We decided to take the whole family away for a break over half term and almost had to cancel it due to all the illness, but we made it and wow do I feel a load better.
Thank you for all your kinds thoughts and good wishes, which meant a great deal to me, and all the advice, much of which I tried and found very helpful.
As we went away, and it was all a bit last minute, we had that perennial question: 'what shall we pack?' Well, I didn’t have time to give it much thought before we left but sitting on a plane and waiting for buses has given me the opportunity to come up with my top ten list of things I wouldn’t travel without.
I'm not about to list passports and tickets etc, that’s a given, these are more the sorts of things you might not think about…
Because I have two kids my list may not be that appropriate for you and perhaps I have missed some screamingly obvious things. If I have I’m sure you’ll put me right!!
My holiday list
1. A First Aid kit with Calpol, plasters, antibiotics and other bits and bobs. If you bring them, I find you never need them, but one time in Egypt I didn’t and spent the whole evening trying to find Calpol for my three year old who had developed chicken pox on the journey! Do you know Arabic for Capol?!
2. My Bose QuietComfort 3 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones. On a plane they are the most wonderful devices ever, but great on the beach when listening to some music or in a hotel room when there’s a couple next door who… er, can’t sleep at night!!
3. Pens and paper for the kids to draw on. It’s amazing how having to keep the kids quiet on a flight exercises your creative glands and in a vain attempt to keep the youngsters from bugging the other passengers, you will resort to silly stories, making faces and trying tricks like the ‘ol (pretend) removing yer thumb! It’s not enough for a six hour flight, so a bit of hangman or noughts and crosses goes a long way.
4. Chewy sweets! Now I have to be very specific here, they have to be chewy and it’s all to do with equalisation! Have you ever noticed how when you land in a plane all the young kids start to cry? They aren't frightened of flying, the poor little blighters ears hurt.
I found that as soon as you start the descent, if you give the kids a regular supply of chewy sweets the action of the moving jaw stops the pressure building up and prevents them from getting sore ears. Don’t you remember, they used to walk round with a basket of sweets in the olden days? The great thing is you get no complaints from the kids either.
5. Lavender oil. Now, we're all trying to be pretty safe with the sun and even though we use things like factor 50 lotion, you can still get sunburnt. A drop or two of lavender oil, mixed in with any old lotion, really helps to soothe your skin and calms it down very quickly. Works for anyone, even hairy old gits like me!
6. Re-sealable plastic bags. How many shell collections, broken suntan lotion bottles and wet swimming costumes would have contaminated the Biagi suitcase if it hadn’t been for one or two of these?
7. A little wooden wedge! Oh yes, now you know I’m weird! The thing is how many times do you end up sitting at a table, usually outside, enjoying the balmy weather. Great except the ground is uneven and the table rocks, the wine gets spilt and every time anyone leans on the table, the chaos spoils the meal.
8. An Archos! Honestly it doesn’t really matter which one but I haven’t travelled anywhere without one since I first saw them on QVC. Having tried to entertain my three year old in that Egyptian hotel room (when it was 98°F outside and him with a raging temperature), I was devastated to find that there was only German or Arabic channels on TV.
A few hundred pounds to have cartoons, pictures, music and films all on a little box that plugs into a TV seemed like pretty good value to me.
9. Eau de cologne and a chammy leather. What? I hear you cry! Well, when it's really hot and you’re waiting at the un-air conditioned taxi rank or bus station, it can get a bit clammy and the young ones get very fractious (the old ones too).
Put some cheap eau de cologne on the chammy and bung it in one of those re-sealable plastic bags and when you start to feel the heat whip it out, swirl it round your head a bit and no matter what the temperature was inside your bag, the chammy feels really cool and continues to do so for ages. I learned that one from Simon Jay – the make-up artist at GMTV – on some of our 'Fun in the Sun' road shows in Spain.
10. Chewing gum. Now normally I'm not a fan of chewing gum but when you are a bit dehydrated and have been travelling for ages, there’s nothing better than being able to brush your teeth. Unfortunately there never seems to be a basin, water, a toothbrush and toothpaste all in the same place at the right time. Chewing gum at least makes you feel as if your breath isn’t too ferocious when you meet your holiday rep. Well its gong to be another year before I get away again but hopefully my list will give you a few ideas if you're heading off for Easter!
Well its gong to be another year before I get away again but hopefully my list will give you a few ideas if you're heading off for Easter!
Love Simon X
P.S. It's nice to be back…