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This is a question Family Holidays

Back in the 80s when my Dad got made redundant (hello Dad!), he spent all the redundancy money on one of those big motor caravans.

Us kids loved it, apart from when my sister threw up on my sleeping bag, but looking back I'm not so sure my mum did. There was a certain tension every time the big van was even mentioned, let alone driven around France for weeks on end with her still having to cook and do all the washing.

What went wrong, what went right, and how did you survive the shame of having your family with you as a teenager?

(, Thu 2 Aug 2007, 14:33)
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This question is now closed.

As a nipper, my parents used to take me and my sister to a caravan near Appleby in Cumbria, along the banks of the aptly-named Eden River. Rolling fields, frolicking deer and glorious sunshine abounded. Despite having such beautiful surroundings all day, they would frequently succumb to wanderlust and drag us off to various alleged amusements and day trip destinations. The worst of these was undoubtedly Siloth, a branch of purgatory on the Solway Firth that even sounds like a Lovecraftian horror.

I don't know how many of you reading this live in Siloth - although the fact that you all have access to electricity suggests none of you - so if you take offence to this story, you can assume that I just turned up on a bad day. An exceptionally bad day.


-The gale-force wind, which was scattering untethered pets and buffeting hapless pensioners. It never let up all day and, we suspect, all year: the trees across the bay were growing horizontally.

- Being told by my family that, no, I could not just go to the arcade and play Rampage (10p for five credits!) all day. Instead, we would have fun. Madness.

- Approaching a miniature fair ground which was shut until spring. This was in July.

- Being given a dubiously nutty whipped ice cream, which is hesitantly licked until a small swarm of flies turned it into a writhing mass of black dots.

- Finding that the only beach accessible by foot was made of sharp rocks - though a sandy beach was visible, it was seperated from the rocky beach by some kind of giant concrete factory that opened onto the ocean.

- Eventually driving over to the sandy beach, where we were met by dark clouds and light drizzle, as well as the horrible feeling of having grit forcibly inserted into our faces by the wind.

- My sister being made to build sandcastles by the water. This consisted of her sitting down and crying while my mother scooped slop into a bucket.

- Me and my dad aborting our walk up the coastline when he finally accepted that there was nothing for miles. It looked like a depressed art student's experiments with perspective.

- On the way back to the car, finding entire families huddled in sand dunes at the back of the beach, clearly gripped by the same madness that affected my parents.

- Passing a church wedding in the drizzle and the wind and noting how they didn't seem to be having a good time of it.

- Having our one brief moment of happiness - a family game of pool in a warm hotel just down the road from the church - spoiled when we were kicked out. Apparently the "wedding" was actually the funeral of an 18-year-old soldier who'd died when he crashed his vehicle in a training exercise. The family didn't think a damp, ruddy-faced family hammering pool balls with sticks isn't a suitable accompaniment to a wake. Selfish bastards.

- Discovering that the arcade that I'd seen that morning with the Rampage machine in it had closed early for "personal reasons".

- Being relieved at the thought of a boring car journey back to Appleby and thus discovering the difference between "boring" and "actively unpleasant".

No apologies for length. I don't see why my family should be the only ones to suffer.
(, Thu 9 Aug 2007, 10:16, Reply)
I went on holiday with my family for the first time when I was five, with my parents and 15yo brother, to some shitty static caravan place in Cornwall. Woolacombe or something. Pretty much the same as every other story on here involving lame caravan sites with the obligatory onsite 'disco' (this being the only place we went to after 6pm), windy, cold, overcast beaches, parents having a benny over stuff like kettles, etc. Holidays continued in this fashion (without bro, who at 16+ was considered old enough to stay at home - lucky bastard) until I was around 9, when we could finally afford to stay in a hotel. We went to pretty much everywhere in the Cornwall/Devon region for a week every year. I had to share a room with my parents and listen to ridiculous complaints about the bed not being hard enough (my dad would only be happy with a concrete slab with a sheet on it or his back plays up, poor lamb), thankfully, no shagging, as their relationship has been pretty much sexless for probably most of my life, heh. Highlights included:

- my mum being scared shitless during the 8-hour drive from Coventry to Falmouth (or similar) by my dad's driving, which tbh isn't exactly test standard, but when she screams into her balled-up cardigan and leans dramatically in every time he overtook something on the motorway (which she has never driven on, and never will) its a bit much.

