I came to the conclusion this weekend that every self-deprecating housewife of a certain age needs to take a trip to Lebanon.
If nothing else, the stunning mountainous scenery, views of the sparkling Med, mind-blowing history, laid-back atmosphere – and, I should add, standing in the shadow of buildings peppered with bullet holes – will make any household worries feel a million miles away.
A night out in vibrant Beirut – fast becoming the region’s party central – mingling with friendly Lebanese locals will knock 10 years off your age (until the next morning at least). You might even come away thinking you’ve discovered the Paris of the Orient – enough to put the spring back in anyone’s step.
But there’s more. If, like me, you can’t put your finger on the exact moment, but you know that the wolf whistles started petering out a while ago – probably shortly after taking up the mantle of motherhood and just before you realised you wake up with a crease across your face that’s there till noon. If, like me, you’re a little bit worried about a big birthday just round the corner, then you really need to experience what I did this weekend in south Beirut.
We’d driven there, dodging maniac drivers, from my in-laws’ home in the mountains above Beirut to buy the kids bikes. I knew we were entering Hezbollah-land – a part of Beirut where if there’s a problem, you don’t call the police, you call the militia. And I knew we’d arrived when we spotted a missile by the side of the road.
Which I decided to go and take a photo of for my blog.
So, while my father-in-law, DH and the boys looked at bikes, I went a very short way up the road to get a good picture – and realised that the background noise of car honking had suddenly become even louder. Not only that, but the men driving the vehicles were grinning at me, motioning to me and one driver, at the wheel of a tyre truck, even pulled over and tried to catch my eye.
Feeling a little unnerved – and more than a tiny-bit pleased (it’s been a while, as I said!!) – I went back to the bike shop and told DH what had just happened.
“I got honked – at least 10 times! Did you hear?”
“Really?” said DH, looking up from adjusting the handle bars on a Spider-Man bike. “Are you sure they weren’t taxis?” he laughed.
True love, eh!
Okay, so some of them were clapped out, smoke-billowing taxis looking for business, but in a part of town where anything goes – where there’s not much you can do to attract attention – I’m pretty sure I proved that a shapely blonde housewife taking photos of a missile is a traffic stopper!