We have recently returned from our 27th, yes you heard it right, our 27th holiday to Wales. We spent the first 23 of them in Abersoch and the last 4 in the hills above Caernarfon, within sight of ‘The Mast’ and a 15 minute drive from Bridge Oi Oi Ig and the Steam Trains.
John’s reaction is always a sight to behold, it’s as if he is seeing it all for the first time and it would melt the coldest of hearts.
This year I feared he would render us all unconscious as he leapt around the harbour like a salmon. Slapping his head, tapping mine, slapping his own again and finally Scoobie Doo’s, before loudly informing the gentle folk of Caernarfon that ‘Queer Mary’ was going to be in Liverpool the following weekend.
Oh yes, if we thought we may just possibly have a ‘Queen Mary’ free week, we were soooo wrong.
It was all my fault of course, if only I had waited until we were back home before telling him the news but no, I was so excited for him that I blurted it out when I picked him up the day before, and then instantly regretted it.
John is now so obsessed with Cunards finest Queen that the walls of his room at Nelsons croft are covered in photographs, posters and newspaper cuttings showing Mary and her sister ships, Elizabeth and Victoria in all their elegant glory. He also has a model of her proudly berthed on his radiator.
It reminded me of my own bedroom in the late 60’s early 70’s when the walls too were covered in so many photo’s and posters that you couldn’t see the wall paper underneath. The difference being that it was the not so elegant Noddy Holder and Slade that stared back at me from every angle. My dad would walk past my room shaking his head and claiming that Noddy needed a hair cut and a few years in the army would soon sort the lot of them out. He couldn’t bear to look at the tv when Marc Bolan and T.Rex were on Top of the Pops. His tight velvet trousers and the glittery stars on his cheeks were just too much. Marc Bolan’s that is, not my dad’s.
Anyway I digress…..back to me letting the Queen out of the bag.
When I arrived at Nelsons Croft to pick up John I imagined I would be packing several boxes containing most of his toys and gadgets. How wrong could I be! There was only one box containing 2 talky alphabet tablety type of things, his clock, a mobile, Tinky Winky, Scoobie Doo and several hundred photo’s of his beloved ship. That’s when I let it slip that the she would be in Liverpool the following weekend, John immediately wanted to change the plans and stay home so he could be sure of not missing it. After 364 sleeps, all eagerly and repeatedly counted down on a daily basis, he didn’t want to go. Me and my big mouth.
It took a while to convince him that we weren’t moving to Caernarfon for ever, that he would definitely get to see Queen Mary next week and no she wouldn’t be going through the Bridge Oi Oi Ig even if I did manage to phone ‘The Man’. I agreed that we would come home on the Thursday thus ensuring that John had 3 days to prepare himself for the big event.
Caernarfon was now playing catch up to the much more exciting prospect of John getting to flirt with his Queen for an entire day.
The following morning after carefully arranging all of the photos, bits of newspaper cuttings and the 12″ model of Mary on the dashboard, we set off on our jollies. I needn’t have worried, apart from Tinky Winky who kept asking for Po, at least I hoped that was what he was saying….and Scoobie Doo continually mentioning that he could smell cheese burgers, the journey was pleasant and without any hitches.
The Queen Mary sailed up and down the dash board all the way to Caernarfon, tooting loudly and occasionally falling off into the foot well, much to Johns delight.
As I mentioned John went completely bonkers once we arrived and as always happens after several minutes of yelping, slapping, leaping and crotch grabbing he cleared the harbour of tourists, seagulls and anyone else who might have been enjoying the sunshine.
Being a good lad John shared his news with whoever was still around. Running over to a man and his son who were quietly catching crabs off the harbour wall he startled them by yelling ‘Yeehaaaa! Queer Mary twoo’
They both jumped, well you would! The crab took advantage of the situation by wriggling of the hook, I am sure I heard it squeak ‘Cheers Johnny boy’ waving its pincers at him as it plopped back into the water. ‘Cab’ shouted John pointing to the empty hook and roaring with laughter ‘Gone’ he added unnecessarily nodding his head. I apologised and tempted him away with a piece of cake before things took a turn for the worse.
We sat and ate our picnic while John and Scoobie fought over a cheese sandwich, by the look on Scoobies face, John won.
Bridge Oi Oi Ig swung several times and the pleasure boat ‘The Queen of the Sea’ chugged in and out of the harbour all afternoon, ensuring that the start to John’s holiday was about as perfect as it could be. I am not sure the locals shared our view, even the gargoyles on the famous castle walls had their fingers in their ears.
The rest of the week was taken up with daily trips on the ‘Queer oh Thea’ as John pronounces it. He took his camcorder, iPad and Tinky Winky with him on every trip. As the boat sailed out of the harbour and off into the Straites, John carefully filmed the bridge swinging open while his dad, looking very uncomfortable, held on to Tinky Winky, who could clearly be heard saying ‘Tinky Winky wants Po’. I cant really describe the expression on his face!
