Some Like It Blog

You may have noticed that the UK has been enjoying some rather nice weather of late. Sure, it has been interspersed with our usual dark clouds, and downpours of heavy rain, but generally speaking it has been sunny, and, best of all, hot (well, hot by our standards).

This, folks, is summer (or was summer, if you happen to be reading this a few days after publication, by which time I feel certain we’ll be back to ‘overcast and chilly’).  Make the most of it, because soon it will be July, and then the following will happen:

  1. The schools break up;
  2. Glastonbury;
  3. Wimbledon;
  4. People start optimistically buying barbecues.

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Glastonbury: Shit

On their own, any of the above list would be sufficient to jeopardise our current nice weather, but since all four will happen in a relatively short period of time, there is no doubt that we will be cold and soaking by mid-July. Welcome to the British summer.

But is summer all it’s cracked up to be anyway?

Answer: no, not really.

Look, it’s not the worst of the seasons by a long shot (Autumn, I’m looking at you), but bearing in mind I am grumpy most of the time anyway, I can find fault in pretty much anything if the mood takes me (apart from perhaps Holly Willoughby).

So, on the basis there will be people reading this thinking, ‘go on, give me one good reason why summer is a bit shit’, I’ll do better than that – I’ll give you ten reasons (and that’s on top of the aforementioned Glastonbury and Wimbledon).

1. Suncream

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NB: Not my leg

I am well aware that the alternative to wearing suncream, is sunburn (or worse), so obviously I don’t think it should be avoided altogether, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, either. It’s time-consuming to apply, leaves you greasy and/or sticky, attracts every insect and grain of sand within a five-mile radius, and more often than not it smells of fucking coconut. I hate coconut. If I wanted to smell of coconut, I’d take a bath in some Malibu, then stick a Bounty up my arse.

2. Wasps

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Vicious. Little. Bastards.

I don’t care if they are one of God’s creatures, and apparently do serve an actual purpose (in addition to bringing misery to millions of people, by spoiling their picnics and stinging them), they are evil, and should be exterminated.

We recently had a particularly aggressive wasp in the office, and my colleague berated me for trying to kill it – to the point she ‘rescued’ it from the toilet where it was trapped, and released it back into the wild. Let’s not forget, it was the wasp’s decision to actually fly under the toilet seat, then lie in wait for some poor unsuspecting butt cheeks to pierce; but, oh no, apparently I was the monster for trying to help it on it’s way with a gentle flush (oh, and I may have peed on it first for good measure).

I tried to argue that there was only room for one nasty looking prick in that bathroom, and it wasn’t the wasp’s, however my colleague still set it free (I sincerely hope the wasp then flew directly to her car, to wait for the drive home).

We have other insects for pollination, so wasps add absolutely nothing to society other than misery, so the sooner they become extinct the better.

3. Sleeping

Sleeping in the summer is a bloody nightmare. Ok, getting into a cold bed during the winter months can initially be a little unpleasant, but you quickly warm up, and that’s why we have electric blankets and hot water bottles (even if I don’t use either).

But in the summer, you get into bed all hot and sticky, and you remain that way, until you finally give up on sleeping and go back to work. Sure, you can leave some windows open for cooler air once it goes dark, but this invites every bug in the area to enter the room and attack you during the night.

4. Hayfever

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Arguably the shittest of all the debilitating inflictions, because it is essentially just itchy and streaming eyes and nose, interspersed with occasional sneezing, but if you don’t suffer with hayfever, you will never understand how truly fucking annoying it is, and how miserable it can make you.

Plus, you have to listen to every person over the age of fifty, when they explain to you their own personal guaranteed method for curing it: “get some local honey, and rub it on your scrotum on the second Tuesday of each month…”

5. Sunglasses

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Sunglasses generally make people look cool. I am not cool (you may have noticed).

