of my colleagues was trying to show me how tag people in Twitter another exclaimed “It’s like trying to teach your Grandad how to use Twitter!”. Thanks, I may not be very good on social media, but I bet he can’t unwind a cassette from a walkman and still make it play. Yeah, stick that in your Tweetdeck.
In this queue though we were the babies. Seriously, this queue looked like a photoshoot for Marks and Spencers. Soooo many cardigans. There wasn’t a single buggy or child in sight. A lot of walking sticks and copies of the Daily Telegraph, but no screaming children, Hen or Stags parties. (Dave’s Stag Party to Prague (2015) had passed us and was heading, unsurprisingly, to the Prague flight). It was only as I was boarding the plane that I began getting a bit nervous of the flight. I realised that if this flight crashed it would result in a serious dent to RHS and National Trust subscriptions.
We got onto the plane and took our seats. Karen was sat next to Mrs Chatty. I mean really chatty. We discovered that this was her and her husband’s third trip to Madeira this year. They love it. They are staying in a hotel in Funchal (half board); the buses are very cheap you buy a strip of tickets, and this was all before we had even taxied to the runway! It was a 4 hour flight, and I reckon Karen got about an hour’s respite.
Still soon we landed and it was time to start our holiday properly. But more about that tomorrow when I’ll tell you about our very familiar car, chatty host and our cross country safari to the supermarket.