- On a typical day, sitting in a lay-by all day, having abandoned all hope of having fun as it is a bit chilly for the beach (seriously, this is England, what did they expect), waiting to go back to the hotel for dinner.

- Being made to climb steep hills when it was raining and windy in flip flops, a swimsuit and a baggy nirvana t-shirt by my dad, who wanted to see some old 'engine houses' (google it or something if you want to die of boredom) which we never found. He bought an engine houses calendar.

- Walking for what seemed like miles along a beach trying to find a spot that they thought worthy of parking our windbreak, folding chairs, weird straw beach mat things, towels, bags etc. (my parents seemed to want to keep the sand at least 4 feet away from them) and ending up somewhere that was just the same as the beginning of the beach, just really far away from the toilets.

- Being dragged back to the caravan from the crappy caravan site nightclub because my mum was screaming at my dad for looking somewhere in a funny way (seriously), the argument continuing for ages, her shouting at me for crying (age 7), ruining the whole day, etc (which thus far hadn't been that bad).

- A similar argument caused by my curiosity over a henna tattoo stall... according to my dad, it seems that by allowing me to have a look, my mother was allowing me to have an actual, skin-piercing, AIDS infecting, socially-stunting TATTOO (dun-dun-derr), cue him storming off, leading to row of epic proportions, only this time its in front of a whole town and I'm kind of trying to look like I'm not with them.

When I was 16, I went on holiday to Portugal with my mum and aunt, I was quite optimistic about this, as my dad seemed to have indirectly caused most of the hassle of previous holidays. It was more friendly and there were hardly any rows (unless you count some stupid half-day sulk over using someone elses suncream), though I was bored shitless, as all they wanted to do was sit on the beach all day and burn to a crisp, then spend the evening eating and drinking sangria (as I was still 16, I was allowed a couple of sips - oo the horrors). A picture of us, me clad in all black, totally pale, reading metal hammer, with two middle-to-old-aged maniacally grinning orangey brown crispy women wearing leopard print swimsuits kind of explained how unevenly this trip was enjoyed.

Stupidly enough, reading this QOTW has made me want to plan a holiday. Probably somewhere as un-Cornwall-like as possible, lots of drinking and general debauchery, with only friends and the Mr with me, with no fecking windy shit British beaches. Amsterdam anyone?
(, Thu 9 Aug 2007, 5:35, Reply)
The Supergran post has just reminded me of the time that our family of 4 decided to join forces with my (now sadly departed) Nan & get 2 rooms in a B&B (can't remember where). I was probably about 6. And we were certainly not well off at the time. So, Mum & Dad got one double room with a Z bed (remember those?) for my little bro, and I got to share the other double bed with my Nan.
Only problem? I'm a light sleeper, and Nan snored like a freight train. I swear the windows were rattling.
I tried very hard to sleep, honest, but it just wasn't happening. And back then I was one of those sensitive little flowers that HAD to get a coupla hours shut eye.
Little Bro valiantly stepped in and slept with Nan, while I got the Z bed. Which was held together with string and was damp & very stinky. The combined snoring of the 'rents added to the discomfort & general stinkyness of the bed was still preferable to the din going on in the next room. Lord only knows how heavy sleepers manage.
Answers on a postcard please!
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 22:56, Reply)
Butlins in Pwllheli
Not so much the Butlins (which was about as fun as it can be when you're too big for the ball pool and too young to get served in the bar), but the drive down.

The car overheated somewhere about Kendal, resulting in the bonnet catch sticking and one of the wires to the horn melting. This meant we had a car with the horn going "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP", the bonnet stuck shut, and steam coming out. Eventually I was able to reach into the (very hot) engine compartment and pull the wire off the horn, silencing it forever.

