8/3/15 – Tone vs. Food

Tasha actually beat me as first up this morning. That was a new one! Had a cookie to munch on and Sar and Kel both got up not long after. Dad then popped round to tell us that they’d overprepared this time and cooked all of the breakfast already. Last night there’d been a bit of hoo-ha over us being late over there for food, so we all hurried over sharpish to make sure it wouldn’t happen a second time (minus the boys, who were still asleep again). Breakfast was yummy once more. The oldies all decided they were going for another walk. Since it was raining we decided we’d had our share of walking for the holiday and went back to our own cabin.

The four of us spent the next few hours having a good natter and gossip about everyone and everything. Ben and Mark got up amidst the chatting and joined us. We had a run over to the other cabin to collect some more fresh pizzas to cook at ours and all got super invested in the Take Me Out re-run. Last of the series, sob. Ben took a real interest in my Superfreaks story, which always really flatters me. He also got what was probably the most in-depth rundown of it that I’ve given anyone so far. After a while we decided to check out the game room. I beat Kel at darts, but she beat me at foosball and our crazy long game of ping pong. We also played with some giant dominoes, but as we’re not entirely sure of the rules we don’t know who won. We’ll call it a draw.

I came back up to the cabin just as Sar had gotten out of the hot tub. Boo. She went in the shower so I got some Fall Out Boy going on the sound system, got my notebook and a can of cider and went to do some writing in the hot tub. It should have been the most ideal way to write (apart from sitting out in the sun and catching a tan at the same time) but it didn’t last very long when Dad, Auntie Ann and Uncle Colin came creeping round to chuck cold water over me. Normally I’m all for cheeky antics, but this time I wasn’t impressed because A) I’d tried so hard to keep my hair dry so that I wouldn’t have to wash it before going out for food, and B) my notebook got soaked and I don’t have any of it backed up. Thankfully best cousin Sar had been stood out in her towel chatting to me after her shower and she ran inside with my notebook before they chucked more water. Saviour of the day!

I didn’t stay in the hot tub much longer after that. Came in and got dried off and sat watching most of Mulan on telly with the others. Things are always better with a bit of Disney. Found out amidst the compulsory Disney talk that Mark loves Princess and the Frog. Oh yeahhh. Most underrated Disney film ever! Since my hair had gotten wet I then had to go in the shower and wash it. My notebook seemed to have survived the drenching so I guess I couldn’t really complain. Once I was dried and ready we all got into cars and headed back to the George and Dragon Pub Inn from the first night. They had the Stowford Press on draft and an amazing looking menu so I was certainly happy to go back.

I had a mixed grill this time and asked for my usual no veg of any kind (in this case peas, mushrooms and tomato. Bleugh). Even still it was friggin’ huge! I had a steak, a big piece of gammon, a pork chop, two sausages, two pieces of black pudding, homemade chips and onion rings. I pawned off the black pudding after having a little taste and being unsure if I actually liked it or not. Still can’t decide. But I of course devoured everything else and everyone cheered. Apparently I have hollow legs – I always seem to amaze people with my capacity for food, The worst part was that I wasn’t even full! I still had room for an Eton Mess sundae afterwards. Did feel a little bloated once we got back to the cabins, so I just chilled in the hot tub with Sar and Ben for an hour or so. They asked me a million and one questions about writing, which again was incredibly flattering. It was really hot in there again and I ended up having a major granny attack (i.e. a sweat) so we all got out. Got changed, grabbed a cider and we all settled down to watch 22 Jump Street for the night.

I didn’t stay up to watch the whole thing. Kel had already gone to bed so I knew that meant we’d be packing everything up first thing in the morning. Sob, just when I was starting to get attached to this place. Goodbye for another year, hot tub holiday!

Goodbye, super nice cabin!

Goodbye, super nice cabin!

7/3/15 – Chihuahua Woof!

