My latest epic adventures started middle of last week, with a ski trip booked to Poland with the entire family, together with our friends in the village and their children. Things started to build to departure. Firstly one person's sore throat stopped me sleeping for half a week as my skin crawled ready for a head to toe psoriaris reaction to it. Having only just started to recover from a kidney infection and two antibiotic allergies, it took of again like wild fire.
The flight loomed in all it's booked in an on line reduced sale bargain glory, ie from the middle of nowhere at a terrible time with not really any luggage allowed. I stumbled around the house for days, slowly accumulating all things to wear in the snow to fit into only hand luggage. Unlike our last trip two years ago to Poland, not to be minus 32 this time, so less thermals packed. The children were infuriated again to be told that they had to wear three layers of clothes plus full size ski suits onto the plane and then undress once on board, this was all against a backdrop of some explosive husband commotion. Everything we do is on a shoe string and a budget, my husband purchased me on special offer many years back, heavily reduced due to the odd flaw or two.
A plane, a helicopter and a ship go down with a black box, in the case of our house, the black box is the printer. Should there ever be a serious demise in terms of our house that would record the convoluted and high pressured angst and fuss of lectures and workshops due to be printed out that get stuck, for urgent events prior to the holiday, ink that fails to arrive on the paper, paperwork for the airport not printing and things of mine due to be posted out to people who perhaps maybe think I have posted them already. All this going on, with preparations for others to move in in our absence and making sure that no estate agents go anywhere near it.
Once in the car at 2.30 am, I had hoped to doze having waved goodbye to some very put out cats. Being very very silly of course I spoke to them at length in one of those silly voices that middle aged women of a certain age swear they will never have, (often reserved for babies) that don't belong to yourself. Reassuring them that my friend Hairy Legs would be moving in to keep them company, and also other friends from the village who are being driven mad by another occupant in their own house a few doors away. Also another friend who looks after the chickens will also go in and stroke them twice a day - in other words our house will be as busy as ever. There was no chance of sleep in the car I had to choose between stereo middle of the night teenage squabbling or him learning a new Eastern European tune, I settled for option number two. I have never flown from South End before, rather a cute airport with nothing for sale other than all things full of gluten at ten times the price. I sulked in the corner with a large a banana and two large cups of coffee. We had driven with another family from the same village and then one more son turned up from London.
Boarding was very swift and rather over zealous with security, clearly not enough for them to do. I always look deeply suspicious and minutes after everybody had passed I was being patted down by a third woman, from head to toe, overseen by a man with a mono brow and suspect hair. The ladies themselves quite clearly extras from Prisoner Cell Block H. Our plane announced ready for departure with nasally Polish accents, trundled off for take off, but then as it revved up it's engines it was called back again, apparently somebody had seen the engine nearest me suck in a large crisp wrapper. Quite bizarrely having gone back to the start again, an engineer who looked as if he had just got out of bed, (although more likely a wind tunnel) appeared in the front aisle waving the very wrapper at us. I was not sure whether to be pleased or not. Once we had taken off properly, my husband made himself really comfortable by flinging his coat about and depositing all our passports miles away from where we were sitting, apparently under many different seats. These were returned to him by a variety of people, which puzzled him further.
My youngest son, had a good dose of Karma on the flight, due to my historical tales of woe about my first school, policed by nuns who were there to act as security guards and help me behave, he does like to actually call me 'the nun' a horrible tease which has become an endearment. I could not have been more delighted to see that once he had got comfortable in his seat, he then had to accommodate the arrival of a very very severe looking lady of the cloth in full nun regalia who squeezed herself next to him and alternated between muttering passages of the bible and doing her rosary for the entire flight, he had the full force of her religious intent but it was of course harmless and kept me amused, my days of being made to sit next to nuns in order to help with my behavior are long gone.
