Never trust a hippie. David Rowley did and it broke his heart - and his bank balance
I met Iris on the train to Brussels. She was going back to college in Belgium, I was heading back to the Jet Foil at Ostend. She was killing time and came into my compartment. We started talking. I could hear her college friends down the corridor and expected her to return. Yet despite several lapses in conversation, she stayed. The train journey took three hours and after a while I wondered if she was thinking what I was thinking. After a slow start we were "making out" all the way to Brussels. We swapped addresses out of politeness and against my instinct we corresponded. She told me of her annual holiday spent in a beach apartment on the Atlantic coast in the Burgundy region of France in the summer and would I like to join her at minimal costs? My idea of a perfect holiday is a big city with lots of culture, but this sounded cheap and, as I was a student, an unmissable opportunity.

My first hesitation was her plan that I should simply meet her on the beach. Iris was a bit of a hippie and any further planning met with resistance. Having just finished exams I left the booking of the flight too late. A week before leaving, planes to Bordeaux were all booked up and I had to catch a pricey flight to Paris and then the TGV. After a night in Bordeaux I caught a torturous train to Hourdin-sur-le-plage.

Unfortunately, when I arrived in the town, the bus service Iris had told me about was not there, it was also siesta time and the town was deserted. I placed myself at the mercy of the local taxi service and the costs mounted further.

Hourdin-sur-le-plage as it turns out is largely a "German/Dutch" resort on the French Atlantic coast. I knew something was wrong as soon as we met. Her face was long and sour looking. I tried to jolly up the conversation as we walked to what turned out to be a beach hut. There she told me she had met someone else. He was big, Dutch and prone to violence and maybe it was not wise to stick around. What was I to do? She was blunt, there was a hotel at Hourdin, I would be able go back to the town and stay there. I spent the day staring at the sea in abject misery pondering my next move. I met up with some German hippies who kindly offered me the chance of staying in their large tent. They left me to sleep and returned in the middle of the night to smoke hash from a bong - they did not offer me any. I hitched a lift to Bordeaux the next day.

I killed the rest of the week off by travelling - a city at a time - back through France to Paris until the day of my flight back to London. I ended the holiday deep in overdraft.

Last week's holiday disaster was by Tim Bax, and not Peggy Speirs as credited. Our apologies to both.

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