First one up at about half eight. Guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by that. Did a teeny bit of writing, then had a chat to Sar when she got up. One by one the others got up too, except for Ben, and Auntie Ann came round to take our orders for breakfast. Door to door service! We then all migrated over to their cabin for eats. A man stood out on the decking of his cabin probably wondered where on earth we were all running to in our pyjamas, bed socks and my fluffy Totoro poncho thing. All worth it in the name of food though. I do love a full English. Well, my idea of a full English – sausage, bacon, beans and plenty of toast!

After we’d been fed we swapped cabins again to get ready to go out for a walk. This is the kind of thing that is only acceptable in countryside locations. Nobody wants to just go out for a walk through the middle of Birmingham. It actually looked so nice out, bar the wind, that I literally just wore leggings and my Stephen Amell’s fuck cancer tank top. We had a good couple of hour’s walk up out of the valley and through the hills. Some of it was quite hard-going and we lost a couple of our group along the way (anyone walking the same route afterwards would have found checkpoints of Auntie Helena and Uncle Dave). It was crazy windy once we got up to the top of the hills so we were all quite happy to start heading back again. We all had a laugh when Auntie Ann had to stop to have a pee in the bushes. When you gotta go, you gotta go. Just glad it wasn’t me! Me and Uncle Dave found a shortcut along the last leg of the walk back, so we beat everyone to the cabins. Win!

Ditched our trainers and walking boots, then came back over to the oldies’ cabin for cake. Never had red velvet before – it was quite nice. We’ve established that so far the only times we’ve visited their cabin has been for food. We’ve got it made this holiday. Plus they seem to have all the food since our fridge is completely full of alcohol! After cake we decided to hit the pool in an attempt to work off some of the calories. Didn’t really happen. The pool was pretty shallow and the same depth all the way across. We ended up shooting water at each other instead by squeezing it through our hands. I was pretty crap at it, so couldn’t really retaliate when Ben kept spraying me (besides my one fluke of a genius jet that got him right in the eye!)

Since we were all in our swimwear we decided to leg it over to the cabin and get straight in the hot tub. That was fun running over just in my towel and ankle boots. Glad we’re not exactly in the middle of civilisation here.Had a very quick scoff of some cheese savouries since I was feeling peckish, grabbed a couple of drinks and got in the hot tub for about an hour. It was mega hot this time and left me feeling quite lethargic (though that probably wasn’t helped by all the vodka). Best friend Auntie Ann had cooked up a pizza for us whilst we’d been in there and brought it over not long after we’d got out. I’m not a big pizza fan at all, but that fresh cheese and tomato was just absolutely ideal right then.

We all chilled for a while and listened to music. Safe to say my iPod didn’t appeal to everyone, particularly when it kept wanting to play anime score music. Mark seemed to love Reindeer Are Better Than People though. Can’t beat a bit of Disney. We all showered in slow procession, put in our orders for the chippy and watched some of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. Not a show I’d normally choose to watch but I do love the Celebrity in My Ear segments. Come on, it’s just totally Impractical Jokers style!

Moved over to the other cabin for food again. Chips and pie, yum yum. We had a few drink runs back and forth (armed with a torch this time to combat the crazy dark) and settled into playing a couple of rounds of Kel’s new Chain Reaction board game. The rules seemed a little extensive at first, but once we got into it it was actually hilarious. Some were really silly, like one asking for dog breeds but for everyone to say ‘woof’ after their answer. And I almost died laughing when I picked up a card asking for famous baldies. I was ready to own on a couple of categories like naming types of dinosaurs or Harry Potter characters, but sadly not everyone was as geeky as me and couldn’t keep the flow going. If only I’d had my Flick with me! Our team still won both games though, oh yeah!

