Do you make up nick names for your fellow holidaymakers?

Ellen with her husband's 'Pink Panther' holiday trousers

Ellen with her husband's 'Pink Panther' holiday trousers - Credit: Archant

Ellen Widdup’s 2.4 Children

Ellen with her husband's 'Pink Panther' holiday trousers

Ellen with her husband's 'Pink Panther' holiday trousers - Credit: Archant

When my mother-in-law goes on holiday she always comes home with new friends.

“We met such a lovely couple,” she tells us after a fortnight in Turkey. “We’ve swapped numbers and hope to see them again when we go next year.”

Her address book is heaving with contacts she has picked up in far-flung places.

Colin, who knows how to mix a good Pina Colada, Jean, whose sunburn left her with permanent scarring, Geoff, who broke his leg windsurfing, Betty, who stripped off her bra and waved it round her head during a rendition of the Macarena at closing time.


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I rather admire her ability to mix, mingle and generally strike up conversation with strangers from all walks of life.

But it is certainly not a personality trait she has passed on to her son.

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“I don’t like other people,” he told me distastefully watching a fat, sweaty man in a shellsuit wheeling a large suitcase off the conveyor belt at the arrivals hall in Egypt. “I don’t want a chat by the pool, I don’t want to share a drink in the bar and don’t make me sit down for dinner with anyone other than you.”

Part of me was thrilled that he wanted to indulge in some quality time together on our first trip away from our children in five years.

The other part wondered how I was going to cope with the lack of chatter – my husband is a man of few words and the ones he does use are either to the point, littered with jokes, sarcastic or downright rude.

I clutched my Kindle, loaded with six gruesome thrillers, close to my chest and nodded a tentative agreement.

Our hotel was exquisite. The sort of place where you are waited on hand and foot, your every need attended to. A Hotel California for strung-out adults needing intensive rest and recuperation.

Overlooking the Red Sea, we took up residence on two sun loungers at one end of a turquoise lagoon of a pool and pretty such stayed put, venturing over to the large restaurant every few hours to refuel on barbeque squid, blackened chicken and chunks of watermelon.

“Do you miss the kids?” I asked him. We had only been there for a few hours at that point.

“Nope,” he said contentedly, downing another ice-cold beer.

“I’m just going to pop to the gift shop,” I announced, returning 30 minutes later with every bit of plastic tat I could lay my hands on.

“Won’t the children like these?” I asked, brandishing a gaudy gold camel and the pyramids encased inside a miniature snow globe. But he was asleep, snoring happily in the 30C heat.

Later, over dinner, we Skyped our daughter and son. They were full of smiles and giggles, perfectly happy with their grandparents and apparently not missing us one jot.

I felt a little better after that and began to relax.

After all, I was in paradise with the man I loved – albeit one who was wearing pink trousers.

“I didn’t realise you couldn’t wear shorts in the dining room,” he said, noticing my grimace at his attire and waggling his eyebrows. “So you will have to put up with these little beauties all week.”

I looked around the restaurant. It could have been worse, I thought.

On one table sat a red-faced Russian (I would hazard a guess that 90% of the guests were Russian) with a wife half his age.

He was in a bright white Adidas tracksuit while she was clad in tiny disco hot pants and a boob tube.

“Pssst,” my husband nudged me with a fork full of shish kebab. “Check out Potter over there.”

To our left was a middle-aged man in a Hogwarts T-shirt.

I smothered a snort of laughter.

Cheered on by my mirth, my husband started giving names to all our fellow holidaymakers.

Another Russian in a full dinner jacket he nicknamed Vladimir Bond, the piano player, with her crazy mass of curly hair, he called Fraggle, a dumpy British girl dining alone became Bridget Jones and an Egyptian waiter who bore a striking resemblance to the American President he coined Obama.

We began inventing full back stories for these characters and this kept us amused for most of the break.

“Potter is refusing to join in with the Aqua aerobics,” my husband informed me poolside.

“He’d rather play Quidditch,” I responded, as we cackled delightedly at our cleverness.

“I wonder which room Bondski is staying in?” I mused, waiting for the punchline.

“007,” giggled my partner in crime, not missing a beat.

Before we knew it our delightful week had come to an end.

As I blow-dried my hair and my husband pulled on his well-worn pink pants for our final meal, we reviewed all we had done in our seven days.

“I’ve never laughed so much,” my husband admitted, fiddling his hair into his trade-mark quiff.

“Do you reckon any of the other guests made up nicknames for us?” I asked him.

“Like what?” he asked. “We are relatively normal in comparison.”

“Don’t be so sure,” I said, fastening my earrings.

Hand in hand we headed off to the bar for a glass of wine.

And, as we walked into the foyer we noticed Fraggle, sitting happily at her piano ready to begin her evening recital.

She also spotted us.

Raising one hairy eyebrow, she gave us a little smirk before placing her hands firmly on the keys.

The unmistakable first notes began and I immediately got the joke.

Creasing with laughter I turned to look at my husband, but luckily, he too had seen the funny side.

He started to shuffle his feet in time to the music, his trousers as bright and bold as they had been all week.

And before I knew it he was twirling me round the room to the theme song of the Pink Panther.

Find me on Twitter @EllenWiddup.

Read more from Ellen here

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