The best part of getting older is having more stories. A to Z – H is for Holidays

Now if you know me or have read my Anxiety blog (I will put a link to my Anxiety blog at the bottom of the page if you are interested), you will know I no longer travel very far from my home, This wasn’t always the case, When I was growing up we had two holidays every year, two weeks in June and a week in September. When I was really young it was mostly 2 weeks in Rhyl and a week in Morecambe and then as I got older it was 2 weeks in Devon and a week in Rhyl, then 2 weeks in France and a week in Belgium. (it did change some years as you will tell from my first story). I have many stories from my holidays so this could be a longish blog post.

My first story is from a holiday in Great Yarmouth I was perhaps 3 and we went to spend a day on the beach, (I must point out this is something I don’t really remember. This is a story that has been told to me many times) Part way through the day my Mum noticed I wasn’t there, She (as any parent would do) panicked, My parents soon had all of the people on beach looking for me, I can’t imagine what thoughts would be going through their heads, a missing 3 year old on a beach in a strange town, I was eventually found sat by our car, I have been told my excuse for disappearing was that I wanted my bucket and spade which I had left in the car.

My next is from a holiday in Rhyl, I was maybe 8 at the time. As with most holidays we use to get loads of leaflets for places to visit and every morning we used to walk for the newspaper then sit down and go through the leaflets for places to go for that day. My parents know North Wales very well (they had their honeymoon there) But would still let us choose different places. On one of the days we went to visit Llandudno. It is a beautiful little seaside town overlooked by a headland named the Great Orme (the Little Orme is on the other side of the bay), Any visit to Llandudno must always include a trip to the summit of the Orme. You can walk up, drive up or their is a tramway. At the top was a visitors centre, cafe and a little shop, oh and a kids playground. I decided I wanted to have a go on an aerial slide in the playground. It was basically two wooden stanchions with a rope between them, on the rope was a tyre with another rope hanging from it with a loop for a place to put your foot. The main rope was perhaps 20 foot long and not really that high. So I thought I would have a go. I grabbed the tyre and put my foot in the loop and set off. It didn’t take me long to realise I didn’t like it at all, so part way down I let go. My foot as you may recall was in a loop and stayed there. I span around and as my bad luck would have it the height between the rope and the ground was the same as the distance between my foot and my face. I completed the rest of the slide dragging my face against the floor. My Dad grabbed me and my bloodied face and took me, a screaming 8 year old to the toilets to clean up my face and calm me down. While in there a man asked my Dad as he cleaned the blood and grit from my face “has he hurt himself?” Some people are not that bright I guess. Well that was the first time I broke my nose.

Years later we started to go to france for our 2 week holidays, We would drive down to catch a ferry then cross over to france. This story is about our trip down to catch the ferry one year. I think I may have been about 14, My brother stayed at home because he had started his nurse training so it was just me, my Mum and Dad and my little sister. From the manchester area we would hit the M6 past Birmingham then across toward london. We headed toward Oxford. As we had never been there before (and had time to kill) we thought we would stop for a walk around. It’s an amazing city well until you get back to the car and find out that 2 suitcases have been stolen from the roof of the car. Both mine and my sisters clothes where gone. We pretty much only had the clothes we stood up in, My Dad was angry so drove to the police station in Oxford to report the crime. We couldn’t stay to long as we had a ferry to catch. so off we headed toward Reading. When in Reading my Mum said she was going to ring my brother to check he was ok (he was at uni in Liverpool but was coming home that weekend) to find out our house had been broken in to and we had been robbed. When we got to France all of us upset about the two robberies, we had to go shopping to buy new clothes for me and my sister. French fashions were not to my taste.

One year on we once again heading to the ferry, we had passed Birmingham and all was looking good until the car broke down not far from Reading. Luckily my Dad was in the RAC or AA I’m not sure which but he rang them and we were told someone would bring us a car so we could continue our journey. We sat at the side of this busy road for hours, The police turned up and let us sit in the car as it might have been June but it was night time and very cold. When the driver and car eventually arrived it was nearly midnight and the ferry had gone. But it was a new ford Escort 126 miles on the clock, my Dad was very pleased. So off we went, we were allowed on to the next ferry and we had a good holiday. On the way back home the car had to be returned to a garage in Birmingham so as our car was broken we had to sort out getting home to Rochdale. My parents rang my Brother (he had a car) to come and get us. Now my brothers car was a very old Yugo which some may remember isn’t a very big or reliable car. But he drove the 150 miles to come and get us, 5 people in a Yugo with all our cases and holiday stuff then drove back home.

