We were never going abroad this year. To be fair we don’t go abroad most years but certainly not this year. The arrival of Roo the cockapoo and the lingering doubt of Covid dictated that any family trip would be within the boundaries of this isolated bitter nation way back in October when Jen trawled the intergoogles for something which would meet all of our picky requirements. After much searching Jen had 2 options. That’s not pinning it down to 2 options but simply 2 options in the whole of the country that could accomodate beast, three bedrooms and internet.
We chose the one on the Fantasy Island Planet of the Wights as we had been there before and knew of its many charms. Hmm…’Charms’…. classic 50’s inkeeping with the place itself. The accomodation was secured for a mere £25 back then as with the pandemic it could all go bent in the spewing of a few misplaced latin quotes delivered from the lying piehole of the Oaf running this shitshow disguised as a Country.
In May the eye watering, ‘no plane included’, full payment was paid in full and so we were going so long as everything was under some sort of semi-control.
This trip was never going to be action packed. It was really concieved simply to get us out of our house which we had been near enough prisioners in since March 2020 when we all went into self-isolation for 2 weeks before the country did for the first time. We love our house but we are all sick of the sight of it. Working from home sounds great and it is mostly but its very tough to do it all the time and so a balance of office and home in the future is required.
The main problem with working from home is the loneliness. Yes, you are with other people from your family but after 36 years of unfettered employment I’m used to offices where randoms appear through the door occasionally and engage in mindless conversations about the weather or football and not ones not centred on what is for dinner or putting the bins out. It’s been tough for us but it’s a lot easier than for anyone living alone, I’m not sure how anyone living alone has dealt with this mess.
In late July, with much joy, we packed up the car with Tetris levels of presicion loaded in a one year old dog, a moody 17 year old, a lovely 15 year old, a manchild and Jen, the only human in the pack worthy of responsibily and headed towards Lymington for this overseas trip on board the last bastion of 70’s culture, The Ferry.
Ferries. Is there anything more that epitomises the 1970’s? A Giant Lego brick designed by a 5 year old fuelled by Formica, Wotsits, Quavers and flat lemonade and usually filled with the kind of sad fuckers who holiday within the country they live in yet convince their kids that its ‘abroad’…..basically Me.
I’m welcomed ‘aboard’ by some chunky bloke in a tabbard and soak up the clientele. As expected it’s as rough as your hat. It’s like every lorry driver with a prison tatt decided to board this floating prison with several members of their multiple ‘on the road’ families for a Sun ‘Super Saver’ Summer Coupon Holiday. The decks reek of Old Holborn, Rive Gauche and Stella sweat with a faint whiff of Princes tinned Hot Dog Water chucked in. This aint no ‘Emerald of the Seas’ turnout this is real boating for real people who don’t like boating but like the idea of prison ships and maize based snacks.
We find a seat and commit fully to the 35 minute journey eating Quavers and a’Chicken’ and Mayo sandwiches which appear meat lump free no doubt catering for their usual passengers who are either devoid of teeth or have loose, unstuck plastic dentures. You won’t find a chewy Roast Beef and Rocket sandwich or a crisp apple on board HMPS ‘Wight King’, it’s all Tuna Mayonaise, Fanta and doughnuts.
When I enter a ferry I take a hard look at the competition. I’m looking for limps, crutches, eye patches and wrist braces. I’m looking for the lame as they will be the ones I need to get ahead of should this baby go down. There’s no point me taking on that big sporty lump or the numerous lorry drivers reading The Mail, I need the overly nourished woman with the bandaged wrist and the fat ankles. She is my target, she is in my way should we hit a rock, iceberg or heavy porpoise, she is the one I need to either go through or over (no time to go around) in order to secure a seat on the limited lifeboats. It’s unpalatable dear reader but it is fact. My survival and the survival of my tribe will depend on swift incapacitation of a number of weaker beings blocking that (*points) door. It will be the survival of the fittest…
The brick didn’t sink and so no noses were broken, no shins snapped in two and we alighted at Yarmouth intact albeit with orange Wotsit fingers and the taint of petrol.