Then the overstressed radiator sprung a leak, necessitating a stop every couple of miles for the engine to cool and more water to be added. We passed the same hitch-hiker six times, and of course he passed us while the car was cooling down.

Length? Not as long as I've been traumatised by it.
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 21:23, Reply)
Holidays with Supergran
I've never really had a shit holiday. This is thanks mainly in part to creative parents and relatives who are willing to try new things. One of them being my Gran. My Gran is literally Supergran. She rides horses, she tapdances, cooks like a demon, and has even been known to knit on occasion. One time I remember- I would have been about 14/15 kind of age, and myself and Mum dragged her up to the Lake District. One day we went to an activity centre (I forget the name) but I got to do various extremely cool things like clay pigeon shooting, horse riding, and of course, quad biking. Loved every minute of it. But what was even better was going quadding again- this time with Supergran leading the way. And then watching (and listening) as she came to a steep hill, and barrelled on down it without a care. But hearing the shout of "Oh Shiiiiiiiiiit!! as she descended down the hill has amused the whole family for the last 10 years.
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 21:03, Reply)
When I went away with ALL my family to Spain (camping), my uncle offered me and my cousin his tent for the night so that we could stay up late and not piss off everyone else. But before we went to bed we went for a drink and on our way back to the campsite me and Bekah, the cousin, kept chanting 'Jimbob Sweaty-knob' at our uncle. To get back at us, he pulled out the sleeping bags, chucked them in the pool, and then proceeded to pull down his tent. We didn't speak to him for the next week. But it worked out okay in the end cause our nana told her transvestite friend to try and pull the uncle. I've never laughed so hard since.
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 19:49, Reply)
Oh, the shame
Not really a holiday, but a family day out.

My mum, dad, brother and I go to Brighton. We agree to split up and meet for lunch. I check my parents have their newly acquired mobile phone with them.

So my brother and I go off and have some jolly good fun, pointing and laughing at people, dropping our ice creams, etc.

Then we see it's time to meet. I ring my parents' mobile to see where they are. Then, as the phone is answered and I start to talk, I see my mum down the street.

She was listening to the phone in the correct way, but when she wanted to talk she held the phone infront of her face.

Her excuse was, "the phone is so small and the mouthpiece is so far from my voice, if I didn't hold it there how could you hear me?"

She STILL DOES THIS. I think she especially enjoys doing it on days out/holidays.

The shame.
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 19:40, Reply)
Oh My?
I do have some repressed memory's

my dads dodgy not-meant-to-be-camper-van camper van.
being the eldest at the time i had to climb up to the bit above were the driver sits to sleep (this not being a proper place to sleep filled up with condensation) i woke every morning soaking wet it was also made of fibreglass and as i pointed out not made for anything other then storing (? wot ever aint a person) hadnt been finished to any degree of smoothness = horrible itchy rash

my dads boat
not a big boat but could sleep a family of 4 as long as 2 of them were children and didnt mind sleeping up the front in wot amounts to nothing bigger then a double sized coffin i kid you not you had to slide into the "beds" cos there was no way you were ever gunna stand or even sit up (im now very claustrophobic)

my mum and dad split up
enter my mums new fella a very nice bloke most of the time but had a strange habit around family holidays
we would go off + his son who lived with his mum the rest of the time and who was 4 years older (we got on really well to be honest)
to were ever it was that year and have a great time then we would come home and mums fella would turn mental? blame one of us kids his included about something random shout go crazy and leave takin his son with him(to be dropped of at his mothers) and disappear for a couple of weeks leaving me and my brother to unpack in silence as my mum cried.

family holidays yeah i loved em
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 19:22, Reply)
Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
First off: yeah, it's long -- read it or don't. Also: no it's not entirely on-topic -- so sue me. Finally: yeah, it's true.

I'm 16, heading towards A Levels and in order to improve my French my parents decide that I should spend some time there with a French family. Being short of cash and somewhat lazy, they decide to avoid the costly and time-consuming process of going through some sort of organised exchange service, opting instead to ask around to see if anyone they know might know someone who knows someone...

