Friday, 16 April 2010

Holiday Dysmorphic Disorder

My mother likes to think that she is blessed with the gift of prophecy. "You're going to meet someone," she uttered portentously as I departed sunny Sydney for the bright lights of London ten years ago. The fact that she didn't elaborate as to whether she meant some old tramp at the bus stop with a rat on his shoulder or a Savile Row-suited Prince Charming made not a jot of difference: she's taken full credit for the fact that I met and married The Bearded One ever since.

Fortunately, I seem to have inherited, to some degree, this gift. For instance, when The Bub failed to have a, ahem, bowel movement the day before the long drive west for our annual Easter holiday in Cornwall, I had the foresight to pack a change of clothes in my handbag in readiness for the poosplosion. A change of his clothes, not mine, I hasten to add: I wasn't expecting that much of a nappy disaster. Nor was I expecting him to scream so much in the course of changing him that a service station attendant would knock on the door to see if there was an abandoned baby within. Apparently it wouldn't have been the first time.

When it comes to packing my own clothes, however, my second sight is somewhat less acute. There's one part of my mind that knows full well what Cornwall at Easter entails and another - some might say unrealistic, I prefer to say optimistic - that insists on a pre-packing, end-of-bed pile of clothes that includes floaty kaftans, vivid maxis, rolled-up shorts, flat glads and a straw trilby.

The Bearded One enters the room, snorts, and turns to leave again. I grab his arm.

"Just remind me," I plead. "Just remind me. It's Cornwall, isn't it? Not Ibiza. Cornwall. Right?"

"Cornwall," he affirms. "Early April. Cold, wet. You'll hate it. You always do. You'll hate it more if you're cold. Get a grip."

"But what?? What do I pack?" I ask, eyes rolling wildly towards a pile of cashmere in my open closet. "This? This??"

"Jeans. North Face. Wellies. Uggs. Hoodies," intones The Bearded One. "C'mon Cake. You know this."

"Ugggggh. What's the point?" I whine pathetically. "What's the point of going on holiday if I can't wear my outfits?"

The Bearded One turns to leave the room again. "I'd get a move on if I were you. Leaving at 4.30am. You don't want to be too sleep-deprived - you'll be even crankier when we get there than usual. How much do you still need to do?"

I check the fingers of my right hand off. "Packing, wash hair, sort toys and stuff for the kids, defuzz legs..."

"I wouldn't bother with that," he interrupts. "You'll be in jeans all week. Who's going to see your legs?"

I ignore him and stay up until 1am getting everything - legs included - done. Sleep be damned, I am not setting foot in a beach environment - even a miserable, wind-swept one - with Neanderthal lady legs. And what do you know - four days into the holiday, the day dawns bright and sunny and it's off to the beach we go. I'm torn between delight in the face of real sunshine and fury that a chance to channel Jade Jagger has been denied me by the spectacularly unhelpful (not to mention hypocritical: it transpires that he has packed shorts and flip flops) Bearded One. What am I supposed to wear?? Retail opportunities don't exactly abound in this neck of the woods - the rather euphemistically-named Retail Park comprises a Boots, a Next, an M&S and a Costa, where all of my Sydney coffee-snob buttons are pushed by so-called baristas making dark noises about my lack of wisdom in ordering a flat white with soya milk. Deep breaths, Cake.

In Marks and Spencer, I unearth a pair of passable-if-they're-rolled-up khaki shorts for a doesn't-matter-if-I-never-wear-them-again £9.50. Later, on the beach, I stretch my (mercifully hairless) legs out in the April sun and relish the thought of airing my real summer wardrobe with base tan already in place. Nearby, Master C and The Princess run, squealing, near the water's edge and fill buckets with sand, and it's ice creams after lunch.


  1. Hi, just found your blog. Great content. x

  2. Fab blog! I presume always shaving one's legs is similar to that old chestnut about always wearing clean undies in case you are knocked down by a car - always be prepared!

  3. Holiday packing definitely calls for second sight - a fore-knowing of every possible event, so that every outfit can be selected, accessorised and packed appropriately! I share your frustration... and horror at that awful sentence "Leaving at 4.30am", {shiver}, am soooo not a morning person!! :-) One of the best things about staying up so late is that eventually - all the morning people disappear!! Love the blog xx

  4. Soooo true! This is reminiscent of our very wet trip around Devon & Cornwall in summer 2007. Our 1960-something pop top VW kombi campervan was geared up for a summer of fun but instead got a muddy reception in every town for three weeks. We might have had *one or two* arguments while packing up the tent-like annex and the rest of our stuff... :-)