Woohoo! It’s here! It’s here! I’m going on holiday today!

I suppose I had better wake up the rest of the family. Amazing, most days a cattle prod would be hard pushed to rouse the girls from their slumber, but today they are up and bouncing off the walls inside 5 minutes. Why do you suppose that is?

We all have to put up with work and school before the real excitement starts, but the time goes as fast as a work-day-before-holiday can go and before long we are at the station waiting for the train to Gatwick airport.
Once underway out come the crisps, beer and Budweiser, just to put us in the right mood.
We have to change at Reading and, as is par for the course, our supposed 25 minute gap between trains is reduced to 9 minutes due to various delays. Carting 3 heavy suitcases down the stairs to the underpass and up the stairs the other side is not really my idea of fun, but at least it keeps me fit.

We make the connecting train to Gatwick with 4 minutes to spare. This is an improvement over the last time we did this 18 months ago when we had 2 minutes to spare. Either the rail system is improving or my ability to move cases around Reading station has got better as I have got older.

The shunter train between Reading and Gatwick has not improved. It is still packed with bored businessmen attempting to spread themselves across 4 seats to prevent anyone else sitting within snoring distance of them.
One man has removed his shoes and has his feet on the seats in front of him. I could be wrong, but I imagine that eau de sweatybusinessmansfoot is unlikely to be the cologne of choice for the discerning gentleman this year.
Mind you, I am sat on a train drinking beer from a can. Who am I to lecture anyone on etiquette?

After a couple of cans of Boddingtons I am more than happy to find that there is a loo hidden away in the depths of the train. Amazing the things that delight you as you get older.
After all the moaning I have to say that I still enjoy travelling by train. I don’t have to drive and the girls and I enjoy chatting and looking at some very pretty countryside while Tam buries her head in a book.
After a couple more beers I notice that Thames Trains has also laid on pink dancing elephants for my personal entertainment. Very thoughtful.

At Gatwick station we struggle up the escalator with the suitcases and head for Twilight Check-in at the Virgin desk. There is a short queue and after 20 minutes we are stood in front of the most humourless soul on the face of the planet who informs us that our pre-booked seats are not available. When pushed as to why, he does little more than shrug his shoulders. Miserable git!
I even tell him the one about the 2 nuns in the bath, but to no effect.

If we can’t get our pre-booked seats on the evening before the flight, what chance have those arriving tomorrow got?
If someone from Virgin could tell me what the point is in pre-booking seats if you can’t get them, I would be very grateful.

Across to the Hilton which, at first glance, looks a poor relation to Le Meridian. At least the reception staff are pleasant. Our family room is huge and very nice. Tam points out the Matisse on the wall. In my considered opinion it is not original. Although I hear that Fred Matisse is very big in the Gatwick area.

We go to eat in ‘Amy’s’ an American style diner. Well, it seems appropriate. The food is good with large portions, but somehow they forget about the girls meals and Tam and I have nearly finished while Georgia and India are still salivating with anticipation. The waiter tells us that their order has been missed and offers a free round of drinks to make up for it. I nearly kiss the man in gratitude.
When we get the bill we find that, not only have we got a free round of drinks, but they have not charged for the children’s desserts either. Pucker up waiter, I’m on my way over again.

We sit in the atrium for a little while and listen to the piano player. I prefer the sophistication of Le Meridien, but Tam and the girls say that they prefer the Hilton as it seems friendlier. Shut up then Kev.

Back to the room at 10:15. The girls are all tired. In fact Tam has been yawning since 9:00. This does not bode well. I have visions of me being left alone at night on the cruise to do what I please….. on second thoughts….