One Day To Go: Getting Packed
The last few days before we left were tough.
We still had some really important bits to get sorted for Party Dexx. Handing a few bits over to staff and making sure they were all ready for the wedding fairs/gigs that are booked during our trip.
Everything took ten times longer than we anticipated. Some stuff didn’t arrive in the post. We had to put loads more stuff in storage (including the fucking elf! yay!), packing took WAY longer than I hoped (why do we still have so much stuff???) and Josh had a little wobble about it all.
He’s always been a bit uncomfortable with change.
When he was small he used to deal with stress by refusing to put shoes on.
Now he just becomes more and more silly the more stressed he feels.
Imagine a 12 year old OCD version of Jim Carrey crossed with Michael Mckintyre and that’s pretty much a stressed version of Josh.
I thought he might feel better if he helped me pack.
This was an ingenious plan as A: It stopped him getting in the way B: It got my packing done faster and C: Having a job may help him to feel more in control.
He helped me sort out our stuff, pack it up and weigh our suitcases ready for the flight.
The plan worked perfectly… until the baggage scale broke, pinged up and smacked him right in the face, slicing a cut in his lip as it went.
This unsurprisingly did NOT help his stress.
After some very sad sobs and lots of bloody tissues we managed to get him settled and the last few bits packed and ready to roll!
The Big Day Arrives…
So Thursday finally arrives.
We set our alarms for 6.30am (apparently there are two 6.30’s in a day! Who knew right?).
We get up and out of the door with no problems. Josh looks a little shell shocked by the early morning, but aside from that we’re all good.
First we have to drive to my friend Richard’s house in Farnborough, as he’s kindly offered to look after our car for us AND drop us to the airport too.
After a quick cup of tea and Jake chasing the cat we all hop in the car and we’re off!
Oh My God They’ve Shut The Road…
So we’re all squeezed in, happily pootling along the M25 happily, when suddenly the traffic slows and we notice that a few cars in front there is a police car stopping all the traffic.
Like totally stopped.
They’re shutting the road.
I have a little panic – we’re nowhere near a slip road, so if they shut the road we’re stuck! With a flight to catch that’s not great…
But my little panic was unfounded.
Within a few minutes the police car moved off again and we all set off again at a normal speed.
First drama averted.
At The Airport
So we get to the airport.
Richard comes with us into the Terminal, helping us with the bags and racing the boys with the suitcases.
Despite him convincing the kids that he’s coming with us, we wave goodbye to him and head on through to Security.
You’ve all done security right?
You’ve got laptops that must be out of the bag, mobiles that must be in the bag, liquids must not be in your bag but instead in another small plastic bag.
You all stand in a line, a bit unsure about what you’re doing. One person takes their shoes off then everyone else follows suit – even though you didn’t really have to.
So we put our bags on the conveyor and get ready to go through the scanner.
Al goes through first and Jake follows. No problems so far.
Then Josh goes ahead of me – and sets off the alarm.
Thankfully despite him being anxious that this might happen he handled it well. He did as he was told and hopped into the full body scanner. They then did (a very brief) search of him (basically the guy patted his arms) and he was allowed to go through.
He’d left his coins in his pocket.
Then we all go to get our bags.
Mine, Al’s and Jake’s all come through.
Josh’s gets held back.
We’re called over to a search desk where they explain that it’s been flagged up because Josh has left his bottle of CK in his bag so now they have to take it off and do some more tests.
After swabbing it and clarifying that it really is just teenage perfume and not some explosive device we’re given his bag back and we head off on our way.
Josh’s bad luck continued until we got on the plane.
He had taken his Christmas money out of my wallet so it hadn’t been changed into Euros with everyone else’s.
This meant he had to change it at the airport and got totally stitched on the exchange rate.
Then his supposedly gluten free meal came with salad dressing which had gluten in it (thankfully I noticed before he ate it!).
We did find a cool little soft play area in the airport though.
And I finally found some sunglasses that didn’t make me look like an ageing rock star.
So we head on down to the gate. They’ve got the super cool new electric gates at Gatwick- a bit like the ones in the Tube stations?
Except these ones don’t work properly.
I get why it seemed like a good idea. You scan the bar code on your boarding pass and the gates open and let you through. Saves on staff, more secure – I get it.
Except in reality what happens is we all bundled to the front. I had about 50 people waiting behind me and 2 kids to get through the gate too.
I scan the bar code.
I scan it again.
Some people behind me tut.
I scan it again.
The machine springs to life!
I think “Yes!”
But it’s an error message and then it reboots.
