G and Grimble:
The holiday was drawing to a far too early close. The car contained an inordinate amount of red wine and cava that Grimble had tried to convince herself would keep until Christmas. Their clothes contained so much sand that they could have easily developed a small beach resort once back in Highworth.
They loved the Costa Alhazar and were beginning to consider plans that might not just make this a holiday destination. They’d don’t it before, so why not, again? But for now this was a holiday drawing to a close. They considered the highlights. The food was definitely part of the Peniscola appeal. This was Valencia province, home of paella and all things fish. They’d demolished whole pans of fideua, the noodle version of paella, packed with fish that a few hours before had been in the sea. Langoustines that had the aspiration to be lobsters with their immense girth. G and Grimble had almost mastered the art of shelling fish, though Grimble had been maimed a couple of times by their razor like fierceness.
They had shared T bone steaks which would have happily fed Desperate Dan. They had shared memories that were mostly great ones. They’d shared bottles of red wine with artistic labels whose price tags were so cheap that they belied the quality inside. And then they had shared dreams. It seemed G and Grimble didn’t want a permanent grey sky in their lives. Holidays were designed to reinvigorate but this one had really made them contemplate where they wanted to be. They knew that when they returned to the UK, the winter would be fast approaching and there would be the long damp, cold weekend nights watching X Factor. Yes, they always had their next tours planned as Grimble was an organising menace, but they needed more than just a tour plan. They needed an exit plan. So they decided to supplement their X factor, Chinese takeaways and bottles of red with plotting a different type of possible future.
They left Spain slowly not because of depression, though it didn’t help, but because the buggers on the French border hadn’t fixed the toll booths meaning that, on one of the busiest travelling days of the summer, a mass of traffic was trying to squeeze through the few booths left working. Combine this with 30 degree heat and this journey was far from great. They spent two hours of being stationary near the Spanish border town of La Jonquera which seemed to have been transported out of the Wild West with its neon strip of outlets, signs offering cheap booze, fags, gas and women. The Pyrenees are stunning. La Jonquera less so. However, in the long queue, at least it offered something visual and they contemplated what it would be like to live in this seedy, unruly border town.
G and Grimble motored slowly through France, to the North and, as expected the sky turned grey and with the grey they felt the holiday glow fading. In a desperate attempt to maintain the holiday just a little more, Grimble had refused to book a chain hotel that bordered the motorway however convenient that might have been. She insisted on a short journey into rural France to the aptly named Carpe Diem hotel. She felt the name encapsulated their hopes. However, this was rural France in August and they had until 11pm to arrive, which was actually beyond the normal as usually France shut down for the whole of August. This was a feature of Southern Europe that had always mystified G and Grimble. How could such beautiful tourist draw areas effectively shut their doors at the most tourist time of the year? The time of 11pm had been well within their reach until the French border debacle. Now, it was touch and go especially as SatNav lady really had not liked G and Grimble’s rural escapades and they were concerned that she might again go rogue. They moved down darkened roads and it was hard to see where they might end up. However, there it was: Savigneux and Carpe Diem. At 10.45pm, the lights indicated it was still awake unlike G and Grimble who’d traveled for over twelve hours and were feeling dazed, cramped and exhausted.
Terrified that they might get locked out and desperate to get into bed, Grimble darted into the hotel before G had even parked up, almost leaping from the moving vehicle. Despite the fact that they were probably the last to arrive, Grimble insisted on attempting to communicate with the lady on reception as to her reservation. This she did in a very unique mixture of Spanish, French, a touch of English and she was pretty sure some German invaded her sentence too. Luckily, they really were the last to arrive so really her attempt to convince Europe that the English were able to master languages, clearly not just one, were wasted. However, there was still a local group’s dinner happening on the terrace and Grimble requested as to whether it was too late to have a bottle of red there. She did not want the holiday to end. She wanted their last day to have some greater joy than traffic queues, horrible motorway services toilets and overinflated prices for everything. This was an attempt to seize the moment as the hotel’s name claimed and create something more joyful to recall.
Thus, they sat on a terrace drinking from a very palatable, and complimentary, Beaujolais. As an even greater bonus, the group dining invited them to share their desserts. And they drank wine, ate divine chocolate mouse and scrumptious ice cream cake and contemplated how the small acts of kindness just added to the happiness they felt. They tumbled into bed knowing tomorrow they would return to the UK, to Wiltshire, to Highworth and to work.
G and Grimble realised that their dreams would take a couple of years to materialise because, whilst running away was always tempting, it was not a suitable way for people of their maturity to behave. In that time in between, they vowed to have more adventures, more misunderstandings and more mischief which they might just recollect on this page.