The Old Days
1. Make up enough sandwiches (ham/tomato, cheese/tomato) to feed a small continent.
2. Fill at least three thermos flasks with ready-made up coffee (so that in 4 hours it will taste of nothing but warm plasticky-metal), tea and very weak cheap squash of indeterminate flavour.
3. Strap Gerbils (in their cages I mean) to table leg in caravan to ensure stability – also empty their water bottles, remember how they didn’t enjoy last year’s 6 hour shower up the A303?
4. Leave notes on every available surface for grandparent who only has to water plants by all accounts. Maybe they’re in code to make her trips more interesting?
5. Turn off the water.
6. Turn off the electric.
7. Close all curtain half-mast to confuse potential burglars into spending so long outside rubbing their chins thinking ‘are they/aren’t they’? that they get so irritated they hand themselves in before committing anything more serious than peeing in the privet due to protracted wonderings.
8. Notify the local constabulary that they’ll need to walk more slowly past No.4 for the next fortnight during their rounds. Yeah, right.
9. Strip the beds.
11. Defrost the fridge.
13. Alert every neighbour to be extra vigilant; thereby ensuring that any hardened criminal worth his/her salt knows precisely where Mrs Cooper stores her valuables (does a fox-fur shrug count?)
14. Leave more notes
15. Pull up ten square kitchen carpet tiles where the fridge defrosted and hang them on the washing line.
16. Leave a note for the milkman. In an empty bottle on the doorstep. Thereby announcing yet again that the property is vacant.
17. Fill at least five boxes with variety packs of cereals, dried milk, Sunny D (dried orange juice) baked beans, plum tomatoes, dried rice, vinegar, salt and enough muesli to coat a stretch of the A34 in the event of a sudden snowstorm.
18. Take Sea Legs
19. Pack blankets, sleeping bags and pillows ‘just in case’ (see No.17?) even though we’re staying with Grandma and she has beds and cupboards full of food.
20. Make a note to buy yoghurts closer to destination - just in case. Yoghurts probably haven’t made it to the corner shop in Dorset yet – they ARE a new-fangled food, after all.
21. Much like sprouts at Christmas, prepare everything 2 days beforehand and go to bed 12 hours earlier. After all, it will take over 6 hours, maybe 7 if the wheel comes off the caravan again after dad drives over one of those invisible roundabouts like he did last year and we had to stop, unhitch, drive to the nearest garage and then wait for a part to come in from Devizes to Middle Wallop.
22. An hour into the journey, remember you forgot to bring the dog, which is still tethered to it’s outside kennel looking slightly bewildered. Return, Repeat.
Year, after year, after year……until you’re old enough to realise this was some kind of sick joke on behalf of the Seventies!