Monday, 1 September 2008

What I Did On My Holidays

The results are in, so here's the post. How To Make Fantastic Bread has been sold to The Fat Expat.

Most people's idea of a holiday is to go to one place, stay there for a week or two, and then come home. I suspect life is more complicated than that for expats: you'll have one or two families to visit, in two or more locations. My two-and-a-bit-week trip went like this:

EasyJet Madrid -> Liverpool
Train Liverpool -> Scunthorpe
Train Scunthorpe -> Doncaster
Train Doncaster -> London
Coach London -> Warwick
Coach Warwick -> Liverpool
EasyJet Liverpool -> Madrid

For once, I had planned all of this well in advance, and so avoided being charged rip-off prices. All of my trips in the UK, plus MamaDuck's trip from Liverpool to Scunthorpe and back, cost 117 squids. The cheapest segment was also the longest, from Doncaster to King's Cross, an incredible bargain at a tenner.

As I mentioned earlier, there was a surprise party to celebrate MamaDuck's Dad's 80th birthday. It was a stupendous feat of logistics to get the entire family in the same place at the same time - six brothers and sisters of MamaDuck and their assorted offspring (including ours) who are scattered all over the place - two families in France, one in Spain, one in Holland and the rest in England, as well as two of the Daddy-In-Law's brothers and his sister, and various of their offspring. I think it's safe to say that a grand time was had by all.

The next day MamaDuck had to head off back to Liverpool to catch a flight back to Madrid (she'd booked the whole of September off ages ago, and was not able to change it), I headed to Doncaster, and Offspring returned to London.

I had a few days in Doncaster with my Dad and younger sister. I seem to have committed myself to attending Sis's 50th birthday next February, and also the wedding of her eldest daughter in June. I drank lots of splendid beer, consumed a fair amount of traditional British food, and watched far more Jeremy Kyle than is good for me (more than a minute, really). I caught up with a few friends in the village, and then left for London.

Offspring has moved to a new flat since last summer, and so I found myself lurking around deepest Peckham. It's not the most salubrious of neighbourhoods, but down the road is East Dulwich and Lordship Lane. Offspring had to work the evening on the day I arrived, but he had the next day off. One of his flatmates is doing a temporary job at the Thames Barrier, and I got the idea that it would be an interesting place to visit, and maybe hit Greenwich on the way back. We got to Greenwich OK, but as far as London Transport is concerned, the Thames Barrier is more or less in France and it would take us hours to get there. So we scrapped that plan and explored Greenwich instead. We toured the Maritime Museum and then climbed the mountain to the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Very interesting it was.

I never knew that Greenwich had a mini-London Eye.

A bit of bureaucratic insanity on a side street in Greenwich: do you think the itinerant ice-cream sellers have any idea what this means?

On the weekend there was a picnic in the park, followed by a wine tasting/ summer staff party/Offspring's leaving do thrown by the wine shop/bar where he works (I should mention at this point that he is leaving mid-September to start a degree at Leeds Uni). Jolly splendid, it was, and of course we didn't get to bed until 6 a.m.

A few days later I caught a coach to Warwick, to visit some very good buddies who used to live in Dubai. I was astonished to be told that they left the Sandlands seven years ago! We had a pleasant couple of days, including trips in the pouring rain to Stratford-on-Avon and Leamington, followed by learning the news of the appalling plane crash at Barajas.

And finally, back to Liverpool. I love Liverpool: I worked there for three years, met MamaDuck there, got married there. And when we left in the late eighties, it looked very much as though the place was being allowed to die. But, you get knocked down, and you get up again. There is tons of new development going on, and it's a real pleasure to visit. This year, Liverpool is European Capital of Culture.

My real reason for going this time, though, was that the youngest son of my very good buddies there (who was three when I first met him) was to be wed that weekend. The venue was a castle in Cheshire, and when I woke on the Saturday morning, for the first time in a fortnight, the sun was shining! It was a sensational day.

The next day I mooched around central Liverpool: the Mathew Street Festival was on. Mathew Street is the location of The Cavern, made famous by those Beatle boys. None of the Festival happens there now, but there were five stages set up around the area. On one of which I saw Chas and Dave (definitely not Scousers). I didn't stay too long because the rain got too much.

And the next day was an uneventful flight back to Madrid.

So that was my holiday: three or four never-to-be-repeated events, re-unions with fambly and friends, mostly horrible weather, a lot of bemusement at what has happened to the country I was born and raised in, relief at not needing the stab vest that I hadn't bought, and a fair amount of boredom.

1 comment:

nzm said...

Excellent report, Keefie!

Jen notices the same silly bureaucratic idiocies in Berlin. E.g. we were walking down Bismarck Strasse on Sunday, and a policeman stopped a cyclist on the bicycle path and fined him 15 Euros for having his hands on the middle of his handlebar and not on the grips. His "reasoning" was that the cyclist could not have stopped his bike quickly enough to avoid an accident, as his hands were nowhere near his brake levers.

We had a 4 letter name for the cop, but in Germany it's illegal to call anyone by that anymore.