‘The next time I suggest a holiday in the UK please remind me of this.’
Suppressed laughter erupts from John. I kick him.
‘I swear to God this is the last time EVER I go on holiday in the UK. Why, why the hell did I ever think it would be a good idea to spend our summer holiday in the UK? This is shit. It is utterly shit. I hate it. It only ever sounds good on paper. In reality it’s always shit.’
‘We thought it would be good for Alula to see some of England,’ John reminds me.
Yeah, I think to myself, that was pointless. She’s not seeing anything of England as it’s all too shrouded in fog and rain to be visible. Two weekends ago we were at a wedding in Scotland and it might as well have been the arctic. I almost died of hypothermia waiting for the wedding march to strike up. In July we were in Cumbria for a family reunion and I needed thermals and a bloody good sense of humour to make it through.
‘Is it too late to cancel next week’s cottage in Cornwall and book a flight to somewhere hot?’ I muse out loud.
‘It’s 1.30 in the morning,’ John yawns. ‘Go back to sleep.’
‘I can’t sleep. I’m too depressed. It’s raining. It’s not going to stop raining for another ten days. I don’t want to drive all the way to Cornwall just to look at it through storm-lashed car windows. Why do we even pretend to have a summer in England? We never have summers. We could be lying on a beach in the Med right now but instead we’re holed up in a cottage in Devon in the rain with the heating on full and all our clothes steaming on the radiators. And it’s AUGUST need I remind you.’
‘It could be worse. We could be camping.’
That is true. But what is also true is that it could be a whole lot BETTER.
I’m giving the Grinch a bad name and I know, I know, I really do that I’m supremely lucky to even get a holiday. First world problems. I know this. I also know that it’s all about attitude. I could try to be a bit more Pollyanna about it, but it’s not in my DNA. I spent an hour this morning listing off all the things I was grateful for in an attempt to ward off the angry blues. But… I’m really, really over the fucking rain. There is not that much to do in Devon and Cornwall in the rain. We spent yesterday wading down Topsham high street. My hood wouldn’t stay up the wind was lashing so violently. Eventually I let the rain whip me, realising this was what my A’Level English teacher meant by pathetic fallacy and letting my depression lead me into the cheese shop where I bought a pound of Gin-laced chevre.
‘Aren’t you lactose intolerant?’ John asked me when I deposited it in front of him.
I frowned. I’d forgotten that in my pathetic state of fallacy. I ate the cheese anyway, lactose intolerance be damned. I ate a whole bag of fudge too. Thighs be damned. And then I ate some oysters and some whitebait and some sole. (You can see where I’m going with this. The scales back home are going to be tested after this ‘holiday’).
‘Caving,’ John suggests when faced with yet another 15 hours to fill with rainy-day activities.
I glare at him.
‘What?’ he says gamely, ‘It’ll be great fun. You have to crawl through tunnels and there’s an underground lake.’
‘It sounds awesome,’ I say, the sarcasm thicker than the fog pressing its clenched fists against the windows.
I Google: ‘Things to do in Devon when it’s raining’ and am told not to despair as there are so many, many wonderful things to do in Devon in the rain. Hurrah! I think, letting a stupid flash of hope ignite within me. There’s the Marble Museum I’m informed (as in the game marbles – not the quarried stone). And, if that doesn’t tempt you (though I can’t think why on earth it wouldn’t) there’s also Kayaking or surfing (‘You’re wet already!’ the website chirps.)
Fuck you, I yell at the computer and slam the lid.
I cave in to the caving, which should be read as a sign of how depressed I am. I’m saying yes to caving because crawling on my belly through cold, dark, enclosed underground spaces while wearing a clammy, frigid wetsuit a stranger has peed in is preferable to being above ground being drizzled on, or driving around fighting with the heater in the car as the windows are too fogged up to see through. And, let’s face it, anything sounds better than looking at coloured glass balls for two hours wishing I was dead.
Still, I wake at 5.30am and start manically Googling Last Minute holidays in Mallorca on my phone.
‘What are you doing?’ John asks blearily, one-eye open.
I switch off the phone, recognising that last minute holidays somewhere hot will cost an arm and a leg and I just spent all our savings on cheese and fudge.
‘Promise me,’ I say, rolling over and sighing, ‘that after this we will only ever holiday somewhere hot for the rest of eternity?’
‘Deal,’ John says.