As we roll off everything in sight is familiar as we’ve been to this island on several occasions before. It’s a nice feeling as it’s such a throwback to years gone by where we’ve all had a good time… basically we have a rough idea of what to expect although this time given the ages of the participants it won’t revolve around Adventure Parks and amusements arcades.
With effortless ease Jen drives us to our destination of Freshwater on the West side of the island locally known as ‘West Wight’. As ever Jen has secured a lovely house with everything we need including a Games room (darts board and a pool table for when the inevitable apocalyptic rain hits) in a very quite hamlet about a mile from a pub…..which is nice.
As I’m North London filth as soon as I open the door I drop the bags and instantly check the wi-fi capability to see if it meets my exacting standards. It does and so all will be fine from here on in. We take a look around our temporary home and the kids argue over which room they want. Everything is great but I notice eveything is smaller. Smaller toaster, beds, washing machine, TV, kitchen table, sofas, fridge…. the lot. It gets me thinking about if I owned a holiday home and how I would kit it out. I certainly would provide more than 5 dinner plates and a set of 6 knives and forks and the wine glasses would be big enough for a third of a bottle rather than the ones here which are more akin to shot glasses even in the tiny pixie hand of this Caveman Londoner. No matter, these are trivial complaints in what is a perfect place in a perfect spot.
And then there was the bed. I say ‘bed’ but the reality is that it is clearly some kind of ancient Wight Walker torture device specifically made to not only cripple me but to also give me the right arsehole for at least 2 hours after I wake in the morning. To say the mattress is hard would be an understatement. It has the density of an oak door although I can find no such door secreted within the limited padding. It’s a fucking mystery where all this uncomfortable is coming from because it appears flexible until you lie on it. It’s like that indestructible carbon material which is both flexible yet bone hard if used correctly. It is an absolute killer rendering me like the a stroke victim every morning with an entire dead side from ear to little toe. I wake up with a drooping eye, face down in reverse arm death position in a pool of drool. My back is destroyed within days. I imagine it’s how our Lord Jesus H Christ’s back felt just before 3rd Cohort Centurion Hammerus Maximus drove home the first nail. Unlike The Lord I am not picture perfect after three days hiding out recovering in a cave and so expect a bad back and drooping eyebrow for the duration of our stay.
Ultimately this is my fault as my bed at home is unbelievably comfortable as it’s my favourite place to be, I’ve put the work in and made it that way. Every time I go away be it Hotel, Travel Lodge, friends house or Holiday home I struggle to sleep due to the bed not being my bed. If I had a holiday home I’d put more effort into mattress management as you spend a lot of your holiday on the thing. Anyway I’m stuck with this fucker for a fortnight and need to deal with it the best I can and burning it to dust isn’t a viable option.
It is a lovely property and we all feel at home instantly apart from Roo who is panicking that her normal home has been stolen by the God of Dog. She’s spinning around the place in a frenzy looking out of the windows for her real home. The confusion is hilarious yet tragic. Thick as a Brick but loveable none the less.
The kids unpack and Jen and I head out for supplies which will mainly consist of booze and ready to eat shit. I’ve never been one for mass cooking on holiday since I saw my lunatic father attempt to purchase a hotplate in a shop in Cornwall for my Mum to cook in a beach hut. Obviously she rallied against this idea and a full scale row erupted in the shop killing the holiday stone dead in the electrical ailse of low level provincial department store. Expecting Jen or I to cook at any point isn’t on my holiday agenda.
