Well, I do not know if things are different where you live, but the weather – mainly the cold and rain – are the main reasons we British think about getting away on holiday. Although many full-time workers now get 4 or 5 weeks paid holiday in the UK, most of them can only afford two weeks away – ideally somewhere warm and sunny.
We put up with heavy rain, hail stones like golf balls, floods, mud and then – would you believe – droughts, not to mention gales and thunderstorms. It is during the winter, November to February, that we think we must book a holiday to get away from this dreadful, depressing weather. If you complain about the government, you can lose friends and make enemies; talk about the weather (good or bad), and everyone is on your side.
Fed up with the cold, I felt the next step was to take myself off to the High Street with a strong bag to bring home travel brochures.
As I looked at rows and rows of colorful travel brochures I remembered my shortcomings. As an FM sufferer I cannot walk far, and my fibro legs hate hills. Even when it is warm, I like to be comfortable in the knowledge I can have a blanket in case I am in pain during the night. I must make sure I can get extra pillows to support my shoulders and my neck pain. If my IBS is a problem I will need to be able to get to the toilet in the night, and so must leave a light on.
I thought, ‘I must pull myself together.’ This was bordering on the ridiculous! I reflected on my state of health at home – if it is wet and cold I ache everywhere and do not want to go out. If it is warm and sunny, I feel so much better.
A young lady in a smart uniform asked me quietly, “Do you need any help?”
I think I am beyond help!
“Yes please. I am looking for somewhere warm and sunny, not hilly, near the beach, but not too expensive.”
She suggested the Canary Islands, off the coast of West Africa. We looked at pictures of blue, blue seas, sandy beaches stretching into the distance, and she read, “Lanzarote boasts 365 days of sunshine.”
Seventh heaven, I thought – can I go now, please!
Having been to the Canary Islands with my late Mother and young son, I remembered long lazy days, sand that was hot to the sole of your foot, and fish like you have never tasted. There were also one or two cockroaches that my Mother chased around the bedroom with the toilet brush, pulverizing them before anyone would go to bed.
The cockroaches would be gone by now, I thought. New insecticides would see to that. I agreed that the recommended holiday sounded wonderful but I would like to discuss it with my family. They were “taking” me on holiday as my “alleged carers.” The truth is, they know from experience I am usually the only one with money left at the end of the holiday. I suppose you could describe me as their meal ticket or more like ‘good for a few pints of beer’.
I hurried home with a handful of brochures (at a snail’s pace) to look at the holiday books in detail. To make a very long story shorter, my family agreed Lanzarote sounded wonderful and I booked the holiday for four months hence and guess who paid the deposit. Got it in one…..
Hey, wait a minute – have I got this wrong – are the family taking me on holiday or have I been foolish enough to say I would take them on holiday…. I must get a hold of this fibro fog business or it will cost me a fortune.
We were nearing the departure date and we were on count down – 23 days to go. We had paid for extra leg room so I could wiggle my toes, ankles, knees and anything else that would move in the 4 hour trip. I was under strict orders from the family not to over pack or include any scissors or nail files or sharp things in hand luggage or handbag – or I could carry my own luggage.
I have to admit it but the kids had already faced the humilation of mother and her smalls on show to everyone at the airport when someone decided I just MUST open the case to take out the metal bottle opener, nail file, kitchen devil and scissors. That is another long and tedious story. Enough said.
But, we were all looking forward to 14 of the 365 days of sun, so I packed sleeveless T-shirts and strappy tops, thin cargo trousers and shorts. With all that sun I would wash my smalls overnight and wear them the next day -I thought! With such lovely weather, I decided I would pack a couple of swimsuits – the water would be warm with all that sunshine. As we were travelling away from the cold UK weather late in the afternoon and arriving at 8.30 pm I would travel in jeans, a T-shirt, sweatshirt, waistcoat, a fleece jacket, and a warm scarf.
The departure day came. The flight was uneventful—no air pockets, usual uninteresting airline food which had been prepared hours before. There were no second cups of tea or coffee – all drinks had to be paid for – and don’t talk to me about airline toilets. How couples manage to join the Mile High Club in such a small space I will never know. There was hardly enough room for this one fibromite, How two amorous young things hell bent on well – you know what – could manage to achieve their goal under those conditions I will never understand. I guess I am not an old romantic after all. If you should happen to hit an air pocket at a crucial moment -well it does not bear thinking about.
