Of course something had to go wrong at some point, didnít it? I mean 800 days holds a lot of potential for disaster and as the big day drew nearer Iíd sit through the boyís karate classes praying that no part of him ended up with a cast. Disaster did strike a few weeks beforehand from a different direction though. Auntie Jo decided that a prolapsed disc would be a great way to stress everyone out. For a while it was touch and go whether she would be able to make the trip but luckily, thanks to some rest and a lot of nice drugs, she declared herself fit. No jiggery rides for her but she was coming anyway. And after all that stress she really needed a holiday. Tell me about it love.
Suddenly it was the last day of term. I said goodbye to all the children and staff and took the boy home. On the doormat were our plane tickets and car rental voucher. Now we have three weeks to kill before the countdown ran out. What to do? Well panic a lot for a start. And make some lists. And sublists. And sublists of sublists.
And so we came to T-1 week. Steven came through his final karate class un-damaged. Bags and cases appeared in the dining room. Small piles of things start to appear on the dining room floor. Everything was washed and ironed and people were banned from wearing anything that could potentially end up being packed in a suitcase. Funnily enough though, even with just 4 days to go it still did not seem real. I would stand in the middle of the dining room, now nicknamed Packing Central, and stare at the piles of stuff thinking I had ages of time left. Iíd leave the packing and go off and do something else instead. Iíd take Steven and his friend to an indoor play centre and spend two hours there wondering what the heck I was doing there when I should be at home packing. I made procrastination an art form. How the heck could I start packing when that plant needed moving to a bigger pot?
Slowly but surely however we all came round to the idea that we were going to Disney World Ė and quite soon. The little piles got more organised and were placed strategically near the bag or case where they would eventually end up. Even our lovely Cocker Spaniel, Willow had her own packing pile. She was going off to stay with Grandad Fred for her holidays as he doesnít do holidays and Nanny Lesley was going to Disney World without him. Thereís a pattern developing here of ladies leaving their husbands behind to visit Disney World. Interesting concept...
Then came that cleaning frenzy that nearly everyone experiences a few days before they go on holiday. The thought of burglars breaking into our house and finding Lego and dog hair everywhere is one that I will not tolerate so the cleaning cupboard was wrenched open and various containers removed from it and used to cleanse various surfaces. It turns out we have a white bath and the rug on the living room floor is deep red. After a few hours of this I come to my senses for a while and start tracking flights on the internet. Of course the flight that is the equivalent of the flight we will take on the 14th August is delayed for 23 hours. The ensuing panic sees me doing that arm flapping small circle thing again;mental: until I am reassured that another plane has been brought in to clear the backlog so there should be no knock-on effect to our flight. From that moment on I monitor that flight daily, tracking its every move. I know the pushback times, the take off times, the landing times, and the gate arrival times. I know which planes fly the route and what food they are serving in each class. I know what gates they use at Gatwick. For Christmas I am getting an anorak.
Now we fly on a Saturday so the Thursday before was duly designated to be the day for packing. I started around 9am and did the hand luggage for myself and Steven. Then I felt the need to clean out the guinea pig house. Well it needed doing. My two guinea pigs, Crocus and Clover, were in their garden run cutting my grass for me and they were going off later that evening to their holiday boarding so would not be in their house again for nearly 3 weeks. Time to clean it out then. The piggies live in a purpose-built run in our big shed and itís designed for easy cleaning so stripping out the old bedding and giving a good spray around with the relevant disinfectant took 20 minutes. Back to the packing again.
I hang a lot of washing out to dry and throw the dog and guinea pig towels into the washing machine. Then I definitely get back to the packing. See what I mean about procrastinating? While checking Steven's hand luggage I notice something. Iíve bought him a couple of those little scratching pictures to do on the plane. You know, you get a black piece of card and you scratching the outlines off with the scratching tool and a picture appears. I noticed that the scratching tool is really, really sharp. Now if you canít take nail clippers in your hand luggage then Iím definitely not going to risk a scratching tool. Latex gloves at 8am are not in my plans for departure day. Out they come and are given to the boy in an attempt to slow him down for a few minutes as heís eaten a ton of coloured sherbet for breakfast. Iím not in the habit of feeding him that normally but hey weíre going on holiday and carpe diem and all that and quite frankly I canít do the argument that will ensue if I refuse.