We head into town and find the worlds greatest Co-Op which is massive like a Waitrose with all kinds of treats including an instore deli and bakery and an unreal wine selection. I stock up and with enough booze to knock me out prior to engaging with the ‘Bed of Death’ and head to any fish and chip shop we can find for dinner. A lazy first night takes place with my London Spideysense going into overdrive. The first night away always has me in a perpetual state of supreme readiness with my senses heightened in case the locals stage some kind of ‘Straw Dogs’ type intervention and I need to fight them off. Fear not sweet reader I was pumped, ready, primed. I knew where the poker was, I found a hammer and there was an escape route to the back. Bring it on toothless hoard, I’ll take you downtown to China Town in the town, downtown…etc
…Nothing happened except a fraught attempt at sleep where I was up at every bump and creak shouting ‘Come on you Fuckers!!’ while windmilling towards the front door. To be honest I’m dissapointed in the locals….Gutless or terrified? You decide…
Tennyson Down is the destination for the first expedition. Unlike previous holidays when the kids couldn’t be left alone for a second this one is much more ‘Hippy’ with the kids deciding if they fancy it or not and me saying things like ‘chillax bruv’ proving that I’m totally in line with the younger generation. I’m a great believer in the kids (post 14 years old) deciding whether they want to do something or not. The only exceptions being School work, committment to other people (I can’t stand letting people down because you just can’t be arsed) class A drugs and Armed Robbery.
I put the idea of a hike up a mountain (it’s a Hill but I’m from London) to the boy and he chooses to stay in the apartment eating shit and facetiming his girlfirend. His choice, his boredom is imminent. When I was a kid under the Great Dictator you did what you were told when you were told. Forced conversations with relatives at Christmas, attending family events without consultation, handing flowers to teachers you hated so the Old Man could look good, you just did it otherwise there were murders. I’m not being that bloke so if one of mine doesn’t fancy something trivial then fair play, they don’t have to do it. He didn’t want to do it so the other three of us and the beast headed off on the relatively short trip to the base of the mountain (slope).
Upon arriving at the car park I noticed a pub I had read about which has a great reputation for good food. It did look good and ‘dog friendly’ to boot so I’ll be in it post walk to book dinner. We head off up the slope and finally reach the top which has stunning views of Freshwater Bay. The only thing up here other than natures eye candy it a massive stone Celtic Cross in honour of Tennyson. Its quite impressive but essentially it’s a lump of rock surrounded by a wrought iron fence and so no pulses are raised although many photos that will never be viewed again are taken.
We start our descent and inevitably get lost as the straight road to destination Freshwater Bay isn’t much to Jen’s liking and so we end up ‘off road’ on a series of bridleways no-one remembers despite Jen saying ‘I remember that thicket’ or ‘there’s that stump again’. This happens a lot and you just have to go with it as the alternative is to drive your head into the trunk of the nearest Oak tree and hope you survive and wake up in a hospital closer to your holiday home than the place you are in now.
Eventually after 90 minutes lost we stumble back to the car to the strains of Jen saying ‘See? I knew where we were’. Obviously this is the equivilant of the infinite Monkeys / complete works of Shakespear analogy but unusually I let it go as my feet are bleeding and the dog is dehydrated.
We return later that night to the dog friendly pub. I’ve read the reviews and with a bit of luck they will stick us in the ‘lively vibrant bar’ as opposed to the ‘boring dining room’. As expected I take my seat in the boring dining room and soak up the lunar atmosphere. Blimey Charlie its dull. A welsh dresser and a painting being the only thing to which the eye is drawn. Bar us there’s not another living soul in the room.
I can hear laughing from the bar, hilarity, singing, fun. In here you can hear my digital watch virtually ticking or the dog breathing. This aggression will not stand. I’m about to unleash the rage and some Greebo Chick arrives and pacifies me with a decent pint of Guinness. As I sup the room fills up a bit with some classic Hampshire Conservatives in their 60’s but I’ll take it as the room needs other sentient beings to digest the dullness.
The food is very nice with Steaks perfectly cooked, Goan Seafood Curry crammed with Molluscs and the trendy triple fried chips are spot on. But what’s this? Behind me I focus in on a droning noise. It’s a stange tone and isn’t hindered by any other noise at all. It is the booming sound of the Common Tory Bore (no longer ‘Lesser spotted’ sadly).
I noted this chump on its way in. Short, Balding, white shirt with Chino’s, early 60’s. Prick. There is no need to ask if he’s a Tory as he does the classic Tory identification trick of calling The Oaf Johnson ‘Boris’ like he personally knows the stroker. It’s the international screaming claxon for ‘General Tory’ with ‘BJ’ being used by the highe level srokers within the organisation.
