Gromet on Holiday in Wales 1998
Once dormant flies and moths leapt out of their skins as the radio screamed into our ears, not to be outdone my watch began clanging away, I sat bolt up right and shouted "line up and be quiet!" Yes another cold grey dawn was reverberating to the cacophony that was closing in around us.
This year Neil had chosen not to accompany us into the rain sodden hills of Wales. This decision had also been taken by Kirsty Matthew, Zee and Jade, our numbers, on this, possibly our last expedition to Wales, were sadly depleted.
We covered 50 meters before Nip's CB burst into life "we are in trouble". The ominous message emanated from the thick black cloud following him. As it cleared he observed a stationary Gromet beneath a flashing orange beacon. There had been an horrendous clattering when we pulled out of Hallam Way. We peered into the engine compartment, crawled about on the sodden road and rattled anything we could get hold of, but what really did the trick was when someone, surreptitiously, mentioned replacing Gromet's esteemed position with our ageing Granada, from that moment on our intrepid red shed behaved impeccably. The journey recommenced, as did the rain. The quality and intensity varied but it stuck to us like glue all the way to Caernarfon, where the sun burst forth and gave us a rousing rendition of Al Jolsen's "Mammy - how I luv ya, how I luv ya, my dear old Mammy ...", although some of the more sceptical amongst us claimed it came from the Dutch Land Rover at the far side of the Safe Way car park.
The evening saw Nip, Gill, Rosie and myself reclining on the terrace of the Ty-Newydd supping ale, James, Polly and Laura exploring the beach below and our poor, dejected hounds sitting in the Land Rover. The dreaded NO DOGS ALLOWED signs were already drastically curtailing their pleasure BUT with the drinks the holiday had officially begun.
The Burning Question of the day
What happened to the cockle that went to the disco?
To be fair the question had been raised at Naomi's engagement party, on the previous evening. The answer was, it seems, that it pulled a whelk. We decided to make use of our first day in Wales to investigate this strange tale. We ascertained that the venue for this disco had been down on the sands of Porth Ore and that, by all accounts, it had been most successful. There were pretty lights, beach fires and barbecues while the music blasted out across the water and off the cliffs. Mr Travolta's classic, "Saturday Night Fever" was reverberating through the crowd. The cockle, whose name was Timothy, was having a great time, he had not experienced anything like it in the whole of his short, uneventful life. He as revelling in the fact that he had ignored his mothers advice, she had implored him not to go. Two minutes later, as Timothy crouched on the bar, supping a Guinness that had spilled over from a particularly tall glass, a gorges female slunk up beside him. She had long black hair. A figure hugging red mini dress, a voluptuous body which revealed a great deal of cleavage, long black boots and according to Radio Ulster, four foot one inch of black boot and bare leg, In Timothy Cockle's humble opinion, based upon the literature he had picked up about the species.
She was a stunner, and she knew it.
Timothy could feel his little heart beating ten to the dozen
before full ecstasy was reached when, of all the cockles, she chose him, he came over all of a quiver, hot and cold flushes would have run up and down his tiny spine, if he had had one. But Timothy's joy was short lived, out came a pin, there was a flash, a sharp jab and he was gone, she had eaten him! Her hulk of a boy friend, sorry hunk, came up, laughing uncontrollably and informed her that the cockle, she had so eagerly consumed, was raw!!!
And his reward for such nauseating gallantry? She was sick right down the front of his purple Armani shirt. Our enquiries led us to the birthplace of this fine cockle. It is to be found on the north side of the peninsula, and is known by the name Porth Widlin. If you are ever in the area, don't bother.
For our first task we had to out wit a herd of very intimidating and unscrupulous cows.
They must have been informed of our quest, in advance,
and were obviously attempting to pervert the course of truth and justice, however Laura reminded us that it was our duty to get to the bottom of this mystery. Two fields further on and another herd attempted to close in on our party notwithstanding Polly created a diversion. With out warning she made a dash for the gate where she informed the cows, in no uncertain terms, that she considered their behaviour to be most reprehensible, Laura agreed implacably with Polly and in addition she considered them to be damned ugly to. This so disconcerted the cows that they slunk, shame facedly, off into the corner of the field where we heard one mother cow, blurt out to her off spring
"Oh god, what have you done to your hair!"
The adolescent calf burst into tears
This was too much, through her sobs she attempted to explain that she had done nothing, she had merely followed these sheep, she pointed to a small group of ewes smirking in the other field, the next thing she knew she had been unexpectedly grappled to the ground by the farmer, thrown onto her back and given a very short back and sides. She expounded, through her tears, that at no time had she been given the least opportunity to request "just a little off the fringe please".
"Well that is obvious", said her mum "Your fringe is all uneven."
This was too much for the sheep, they burst out in uncontrolled laughter as they rolled about on their backs, legs kicking in the air.
After trekking across an additional three or four fields we stumbled upon the rough track which slowly meandered it's way to the hill overlooking the beach which, according to local gossip, had once been the home of the aforementioned, wayward cockle. From our elevated vantage point we gazed upon the famous beach before coming to the conclusion that it was definitely no Spanish resort where one could not fit a pin between the crammed sunbathes, in fact this seaweed strewn patch of dirty grey mud was totally deserted. Being that it was just after mid-day we determined to consume our carefully packed lunches. Only Gill and Polly venture down onto the, so called, sand and then only for a minute or two. The rest of us placed our posteriors, carefully between the sheep droppings, on the grassy slopes, overlooking the sea, Rosie was just unwrapping her turkey and dill sandwich when Laura unexpectedly spied a seal, it had surface not twenty yards off the shore line. Nip decided it was time to ascertain the true facts, he interrogated Charles, the seal, and yes, he was well acquainted with the late Timothy. James demanded that the unhappy seal tell all, while Polly took the initiative and waved a packet of cheese and onion Wotzits in front of him, "No no" he cried "Not the Wotzits". He broke down completely at that point and revealed all, albeit in the strictest confidence. From what he related we deduced that it was not a whelk our intrepid cockle had pulled, it was a muscle!!! No wonder the cows had been in such a hurry to prevent us gaining access to the beach, the late Timothy's reputation was now in tatters. We finished our repast and made our way back across the fields to the Land Rovers, the fact of the matter was that we were so dejected by these revelations that, like so many others before us, we simply felt unable to remain in the proximity of this sullied beach any longer.
The evening was spent studying a documentary followed by a film about the adverse effects tornadoes have on baby's toupees and new bicycles left out in the rain.