Summer Holiday

On Sunday we set off to the Catskills for 5 days of country air, rest and relaxation.

This was our holiday:


12:00PM – We filled our rented minivan with Billy’s stuff. They gave us a minivan as they had run out of cars.


1:30PM – We set off. Heidi hasn’t really driven in 5 years and I can’t drive at all. Heidi has never driven in Manhattan. She soon gets into the swing of things, honking at cars that aren’t doing anything wrong and not honking at maniacs who try and cut her off and kill us all in the process.

2:30PM – We go through the Holland Tunnel, and then we hit traffic.

4:30PM – We reach the end of the traffic jam and realize it was a queue to get back into Manhattan on the George Washington Bridge. 3 hours and we’ve done about 15 miles. Billy is screaming.

5:45PM – We approach New Paltz (a town close to our destination). Heidi steers the minivan sideways into a large truck, denting two side panels and scratching a third. The truck’s bumper is at a right angle.

5:46PM – I do the manly thing, brave the torrential downpour and face our victim. The truck driver moves swiftly toward me, flapping his arms with rage. He is a big man and I get the feeling he’d like to squat me with his gigantic hands. I apologize profusely and explain that Heidi hasn’t driven for a long time. He keeps yelling, “She didn’t even look! She didn’t even look!” I don’t know what to tell him.

5:48PM – Once it is clear he isn’t really going to hit anyone I let Heidi take over. I sit in the van trembling. The whole incident has unnerved me. What if the truck had been moving? We could all be dead. Billy could be dead. Water is dripping off my forehead and into my lap.

6:00PM – A cop arrives and takes our details.

6:20PM – The cop issues 2 summonses; one for driving without proof of insurance and one for turning left without looking. On top of these we’ll have to pay the $350 deductible to the rental company. We drive on.

6:40PM – The road to our destination is closed and a detour is in effect. The detour leads to nowhere and we get completely lost.

7:30PM – 6 hours after setting off, we arrive at our cottage. It should have taken 2 and a half hours.

8:00PM – We cheer up; the cottage seems nice and cozy. The sound of the rain splashing on the roof is soothing to the ear and at least we are still alive.


5:00AM – The first light wakes Billy. He is used to sleeping in absolute darkness and the thin white curtains in our bedroom are next to useless. He pops his head up and sees that Heidi and I are in the same room. There is no way he is going back to sleep. Heidi gets up.


7:00AM – I am woken from my sleep by a scream. Heidi has spotted a mouse in the kitchen. I get up and go out. The mouse has no fear, it is sat happily on the cooker, and its big beady eyes stare me down. He is a tenacious little fellow. I am naked and terrified.

8:00AM – Heidi runs over to the owner’s house to tell them we have a mouse. Billy and I cower on the porch.

8:15AM – The owner brings over a mousetrap, a cat (Peanut) and does a bit of token cleaning around the area the mouse was been. She apologizes and says she’ll get us into the grounds of the Mohonk House for free. It is usually $18 per person. It is still pouring with rain.

9:00PM – Billy chases Peanut around the living room with frantic glee. I am concerned; I warn Heidi not to let Billy touch her or she’ll scratch him. Heidi protests and says he’ll be fine. I go for a shower.


9:10PM – I come out of the shower and Billy has a cat scratch on his arm. Heidi tells me I was right.


9:20PM – Peanut has no interest in looking for mice, she falls asleep on Billy’s changing mat.


12:00PM – We have a nice lunch at the Egg’s Nest pub in High Falls.

1:00PM – We go to Mohonk House and have a look around the old Barn. It is a huge wooden structure full of olde-worlde brick-a-brak. It has a roof, so we like it. We allow Billy to crawl on the grubby floors, which he loves.

Billy enjoys a patriotic moment.


1:20PM – We find a mock classroom from the turn of the century. Billy practices his teaching skills.





2:00PM – The sky is grey and ominous but the rain isn’t too heavy, so we set off on a walk round the grounds of the house.




A lonely feed

2:40PM – The heavens open on us, so we shuffle back to the car trying our best to stay under the one umbrella. We brought no coats, rain boots, anything sensible. We get soaked.

3:10PM – We sit shivering in the car. Billy is having a fine time.

4:00PM – We drive to New Paltz and find some mud and toys for Billy to play with. Heidi and I are itchy with mosquito bites.

8:00PM – We eat some disappointing take-out barbecue from a place in New Paltz. The gravy looks like cat vomit. These country folks sure eat some crud.

10:00PM – I go to bed early, as I know I’ll be up at 5 the next morning with Billy.

12:30AM – I have terrible insomnia but I am finally nodding off. Suddenly I hear a loud ting as the mousetrap snaps on our tenacious little friend’s neck and ricochets off the cooker. I am suddenly wide-awake again.

1:30AM – I finally drop off.

4:40AM – Billy wakes up and the next day of our fantastic holiday begins.



10:00AM – We arrive at Woodstock, the clouds have cleared and the sun is breaking through. Things are looking up.

10:10AM – We discover that the entire town is closed. At least until 11 or 12 anyway, these hippies are very sleepy people. We walk around for an hour or two then about a quarter of the businesses open up. It seems Tuesday is rest day in hippy land. Whatever, we think, at least the sun is out; we discover a way down to the river and let Billy paddle in the water.


1:00PM – I am tempted to complain that it is too hot and I wish the rain would come back but I don’t want to appear to be a misery guts. Instead I suffer the heat and humidity in silence.

5:00PM – We decide to have dinner on our little patio outside the cabin. Until we discover a wasps nest in the umbrella. We shut all the windows and doors and sit down for a good sulk.

6:00PM – The storm returns with a vengeance and the rain pours and pours all night long.


5:00AM – My turn with the little fellow again, I stumble out of the bedroom with Billy in my arms. I cannot open my eyes yet as it is FIVE AM.

5:01AM – I collapse on the sofa, periodically waving at Billy as enthusiastically as I can. He is having a fine time as ever.

6:45AM – Another mouse rockets across the room and disappears under the fridge. I can’t take it any more; I’ve had enough holiday for one year. I dash into our bedroom and wake Heidi up asking her if we can go home early. We are supposed to stay another night.

9:00AM – Heidi manages to get our money back for the final night. We will put this toward our fines and the insurance deductible. The ground outside the cabin is waterlogged so we stay inside for now.

Billy has a last look around



11:00AM – We leave. Heidi says she has one wish for the holiday; that she can swim outside. We head for Minnewaska State Park where they have a huge lake. The sun is shining and things are looking up.

11:30AM – We are lost again; the park should have been a 20-minute drive at most.

12:00PM – We find the park and pull up to the cubicle. Heidi hands the guy $6. He tells us the park is closed due to the flooding.


We are very happy to be back in our luxurious apartment in the best neighborhood in the world. Our thoughts of living in the country some day are history.

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We’ve gone on our holidays by mistake. (To quote Withnail and I). It will stop raining when we return to Brooklyn it seems. We have no phone signal and obviously no Internet. I am on the blackberry in New Paltz. I am soaking wet. See you soon…

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