Every year for the last five years my family and I have been on a weekly or fortnightly holiday to the south of France and last week, it was that time of year again.
Holidays are quite glamourised, with the golden sand and sparkling seas being photographed or filmed and posted all over social media. Although I love that side of holidays. There’s the stressful side that people are less happy to talk about.
Packing is where it begins, well okay booking and paying is techically where it begins, but for the stress levels as the reality of the holiday begins to set in, packing is where it begins. I’m going to stop saying where it begins now.
Packing is a very important part of the holiday experience, but it’s also one where the question “have we got everything?” is batted around like a tennis ball during Wimbledon or a cricket ball during the Ashes (pick your favourite topical summer sport).
The airport is a very stressful experience. Firstly you have to get there 3 hours early just to find somewhere to park and to check in. Then there’s the security which is terrifying, not only do the people who work there give you the evils constantly and, the majority, look like they’re boxers (the sportsman not the dog), but every single year, when I go through the security scanner it beeps at me which results in me getting frisked, that isn’t how I want to start a holiday, and is quite frankly, disturbing. Then when you’ve made it through security you reach duty free and the departure lounge. Duty free is something I’ve never understood. WHY ARE PEOPLE BUYING TINS OF SHORTBREAD WITH A PICTURE OF THE QUEEN ON BEFORE FLYING ABROAD!? And why are people buying crates of wine!? Or HOT TUBS?! HOT TUBS.
Once you actually arrive in your destination, in my case, France, there are now more things that are stress-making. First of which is baggage reclaim. With the constant worry that your cases won’t have made it to your destination and would have ended up in Timbuktu or the Arctic circle, or if they did make it, were stolen by someone else.
France means French, and although I studied French in both primary and secondary school, and really enjoyed it, the French I learnt is basically useless when in actual France. Yes, I can sing “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” and yes I can say the basic “quel est le date de ton anniversaire?” and “je voudrais un pain au chocolat s’il vous plais”, but getting the confidence to say them outloud is something I struggle with. Even in English I have to rehearse “can I have lasagne please?” 25 times in my head before ordering in a restaurant at home. So doing it in France isn’t easy for me. Even with what I do know, I have no idea what the response means. It’s all pretty hopeless.
France also means hot weather. With the weather last week being between 30 and 40 degrees, my family and I expressed our true Britishness with “let’s find a shady spot” and “have you put your suncream on?” being said throughout. I’ve never experienced 40 degree heat and, my word, it was far too hot. Thank the lord for trees and air conditioning.