Three days, 2 and a bit sleeps to go (can't count a full sleep on Friday as we have to be up at 3am) until we hit Lemnos with Neilson at Portomyrina Palace, getting a little excited now.
This will be my fourth time in Lemnos, I know I should be a bit more adventurous with my Greek islands but the truth is I love the beach club concept and Lemnos has the best windsurfing winds for me - pathetically awful, just about able to get up and it's taken me 20 years to get my 'Start Windsurfing' RYA certification.
I was last on Lemnos two years with Neilson when big girl finished her GCSEs and we got a last minute booking in early July. It was here that I actually got to grips with the windsurfing malarky, ie getting up and going, in different directions and getting back to shore again upright without swimming it back. How come this was different to other years? Neilson run the RYA courses inclusive of the package which makes a huge difference because:
a. You get a certificate at the end if you pass (OK I know, I'm an adult, but it's my competitive streak, I want that piece of paper that says I can do windsurfing and that I'm now one of the cool beach lasses that can go and get her own rig without being supervised). It helped keep me focussed when the bruises turned my legs blue and when everyone else in my group was doing it properly so I wanted to do it properly too. The encouragement from the beach front guys was enough to keep me in bloody minded mode and just do it.
b. You get a certificate at the end if you pass - nuff said.
I got a certificate and last year it scared the hell out of me that I was considered capable of putting my own rig together and taking it out by myself. It was really scary and, to be honest, I prefer windsurfing with other people who are just as awful as me as you have someone to talk to and compare bruises with.
So this year I will be having the conversation with the windsurfing guys as to whether I'm up to doing my Intermediate Non-planing certificate (please, please, please) or whether I have to do my Start Windsurfing again. Last time there was a lady in my group who had done the Start Windsurfing for 6 years in a row - that's a bit like me and tennis - I don't do tennis now.
Big girl has decided that she wants to do the RYA sailing course - after mucking about in the water over the years she wants to do it properly. Last time she was out on a pico with a friend who could sail, unfortunately said friend promptly jumped into the sea and swam off to raid another pico and left her on her own, she managed to make it back to shore and got the sailing bug too.
This time I'm taking all the family, my lovely husband has decided to focus on his tennis (bye darling) and maybe do a bit of sailing, 14 year old will be hanging out round the pool making friends and may get off her backside to do a little waterskiing and 12 year old wants to spend the whole two weeks in the pool only getting out for hourly ice creams or milkshakes (in his dreams).
I wonder if things have changed in the past two years, what do I remember?
First night - welcome drinks then making sure you get in the right queue to sign up for the various activities, we have this down to a fine art - I'm off for the windsurfing, big girl is charged with booking the sailing for her and her Dad and husband's off to the tennis queue - sorted, bet they've changed it though.
Culture - we're going to Greece so we have to do some 'culture', you know, find some ancient ruins, hah, love this.....Portomyrina Palace has ruins in the hotel, just outside the bar, right by the restaurant so we don't even have to move off site. Just get up walk outside and tick the culture box.
Food - this is big part of the holiday for me, I love it when someone else cooks. Food is my job so I don't want to cook on holiday. I'm also a 'fussy beggar' on a low carb, low sugar diet so the food last time was ideal:
Grilled chicken, lamb and fish
Loads of salads
Fresh fruit, heaps of watermelon, olive and cottage cheese
Pasta options for the younger ones
Coffee - essential life support. The pool bar had amazing iced coffees which guaranteed to keep me human each morning.
Milkshake ration cards - forget about beer ration cards, these were a brilliant concept as the staff were pretty vigilant about serving the teenagers alcohol but of course milkshakes aren't alcohol and they can run a pretty hefty bar bill on 5-6 of these a day. I must add that these were gorgeous, made with ice cream, but on a par with a large beer price-wise. Neilson introduced ration cards for the kids that the parents had to sign off as to how many they were allowed a day, loved it.
Supper in town - Myrina is only few minutes by taxi and 15-20 minutes to walk, three nights over the week supper isn't included in club board and guests are encouraged to go into town. This helps put something back into the local economy as it's so easy not to leave the hotel if you're only there for a week and the town so incredibly pretty with it's harbour and shopping opportunities for teenage girls. It's not a 'party' town either so this year we may well allow almost 18 year old to go in with her friends, we won't sleep until she's home though.
Activities - as well as perfecting my technique of glueing backside to a sunlounger the last time I was there my day involved:
8am - Yoga overlooking the beach, punishing time to get up but worth it
8.45am - shower, bikini on, breakfast, sunlounger
10am - maybe aerobics class, maybe not
12 noon - aqua-aerobics - awesome, I got the award for aqua operatics for really bad singing, very loudly to 'living on a prayer' at the end of each aqua-aerobics session
2pm - windsurfing
4pm - brush up on sunlounger technique
6pm - sun over yardarm so first beer of the day before shower and glam up for supper
12 midnight - have pool bar closed down around me
Photos - one of the most innovative and superb ideas Neilson have come up with is having on site photographers. Clare Edmead and her team are out there just waiting to take action photos so you don't need to cart your camera around trying to hide from your kids so you can take photos of them without them seeing, Clare and her team do this for you. Big girl refused to have her photo taken so Clare took this a personal challenge and used a long lens to get some brilliant shots of her without her knowledge, otherwise I'd have come home with none. Thank you guys, see you Saturday.
So 3 days and counting, very excited, wonder if I can beat the kids to the pool as soon as we get there on Saturday......bet I can!