Every afternoon was spent in and around the little Highland railway station waiting for trains to puff in and out. Once everyone was off the train John would jump on and film the air vents above the windows in the carriages. No idea what he finds fascinating about them but he shot about 4 hours of footage.
Over the years the station staff have got to know and love John and he loves them back. ‘Johnelmo oh Queer Mary twoooo sayyay’ he announced as he walked into the little building and up to the lovely lady behind the counter. She looked at me for help. I translated….’He is saying that he, John Ellsmoor, is going on the Queen Mary 2 on Saturday’
Immediately John started jumping up and down thinking I was saying he really was going on the Queen Mary. I realised my mistake ‘No! John you are not going on it, just going to see it, now stop jumping for a minute the display shelves are shaking’
The handsome man who spends a lot of time in the office came out to see if Caernarfon was experiencing an earth quake. ‘Aw Johnny boy isn’t it!’ he laughed, managing to catch two books and a plastic Thomas the Tank Engine which had been bounced off their shelf.
‘Queer Mary Libubub’ said John. I explained to the handsome man that she was coming into Liverpool next Saturday.
He laughed ‘I knew a Mary once you know, oh yessss, a proper girl she was, you know, magnificent.’ he winked at me to get his point across. The handsome man has had many conquests and he loves to tell you all about them. He held his hands wide apart indicating her figure, saying ‘She was built like a sea goddess herself you know, oh yessss, totally magnificent. I had many a good voyage with that one I can tell you.’
Fortunately before he could start to reveal more about his voyage around Mary, the lovely lady behind the counter spared all our blushes by flicking the switch that turned on the big flat screen which was on the far wall and played DVD’s of the various Highland railway journeys. John immediately yelped, bounced over and stood transfixed at the screen. Having been disturbed by the earthquake, the little instore coffee machine started to pour forth water, so the handsome man had to dash over to turn it off. The lovely lady looked at me knowingly, she was clearly well used to the handsome man and his stories. He disappeared back into the office probably to relive his time with magnificent Mary.
The weather was very kind to us all week and John loved every minute, inspite of needing constant reassurance that he would be seeing his beloved Queen Mary on the Saturday. Its impossible not to be impressed with the cottage and surrounding countryside. Its a peaceful haven of wildflower meadows and the wildlife that depends on them.
I felt our 27th holiday was more of a success, this due mainly to the fact that we only lost John once. Last year we, or I should say I, lost him 3 times!
One evening before tea he managed to sneak away while I was chatting to the owner, he is great fun and always has lots of stories about people who have stayed in the cottage over the years. John has the freedom to wander around safely without being in danger from a road.
When I called him in for tea on this particular day I didn’t think much of it when he didn’t come running in to ask how many sleeps it was until Saturday or for a piece of pre tea cake.
I called again, nothing. His dad told me to leave it as he would be watching something on his dvd player and would be down in his own good time. Five minutes passed by and by then I knew with certainty that he had been kidnapped. Abducted by aliens even, who knows! John was definitely no longer in Snowdonia and most probably not even in Wales. All reason goes out of the window with me as I panic at the thought of my vulnerable son being lost. His dad pointed out that Alien abduction would be more likely than a kidnapping, John being 6ft tall, weighing 17.5 stone and bellowing like a bull would scare the kidnappers to death and they would almost certainly run off. He had a point.
I calmed down and we split up to look for him. We searched the cottage, the cars, the garden, the surrounding fields and the river bank but to no avail. A vein started to throb on John’s dads temple so I knew he was a bit worried. He started shouting ‘Sausages’ at the top of his voice which set a pack of dogs barking and howling in a nearby farm. Again ‘Sausages, JOHN c’mon there’s a good boy’ I looked at him ‘Will you stop shouting sausages, the dogs are going to break out and come after us’ He looked at me ‘You think of something then’. I thought for a minute… ‘Sausages, Sausages JOHN’ I yelled ‘c’mon its tea time.’ By the sound of it I think the farm dogs started eating eachother.
As we stood in the drive we heard a faint sound, a weird nonsensical, indescribable voice drifting on the warm evening breeze. We strained to hear what it was saying and where it was coming from. We followed it across the drive, through the sheep paddock…there it was again, only more clearly now….’I smell Cheeseburgers!’
John and Scoobie were sat in the large chicken coop having a wail of a time playing hide and seek. The chickens were long gone having made a tasty meal for Mr fox. John had both hands over his mouth to stifle a snort. We all started laughing, goodness knows how long he had been hiding waiting to be found. He looked at me, guffawed loudly and said ‘Sausages mummy?’