Our arrival in Poland was easy and our cheap taxi whisked us to the mountains. My eldest rushed out to the shops to buy what appeared to be pain au chocolate but on investigation was some sort of hideous sauerkraut puff, which disgusted my daughter beyond measure as she hates anything to do with vinegar. The other pastries were fine and disappeared with a large bag of ripe blood oranges at great speed. I made faces and ate my own body weight in loose nuts and dried fruit. Gluten free is possible in Poland but not that easy. Well certainly not on the first day.
Our first day passed in a blur having arrived sleepless at lunch time, I felt very off colour and as the others went off for provision and local ski maps and hire, I cased the apartment for things like sheets and towels which were in very short supply. An implacable lady with her hair in a bun, who could have been any age, who only moved her jaws when eating something, managed to convey without moving her lips in fairly good English, that she had checked my apartment and there was definitely enough of everything inside for all of us. How two single sheets and one duvet cover was enough for six people was not in keeping with my requirements. I sat next to her whilst she ate her way through two mars bars, one bag of crisps and a double sized sauerkraut and spiced sausage baguette, making endless calls and indicating that I needed to leave. I sat even closer to her and continued to smile more and more menacingly until I had extracted a further 8 towels as spare for swimming, a heap of blankets and several duvet covers and sheets. These were brought up the stairs for me, and then she was able to continue eating as she had tapped her watch and told me it was nearly time for her dinner!
The next day, having slept that sort of sleep you have on holiday when you have eyed up local wine and need to test it quite extensively. We were ready for the slopes. I was feeling a tad crap, but I do like to over ride such things. I launched myself onto a very long Poma lift, hanging on for dear life, as I have been in bed rather a lot through illness for the last six weeks, so unfit. Unfortunately I had not realized that I had gone for a very steep red run, once off the lift my legs could not control the speed of the descent. I abandoned skis, to my son who took off down the mountain with them under his arm. I opted to slide on my back, however nothing could have prepared me for the speed I got up to in my slippery suit, due to ice in parts. Those ski Olympic toboggan teams were what sprung to mind, all I could think about was that I would probably stop at some point. People were rather surprised, but I dusted myself off and then spent an enjoyable afternoon on the nursery slopes developing ski legs.
I had noticed before I had started coming down that the Poma lift had ground to a halt, my eldest said in a knowing manner that will be our man, he will have done something to it. Once on the nursery slopes I discovered a skulking husband who had apparently got really really muddled with the Poma, and even though this is his fifth ski trip, he had thought that you sat on your backside in the snow and got hauled up like that and not actually did any sitting on it, he had totally dismayed the Poma lift operator who gave him another lesson, at which point he got tangled up and then started ski ing backward towards the queue. He was then banned for the rest of the day and told to go to the nursery slopes. The men that operate lifts in the mountains all over Europe, Eastern or otherwise, are of a similar mold - taciturn, wiry, weather beaten statues who stand for hours in the cold telling off silly English people and smoking countless fags. My husband was not going to get in the way of smooth procedures. We all met up in the end on rather a nice slope with all the children, I was a bit wiped out and still thinking I was tired from no sleep and travelling.
The next day, (yesterday very very cold but sunny), I set off to another slope and became very unwell, and turned back, my lovely man said he fancied a day with me doing some writing, so a day in bed with what we now know to be bronchitis..so.. another day off for me today, all the others are at an outdoor thermal water spa making the most of the fun, hopefully I can venture out tomorrow. I am reacting to the bug, but so far so good, antibiotics not needed and I do have a superb view of the mountains with the setting sun. Every so often something comes to mind to make me laugh, as usual last night the film we downloaded was missing the ending, and he offered to cook dinner, and rather than opening the oven door, managed to appear in our communal sitting room clutching the entire front of the oven including the door, which he said had happened for no reason. The rest of the time he has been drinking lots of beer and taking deep hot baths, and disgusting the children by dancing wildly to Polish music wearing a tiny white towel like a mini skirt. Laughter is the best medicine. Tomorrow I shall venture out again, and the day after we are going to try to ski in Slovakia, I could not be more excited. I do currently have a very deep gravelly voice and due to my endless coughing a laugh like 'Mutley'
More rambling soon. MaryF x