“So,” I said to my beloved, “That’s what we’ll do. We fly to New York, hire a mobile home - ”
“An RV you mean.”
“Ha ha, dad. You’ll be just like Meet the Fockers. Careful you don’t flush the dog down the toilet.”
“Thank you, Ben, I don’t need your intervention. Your mother and I are planning the rest of our life.”
“Don’t forget that argument you had in France. When you got lost in the supermarket car park.”
“SatNavs hadn’t been invented then. And it wasn’t a car park. Well, maybe it was. But it was a big one.
“Then I thought the next year we could drive round Scandinavia…”
My wife was looking sceptical. But I was determined. Ever since I’d come back from Rotterdam I’d been infected with wanderlust. Clearly I was having some sort of mid-life travel crisis.
I didn’t spend my holidays from university wandering round Greek islands.
“I spent them calling bingo numbers on the sea-front. Which was fine for the cash flow and even finer for meeting girls from Doncaster and Newton Aycliffe, but it didn’t exactly broaden the mind. Well, not in the conventional sense.
But family life is changing. Tom’s away all summer – he has a moderately cool holiday job in the aerodynamics department of a Formula One team.
Living proof that working hard and passing exams might just be a good idea.
Jessica is just back from Rome.
But in 10 weeks our beloved daughter will pack her bags, tell us to take good care of Scribble and – exam results permitting – leave for university.
Which takes us down to one. But come September 2017 and Ben will be off as well. Goodbye endless buying of breakfast cereal. Hello, empty nest. Just the two of us.
“And I’m determined to make up for lost time – unless my wife has had enough and decides she’d prefer a man who’ll actually fix a broken cupboard door as opposed to one who merely writes about it.
So we’ll be travelling. “How do you feel about South East Asia. Look, there’s this girl I’ve been reading about. She ate the beating heart of a cobra - ”
“Dad, you won’t eat anything that’s two days past its sell-by.”
“Might be different in Thailand, Ben. All those things they eat. Supposed to give a man – you know, renewed powers…”
“Renewed powers,” I said again and winked seductively at my wife. She did not wink back.
“If you think I would find you even remotely attractive with snake blood dripping down your chin you can think again. Anyway,” she added,
“Never mind your middle-aged fantasies. What are we going to do about this year?”
I’d been under the impression that I’d be spending my summer holiday driving Tom up and down the M1 to his summer job.
But my wife had other ideas. Specifically for October half term.
“Seeing as Tom and Jessica will be away, I thought the three of us could go somewhere.”
“Awesome idea,” the seasoned world traveller replied. “Yemen? Vietnam? Bolivia?”
“Crete,” my wife said. “Or maybe Cyprus.
“We’ve never been there for a holiday. And it should still be warm if we go at half-term.”
Hmmm… I am easily seduced by a bowl of olives. Bread, cheese, wine, olives. Eaten on the beach. Take me, I’m yours.
“So we’ve decided then?” my wife said.
Decided? I was already tapping ‘average temperature Cyprus’ into Google. I’d already paid for my sunbed. Reserved a table for lunch. Ordered a beer, read the menu. Squeezed the lemon over my calamari…