Sunday, 4 December 2011

We made it out alive...but only just!

Bloody New Year! This year I am completely stumped for ideas on what to do. Every year (well, apart from the ones in Thailand) Tom, Chris and I get together and do something...

The first year we decided to go to Wales. None of us had ever been and, since we are all fans of the (original) TV show 'The Prisoner' we settled on Portmeirion. We booked a cottage in a neighbouring village and lunch on New Years day at the Portmeirion Hotel. The holiday itself was wonderful - walks on the beach, good food, stunning countryside and Portmeirion was amazing (even in the pissing rain!). The journey to get there however was...erm...eventful! I shall explain....

We left Manchester quite early and without breakfast figuring that we would stop somewhere that looked interesting on the way. We crossed through Snowdonia National Park and, I can't remember who started it, but someone starting singing the banjo duel tune from the film Deliverance and we all got the giggles (Now, before anyone gets upset and thinks I'm making nasty comments about the Welsh...I'm not. We have sung that tune in Scotland, England, France, Thailand and Cambodia...we always sing it when we are miles from anywhere!). Anyway, a little while later we drove through this tiny villiage and, as we came out the other side, we spotted a hotel perched on the top of a hill in the distance. We all agreed that it looked like a good place to stop! Oh if only we had known...

We turned off the main road, went across a bridge and followed a very steep single track road up to the hotel. Chris pulled up, parked the car and we all got out...the two boys stretched their legs and talked about how nice it was to be out the car...I was looking at the hotel. To say it was run down would be an understatement...the courtyard was covered in weeds, the windows filty and the curtains surrounding them were thin and ragged. It was at that point I spotted a creepy wee man staring/peering at us out one of the downstairs windows. He was thin, pale to the point that he was more blue than white (and I thought Chris was bad!) and had a shock of bright orange hair on the top of his head...he was also not blinking! All I could see was this pale, unfriendly, floating face staring at us through the window (It was dark behind him so I couldn't see the rest of him). Now, I don't know about you but I have watched many a horror movie in my time and this would be the point when I would be shouting at the TV 'Don't be so bloody stupid...get back into the car and drive!' so I was about to suggest that we do just that when a huge bearded bloke opened the front door. He looked at us and we looked at him...then he grunted (seriously, no hi or smile or anything...just a grunt!) and went back in the hotel. We, and I am ashamed to admit this, then did a very British thing...he had acknowledged that we were there so it would have been rude (!!) of us to just leave. We walked up to the front door, pausing only to note that the welcome mat was a piece of astroturf (I am not making this up!), and entered the darkest, dingiest, dampest corridor that I have ever been in in my life! It also absolutely stunk of wet dog...which, when it appeared, was huge, matted and the friendliest thing we encountered! As we entered the corridor we saw the bearded man go through a door at the end of it so we followed him (Sheep? Us? I don't know what your talking about!). Chris was leading, I was in the middle and Tom was bringing up the rear. The wee creepy man had now appeared to the left of us and was just standing in the doorway...still staring...still not blinking and I was thinking 'This is it! We are going to be chopped up into little pieces and our car will be dumped with 'the others' in a ditch somewhere'. As we walked down the corridor we could hear faint music playing from somewhere and it got louder the further down we went.

Now, those of you that know Tom will know that he is not subtle at the best of will also know that he can't whisper. What he does is holler what he wants to say out the side of his mouth in the mistaken belief that if he does it out the corner of his mouth he is being quiet...let me categorically state that he is NOT being quiet!...Chris was now in the room that beardy bloke went into, I had just turned the corner when Tom hollered 'I can hear banjos' and then preceded to piss himself be fair it was banjo music that was playing and in any other circumstances I would have seen the funny side but...what he hadn't seen yet and I, to my horror had, was the life size skeleton that was standing just inside the doorway! The life size skeleton that was dressed as a bride...veil and everything! Now if you are a local I am sure there is a completely harmless hilarious story attached to the bride skeleton but let me tell that moment it wasn't remotely funny and I did not want to do anything to piss these people off!! Tom got an elbow in the ribs to which he responded 'What' loudly out of the corner of his mouth (he stopped laughing quite abruptly when he saw the skeleton!). Beardy bloke had now opened some of the curtains in the room we had followed him into and the weak afternoon sunlight that managed to make it through the grubby windows revealed a small, shabby bar. Beardy bloke then went behind the bar, turned and said 'What can I do for you?' in a manner that implied that he didn't want to do anything for us. Chris replied 'Erm, we were looking for somewhere that did food'. I don't mind saying that I was on the verge of turning vegan at that point...there was no way I was going to eat anything that had been prepared in that place and I was pretty certain that they wouldn't have anything suitable for a vegan! It was to our delight that the guy then replied 'We're not doing food today'. Let me tell you that, had you been watching, you would never have seen three people bolt out of somewhere so fast in your life!! We were down the corridor, out the door and in the car faster that you could say winkie! Once we were in the car Tom started roaring with which Chris responded 'We're not clear yet. We still have to get down that slippy road and across the bridge...we can laugh about it then because if we don't make it we will have to go back in there'. I have never been so relieved to be back on a main road in my life!! We then all relaxed and started laughing (slightly hysterically!). Told you the journey had been eventful!