Its all Boris. ‘Boris said’, ‘Boris can’, ‘Boris will’, you get the sctipt. The real clincher for Tory identification though was the use of the terms ‘Starmer’ and ‘Corbyn’ in derogatory terms. ‘Starmer can’t’, ‘Starmer won’t’. He’s booming away to silence from his table. I’m facing the other way but I’m assuming that as he drones the other members of his blue rinse entourage have been whittling their tripled fried pomme frites into rudimentary belly slashing devices to end it quick through Mass Harakiri at table 2 of the Highdown Inn, Freshwater. No one is replying to this bloke as he laughs at his own jokes, not a peep as he talks about sediment movement on the coast or the erosion of the down itself. The classic toff boring his mates into potato based assisted death.
I then realise, much like I did in Cornwall a few years back, that I am once more in another Tory enclave so the bore is the norm hence the reason no one has driven a barstool into his back. Planet Wight was 56% Tory at the last election and 62% Leave in the Referrendum. An island reliant on tourism wants fuck all to do with Europe. I should stop giving these people my hard earned cash but I’m captive here now so I can only bring it down from within with rage and disdain.
We get the bill from the Greebo and after a scan of it pay the £158 which seems a bit steep but it was nice so we head off back to the Tory free sanctuary of a Tory owned second home rented out to mug Labour voters like me.
The next morning I have a nagging feeling that the bill was wrong so I retrieve it for a second look. I count down the meals and all seems well until I notice a ‘2’ next to one of the two entries marked ‘Steak’. It appears that I have been charged for 3 steaks instead of the eaten 2. The Greebo has had me over and chows down at my expense, clearly she aint the Vegetarian she oozed. I thought about complaining but the reality is that it’s my fault. It was as clear as day on the bill I just chose to be sloppy. The best way to hurt these types of pisstakers is to not go there again, write a blog about it which Seven people read and engage with a druid who will curse then into bankruptcy. We shan’t do business again but I doubt they care.
I’ve been to the Isle of Wight many times but I’ve never been to Cowes. This time around it’s Cowes Week where all the well-to-do head down to the harbour and mince about in blue shoes with brown laces and pole shirts with anchors on them so what better time to go eh?
I was expecting huge crowds in Cowes due to the ‘Regatta’ yet we drive straight in and find a parking space almost imeadiatley. Much to my suprise it’s stupidly empty and not what I expected at all although there are a lot of chinless wonders poncing about in Musto clothing or with jumpers tied loosley around the neck. We breeze along the harbour front and into the ‘old town’ which is like any other ‘old town’ in Britain, basically a mix of tired old shops or hipster heavy trendy emporiums freshly opened in an attempt to boost the local economy by appealing to a group of people the old school don’t really want there in the first place. Ryde ‘Old town’ is the exception but I’ll come to that in the next installment of this epic.
We aimlessley stroll about popping into the odd tourist based shop looking at comedy mugs or T-shirts. It’s all a bit soul destroying as I’ve seen this a thousand times before and mostly in Hastings where the in-laws lived and where one of the main attrractions is ‘Bottle Alley’ which stinks of piss and misery.
And then I see a few locals milling about the High Street. These humans aren’t what the local parish council had in mind when they promote an international regatta and so I can only assume they have escaped from some crypt or set adrift boat to make their way into the heart of Cowes to drool at us the human wallets fuelling it. There’s lots of awkward gaits and randoms ears with added underbite, bent heads and 100 yard stares, classic seaside people so the thumbs are few but the yellow fingers are many.
None of these zombies appear in the harbour where the relatively less ugly people hang out so we head towards it purposefully to increase the beauty. We get there just in time for something to happen on the boat front. ‘Something’ means nothing to me but there’s a tangible air of excitement around a starting cannon and a bloke with a loud hailer. I look towards the water hoping to sea it filled with sails in a scene reminicent or the film ‘Troy’ when Achilles and his fleet hit the beach of during the first invasion. What I get is a larger version of Ally Pally boating lake with a few two-bob launches randomly floating in circles. The cannon goes ‘Phut!’, a posh roar goes up and nothing of note happens except pure randomness on the boat front. It’s all very dull and even the professional Musto crowd seem nonplussed.