It works because he sits and scratches a picture of some crabs while I pack a few hundred kilos of cables and chargers into our bags. In this modern age of technology we appear to need more gadgety things on holiday every year. Iím one of those people that switches off from the real world on holiday and will stick my mobile phone in the safe for two weeks whilst avoiding all email contact with anyone. Times have changed though and when once before youíd get through a nine hour flight with just a word search book and the latest Jackie Collins, now you take on board with you all sorts of hand held devices that will require charging for further use, and also the flight home. Steven has a Nintendo DS as does myself, and I also have an iPod Touch complete with Angry Birds, the greatest app for the iPod ever and quite possibly the most annoying and frustrating app ever created. I consider Angry Birds to be the best 59p Iíve ever spent. The other apps on my iPod include Toilet Finder UK, which shows you where your nearest public toilet is based on your current position. I am itching to test this one out mid-Atlantic.
My hand luggage is packed and weighs in at 4.2kg, most of which is holiday pa-perwork and sweets. Steven's hand luggage is packed and weighs a mere 2.4kg. I consider giving him some of mine to carry but then remember heís only 7 and Iíll probably end up carrying his bag as well at some point so leave it all as it is. Adrian is responsible for his own hand luggage but I have provided him with a list of what I expect him to pack in it. I also pack a small holdall of things weíll need at the Gatwick Travelodge.
By 11am everything is packed and Iím bored. Lunchtime comes around and as Adrian cleared the fridge out yesterday because the rubbish is collected today, there is nothing for lunch. I end up with toast and peanut butter and the boy ends up with curry flavoured super noodles and a sherbet fountain. After that 3pm came around really quickly on account of me falling asleep on the sofa and temporarily leaving a cocker spaniel in charge of a 7 year old boy. I come to my senses quickly and check the status of todayís flight: pushed back bang on schedule and currently just shy of the coast of Nova Scotia. Then I check that Steven is ok. Apart from being covered in sherbet he appears fine. I refuse his request for an ice cream from the van because his eyes are starting to look like Jack Nicholson in The Shining and give him a chicken sandwich instead hoping it will soak up a few E numbers.
When Adriab gets home from work I pop Crocus and Clover into their carry box and take them off to the guinea pig boarding lady. They donít seem in the slightest bit phased by whatís going on and settle down in their new house to devour a chunk of cucumber. I whizz back home to find Adrian dealing with the ready meals for dinner - chicken tikka masala all round tonight. After this we send Steven up to bed in a fruitless attempt to get him to sleep. At least an hour later he is still talking to himself.
So at 6am he wakes me up announcing that today the fun begins and then promptly turns over and goes back to sleep leaving me laying there eyes wide open wondering just how this countdown went from 800 days to zero overnight!
At some point that morning we all end up downstairs eating breakfast. Adrian is working from home today so promptly disappears upstairs to the little room full of computer equipment and gets on with it leaving me and the boy to do the last bit of cleaning and bounce off the walls for a bit. At 11.15am the window opens on the Virgin Atlantic website for me to check us all in online. This all goes smoothly until the bit where I printed out the boarding passes. Clearly got carried away somehow here and managed to print us each five copies of our passes. After this I take Steven out to the supermarket to buy some lunch as there is no food in the house. He chooses the biggest pack of sushi in the place and eats it all except two pieces. This is followed with a doughnut and a sugar rush while he tries to destroy the living room two hours before we leave the house.
Adrian finished his work at 1.15pm and came downstairs to find the dog sulking in the hallway as she knows something is happening, me sitting in the living room cowering in the corner while Steven runs around the walls and tries to build a bridge out of sofas. No doughnuts on holiday for him then. Then Adrian announces that he hasnít packed yet. I go into the foetal position on the floor and start whimpering. A bit of Facebooking temporarily distracts me from the chaotic scene that is my house and I let the madness go on around me in one of those surreal movie scenes where the hero sits in the middle of a room while everyone moves in slow motion around them.