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  • Alison

A Passport to happiness

I’ve been a bit lazy on the posting front, apologies but I’m currently forgetting what day it is and wondering if I will go to the beach or just sit out on the terrace, read another book or check out the Daily Mail, as you’ve guessed it, I’m on my holidays. No better way to forget your day-to-day life than to relax on a two-week holiday in sunny (well at the moment, kind of!) Portugal.


We had the unusual foresight to book two whole weeks holidays this year in January, I say this as we never are that organised, but this year we were those smug yokes who actually got the €100 Ryanair flights and have been looking forward to getting away from the minute we pressed “complete booking”. I made the mistake of telling the boys we were off on holidays in May around mid-January, so it’s been a very long lead in to this holiday let me tell you. They broke my spirit around mid-March, with the relentless asking “how many days until Portugal Mum?”, “will I get off school?”, ”can I swim in the pool when we land?” and made a countdown calendar and pasted it to the fridge door. Every morning for about eight weeks they religiously checked off each day. We had a few birthdays and weekends away to keep it interesting, but getting to the last week I thought they would both explode with impending excitement.


The journey to the airport (by air coach), what we would eat in the airport (Burger King) and how we might even make it through security, was all carefully choreographed by the boys and all was going according to their plans until we were hit by a three-hour delay in Dublin. Quite literally we were queuing to board the plane and “delayed until 22.10” flashed on the previously inviting boarding screen. The always-efficient Ryanair boarding gals even seemed surprised, and started feverishly tapping keyboards looking for inspiration. This was not a computer error, it was for real and thanks to an annual French air traffic control strike, we were going to have to amuse ourselves for three whole hours in one of the most boring parts of Dublin airport. I’m not sure there are many exciting places, but if you know the airport, the gates from which Ryanair depart are fairly scarce in the restaurant and bar front; you’re at least a 15-minute walk from duty-free, and we had already brought all the things we didn’t need there earlier.


To be fair we managed to string out various electronic devices, games of “I spy”, running along the travellator (never gets old) and pretty much devouring the snack pack I had so carefully planned for the flight. We also combined our €5 compensation and brought some overpriced and tasteless sambos and a bottle of water for €20.


The best part of this delay was the Ryanair plane sitting outside the gate we were at for the duration (a full three hours) at the beginning of our adventure. Having been advised the plane had not left Portugal and was three-hours delayed, we were patiently awaiting the arrival of the incoming plane, staring out the window and guessing every landing plane was ours, even the check-in gals were doing this! And arrive it did with some sad holiday makers, disembarking and delayed on their way home.


But, get this: did we get on the plane that landed back in from Portugal, the one that was subject to those striking French air-traffic controllers? Oh no! We were boarded on to the plane that was sitting in Dublin airport all along! As we were packed on to the plane, we filed past the Ryanair staff in the airport and could see all their motivational posters, targets for the week, even what to stay to passengers. All very odd I might add. I really wanted to write on the walls: ”Really Mr. O’Leary? You had us sitting for three hours, made us eat shit, expensive sandwiches and you had a bloody plane here all along.”! But of course, I didn’t, and I obediently got on the plane with my family. It was so nice to be accompanied by so many folks who had clearly used their vouchers to buy beers and it did feel like we were flying in Copperface Jacks!


Nothing, not even the delays or the sinning plane could dampen our spirits and, after 2.5 hours we landed, cleared customs, bags collected (they take them off you now, but I’m dammed if I’m paying for a check-in bag), and himself sprinted to the car hire company to see if they were open at 1.30am. The lovely Portuguese car hire guy was, of course, there and we piled in to our Opel Corsa and hit the A22 to our home for the holidays. We’ve been here for a week, we’ve still another week to go and are relaxed in to the routine of doing little or nothing all day; the biggest worry we seem to have is if we will BBQ or just go out for dinner!


The weather has been very un-Algarvian, and dare I even say it, we even had rain while Ireland was basking in a mini heatwave. I’m not that bothered as I can’t sunbathe and I practically cause people to trip over their cooler boxes on the beach I’m so white, but boys and himself do like to sap up the free Vitamin D. So, we crossed the border in to Spain and spent 48-hours in Seville, we’ve been there approximately six times and it’s a city that will never loose its sparkle for me. The old city full of winding streets packed with tapas bars and ancient buildings hiding behind marvellous wooden doors, opening up to reveal gardens, terraces and a charm of a bygone era that seems very much alive today even in the most touristy spot. We got so lucky with our last minute booking and got an amazing two-bed apartment right beside a stunning park. Once we ventured out we were virtually tripping over authentic tapas bars, the kind where they don’t speak English and you order based on the fact that you have no idea what you will get – amazing!


Between the tapas and a bike ride along the river, Seville never disappoints. Our 48-hours could have been extended, but we kissed goodbye to one of our favourites cities and hit “home” with plans for days on the beach being hatched.


You may have noticed this post is all about the fun times we are having on our holidays. Where is the cancer in this one I hear you asking yourself. I am not reading this for helpful tips on how to amuse yourself and kids over a three-hour flight delay or what to do when it rains in the Algarve. I’m writing this because of the life-giving affects a holiday away from the routine of holidays, chemo and even people asking me “how I am” really can be. Over here it’s like I can forget cancer is part of my life. I did have some ups and downs with my bowel and that lovely obstruction that keeps me on my toes before we came away and I was nearly making myself sick just worrying we would have to cancel the holiday altogether. But we earned this holiday, we all needed to get away from the cancer. My husband and kids just hanging out. Despite the medication I have to take we are not thinking or talking about it and I’ve even managed to get a three-week break from treatment!

I had chemo on the Friday before we flew out, that Tuesday is usually my “chemo come down” day but I was like a kid before Christmas packing my bag to go and the few steroids definently helped with my not-so-neat packing. Most of all I’m loving this time with my family, my boys, every day we have the laughs (some fights) and today was spent jumping in and out of the sea together, finishing up with a raspberry daiquiri in a chilled-out beach bar and I could easily say it ranks high up there on the perfect day list.


Here in the sunshine, we can hold our breath and forget all the worries, anxiety about treatment side affects, the future for me and just relax and for a short time even forget any of this is happening to us. We also got to celebrate a monumental moment for Irish women in the passing of the Repeal referendum – a moment in history we all got to share here. So, I say to everyone, take time to step out of your life and embrace some time doing nothing but enjoying the company of those you love, you don’t have to fly away to do it, but it’s very nice! As I type this, we have three of our best friends arriving to share the next five days with us. How lucky we are to be able to share this. In the end all t

here is, is family, friends, love and laughs. Enjoy all in equal measure xx


Alison

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