Et voila! Our next-door neighbours happen to know a family who live in the south of France, who have a similarly-aged son who'd benefit from some time in Blighty. The deal is done, although strangely with no direct contact -- they don't have a 'phone so it's all day indirectly through friends. I know literally nothing about them beyond the son's name. I don't even have their address.

The time comes, my parents accompany me to the station and stick me on a train with 250 francs (about £25) in my pocket and a ticket to Spain -- for some reason they're to meet me on the bull-hating side of the Franco/Spanish border. It's an uneventful journey to Paris, but things start to go wrong when I try to get from Gare du Nord to Gare d'Austerlitz. The 250F was intended to pay for a taxi across town (my mother deciding that the Metro was too dangerous to negotiate alone) but I quickly find that it's nowhere near enough to pay for such a journey unless I want to risk my life, possessions and/or possibly my anal integrity to a dodgy-looking Moroccan gent who accosts me while standing in the taxi rank queue. I don't.

Back in the Gare du Nord I begin to investigate the Metro. First of all I'm completely unable to find the ticket office, my pathetic O-level French failing at even this most basic of tasks. The metro station is a maze, and each person I ask gives me a completely different set of utterly incomprehensible instructions. When I do finally find a ticket office, the babbling goon behind the desk flat out refuses to make change from the 200F bank note I offer him.

I'm beginning to get a little nervous -- time is getting short. Finally I find a ticket office where somebody actually consents to sell me a ticket, then on my way to the platform, I'm accosted by an English-speaking woman who needs to find a map of the metro system. I happen to know where this is (having recently explored every inch of the place) and in return for my help, she gives me one of her metro tickets. Thanks lady, you're about an hour late.

I arrive at Gare d'Austerlitz with less than ten minutes to spare. Giving up on my French I simply walk up to every uniformed figure until I find one that speaks decent enough English to tell me which platform I need. I run. I find my train. I get on and look for my reserved seat. There's someone in it. I am perplexed. Not wanting to cause a scene, I find a guard and somehow make myself understood. He shakes his head: the reserved seat was for Calais-Paris. I have no reserved seat for this leg of the journey. And every single seat on the train is full. I resign myself to the prospect of spending the next twelve hours (i.e. through the night) sitting on my bag in the corridor.

Luckily, a friendly lady takes pity on me and lets me have the seat that one of her two children should be sitting in, only he's sitting in her lap. Said child then falls asleep across my lap, and I'm so worried about waking him up that I don't move for the remainder of the journey. Neither can I sleep: the train is full to bursting, it's hot and everyone is sweltering, even through the night.

We finally roll into Portbou the following morning, and I'm met at the station by a couple who I assume to be the parents of the family I'm to be staying with. I've had nothing to eat or drink in 24 hours: they hand me a dry croissant to munch on as we career at insane speeds along twisty coastal roads, back towards France. It's fortunate that I no longer suffer from the carsickness that I mentioned in an earlier post.

We arrive at a nondescript house in the suburbs of Perpignan. It's still morning but already horribly hot. Not having slept in over 24 hours, I'm looking forward to being shown my room, so I can crash out for a while. But it's not to be: as we walk through the door I'm greeted by a great crowd of people -- I have no idea how many -- all smiling and friendly, and in many cases barely clothed. There's a LOT of flesh on display, some of it belonging to some delightfully-proportioned young females, and even some bits that until that point I hadn't witnessed outside the pages of Razzle. My eyes are out on stalks. I think I must be hallucinating from lack of sleep/food/drink.

We're barely in the door when I'm ushered out again, back into the car and off we go -- once again over the border to Spain, where we're going to a restaurant for lunch. In spite of my hunger I'm frankly revolted by the food that's offered -- I have no idea what it was but suspect it was intestinal -- so decline and instead go for a walk along the adjacent beach: more naked flesh to ogle. Bargain!

