Melissa Nightingale spent four days sailing from Bordeaux on a preview river cruise with her mother. She looks at the highs and lows of travelling with your mum as an adult.
It was late afternoon on a sunny day in southwestern France, and my mother was on a mission.
My feet and arms were aching from trudging through the cobbled streets of Bordeaux with the day's shopping in hand, and my patience was running thin.
But Mum had an oddly specific goal when she embarked with me on a flying visit to the other side of the world: don't return without having bought a French teddy bear.
By that time of the day I was starting to entertain murderous thoughts towards her as she dragged us deeper into the maze of narrow streets and ever further from the comfort of our cruise ship.
It's only now, as I sit with my feet comfortably propped underneath my desk at work, that I can appreciate how Mum's insistence on finding the perfect bear gave me my favourite memories of the whole holiday.
There's something magical about the city of Bordeaux – how every corner you turn reveals another quaint lane, more gorgeous plants cascading over intricate wrought-iron balconies, another beautiful building or grand church.
When I think back to the trip, I think of the wonder I felt that afternoon being surrounded by a place so different from anywhere I'd been in New Zealand.
After a little searching, a friendly liquor salesman gave us directions to a tiny toy store squeezed in between boutique shops. We had found our teddy.
Of course, it couldn't be quite that simple. Mum took probably half an hour to choose exactly the right bear – a panda she named Pawel, after her favourite waiter on our ship, the S.S. Bon Voyage.
We were on a preview cruise on Uniworld's newly re-made ship, known previously as the River Royale, travelling on the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers from Bordeaux.
The luxury river cruise was a chance to showcase all the changes to the ship, which had been stripped right back to metal for a complete rework.
Mum was almost giddy with excitement when I asked her to come with me. Most of our phone calls in the lead up to the trip started with her saying "Guess what? I'm going to France!"
The only thing she wanted to learn how to say in French was "I would like the Sauvignon Blanc, please."
In fact, we spent a good 30 minutes on the phone ahead of our holiday perfecting the phrase – and determining that no, Mum could not say: "voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir" to the crew.
We were about to join the growing club of mothers and daughters going on holiday together as adults.
Uniworld chief executive Ellen Bettridge is one of those mothers, and said she's seeing it more often.
Bettridge goes on holiday with each of her two daughters – separately – once a year.
"They don't like to go together, they want me all to themselves, which is great, we have so much fun," she said.
"They fully expect that I'm going to pay for their Business Class tickets too."
Her greatest joy in travelling with her daughters is seeing the world through their eyes. Her first trip with one daughter was to Egypt.
"It was so fun to see how she was excited about it and what she found interesting that I wouldn't have noticed," she said.
She encouraged other mothers and daughters to take trips together, even if it was just local.
Another piece of advice was to not "sweat the small stuff".
"You only have those few precious times together, so don't get worked up about things."
Bettridge said there were no cons to travelling with either of her daughters, and that she couldn't think of any challenges.
I'm not sure Mum and I could say the same.
As it turns out, asking a mum to switch off the mothering instinct when you're on holiday is easier said than done. I stubbornly ignored her as she watched my salt intake with a raised eyebrow, she exclaimed in horror when I licked my fingers during the odd meal - we both generally got on each other's nerves.
I tend to get impatient with my mother, and I'm sure more than once she silently called me a "stroppy cow" in her head.
But then there were the special moments. Marvelling over the vivid red sun as it hung low among the trees at dinnertime, listening to the frogs singing in the dusk after the ship's motors went still, or hunting together through a quirky flea market filled with boxes of old, handwritten letters, sets of rusty keys, and a large oil painting with a huge tear through the middle.
Together we climbed the tallest sand dune in Europe to watch the sunrise, tried new foods - lobster, caviar, and black pudding - and clinked glasses of the most expensive champagne we will probably ever drink.
One friend we made on our trip, travel agent Julie Durham, had just recently finished a holiday with her mother, travelling from Vienna to Budapest.
"It was so nice just to sit and have conversations about growing up, about the trip itself, about our future, that we haven't been able to have because she's, by car, about 9-10 hours away," she said.
"It was interesting to me to see how much my mum had aged in that time . . . I think things have changed in the past 16 years that I didn't realise, and it makes me appreciate our time together."
Like Bettridge, Durham found joy in seeing the destinations through her mother's eyes.
She said people should appreciate and make time for their mothers.
"Travel inspires you and you have such different experiences that you can remember together . . . you just start really, really appreciating those special moments together."
Back in New Zealand, where we're not cooped up together in a cabin, it's easy to remember such moments.
One is from the evening we arrived on the ship.
We were the last to reach Bordeaux, and by the time we came aboard all the other guests were already eating dinner.
We sat at our table with the early evening sun streaming in, glasses of locally-made wine in hand, and looked at each other in total contentment.
There are some activities that are best suited to doing with your mother, and I firmly believe drinking wine is one of them.
Luckily for us, wine, and the drinking of it, was one of the main focuses on the cruise.
A sommelier was on hand at meal times to provide expert advice on the best wine to go with our meal, and the menu each day came with a carefully chosen red and white. Several of the excursions and tours we were taken on involved wine tastings at local chateaus.
At one such wine tasting, our tour guide encouraged everyone to describe what they could smell and taste in the wine. Chocolate, berries, summer fruits.
"It just tastes like wine to me," Mum muttered. I was so glad I wasn't the only one. If drinking wine together is well suited to mothers and daughters, I also believe not being sophisticated enough to pick out the intricacies of wine is also a good joint activity.
Even the onboard activities were wine-related. We spent a peaceful afternoon on the top deck in a paint and wine class with a local artist, where we spent an hour or two sipping our drinks and having our best go at watercolours and oil paintings.
I made three attempts at recreating the beautiful wisteria we saw dotted everywhere in Bordeaux before giving up and turning my focus to the drinking instead.
If there's another thing worth doing with your mother, luxury cruising is probably it. Despite the fact I was probably a horrible embarrassment with my inadequate table manners, I was better off with her than with a husband who would rather be barefoot at home than dressed up in a nice restaurant.
By the end of our short journey, Mum and I had become accustomed to a finer way of living, the kind that includes people calling you "madame" and waiting on your every need.
It was with no small sadness that we waved goodbye to the staff that made our cruising experience so memorable and welcoming – Pawel the waiter even got a hug and a photo with his new biggest fan.
Sitting on a plane preparing for 38 hours of flying and layovers and being right under each other's noses was sobering.
By the time we'd flown back around the world across four different flights, crammed together in Economy Class, I don't think Mum was particularly sad to part ways with me.
But, only a day later, she sent me a text.
"Strange but true," she wrote. "This mama is missing her beautiful stroppy girl."
Uniworld's Brilliant Bordeaux boutique river cruise aboard the newly renovated SS Bon Voyage has select 2019 departures now priced from $3699 USD per person, including savings of $1500 per person until May 31. uniworld.com/nz