Holiday UK #1 – The Hole Incident

windy walkExcerpt from the holiday diary 23rd June:

“We’re sitting in the Pilchard Inn, a tiny pub perched on the edge of Burgh Island, home to a posh hotel where you can stay for a mere £400-600 per night.  If you want to come by helicopter, there is a convenient helipad in the grounds.  The ‘Rif Raf’ are welcome on the island but only if they walk across the sand bar when the tide is out or catch the giant sea tractor…

We walked from Ringmore along the SW coastal path dotted with flowers and pretty grasses.  The winds were high but they blew the forecast showers over our heads and inland.  L has become adept at simultaneously pointing out wildlife and dangerous obstacles…”

We recently returned from a great holiday in Devon and Cornwall.  Not usually ones for taking a summer holiday in the UK (due to unpredictable weather) we decided to risk it this year and it paid off.  Clear skies, turquoise seas, belting sunshine, rolling moorland, white beaches – If you could always guarantee weather like this, who needs to go abroad, there is so much to see right here?

As always we kept a running commentary of the holiday by way of a diary and this year I aimed to draw a cartoon a day to supplement the entries.  For the next few days I’m going to share a few short extracts from the diary and a quick cartoon.  Don’t expect beautifully penned, Wordsworth-esq, descriptions of the holiday.  Sadly, I lack the vocabulary to paint a picture, instead, I draw cartoons.

5 Minutes of British Sunshine!


I think I saw it!  I think saw that golden orb in the sky – radiating light, warming the earth, sending birds into a frenzy of nest building, tempting the buds on the trees to burst into bloom.

With that tiny chink of sunlight, Britons up and down the country tore their clothes from their bodies (despite the temperature only just creeping into double figures), donned their sunglasses, ran for their BBQs and hoped for a prolonged spell of bright, warm weather!  Alas, no sooner had the flip flops had time to flip and flop than the sky returned to its familiar dull grey.  We are left wondering, was that just a figment of our imagination? Then we reach for the bottle of vitamin D.

Snow Days

SnowThis cartoon was inspired by my recent trip to Canada, but seems equally appropriate for the UK at the moment.  I’m certainly unused to extreme cold weather and although it was a relatively balmy -14 degrees Celcius in Canada, I suffered from chill blains on my fingers and frost nip on my legs.

Every morning we discussed the temperature over breakfast then dressed accordingly.  The mere act of getting dressed for a day out in Canada is a process in itself, and there is something to be said for an organised approach.  It wasn’t until the third or fourth day of the holiday that I realised you need to have all your essentials ready first. Then and only then should you get on with the business of donning your outdoor gear.  Even when I’d mastered that element, it was another day or so before I learnt to avoid expiration by putting my had, scarf and coat on last.   Yes, I’m slow!

40 days & 40 nights

This was the BBC weather news this morning:

“Experts are warning of floods in many parts of the UK, with a month’s rain due to fall in 24 hours…97 flood alerts – which warn people to be prepared for possible flooding – are in place…The Met Office has issued an amber warning urging people to “be prepared” while the Environment Agency warns flooding could be the worst of the year so far with transport links and homes likely to be “severely affected…”

Looking out the window, there is no doubt we are in for a very, very wet weekend – and beyond. It has rained almost constantly for the last 3 weeks and the nation is beginning to wonder whether we’ll ever see the sun again.  We sigh and stoically go about our business, discussing…er..complaining about the monsoonal conditions at great lengths whenever the opportunity arises. We tune into the weather forecast every day hoping for news that there will be a break in the deluge.

I have decided to be proactive, our wet weather gear has been bolstered with new waterproof trousers and sturdy umbrellas.  I may consider buying a boat or perhaps invest in some scuba equipment.

British Summer

I’ve just been looking back at the post from April. What seems like eons ago, the sun was glorious, bright and bursting with warmth. The BBQ season came early, the birds were singing and everyone was preparing themselves for a major heatwave.

Well – HOW WRONG WE WERE! I can’t, in fact, remember what the sun looks like – It’s the middle of summer yet all over the country billions of pounds worth of damage has been caused by torrential rain and flooding. We now have a rubber dinghy and two life savers strapped to the side of the house in case we have to abandon ship and ride the waves.

The tomatoes L planted with enthusiasm in spring have become waterlogged and are rotting in their pots, the bathroom is constantly draped in damp clothes that can’t be hung out to dry and the new outdoor run for the rabbits is sadly rusting after minimal use.

We have managed to catch a few bright spells here and there but I can quite honestly say that I’ve managed to wear my shorts a maximum 5 times this year – four of which were in April. Alas, my legs are as pasty as the day I was born.

Last week we braved the weather to go camping in the Peak District – are we mad you ask? Well… Yes! But, because it had been booked for over 3 months, we felt we couldn’t let our friend down on her 40th birthday!

Donned in waterproofs jackets, trousers, wellies and with umbrellas for back up, 16 of us drove through torrential rain to pitch our tents on a mini outdoor swimming pool.

Camping has got to be one of the weirdest activities we folk choose partake in. I mean, why would anyone want to spend several sleepless nights on a hard, lumpy ground, being eaten by all number of blood sucking creatures and unable to make a cup of coffee without having to sit for 20minutes with a kettle over a flame no bigger than a large candle?

Inevitably the tent is pitched a peculiar angle because in the rush to get out of the rain, you paid little attention to the instructions. You then spend 40 minutes adjusting, readjusting, tightening guy ropes, altering tent pegs and swearing under your breath because the once dry interior is now developing a large, muddy welcome mat and you are far wetter than you would have been if you’d taken your time in the first place.

To make matters worse, the toilet is always a five minute walk from camp. So, if you’re like me and you’ve been woken at 4am by the birds singing, the cows bellowing and the sound of torrential rain on your tent, you then have a ten minute dilemma about whether you should ‘hold on’ until the morning or trudge half a mile up the road in your pyjamas and wielding an umbrella.

Personally, I refuse pee behind the tent unless it’s in the dead of night under cover of darkness. But during the summer, it’s already light by 4am so this isn’t an option. And besides, if you did decide to mark your territory at the end of a guy rope there’s always the fear that someone will hear you – god forbid!!

I rant on about it like I hate camping but actually there is something quite good fun about waking up and taking the first peek out of your tent to see what the weather is like even tho you can hear the rain. Then you totter stiffly to your friend’s slightly bigger tent to help prepare breakfast for 16 people over a teeny-tiny gas powered stove. There’s a sense of camaraderie and ‘community’, not just with you and your friends, but the whole campsite when you’re all suffering from blood-shot eyes, bad backs (if you have a poor quality bed roll) trench foot and the sense that you haven’t slept a wink in weeks. Its FUN!!

I have to mention that we did benefit from some great sunshine (for a WHOLE day) which meant we could charcoal slabs of meat and vegetables on a huge BBQ and sit around our make-shift campfire for several hours singing songs and telling jokes. It was certainly worth the effort – we hardly complained at all when we packed away our sodden tent under another rain-cloud! Nor did we bear any hard feelings towards our friend (the birthday girl) who spent the weekend in a B&B!