The others gradually emerge after gorging themselves on garlic-stuffed tripe or whatever, and gather around in a group in a shady spot beneath some trees. I wander over to talk to the woman who (I correctly guessed) is the mother of the lad I'm to exchange with. He's just arrived, and we're introduced: his name is Ramuel. He is handsome, muscled, tanned and cool -- he sports of mohican (this is the 80s, ok?) and struts around like he has balls the size of coconuts.

In short, he is everything that I'm not. We have absolutely nothing in common, and his English is no better than my French so we could hardly communicate even if we did. I dislike him immediately and it's clear that he feels the same way.

And this is where it all started to get a bit weird.

We're called over to join the main group, who are now standing in a large circle. I'm made to understand the we should all hold hands and close our eyes, so I join the circle and do so. A very large, pot-bellied, intensely hairy man begins to talk in French. He drones on for a very long time. I don't understand a single word, but I'm sleepy, his voice is very calming and I feel very relaxed. By the end I'm nicely chilled. The mother calls me over and in broken English, she explains what has just happened.

First of all, the man I had assumed was her husband, was not. In fact, her husband is currently on a book tour of Canada. His name is Claude Vorilhon, and the book he's selling is all about the religious movement he founded -- Raelianism. For those of you who've never heard of it, the Raelian movement came about when he (Vorilhon, or Rael as he later styled himself) happened to be walking on a mountain one day, carrying a copy of the Bible (as you do). There he found a space ship, and in it some extra-terrestrials who told him (taken from Wikipedia):

"...every life form on Earth was created by advanced human scientists from another planet with 25,000 years of scientific advances who, according to Raelians were originally called Elohim or "those who came from the sky", and that some forty prophets in Earth's history were sent by Elohim whose messages were misunderstood and distorted by humans, largely because of the difference in the level of scientific understanding between the advanced race and our primitive one."

All the people at the house and now gathered around were members of this group/cult/religion (whatever). The group hand-holding had been an attempt to telepathically contact these aliens and summon them.

No, really.

Looking back on it now, I wonder at my equanimity upon having this related to me by an otherwise apparently sane adult. Perhaps it was that I was already spaced-out from the sleep deprivation, the hunger and the heat. It didn't seem in the least bit odd, and unbelievably I didn't even have the faintest urge to laugh at her. Which, by rights, is exactly what I should have done.

At this point I'm whisked off again, this time to a small airport where a pretty young thing of about my age is due to fly off somewhere with her father. Strange to report, in the hour or so we spend in the back seat of the car and then a hot airport waiting room, we fall in love. We barely speak, just smile at each other. I can't break eye contact, and we hold hands as we cross the tarmac to her father's Cessna. She flies off. I never see her again.

Heat/hunger/tiredness/horniness? Possibly. I can remember her face to this day.

The next week I'm given further insight into the Raelian movement, and do my best to take it seriously. There's a lot of group meditation which is genuinely quite relaxing, as long as you ignore the fact that the others think they're communing with the Elohim. One day we go to see the Dali museum (I later learned that he was there at the time, dying slowly in a small room in one of the towers). Another day I sunburn my feet (painful), somehow end up having to walk five miles in espadrilles (excruciating), then arrive at the house to find all the (middle-aged, overweight) menfolk sat around the kitchen table, stark bollock naked to a man, playing cards. I decline to join them, and head to bed.

But frankly, most of the time is spent lying around by the swimming pool, ogling scantily-clad young things while trying to a) not be seen to be ogling and b) not get a stiffy. Apparently free love is part of the religion (it's true -- look it up!) but alas I don't get any -- apart from being crushingly shy I'm also horrifically unattractive, especially compared to the various other bronzed hunks about the place. Ramuel basically ignores me.

At the end of the week, it's time for us to head for the green and pleasant land. Ramuel is less than happy, and who could blame him, when he's leaving behind sun and sex for a grey, cold English summer? We have an interesting time when we're stopped by armed border guards at Calais -- it turns out he's only 15, and you can't travel on a French ID card if you're under 16 unless you have written permission from your parents. And his mother can't be contacted because she has no 'phone. Somehow we managed to track her down, and were allowed on our way.

