Highlights of Greece
- Standing in the kitchen of a little taverna while the cook explained her recipe for tomato fritters. Not a word of English so I stood there sniffing her pots of herbs: ‘Oooh oregano! Mint! Coriander!’ It would have been like a MasterChef test if I hadn’t been trying not to breathe ouzo fumes on her. Then she hugged me with a warmth that made me think a little communal cooking should be able to solve wars before they start.
- Having to go to the medical centre for the son’s earache. Surreally, the taxi driver took charge of all the interpreting and paperwork, then the nurse led us straight into the doctor’s consulting room, where we stood like two lemons as he examined an old lady. He didn’t acknowledge us at all, just puffed on a fag whilst we peered through the fog and tried not to laugh. I did have to whisper to the son to desist from shaking his head in horror as you don’t need English to understand that. Eventually, while the other patient shuffled out, he asked what was wrong. When I said the son had a bad ear, he shrugged and said, ‘And?’ I mumbled something about antibiotics, and he jammed an instrument in the son’s ear, whilst puffing smoke right up his nose. I had to think about dying a horrible death involving crocodiles to hold in my laughter.
- Thinking I was *nearly* the bravest woman in the world for going on an off-road mountain biking expedition. I screamed every time the bike skidded a millimetre. When we got back, the guide told me he’d done a mountain biking competition down a glacier. I managed an unusual combination of emotions: feeling simultaneously pleased and foolish.
- Watching my children do aqua aerobics to YMCA. Released in 1978, 20 years before my first child was born and they know all the words. The strangest things cross the generations.
Lowlights of Greece
- I’m always telling my children that no one is watching them, that they should have a go, that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. I was so bad at serving in my tennis class that I nearly burst into tears and ran out. Less Maria Sharapova brandishing a killer racket and more a bag of King Edwards on the move waving a wooden spoon.
- Having to visit the young male physio with a groin injury. Accompanying panic about what to wear to visit with groin injury that wouldn’t have him wiggling his eyebrows in a ‘Get you!’ kind of way. Having to admit injury was caused not by boxercise, windsurfing, wakeboarding or anything else trendy and youthful, but by breaststroke. I felt obliged to tell him that I don’t try and keep my hair out of the water. I didn’t want him thinking I don’t know how to live.
- Actually looking forward to the food on the plane and eating it even though it tasted of worn out flip-flops sprinkled with salt. Being airborne somehow damages my food-assessment ability.
- Not quite managing to second-guess the exotic ailments the family will dream up, despite lugging with me everything from anti-chafing cream to sun factor protection 100 especially imported from the USA, thus requiring several little mimes at the pharmacy. I’m just hoping they never get tapeworm.