Am spending two weeks in the South of France with family. A perfect fortnight with good food and weather. What could go wrong?
Have just found out we are staying for one week in a friend's house and the otherI on a canal boat. Having second thoughts.
Lac d' Annecy. A fantastic excuse for a swim. Ah, now exactly where did we pack those swimming costumes? No matter, will skinny-dip.
I somehow don't think anyone appreciated the sight of my dad, naked.
Nearly froze to death. Will never go up Mont Blanc in shorts ever again.
Somewhere near Montelimar
Arrived at house in the dark. House v. dirty and v. scary. Rat poison everywhere. Dad dropped bottle of tonic water. Am going to look for dustpan and bucket.
Later Can't find dustpan.
Found old bucket in garden. However, didn't notice the hole in the bottom, until it was full with water. Have never laughed so much in my life.
Song of the day
There's a hole in your bucket, dear Simon, dear Simon.
Cycled to the top of a huge hill with the promise of ice cream at top. In fact there was nothing, no houses, no shops. Nothing.
Note to self: Never believe Mum.
Thunder storm. V. hot and v. awake. Need loooooooooo. Ah just turn on bathroom light. Oh god, all the lights have gone out.
Dad just went outside, naked, to get the table in. Wonderful spectacle for the poor, drunk, Frenchman coming home from the pub.
Am v. desperate for loo. Tap is stuck in bathroom. Plumber can't come until tomorrow. Had to turn off water. No shower or loo until then. Might be forced to go in bushes. Hmm, maybe not.
Have made worst mistake of holiday, so far. Travelled from house to boat on day EVERYBODY in France goes on holiday.
1 hour later
Stuck in traffic jam.
2 hours later
God knows how long later
Dad: Oh stuff this. Going to drive up hard shoulder.
Evening, Canal du Midi
Appear to be staying on a large, floating bathtub. Going to bed.
Bed is half size of normal bed. What have I let myself in for?
In the pouring rain
Cycled to and from small village for food. Returned to discover boat adrift and blocking the canal. Snotty-nosed Englishmen, on other bank, complaining about people not mooring their boat properly. Oh, the humiliation.
Am going to cycle to nearby town to buy a new bike. Old bike has bits falling off it.
"Nearby", my arse. Town is a racetrack. So many cars, so few bikes.
Seven shops later
Ahhhh, have found new bike. Now to cycle home.
Dad just set fire to whole of the riverbank with his barbecue.
Not very experienced at locks. Dad managed to drive neatly into back of someone else's boat. Big, scary French woman, in multi-coloured swimming costume and old-fashioned hat, started screaming at Dad. Oh God, am going to hide in cabin.
Soaked. I, well, erm, fell in the canal. Thank God I just passed my mile badge.
Spent 2 hours trying to moor but was stopped by tree roots. Whole village turned up to watch. Very embarrassing.
Day to be officially named Unlucky Thursday.
7th August Am going home. YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!! Next year to spend very peaceful holiday in somewhere like Afghanistan.
Working with the extract
This piece provides the opportunity to look at the diary as a form for autobiographical writing. The main linguistic features of autobiographical writing still hold true:
* first-person narrative
* a story about key incidents in the writer's life
* an expression of the writer's feelings, thoughts, reactions, beliefs
* description of main influences - people, places, events - on the writer
* description of interactions between the writer and important people in his or her life.
Diary writing is often in note form or even secret code. The emphasis is on abbreviation and noting the main points.
This deceptively simple piece of writing from one of last year's winners is in the form of a holiday diary. It is funny and informative and uses the abbreviated diary entries to maximise the humour. Notice how the writer achieves that effect by giving us the information bit by bit in separate entries. These focus on the main events and not the place as such. There is little or no description.
Suggestions for writing
Write your holiday memories as a series of diary entries. Try to exploit the format to add to the humour. Alternatively you could use the diary format to write about any other significant moment in your life.
Write a series of postcards to a friend about your holiday. The postcards could build a picture gradually and portray the humour in a similar way to the diary entries.
About the author
Anna Bucks, aged 14, attends James Allen's Girls' School in London. Anna says she chose the diary format because she "wanted to include the whole holiday - well, the funny side of the whole holiday - and there weren't enough words otherwise. And I am a Bridget Jones fan as well".