Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Les holidays arrivent! Youpi!

After yesterday's discussion of the varying types of fear, let me admit to a very real one. I am scared of next week. Next week is half term. Where will I be? Let me tell you, internet.

I will be locked in a nylon lined concrete bunker with CFO, spawn AND mamie and papy. In a ski resort. I have mentioned some of my more delighful skiing adventures before. This trip takes place in peak French holiday season, when the Parisians have sharpened their ski poles to a fearsome point and are out to trample the rest of France to death. Needless to say, there is no WiFi connection in this bunker, which will look like it was set in amber in 1976. Previous trips suggest that furniture will be brown and orange, and the appartment will be bathed in an otherworldly glow of static electricity from all the man-made fibres. Someone has to sleep in what is described as an "alcove". I suspect "someone" will be me and the CFO. I can barely imagine the scenes of devastation.

Firstly, mamie has volunteered to cook. Long time readers may recall that mamie's cooking is focussed around two poles: tinned goods, and the mighty cocotte minute (pressure cooker) in which any substance can be reduced to mysterious, grey, anti-matter in minutes. This is the woman who brought these:

to Brussels. Need I say more? Mamie was an early convert to the convenience food movement in the 1970s, and the CFO was brought up on a diet of tinned ravioli, tinned petits pois et carottes, Knacki frankfurters and the occasional trip to Flunch. On special occasions she calls in a traiteur and then we are treated to enormous mystery proteins in aspic, or the infamous pie with twenty charred quail skulls poking up through the pastry.

Recent additions to the repertoire have included the 'couscous apple tart' (no, that granular stuff you used wasn't sugar, Jacqueline) and lots of potage. Potage is the dregs of the fridge thrown in the mighty cocotte, with water and no seasoning. One might find, for instance, a few potatoes, some tuna, half a tomato, a head of lettuce and a lone frankfurter. The potage is then served with cream, because the rules of Normandy require that every foodstuff be pimped up with gratuitous dairy produce. Even if she weren't such an, ahem, individual cook, I am scared of baguettes and their razor sharp shards of crust that stick in your palate. And cheeses. Cheeses, which must be preserved in optimum conditions, such as, perhaps, sitting on the table of the coin salon, rather than out on the balcony freezing themselves into Camembert popsicles as I would prefer. The bio-hazards ripen gradually over the week, allowing the CFO and les beaux-parents to say mysteriously Norman things like "boudou, il est fait celui là!" (approximately, 'this cheese is lively enough to be running Belgium').

Secondly, skiing. Blah. I don't exactly hate skiing, but I do find it quite boring after a couple of hours. Boring and cold and all too reminiscent of the many cruelties visited on me by the Bearded One in my childhood on desolate mountainsides. Except even colder, whiter, and surrounded by cruel, psychotic teenage boys intent on death. It used to be fun when we had money and only one very small portable child, and could stay in Les Fermes de Marie, and take stealthy pictures of Cliff Richard and Mike Read sharing a hot tub (TRUE STORY - they even asked the CFO to take their picture!). Now we're consigned to credit crunchy concrete doom and endless queueing. I blame Léon Blum and the Front Populaire. All that insistence on the French getting out and taking possession of the countryside and discovering leisure and so on. All very well in theory but did he ever have to queue for a chair lift with eighty thousand snowboarding teenagers? No. Send me back down the Camembert mines please.

I predict, confidently, that Lashes will decide he hates it after the first morning, as he did last time. I am praying to be proved wrong, but I bet this is how it goes. Thereafter, each day will be a catalogue of fighting and sulking; exasperation from CFO, wailing from Lashes, hopeless attempts to mediate, drawing the wrath of both camps, by me. Fingers should enjoy, but presumably once he sees his brother creating dramatic capital out of hating it, he will decide to hate it too.

Thirdly, the clothes. Woe! I am not opposed to comfort or warmth. They are good things as my love of hot water bottles and pyjamas will testify. But in skiing clothes I look like a hunchbacked oompah loompah. A scared, hunchbacked, oompah loompah, careering down a hill with all the grace of an epileptic dog and whimpering. This is emphatically Not A Good Look. I will ensure there are pictures to prove this to you.

I know. I am a whiny, miserable cow. Poor me, going on holiday! You are now permitted to kick me long and hard (or you could just allow the Parisians to do their worst next week. They are very talented). Tomorrow I will regale you with tales of sunshine and roses and perfect, magical rainbows.


Anonymous said...

I loathe the snow. Whenever I have been I do one or two runs and then spend the rest of the day inside, bored to tears. I always slip and fall over at least fifteen times and no matter how new and lovely my boots are they hurt my feet and I want to kill someone.. and it's COLD! The husband took the oldest child to Switzerland on a holiday without me, I was not jealous.

JChevais said...

Our twitter discussion about this very subject had me giggling to myself on the suburban train back home. Tis your revenge! You have inflicted a "laughing at nothing" crazy person on the eastern burbs of Paris. Bravo!

Liberty London Girl said...

Sounds like Les Arcs. We stayed in a bunker there. Rest assured you cannot be as crap as moi. I generally ski on my arse. And my lack of toned abs means I can't get up when I fall down & have to wait, flailing, for the generosity of strangers. Gah.

justme said...

Sounds truely horrible. Especially the lack of WiFi. And the food. Take LOTS of gin with you, it sounds as though you are going to need it.
Why are you actually going??

katyboo1 said...

I cannot ski. I have never wanted to learn to whiz down a mountain on a waxed stick. When I went to Whistler I was tres bon at apres ski but I did it before, during and apres. This suited me better. I had no children then of course so it was easy to eat, shop and drink without interruptions.

I too hate the clothes, and the snow, and the faffing about. There is just far too much faffing about.