More alcohol came out when we got back to our cabin and introduced the others to a game of Roxanne. For those who don’t know it’s a drinking game of two teams listening to Roxanne by The Police – half of you drink every time you hear ‘Roxanne’ and the other half drink every time you hear ‘red light’. Being on the Roxanne team is the more brutal, which of course was the one I was on. We then chilled watching music channels for the rest of the night. Had another lazier game of Roxanne a bit later on, which effectively spelt bedtime for me after that.

6/3/15 – Lost specifically just inside the Welsh border

Our next little vacay is go! This time we had a much more relaxed preparing session before leaving. I still got up fairly early to go with Dad to take Izzy to the kennels. He made his standard joke of did I want to go to the playground on the way back (we’d always done that as kids when taking Star and Oscar to be kennelled). I said yes, but he didn’t actually take me. Rude. Me and Kel ran round doing the last alcohol runs, packing the final things, etc. I made sure we still made twenty minutes spare to watch the newest episode of Impractical Jokers before leaving (that punishment was brutal – poor Murr!)

We met up with the rest of our twelve-person crew at Becketts Farm for brunch. I’m not really fancy enough to make brunch a common thing, but it was an awkward point to eat that was in between mealtimes. Therefore it was brunch. Had a lovely brisket and caramelised onions ciabatta and some fancy onion rings. As we were all getting back into the cars Mom suggested we all follow each other and stop off somewhere in Ludlow first as we wouldn’t be allowed into our cabins until later. We agreed, but then the rest of them sodded off and left us whilst I was still having to faff with the immobiliser. Rude again. So me and Kel armed ourselves with Disney music and her Aussie satnav Bruce and just had to head straight to Knighton, since we had no idea where to find the others in Ludlow.

The drive was fairly similar to the one we follow when we go to Little Brampton. There was an amusing moment when we passed another MX-5 going in the opposite direction – we started waving at each other pretty much at the same time! I love how everyone seems to have the same mindset that they want to wave at other people who have the same car (or in Mom’s case if they just have yellow cars too). The postcode we’d put into the satnav didn’t even take us the whole way, but after a weird detour round some little backwards town with tiny roads and some directions via phone call from Mom we were able to find the right path again.

We’d been driving down this creepy-ass road with room for only one car at a time and overlooked by big spooky hedges when it suddenly opened up onto a massive space that looked out onto Blackhall Lodges in the middle of a valley, where we’re staying. It’s quite literally in the middle of nowhere. It has several cabins all grouped around in one little field (with a playground too, yey!) Can’t decide quite yet if it’s creepy or cute. We were given the keys to one of the cabins and got to have the first look around. Oh yeah. The cabin’s very nice! It’s all warm and cosy with high ceilings, a loft room and its own hot tub out on the patio that overlooks the surrounding hills. We sat down and chilled to some McFly over the fancy sound system whilst waiting for the others to turn up.

When they eventually arrived it turned out that we’d been given the keys to the wrong cabin, so we had to play swapsies. Luckily we hadn’t unpacked anything from the car yet. Uncle Dave was winding us up about having to move rooms, so I pointed out instead that I’d already used his toilet. Ha! We all unpacked and had a lounge around for an hour or so. Had a Kopparberg (let’s face it; it’s not a Tone holiday without some Kopparbergs) and chatted to Ben about games. Then we all convened again to get in the cars and head out in search of a pub.

Had another mad little detour around the crazy back streets but we soon found one. Was happy to see that they had Stowford Press on draft. Easily the best thing about Wales! The food took a pretty long time and we were all cursing, but it was worth it. I had chicken tikka masala with mixed rice, naan bread, poppadom and onion bhajis. When in doubt go for the meal that has the most extras! It was super dark by the time we got back. Kel had to use the light on her phone as a torch to get us from one cabin to the other. The idiot then freaked herself out by shining it on the anorexic bear statue outside our cabin.

