Saturday 13 September 2008


I owe you all an apology: I went away without saying I was going to and you may well have decided I had given up blogging. I haven't. I just hope you haven't all lost interest and moved on. My Guru will tell me how I can let you all know that I'm back. I seem to have had quite a few little trips since I started telling you what it was like to be a 40 year-old in a body that is 75. This last trip was a real holiday though, not specially to see a loved one or check on unsaleable flats. I have been on what the young call a road trip; touring would describe it for me. I have been touring through France ultimately making for a seaside resort to which I first went in 1963.

It was definitely one of the best holidays I have had; no airport hassle, no limit to liquids, no confiscated favourite nail scissors nor make-up remover, no standing in endless check-in queues, just sitting in a shortish line of other cars waiting to board an old-fashioned ferry with SOMEONE ELSE DRIVING. What could describe bliss better? Actually, someone close to me did describe motoring bliss as a full tank, empty bladder and you own choice of music on the C.D player. I am in very good accord with my recent driver, though, who tells me when we need petrol, is sympathetic about pit stops for the bladder, and whose choice of music is tolerable, considering he is only twenty- one. Anyway, we do have some favourites in common so between his, mine and ours there was lovely music for all of 2000 miles. (I don't really do kilometres so had to do some serious brushing up on my eight times table to convert to miles.)

We made three stops on the way south and three on the way back so were able to take advantage of minor roads as well as motor-ways, not being in a mad dash. I was remembering that, on one occasion in my other life, our family of five made five stops on the way to the sea and I was left with twenty-five pairs of dirty underwear to deal with when we got there. The following year I issued them all with disposable pants. There was outright rebellion and this is still just about the only thing they remember about their childhood summers and have never let me forget. I rather miss those days of "when-will-we-be-there? I-need-the loo. He/she keeps hitting me." But there are certainly compensations to grown-up touring.

The 40 year-old would have loved to explore some of the ancient places where we stopped much more thoroughly than the old lady had energy for. It is hard to get used to. In some ways I am turning in to a cliche: less capacity for on-foot exploration, a smaller appetite for delicious French food, a touch hard-of-hearing and, Dear Reader, 'D' shaped. If you have been following my posts, you may remember a scarlet swimsuit I treated myself to. Well, the truth is even that couldn't disguise the horrible reality that I no longer have a waist. I am the shape my daughters were when they were between, let's say, two and six. You must have noticed, life is circular; you start off with thin wispy hair, bandy legs and, for girls, anyway, no waist, and that's how you end up. Being careful how I move is hard, too. There is the fear of slipping. My inner voice and I are in constant conversation as she tries to stop me from the riskiest of my too young aspirations. This is all summed up in the spectacle of getting me in to the sea: a helping hand over the slippery slope of the first few feet and then - whoosh: plunge straight in as I always used to and strike out in a creditable free stroke. Only a handful, mind you, before the back rises in horror with the equivalent of " have you taken leave of your senses, woman ?" and I revert to a decorous side stroke. It was huge fun when the sea turned a bit rough and one could get away with playing in the waves. Hair? Oubliez les.

Anyway, I did have a memorably lovely time and will no doubt think of more to tell you another time. Do you know, I might even take a lap-top with me in future so that I don't have to stop the blog. I missed it. See you soon ( or l8tr, if that means more to you)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

O Liz, we _have_ missed you! But what delightful images you brought us upon your return. And what a great way to travel. My wife and I travelled to Phoenix in August and then to Spain in September with some of our family. Both times we flew.

In both cases, we had a fantastic time once we got to our destination, but this flying lark is becoming seriously tedious. I never know whether to go 'Baaa' or 'Mooo' in the pens as we shuffle forward towards the X Ray examination. I know it's for our security, but it is dehumanising none the less. Arriving in Chicago, it took 1 1/2 hours in the pens before we were processed - all without a smile, just strident commands - because of course we were all potential spies or enemies of the state or just generally undesirable! Two young girls in front of us had just flown in from a 2 week 'good-works' trip to Rawanda. Their trip out of Africa was complex, followed by a long flight to London, followed by a longer flight to Chicago, and now they were trying to make their final connection home to Orange County California. As the time ticked down, we appealed to the 'Chief Whip' to move them to the head of the line. Talking to a cardboard cut-out would have been more effective (higher IQ) They missed their flight.

So doing it your way, albeit to a more amenable destination, seems to be the ultimate in civilised travel. Wonder if it will catch on?