Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I am blogging on the terrace, darlings… Ooo, get me.

I remember the early days online when there weren’t many of us and the comp made a disconcerting ‘a-wee-a-wee-a-wee-dit-dit-dit’ sound while gearing up to connect you to the rest of the planet. A connection that would mysteriously disappear every night at midnight – You shall go to the ball, PC user, but on the stroke of twelve thy modem shall turn into a pumpkin and get hurled through the window – or you could always re-connect.

Not anymore. Here I am on the terrace of the in-laws pad in Spain pontificating wirelessly - On a pre-shrunk laptop or ‘netbook’ so the Father-in-Law informs me. When it comes to technology, F-in-L has been there, got the T-shirt and, as a recently retired Electrical Engineer, can also tell you how much power the factory used in making it.

PCs to him are a tool, a machine, a feat of engineering to be improved and customized and, of course, explained – to me. The man’s on a hiding to nothing. For me PCs, like the TV and the phone, will always be a magic box. He plugs away though, bless him, even though each time he pauses for breath after uttering the words “Well, you see, Su…” I’ve already glazed over.

I rather wish I could glaze over the memory of the journey out here. I shouldn’t complain, it was gratis – courtesy of the airmiles, we splurged them all on a half term getaway. When the alarm went off at 3 in the morning the mantra started - “It’ doesn’t matter, it’s on the airmiles.” It continued on the road to the airport. We got flashed by a speed camera – Never mind, slow down and anyway, it’s on the airmiles. When No. 1 daughter announced she was feeling strange, but definitely not sick and then proceeded to chunder all over the back of the car – Keep smiling and pass us another wet wipe, it’s on the airmiles. When we arrived and had to rummage through the luggage for a change of clothes, dressing the shivering child in a pre dawn lay-by – Yes, I know your lips are blue but hey, it’s on the airmiles.

As all of the above, and the subsequent clean up, had made time a bit tight for getting through security – (yes I do have the right sized clear plastic bag, thank you, and I have remembered to wear good socks as I’ll be walking through the metal detector in them while holding up my de-belted jeans) along with having to stop at every toilet between car and plane, our collective bum had just kissed the seats at the gate when the call went out for all those with children, or those who need extra time to get to their seats, or those who are terminally pushy to start boarding.

The better half sat behind with No. 2 daughter – it being the first time she has flown with her own seat and not trapped on the lap she, naturally, was having no truck with staying in said seat for takeoff and loudly informed the rest of the plane of her displeasure. Here have a dummy, it’s on the airmiles. Soon No. 2 settled down and looked out of the window as the better half chatted in cultured tones to the dapper ex wing commander who had drawn the aisle seat next to him.

There was no cultured conversation one row ahead. Not only was there no time, as I had to act as Entertainments Officer to No. 1 daughter, but there was also no opportunity - as my aisle companion immediately dropped into a coma. His ample frame slowly oozed over the thin red line of the seat divide into my sovereign territory. He would lift his frame to the side occasionally, but only to allow an easier escape route for his fulsome flatulence - OK my mascara’s running from the fumes, but it’s on the airmiles. I had to wake him at one point, not because of the smell - I am a mother after all - but because No.1 had to go for a No. 1, again. He hurumphed slightly as we squeezed past to join the loo queue but once we’d returned he quickly settled back into catching flies and depressurizing his fuselage.

Landed, taxied, and watched the overhead lockers doing the clam fandango as passengers rushed to get bags out and stand hunched over, avoiding one another’s gaze as the plane finally docked and they opened the door. Being at the back afforded a good view of the ritual. It also meant we were last off. But then with kids – we’re always last off. We were last to Passport control. We were last to Baggage Reclaim. We were last to the first foreign loo. Where the better half discovered that the Gents had a lovely view of the people getting their luggage and they, therefore, had a lovely view of him. When he joined us at our carousel and saw our bags circling alone like the suspicious sushi that nobody wants he commented “Oh look, ours are off first.” Deary, deary me.

Meet and greet in-laws, get back to their pad, present Mother-in-Law with bag full of chunder clothes. Nothing could crack the M-in-L’s smile, it is for the granddaughters. After her two boys the late injection of pink is a secret guilty pleasure. Before the arrival of No. 1, M-in-L would know exactly what F-in-L required at all times and have produced it before he asked for it. As she sat cradling the newborn, F-in-L asked for something, he was curtly informed, “Oh, I don’t know - go and find it yourself.” The world had turned.

The world of international travel is not all jet set glamour, you know – I’ve brought the biography on a memory stick so I can get some work done and I have every good intention of cracking the whip while not building the Taj Mahal out of sand. I expect those good intentions will see me firmly on the road to hell. If they do I must remember to pack more successfully.

The last time we came to Spain I spent the week in jeans and the one jumper I had brought with me. I even went out and bought a coat. This time I was ready for the nip in the air and as the terrace thermometer tips 29, think wistfully of the collection of shorts and bikinis still in the drawer at home.

That’s if the new puppy hasn’t eaten them. She’s had a go at everything else, so my brother informs me. The brother is in residence having kindly given up his life for a week to look after ours. Every morning he comes down to turbo tail wagging and Lake Piddle.

The brother is another one who delights in taking things apart and then tries to explain how they work. By the time we get back he’ll probably be halfway through re-wiring the house. I do hope he isn’t standing in Lake Piddle when he throws the switch.

If the South East Electricity Grid goes out you’ll know who to blame……

Yes, that’s right - Airmiles.

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