Once we got inside I immediately got changed into my bikini, grabbed another Kopparberg and hit the hot tub with Kel, Mark and Ben. It was absolutely lush – even better than the one at Little Brampton. We had a goss about Arrow and Gotham and had another round of drinks. Getting out was brutal though. I hopped around with my towel outside for all of ten seconds before we all crammed in to huddle together on the mat whilst we were still wet. When I was drying off afterwards I found out that my old bikini had melted all over me in the hot tub. Yay. Safe to say that got thrown straight in the bin and best cousin Sar helped me to get the marks off my back.

We all chilled in the living room for the rest of the night. Broke out the cookies and watched the rest of Bridget Jones 2 that was on telly, followed by some lame horror called See No Evil. You gotta love Zone Horror. The whole time the wind was proper raging outside. Never heard it quite like that before! There’s something about sitting somewhere cosy inside and listening to the wind though. Of course it wasn’t quite so comforting after when I was in bed. Not only could I not get to sleep; there was an even weirder noise outside that sounded like somebody was getting abducted. Cue nightmare time. Let’s hope tomorrow night’s weather is a little less British.

Welcome to The Village. We hope you enjoy your stay!

Welcome to The Village. We hope you enjoy your stay!

12/1/15 – Back to normality

Up early in order to get ready for breakfast at eight. Enjoyed my last full English then ended up having to race up four flights of stairs when Mom told me that Kel had already gone up and needed help. False alarm – she’d happily got all the bags herself, so I’d spent a few minutes banging on the door to no one. What a doze. Got on the coach for our final drive and found out that our fun driver Shaun had been given his P45 that morning with no notice and not even as much as a thank you! Nasty bags! Safe to say all us passengers were ready to stage a protest for him.

Had a natter to Sar about Impractical Jokers (my current love) amongst other things on the coach, then we had a stop at some garden centre just outside of Bristol. Couldn’t find any Red Bull there like I wanted, but couldn’t really complain as I’d already drank quite a big one on the first leg of the drive. We had a little browse around the books and found some stupidly funny ones like What To Do To Prepare For A Gnome Attack (or something like that) and Graham of Thrones, which looked like it was written by the same person who did 50 Sheds of Grey (a hilarious read. Recommend!) I bought a little detective’s handbook. It looked like it might be aimed at a more younger audience, but may still come in handy for research purposes for my own crime stories.

The final coach journey was pretty uneventful. We broke out the rest of our picnic and I had a quick peek through my new book. My faith has already been lost – there was a spelling mistake on the very first page. Ah well, only six quid lost. We also ended up speaking to the woman sat in front as she’d done a lot of travelling round America too. She’d even stayed at the same hotel that we did in New Orleans! But then she ruined it all by saying she’d been very disappointed in New Orleans and that New York had been her favourite place. Totally the opposite of me. Forget that.

We’d requested from Shaun the day before to get off at Hopwood services when we stopped there, as opposed to going all round the wreaking in the stupid non-logical route of getting to Kings Heath via Coventry. I mean really. Thankfully he was cool with that, so we shaved two hours off our journey back. So despite finding our way onto a tinsel and turkey weekend, it’s been an enjoyable and very funny trip. Not to mention great value for the money with the inclusive travel, added coach trip, breakfasts, three-course meals and all the free drinks tokens. Would definitely do it again! Though maybe when it’s warmer.

I finally managed to sniff out some Red Bull at Hopwood services. That’ll be my last bad thing for the day and then it’s back on the diet tomorrow. We said goodbye to Terry and Maggie, then Pops and Uncle Colin came to pick us all up so we said goodbye to the rest of the group too (and had our last trades with Sar of “my name’s Jeff!”) Then before leaving I spotted a short, Asian John Leguizamo lookalike. Yeah, I’m happy ending the holiday on that one.

Until next time, girlies - thanks for more memories!

Until next time, girlies – thanks for more memories!

