Janet Christie's Mum's the Word



Following his own advice to “live real, people”, Middle Child departs once more to his organic farm in the Algarve. I load him up with antiseptic, diarrhoea calmers, paracetamol, books (Yann Martel’s High Mountains of Portugal, and Nick Frost’s Truths, Half Truths and Little White Lies), condoms, teabags and a hot water bottle, wave him off, then wait.

As much as people laud today’s ease of communication, trilling “Oh, we Face/Time all the time”, there are still some sanctuaries in the back of beyond and straight on till morning where you’re off the grid.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Witness Middle’s directions for a visit. “Catch a plane, take the bus into town, catch another bus for an hour, walk along a road for 40 minutes, then up a track and you’re there.”

I run it by Youngest, “Would you like to visit? Sun, food, animals…”

“Not really,” she says. “Basically, I like to stay here. In my room, with Biggie Smalls asleep on my bed.” A sigh of assent emits from somewhere in her faux fur throw.

“But travel’s in our blood!” I tell her. “Your great-grandfather was on whalers from Dundee to the Arctic when he was your age. Then he was in Montevideo when he got the telegram saying your great-grandmother had died in childbirth.” No response. She hates my “history stories”.

I try Eldest instead. “Would you like to visit your brother – a bit of sun?”

“Yeah! Aw... band’s touring. Can’t.”

I go back to waiting for word. To be fair, it’s only been a few hours. Then it lands: “Made it. Love you xx”.

And a couple of days later, “Found a perfect place, the cabin of a waffle bar truck. The roof is rusty so it dripped a bit but me and a friend fixed it with a tent cover. Warm, got my hot water bottle. Love you xx”

Sounds lovely. But…

“Don’t worry,” says the BoyF, “Says he’s fine. What more do you need?”

How about a sleeping space in the cabin of a truck? To wake to the smell of waffles in my nostrils? The open road?

The back of beyond sounds like my kind of place.