Friday, December 19, 2008

A winter holiday, I

Packing their car, catching their bunnies, filling bags with cereal bars and bananas – the essential fuel for any journey, a girl and her husband prepared themselves for eight hours on the road, their destination a tiny shed in the large garden of a small wooden house.

As they drove through what little of Scotland lay South of them, crossed the border to England (a country which seemed never to end – are we in Wales yet? No. Oh. When will we be in Wales? In about a week. Oh) and stopped every 50 miles or so for the girl with the weak bladder and a suspicion that she might be missing something if they drove too long without getting out of the car, excitement (and the unmistakable whiff of a rabbit in a box) filled the small, smelly car. They were going on holiday! And it was all so unknown, how would they manage without the internet? Just what would it be like living without electricity? And would the girl survive the indignity of relieving herself in a bucket for a week?

Eventually, as the crisp Scottish sunshine turned to snow which turned to wind, to sunshine, to rain, to wind again, to snow, to rain to frost and finally to a uniform greyness, the road signs started to change too. 'The North' gave way to 'The Midlands', demands of “do a Liverpool accent. What to people from Birmingham sound like? Ooh, can we go to Blackpool?!” issued from the girl who took her task of entertaining the driver very seriously. One could question whether demanding entertainment from the driver really fulfilled her job description, but he seemed to be finding her amusing and at least he was still awake, which was the important thing. Eventually signs pointing to various shires became less regular and just as the light was starting to fade they saw their first truly unpronounceable place name and they knew they were finally in Wales.

Following the directions that the magic oracle on the dashboard gave them, they found themselves in a cul-de-sac of large, grey, pebble dashed houses, the little flag of joy that denotes one's destination glowing tantalisingly close. This is all wrong they thought, Mim and Larch live in the countryside, the woods, The Wild. This is Suburbia. Not right at all. Then they came to the end of suburbia and all that was left was a narrow, lumpy, hole-strewn road leading into the dark and that little chequered flag sitting proudly on the map. So they called Mim and Mim said keep going, you're nearly here. I'll come and meet you with the wheelbarrow. And into the darkness they drove...