I've been forced to the conclusion that there are those of us who travel with ease and others who are physiologically unsuited to leaving the sofa.
Holidays with my daughter are a rare treat, but without exception they are always punctuated by physical manifestations of travel-induced distress that result in jackpots for local pharmacists and lingering odours on unfortunate upholstery.
There are no countries we've visited that haven't seen the local cuisine returned with
emphasis to its pavements. No hire cars delivered back to their point of origin without a distinctive piquancy to their atmosphere that even a forest of pine tree - shaped air fresheners had been able to impact.
Before reaching the age of 16, Siana was taken from one aircraft by wheelchair, having swooned on top of a passing flight attendant. She has barfed into bags in the airspace above most countries you can name, and below the river Thames in the Blackwall tunnel. The majestic beauty of the NZ countryside has echoed to sounds that would make Orcs retreat in fear and revulsion. There may be a call-up coming from Peter Jackson.
Ever the optimist, I've been certain that she would grow out of it and that the latest holiday would see a cease-fire between her semi-circular canals and her digestive system. How wrong is it possible to be?
Thirty-six hours before our latest trip the first signs of a cold appeared; not something that would usually cause much problem in and of itself - in most people. In Siana's case however, I'm certain that colds are a suitcase-borne virus as they are an inevitable part of travel preparations. They bode bad shit.
The morning of our flight dawned and Siana was roused from bed as the sun's first rays filtered through the windows. In the usual groggy fashion of a teenager for whom a good night's sleep would, in other species be considered hibernation, she headed to the kitchen, filled a bowl with cereal and stuck her face in it.
Things went downhill quickly when I decided to medicate her in preparation for flight. The effect of trying to add cold and flu tablets to juice and sugar was a bit like adding baking soda to vinegar. Siana went pale and ventured outside to get fresh air. I hope that the petunias thrive on the second hand orange juice and crunchy nut cornflakes with which they were liberally crop-dusted.
With the reassurance that it was at least 'out of her system', we set off for the airport, having very kindly been offered a lift there by an elderly neighbour. While I was sat in the front making polite conversation with the gentleman, murmurings from the back seat informed me that all was not well. I subtly retrieved a small plastic bag from my handbag and emptied it of its contents, quickly passing it back. The bag was rapidly refilled accompanied by a full symphony of guttural sound effects as peristaltic waves slammed into reverse gear. However, it seems that our neighbour was deaf to Siana's Vomitorium in C minor, as our conversation continued on its chipper little path without deviation or interruption. This created a somewhat surreal state of affairs, as to me it
sounded like Alien vs Predator was being re-enacted in the back seat.
I was loathe to draw our elderly driver's attention to events unfolding behind us, as he had already nearly driven straight through a red light even when his full attention was on the road. I feared that his concern for the rear upholstery in his new car could quickly become terminal for all three of us.
The back seat chorus abated but relief was short-lived as I was quietly informed that the bag was leaking. Further paperwork in my hand luggage was quickly stripped of it's file protector sleeve to serve as a barf bag reinforcement and handed back, just as the airport hove into view. I thanked our kindly neighbour profusely, praying that the small souvenir of the experience that remained on the back seat would also escape his attention, but we fled into the terminal too quickly to find out.
A couple of hours later we boarded the flight, Siana resplendent in a newly-purchased pair of shiny jeans. The old ones had been forcefully confined to the case lest they tried to make an unaccompanied break through Immigration.
By the time we boarded the plane Siana's condition had stabilised. At least until the engines were switched on. Barely had we achieved cruising altitude when the flight attendants experienced a sudden flurry of demand from people in the seats adjacent to ours to please be moved to the rows behind the screaming babies.
Apparently in space no-one can hear you scream, but at 30,000 feet they can definitely hear you chunder.