I am so sick of our spoilt children moaning about our lousy holiday destinations: ‘Can we please go somewhere good this year not cold and miserable?’ says Josie for the millionth time. ‘Josie, I know you’ve had it tough being dragged around North European areas of outstanding natural beauty all your life, but I am clearly not a beach babe; its sandwich, flask and ramble for me – frying next to a pool is not a holiday!’ ‘But everyone else goes somewhere hot with a pool!’ 'What about starving Africans?' (brilliant!) ‘AND WE ALL WANT TO GO ON A PLANE!!’ they cry since not having flown is laughable to their mates as, I don't know, having your hair cut by your mum. ’Stuff and nonsense!' I snapped. ’How about Youth Hostel hopping in Scotland?’
Josie won; being cooped up with us lot for a week deserved some compensation. Lake Garda was her choice, a destination befitting a family of wealth and style..
We booked a massive villa called ‘Supertent’ which comfortably accommodates six if you’re happy to jump from the ‘bedroom’ door to your bed. But, hey, we'd be outside all the time, because the weather would be glorious.
One day of sightseeing proved beyond doubt that breathtaking porticoes and lake-side citrus groves did not make up for the torment of walking around in the heat. 'You wanted it hot didn't you?' I carped, triumphant. We resigned ourselves to camp-life ‘Good, now we’re actually doing something’ they said.
El familio Smurph (stripy swim-hats, pool rules) hit the pool – and charged with unrestrained vigour off jetty into lake, our ‘Inflate Your Fun!’ mini-floats bought in the camp shop aiding the smallest among us…we provided pretty sophisticated entertainment for the bemused Italians sipping Bardolino in their deckchairs…
Dusk fell and we were first in the queue for the (free!) pool-side entertainments (campers only - it was going to be shoddy). Everything from line-dancing – by God we showed them how to move - to ‘kidz-quiz’ (clever!): ‘‘Snow White had seven...?’ ‘DWARVEZ!! YEY!!’’ The flood-lit colour-changing pool was almost too much to cope with (‘How naff!’ we snorted, transfixed by its beauty) so, dance-dizzy, we strolled home, happy and tired, to the BBQ, Alan’s pride and joy.
‘Pastrami? Pollo? Proscuttio? What’s it to be?’ ‘ SAUSAGES PLEASE!!’ cried Alfie, so we grabbed a ‘GRILL PARTY!’ cellophaned sausage selection, and settled down to watch the chef at work. For unbeknownst to me, my husband is a barbeque KING!! A quarter turn for each sausage every 2 minutes – ‘TONGS!’ he’d shout, snapping his fingers ‘CHARCOAL – QUICK!!’. He homed in on the only other English family - potential friends! – ‘Oh dear! Wrong firelighters.’ (shake of the head) ‘Here, try this!’ and carried over our entire BBQ after our meal ‘I think you’ll find it does a pretty good job!!’ I told Alan to calm down - he was scaring them off. Car-less and emasculated, he took to tutting over their parking ‘Ha! They’re very near the tree!’ and monitored their movements through a vent in the tent, declaring to them one morning ‘Your car wasn’t here last night – where were you??’. We never saw them after that.
Next, the heavens opened ceaselessly for three days, my cheery ‘Good job we’ve got our macs!’ quickly turning to ‘Muddy shoes OFF the beds!’. This wasn't supposed to happen! Pac-a-mac family ran hither and thither between boat, bus and public toilet. All we needed was that essential Hello Kitty souvenir of Italy and we were ready to get the hell out of there. ‘Can we, like, not fly anywhere next year?’ said Alfie..