Gromet on Holiday in Wales 1997
Darkness engulfed the satellite town of West Hallam, just outside Derby as great billowing black and grey clouds were driven across the sky, tumbling and rolling in front of the westerly gale. It was not yet two in the afternoon but already the lights were going on. Suddenly the clouds were torn apart by a blinding flash instantly followed by an ear splitting crash which rolled on and on and on across the land. This was an ominous sign if ever there was one, it did not bode at all well for our holiday in the noble principality of Wales which was now only eight months, two weeks and three days away.
A Word/Food Processor, Just In Case I Need To Eat My Words
For over a week Gromet was prepared for the great expedition to the west of Britain. Gallon after gallon of slippery oil was drained and renewed, from many an open orifice, the wheels were swapped round, Gromet's sides were T-cut and polished, new Dutch army running lights were installed, an exterior plywood board was carefully positioned on the roof rack and slots were cut into the said roof rack boarding, to assist in the securing of chattels - in fact Gromet was treated to the works.
At last the day dawned, the radio bleeped and bleeped impatiently as a prelude to the BBC world service announcing to one and all that it was now 4 am GMT. Our hearts sank as we crawled out of bed.
However at 9 minutes past eight we were waiting on the Derby road when Gromet's CB crackled into life. Nip was in Stanley and the gap between Gromet and Alan was rapidly diminishing. Three minutes later the convoy was formed. Gromet, reputedly being the slowest and towing a big black trailer, took the lead with Fionn, Rosie, Matthew and the dogs Sally and Pepsi.
Neil and Kirsty, not having CB, followed in his Audi while Alan (a SWB 90 turbo diesel) took up the rear with Nip, Gill, Jade, Jim, Polly and Laura, our birthday girl.
We took the A38 out of Derby, as per usual, but this move was followed by a sudden banking to port as we swung over to Uttoxeter and followed our new heading for Conway.
The £21M road works slowed us down
The roads were quiet and we made excellent time until we reached Stoke. This town with it's £21 million road works and associated traffic jams marked an end to our uneventful and rapid movement through the intervening country side.
The windscreen showed signs of precipitation, yes the storm of eight months ago had been a sign to be taken seriously, the wind rose and the rain lashed our little convoy. The luggage in our trailer, trapped as it was between a 1/4" steel plate floor and an aluminium lid, began to drown in the swirling water which forced it's way into the trailer, waves crashed over the cases and back off the sides. This excess of water was however very selective in the way that it transformed perfectly dry garments into sopping wet rags, the only ones to really transform were mine, and this despite their being cuddled up to Rosie's vestments. As we pursued the twisting and undulating road up into the mountains, followed by Neil he must have seriously considered his sanity, after all what sane person would choose to sandwich their highly tuned high performance Audi in between a large green shed and a large red shed on wheels, lumbering up into the fog shrouded hills of Wales, belching out clouds of black smoke at 20 miles an hour, this was his choice of a summer holiday?
We Pursued The Twisting And Undulating Road
Up Into The Mountains.
On our arrival at the cottage the lid was lifted off the trailer to reveal water lapping around the suit cases. I could have canoed in that trailer. The cases were fished out of their watery graves. My drowned shirts, pants and knickers were separated from Rosie ´s clothes, her were bone dry, despite nestling up to mine. Hers went into the warm, snug wardrobe while mine were hung out to dry on the rain sodden clothes line which, was by now, also hidden in a sodden swirling fog, 'Yes' our holiday had well and truly begun and 'Yes' we were in Wales, and 'Yes' Neil's worst night mares had all been realized!
The yellow disc slowly crawled up into the watery skies, but it was not this most welcome bringer of heat, light and joy that coaxed us out of our slumbers, nor the atrocious beds which caused every joint to ache, it was the herd of bovines that had just pulled up in the adjoining field. Very nice they may have been but they weren't half noisy! Then it was the sheep, I mean why should they keep quiet now!
Well You Can't Really Blame Them
Shearing time had arrived and they were thrilled, they were already lining up along the fence, jostling for position, grabbing their copies of 'Womans Own' and enthusiastically comparing the knitting patterns. Then it arrived, the big red Land Rover 110 swung into the field with the mobile hair salon in tow. One side came down to form a platform, two sets of imitation ivory handled clippers were hung on supports at either end and posters of the Spice Girls were hung up next to the two full length mirrors. A pair of hunks then pulled off their shirts, donned brightly coloured singlets and rippled their muscles before calling out in unison, "Come on ladies, who's going to be first?" A great bout of giggling rippled round the sheep as two got up onto the platform and swooned into the arms of their dream boats, an audible sigh was heard all round as the two men winked at one another and began shearing.
Feeling like wrecks we hauled ourselves from our sunken, creaking mattresses just as Laura and Polly materialize at the door full of the joys of spring. Their day had begun many hours ago as they settled down for a slice of culture, watching a Welsh rendition of the Telly Tubbies while Nip and Jim went off fishing for old boots.
An hour later, as we approached Aberdaron, Nip's sweet dulcet tones graced our CB with the good news, he could find no adverse publicity concerning dogs and their rights to a spot on the beach, what was more there were, he assured us, a number of canines already scampering across the sands. Fifteen minutes later we had denuded Gromet of the beach gear, descended the path and Neil and myself had veered off from the main party and were skimming across the waters towards Fisherman's Cove in a pair of bright red canoes.
It was wonderful being back on the sea again, the feel, the movement, the sights, it was all engulfing - although, to be truthful, being engulfed by the sea was not what I had on my mind. After boxing the compass twice Neil straightened out and we were off. We hove to, just off the cove, to absorb the atmosphere and watch a group of novices stranding themselves on the rocks. Like professionals we swung our bows out towards the horizon and sank our paddles into the depths of the Irish sea before cleaving our way out to the old quarry pier. The winter storms had taken their toll on the ruined pier, the round turret had gone, as had the square building. On our return we observed a young lady being towed behind a speed boat, she fairly flew across the briny but as it slowed down she came to a stand still before slowly sinking into the chilly waters, "the sea is lovely and warm" (she lied). She returned a ski to the awaiting craft, and slipped both her delightful feet into the remaining one before waving a fond farewell as they arced back to the far end of the bay, her long blond hair steaming out behind her. The holiday was definitely taking a turn for the better.
Quick George, my cheeks will get sunburned! get the cold cream.
(Taken from Ronnie Barker's Sugar and Spice)