My optimism (strike that, I’m actually delusional) never ceases to amaze me…it had been long enough since my last disastrous trip to my parent’s mobile home in Wexford for me to wrap it in fuzzy nostalgia… aww it wasn’t that bad, sure I probably had PMS and the kids are a little older now. I decided to introduce new characters to this trip in a bid to reinvent it all. Enter, my fabulous and easily persuaded friend Susan and her two girls aged 8 and (almost) 4. I regaled her with tales of how the kids would play together, leaving us to drink wine, pyjamed in the evening… I had her at alcohol. I set off on Tuesday morning and my husband shouted after me me to put air in the tyres. I pulled up to the garage and having never done this task before, I squeezed the nozzle in the general direction of the tyre till one of the mechanics came over and asked if I needed help; I detest a situation where I am clueless but I acknowledge that cars will always be one of them. He told me my tyre was completely bald and I’d need a new one but he’d none. I spent the next half hour finding a garage with a specific Citreon tyre and used my holiday funds to pay for it. I got on the road and braved the M50 (my hands still hold the imprint of the steering wheel). I am terrified of motorways and spend my time in the slow lane somewhere between a vomiting and heart attack. As I got closer to Wexford, the weather became progressively worse and I pulled up on the grass verge next to the mobile in torrential rain and gale force winds… I had the feeling I might have made an “unnecessary journey”.
I opened the gate and got to the door like I was playing that final fun challenge with the giant wind machine on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. I had to make about 100 trips back and forth from the car with kids, luggage, food etc and I was soaked. I tried the light switches… nothing and it was getting dark. I rang my sister who directed me to the power box like she had no concept of left, right or the inappropriate clothing I was wearing. Meanwhile I was facing a Wizard of Oz scenario and needed a storm shelter and the kids had their Dickensian faces pressed to the windows of the increasingly darker caravan. I had to ring up to The Big House (the site owners) and the man of the house (Thomas) came to my rescue. He glanced at my car and said… “that was a bad place to park”. I tried to reverse onto the concrete but it was wedged in the mud and when he offered to help I told him to wait till morning to try to tow it as I NEEDED wine. With the lights on… I went to put my food in the fridge and opened the freezer and was met with a smell that made my eyes water and I ran to the door to dry retch…. there had been food in there since August without power; burgers that had liquified and a pizza that was 100% mould in a bag. I threw everything in a bin and disinfected the fridge but the smell never left. Susan pulled up and I ran out to warn her to stay on the concrete; she barely heard me as she was roaring at the girls who had fought and shouted the whole way. I babbled about my stresses and she flinched at the smell. We looked at each other panicked and I said WINE and we relaxed a bit.
The kids found a chess set and physically abused each other to “play”. I stupidly gave them a box of loom bands I found (I know, I know…. I have not encountered this before) and they were flung to the four corners of the mobile. Susan and I prepared 5 different meals for the kids and lamented the lack of a dishwasher. We talked about how our parents and grandparents coped and realised this was compensated by being able to beat your kids legally (forgive us but very small living quarters and 5 under 8s had us contemplating beatings seriously).
We opened a second bottle and managed some conversation, interspersed with kid crises ie: phones/tablets dying and desperate needs for water or pee trips.
There was a lot of bed hopping and by the morning, King Conall had retained the largest bed to himself while I lay on the join of two singles pushed together with a farting Koray and light-as-a-feather-sleeper Rian. I lay between them while the mobile was rocked with wind and rain and started googling nearby hotels.
The following morning I made countless fry-ups as Susan supplied me with coffee and sideways, desperate looks. I asked did she want to go to a hotel and she lit up and said she wouldn’t be averse to it. A few minutes later she said “should we just go home?”. I laughed and said YES… we may have hugged. We sat the kids down and explained the new plan and they were all devastated and we promised to do all sorts of amazing stuff during the week at home. We dressed them and let them out to play (the rain had stopped) as we packed and one by one they came back crying, covered in muck.
We decided to lock up and get them in the car ASAP. I tried my car… nope. I rang The Big House and he was out. We found rope but when we googled how to tow my car… it turns out I don’t have the screwy-in-bit needed (who knew?). We used planks of wood… Susan pushed me (she’s 8 stone)….nothing. I rang AA and wasn’t covered for this particular situation (city-slicker-stupidity?); I rang a local mechanic and he said he’d come for €60…. then Thomas arrived and he said to cancel the call… it took about 45 mins but he managed to tow me out. I couldn’t believe I’d to face the damn motorway again but I did and when I got on the blessed N2 I could have wept… there really is no place like home; well after I do 30 washes there won’t be (how, how after a few hours away have I so much to wash?).