Tuesday, 10 August 2010


You would be entirely within your rights to think I have fallen into an open slurry pit or been abducted and held to ransom by a WI organised crime syndicate, since the last you heard of me I was somewhere on my way to The Country, many many days ago. Neither of those things happened. The Country was much as ever, filled with live things and even more dead things and tiny chicks being squeezed terrifyingly tight in the Boden clad arms of a thousand holidaying city kids and coldness. We have emerged miraculously unscathed despite the best efforts of an army of zombie goats hell bent on masticating our clothing, my frankly shite driving and having to confess to eating my father's last chocolate Brazil nut.

Now, after a regrettable navigation incident which saw us circle several times around Stonehenge, leaving me to think dark thoughts about Tess of the D'Urbervilles lying down on the altar stone pre-execution and the dog to cower under the front seat waiting for the sobbing to stop, we are on the Isle of Wight on our proper holidays. This is our third summer holiday in 1958 and my pitiful navigating is greatly assisted by there only being one, or possibly two roads I need to remember. They all begin with a 3, anyway, and if the worst comes to the worst, it would only take me a couple of hours to get back to my starting point, which is an improvement on many of my other getting lost incidents. It is good, the Isle of Wight. It is holidays from the Ladybird Book of the Seashore, with thirty three varieties of bucket and spade, coloured sand in jars and sponge cake, and not a decent cup of coffee to be had for love nor money. (I am exaggerating, obviously, because it is more fun like that). The 'I Spy' book for the Isle of Wight would include the following:

1. Brooding, heavy cloud cover, shading into heavy mist at times.

2. Union Jack flags in gardens.

3. Slow moving coach parties of pensioners walking four abreast down roads with no pavements.

4. Toddlers on elaborately decorated reins like something Prince Philip would use for his coach and four at Blenheim.

5. Devious elderly fraudsters, straight from 'salty seadog' central casting, in charge of deckchair hire. "Oh, that was a twenty was it? My eyes aren't what they were, you know".

6. Pleasingly crap museums with four fossilised crisp packets to reduce your children to catatonic despair within seconds.

7. Terrifyingly narrow roads for me to swerve around whimpering, whilst failing to appreciate the beautiful coastal views.

8. The repetitive sound of me muttering "I HATE this" as I try and negotiate #3 and #7 in a large car with no spatial awareness while indifferent children shove empty crisp packets down my t-shirt.

9. Me and my children being the least appropriately dressed people for the British summer in a twenty mile radius. This is incomprehensible - I spent most of my childhood in a cagoule in a dense Highland fog, walking, blinded by rain, spurred only by the - often spurious - promise of a tea room. Yet I seem to have conveniently edited that part of the holiday experience out of my mind and all of us are equipped with nothing sturdier than the odd pair of shorts.

10. Horrifying quantities of freckles on my face, condemning me to another year of being told I have shit skin by evil dermatologists and their Heath Robinson machines. (Only visited for Facegoop purposes. Obviously, I can't afford to see a dermatologist for real, much as I would love to).

So yes. It is the holidays, hence, my absence from the interwebs. There is, actually, perfectly serviceable broadband in the house (this house, which is lavishly well-equipped and, I am certain, nicer than any house I will ever live in) but I am signally failing to write anything, possibly because every time I open my laptop one of my children perpetrates an act of vile aggression on the other. Hopefully the sun will come out eventually and they can throw seaweed at each other and poke invertebrates and drop ice creams until they are exhausted. If not, you might not hear much from me. Which is probably a mercy.


Lisa-Marie said...

It sounds much like my childhood holidays, which were spaced throughout rural Scotland.

Have you given in and bought ponchos yet?

Anonymous said...

Oh, lord, believe me, if Sat Navs weren't invented, I probably wouldn't be able to leave Manchester for fear of getting lost.

Anonymous said...

yay my heart always gladdens when i hear talk of other people's kids being violent.

Anonymous said...

not a decent cup of coffee to be had for love nor money.... you are not exagerating.. I have been going to the Isle of Wight for twenty years..and have never yet found a cup of coffee worthy of the name. And that is the tip of my iceberg of complaints. But I could go on forever, and that would be boring, so I won't.

Anonymous said...

the isle of wight sounds brilliant. i would love to be there right now.

Invader_Stu said...

I've only been to the Isle of Wight as a child so I only have a very vague memory of it but a lot of what you described sounds very familiar.

It sounds like you need a holiday to get over that holiday.

From Belgium said...

My parents would either drag me of to a country like Norway and Finland, where it is always cold,snows in July and you only have pine forests or to a Club Med. The latter was slightly better since at least the weather was warm, but my father would go apeshit if I wore bikini and completely lose it when cute french sailors started hitting on me...
Still good times (french sailors, mmmmmhhhhh)

lisahgolden said...

Your vacation sounds like something right out of my imagination. Thank you for setting me straight. It's best left in the imagination.

#9 on your list had me laughing until tears.

Betty M said...

Yup no decent coffee in the IoW. And you have to book for the Pizza Express in Newport as it the pinnacle of fine dining. But it is fab for buckets and spades holidays.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

WV is scons, do they do cream teas on the IoW, BW, at least it'd be something to go with the crab sandwiches??! x

Fat Controller said...

I saw the Isle of Widget from Bournemouth during my sojourn there. If only I had known we could have waved to each other.

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