We Were Meant To Be In Marrakech Last Week. We Ended Up Going To Wales. THANKS COVID!

A couple of years ago, before the world was under siege from COVID, me and my girlfriend booked quite a fancy holiday to Marrakech. We booked one of those incredibly extravagant five star hotels that will almost certainly have me stressing out as we approach it in a taxi.

DOES THE MAN BRING OUR BAGS TO THE ROOM?

WILL I GET JUDGED FOR USING CUTLERY WRONG?

IS EVERYONE HERE GOING TO BE STUCK UP ARSEHOLES?

Ultimately, I know I’ll let my class anxiety get the better of me and it won’t be long before I’m moaning that we should have just booked a budget hotel. This will then almost certainly be followed by a thousand mile stare from my girlfriend and a significant period of awkward silence in a Moroccan Uber.

Anyway, this ‘relaxing’ holiday was meant to be this week. However, due to the ongoing global pandemic it obviously couldn’t go ahead and we instead decided to find a cheap alternative that could be easily driven to.

The cheap alternative to Morocco was Wales. Naturally.

We left Friday morning, but like every working class person who lives in a slightly dodgy area, the main aim was to make it look like we were doing anything BUT going on holiday. Consequently, we slowly started loading the car up three whole days prior to actually leaving. Generally, this involved tip toeing stealthily to the car with an array of different holiday related items and praying you didn’t bump into the local scumbag. It always seems like a good idea, but in retrospect, even the local scumbag isn’t going to believe you when you tell him you’re just, ‘popping to the shops’ with a foldable chair under one arm and an inflatable novelty donut for a swimming pool around your waist.

After the car was fully packed, I went ahead and gave my best traditional fake farewell to a fake family member that was still fake pottering around the house.

“We’re just leaving to definitely NOT go on holiday Great-Grandad Charles and we will be back home intermittently to check on you. It would be a terrible time to burgle this property. Also, please keep taking your prostate medicine. “

With my award winning acting complete and fake medical advice given, it was time for me, my girlfriend, and toy poodle Belle to hit the road and set off on our summer holiday.

“We’re all going on our COVID holiday…”

Quite quickly, however, we encountered our first issue when the aforementioned toy poodle started panting rather excessively. My girlfriend, who is a worrier at the best of times, suggested that despite the dog not having access to her bowl, she must be given water instantly. As a result, I now found myself crafting a makeshift bowl out of empty plastic vegan sausage roll packaging. Upon being given the nod of approval from the boss, I placed the newly crafted dog bowl in front of our withering canine.

Nothing. Nada. She just looked back at me blankly in the way that only dogs can do. I took this as a clear sign that our companion was fine. My girlfriend on the other hand still wasn’t convinced and signalled to a packet of crisp I was currently attempting to consume.

“She’ll drink if there’s food in there. Just lick off the salt and vinegar on those and put it in the water…”

I just looked back at my girlfriend blankly in only the way boyfriends can do when they’ve been asked to lick off crisp flavouring in broad daylight like an absolute creep.

Without the energy or desire to argue back, I did as I was told. So there I was. Just thirty five minutes into our holiday and I was sat there as we whizzed passed the ‘Welcome to Wales’ sign sucking off a crisp like some sort of snack based pervert.

I have been to Wales countless times and it never fails to amaze me how absolutely beautiful it is. The long, winding roads sandwiched between rolling green hills and coastlines of pure blue sea. My Dad used to take me and my sisters on these types of holidays all the time when we were kids, and as soon as we saw the sign welcoming us to Wales, he would religiously ask the same question like some sort of right wing travel agent, “Why do you need your silly foreign holidays when you have places like this on your doorstep?” The eight year old me didn’t have the capacity to counter this argument, and as I become older, I now largely find myself agreeing with him. I say ‘largely’ because I’m still yet to take a city break in Spain and be welcomed by tacky roadside diners named ‘Roger’s Speedy Mealz’ and quite a significant number of dead badgers that litter the roads.

We arrived at out first destination, ‘Heron Lake Resort’ in the stereotypical picturesque town of ‘Caerwys’. It was a luxury resort full of wooden lodges and cabins. Each one with the novelty of having its very own hot tub. I am a sucker for hot tubs and therefore couldn’t get my clothes off quick enough.

