‘Yay! Aberdovey; we love Aber-bloody-dovey!’
Ever the optomist this is the cheery thought ringing in my ears as I stuff ‘Easter leftovers’ into a Sainsbury’s bag for life on the morn of our planned trip! We will meet the rest of the gang at 9:30am in our usual spot; secure a latte and head off. The naive children will wave frantically to each other utterly oblivious to the heinous, twisty-turney journey ahead of them. The Mother is coming too and all I have to do now is ensure all four of us are ready in time…or cure cancer; both are equally likely.
Oh and empty one car, pack another, ensure there are clean clothes all round, extra shoes, water and snacks inside the car, several pointless cuddly toys they’ve somehow become attached too and the new 7 dollies they can’t possibly do without. Oh and the inhaler bag, sun-cream, sun-hats, woolly hats, wellies, sandals, sunglasses, anti-freeze and extra screenwash. And not forgetting the map, note-pad and pen, mobile phone, money, towels, bag of buckets and spades, beach blanket with the questionable stain from last year that I promised myself I’d wash and most importantly the proper canvas chair for Mother.
Right time’s a ticking; utterly fruitless showering the kids after all they’re going to coat themselves liberally in melting chocolate and crisps in the car. Then roll in sand, bathe in the toxic North sea and a further roll in the sand. Then they’re going to eat a shit load of beige cheap party food that’s also been rolled in sand then we’ll collect our award for ‘Noisiest and most ill behaved family’ to be stuck sitting next to in a Chip shop. Where three red-faced women with chips not only on their shoulders but also in a ‘plastic bucket’ in front of them will frown through a chip supper. Whilst observing 5 kids consume 34 sachets of mayonaise, 3 chips and a sausage. Not to mention the very real possibility of vomming in the back of Mother’s Corsa on the way home therefore and to conclude I’m pretty confident a bath upon our return is a much better idea!
Brilliant news! We’re all ready and in the car and Mother’s dug out an old Haven CD with those brain-numbing favourites; Star Treking, Purple People Eater, Music Man, Agadoo and ‘Chocolatte’….all of which I could easily saw off my own arm too…yay! First disappointment of the day, the café at our ‘super-special-secret’ rendezvous point is closed; a wonderful little establishment of farm-fresh, local delicacies all served up by the ruddy cheeked lovelies who we’ve befriended over the years….fuck’em, they’re dead to me now.
So we do the frantic waving thing and I begin a mental countdown of how long it takes for someone to ask irritating question number two in the Top Ten of irritating question’s on a car journey. “How far is it/how long is it going to take/when will we get there?” surpassed only by “I need a poo-poo/wee-wee or I feel sick”. Turns out it’s a new record of approximately 236 yards from the crappy farm place the name of which now completely eludes me (note to self; leave ‘appropriate’ review on Trip Advisor aka bring them red-faced bitches down…) I use my firm but fair voice and say ‘many, many hours my sweet child’ then nudge up the volume on the CD and flick the rear-view mirror a little higher in order that my angry grimace should not be viewed…
Strangely I find myself ‘getting into’ the Haven CD and at least 12 minutes of the prospective 2 hour journey pass with relative ease. Small child is attempting to platt one her dollies hair with a diligence I’ve never seen in a 3 year old. Then 7 year old is using a vile American singing style of voice to give ‘The Time Warp’ a more R & B laced with Asparatame feel. I find myself smiling as yet another 14 minutes pass in relative peace. Stupid me. It was the smile that did it; but the rear-view mirror is up they can’t possibly have seen me? 3 year old has now managed to slip the seat belt off her shoulder, lean over and completely open her window creating a ear bulging inbalance in the car that’s highly unpleasant. Other than the safety aspect of course Mother is feeling it in the crick of her neck despite a jaunty ‘White Stuff’ scarf and that simply won’t do. After some wrangling I have to pull over and sort it out. Here it becomes apparent she can indeed reach her basket of chocolate eggs as she’s removed the foil of each and every one and left tic-tac teeth prints in them all. Bloody Jesus…
Half an hour into the journey and everyone’s hungry; including me. Reaching into the Sainsbury’s bag it’s healthy snacks all round… “who wants cheese & onion?/pwawn…pwawn…/I hate the green one’s…” Utilising my many year’s of parenting experience I swiftly dispense crisps all round and peace resumes. Though life does teach me yet another unexpected lesson; in that a rousing rendition of ‘Purple People Eater’ from a 7 year old combined with crisps can create a fine(ish) spray of potato dust that has completely covered the top of my hair; who knew? After a thorough dusting down; yes I’m still driving, the kids are now in dire need of water and I’m secretly hoping Jesus has turned my Evian into Sauvignon. I should stop but I’m too impatient. That’ll teach me. I have to stop now because the 3 year old is wet, very, very wet but on the plus side she’s now hydrated and is busy trying to un-‘tangle’ Rapunzel’s hair (bloody clever joke in there…)! However; Mother’s scarf is a casualty as it’s been recruited to dry round and her already delicate neck is now exposed to the elements therefore even passing wind is a ‘no no’.
