1. The island of Eigg in the scottish highlands, summer 1988. thirteen years old, on an island of 14 inhabitants. 1 shop/tea shop (4 types of cake, 3 types of pottery sheep, post cards, fudge), 1 phone box. Boat once a week. A house without electricity. No tv. Battery powered radio tuned to radio 4. Only my family for company (mum, prog rock stepdad, 3 year old sister). Constant drizzle. TWO WEEKS. I know I've mentioned it before, but seriously, is this not child abuse?
2. Rome, August 1995 with the CFO. We arrive on 15 August with our journey to a small hill town all planned out. Transfer to another station, take a regional train out into the hills, take the frequent bus service up to the remote hill town. Except, not on August 15th. The Festival of Assumption. We wait 5 hours for the train. When we reach the destination there are no buses. Just, none. We ask an old man who is sitting on a bench near the station if there will ever be any. He just laughs. We start walking (it's about 20 miles) with our large bag for our 10 day holiday. I write the name of the village on the back cover ripped from a book with lipstick and we hold it out folornly as we drudge ever upwards. There is no passing traffic. We eventually get a ride about half the way in a Fiat Cinqecento, weeping with gratitude, but the last 7 miles we are on our own. The heavens open. It pours. Although we do not realise it at the time, it will not stop pouring in all the time we are there, an unprecedented period of bad weather in Rome in this season. We visit more churches than either of us has ever seen, to keep out of the rain.
The remainder of the holiday pans out like this: I shave the rest of my remaining wispy hair off (it started falling out about six weeks previously). It feels like defeat. The CFO and I fight bitterly every single day and it feels like we have reached the end of the road. Sometimes we throw stuff at one another to spice it up a bit. We make each other cry a lot. It rains so much that the postcard sellers in Rome are all selling umbrellas. We have to buy one, and some jumpers. We have a really really shit time.
3. Isola 2000, March 2000 I learn to ski! Isola 2000 is possibly the ugliest ski resort known to mankind, and this is saying something. The town centre is a series of windowless concrete corridors with soggy carpet and empy retail units. It is apocalyptic. We are staying in a hotel that is a shrine to 1976, resplendent in orange and brown. Even the food is all orange and brown. Everything in the bedroom is synthetic, so that both of us are so charged with static electricity that when we touch anything we get a painful electric shock. This is of course very romantic. Ha. For months afterwards I automatically pull my jumper over my hand when I touch a door knob. As we lie in bed at night, the bedspread and carpet give off a sort of luminescent static glow. It is eery. Learning to ski is frightening and very humiliating. I spend much of the holiday on my arse, getting tearful. The CFO's dad believes that shouting the same thing repeatedly at me will help. It doesn't. There are only three slopes open since all the snow has melted, so everyone in the resort is on them. I hunch, paralysed with fear and swearing quietly, at the top of each of them as insanely quick teenagers swoosh past me sniggering and the CFO's dad shouts incomprehensible stuff at me.
4. Avoriaz, January 2006. Not having learnt my lesson in Isola, we decide to take Lashes and Fingers skiing. They are 2 and 4 at the time. We stay in a small studio appartment with the CFO's parents and it snows ALL WEEK. It takes about an hour to get the children into all their snow gear and about an hour to get them out of it, but once outside, they get freezing cold and cry to go back in within about 5 minutes. Lashes does about 2 minutes of one ski class and hates it, which sort of buggers up our plans. We wander around the tiny appartment banging into each other as the CFO's parents do Sudoku. There is nothing at all to do in Avoriaz except ski, which is pretty much out due to the weather. On the odd occasions we do ski, however, I am permanently terrified because the visibility is zero and the CFO and his dad go off being macho, leaving me to whimper and judder down some hill with no assurance that they are at the bottom of it. Everyone goes to bed at about 7 because they have had enough of each other.
5. All of my summer holidays age 12-17 in remote parts of the UK, with only sheep for company. I particularly remember Ardnamurchan, staying in the house of a demented man with a collection of ancient gramophones who wandered the garden in his pants ("out of respect"). Really, I have never known boredom like it, and I have been to law school.
What's your worst?