Unsurprisingly, as often is the case with Wales, it was absolutely lashing down. I’m talking torrential rain. My girlfriend rather sensibly pointed out that as we were here for a few days, it was probably best to wait until the weather improved before we took a dip. But like a child high on E numbers I couldn’t wait. I simply didn’t have the required will power. Quickly, I ran downstairs in my trunks like a member of ‘Baywatch’ intent on making the most of their financial decision to holiday there and within seconds was sat comfortably in the heated bubbles while my head and glasses were assaulted by rain.

The great British holiday had officially begun.

It was only after sitting in the hot tub for two straight hours that I decided to read the instructional manual.

“We advise sitting in the hot tub for no longer than twenty minutes at a time. Skin can react to the chemicals used.”

I awoke the next day with my skin peeling and my penis looking like it belonged to a man thirty years my senior.

With the secret of my wrinkled genitalia buried within me, it was now time for breakfast.

My girlfriend sorts everything. Whatever event or meal we have been to in the entirety of our relationship, she has organised it. So when she informed me that we were going for our breakfast at a placed called ‘Brynford Pet Cemetery’ I thought nothing of it. It’s probably some hipster place that has a quirky controversial name to gain publicity I thought. However, upon arriving it became glaringly obvious that it was an ACTUAL graveyard for cats and dogs.

“Dogs welcome.”

On our walk up to the café, I could see well kept graves with sincere dedications to animals that had passed.

“Here lies Rocky. He loved chasing balls. Taken too soon.”

“In loving memory of Jingles. A friend, a confidant, a cat.”

Admittedly, I’m being a bit of a prick in an attempt to be funny, but it was actually quite a lovely little place with really decent intentions. Still, for anyone wondering, it is a bit weird eating your beans on toast surrounded by dead sausage dogs.

In the evening, we decided to check out a pub that we had heard good things about called the ‘Dinorben Arms.’ The pub itself was almost castle like. It was situated on a steep incline and looked like it had sprung up naturally in the Welsh hills it now resided in.

The pub terrace with countryside views. Splendid.
Please note – the pints in Wales are not bigger. I’m just a very small man.

The only problem with it being half way up a hill was that the car park was right at the very top. Now, my girlfriend is the driver in our relationship. She’s basically my own personal chauffeur. So it would be ridiculously ungrateful to mock her driving skills wouldn’t it? Well, that’s exactly what I’m about to do. For some strange reason, on both occasions we visited this pub, she lost confidence half way up this almost vertical road and we were temporarily frozen in fear. What this resulted in, was me gripping on to my chair for dear life and screaming directly in her face while she held tightly on to her steering wheel and whispered her final goodbyes to this cruel world as images of us essentially reversing off a cliff played in her mind.

There’s nothing like the beginnings of a domestic and a near death experience to get you in the mood for an enjoyable scenic pint.

We were also told that surrounding the pub was a circular walk that was great for a post pint afternoon stroll. So that is exactly what we set out to do. I use the term, ‘set out’ because although our intentions were pure, what actually happened is that we got lost, ended up dodging an insane amount of sheep shit and got absolutely covered in nettle stings. We gave up half way and after about forty minutes of rambling torture ended back on the pub terrace retelling tales of our nightmare while drinking even more alcohol.

After a couple of nights in the luxury surroundings of Caerwys, it was time to move on. Our next stop was at my Mum’s static caravan in the seaside resort of ‘Rhyl.’

This might be a random question. But have you ever bumped into your school crush years after finishing school? You know, in your head you remember them as this attractive individual exuding an overwhelming amount of youthful energy. Then you bump into them twenty years later and they’ve got depressingly bad greasy hair and have lost half of their teeth.

Well, for me that’s Rhyl.

As a child, Rhyl was this magical little place full of bright lights and loud sounds. It was a haven from all those dreary countryside walks that my parents would drag us on. So obviously, as soon as we got to the caravan, I insisted that we take a walk to the town centre.

Now, I don’t know if it was nostalgia that had made me misremember Rhyl as this little beautiful quaint seaside town, but jesus it was depressing. My school crush didn’t just have greasy hair and poor dental hygiene, it now had rows of boarded up shops and had been heavily shit on by feral seagulls.

We did a dutiful walk down what was left of the promenade and quickly headed back to the caravan.

Rhyl aside, North Wales was glorious and we spent the next few days taking day trips to places like ‘Llandudno’ and ‘Conwy.’ Gorgeous places steeped in incredible history.

Llandudno
Conwy.

My only pet peeve with these places was the over abundance of cheap tacky tourist souvenirs that were spilling out of every shop within a mile radius. In fact, the sheer number of plastic keyrings and tatty tea towels that lined the streets really made me miss those dead badgers.

