Friday the 13th

Today began with Elvis crooning Love Me Tender accompanied by Julie harmoniously on backing vomit. There was no putting it to the back of her mind anymore. Today had arrived quicker than anticipated. It was time to pack and head down the M6 for Gatwick.

Packing the car was no easy task, despite the fact we had borrowed David's large Volvo Estate. The whole Owen of Pentir family was joining us on this vacation. The travelling tribe consisted of me [Chief], Julie [Supreme Chief], Hannah [daughter], Tim [daughter's partner] and Rory [superstar grandson]. We had invited a plane load of friends and family but unfortunately none of them could make it. It actually didn't matter that Julie and I were a pair of Billy-no-mates because the most important person was there with us; Hannah. It wouldn't have been the same without her.

She simply had to be there to celebrate our renewal because she was the reason why we were allowed to get married so young. Julie even had to obtain written parental consent because of her tender age. Whilst it wasn't exactly a shotgun wedding, Hannah was present on the day as a cherished first trimester foetus. I vividly remember when we were knelt before the vicar as he proclaimed, "Bless this union with children" I nudged Julie with such force she almost toppled over.

The journey down wasn't too arduous. Rory only cried inconsolably for half an hour before we could seek refuge at the Knutsford Service Station.

The poor little thing had worked himself up into such a flap that he vomited all over himself as we came to a halt in the car park.

With Rory in my arms and puke all over my t-shirt it was an unfortunate time to bump into a TV celebrity.

Queuing behind us for food, resplendent in his red turban was Sikh comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli.

Rory was absolutely fascinated and couldn't take his eyes off him. Ah, the joy of being able to stare at someone without feeling guilty!

Whilst we were at this pit stop Julie offered to change Rory's nappy. It was odd that during the first year of our Grandparental duties we'd been fortunate to avoid the foul process of changing a shitty nappy but everyone within a 50 metre radius could have told us that we weren't going to be so lucky this time. I won't go into graphic detail, suffice to say that Julie mostly accompanied me harmoniously on backing vomit!

All clean and fresh it didn't take him long before he fell asleep and he remained so for most of the journey down. How I wished I could have slept through hitting the M25 at 5pm rush hour. Talk about frustration! Never mind. We got there in the end after a tedious eight hour journey.

When we parked outside the Hilton the doorman arrived to help us with the luggage. He was very chatty and as we said that we'd had a long tiresome journey from North Wales he told us that he was from Caegwrle near Wrexham. Born in 1933 he was only two years younger than Julie's father who was from Bradley, a mile or two away. He used to work at the Llau colliery, where Julie's grandfather worked and he spent his national service with the Horse Guards in London. He even said that he could remember the surname Love which was Julie's mother's family name.

Later Julie phoned her father about him and he wondered if his name was Harold. If he was then he would have been at their wedding in 1955. What are the odds on that happening? If it actually turned out to be him we had decided to put all our money on number 13 on the first roulette table we saw!

Much later in the evening we approached him again but were disappointed to discover that his name was Ray. What a shame but at least it saved me from throwing my money away.

We checked in and got two rooms at opposite ends of the hotel. Hannah, Tim and Rory settled in as Julie and I took the car to the summer special car park.

We then met them at the Garden Restaurant for something to eat. They were serving a carvery buffet which Julie and Hannah went for whilst Tim and I just went for a pizza and pasta.

Rory just had a side plate with the food that was overflowing off Hannah's plate. He ate some of it, but most he squished in his hands or threw on the floor, or over towards the table next to us, or he just pulverised it hammering it with a spoon, splashing debris all over the place.

Once the food ran out he was released from the shackles of his high chair and went for a walkabout around the restaurant, charming all the diners. He's got this wonderful coy face when engaging with the ladies!

I've not made a reference to it being Friday the 13th yet because the day had gone without a hitch and I'm certainly not the superstitious type. Even Julie was comforted by the fact that we had travelled down on Friday the 13th before and survived. (Russia) But we still had a few more hours to survive. We spent a while in the lobby bar, although I spent most of it riding the escalators with Rory, which in itself was a fate-tempting hazardous activity to do on such an inauspicious day!

About ten to ten we decided to retire to the safety of our rooms. Julie and I were just about getting settled, with a bottle of Chardonnay chilling nicely on ice when the phone rang. It was Hannah. "Don't panic mum, but could you come over. Rory's slipped in the bath. He's bleeding from his eye, could you have a look."

DON'T PANIC!?!?!? We were still getting dressed as we were running down the corridors!

We arrived at the same time as the Duty Manager who must have been their first aider. Rory looked a little overawed but perhaps it was the crowd gathering in his bathroom that was upsetting him.

It was quite difficult to get a proper look at the wound as the blood was seeping out of a cut amongst the folds of his eye lid.

We all stared intently towards his left eye with no one really knowing what to look for.

He hadn't been concussed and there didn't seem to be a head injury other than the eye but perhaps he needed some butterfly stitches; or maybe he has hit his head harder than we thought.

So we all agreed that it was a case of 'better safe than sorry' and the Duty Manager phoned for a taxi to take us all to the nearest A&E at the East Surrey Hospital.

It wasn't far; in fact it took us less than half an hour. As we arrived he was becoming quite drowsy, and with a potential head injury we were getting quite concerned.

We registered him with the front desk, and then sat down to wait in the reception area. It was almost 11pm by now. It was full of all unhealthy people but thankfully not the usual drunken casualties you normally find at this time of night. You know, the sort who think that you're their best mate but then start getting abusive as you try your best to ignore them.

The worse we had to contend with was when a mother brought in a sickly looking child who was suffering from 'severe diarrhoea and vomiting'. As they turned to find somewhere to sit in this busy waiting room Julie and I turned to each other and said "They better not dare come and sit by us"!

Shining examples of good Samaritans we were not. Our hostile faces must have done the trick as they sat a safe distance away. Well, we just didn't want to pick up a diarrhoea bug for our holiday. I've been there before and it wasn't pleasant.

I must admit to another obsessive thought when we went through to a separate child's ward within the A&E which had another waiting room packed with kid's toys and a TV with kid's programmes to keep them entertained.

I asked myself "How clean are these toys? Should I give them a wipe with the antibacterial hand-wash? "

At least the lure of the bright wooden train set was enough to perk Rory up which was a welcome sight.

It had gone midnight and officially no longer Friday the 13th by the time he was finally seen by a doctor. She took a close look then asked for a second opinion before coming to the conclusion that he didn't need any stitches. In fact all we need do was to keep it clean. What a relief.

By the time we got back to the Hilton it was gone 1am, and we had to set the alarms for 5:30am. We still cracked open the well chilled Chardonnay however as we sat up for another hour to siphon off the excess adrenalin.

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