I think you are entitled to whinge. It is the only thing that is going to keep you sane.

Anonymous said...

NO! I have just been persuaded by Husband to do a house swap with some people in Colorado for a week so we can do a family ski trip. I already know I will hate it.
1. I can't ski
2. I hate snow
3. One is too small to do anything except vandalise the other family's property
4. I am scared of heights and NOTHING will get me on a ski lift
5. Husband was brought up in the Alps and will just disappear for hours on end leaving me with grumpy children
6. I am supposed to be grateful for the 'family time'.
7. He nearly, nearly sold me on this until I read this post and had a reality check

Anonymous said...

Not whiney at all, darling E. You sound realistic and resigned to me. Is there any way to create a reason to leave early? Make something up and take the CFO with? (Or just save yourself if he doesn't want to ditch his parents.) If you do have to stick it out- fantasize all the retail revenge you'll take on your return home. Surely a week of dining sur la table of your mother-in-law will be cheaper than eating at home,right? Voila. Money saved for a splurge. We will miss you!

Red Shoes said...

Tomorrow I will regale you with tales of sunshine and roses and perfect, magical rainbows.

Eeewwwww. WHY?!? What have we done to deserve that?

Waffle said...

Ali - I nurture a hope that one day I can discreetly bow out and leave CFO to do this kind of thing by himself.

Mrs C - Yes. Mention of William Saurin keeps setting me off. Thing we need to set up Nouvelle Star twitter group.

LLG - oh, that sounds about right. With well meaning bearded gent shouting incomprehensible instructions. And me usually crying.

Katyboo - precisely. The faffing. Before, during and after.

Justme - spousal obligation. CFO has dream of bombing down hills with his progeny.

Mothership - Oh, dude. You are so screwed. I wish I could give you some words of comfort, but all I can advise is taking lots of alcohol and feigning a back injury early on that prevents you putting other peoples boots on.

Jools - It should be cheap. It sounds cheap. But by some awful alchemy it will work out same price as week in Chiva Som for two, I just know it.

Red Shoes - you know there's no chance, right? I have to make a parrot costume tonight! Does that sound happy?

Liberty London Girl said...

oh I fotgot about the crying and the iced up snot LLGxx

Potty Mummy said...

You see, I do love skiing (even though am crap), and most stuff about it, though I suspect you are going to Les Menuires or similar so actually, thinking of being there with my mother in law means that you have my totally and utter sympathy.

(Even though I very nearly went to the Les Fermes a couple of years back but had to cancel, so am now inordinately jealous that you have been there).


Waffle said...

PM - OMG that is so spooky, it is Les Menuires. Don't tell me more. I don't need to know any more of the real live horror in store for me.

Fermes wonderful. Wish I had money, dammit.

The Spicers said...

Around the time I started dating my husband I went out and purchased skis, boots, jacket, the works, determined to be a skiier. After three miserable trips with lots of falling (one where my glasses shattered and stuck in my face after an inadvertant run over some moguls) and frozen snot and general discomfort, I decided I don't actually like skiing. Or the cold. At all.
When I had my hip replaced at 35 and the surgeon told me "no downhill skiing," all I felt was relief.

Red Shoes said...

you know there's no chance, right? I have to make a parrot costume tonight! Does that sound happy?

No, no it doesn't. Much funnier than stupid roses and rainbows though.

bonnie-ann black said...

it's a damned shame you don't get your own "half-term" to go off lounging and shopping and drinking. i've never been a sports enthusiast, even in my younger and more flexible days. i found that climbing the escalaters on the underground this past ten-day has been enough exercise for me!

Pearl said...

Oh, my. Four years of high school French and I have no idea what's in that can... Am I better off knowing? I place my education in your hands.

And as for skiing? Ack. The cold, I don't mind (as required by law in Minnesota) but all that hurtling down the slopes strikes me as counter-intuitive. Unless I'm being chased by Seventh Day Adventists with pamphlets I'll stick to feet sans skis, thank you.


Waffle said...

Pearl - does the picture not give you a clue? They are mussels. Sorry. You were better off not knowing.

Bonnie-ann - also deeply unenthused by sport. and lacking in coordination. hmph.

Iheart - so I need an injury? Have been hoping for reoccurrence of knee of death. Maybe next week.

Red Shoes - I am scarred from costume. SCARRED. But as you say, better than roses and rainbows.

River said...

Hmmm, the "potage" sounds suspiciously like my mother's cooking. Not nice at all.
I've never been skiing, I like to watch it on TV now and again, as part of a movie, but that's as close as I like to get to that level of cold.

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Ink and Indigo said...

I can't believe that someone else has had 'cous cous apple tart' inflicted upon them. It nearly broke my teeth.

Waffle said...

I&I - no! You too? We need a support group.

Anonymous said...

Don't be so hard on yourself, I've been on many of those forced march vacations with the in-laws and they're miserable. About as much fun as slamming my fingers in a door.

If you're looking for suggestions, find time to go off on your own. The grandparents will (presumably) not kill your kids. Your husband survived, right?

Good luck and hurry back, I need my daily dose of waffle.

H said...

My mother did exactly the same thing and made apple pie with bulgar wheat instead of sugar when I visited a few weeks ago. More surprisingly I was the only one who noticed and then I felt really bad that I had pointed it out and caused her to bemoan her old age all night.
It seems quite common, she will be so relieved to know.

Waffle said...

Ruched - but I have promised to "enjoy myself"! I am thinking I might do so by sleeping and drinking mainly. I will bring laptop and hang out in horrid fondue joints for WiFi, fear not.

Helena - my god, it's a veritable phenomenon. Bizarre.

G said...

Cliff Richard and Mike Read in a hot-tub? This is a photo that needs to be seen. Hmmm. On second thoughts, maybe not.

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