As I type this, my summer holiday is now over and I’m back in the unrelenting grind of capitalism.

I tell you what though, I’d give anything now to be walking down that promenade in Rhyl.

Day 457 Of My Hangover

The more observant of you will have noticed that your favourite blogger with under 50 followers, last week missed his usual self imposed deadline of posting a blog every Tuesday. I sincerely hope that this seismic event didn’t effect your day to day lives too much.

Now you might ask yourselves quite why I was unable to find the time to string a few sentences together. A possible family emergency maybe? Work commitments perhaps? They’d all be wrong. I have, and I say this without any exaggeration, been suffering with the worst hangover in the history of hangovers. Please note, I am yet to master the phrase, ‘without any exaggeration.’

Due to an easing of COVID restrictions, last week was the first week in months that people in the UK were legally allowed to visit beer gardens. Now, obviously, it goes without saying, that as a nation who has a really healthy relationship with alcohol, we collectively decided not to jump at the first opportunity to drunkenly gather in large numbers and drink ourselves into a stupor during a global pandemic.

Oh hang on. No, sorry, that’s EXACTLY what we decided to do.

I was no exception. This was the first time in months that I had been allowed to get together with friends. I jumped at the chance, ironed my smartest tracksuit and headed into town.

When we got into town, we were, probably naively, flabbergasted. There were queues upon queues of people waiting to be allowed to get into beer gardens. We were expecting queues, but this was ridiculous. We approached a very helpful bouncer who told us to expect a “1 to 3 hour wait, pal.” It didn’t make any sense to us?! Why would you waste hours of your life to then just be granted the opportunity to sit outside? It was a debate I was eager to have, but the first person I saw was a teenager who was holding what he proudly called ‘queue beers.’ He didn’t seem like he was is in the mood for an intellectual discussion and I certainly wasn’t in the mood for an intellectual head kicking.

But I can’t stress how long these queues were. I can honestly say that the only reason I would EVER wait in a queue of this size was if I needed an emergency prostate exam and the only person on the planet who could carry it out was waiting at the front with a finger full of lube. And even then I’d huff and puff for the duration of my wait.

After spending a good five minutes quietly mocking these idiots under my breath and ludicrously taking the moral high ground, we came to the conclusion that the only reasonable thing to do was to buy some beers and drink on the streets.

It’s incredible how important context is. If me and my mate had looked a certain way we’d have been looked upon as street urchins deserving of nothing but contempt. But because we had haircuts that suggested we were employed, people just cheerfully nodded their heads in approval as we downed cheap beer after cheap beer.

And I have to admit, it was beautiful. The sun was shining. There was a man playing Beatles songs on his acoustic guitar. It felt as if society had returned back to normal and we were bathing in its beauty. It was when the sun went down that the tone changed slightly. We went from bohemian young men participating in drunken chats about societies biggest issues to shouting sentences such as, “This alleyway looks safe to piss in!”

It’s safe to say that when I got home I was a little worse for wear. I remember getting home. I remember opening my door. But then my memories vanish. I just suddenly remember it being 4am and being awoken on my sofa by the worst headache I’ve ever experienced. I forced myself up and noticed that my beloved toy poodle had taken a shit right next to the dinner table. I was half tempted to leave it but my stupid moral compass took over and I found myself on my hands and knees with a lemon scented wet wipe. Shortly after, with washed hands, I was now trying to take out my contact lenses. Contact lenses that my drunken self had forgotten he had already taken out as soon as he had got home.

Oh how the mighty had fallen.

A man who just eight short hours ago was mocking people for being idiots now found himself in his kitchen disposing dog turd and peeling non existent contact lenses out of his eyes.

The next day was an absolute waste of 24 hours of precious life. I made it from my bed to the couch and remained in the foetal position for the majority of the day. Nothing else happened. Just self pity, takeaway pizza and thirty five episodes of ‘Come Dine With Me.’

Upon writing this, I’m still feeling horrendous and eating takeaway pizza from my backpack. I haven’t checked the ‘Guide To Being A Winner Book’ but I’m pretty sure eating weekend pizza from a backpack under your desk is on page one and it tells you to put the book down and go kill yourself.

The next time my mates ask me to spend the day drinking alcohol, I’m going to remind them that I have responsibilities. Primarily a once weekly blog that gives me zero financial reward.

I’m sure they’ll understand.