Kevin Page: Pack all the worries away...

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A big day is coming up for me.

It's the day of my annual fitness test, the time when I show the world I am as strong as an ox and still mentally sharp as a tack.

I've been preparing for it over the last few months by carrying the shopping bags up from the basement garage to the kitchen. That's the physical part.

Then I cram the groceries into the pantry, tins with the nearest use by date to the front. That's the mental part.

This year the fitness test is going to be especially tough.

I won't be donning lycra tights and pumping traditional weights or methodically working my way through complex equations on a blackboard, though. I'll be carrying our luggage down to the car and trying to work out how to fit it all in the boot.

That's because we're going away on holiday. Me, Mrs P and Boomerang Child are off overseas for a week.

For me it's about 3kg of luggage soaking wet - I may even just give up the corner of the suitcase I usually get and wear four T-shirts, seven pairs of undies and two pair of shorts on the plane. I haven't quite decided yet.

But for my girls that's 22.9999kg of their 23kg allowance each, plus 7kg of cabin luggage each and a sneaky bag or two they will try to get past the airline counter staff with a giggle and a fluttering of the eyes.

And guess who gets to cart it all down the tricky flight of stairs to the basement and then work out how to stuff the lot into the car?

I'm sure there'll be time pressure, too. The girls have a form of clock amnesia. They have been saying all week we will be on the road no later than 9am but when the clock ticks over to 10.23am they'll swear they had been saying 10.30am all along ... and they are early.

Anyway.

Mentally, I'm quite focussed on the task ahead.

It's been made easy by the fact the suitcases have been sitting in the lounge for a week, their contents added to as the days progressed, sort of teasing my muscles and mind.

Six days ago I was confident I could carry it no problem; four days out and I'm still confident but I'm thinking I'll have to leave my T-shirts out; three days out and one suitcase is full. I decide to leave my shorts out; three days out and we embark on our first row about how much the girls are taking. I lose, so I'm leaving my undies out too.

I know the night before my test we'll have another row about how much the girls are taking. They'll take out one of the four pair of jeans or the five pair of shoes. I also know that by the actual day of my test they will probably try to slip a hair dryer or straightener in to the suitcase instead.

To combat what will almost undoubtedly be an overall increase in the final weight to be shifted I'll make sure I'm well hydrated. Four cups of early morning coffee will see to that.

I may even prowl around the lounge, staring the suitcases down like a weightlifter.

Then I'll be into it.

The first bag looks a toughie. It's big and long. I have a suspicion they are trying to sneak George the dog on holiday with them, I haven't seen him around for a while.

Regardless, the suitcase will slip easily into the space I've made in the boot but we will be travelling without a spare tyre and any emergency tools.

By the time I get the second suitcase down I'm sure I'll be feeling the "burn", as we weightlifters like to call it, either that or the hair straightener has somehow turned itself on and it's scalding me.

Finally I'll get to the last bag. I'll stagger downstairs and with one almighty heave I'll get it on to the edge of the boot. Nearly there, I'll just need one last vein-in-forehead-throbbing shove to squeeze it in. But there will be no celebrating my success.

I'll just wobble back upstairs and ask Mrs P if she's packed the first-aid kit.

"I need it," I'll say. "I've just given myself a hernia".

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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