Archive for August, 2008

Heading Home

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Well my plans to add some more entries to the blog whilst in holiday just have not worked out, but I am not sorry because I have had a great time with the dustbin lids and L. Also a blog is a blog not the be all and end all of my life.

I know its not the done thing in fear filled Britain, but they are tanned (oh my god what about the skin cancer) and healthy looking having all toned up with all the walking and swimming so they have lost that little bit of spongy podge that British kids have from being driven every where.

The younger kids though are getting home sick and miss their mums, which is only natural and very understandable . You think you remember what its like to be a kid, because a lot of the time it seems just like yesterday, but we don’t. We remember things as they were through older eyes. Times change, attitudes change and things move on, except they don’t really. What doesn’t change is that kids still miss their mums and the mums miss them.

I would say the biggest difference between now and when I was a kid is that Britain and the British are so fearful of everything, Cancer, child abuse, Muslims, blah blah, this that and the other and all fuelled by the newspapers such as the Daily Wail. Where do they get their info from?  I would like to say more, but this has already started to turn into a rant so best I shut up before I sound like one of those angry old men.

Enough of that, we moved west from Frejus and had a few days over in Drome Provence Near Ornage, with a French friend of mine. He is an ex Para (French) who I met a long time ago in West Africa. I might tell you how we met one day, but dont hold your breath.  We had a good time there and ate tons of fougasse (bread with Lardons and Olives), wonderful Olives from Nyons and drank bloody gallons of Cotes du Rhone.

We were basking in the glow of the heat being radiated back from the wall of the terrace the crickets and insects were giving it rock all when the telephone rang.

Veronique who has been the wife of a professional soldier all her married life went to answer it and Jerome and I sat chatting quietly. I think it was the very very quiet “Merci” that shattered the peace.

Their only son Theo who is about 26 is also with the French Parachute regiment in Afghanistan, although at the moment he is “assigned” meaning he is up to big boys stuff. The details were sketchy but the thrust of the news was that at least 10 French soldiers had been killed and as many as 22 injured in a big fire fight not far from Kabul. Theo was not dead, but he and three colleagues were unaccounted for.

Veronique got down to action and started whipping out Ice cream for the kids from the freezer, bottles of coke and loads of goodies. The kids lapped up the party atmosphere as she dealt with this crisis in her way. Jerome was quiet and sipped his pastis. We have been there, we have done the fighting, been separated, injured, got back and lived to tell the tale. The thing is from the comfort of your chair there is just no knowing what is what. However we have both been to Afghanistan and I can tell you if there is one place you really don’t want to be on your Jack Jones it is there. Jerome put it very bluntly “What will be will be, he is a professional this is what he is paid to do!”

4 a.m ish The phone rang and was answered in a split second and then it was followed by a torrent of very angry French from Veronique. We all met on the landing “Do you believe that boy?” she raged “He said his C.O had told him to ring us and he thought there was something wrong with the dog” “I asked him about the battle and all he said was “Ah oui” it was bad and he had to walk back to base which was about 5okm, but he had had a couple of beers and a shower and a debrief and then remembered he was supposed to ring us.  Honestly I ask you.” She looked at Jerome who smiled a big proud stupid dads smile .

What the hell are you smiling at, he is as bad as you, I can see where he doesn’t get his brains from” and with that she stomped very crossly back in to their bedroom and slammed the door

Jerome stood there grinning “She’s pleased really. What did she expect him to say, he’s a professional, thats what we do”

We all went back to bed and tried to sleep, but through the night’s silence we all heard the soft quiet sobbing of a very relieved mum.


Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

 I mentioned that I was going on holiday so there is L, myself and the seven nieces and nephews.

We are staying at St Aygulf for the time being which is near Frejus if you know this neck of the woods and so far the weather has been spot on, a little hot for the kids at times, but nothing a dip in the sea cannot cure.

However I had forgotten that holidays were such hard work – walks, beach, snorkelling eating out – christ these kids can eat like there’s no tomorrow.  I thought I would laze about catch up with the blog and score some rays – not that I really need to top  my tan up and just generally chill.

A lie in is out of the question as the boys and girls have had me up at sparrows fart.

There is a coastal path that runs between the gardens of the houses over looking the sea and the sea.  There are loads of little coves and shingle beaches and the kids love getting up first thing in the morning and wandering along.  The sea gently laps at the shingle and rocks and the only noise is that of a few little fishing boats out at sea.  They skim stones, and ponce about on the rocks and inevitably one will get their sandals wet,  much to the hilarity of the the others.  Every day they try their hands at fishing as the sun comes up across the Med.  There is line and hooks all over the bloody place and we have avoided serious injury by the hair off a gnats knacker.

There is a concrete bench near one of the coves where we sit in a line looking out to sea before heading back for breakfast.   It is without doubt the best time of the day, maybe then year.  Sometimes one of the kids will talk about something that might be on their  on their minds sometimes we just sit there in total silence.

This morning were sitting there gazing out to sea and Little Mary the youngest suddenly says to me

“Uncle Norman God must be really really big”

“I suppose so” I said a little taken aback “What made you say that?”

she pointed out to sea at the fiery orange sun on the horizon and said “Well  if thats the son of god and he is really big and bright so his dad must be massif”

This is what holidays are made of.