Coolness is not the issue, however. My main problem with sunglasses, is that my eyesight is only marginally better than Stevie Wonder’s, so in order to wear them when it is bright and sunny outside, means one of the following:

  • Contact lenses – Except, I don’t wear contact lenses regularly, so it can take up to fifteen minutes to prod the sodding things into my eyes (by which point they are so red and sore, I regret my decision anyway). Plus, I suffer from hayfever – see above – so my eyes are already itchy as it is, and not particularly keen to have salty plastic discs stuck onto them;
  • Exchanging my normal glasses for sunglasses, then hoping I don’t walk into lampposts, other people, and dog shit. This usually means my wife guiding me around like, well, Stevie Wonder;
  • Wearing prescription sunglasses – because prescription sunglasses are almost like actual sunglasses (in the same way that Quorn is almost like actual meat). Almost.

These are all, however, better than the final option…

  • Wearing those ‘clip-on sunglasses’ last seen in 1989:

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I’m probably better off sticking to my normal specs, and just squinting a lot.

6. The Lack of Football

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Now, as far as my wife is concerned, having her husband and eldest son available on Saturdays again, even if only for a couple of months a year, is a bonus (although, the novelty usually wears off by mid-June); but for Ollie and I, losing our fortnightly fix of live football until the start of August is devastating.

We love our team (shit and perpetually disappointing though they are), and no amount of Russian World Cup can scratch that itch, I’m afraid.

7. Ice cream

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I quite like ice cream (despite my pathetically sensitive teeth), and there is nothing finer on a hot summer’s day, than enjoying an ice cream cone with your family.

For three minutes.

Then, after that fleeting moment of summery bliss, it becomes a battle against time, as you frantically try to stem the flow of melting dessert from trickling towards your hand. And, even if you manage to finish the ice cream before it reaches your fingers and makes you all sticky (not to mention irresistible to those fucking wasps), enough of it has escaped to soften the cone, which then collapses and covers you anyway.

The only thing worse than trying to successfully eat an ice cream yourself, is handing one to a child.

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8. Teachers

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I have to tread carefully here, as I’m married to a teacher, but my God they start to get smug by the end of May, and downright unbearable come July, as that colossal six week holiday approaches. Don’t get me wrong, teachers work very hard, and my wife is often marking and planning lessons beyond midnight, but all of the stress and abuse has to be at least worth considering, for six weeks off in the summer.

At least if I was a teacher too, we could go away for most of the summer (thereby avoiding the likes of Glastonbury and Wimbledon, and all the middle-class twats who attend them), but I get a very limited amount of annual leave, and when we do go away it has to be when the schools are off, which means paying twice as much.

9. Convertibles

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There are two types of convertible car owners.

The first, are those really smug drivers, who put the roof down in the middle of March, (when the sleet eases slightly, and the temperature creeps above freezing), to try and justify their ridiculous purchase. Then, when the weather genuinely turns nice around this time of year, they drive up and down the roads of Britain, wearing sunglasses, and laughing at the glorious world which surrounds them.

For three days a year, their car is perfect, and wonderful, and we’re all jealous. It matters not, that most convertible drivers are bald, middle-aged estate agents, with bugs firmly embedded between their teeth, because for once they are winning at life.

Then, we have the second category: those truly hopeless convertible car owners who, when faced with a gloriously sunny day (the one chance they have to finally enjoy their nearly-pointless automobile), they leave the top on. Why on earth would you buy a convertible car in this country, if you don’t fucking use it on a sunny day?

10. Roadworks

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For those of us who commute to work each day, roadworks are our enemy (together with cyclists), but at least during the winter, they are kept to a minimum (unlike cyclists).

However, as soon as the schools break up for summer, every Council in the country sees this as a green light to start digging up all the roads that they have been neglecting since the summer before.

I understand the reasoning behind this, as there are supposedly less cars travelling, so the disruption is minimised, but school holidays are the one chance we commuters get to enjoy a slightly easier journey to work, and yet we are denied this minor respite time and time again.

