We were getting ready to head off on our now annual trip to the south of France. I used to think it was a terrible waste of the world to return to the same place year after year; now I find a reassuring comfort in the familiar. This is our third visit.
“Mummy, you look Hanson!” cried Gilby in the morning, and all I could think was “Mmmbop…” Did I have floppy blond hair and look about twelve, suddenly? No, it was merely Gilby’s rapidly expanding vocabulary getting the better of him as it often does. Well, he was going to be three whilst we were away, but we took the decision to ‘save’ the birthday celebrations until our return. I feel a need to justify this decision: his presents were big (like soccer goal nets) and I didn’t fancy spending time baking and icing a cake in the heat of the sun. All the adults agreed to the conspiracy; how would he ever know?
I finished the last day of school and Daddy was waiting in the car park, Alice Cooper blaring from the stereo: School’s out for summer…car packed up with cases and kids, and a grandmother and a niece. Tremendously exciting, and by early evening we were in Lille.
The long trek down through France took the whole of the next day, and was relatively peaceful, aside from the moment when Gilby complained that his crisps had 'gone quiet' but his bread was 'noisy', which are the best eupehmisms for 'stale' I have heard. Later, Nano calmly asked whether we had a change of skirt for Gertie.
“Only in the roof box…”
“No problem, only she’s just sneezed Babybel all over herself,” Nano went on to explain cheerfully. We arrived mostly in one piece, if a little cheese-sneezed.
A glorious week consisted of fabulous weather, delicious food, too much rose wine, daily water volleyball tournaments and plenty of other pool antics.
Grumps was at his best, or worst, depending on how you view it. We’d finished our main course of ‘chicken au Cabrieres’, and had just got to cheese. Excitedly, we planned our trip to kayak under the Pont du Gard the following morning. “They tried puttingheaters in those, you know,” he began, conversationally. “But they all started to explode.” The rest of us looked at him, bemused. “Which just goes to show that you can’t have your kayak and heat it, really.”
Gilby’s ‘birthday’ passed without incident. Sadly, the terrible twos didn’t end, but I consoled myself with the thought that it was simply that he didn’t yet know he was three. And we’d have got away with the harmless deception, too, if only the passport control officer hadn’t wished on our way back through the tunnel with the parting words, “Where’s Gilbert? Ah, there you are. Happy birthday for yesterday, young man!”
Pass the rose...