Note from my dog Peri:
It started the night Barb sat bolt upright in bed and reached over to shake the Hub. “Sorry,” he muttered automatically.
She was suspicious.”For what?”
“For whatever you’re shaking me about.” (He’s an experienced husband, even half asleep.)
“No, I just realized something.” She waited. “Aren’t you going to ask what?” Snoring was the only answer from the other occupant of the marital bed.
Barb turned to me, the one person who always agrees with her. “Peri, I just realized something. Child #4 has graduated and moved to another continent to start her first job. For the first time in more than three decades, we’re free! We can go anyplace we want. We only need to rent one hotel room and we can drink too much, spend our children’s inheritance on inappropriate things, use language unsafe for children, and do other… grownup vacation stuff. The world is our holiday oyster. Where should we go?”
I was by now wide awake and I knew there was only one place I wanted—needed!—to go. We wandered around the garden in the middle of the night, while I sniffed every leaf and blade of grass looking for the right place to do what dogs do doo. (Hey—totally NOT my fault. Barb woke me up. What did she think was going to happen next?)
Still, I do love travel—visiting faraway places full of people who tell me I’m cute and slip me treats, not to mention exotic foreign animals with tasty poo. What could be more fun?
“I’m in,” I barked.
The Hub was still snoring when we got back inside, so Barb and I powered up the laptop and started making lists.
VACATION TO-DO LIST:
1. Book holiday lodging (for me, of course): Barb thinks she’s the least-fussy traveler ever. She can stay anywhere, she says. Okay…anywhere that has wifi. And an en suite because she won’t put on shoes to use the bathroom. And a washing machine, dishwasher, fridge-freezer, and microwave. A patio with a grill. Privacy. Good restaurants, access to museums and culture, outdoor recreation, water, mountains, good transportation, and historical sites. And an electric kettle.
And that allows dogs.
After much, much, MUCH TripAdvisor, AirBnB, Google, and a few novenas, we found Francisco and Emelia. They lived in one half of the mill his family has owned for hundreds of years, and had converted the other half into a holiday villa in the heart of Spain. At least, that’s what Barb thought they said. She couldn’t really be sure because they spoke no English and the Spanish she remembered from school was pretty much limited to ¿Has visto la pluma de mi tía? On the off-chance our conversational gambits would involve anything other than sightings of the pen of her aunt, we conducted negotiations via Google Translate and booked the mill for July and August. Probably…
2. Book transportation (again, mostly for me…): The Hub grumbled that any possible savings from travel sans-offspring were sacrificed to pay for my shots and sparkling new Pet Passport. Plus, obviously, we were going to need to pack my bed, dishes, all my toys, several large bags of my food and treats, my blanket, spare blanket, ball-flinger, brush, and poop-bags (lots). I figured Barb and the Hub could each stuff a change of underwear and a toothbrush into their pockets in order to meet airline baggage limits.
“I have a better idea.” The Hub was delighted. “We’ll take the Classic and drive to Spain so we’ll have plenty of room for anything we want to bring with.”
Barb: “But…should we really take something that measures its age in multiple decades?”
The Hub: “Why not? We’re taking you.”
Barb: “Ah…yes. But last time we took the Classic, it broke down in the line to the ferry, and it took days to get the new water pump.”
The Hub: “At least we know it won’t need a new water pump.”
⇒[NOTE: this is called foreshadowing, boys and girls. Pay attention.]
The Hub wandered off muttering about various pieces of sports equipment he could now load into the Classic.
Barb lit a candle and made sacrifices to the Google-deities, and they came up with the perfect solution—a two-day car-ferry cruise from England to Spain that would accommodate us, all my essential stuff, and the Classic. It only cost slightly more than booking lodging and transport for all the offspring, and had one cabin left with an outside view. Barb said she was pretty sure she was getting the hang of this grownup holiday thing.
3. Pack: The Classic was big enough to have its own post code. We didn’t pack my second-favorite spare bed, but everything else was fair game. You never know. They might not have toilet paper in Spain. Or the right kind of dog food/dog biscuits/dog beds/dog toys/dog treats/poop bags/life essentials. (I ignored the Hub’s muttered queries about just how fussy a dog who is an enthusiastic consumer of other species’ poo should have the right to be.)
We’re off! Or not…
The day of our departure arrived and we rose with the dawn. As we were loading the car, the Hub noticed the MOT (safety medallion) would expire before we returned, so he headed off to get it inspected. Obviously, I went back to bed. When he and the Classic returned several hours and hundreds of ££s-poorer, he explained why this was a good thing. “Now, along with a water pump, we don’t have to worry about the brakes or the exhaust. Or the brand new locking gas cap to replace the one that for some reason was missing when they went to do the inspection.”
⇒[So yeah. More foreshadowing from my next chapter…]
We finished loading, stopped to buy fuel (and collect the gas cap ‘we’ apparently left with the last fill-up), and we were off!
Next morning we arrived at the ferry dock in Plymouth. They slapped a big sticker on the windshield and asked if I was muzzled. O the horror! I did not approve of that muzzle—and had an uncanny ability to rub it off within seconds of its application—but luckily, they didn’t actually inspect the Hub’s incompetent muzzling efforts.
Barb loved the boat. In our little group, she was, however, alone in that opinion. I was horrified to discover that the bright blue deck surface reserved for my constitutional didn’t have a single blade of grass. Despite all Barb’s pleas to “go potty”, I decided to hold it until it could be done properly. For two days.
⇒[Memo to self: next time bring astro-turf…]
The Hub headed down to our cabin, made up the bed, and started to work, and Barb and I went to explore the ship. We left port and soon were merrily bobbing along. Lots of bobbing. In ever-increasing bobs. Our fellow passengers began to take on distinctly greenish hues. A group of laughing young men stopped on the stairway in front of me while two of their number puked their little hearts out.
Back in our cabin, the Hub was not impressed by all the bobbing, and decided to skip dinner (and possibly all food forever). So Barb got dinner from one of the onboard restaurants. Fish and chips. As her food arrived, the couple at the next table covered their mouths and ran off. Soon there was a line along the outside rail.
Who knew cruising would be this much fun?
I took Barb for one last tour of the blue deck so I could again refuse to “go here”. By then the winds were so fierce we could barely stand, so we admired the sunset briefly and headed back to our cabin. Barb was hearing back from the fish and chips, and sucking down her seasick pills. From where I lay in my doggie bed, I watched stars from our little window and listened to Barb and the Hub’s synchronized moaning.
I could get used this grownup holiday idea.