Mindy Hammond plans a summer holiday in France

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For so long we have waited – we’ve paced our sitting rooms, religiously taken our daily exercise but, mostly, we’ve been stuck at home. Finally, freedom is ours. We can eat in a restaurant, stop drinking at home, nip down the pub if the fancy takes us and, best of all, we’re allowed to go on holiday.

The writing seemed to be on the wall a few weeks ago, even before Boris made his long-awaited announcement, and because everyone in our household was itching to book a holiday, I started looking at France. 

As I scanned various websites and drooled over sun-drenched villas, their availability disappeared before my very eyes. Whether the destination was rural or coastal, a big chateau or a small villa, it seemed we weren’t the only ones with wanderlust. Hundreds of sunseekers were snapping up dates. Well, of course, they were. The French had just been granted their liberty. They were ahead of us in the recovery race and, as we all know, the French love a staycation. So our holiday plans were under threat from the natives as well as foreign visitors like ourselves.

Everyone agreed we would drive over to France this year and, most importantly, Izzy declared she wanted to take her Mini (well it is a cabriolet). It was a home run for the parents. As Izzy was driving, she wasn’t keen to go all the way down to the south coast. In fact, she began talking excitedly about chateaux in the Loire Valley or the Dordogne (we’ve been trying to persuade the girls to go there for years).

But even though we could find incredible accommodation, by the time we sat down to discuss our plans and finally reach a decision, every single place was booked. I suspected we were up against more Brits than French on our dates. We had to be safely within a 28-day cancellation period prior to our arrival, just in case Boris and Emmanuel didn’t agree to let their countrymen Channel hop by early July. And we certainly weren’t the only ones crossing their fingers with a fallback plan.

Finally, we booked a beautiful place in rural France and allowed ourselves to believe we would be going on holiday. And then the indecision started. Izzy was absolutely, categorically driving her little Mini. So I booked it in for a full service with the local garage. “But you should so take the Mustang,” she told me. “Then we’ll both be able to drive with our roofs down. It’ll be amazing.”

I considered this for a moment. “Well, yes, it would be nice – but what about all our luggage?”

Then Richard joined in the conversation, “Ooh, I could take a bike. Or no, hang on, if you’re both taking soft-top cars maybe I should, too. Hmm… Which one though?”

Izzy, Willow and I looked at each other in bewilderment. “Now come on girls, how many years have I been waiting to drive through France with you? I just have to drive something special.”

Willow rolled her eyes, “But you won’t exactly be with us, will you? You’ll be in another car. A two-seater car, an old car which will probably break down because its 100-year-old big-end gasket fly chain or something will go bang and we’ll all end up sitting on the side of the road waiting for the agencie automobile, or whatever it’s called, to rescue us. 

“We’ll be stuck for days in a tiny gîte over a cow barn filled with old dung and no air-conditioning in the back end of nowhere while we wait for a man with the right size spanner to fix it.

“You’ll drink wine till you can’t walk to get over the trauma, we’ll miss half our holiday and we’ll come home pasty-faced and miserable.” 

Well, that told him. “I promise if I take an old car and it breaks down, the usual rules apply. You leave me and go on regardless.” He gave us a pleading smile.

So the holiday is booked, I will probably take the old Discovery just in case I need to rescue or tow anyone, and Lord only knows what means of travel my dear husband will ultimately take. I will need to get the air-con fixed, though, otherwise I will be a pasty and perspiring mess after a two-day drive.

That is, of course, unless somebody breaks down… 

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