BY THE time you read this I will have been herded through Liverpool Airport, clutching my little plastic bag, containing lipstick, waterproof mascara and deodorant and then crammed into a low-cost aeroplane bound for Geneva.
During the flight we will have been sold high-cost ‘snack packs’ of processed foods and encouraged to read about all the new destinations that super-cheap air travel can take us. Who had even heard of Tallinn until it became a budget-airline destination?
As a frightened flyer I’m not sure I entirely approve of this ‘low-cost’ label now attached to virtually every package flight because it makes me think that someone, somewhere has been cutting corners along with the cost. But I guess the air safety record says otherwise.
And so begins another summer holiday, knees pressed against the seat in front of me, followed by lots more herding.
But I shouldn’t complain because there have been years when we didn’t have a holiday. It’s just that I’m one of those people who approaches holidays with the wrong kind of attitude.
I find holidays to be one of life’s stressful events and I know I’m not alone.
A good friend of mine once confessed that she didn’t really like holidays at all and “felt funny” the whole time she was away. Being the possessor of pale skin she didn’t do well in the sun, couldn’t swim, disliked sleeping in strange beds and had a family of picky eaters. What’s more being the stay-at-home mum of the house she did all the packing beforehand and all the washing afterwards.
Sometimes I think I’d be fine if we booked last minute – like the day before – threw everything into a small bag each and used matter transfer technology to get to our destination.
It’s the build-up that gets to me, the weeks of anticipation looking forward to these two precious weeks when we’re free of work and responsibility, cooking, cleaning and daily routine.
I want everything to be perfect, our suitcases neatly packed with freshly laundered clothes, Factor 30 sun lotion and enough shampoo to lather up a woolly mammoth. My wash bag alone takes a whole day of preparation – mosquito repellent, after sun lotion, eye cream, day cream, night cream, aspirin, vitamin C tablets, travel sick tablets, tea tree oil, nail varnish remover, fake tanner, etc, etc.
I feel exhausted just thinking about it because, as seems to happen every year, I’ve also come down with something and feel a bit flu-y.
The Man says the reason I get myself worked up into a ball of stress and anxiety is that I’m too high maintenance.
Do I really need four pairs of flip-flops, nail varnish to match each outfit and jewellery to co-ordinate?
Well, yes I do, I tell him. I also need a hair appointment the week before in order to keep my roots looking good and a pedicure.
Then there’s the waxing, the personal shopping for Secondborn and the annual quest to find a pair of shorts that won’t make me look like a boy in lederhosen/fat/knobbly-kneed.
And, let’s not forget that the house has to be left clean and tidy for the cat-sitters.
The night before a holiday I rarely sleep because I’m mentally ticking off things on my packing list.
Only when I’ve been in my hotel room for a few hours do I start to relax. And then, because I’m on a Stelfox family holiday, up goes the cry “let’s go canoeing/snorkelling/climbing/white water rafting” and I really don’t have time to worry about anything much at all.
Which, I guess, is what holidays are all about.