By Angie JACOBS, Two Kids One Bathroom.
Like many mothers, I make the same mistakes with my children… over and over.
I positively look for trouble. I ask too many questions, embarrass them in front of their friends and, with my husband a willing accomplice, take them on family holidays. I never choose the right place, there aren’t enough teenagers around and sister and brother have to share a bedroom. This year I sorted it though… or so I thought. I booked a beautiful THREE-bedroom apartment, five minutes from the beach and, because it was Succot, there was no chance of there being other kids around, so they couldn’t say I’d messed up.Besides, for both of the lucky blighters, it was a second holiday, as they’d been on their own adolescent adventures to Israel and Wales. How bad could it be?
Googler and inexpensive holiday finder that I am, I found a property, with wi-fi, on north Portugal’s Silver Coast. It’s a short flight, but by the time I arrived at the flat in Sao Martinho do Porto with my three beauties (I include my husband on this occasion) I felt like Michael Palin on his 80th day. Actually, I’m being a bit mean on Tony; he wasn’t grumpy at all … me, the kids and all the staff at Luton airport were at fault. Arriving in Lisbon was a total culture shock. We were greeted in the terminal by a Portuguese stewardess who welcomed us to her country and hoped we would have a lovely stay.
The less said about the time spent and language used finding the car-hire office the better, but again the Portugese were polite and helpful. ‘Jobsworth’ is not in their dictionary.
We arrived at our apartment late morning, exhausted after our 2.45 am rise. The outside of the building was shabby and the view was of a railway track, not the promised ocean. No- body was there to let us in. Crimminy, I thought, reverting to my quarter-Irishness in panic.
An hour later, the mood was very different. Our Portuguese liaison had arrived and let us into a gorgeous flat, clean, well equipped and complete with bottle of white wine (not my usual tipple but acceptable on this occasion). Next up was the most important trip of the nine-day sojourn – the supermarket.
Despite my packing copious sandwiches, we were in need of refreshment and we bought coffee and pastries from more delightful Portuguese people at a coffee shop. Not only did the refreshments hit the spot and please my husband as the whole round cost less than three Euros but they helped me cross off the first item on my holiday to-do list – Portuguese culture in the shape of Pastel de Nata, a cheeky little egg custard that, along with other food and drink consumed on holiday, has no calories.
Back at the flat we unloaded our goodies. We had bought, and continued to buy, an awful lot of Milka chocolate. You may have seen it – it’s in a purple wrapper and is divine. My favourite variety was called Luflee. It was.
Meanwhile, the mist had lifted and we could see the sea so I whisked all three of them off to it. Sao Martinho is set in a bay, making the water very calm and good for a paddle. Surrounding it are shops, restaurants and cobbled streets. Even my daughter couldn’t contain her semi-excitement: ‘Gosh Mum, we’ve actually come “somewhere”!’
I would like to say this mood was constant throughout the holiday, but like the weather it was changeable. Ethan slept through most of it, kindly joining us for the sailing and the horse riding. Tony barbecued fish with fins and scales on a home-made contraption on the balcony.
Tony and I went for lots of coastal walks without the ingrates and indulged in another one of my researched items – Ginja, a local alcohol drink, like cherry brandy, but nice. Ilana read lots and reminded us daily that she had missed Hannah’s party.
She enjoyed it in parts though, and even admitted on the way home that it was the ‘ best worst holiday we’ve ever been on!’ Luflee.