A few days ago Mrs Proclaims and I returned from our summer holiday. On the whole it was a thoroughly pleasant city break that was, at times, charming, fun and intellectually stimulating.
Generally I enjoy most holidays and few things give me and my beloved more pleasure than poring over our old holiday photos and reminiscing. Our latest voyage has certainly contributed to the back catalogue of shared and cherished memories.
It has, alas, also served as reminder that holidays are fantastic things to look forward to, and great things to look back on, but the actual ‘live experience’ can be more than a little challenging, regardless of destination. Indeed some aspects of a holiday can be something of an ordeal. I often find that being a tourist makes me tolerate things that would, under any other circumstances, leave me more than a little perplexed.
Over the next few weeks I will collate the best photos and put together a photobook, complete with ‘witty’ commentary for Mrs Proclaims and I to revisit at our leisure.
But entertaining though we will find the album, here are ten aspects of our latest voyage that won’t make the cut:
- Explaining to Mrs Proclaims that weight restrictions on the luggage won’t permit her to take all of the toiletries that she would like.
Obviously I blame the rather mean luggage weight allowance rather than my lovely wife, who reads these posts and can be quite scary when annoyed. But Mrs Proclaims does take her bathroom regime rather seriously and being told that her bathroom bag, at nearly 2.5 kilos, was going to tip us over our allocated 20 kg, and potentially result in a substantial additional charge, was not an easy conversation to have. She did make the valid point that my shoes were bigger than hers (to be fair I do have much bigger feet), and that maybe I might want to ‘lose’ my spare pair in order to allow her bottle of conditioner on board. We negotiated a compromise. It all worked out. But it was touch and go for a few moments before the holiday had even begun…
- Enduring the trials waking up at half past three in the morning.
I am a man who likes to get my money’s worth and when we go away I often try to make the most of the holiday by getting the earliest outbound flight possible and the latest return flight. At the time of booking this particular holiday I reasoned that flying out at 7am in the morning would give Mrs Proclaims and I the majority of the first day at our destination of choice. Indeed it did, but in order to make the flight we needed to get up at stupid o’clock in the morning. We touched down at 9am and, having navigated customs and a nightmarish train journey into the city centre, we were at our hotel by 11am. Not bad, but alas our room was not available until 2pm and even when we got into said room, we were far too tired to enjoy the rest of the day and instead argued with each other. A lot. With benefit of hindsight, I realise a later flight would have been far more sensible.
There was more than a hint of ‘I told you so’ in Mrs Proclaims’ demeanour that day. To be fair she had told me so. Many times. And I didn’t listen. There is a life lesson there but frankly after six years of marriage, if I haven’t learnt it yet I’m probably not going to…
- Driving under potentially life-threatening conditions on the M25 in order to make my flight.
After heaving the suitcase into the car and convincing Mrs Proclaims that all the doors and windows of the house were locked, in spite of my past failures in that department, we climbed into our tiny chariot, ready for the off. Bleary-eyed and fuzzy headed (I can certainly recommend a 3.30 start to the day if you want all the joys of a hangover without the inconvenience of actually having had an alcoholic drink the night before) I felt, nonetheless, that all the requisite ‘t’s had been crossed and ‘i’s had been dotted and there was nothing else I needed to do in order to facilitate our journey. Mrs Proclaims then, with a great deal of tact (her exact words were “I don’t know if I should point this out to you, given that you seem quite stressed, but…”) pointed something out to me. Somehow I had failed to notice the rather alarming crack in my windscreen.
We sat for a moment and pondered the situation.
On the one hand, a journey on the M25 did now seem quite dangerous. On the other hand I wanted to go on holiday.
I’m still alive so it ended well.
Once the outward journey had been completed and I was safely at my destination, I did use the complimentary wifi to book a repair and a night at a cheapish airport hotel on our return so we could get the matter sorted before taking on the M25 again.
- Being treated like cattle at the airport.
I know why security is paramount at airports. I’m glad they take the safety of me and my fellow passengers so seriously. But is it too much to allow us a bit of dignity in the process? And could they not smile a bit? It does put a dampener on the whole vacation experience, when you’re alternately treated like cattle or criminals.
