I could hardly believe it; the holiday started to turn out all right. The weather got warm – 30 degrees Celsius and more – and sunny. It was a pleasure just to hang out at the camping’s pool and watch the kids enjoy themselves. I – we – could finally relax. We spent a few days driving around in the very beautiful area, and visited the lovely town of Millau. On the main square and shopping area there is a lovely fountain where the kids managed to soak themselves.
And then it was time to do the laundry. Having waited in the queue for nearly a day, I managed to get the clothes clean at 10 p.m. In the dark I hung the clean clothes and went to bed.
In the morning, I realised I’d left the sugar in the car after yesterday’s pick-nick at the river. As I like tea with milk and sugar, I tried to open the car – but no such luck. The car was locked, and the key was nowhere to be found. We’d rented one of those intelligent cars with a start button and a key that automatically locks the car when you walk away. And when the doors are locked, the mirrors are folded too. However, this morning, the mirrors were not folded, the car was locked, and the key was nowhere to be found. The only conclusion: the key is in the car, and overnight the car decided to lock itself.
So I spent most of the day either on the phone with the rental-company, or waiting for them to call me back. A local mechanic even came to try and break into the car – which he could only do by breaking the window or having a spare key. I didn’t let him break the window just yet, and phoned the rental company if there was a chance I could get a spare key… Turns out, they keep the spare keys in Paris – some 600km away. So that wasn’t an option. By 5 p.m. we had no idea what to do; the only thing was to have the car towed and have the rental company provide a new car… But that would have to wait till tomorrow.
And then my wife checked the clean laundry. Something I had already done too, but I guess I am a moron. Because the key turned up in the pocket of my shorts that had just been in the washing machine. Oh my… I butted my head into a tree a couple of times, and called myself a moron for the rest of the week.
That particular rest of the week turned out just fine. And our timing of departure was perfect, as the last night that we slept there it rained. And it rained hard: some 4 centimetres of rain, which soaked everything as there was a small river under our tent. The day before we’d already packed most of our stuff and put it in the car. This was still dry. The rest, I had to pack while it was raining. It caused some extra weight to carry, but the advantage of leaving a camping in the rain is that you actually want to go home. If the sun is shining, and it’s more comfortably by the pool than in the air-conditioned car, it’s a lot harder to leave. But because of the rain we left on time, and made it to the train station early enough to stack our stuff in the train so that a) we didn’t get another fine, and b) nobody else had space to stack their luggage. But that wasn’t my problem at this point.
We had a direct train all the way to Brussels. So we would also be spared the stress of transferring in Paris. What I only realised once we got to Brussels was that the route I’d booked was booked well too tight: we had 8 minutes to change trains in Brussels – and that train leaving Brussels was the last normal connection with the Netherlands that day. And of course, on a six hour TGV journey, a 15 minute delay is neither rare, nor a lot. So once we were in Brussels, we had no chance to get back home on our tickets. There was one more connection, but it was the Thalys – a reservation only train. And of course, we had no reservation.
So we first hopped on the normal intercity to Antwerp, hoping there’d be another slow train to The Netherlands. No such luck. Really, only the Thalys. And guess what – at 10:30 p.m. the conductor was so smart to open only one door in the whole train and have everybody’s tickets checked before entry. We saw him refuse several people already. I had very little hope of getting on the train, but I had to try. I had a sleeping 2 year old on my back, I had a very tired 7 year old slumping next to me. And I pleaded with the conductor saying that the delayed TGV had caused us to miss the last connection home. And to my great and pleasant surprise he allowed us on the train. “TGV problems we solve every day,” the conductor said with a smile. It’s been a long time since I felt this grateful to anyone. Because of him we made it home by 1 in the morning. The kids were in bed before 1:30, and the parents – me and my wife – around 2.
Which ends this holiday of a moron…
While writing this blog post, the blog was called “Moron on holiday”