11/1/15 – Just a little bit spesh

Got up and pottered around a bit to get ready, but we all convened and went down for breakfast. I had the full breakfast again and since I had more time this morning I was able to fully utilise the help-yourself-to-other-things. So I had yoghurt with some jam and a few pieces of toast. They even had Marmite! Win. I’m definitely a love-it kinda girl. We had to wait for the oldies to get ready again so Sar came to chill in our room for a little bit with us. We saw some old school episodes of The Bill on telly and all had a laugh over some guy with a massive conk. I mean seriously, it was huge.

We went for a walk along the front of the hotel and then headed into town. It was pretty dull to be honest. It seems to be a bit of a backwards, old-fashioned town in that loads of places close on Sundays. Everything was mostly big chain places too – not necessarily cute, novel little shops like you’d expect. So I found myself getting dragged into places like H&M and Bon Marche. Good god, I could do this at home and at least find excuses to get out of it. I really don’t do clothes shops. I did manage to find a cute little narwhal teddy in one of the card shops though. Since when do you ever find narwhal anything?! Obviously I had to buy him. I may call him Jeff.

We stopped in a cafĂ© for a quick drink, then wandered back down onto the harbour front in search of food. Had cheesy chips at a place called Chandler’s Chippy! Group approval for the name. Whilst the oldies were still sat nattering we went next door to the arcade and spent a few quid on the 2p falls. Didn’t really win anything but it was fun and highly addictive. Walked even further down the harbour and finally got my whippy ice cream that I’d been craving. Something about the sea just always makes me want ice cream – no matter the temperature. It did start to get freezing cold then though so me and Kel decided to head back, leaving the others to check out some department shop they’d seen earlier and wanted to check out.

When the others got back we reconvened in Mom and Auntie Helena’s room and had a bit of a mini picnic of cakes and chocolates (I had a cheeky Red Bull too). We also played silly buggers trying to fit four of us in one of the single beds. We’re such a spesh family. Me and Sar then decided it was time to go for a swim. I had a bit of a trauma over my lovely nautical bikini not fitting me anymore, which is like a double-edged sword really. Yay that I’ve lost that much weight, but boo because it cost me nearly thirty quid. The pool was pretty damn cold but we warmed up by doing our own version of aqua aerobics, playing with the foam noodles and having weird races like only being able to swim with one arm and one leg. The lift then decided not to work when we wanted to come back up, so we had to scale four flights of stairs in our towels. Awkward.

There were four in the bed and the little one said there's no bloody room to roll over!

There were four in the bed and the little one said there’s no bloody room to roll over!

Getting ready for tea was slowed down by the fact that we discovered Aladdin was on telly. Totally in my top ten favourite Disney films! I had “hail the conquering hero” as my text tone for god knows how long. Went down for tea and it was all lovely food once again – actually our best meal all round. I had the sense to save at least half of my bread roll for my tomato soup this time. We had roast chicken for main with roast and baby potatoes (also veg but of course I skipped those). Then pudding was a strawberry, blackberry and raspberry mousse on a soft biscuit base with cream. I’m really big on cream and mousse type sweets, so that was to die for!

Migrated into the ballroom for our now traditional and last rounds of bingo to find Terry and Maggie waiting for us. New friends! Still didn’t win at bingo, sad times. Also had our last fun with quacking, sad times again. As a bonus round we were given sheets with pictures of different road signs and had to name them all. None of our group did very well at it. It’s terrible really when most of us are drivers!

After all that was simulated horse races, which was lame but fun. I had Long Put out of Fourth Tee, Flash in the Pan by No Hope and Bolt out the Blue. Sar won four squids on the first round, Mom won eight on the second and Auntie Ann won three on the third. Bolt out the Blue was actually winning for most of the last race but then just disappeared at the end, boo! All the winnings went into the kitty to be split amongst all of us, so overall we won most of our money back bar three pound. I can live with that!

