Previously, on Confessions of a Middle-Raged Dad….
Stop being so fucking lazy, and read it.
Tuesday 8th August 2017
We had a relatively quiet day today, following the excitement of Warwick Castle, and stayed in the local area.
After a lazy morning, during which the boys were uncharacteristically pleasant to one another whilst sat watching a film, we decided to get some fresh air, and drove to a playground we spotted yesterday in Bidford.
After some fun on the swings with Isaac, and a failed game of ‘Hide and Seek’ – look, it’s difficult to hide a curvaceous 6’3” behind playground equipment – the boys and I then played ‘shop’ on one of the climbing frames. If there was ever any doubt as to which is the more ruthless businessman, Isaac managed to fleece me out of £40 for an imaginary ice cream, after Ollie had served a full meal (including pint) for under a fiver.
However, like all make-believe food, it left me feeling rather hungry, so we came back for dinner, and I’ve just finished washing up – while trying not to look at Broken Britain out of the window, who appears to be sat there, having a fag and scratching her balls.
Wednesday 9th August 2017
This morning, Isaac took it upon himself to get his own breakfast, which – as you might imagine – consisted of some fresh fruit and a granola bar (otherwise known as a bowl of coco pops, four cookies and several jaffa cakes).
Like all summer holidays in Britain, we had the fire on during breakfast because it was so cold – and then the rain started. Nevertheless, we had already made plans and were not going to be discouraged, so we loaded the car with all the wet weather clothing we could find, and set off for Hatton Country World (which is far less ‘flower show’, and far more ‘adventure playground’, than the name suggests).
We saw some unusual creatures (well, this is the Midlands), and the boys got to hold a big snake – which, because they take after their father, didn’t phase them. Then, after some lunch, they burned all remaining energy in the soft play area, which contained a slide even I didn’t dare attempt.
Despite being exhausted, both kids remained in good spirits, so tonight we risked dining at a nearby pub I had spotted. It was only half a mile away, had a great menu, and dates back to the 13th Century (my general rule for pubs is ‘the older, the better’).
I would say it was nice to get away from ‘meat-head and the two veg’ next door, but it turned out they were in the adjacent room (which I only realised, when full-kit-wanker walked in to ask the waitress – who was taking our order – where he could ‘get beer’, seemingly oblivious to the bar not five feet away).
Thursday 10th August 2017
This morning, as I washed up our breakfast dishes (Isaac was coaxed into normal cereal today, to avoid the onset of diabetes), I glanced across – out of nothing more than morbid curiosity – to see that next door are now fully embracing their trailer-trash image.
Not only have they sourced a flower pot from somewhere, which they have turned upside down to stub out cigarettes on, but this is surrounded by several cans of cheap lager, and there is a stained duvet hanging over the steps. I bet it wasn’t one of the kids who pissed the bed. To make matters worse, they either brought the flower pot with them, or nicked it from another caravan (I’m not sure which is worse). They have now achieved the perfect landscape garden for the modern chav.
We popped to Evesham today, which started out nicely with a spot of lunch, before deteriorating into another example of people spoiling a beautiful part of the country. Not only did I walk past a topless man spitting in the street (which, unless tuberculosis is still rife in Warwickshire, was entirely unnecessary), I then witnessed the very best and worst of society in one incident.
There was a mob of unwashed skanks (for there is no alternative description) sat on a bench eating pasties, with an army of children between them. The one I assumed to be Lead Skank, was the sort of mother who has five kids from twelve different fathers.
Suddenly, a smiling lady (who stood out from the crowd, because she seemed happy and pleasant), spotted the youngest of Lead Skank’s brood, bent slightly as she passed, and tickled the baby’s foot while making cooing noises.
Now, unless a stranger tickles your infant with some form of sharp weapon, or their genitals, I would suggest barking ‘Fuck off!’ is somewhat extreme. I was tempted to go over and tickle Lead Skank’s foot, just to see what her reaction would be, but didn’t fancy contracting rabies (even assuming she wasn’t ‘packing heat’).
