The date for our departure on the "Big Joly Divorce Road Trip To Istanbul and back" (not the official title) is starting to loom large. I'm busy planning itineraries, booking hotels and trying to work out the route through Romania that is least likely to get us murdered. Meanwhile, Stacey is busy designing a "tour" T-shirt that the whole family has announced they'll never wear. She's got a drawing of the Land Rover with our heads popping out of the windows and the Hagia Sofia in the background. This wouldn't be too bad, but she has gone further and put names on each shirt, like some awful stag party costume.
Actually, it's worse than a stag party – it's like the naff berets that Clark Griswold, (Chevy Chase) makes his family wear while they are in France in the film National Lampoon's European Vacation. God I loved that film. I think my favourite moment is a toss-up between the fabulously rude French waiter: "Ah Coca-Cola – the American champagne …" and the bemused Bavarian couple that the Griswolds stay with after knocking on the wrong door. I've heard terrible rumours about Chevy Chase and how he was a bit of a showbiz monster but in this film he was comedic gold. If our trip follows the course of the narrative, then we shall end with my wife and I starring in a pornographic film that is a smash hit in Italy. I very much doubt that this will happen but I have been hitting the gym just in case.
The kids are doing less preparation than us. My son has announced that he doesn't like car rides and wondered whether he might be allowed to stay home alone for three weeks. He is nine. Despite his protestations that Macaulay Culkin was perfectly capable of doing the same thing, we had to say no. He then played the "who is going to deal with the burglars?" card as though he was some sort of one-man ninja squad. I reminded him that we had friends staying in the house while we were away. He demanded to know how much we were paying them and offered to do it for half the fee. I fear he hasn't quite understood the beautiful concept of friendship yet. My daughter is more concerned with on-road entertainment. She is busy downloading a series of "road-mixes" as well as selecting some audio books. Our suggestion that we might take the opportunity of some long days on the road to acquaint them with some classics of literature has not gone down very well. Stacey and I are having bets as to which country we will be in when we hurl Diary of a Wimpy Kid out of the window? My bet is Essex.
Despite these teething problems, confidence is high. We have made a last-minute decision to avoid the Balkans on the return journey. Instead, we are going to catch a boat from the top of Greece, up the Adriatic to Venice. Everything is organised on a very tight schedule so I thank the Lord that our continental cousins are known for their punctuality and efficiency otherwise this whole thing could have gone stupidly wrong ….