To calm ourselves down from all this excirement we head to a Mexican street food truck where we purchase some Burrittos at huge expense. We take a walk down the promenade and find a free space on the cobbled beach to eat them and enjoy the view which currenlty gives me a massive container ship. My choice of Chilli was poor. It’s basically a mush packet of vaguely mexican slop kept luke warm in a foil parcel. I’ve rarely been lucky with Burrittos and always forget to avoid the chilli option as they are always like babyfood and I’m in the middle of my life where I have the teeth capable of chomping chicken. Maybe in a few years I’ll need this Mexican milkshake in a wrap but not yet.
So Cowes ain’t for me either. I’m aware this could be me but I am me so I’ll ignore that and blame everyione else. We head back to the safety of the village and en route I realise, to my horror, that we have no booze back at the house. Dear. God.
This happened once before in Rhodes when I went to the fridge only to find sweet fuck all. I lost my shit and after a row with Jen about it where she informed me that she wasn’t my mother and I could have bought my own sweet beer we blamed the heat and moved on. Since then I have prided myself in having enough provisions to keep me nicely alight throughout any stay I make in someone elses holiday home. I direct Jen to the local Sainsburys and head in where I grab 4 beers, 4 ciders and a bottle of red and a bottle of Prosecco. There’s a lot of oldies in here and so the checkout isn’t flowing with Aldi efficiency, it’s all ‘how are you Mavis?.. is Jack’s leg better?’. I care not a jot for chit chat with checkout plums and so get irritated waiting but remind myself that this isn’t wham-bam-thank-you-shut-the-fuck-up-you-ain’t-my-mate London and simply wait my turn.
At the checkout I meet Perry who’s wearing a face shield. Nothing wrong with that, better safe than sorry, his choice etc.
I’ve always hated Perry. Sorry I should clarify at this point, not this specific ‘Perry’ but Perry in general. Perry must be one of the worst names in the history of this Planet. I knew a Perry as a kid, lazy eye, dull hair, musty, bit of a prick, you know the type. He made it impossible for all subsequent Perry’s to survive in my hate dome. This bloke standing before me waiting for me to pay my hard earned cash to keep him employed even had the gall to put the word ‘Perry’ on a name badge. This man, this strumpet, bedecked in Sainsbury’s orange is proud to be called ‘Perry’. He is Brazen, bold as brass, he’s ‘Out there’ using the moniker ‘Perry’ on a badge like it means someting. Perry Big Bollocks…
I plonk down my potential purchases before the ‘Perry’.
‘Having a party?’ Says Perry…
..War is imminent. No more talk will stop it. Winter is coming, villages burning, maniacal laughter in the distance, the distance squawk of the three eyed Raven…the lot..
‘Sorry?’ says I with all the indignation I can muster. My eye starts to twitch and I reach for my keys in my pocket…
He repeats the line (fair play…took me aback a bit….classic Perry)
Flash bastard… Perry….’Flash Perry’ they probably call him down the boozer, ‘Pel…Good old Pel’ they love him, Lovely bloke, funny, a ladies man. That’s right… Perry, flash funny fucker, the last of his line stands before me, taunting me with the badge….the throbbing badge like a finger in the eyesocket, oozing ‘Perry’….
‘Party?’ says I, ‘8 Beers and 2 bottles of wine?….Sounds like a bad party Pezzer (I didn’t say Pezzer didn’t want to rile it), No party, I’m off to the park…. I’ll probably be back later, what time do you close?’
Nish from Pel bar the sound of a receipt being printed. I take my party pack and leave.
I’ve got you Pez, I’ve got you in my sights….You Dirty, Dirty Rotter…
(fade to black)
Next time: The Horror of Ryde, collapsing old men, new potatoes, Pool Hustlers, Go-Kart oiks and the near complete lack of Guinness pushes me close to the edge….