Eventually I get us all through the bastard gates and we head down to the plane.
We were pretty lucky on seats. The flight wasn’t full so we managed to spread out over 6 seats (both sides).
I get the kids strapped and hand them a screen each.
Perfect. We’re ready to go.
But the plane isn’t.
Our departure time comes and goes.
But we don’t.
Eventually about 30 minutes after we were due to the leave the captain announces that due to an issue with an unattended rush bag’s paperwork, they have had to take it off the plane again, retest it and then get it back on the plane.
We eventually leave about an hour late.
The flight was pretty good. With the exception of a baby sat right behind Al, that really hated take off and landing it was pretty uneventful.
The kids played games and watched movies.
I read my book and watched some episodes of Lucifer (Thanks to Netflix & Amazon’s new download feature!).
We finally landed at 7.20pm – about an hour behind schedule.
I Forgot How Rubbish Spanish Cars Are…
We’ve booked a hire car with Autoreisen so we head over to their desk and collect the keys.
A little slow but simple enough.
She gives us directions (she specifically said left) and we head off to find the car.
After about 20 minutes of dragging suitcases and children up and down parking rows (with no numbers on) looking for bay 47 we finally figure out that she did not mean left.
She meant right.
We eventually find the car and load all the bags and children into it.
It’s now about 8.30pm and we’re all hungry and tired.
Neither of us has driven on the right before so I’m a little anxious about that too.
We get out of the airport and straight onto the motorway.
Then 7km down the road and the engine light comes on.
The fucking engine light!!!
We pull into a garage and phone the hire company who advise us to bring the car back and swap it for another one.
So we head back to the airport.
Get all the kids and bags out of the car.
Put all the kids and bags into the “new” car.
I say “new” because it really wasn’t. It had a wing mirror that had been smashed and several dents all over it.
We’re almost set to go but one of back seats won’t bloody move forward (it’s broken too) so we cant fit our suitcase the boot.
After the hire lady attempting to move it too to no avail, she offers us yet another car swap.
So, we unload all the kids and the bags again and wait for a new car…
Finally this one works. It’s much newer, much nicer and has both wing mirrors too!
We decided to ignore the wet floor mats….
Driving on The Right…
I’m not going to lie.
I’m a terrible passenger at the best of times.
I’d really much rather drive.
It appears I am a REALLY terrible passenger when we’re on the wrong side of the road.
Everything in my entire body was screaming at me that we were on THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD and in immediate danger.
Al did a great job and despite my constant narrative on everything and anything, from speed limits to traffic lights to directions to oh my god this is horrendous comments… he managed brilliantly.
Now, in hindsight given that neither of us has ever driven in Tenerife (or Spain) before, we should have probably brushed up a bit on the highway code/rules here.
But we didn’t.
So we’re heading down the motorway with no idea of the speed limit.
There are traffic lights EVERYWHERE.
Not like normal traffic lights at a junction.
But just random flashing lights all over the fucking place.
What do they mean????
The sat nav says continue straight, as we approach some real traffic lights that are on red.
So Al pulls to a stop in the right hand lane (which has a right and a forward facing arrow in it).
We’re doing ok we think.
Then someone beeps.
And beeps again.
Why the hell are they beeping??
The traffic lights are red. Oh no there is a red light with a green light just below it.
What does it mean???
So we figure they want us to go right so they can go right too, so despite the red light and our sat nav shouting that we’re heading the wrong way we head off to the right.
Sadly, right was not just any road.
Right was the entrance to the docks.
After several minutes of driving around the docks (which is full of more road signs that we don’t understand) we finally find our way out and make it to our apartment.
We Finally Meet Our New Home…
It’s taken a whole day but we finally arrive at our new home and meet our AirBNB host, Carolina.
She’s a lovely, Spanish lady who speaks good English. She’s waiting for us with her husband, her son, daughter and her daughter’s friend (who seem very excited and giggle the whole time).
She lets us into the apartment and gives us a thorough show round explaining how to use everything and telling us about the local area.
She also explains to us that today is a big holiday for them – in fact it’s the day that all the kids get their Christmas presents!
No wonder they were excited and giggly!
The next day is a bank holiday too so she’s kindly bought in some food for breakfast for us- croissants, cakes, bananas and oranges along with some juice, milk and water.
The apartment is lovely.
Exactly as it was described online and really well equipped.
She’d even made sure we had tea and coffee too.
After our show round (and a few questions about home schooling) they wave goodbye and head off to continue their festivities.
We’re finally here in our new home.
We’re tired, but we’re here!