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Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Best Stuff to bring on the ferry to France

We've been getting the ferry to France for a few years now. Prior to that for Summer holidays we rented a house in the West of Ireland. Which was lovely, but so wet and windy. I think it was the year we bought thermal vests for our kids, or maybe the year we got a half hour of sunshine in two weeks that prompted us that it might be time for a change.

So, we bought a tent and booked the ferry. Or ferrries, to be precise. The first year we got two - one to Holyhead where we promptly got lost, eventually found an Argos, bought a Satnav, and drove to a site outside Birmingham where we camped for the night. And the next morning we drove to Dover and got another boat to Calais. I would not recommend this journey if you have kids under four. Actually I wouldn't recommend it at all. Gruelling is the only word that comes to mind.

The next year we booked one ferry, from Cork to Le Harve with two cabins, one four bed with porthole and t.v. and one two bed with nothing. I got the four bed plus the kids, and my husband got the coffin, to himself.

It was almost worth the nightmare journey the previous year as by comparison this was the Four Seasons. We all particularly loved the porthole. And having your own private space on the ferry is really bliss. It means that while you are navigating the play areas and shops and "swimming pool", (surely no one ever actually puts their kids in there?)you know there is respite only a few minutes away.

Which brings me back to my main point. There are a few things you must bring wih you on the ferry. First up is Pot Noodles - one for everyone. Yes they serve food, but its pricey and not particularly nice .(I've never tried the fancy restaurant though). Theres a kettle in your cabin, so for anyone who is small or tired or not in the mood for venturing further, you have a smallish, dinnerish option. That is ready in about four minutes. Follow it up with a trip out for a treat and you've spent a fraction of the cost of the meals and everyone is happy. They're even more valuable on the way home, when everyone is exhausted after the drive to Le Havre, and the post holiday credit card bills are looming.

Second, I always bring my kid some new books. Yes, of course we bring as much charged up screeny stuff as we can fit in the car, but when they are all tucked in their bunks and everything is being recharged for the journey the following day, it is our tradition to have a new book for everyone.

I go for the Tom Gates/Wimpy Kid style. Basically, light, easy reads. This year I've already bought and hidden away for the holiday Wierd but True by National Geographic and The Tapper Twins go to War by Geoff Rodkey . Our biggest success in past years has been the Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger. I'd highly recommend them. Also good and a bit more girly are El Deafo by Cece Bell and Smile by Raina Telegemier. (all these are for seven or eight and up.) And I'll read Flat Stanley Goes Camping to my youngest.

Lastly, remember that there are narrow metal stairs that take you from your car up into the ferrry. Cross body bags really come into their own then. Especially if you are carrying a child. (Mango has a nice big tasseled one at the moment. It is white and black stripes and a good size. I think I might treat myself.) Also big bottles of water are heavy and a pain to carrry, but well worth it. Everyone will thank you.

Now what else comes in handy? Ok - I'll ask the family.

My husband says for him; a plastic coffee filter cone, paper filters, coffee, milk and travel mugs are imperative(it means we leave the Ferry with a cup each of freshly brewed coffee -which is very, very nice.)

My thirteen year old says food - any food! My nine year old says ginger snap biscuits, (they've warded away seasickness in the past), my twelve year old says food - lots of food! And my four year old says comics.

So there you have it. My guide to surviving the ferry. Has anyone anything to add? I'd love to hear.

meet me in MAC

I met my best friend in MAC the other day. That corner of Brown Thomas has been our meeting spot for quite a few years now. So long that I was thinking, as I was heading down Grafton Street(rushing, as I'd just got her text "I'm in bits!" which turned out to mean "I'm in B.T.'s!), maybe at our age we should be meeting at the Clarins counter? 

Its only when I think about it, (which is not a very good idea) the MAC girls are probably twenty years younger than me. Maybe its time we grew up?

Sure enough, she hauled me over to Clarins to show me her new serum. God, bloody serums. Aren't they so annoying? Costing a fortune and shouting "anti-wrinkle" and "aging" at you from the bathroom shelf every morning. This one, she said, just disappears as soon as you apply it. "Even worse."I said, "I want to see a sheen or a glow or something for my money." I could see the Clarins girl coming over, to tell us about the ground up diamonds, or the deep sea whatevers in it and dragged her away. 

If I was going to get one thing, and I did want to treat myself, I wanted to get one of those sticks that highlight your cheekbones, or at least give the impression you have some. The very sweet Clinique girl said "Of course" I wasn't too old for that kind of product. Now that I'm in my forties, its so much easier to talk to the make-up counter women. In my thirties I was permanently pregnant and as a result, luminous with the worst rosacea ever. And I hated talking about it. 