“We’re in ‘Ll**gungadingdong**phlegm**whlli’!”
Hoorah we all cry with no fucking clue as to where we are, but we know it’s Welsh Wales on account of the grey villages, vast fields and lack of Starbucks. Despite the intermittent electric problems of my purple Volvo I find myself hankering for it’s 6th gear and superior handling; no disrespect to Mum’s tin can on wheels though. Obviously reliability is pretty important in a vehicle particularly on a long journey but ‘bearded clams’ I could skim a stone faster than this fucker accellerates…
“Look girls lambs?!”
I’m wondering at this point how many times Mother can say those three words and still get the kids attention? But to a chorus of ‘aah’s’ I am to conclude that they’re either very forgetful or have some weird fixation with farmyard animals that’ll require hours of therapy in the future to unravel. At this point I see the sign for ‘Hoffi Coffi’ where we turn left and I know we’re over the halfway point. Not much of a map reader me but I gets the job done…you read that in a Welsh accent did you not (init?)? Still not entirely sure what ‘Hoffi Coffi’ is but given the remote location and instability of the Welsh as a nation I’m not prepared to stop and find out. Onwards we plough through the rugged landscape in the pissing rain. Oh I think I forgot to mention that bit! I’ve already resigned myself to the kids sitting in a sweaty pop-up tent whilst the adults sip Prosecco from a sandy cup with only a plastic bag for protection. It’ll still be my favourite part of the day!
At this point a bit of travel fatigue has set in and I’ve managed to turn Haven CD off before hitting any major blood vessells with a teaspoon I found in the footwell of the car and all is quiet. I even manage to glance around at the landscape; to take in the beautiful patchwork quilted hills in shades of green the wind-swept and twisted trees through which a dot of blue can be viewed! A dot of blue which appears to expand before my eyes; an azure blot feathering out through grey clouds that seem to pale and fluff to frame the promise of a sunny day! Fuck me and it’s stopped raining! God loves me afterall…!
7 Year Old: “Get off…get off me….ouch, stop it, stop it, you’re pulling my hair…”
Me: “Stop that, do you hear me? Stop it. I mean it, stop pulling her hair, cut it out, hey? Stop pulling her hair, do you want to go to the beach? Do you want to go? I will turn around right now…shall I turn round? Are you coming to the beach with us for a mega day and icecream and chips and fun and sand and stuff? Then STOP….I said STOP IT….”
3 Year Old: “She pinched me, me no like you, you no like me, I no like her, she ‘macked me, she naughty, I no like to go, me want to go, me no like you, she hurt me, me want to go, me hungry, me want water, me pooed…”
Mother: “Looks girls lambs?!”
There is a lot of screaming, snot and tears coming from the back of the car but I feel nothing other than fear. For I now know for I’ll have to stop the car on what looks like a post-apocolyptic remote road where Zombies likely called Bryn and Hefin lollop around looking for ‘food’.
Okay, it’s done and I’m back in the Corsa with the doors locked. With relief all round and the crying stopped; I say crying I had something in my eye I speed off like a snail on anabolic steroids. Apologies to anyone following me who drove over something white and bulging and got more than they bargained for on their windshield; in my desperation to get away I left the nappy on the roof. Either way after the storm there is calm; the kids are now quiet and the sun has begun to shine…
“Look guys here we are in ‘Ma-hunk-liff’!”
A little light traffic gives us the opportunity to observe the natives here at close range; we are careful to keep our doors and windows closed and know NOT to get out of the car. All seems pretty normal, a few café’s, a decent sized Co-op, fish & chips shop, 56 charity shops and a place selling Aga’s that seems slightly juxtapose but I forgive the town’s basic charm.
Next we head over the little bridge and take a sharp left signalling the most gut-wrenching part of the journey as we are thrown from left to right for nearly 10 miles before the picture-postcard beauty of Aber-bloody-dovey pops into view!
A little green around the gills we arrive in good time to find the car-park heaving and the ‘Pay Here’ machine not yet accepting new pound coins. It also appears to be struggling with accepting old one’s too; still after 9 trips back and forth and holding up a queue of irritated day trippers whilst I scrabble around in the car with my arse in the air we have now secured a ticket for the day!
END OF PART ONE….