Well, the job is done, although the whole project has been riddled with errors from beginning to end. If we reach our destination at all it will be a minor miracle, never mind with any of the correct equipment.
We are readying ourselves for the most low budget ski holiday on record. The plan is to drive to the Czech Republic, with a boot full of food and borrowed equipment, stay in an insalubrious bunkhouse, and hope to find somewhere with enough snow to throw ourselves down a few hills. So the packing is critical: success or failure can be sealed by seemingly small details like forgetting the children’s warm gloves.
A significant complication is the uncertainty of what we might find when we get there. Most of the information about the area that I have found is in Czech, and despite my best efforts at learning a random language (#16), I have not deciphered much of value. And although we are billing it as a ski holiday, the presence of snow is far from guaranteed, so we also need to be equipped for a week’s worth of other activities just in case. And it all needs to be loaded in such a fashion that we can reach the essentials during a 15 hour drive as needed.
So. Ski kit for 5; normal clobber; plus kit for all the activities that might come into play if the snow doesn’t materialise. Plus all the additional kit for the various challenges that I hope to achieve while away – knitting needles and wool, Bananaman outfit… Then 2 crates of Lidl’s finest tinned produce, to ensure that 3 fussy eaters will be sufficiently nourished to ski for a week, if the snow does indeed present (Czech goulash and dumplings are unlikely to play out well for us). Then there are all the child related sundries that transform the whole thing from an ordeal into a slightly more manageable ordeal –games, books, a sackful of pens and paper, soft toys… Though all the planning is somewhat misplaced in this regard. The greatest sources of entertainment for our children are highly portable, and always available, namely: getting naked, and farting loudly. Armed with those two options, they can never be bored. (Over the last 6 years, we have taken them swimming, biking, climbing, and skating; shown them cinemas, theatres, pantomime; travelled on trains, planes, buses, and escalators; shared stories, films, puzzles, games, and toys of every description. We have still found nothing that diverts them quite so royally as their own flatulence.)
But I digress. I had most of the bags packed a day early, so come the morning of departure all felt reasonably under control. Until 8am, when Eva presented with a urine infection, at about the same time as the esteemed Turisticka Ubytovna SJ Slavoj emailed to alert me to an ‘administrative error’, meaning our hostel was expecting us 2 days later than we intended.
2 hours of panic, phone calls, doctor’s appointment and internet research ensued…. But we ultimately left as planned, with substitute hotel booked, and antibiotics secured.
It hasn’t been the toughest of packing challenges – without tent or camping equipment there is no problem fitting everything in. The alarming bit is shouldering the sole responsibility for whatever we may have forgotten. But at least I have put in the coffee pot; that improves the chance of forgiveness for whatever errors will shortly be uncovered.