Robert Duncan reflects on a great part of his family holiday in Spain…
I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to detest flying. From the moment you get to some far flung airport you are treated (and here’s a really original line) like cattle. Standing for ages in a queue, pushing your luggage forward with your foot, made to feel like a criminal when you actually get to the desk, and then waiting nervously to find out whether your case is too heavy, thereby starting an international incident.
After more queuing you go through security, removing your shoes and belt. Ignoring protestations that your trousers will probably fall down you eventually ‘get through’ and can commence the relentless business of visiting duty free, fighting for a seat at the coffee place, and staring sadly at the departure board. Once your magic number comes up you are off, walking the quarter of a mile to your gate, and another long wait, busting for a pee. And all this is even worse on the way back. You can actually feel your tan fading as you stand there.
And you’re not even on the plane yet. Don’t start me off…
Here, dear reader, is my answer. Go by ferry! It’s a cruise! It’s an extra part of the holiday! And, wait for it, it’s fun!
Our jolly little lot enjoy the far from tiresome drive to Portsmouth, with a sixpence for the first person to see the sea. The lady in the ferry operators booth smiles (imagine) and checks our passports in seconds. She then presents us with our tickets and cabin keys. All aboard, car stashed easily, and… Let the entertainment commence. Coo, it’s about wine time! We repair to the bar with its panoramic view of Portsmouth harbour, and libations are ordered as the boys zoom off to find out what super hero film is being shown in the cosy cinema. I am dispatched to book a table for dinner, and all is set. The ship takes off or whatever it’s called and we happily cheers each other as we watch Portsmouth fade away in a pretty mist. Ok, there’s a bloke whose job it is to keep us amused, but we accept this, knowing that no such person would turn up on a flight. We win the quiz, have one more glass of wine to celebrate, and take a walk round all the decks of the ship, buying daft things in the shop, and choosing platters of wonderful cheeses at the marché.
Dinner is great – much better than it need be – at a table with a great big window overlooking the sea. The boys eat enormously, and then we all try to build the puzzle that my little lad has been presented with as part of his kids present.
We go back to the bar for the merest snifter and the boys go off to the cabin. Bunks. Me and my ward on the top ones, Jamie and Cathy on the lower level.
Good sleep. Good breakfast. And back into the car as we drive off, with a merry wave from the customs man, to start our nine hour drive down to Murcia – and the joy of traversing gigantic and impressive landscapes with hardly another vehicle in sight.
Sod flying. I burst into Viva Espagna and am told to shut up, so I give them The Rain in Spain in my pleasing light baritone…