But as soon as I asked about any product whatsoever, they would tactfully mention "and if you happen to have any REDNESS or INFLAMMATION, this might be handy." 

And I was pointed away from the pretty glosses and shadows and towards the green creams and industrial concealers and boring, expensive serums.

In those days, because the home I had just escaped from had a small baby and/ or toddlers in it, I was exhausted and desperate to myself to buy the perfect product. To make myself feel perfect? It was never going to happen. But my thirties are in the past, as is (most of) the rosacea.

So I bought a Clinique chubby pearly stick the looked just like the NARS Copacabana Multiple but was €17 cheaper. "Just apply to the cheekbones and the temples and anywhere the sunlight hits really!" she said, being too diplomatic to add the necessary codicil "being careful to avoid areas of deep wrinkles, for example, your forehead."

thin feel for greater sensitivity

We had a choice. Drive to Ikea and buy a new chest of drawers and spend an hour or two assembling them and cursing all flatpack furniture. Or not drive to Ikea and fix our current, worn out chest of drawers.

We chose the latter. 
That is how I ended up in our bed, reading stories to my four year old while his nine and twelve year old brothers pootered about, as we waited until their dad finished fixing the drawers in their bedroom. And how my nine year old noticed something under our bed. 

"Whats in the box?" he asked. There was no avoiding the question. 

"Daddys contraceptives. " I said. and quickly went on reading Tatty Ratty. 

"What did you say?" said his brother. My nine year old jumped in, always the expert. 

"She means they are things you use if you want to have sex but don't want any more babies." 

His brother looked suprised. 

"You don't want any more babies?" 

"No" I told him, "four boys are enough. I mean four boys are just perfect." And went on reading. My four year old was listening, but his brothers were thinking. And reading out loud themselves;

"Thin feel for greater sensitivity. Easy on shaped and teat ended for comfort and fit. Transparent and lub..lub..ricated for natural rubber latex condoms." 


Not only could I think of absolutely nothing to say, I could feel a fit of the giggles coming on. Would this ever end? Not quite yet. The nine year old looked at me again.

"So, the two of you..I mean do you...?" 

Oh no. I was mortified and doing a bad job covering it up."Yes." I said. There followed a second of silence and the two elder boys leapt away from the bed as if it were on fire.



"I can never get in there again!" 

I thanked my stars that my thirteen year old was in his bedroom, on his computer, wearing headphones. Not something I usually encourage, but such a blessing last night. 

So, I finished Tatty Ratty, and finally, finally the drawers were done.

getting the legs out

I can remember, I must have been about eight or so when I figured that I had narrowly missed out on having sallow skin. Skin without freckles or red patches that actually turned brown in the sun. Brown. God, I wanted to be brown SO badly. And at that age it was becoming apparent that it was never, ever going to happen. I was a child of a fair, freckled father and a dark haired, sallow skinned mother. The dice had been thrown and I came out pale. Actually, pale barely described me. I was as white as the driven snow. God, it annoyed me. I had been so close. So close!

Holding my arm against my mums was torture. It got to the point where she would refuse to let me compare our colours. "Look at your lovely young skin", she would say. I can't remember what my answer was but you can bet it wasn't a cheerful "Thanks Mum!".I was so jealous! She was so brown and never burnt. Life was so unfair!

Anyway, here I am after over three decades of getting burnt/trying sunbeds/experimenting with many fake tans and suncreams and I am now able to take a little sun. Finally, I go a very light, freckled beige. Like a pale version of Dove Summer Glow(fair to medium). 

So, I was getting ready to walk to the school to collect my kids this afternoon, and taking off the shorts I had been wearing around the house and garden, to swap them for a pair of cropped jeans. Hang on a minute, I thought. Why don't I leave the shorts on? Well, because no one over twenty five and sane wears shorts in Dublin. Certainly no one at the age of forty six. But the weather is, for once, warm! And I have put a lot of time and exercise into these legs. They're not perfect, by any means. But they're not blue, and they have served me well for many years. They deserve a day out. What's the worst that could happen? 

I walked out of my house in Dublin, on the 29th of June 2015, wearing shorts. And what did happen? Well, I met a Mum who said "God, I'd be scared to wear my shorts in Dublin, but you look great! So Summery!" 
I'm glad I did it. I was cool and comfortable and no one stared. My advice would be to other eegits like myself, who have for decades been hiding under opaque tights and jeans - go on, get the legs out. They deserve it.