Well, the long-awaited moment has arrived. The bags are packed (not), the legs are waxed (not) and we’re ready to go (not). Watch out Turkey, here we come!
This time a year ago, neither N or I could sail. We spent last May half term tacking around the Straits of Gibraltar learning How To. We haven’t been on a boat since. Yet here we are, insane or stupid enough to be taking our precious cargo of beautiful little girls on a 40ft boat around the western Mediterranean. Of course, this seemed like a good idea six months ago at the time of booking, but now the moment of truth has arrived, amid huge excitement from the junior crew (blessedly ignorant of their parents boating skills), and I have to admit to a few queasy moments wrapped up in notions of blatant parental irresponsibility. Ahem!
This is the first step, of course, towards a planned sabbatical. Well, planned as far as I am concerned (but N, of course, keeps moving the goalposts and finding excuses to delay). I have had this in my sniffer for nigh on 25 years, ever since we met a family doing the same in Rhodes one summer holiday nearly a quarter of a century ago (it doesn’t do to rush these things). So here we are, now, with our own little brood, about to test the ‘Family All Cooped Up On a Boat Together’ theory. My mother has her doubts. She always has her doubts. Isn’t that what mothers are for?
I have been frantically trying to locate Gocek on a map of Turkey, with surprising difficulty, so that I can google the weather forecast. I was determined that we should pack light, still haunted as I am by the memories of hauling a half tonne bag down the jetties of Gibraltar to the amusement of all the other Boaties, sitting smugly (and grubbily) in their ubiquitous shorts and T-shirt. I had, as ever, packed for all eventualities having not a clue what might actually be required. I then, of course, spent the whole week in the same pair of trousers and sweatshirt and could have saved myself a ricked back and a whole load of psychological trauma. (Ridiculously huge bag, however, did come into its own when it came to bringing the obligatory Moroccan rug back to Blighty. This was small consolation.)
I have now been packing for the last week (or three), trying to squeeze everything into ridiculously small bags. I have given up. We have huge bags again. Oh the shame. My stress not helped by going with another couple who still remember waiting outside our flat in Milan and counting 52 separate items being packed into our car for a ski trip in the Dolomites. And that was with just one baby. Curses, I am crap at packing. Far too many decisions. I go completely hot-headed and can’t think straight, despite hours sitting on the loo reading magazine articles all about ‘packing the perfect suitcase’ and ‘capsule wardrobes’ with just a handful of items which seamlessly translate from night to day with the casual addition of heels and jewellery. As if. The thing is, I HATE not having the right clothes. You feel such a tit if you get it wrong. Or you just feel cold. Or you just feel hot. BE PREPARED is my mantra. Which is why, of course, I’m taking everything bar the kitchen sink. And sink the boat I probably will as I bring all the ballast aboard to the amusement of all around. Mostly our friends. They have three boys and are unfussy people. They will have small bags. Sigh.
Right well, no time to sit here chatting. I’d better get off and unpack again in my third attempt to keep it simple. Think of me in three hours time flushed and swearing shoving everything back into the huge bags with hair lightening bleach smeared all over my arms and moustache and wax strips hanging off my legs while trying to water plants, feed the children, wash the dishes, empty the rubbish bins and generally pretend that I AM UNDER CONTROL!!!!
Now, I’m very un-modern and don’t have any swish 21st century gadgets like ipods, iphones, netbooks and the like. And I’m not a bird, so I don’t Twitter. Thus it will be glorious radio silence from me for a week or so. Enjoy the peace, and if you have an idle moment, think of a boat somewhere in Turkey leaving a messy trail of damage and sinking vessels in its wake as it leaves a once beautiful, ordered little harbour…
We may, or we may not, be back.
And just in case you miss me, you can always click here for our salty tales of Gibraltar last year and how we became Skipper and (In)competent Crew.