In fact, the only people who benefit from roadworks being delayed until the school holidays, are parents who don’t work, and teachers – and, frankly, we’ve already established that the summer holidays are the one time of year when teachers deserve bugger all.

Why doesn’t anyone ever think of the lawyers?

Ok, don’t answer that.

Thanks for reading x

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Pack Your Blogs, We’re Off!

There will be no blog entry next week (oh, at least try to sound disappointed), because we are away on holiday.

Earlier this year, my wife and I gave careful consideration to our summer holiday destination for 2017, and, following the success of our last two trips abroad (to Majorca and Disneyland Paris respectively), we eventually settled on… the Cotswolds.

It’s not that I don’t like going abroad – in fact, I would much prefer to travel somewhere exotic and sunny (which the Cotswolds will almost certainly not be) – but, having weighed up our options, we decided that a holiday in the UK would be more appropriate this year.

If, like us, you have young children, or can cast your mind back to a time when you did, there is a good chance you have also compared the relative merits of holidaying abroad and in the UK. You may not have over-thought matters quite to the extent that I did, but I will wager that the following factors played a part in your decision:

The Weather

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The weather is undoubtedly one of the main attractions of vacationing abroad. If we discount Ireland, the Arctic/Antarctica, and the remotest parts of northern Russia, then pretty much everywhere else on the planet is guaranteed to be enjoying better weather than Britain right now.

So, if your only criterion for a summer holiday, is that the weather must be glorious, the chances are your deliberations will be short-lived: you’re going abroad. Having said that, if your only prerequisite is gloriously hot sunshine, just be careful the travel agent doesn’t persuade you to go to somewhere like Iraq, or Afghanistan.

Sunshine isn’t everything though. I burn very easily, my wife is only slightly better than I am, and we have two boys who view the application of sun cream as torture – so they try to avoid it at all costs.

This shouldn’t be an issue really, as I am quicker and stronger than both of our children, so I should be able to catch and restrain them with relative ease, before lathering them in as much sun cream as my heart desires (and, once they have started misbehaving – as they always do – my heart desires to coat each of them with an entire bottle, purely as retribution).

The problem with adding sun cream to children, however, is that it makes them extremely slippery, and therefore better equipped to evade capture – it’s like coating a dolphin with butter.

If we then add in the fact that family holidays abroad almost always involve a beach, and, as I explained a few weeks ago, I detest beaches with every fibre of my being (https://middlerageddad.com/2017/06/09/the-old-blog-and-the-sea), all of a sudden, some light British drizzle doesn’t seem so bad.

Getting There

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To a childless couple, without a care in the world, flying to their destination is part of the holiday. Part of the fun. As soon as they arrive at the airport, they are on holiday, and will chat happily with the assistant at the check-in desk, breeze through security, and then enjoy all the delights that the departure lounge has to offer. They will skip through the shops, browsing the treasures of duty-free, before sitting down to enjoy that first alcoholic drink of the holiday. At 5am.

In contrast, when you have children, the airport and subsequent flight are the challenges which must be overcome, in order for you to earn your holiday. Unlike the childless couple, your vacation does not commence until you are safely locked in your hotel room, well away from the glares of your fellow passengers, whose airport experience, flight, and hotel transfer, were all utterly ruined by your demonic little shits.

The only way to survive the ordeal of airport-flight-airport-transfer, is to quickly locate a family on your flight with children behaving worse than your own, then stay as close to them as possible, to make your kids seem slightly better.

Travelling to your holiday destination by car, is infinitely preferable. Ok, you can’t really start drinking at 5am (or at all, for that matter), and you don’t get all the joys of duty-free, but that is easily resolved by having a quick stroll around your nearest Boots and WH Smith before setting off (and we have both in Sandbach).