Since today was easily the best weather so far, we decided to brave the swimming pool when we got back to the campsite. The brochure claims the pool is heated, which is certainly not how I remember it from my youth, but I decided that this was perhaps the one improvement the owners had made, in the intervening twenty-five years.
All I can say is, if they have installed heating, it was either switched off or broken, because in the same way the football pitch had taken me back to the early ’90s a few days ago, the same thing happened the instant my scrotum made contact with the water. In fact, it wasn’t just my memories, but also the size of my testicles, which were transported back two-and-a-half decades. Think Cadbury’s Mini Eggs, and you’re close.
Through chattering teeth, I tried to persuade Ollie that the water was lovely, and ‘isn’t as bad once you get in’ (because you lose the feeling from your waist down), but I think even he could tell I was lying. Sure enough, while he eventually got in, he managed about three widths before crying to get out.
Isaac, on the other hand, was initially apprehensive, but quickly became fearless, and insisted on jumping in from the side. Something which seemed like a great idea (and photo opportunity) at the time, until his third jump ended with a knee to my throat – meaning that I now had a larger lump in my oesophagus, than I did in my shorts.
Friday 11th August 2017
For our last day, we decided to visit Stratford-upon-Avon – and what’s the first thing you associate with Stratford? That’s right – the beach! Based on a recommendation, we parked our car at a Recreation Ground on the outskirts, and, sure enough, they have built a beach. Presumably, this is so the locals don’t feel they have to travel seventy-odd miles to their nearest coastline, to experience the ‘joy’ of getting sand in every crevice.
In truth, one of the main reasons I pushed for a holiday in the Cotswolds, was not for the nostalgia of re-visiting my childhood, but because the one thing you are sure to avoid in the middle of the country, is fucking beaches.
Nevertheless, I managed to enjoy watching the boys play in the sand (from a safe distance of fifty feet, with a cup of tea and a flapjack), and we then headed into Stratford itself – via a ‘foot ferry’ over the Avon – for a spot of lunch.
We also visited Shakespeare’s birthplace (because it’s obligatory), and I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe, one day, people will flock from all over the world to congregate at the site of my birth (although Stepping Hill Hospital, whilst perfectly adequate, is not quite as picturesque).
This evening, we decided to treat ourselves to a Chinese takeaway – but even this became a drama, when Ollie demanded sweetcorn with his dish, and the ‘Jasmine Palace’ didn’t have any.
I tried to reason with him (starting with the suggestion that he could perhaps cope without sweetcorn, and, when that didn’t work, progressing to the argument that sweetcorn is fucking pointless anyway), but he was adamant, so I phoned the nearby shop to see if they were still open.
The good news was, they were still open. The bad news was, in one minute they wouldn’t be (it was now 7.59pm). I quickly tried to calculate the speed I would need to drive at to reach them on the other side of the village, and, having arrived at the conclusion *fucking fast*, I persuaded the shop owner to stay open for just two minutes more.
I threw Ollie in the car (literally – this was his fault), and screamed there at *no more than the speed limit*, to be presented by the legs of a shop assistant showing under the shutters, and a hand offering a tin of sweetcorn. I laced her palm with gold, and placed a gentle kiss of thanks on each of her knees.
The worst part was, the whole bizarre exchange was witnessed by the queue at the chip shop next door, including – to my horror – full kit wanker. Perfect.
We raced back to the takeaway, to be greeted by one of the other customers smirking at me. I’m not sure why he found my stress and misery so amusing, but the Gods of Karma must have been watching, because shortly afterwards he collected his order and, while descending the steps to his car, promptly dropped everything. Everything. As the rest of the customers looked on in sympathy, while he forlornly scraped his dinner from the pavement, I waited for him to glance up, and then replicated his smirk.
When we finally got back, Ollie decided he didn’t really like sweetcorn after all.
Saturday 12th August 2017
The car is loaded, and it’s time to go home.
Part of me is sad to leave – as is always the case at the end of a holiday – but I have just looked over, and Jabba The Hutt is currently slithering around packing her own car, with a fag in her mouth, a crate of Strongbow under one arm, and at least three kids under the other (to be honest, there may be more stowed away among the folds of skin).
Perhaps going home isn’t such a bad idea after all.