Thursday, 21 August 2008

Wet. Wet. Wet.

Mags is in Sardinia and I just happen to have a long range weather forecast for Sardinia on my Google homepage and, day after day the symbol of a big, round smiley sun seems to mock me and my wellies.
The Band family, it is therefore all too apparently obvious, is not in some far flung Mediterranean island bathing in a temperate turquoise sea. Nor are we lunching on locally caught seafood, a carafe of chilled wine on our table, olives glistening in the oil in which they created, the tomatoes made sweeter and riper by the incessant sunshine. Alas not. Instead we find ourselves once more in Pembrokeshire, abusing the hospitality of friends once again prepared to put us up for free. We have also acquired two extra children to appease our own moody teenagers, friends with whom they can 'hang out'. As we packed the cars last Saturday in the pouring rain though, an unshakeable feeling of foreboding enveloped me.
“So, you're happy with where you're going Alice?” asked Hubby.
“Yup, we've been there often enough”, I answered, aware that with the best will in the world, I could not disguise the sarcastic tone in my voice.
“Oh come on now Alice, don't be a princess. We're going on holiday aren't we? And Wales is better than nothing. Put a brave face on it. Ok love?” The rain water was dripping off the hood of my kagoule and down my nose. I brushed the drips off furiously.
“Fine”, I said, scowling, “Let's get a move on”. We had to travel in convoy because, bus like as it may be to some, a Renault Espace does not accommodate six kids, two adults, several suitcases, two guitars and an amplifier. Hubby as usual did not draw the short straw as all four teenagers clamoured to travel with him and his i-tunes to abandon me to the luggage, the youngest two and Disney tunes. We were just past the Lee Mill turn off on the A38 when the Red-Head asked the first of seemingly infinitesimal, “Are we there yet?”. I groaned.
“Does your groan mean that we are probably not?” asked the six year old.
“Got it in one honey”, I replied, “Just a few more hours to go”.
“How long is a few more hours?”, she asked.
“Well, let's see”, I said, distracted by the fact that my windscreen wipers were going like the clappers and I was trying to overtake a rather large caravan, “Um, count to sixty, sixty times and that'll be one hour”. Children of that age of course, rather dementedly take everything literally and no sooner had I made the suggestion than she started counting, “One, two, three, four...”. Her sister joined her, although at three years of age has yet to master any number past seventeen, which put her sister off, which started the whole counting thing from the beginning. I started to bite the steering wheel.
By the time we reached Bridgewater, we were stationary on the M5, the girls were in tears because it was “So boring” and I was almost in tears because I couldn't stand another minute. Half an hour later having finally crawled up towards Sedgemoor services the Red-Head declared, “I have a poor tummy. I feel sick”. Please God, not now. With one hand on the steering wheel and the other hurriedly emptying a Barbie filled plastic carrier bag, I threw it in the general direction of the back seat. Seconds later I craned my neck around to see how she was, only to find the carrier bag wrapped suicidally over her head.
“Holy shizer”, I yelled, reaching into the back to swipe the bag off, the car swerving onto the hard shoulder to the accompanied chorus of furious, beeping horns. Shaking, I pulled into the services to down a large, restorative, coffee. An hour later found me in an almighty queue at the tolls on the Severn Bridge. Unperturbed as I'd got the correct sum of money, I pulled over to the one where you can just chuck your money into a waiting receptacle. It was only when I applied my handbrake up and about one hundred cars were backed up behind me that I realised that it was only coins that were accepted. My five pound note was not.
“Holy shizer”, I once again muttered, before and much to the impatient annoyance of the other car-drivers, I jumped out of mine and cocked a leg over a couple of barriers where, in torrential rain I pleaded with the toll-booth man for some loose change.
We finally arrived in West Wales seven hours after we set out, only to find Hubby ensconced in an arm chair, watching the Olympics, a cold beer in hand.
I'd like to say that things picked up from there but my previous feelings of foreboding were not without foundation and a litany of disasters followed. For instance, the following morning Hubby went to play basketball with our host and came back with a broken ankle rendering him devoid of family outings. Thus, being the only able bodied driver, I had to squish children into my car like illegal immigrants only to get them to some tourist attraction to find the entrance fee for six kids a prohibitively expensive affair. Consequently we have visited more castles than the conquering Normans and far from sun kissed tomatoes and olives, have lunched on rissoles and corned beef pasties. The Red-Head's brand new Start-Rite sandals have literally bitten the dust, given that she threw them out of the car window as it travelled at speed and then, one very wet morning midweek, when my misery knew no bounds, Dad rang.“I've been in to feed the cats”, he paused, “And I found your sitting room ceiling, well, not on the ceiling any more”. Much like Chicken-Licken, my sky is quite literally falling in.


sally's hubby said...

Hi Alice,

You're not alone! We have weeks like that - in fact we seem to have them most weeks at the moment. It always seems that the odd ray of light pokes tentatively over the horizon, only to be blotted out by a bloody great black raincloud.

Anyway, main reason for wrtiting here... Are you still in Pembrokeshire now? If so, your route home will take you within a resonably short step from us. I know Sal would be thrilled...

And another reason for writing: "posted by Alice Band at 03:12"! Insomniac? Or is based in some alien timezone which bears no retaltion to our own?

Best wishes,

It's just me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
It's just me said...

I'm off to Welsh Wales tomorrow - and am hoping that the weather is OK at least as I'm 'borrowing' two children from my friend for a week.

Did you at least get some lava and welshcakes out of the experience??

Anonymous said...

Oh, my. Just that: oh, my.

Alice Band said...

Hiya Sally's Hubby,
No I'm home now but it would have been fantastic to meet up especially given how long we were stuck on the pigging M5. The time zome thing baffles me - twas not me up at 3am not even to watch the Olympics!

Alice Band said...

it's just me -
My Welsh cakes are legendary!

Sally Lomax said...

Your story of the sandles out of the window reminds me of when ours threw a cup and then a pillow out of the window on the way down to the South of France......

Hilarious!! Sad we missed you!

Anonymous said...

well, at least you can look back on it and laugh (sort of).

Is Hubby still broken-ankle bound or does HM RN expect his attendance in any condition?!