When I was 7 we took our first family holiday abroad. My mum & dad, sister and I travelled to Corfu with another family of friends.
I have several ‘snapshot’ memories of this holiday including riding pillion on the back of a hired moped behind my dad with my legs dangling and his hat shooting off over my head; fireflies filling the lush garden of the villa we were staying in at night; and walking down a long, empty road one evening to a taverna during an electric storm – with no rain.
The one thing that went down in family history though was the day my sister, our friend Iwan and I took a walk along a dusty road and all I can remember is that one minute I was on that road and the next I was at the bottom of a deep hole. I heard my sister and Iwan suddenly notice my unaccountable absence and begin calling out my name. Eventually they discovered me but, at 8 and 9 years old, were unable to pull me out and had to flag down two burly Greek farmers who hauled me up. Its a good job I was only 7 or it could have been quite embarassing! Mainly it just indicated the beginning of a lifetime of daydreaming and lack of observance of my immediate surroundings!
The other thing our family will never forget from this holiday was the journey home. Everything started well – we checked in at the airport and duly filed through to Departures. However, at some point my mum began frantically searching her bag for our boarding passes, only to discover that they were well and truly lost. It was the kind of day on which a searing heat haze hovered over the trundling aircraft taxiing across the bleached concourse and the stress of the situation, combined with the heat, took my poor mum to the edge of consciousness. I remember her being instructed to sit down with her head between her knees until the moment passed.
Eventually the airline agreed that our story was probably true and that, in fact, we were the least likely illegal immigrants ever and we were ushered straight out onto the concourse in a one-family panic flight to the, barely there, rolling staircase of the awaiting plane. More was the shock when we stepped through the doors only to be greeted by a ghostly absence of fellow passengers. It was the wrong plane!
In hindsight the following scene plays out as if I were one of the many people sitting on the right plane, watching out of the window as this stressed little family unit wheeled from one plane to the next.
When we finally set foot on our home flight there was a resounding round of applause! (Although our friends later admitted to denying all knowledge of who we were or what on Earth we were playing at!!).
Ah fun times.