On arrival in Lanzarote I felt chilly and put this down to the darkness and night air. To accommodate all of my concerns about sleeping, late breakfast and so on, my family had agreed to go self-catering in an apartment a short walk from the town, Playa Blanca, and the beach. South of the island was said to be the sunniest.
There were stars in the sky, the complex twinkled with lights in the trees, and everything looked lovely. But shock horror – one pillow, no blanket, and four of us sharing one toilet. Reception arranged a blanket and pillow, which was helpful, and we discovered another toilet close to the apartment. It was a bit of step or a fibromite in a nightie – well who packs dressing gowns to go on holiday? We were all tired after travelling and waiting around the airport, so we decided to go to bed and get any early start on sunbathing the next morning. I remember the sun cream so I was all prepared – or so I thought.
I tossed and turned all night. By 7 a.m. I could stand it no longer and decided to open the thick curtains designed to keep the heat out during the day. I was hoping to be blinded by sunlight. Instead I was distraught with the rain. What did they say about 365 days of sunshine – or was it 364?
Well what was one day I asked myself? It might brighten up after lunch. Meantime, it was cold. As I showered I decided it was not the best weather for shorts and chose to wear my jeans. By the time I dressed I was so cold I was back in the sweatshirt and waistcoat as well as the socks and trainers.
Over the next nine days the weather made no effort to live up to the Lanzarote dream weather. We used our warm clothes until we felt we had to change. Then we scoured the shops for new sweatshirts and warm clothes. I even bought a rain jacket for more warmth and protection against the cold wind.
I will not bore you with the places that ached and pained me. Let us just say they were just too numerous to mention and moved around the body so fast I could not remember what hurt the most. The cold got into my bones and the rain made me creak and ache. The damp weather made me move at the pace of a 94-year-old – I had certainly lost any skip I might have had in my step. My tender points were so tender, it became a laughing matter with my family, who made fun of me and my TPs, as they called them. I called it Global Freezing.
On the eleventh day we believed we would get more of the same weather and almost wished it were time to go home. We had spent 10 days wrapped in blankets in an apartment with no heat to warm the place up. But by 7 a.m. that day, the sun was peeping through the cracks where the curtains had not been properly closed overnight. The temperature had risen and we were able to put away the blankets we had been wrapped in. At last I could show off the new red shorts I had bought for the holiday.
We decided to devote ourselves to the sun and give up everything – drinking, eating, preparing lunch, shopping for presents, and anything else we could do without. Hope you too not of the priorities in that last sentence.
The plan was to get burnt till it hurt and tanned in all conceivable places during every available moment the sun shone. This lasted three days until it was time to leave.
We did arrive home with a tan. I even managed to wear my strappy tee shirts, swimsuits and shorts. In fact the last day of our holiday, when we were flying early evening, we spent the day sweltering in jeans, and our other winter clothes, which we wore, ready for cold weather on our arrival in the UK.
What can I say? Would I do it again? We had fun, we laughed a lot, got cold, wet and a bit merry a few times. It would have been a dream holiday if it had been as warm as the holiday brochure promised. But we had to believe what the locals told us when they said it was the worst weather for 20 years.
Do you think I could sue anybody for misrepresentation of the facts – 365 days of sun – or am I wrong – is it fibro fog – yes must be.
I must admit that the fun and laughter with the 10 days of rain and three days of sun, which we worshipped from dawn to dusk, served as a distraction from the FM pains and yes I would do it again – come rain or shine.
Sometime ago we had one holiday in Cornwall where it rained so much we had no dry clothes to put on. But we found a solution and spent most of the holiday in our swimsuits, sandals and plastic macs. All good fun.
Go for it – book that holiday. Get away from the telephone and forget the bills. A change is as good as a rest, even if it is not sun wall to wall.
Yes I know you have to face some airport restrictions and a bit of body searching if you are lucky – but who cares. Have a great holiday and one you will not forget in a hurry – but do remember to pack your floral wellies. It is no good tempting fate.
I am going again this year – if only for another experience and something to write about. Will let you know what the weather is like when I get back. Talk soon.
by Jeanne Hambleton © 2007