All I will say about them two stories is never go to Reading.

My next two are from holidays as a grown up.

In 2000 my friend was due to go away to St Tropez with his family and his girlfriend but not long before they were due to go he split with her and had a spare place and asked me I wanted to go. I said yes. We drove down to Watford to then catch a coach to the south of france, It was a 17 hour journey to get to the site where we were staying, First a car, then a big coach, then we were moved to a smaller coach and on to our destination. Port Grimaud. We arrived at about 8am and dumped our stuff in the Caravan, (it was a caravan for me and my friend and the one next door was for his Mum and Dad). After such a long trip we wanted a beer (even if it was 8am) so headed to the shop to grab some. I had no money on me as my money was all in travellers cheques (it was what most people used before chip and pin) We had to wait until the nearest bank was open before I could go and get some cash so we had a few beers played some tennis (we bought a tennis game from the shop). He suggested hiring some bikes to go to the bank (the place had a bike hire shop) So we did and off we went. The roads were mad, not only was I riding on the wrong side of the road but the road where very busy with coaches bringing people to their holiday locations. But we survived and I went and got some cash and we headed back to the site. After surviving the busy roads back we both entered the site on these rental bikes, I was quite happy to get through it, My friend was in front of me and headed over the speed humps back toward the caravan. He hit a divot on the hump and seemed to fly off the bike, straight over the handle bikes. He had hurt himself so off he went off to the nearest hospital, Bad news. He had managed to break his arm after only 2 hours of our holiday. He was rightfully a bit grumpy for the rest of the 2 weeks we spent in France, I spent a lot of time on my own, But it was the year 2000 and in June so the France Euro tournament was on, I spent a lot of my time finding bars to watch the footie. I found a great bar on the beach, I could sit and drink while watching the crazy people sunbathing in the wind (if you don’t know the south of france is very windy because of the sirocco wind from the sahara). One day I was sat having a very cold Stella when a commotion began behind me, All the guys from the bar ran out and started chasing a chap down the beach. He had been spotted taking photographs of the topless girls on the beach. The police turned up and gripped him and put him in a van. Good entertainment on a sunny windy day. That same day I learnt a lot about how the wind and sun can combine to cook your skin to a crisp, My skin peeled like paper, one of my tattoos is damaged to this day. One evening at the same bar (I had figured quite quickly which bars to visit and in what order, Happy hour was different in each pub) after a couple or eight pints I left to go on to my next haunt but thought it would be nice to walk along the beach. Not far along the beach I came across a barrier of massive rocks. This wasn’t going to stop my night time walk so I thought I would climb over them. I slipped and took a chunk from my shin, it hurt really bad, There were loads of people around so not wanting to look like I had hurt myself I stood straight up and carried on until I was out of site. That was when I let the painful scream out and looked at my bloodied leg.

My final story is from about 2004. Three of us (me along with two good friends) had gone for a week away, a week of sea fishing in Filey. we did some beach casting, we had a few beers, it was a jolly time. We decided that we would book onto a boat out of Bridlington for a day catching Cod and Mackerel.  We turned up at 6am at the harbour to meet the captain and set off on our voyage to the fishable waters of the north sea. I remember most of the trip out, it was quiet pleasant until. Well I felt something stirring in the pit of my belly. then it hit me like a train. I was not going to return. I was about to die. I then pretty much lost it.  It all starts with biting my lip, and looking around for a safe place, a way to escape.  They had to pin me to the deck of the boat, my friend later told me he thought I was going to jump overboard. I remember it very clearly, it was as if my mind no longer had control of my body. My whole body shook, my breathing got faster and faster, and with several people holding me down, I could hear the Captain radioing the mainland. As was the practise then I was given a bag to breath into (this isn’t done anymore, it increases CO2 in the blood) now remember this was a fishing boat, they don’t carry a whole load of brown paper bags, so I got a plastic bag with fish guts in the bottom (yummy.) Fair play to the RNLI they were pretty quick (I think). I was put on oxygen and transferred to what I can only call a dingy. (that was pretty scary on its own) and I was whisked across the sea to a waiting ambulance parked on the beach. then onto a the hospital for a dose of Valium before I was released to fight another day.

I think you can now understand why I don’t go on holiday anymore.

View past blog posts here:

A is for Alistair

B is for Bingo

C is for Concerts

D is for Drink and Drugs

E is for Elephant

F is for Flying

G is for Gala

If you are interested in my Anxiety blog you can access it here