Your Holiday Disaster

An aunt intent on mischief and a family liking for chips spelt trouble in Brittany, writes Alice Leach
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The Independent Travel
I'd recently divorced, and had money in my account. Who needs a nuclear family anyway - why not treat my two brothers, their wives and children, my boyfriend and my aunt (who was on a visit from Australia) to a holiday in Brittany? Well, one brother's wife was eight months' pregnant, we hadn't known my aunt was in the latter stages of a breakdown and my boyfriend forgot to bring any trousers. But the ultimate ingredient to a disastrous holiday was a family liking for chips!

Perhaps things started to go wrong when my middle-aged aunt began touching my boyfriend's knee on the way to the ferry. He told me this at the same time we heard from the pregnant sister-in-law how the aunt had really wound them up during the days she was staying with them before the trip. After the five-hour ferry trip and an evening's drive through France, we stopped at a lovely farmhouse hotel for dinner and a night's sleep. Far from the restful picture it presented, the farmhouse appeared to promote resentment and accidents. It started with me falling down the tower staircase on a tour we were given. Dinnertime had a Breton Fawlty Towers atmosphere. My aunt managed to get the old wooden spoon stirring so that the adults in the party ended up storming off one by one as arguments and accusations became more heated.

The next morning, after a poor night's sleep, we set off for Carnac. But as it got closer to lunchtime the party was growing hungry. The boyfriend decided we had to stop and said "the next frites van we see is it", which is how we came to stop on the Route Nationale, a busy main road with a very pink French frites van on the other side. I set off with him to buy chips and sausages for everyone, but once at the van we continued a row from the night before. I stormed back to the car, forcing my brother to go and help. He carried the first load back safely to the second car in the party. But there was little chance to eat them. As my brother crossed the road with the second round, he looked to the left instead of the right, stepping straight into the path of an oncoming Renault 5: five portions of chips, three sausages and a tired Englishman were spread all over the road after having flown spectacularly through the air. Traffic came to a standstill, the aunt stepped in as traffic control, directing heavy lorries and holiday traffic around her unconscious nephew. My boyfriend sprinted off down the road to find a phone. A French fire engine arrived with a doctor inside and my brother, his wife and my boyfriend disappeared off into the distance.

Luckily, the injuries sustained were not too serious: a broken collarbone, glass from the windscreen embedded in various parts of his body, and plenty of cuts which have left their mark. I would like to say things got better after that, but interesting is maybe a better word to use but we all survived. It was a great relief to get back home, though.

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