Of course, you still have all the struggles of having to travel with your children, but you no longer have to be sat directly next to them, and, unlike on a plane, you can play very loud music to drown out their noise. You also do not have the disapproving stares of other passengers (save for your wife, who really doesn’t appreciate Roxette’s Don’t Bore Us, Get To The Chorus album anywhere near as much as she should) and, if things get really bad, you can stop, get out, and find a tree to scream at for a bit.

Best of all, when you get to your destination, you are at your fucking destination. Not a three-hour coach ride from your destination, surrounded by angry and tired British tourists, who have been holding in a collective fart since breakfast.

Luggage

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Baggage allowances for most flights nowadays, typically range from 20kg to 25kg, depending on the airline, destination, and duration of flight. There are also a great many restrictions on what you can and cannot place in your luggage, which, no matter how much you travel, you never really grasp, and end up checking everything several times before leaving for the airport.

Unless, of course, you are one of those people who selfishly packs their bag without any regard for international travel restrictions, content to simply empty everything out in front of your fellow passengers at the airport, and hold the security queue up for half an hour. If you are one of those travellers, then, with the greatest of respect, screw you very much.

In contrast, the baggage allowance for your own car, when holidaying in the UK, is whatever the hell she can cram in there. Men, when taking a trip in the UK, will pack what they think they will realistically need, and then enjoy the journey with all the comfort and leg room their spacious vehicle affords. Women, on the other hand, will see every single nook and cranny of that car’s interior as potential storage space, allowing them the wholly unnecessary luxury of taking three pairs of shoes for every sodding day.

Plus, because there are no restrictions on what you can pack into your own car, you can take whatever the hell you like with you. Admittedly, as a family, we don’t have much call for dangerous narcotics or explosive devices (although, having the freedom to cram a large stash of cocaine up my bottom, should I so wish, is rather liberating), but it’s just nice to be able to travel with an actual bottle of water, and enough toothpaste to brush every tooth at least once. Sorry, but even the fucking A-Team couldn’t take down a plane with a small bottle of Evian and 100ml of Aquafresh.

Food

Admittedly, this is where the appeal of holidaying in the UK loses ground slightly.

I enjoy trying new cuisines (even if that only means package tour, all-inclusive food), and it’s nice not to cook for an entire week, but with a moderately fussy wife, and extremely fussy children, cooking what I know they will all eat does have its advantages. Plus, it makes for a cheaper holiday.

Besides, there is no finer cuisine in the world, than British fish and chips. Admittedly, we’re going to the middle of the country, not the seaside, but I prefer that anyway. In Worcestershire, there is (hopefully) far less chance of some massive fucking seagull getting it’s disease—ridden talons into my battered sausage.

Takeaway Fish and Chips

Activities

When holidaying abroad, the two main pastimes are sunbathing, and going on over-priced excursions, where you are charged twice as much as the locals to see the sights.

Imagine paying £100 to go on a coach filled with your fellow compatriots to see Stonehenge, when the locals know they can drive on that road past it for free, acknowledge that it is a series of (admittedly fascinating, but ultimately rather underwhelming) rocks, and then piss off again. Don’t get me wrong, Stonehenge is a national treasure, but then again so is Bruce Forsyth, and his appeal wore off after ten minutes as well.

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Fair enough, sunbathing in this country isn’t quite the same as abroad, but for someone like me, who burns to a crisp inside ten minutes, and hates beaches with a passion, sunbathing serves only one purpose: to get sufficiently hot enough that a swim in the hotel pool doesn’t kill you on contact.

When you don’t like beaches, consider any temperature over 30°C ‘too damn hot’, and have a family who are far happier traipsing around a castle in the rain, than some continental bazaar in the baking heat – where you are inevitably pressured into buying a giant rug that you don’t need, and have no means of transporting home – it’s a bit of a no-brainer really.

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So, overall, we opted for a domestic holiday this summer, but we may brave going abroad again next year. After all, when Brexit rolls around, it’ll cost us all twice as much to get there, so we best make the most of Europe while we can.

See you in a week, blog fans.

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