By the time you read this, I'll be on holiday in Spain. It will be, by some considerable stretch, the longest amount of time my boyfriend and I have ever spent together in one go, and also, at a modest 10 days, the longest holiday I've ever been on. With anyone.
"What will we DO for 10 days?" I asked when we booked it. "Won't we get bored?"
"No," says he. "We will relax. We will talk to each other. We will play cards."
I ponder this. "Can I take my laptop?"
I suppose he is right. I can accept that going away for long enough to be able to send postcards and have them reach your relatives before you get home does make some sense. It will be novel to go on a holiday that actually merits unpacking when you get there. Maybe we'll make friends with some lovely locals, and end up taking part in a flamenco performance at a small rustic taverna!
"I keep forgetting you've never been to Spain," says boyfriend.
The problem is, I don't know how to do a European beach holiday. I know how to do a British beach holiday all too well - buy a Kellogs Variety Pack, leapfrog between tea shops in the rain, visit a museum that is actually in someone's living room - but the finer points of the Mediterranean excursion have thus far alluded me. I'm not sure I've ever lain on sand without an anorak and thermos to hand. Most of my sea-swimming to date has been done in a wetsuit. This will be a learning experience.
For all I'm sure we will have the loveliest if lovely times, there are acknowledged obstacles we'll need to overcome. One of them is my desire to push Easyjet's luggage allowance with enthusiastic purchase of novelty foreign food items and wooden castanets to hang in the loo. Another is not having a TV ("How will we know if a famous person dies?" I protest reasonably).
And another of them is the heat. Mediterranean rookie that I am, I insisted we go in September because I thought this meant it would be nice, breezy, manageable weather. But the last time I checked the forecast for this week, it was 33 degrees. That's hotter than the hottest day here this year, during which I lay on the floor with my head in the fridge whimpering, "I want to die." My feelings towards tiny clothes and sweat gland activity have been covered enough in these columns for you to understand that temperatures like this make me gag.
Boyfriend, being a 'baste me in oil and point me at the sun' sort of chap, is planning to find it hilarious when I spend the entire holiday under enormous hats with three menopausal battery fans, necking water and muttering darkly about melanomas. But then he'll have his own mountain to climb* in the form of Caitlin Moran's How To Be A Woman, which I am providing for his holiday reading.
So while I seek out shade under an ex-pat's lobster-tinted paunch, he'll be battling with the subtle nuances of the female condition - and its live, sweating counterpart, me. Here's to a happy 10 days.
In which I consider what's in a name
4 weeks ago