We sat chatting for a while and had some more drinks, before we started returning to the rooms one by one. Kel was already in bed watching Not Another Teen Movie when I got back so I pottered about packing everything that I wouldn’t need in the morning so that we could leave our cases outside. For some reason the hotel insist on putting your cases onto the coach for you – you’re not allowed to do it yourself – but for that they need you to have them outside your rooms at seven in the morning. Pfft. We took our chances with leaving them outside all night and having the extra hour in bed. Priorities, yo.

My god, we actually look like we’re really enjoying bingo. Quack.

13/11/13 – Home. We’re coming home again

Up earlyish, mostly so that I could have my last waffle for breakfast. We stayed in the room for as long as we could before checking out, since it was then a day to be spent in the lobby because of our crappy flight times. We holed up in a couple of chairs by the vending machines. My taurine addiction started roaring again so I had to settle for a can of Monster. Eh, it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. Though I’d still only use it as a last resort. It was even colder today so we definitely weren’t brave enough to venture outside. Instead I got comfy with the first That Anime Show Halloween special.

Oh man, how have I not listened to these before? They each consist of collections of ghost stories and encounters told by various voice actors. They’re the real deal too – it’s some freaky stuff! Tatum told a totally creepy one about an abandoned cabin, which really freaked me out. Jamie and Jean-Luc shared a re-telling of Jamie’s mother’s story about her old house. It genuinely made my hair stand on end. And then Tia told this gorgeous tale about her last moment with her grandaddy. It made me really tear up. It was just so sweet and, if anything, I was actually really jealous that she got to have a moment like that. I’m still happy for her though.

We broke for lunch and I had another steak and cheese panini, then had to help Kel with her big-ass pizza. That is officially the last pizza I’m ever going to eat. If anyone suggests pizza to me now they’re going to get punched. We migrated to some new, comfier chairs after and I listened to my next Halloween special. Again, more fantastic stories. Tia spoke about an infamously cursed doll that is now in a museum in Florida, eek! Glad we didn’t go to that one! Josh told his story about breaking into an old church and Terri shared about her real-life horror movie stalker. Terrifying!

By this point it was time to get our shuttle to the airport, if we wanted to be on the safe side, so we did. Had a good four hours there with our flight being delayed. Listened to the last Halloween special I had and watched some Durarara!! The first flight and airport stays passed in a blur of Psych, Spirited Away and not-so-great attempts at sleep. It was light again by the time we got to Denmark, but then dark only a few hours later. Way confusing. Did manage to get some crazy cheap Coco Mademoiselle for only twenty-six quid though! (even if it took me a little while to figure out the crazy Danish conversion). I always seem to find good perfume bargains. Then when everyone was boarding our final flight – and last leg of the journey – I had a hairy builder’s crack shoved in my face. Thanks for that, Denmark.

The last flight felt longer than it actually was – likely because it was the very final trip of our adventure. I did manage to get a huge chunk of writing done though, so I was at least pleased about that. We were met at the airport by Auntie Ann and Sarah, still in part of our scheme of telling Mom and Dad that we were coming home a day later than we actually were (we’d given them fake flight times and everything – because we’re sneaky like that). It was so, so nice to see familiar faces in the flesh again! Kel had a little blub and we all had a goss on the way home, after some silly confusion of not being able to get onto the right floor of the car park (of course we couldn’t end our journey without there still being something).

We left all our baggage in the car when we pulled up at home. Auntie Ann went to go drag Mom and Dad outside with some inane excuse whilst me, Kel and Sar hid behind my car on the drive, ready to jump out. It worked a treat. Mom went from a scared scream to a happy scream. We then had our own surprise as we accused them of replacing our dogs, since one had no teeth and one was three times the size as when we’d left! And of course I was starving by this point, so I broke open some of my old traditional Super Noodles. Ah, home sweet home.

So that’s it. It’s been a whirlwind of two months. We’ve seen some fantastic places, done many amazing things, met both new and old people and finally learnt the damn knack to packing and re-packing. Now my only thought is… where to next?