- Lack of luggage space on the aeroplane.
City breaks usually mean budget airlines, which means boarding can be a bit of a ‘free for all’. It was surprisingly dignified on the outward bound flight, but we were delayed on the return flight and most passengers had regressed to neanderthals by the time we were permitted to board. Mrs Proclaims and I had managed to fight our way onto the plane only to find the luggage space in the rack above our seats had been claimed. Consequently I moved my bag, as is the usual budget airline protocol, to the nearest empty rack I could find, only for the arriving inhabitant of the seats, below said rack, to take issue with me.
“Can’t you put that above your seat?” he asked.
I pointed out the lack of space above my own seat, assuming he would accept the ‘first come first serve’ nature of the budget airline and put his case in one of the multitude of visibly available spaces around him.
Alas it was not so, instead he aggressively argued for the spot I had just taken.
I stood my ground. It was all a bit awkward.
I did help him secure a spot for his case, which was more than I needed to do, and returned to my seat. He then produced a second case (presumably his wife’s, otherwise he was in serious breach of the one bag per passenger rule) and harassed the stewardess into helping him secure a space for that, even though there were still loads available if he’d bothered to look. The stewardess was significantly less sympathetic than me and I felt vindicated.
I got a pat on the back from Mrs Proclaims for my handling of the situation.
A pat on the back from Mrs Proclaims is something to be cherished.
- Getting up early to visit a particularly well-visited tourist attraction in order to avoid the crowds only to be thwarted two bus loads of Japanese tourists who had clearly had the same idea.
We’d had a really long walk to get there (see point 10) and had we arrived five minutes earlier, all would have been fine. As we approached the final stretch and the attraction was in site, the coaches drove by and our hearts sank. It was bedlam for a good 15 minutes. We stuck it out, the coaches left and we actually got some pretty good photos. And for the sake of balance, it was a lovely Japanese man who agreed to take a picture of both of us together. Which is better than the selfie we might have attempted.
- Dressing inappropriately for the weather.
It’s summer, and it’s been quite nice weather in the UK, so I packed mostly summer clothes. I didn’t pack a coat, at least partly to keep the luggage weight down, but also because I couldn’t imagine I would actually need one.
No sooner had Mrs Proclaims and I exited the train from the airport than it started to pour with rain. I arrived at the hotel reception, apparently three hours before I could actually check in, a very soggy and sorry sight indeed.
Mrs Proclaims packed an umbrella.
Sometimes I mock her for being overly cautious.
- A man stealing my toast. Seriously. A man actually stole my toast.
The cheapish hotel I booked on our return, so my car could be fixed prior to taking on the M25, provided a buffet breakfast (for an insanely high additional cost but with the knowledge there is literally nowhere else that you can go). It was not a bad buffet as buffets go, and as with most hotel buffets they provided untoasted bread and the facilities with which to cook said bread (a toaster if you will). I put three slices in the toaster (one for Mrs Proclaims and two for me) and went away to collect the rest of my breakfast items. I returned a few moments later to find only two slices. One of the other guests had quite literally stolen my toast. I didn’t quite know what to do, so I rather meekly accepted that I would be eating only one slice for the time being. It didn’t really seem worth challenging him over a slice of cooked bread. That would make me seem petty.
But I was properly annoyed…
- An incredibly unsettling and noxious smell.
I suppose drainage problems happen. But it is unfortunate when they happen on a hot day in a very popular tourist destination. Most unfortunate and upsetting.
I will literally never forget that smell as long as I live.
- Walking a really long way only to realise that public transport would have been a more viable and sensible option.
Guidebook maps are useful in telling you where things are in relation to other things. They don’t, in my experience, convey the distance to scale particularly well. Mrs Proclaims and I have returned from our holiday fitter than when we went. This is no bad thing. But we’d both prefer it had been through choice rather than poor map reading.
So there you have it. Ten aspects of my holiday that should be forever be edited out of future reminiscences. Instead I’ve chosen to record them for posterity on my blog.
I don’t think we need to dwell on my rationale for doing this.