On the positive side, following a disastrous house move (more on that later), a holiday had never been more welcome.
On the downside, an overly fastidious villa owner and a boating ‘incident’ (more on those too!) somewhat lessened our joy.
The destination, Corsica. Like France, but with a whole new language and smiling people. Mountains, goats’ cheese and cured hams about sums it up.
To be fair, it’s very pretty, but once the kids had seen one ‘village with awesome view’, they’d pretty much seen them all. The pool beckoned.
Beaches were excellent, but we had skin rash issues (boys with mild eczema). Local beer was very good, but at 4 Euros a pop for a 25cl bottle, we were going to need a cashpoint way before we needed a taxi. Very expensive all round actually, especially eating out.
We rented a private villa, so that the 3 boys could have their own space and take over the swimming pool. Very nice too – owned by an English couple, so we set about daily holiday life in the normal way. Lots of baguettes and ham, and as little cooking as possible.
The wasps were the first real issue – we ate out only once in 14 days due to their ever-buzzing presence. Now, in the UK this might be understandable, but when the temperatures are soaring and there is no air conditioning inside, it’s a choice between death by heat exhaustion or death by wasp. No brainer really.
Pool – tick, scenery – tick, food – should have been at least 3 michelin star standard for the bloody prices we were paying, so no ticks there, youngest child’s behaviour – there is a stair in the villa which has a bottom-sized shape ingrained into it, from Oliver’s frequent and lengthy ‘thinking time’.
The highlight of the whole fortnight? Watching wee Oliver metamorphose from a scared, clinging toddler in orange armbands every Wednesday at his swimming lessons, to an adrenalin-hungry, ‘I’m diving not falling’, goggle-toting, underwater swimming, pool-obsessed water baby, in less than one week. Priceless.
The main event was a long, curvy sick-inducing drive to the little town of St Florent, from where we had decided to hire a small motor boat for a day of beach hopping. Very hot – this would therefore be the day when the air conditioning in our hire car also went into melt-down. Great. As we arrived at the somewhat remote boat hire shack, Oliver announced “I want a poo”. No ‘toilettes’ anywhere, nor any likelihood of a suitable place after we’d stepped foot on the boat for some hours to come. This was eventually dealt with, and we returned to get the boat. No problem, just don’t go beyond this certain beach as it’s a bit windy and the sea may get a bit rough beyond that point, said the man (or at least that’s what I think he said – my A level French has gone a bit rusty after 25 years of non-use). Off we went, and enjoyed a great day of swimming, snorkelling and pootling in and out of various bays and coves. At around 2pm, a very nice man with a slight note of panic in his voice came searching for us in a larger boat, and advised us that he was here to ‘rescue’ us. The sea was now apparently so bad that we would not have made it back in our pathetic dirigible, so we hauled our wet selves and our wet gear onto his boat and headed for shore. He was right. Big waves and strong wind met us full in the face. I must confess we were all just a little bit scared, apart from Ollie, who managed to fall asleep at this point of the journey.
Anyway, a good time was had by all, and the boys are truly all amazing little people. Watching them grow is a privilege.
We cleaned the villa (in the sort of perfunctory manner in which you clean a rented home, if you understand my meaning. When you’ve paid £3000 for your accommodation, you are paying someone else to have to do all the hard housework in between guests stays) and left. We arrived home to an email from the villa owners (whose anonymity I shall retain until they have paid me back my security deposit) stating that they were deducting £29 from the £400 deposit for glass breakages and cleaning of sheets, floors, emptying of bins etc. Surely missing the economical logic that it ain’t worth arguing over £29 unless you want to lose a potential £3000 from a return visit next year……..Is it me? You can’t make this stuff up, you know!