Night Location: Eze, France
Song of the Day: Jitterbug - Wham
Mumisode of the Day: Too many to choose from.
1. Arriving at the toll gate on the motorway, Dad handed the man a random ticket. Possibilities include: entrance to the Vatican Museum, carpark ticket from the pedestrian zone in Florence or entrance pass to the Siena Duomo. After the man returned the ticket, he said something in Italian that indicated it was not the correct ticket, Dad started to panic. Papers flew in the air; he hoisted himself up checking his seat; he checked the side door pocket, ripped out his wallet, put the handbrake on and began to perspire. We all offered helpful suggestions like, "You put it down to the left," to which Dad responded, "I DID NOT!" The man in the ticket booth kept his hand out and waited. Dad did some more rummaging, then Mum started to lift things off her lap, looked into the mysterious depths of her bag and finally retrieved a ticket from between her knees and exclaimed, "Is this it?" It was.
2. While waiting for our cappuccinos in the very posh Portofino dockside cafe, Mum exclaimed in a very loud and clear voice, "Your father has a dicky knee!" just as the waiter arrived with his tray.
Today marked the transit from the Italian Riviera into the French Riviera. The first stop of the day was in Portofino which is charming, but the drive in past Rapello was equally as beautiful. Great mansions meet the water, and the water here is a real emerald green. Note the above incident with coffee. Mum, Dad and Gemma walked up the hill and over along the Lighthouse Promenade to the lighthouse. It was a stunning walk, along cliff edges that overlooked the sea.
We drove through Genoa and kept driving on to Eze, our night location. We stayed in a modern apartment block, complete with terrace and pool that overlooked the ocean and up at the medieval village of Eze itself. As this was a single night stop, the plan had been to take in only our overnight bags, instead of unpacking the five backpacks from the car, a thought that Amber and Gemma were relishing. While we were driving, Dad said to Mum, "Did you pack my swimmers?" Mum responded that she had not, followed by an intense awkward silence. The girls explained that Dad's backpack was the least accessible of all five as it formed the foundation of the mound, so he had better be sure that he wanted to go swimming. Upon arrival the girls clarified again, "Are you sure you are really going to go in?" to which he responded "If the girls go in, I'll go in."
Dad's backpack was unearthed and we entered the apartment. Mum set to work locating said swimmers. She emerged three minutes later, red faced and puffing, exclaiming "I can't find them! They must be in my backpack." Mum and Dad returned to the vehicle and retrieved the other backpack, meaning that all their luggage was now in their room. Another three minutes passed, and Mum emerged for a second time red faced and puffing, exclaiming "I can't find them!" She returned to the room to locate them shortly afterward in amongst Dad's underwear in his backpack. We were then summoned to inspect the room (see attached photo), as Mum commented "It looks as if the Israelites have been surprised by the Philistines!" The entire contents of all luggage was strewn across the room. David almost fell over in the hallway laughing, as Mum had been up half the night trying to fit the 'necessities' into the overnight bag.
With the swimmers on, Dad, Gemma and Amber headed for the pool. The outside temperature was not hot, not very conducive for swimming. Gemma and Amber, thoroughly annoyed that the mound had been so disturbed, decided that they would go in regardless of the temperature as Dad had promised "If the girls go in, I'll go in." We all had mild hope that it would be heated; we had seen jets from the aerial viewing spot.
The entrance to the pool was through a child-proof gate into a shower recess, where the tap was leaking. The water was freezing on the way through. We did not give up hope that the pool may be warmer. It was not. Amber and Gemma stepped gingerly into the water on the first step, looked at each other and grimaced. Gemma wanted to pike, but Amber was stubborn: "We are going in. Just keep swimming." Dad encouraged us not to. As we stepped down again, he leant against the wall and begged, "Please don't make me go in!" We took no heed and went down another step. It was freezing. The plan always is to go slowly and allow the preceding body parts to go numb before lowering further. Then you splash water on your arms, face and chest, screech a bit and then dive straight down to the bottom and swim for as long as you can.
In we went. Meanwhile, Dad continued to maintain that he was not coming in, to which the girls kept reminding him that he had said, "If the girls go in, I'll go in." We clearly pointed out that we were in. After stepping in, then back out, then back in, the girls finally coaxed him into the water. Possibly one of the happiest moments of Amber's life. Soon after Dad got in, the girls got out. After all, it was freezing. Interestingly, the water in the shower recess was warm in comparison to the pool.
In the evening, the five of us dressed up and headed into Monaco. David had been researching during the pool incident and had found a fantastic restaurant, 'Virage', right on the Grand Prix circuit. The meal was excellent, and the drive in and out of Monaco was spectacular. Dad drove as much as possible on the Formula One track and pointed out the various turns, tunnels and landmarks. The casino in Montecarlo looked just magnificent. Unfortunately, our Ford Galaxy could not compete with the Bentleys, Ferraris and Maseratis in the parking lot, so we pressed on.