As you read this Mrs P and I will be making our way to an airport to catch a plane to take us home.

We've managed to sneak in a few days of rest and relaxation in Rarotonga which has doubled as a special wedding anniversary treat.

This is where we tied the knot so coming back some time was always going to be a no brainer. But there are a couple of other reasons why the islands work for us.

Firstly it's pleasantly warm. Bones that have tended to shirk any suggestion of movement or action in the cold of New Zealand over the coming weeks are now feeling much better thank you and are keen to carry on swimming, walking, biking etc etc


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Secondly, the people are relaxed, friendly and, most importantly, can speak English. Don't get me wrong, I'll give any native tongue a go but sometimes its just easier all round to find a lingo you're both comfortable with.

Now, obviously there will be more about our Raro trip in coming weeks but for now let me tell you a story of a past overseas holiday where the language nearly undid me.

It's one from back in the archive when I was trying to woo my beloved and took her to France, more particularly Paris.

Next day, buoyed by his success Kevin Page with a then to be Mrs P went to a small cafe where he again stepped up to the plate (boom, boom) when it came to ordering. Photo / Getty Images
Next day, buoyed by his success Kevin Page with a then to be Mrs P went to a small cafe where he again stepped up to the plate (boom, boom) when it came to ordering. Photo / Getty Images

Romance was in the air as we walked hand in hand alongside the River Seine, scaled the Eiffel Tower (by lift; not ropes) got accosted by Romanian gypsies near the Louvre and had a wrestling match with an African immigrant demanding we buy a shiny bangle outside the Moulin Rouge.

Anyway, as I say I was intent on impressing my lady with my worldliness so on one walk I bought her a pancake. The French (and fancy restaurants) call them crepes but trust me people, it's a pancake. I'm assuming crepe sounds better and you can charge more for it.

So, here we are in the streets of Paris and I'm discussing the purchase with a little old lady at a small stand who wants to know what type of crepe my lady wants. Next to her is a blackboard with 20 or so one word varieties. Fromage for cheese, sucre for sugar etc etc.
And I'm in my element. I translated every word and impressed the pants of Mrs P to be.

Next day, buoyed by my success we went to a small cafe where I again stepped up to the plate (boom, boom) when it came to ordering.


Now I was taught a smattering of the French language as a child at school. I can tell you useful things like "the sea is blue" and "the dog is in the bathroom". But get me into a full on conversation with a French waitress who seems a) to have an intense dislike of tourists or perhaps anybody and b) is intent on embarrassing me in front of a member of her sisterhood, then I'm in trouble.

Silly thing is all I wanted was a couple of ham and cheese rolls.

I recall stammering slightly as I tried to remember Mrs Edwards' French class from 1971 and the French word for "ham". It wouldn't come. I was struggling and the waitress knew it. Unfortunately for me she wasn't going to help one little bit.

"Pardon?" she said in response to my first request. (Ha, I just realised it's the same spelling in French and English. Well for the purpose of this story say it in your head in a French accent.)

I tried again.

This time she said nothing but just screwed up her nose and muttered something under her breath which I'm sure was French for "prat" or something equally disdainful.

By this time it was getting uncomfortable but with my shining armour dimming by the second I looked over at a confused Mrs P and decided to try again.

This time the waitress just tutted (in French of course) and shrugged her shoulders. To be fair in my attempts to ask for two ham and cheese rolls I may have said "will a horse be sitting in the kitchen" so a shrug may have been perfectly appropriate.

Regardless, by this stage I had had enough and it was a fair bet she had had enough too.

So I said the one thing in French I knew I had correct: "Parlez Anglais?" (Do you speak English?)

She looked at me with an indignant and arrogant air and spat back in perfect English. "No! Do you speak French?"