Anyway, what to do for New Year...which was actually the point of this post...two years ago we went to Cornwall (it was mostly shut!) and last year, because of the weather, we got together here...we picked a course each (with wines chosen to completment of course) and cooked a huge, utterly fab, meal. This year I have no idea what to do...any suggestions would be gratefully recieved...


  1. Carol: I love that lifestyle and that attitude. That is my idea of living life. We don't always know what to expect, but we're living. Some of my best holidays were those where they forgot to build the hotel and nobody told us until we arrived. Life is an adventure!

  2. lol! Is it okay that I'm killing myself laughing over here? That was awesome - the bony bride the perfect touch! Like you, I'd have been high-tailing it out of there when I saw the wee man in the window. The whole scenario screamed horror movie. Those are the best times, though, aren't they? But only in hindsight :)

    Your dinner last year sounded lovely. If you do it again, it sounds like you have plenty of great tales and adventures to relive, Carol!

  3. Don't go back to that place in Wales, says she laughing! Whatever you do i hope you have another story to tell.

  4. Oh LOL - what an utterly amazing and spooky story! It will be hard to top this at New Year!

    Why not go to a show this year?

  5. I think your last NYE sounds perfect and, considering Tom's health, would be perfect for this year too. You could incorporate a photograph element where everyone has to bring their favourite photos of each other and finish it off by watching the worst movie that each of you has ever seen. Too odd? Well this is coming from a woman who spent time yesterday taking photographs of a toilet. More on that Tuesday....

  6. JJ - Our life has always been a bit random...we're a 'that looks interesting let's go there' kinda couple. It has led us to some amazing places...and erm, some not so amazing places but your right, it's what makes life worth living!

    Talon - You are an evil woman...I can't believe you were laughing *grins*. We all laugh about it now but honestly, at the time, I really didn't think we were going to make it out alive!

    Marilyn - Oh don't you worry...we will NEVER go back there again!! Well, Portmeririon I would go back to in a heart beat but not that hotel..noooo...I think that would be chancing our luck!

    LadyFi - I don't think we will ever be able to top that!! I certainly was an adventure :-D

    We had thought about a show but the one we really wanted to go to was rediculously expensive!

    DJ - You are a super star! I love that idea!! Bit scared of what movies we would end up watching but that sounds like it could be a plan :-D

    Photographing toilets?! I shall have to check in with you on Wednesday

    C x

  7. What do you expect in Wales!

    As for new year suggestions - Pembrokeshire!

    Try the Druidstone Hotel for relaxed shabby chic!

  8. Shivers currently running down my spine! I think you're brave for even going through the door, I would have just got in the car and gone back, manners or no manners!!

    We don't do anything for new year. I tend to stay awake till after midnight because I've always wished happy new year to Amy first but apart from that, it's just another night in!

    CJ x

  9. New years are a few weeks ahead, I don't think we will do much this year. :)

  10. *laughing*

    You could always dress up as hillbillies, make some southern cooking, drink moonshine from a Mason jar and watch Deliverance!!

    Just a suggestion!

    I must say--I'm glad I'm not the only one who starts humming that banjo tune when we land in remote, eerie places. I feel soooooo validated. ;-)

  11. New Years are so hard, aren't they? London is crazy on that night -- so crowded, not to mention expensive. A few years now, we've gone ice-skating. It's been super fun!

  12. Very entertaining Carol - so lucky there wasn't any food!!

    When in Cornwall for NYE, St Ives is the only place to go - we're even having an official fireworks display this year!!!

    Bye for now. Lesley x

  13. Mark - Ahhh, but you have to remember that was the first time we had ever been to Wales so we were caught unawares...

    Pembrokshire is beautiful...might check out that hotel...just worried about the weather cause we need to be back in time for Tom's next chemo session.

    Crystal Jigsaw - Yeah, that is exactly what we should have done! Isn't hindsight a wonderful thing :-)

    Mats - I know it's a while away but I want to book something before everything is full.

    Mel - LOL...I've not seen the film in years! We could black up our teeth and dig out the old dungarees *snigger*

    You sing it too (Yay)...I knew there was a reason I liked you!

    Talli - I've done the London New Year thing...I remember crowds...and not being able to find somewhere to pee! (was that too much information?)

    Sea Blue Sky - OMG there was no way I was going to eat anything that came out of that place!!

    Cornwall was lovley but it really was time we will stay in St Ives :-)

    C x

  14. I would repeat last year's winning formula. It might be even better this year!


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