Ramuel was miserable for the entire week and bizarrely, ate nothing but apples. My sister fell in love with him. I gave up trying to entertain him and just left him to mope until the time came for him to return home. Needless to say, we didn't keep in touch.

To this day, I find the whole thing rather surreal. And the Realians turn out to be even more bizarre than the above story might suggest -- like, remember that group who claimed a few years back that they'd cloned a human? That was them. Great fun story to tell the kids, though.

Nanu nanu.
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 16:39, Reply)
Drinking in Gosport?
The guy who works for me had Friday off last week to go Drinking in Gosport.

Office gossip being what it is, he was soon going there for a weekend of drinking with sailors and would be repeatedly taking it up the arse, too.
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 16:21, Reply)
Travelling round Europe in a large camper van when I was around 15. Had a great trip but the close confines made doing what normal 15 year olds like to do on a mutliple daily basis difficult.
One day in Berlin I managed to escape and get some peace and quiet. That's right, I done a wank in the epi-centre of German politics, the Reichstag.
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 15:13, Reply)
There was a reason, we found out, why nobody else in the campsite pitched their tent in the little dip in the field.

It was this: whenever it rained, the little dip became a river.

A raging torrent, no less, that swept through our tent like some Welsh tsunami, bearing all our worldly goods before it.

All our worldly goods including our clothes, which, soaking wet, freezing and half-naked at four in the morning, proved impossible to find by the light of a 99p torch.

We set fire to the tent as soon as we got home, just to make sure we were never tempted to go camping, ever again.
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 13:39, Reply)
don't drink the water
i live in france, and have been here since i was seven, before which i was in Bristol...

Most of my family still lives in the UK, so sometimes we'd get the odd visit from relatives looking to lounge around my parents swimming pool in the summer.

One year two of my aunts came down to stay, got royally plastered one night with some (good) french wine and were sick all over the place for a day or two.

Cue a few years later, my cousin, daughter of one the aunts, comes over with her two little kids. One morning i pass by the bathroom, do a sort of double take and go "WTF????". The kids were brushing their teeth using bottled water. I ask them, like, er, what do you think you are doing, and they inform me that "auntie berta said the tap water in france makes you sick".

Turns out the aunts has told everyone that they'd been ill after drinking french tap water ... Nice one drunken old aunt!

(Then again, I get the same crap from the french who went over on school trips to the uk, and keep on at me about UK food, the peas being fluorescent (they've never seen fresh peas i guess), chips with lasagne (but then again that combination freaks me out as well), mint with lamb (which they've never tried), and anything to do with jelly, so one-all i guess)
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 13:02, Reply)
'Family' Holiday
I had a nice long holiday in an all expenses paid establishment.

All meals were paid for, there were recreational facilities, and TV, porn was readily available as were all the recreational pharmaceuticals you could conceive.

Sex was plentiful, if a little surprising at first.

And the staff were always on hand to answer any queries you might have.

If I ever have to go back to HM Prison Armley I will make sure I avoid Knuckles O'Shaunessey and Hairy-Arse Tyler in the showers again.
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 12:47, Reply)
Madeline McCann latest
I heard this on the BBC this morning:

"After discovering spots of blood on the wall of the apartment where Madeline was abducted, Portuguese police have made a more thorough search. They discovered a wheelbarrow of narcotics in a wardrobe, Osama bin Laden in the bathroom, Lord Lucan enjoying a cocktail on the balcony and Shergar nuzzling at some hay under the bed. Using a sniffer dog, they also discovered Madeline's rotting head on a spike.

Head of the Portuguese Police, Carlos Ineptides said: "We no look everywhere at first. But now we are having more clues. We think that we can find Mandy alive."

Osama bin Laden said: "Shit! I thought this was the last place anyone would come looking for a crime or criminal!"
(, Wed 8 Aug 2007, 10:08, Reply)

This question is now closed.

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