Birmingham: BENIDORM…Calpe, please!

Prior to any trip, Grimble scours the internet for deals.

Using a two hour radius from home, she checked every airport for deals. Using the ever trusted Skyscanner app, she commenced her search with UK to everywhere. Then, she realised for her and G, everywhere was simply Spain: predictable and perfect. Why go to such lengths to secure a good deal? Because they were at the mercy of school holidays: a novelty for G but not for Grimble, who was something of an expert at weeding out a deal despite every airline and tour operator attempting to thwart her.

Grimble was relentless and canny. The key to her success was early booking and a knowledge that different UK areas had slightly differing holiday dates. So it was that, the previous August, Grimble secured £90 return flights for them in February from Birmingham to Alicante, which given that the Bristol equivalent was already an unreasonable £200 each seemed a bargain. True, her cockney diamond geezer would have to venture up North somewhat, but providing he left the chat to her (not difficult) and stop calling everyone cupcake using a strange nasal intonation, they’d be fine.

They were still in the process of researching the different Costas of Spain pre relocation and the Costa Blanca was virgin territory. It was rare that virgin and the Costa Blanca were placed together, this being party central for the most terrifying version of a Brit abroad. Alicante was the landing point for the Torrevieja and Benidorm brigade. In fact, when the flight was booked the Grimbles had yet to agree a destination. In a moment of what can only be described as temporary insanity, Grimble decided that they should reside in Benidorm for the week. After all, February was a lean month in the holiday season, how bad could it be? There were pluses: it was reputed to be a 24/7, 365 days town. Spanish resorts did like to hibernate in the winter and have the mother of all siestas, lasting upwards of three months. Benidorm never slept.

Motivated by this, Grimble searched The hotels alarmed and fascinated her. Trying to find anything that didn’t resemble a Salford tower block of 9 million bedrooms with little more than a dip pool was proving rather a challenge. Finally, she found a penthouse apartment, just off Levante Beach, designed like a ship, complete with portholes and a 35th foot private terrace. One click and it was booked. She sent links to G. He always left her to the arrangements and, as he put it, just turned up. He approved.

Thus it seemed by early September, the winter sun was sorted. However, Grimble spent the next three weeks in turmoil. She recalled and then recoiled from the classic TV series, Benidorm. She watched Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun and began to feel a sense of fear and foreboding. Added to this was a work colleague’s comments, who offered Grimble insights into her previous year’s out of season Benidorm trip.

She happily recalled a club night which transformed into a floor show. This was no ordinary floor show. It commenced about 2am, and her co worker was already half cut to the point where, if she hadn’t filmed it, she would have believed it was a Sambuca shots psychosis and not real. She revealed said clip discreetly to Grimble. They were, after all, sat in the workroom of a Catholic college and what was about to be revealed would have certainly been beyond the redemption of a few Hail Marys. Indeed, it was so bizarre, that Grimble wondered if a exorcism might have been required.

The clip commenced innocently enough. Typical of a Spanish club, they was evidence of a foam squirt…well she hoped that it was foam. Onto the dance floor, at some speed, was a muscular black man on a Segway, wearing a Darth Vader mask and little else, other than a Lycra thong. He did a few nifty spins until he was joined by another Segway. This was driven by a Princess Leila, of sorts. This was clearly not going to be a faithful adaptation of the Star Wars franchise given that Leila’s white gown seemed to be missing its bottom half and there was a cleavage of bike parking proportions being revealed. Grimble would concede that the hairstyle was as per the movie. The performance then began. Princess Leila descended her Segway, dropped to her knees at the foot of Darth Vader. Grimble wondered if this was symbolic of the Empire’s final defeat. Oh no. With speed, she deftly dismantled Darth’s thong and BJed his shlong. Grimble was so surprised, she nearly genuflected, and she wasn’t even Catholic.

And this certainly was live, real and bloody awful. Grimble wondered in which universe this was considered entertainment.

Convoluted images invaded her mind. This Star Wars adaptation was joined in her brain with the giant inflatable penis of Bar Alcatraz, Calella del Mar, from last summer. That was the sole bar representative of UK there but Benidorm was inundated with such novelties. She cancelled their Penthouse Ship apartment immediately and frantically google mapped the Costa Blanca hunting for an appropriate bolt hole. Bloody Benidorm and tawdry Torrevieja hogged all the sodding coastline it seemed. At one point, she wondered if she could convince G that a city break in the uninspiring port of Alicante could work. Suddenly, and without warning, she found it: Calpe. It was a good hour and twenty minutes from the airport and independent travelling meant getting to Benidorm and then tramming it to Calpe, but it looked the part.

It was Grimble’s lucky trip planning night as she found a colossus of a hotel quite literally. Twenty Nine floors and every room a suite. It was aptly and easily titled Suitopia and, given the facilities, a bargain at £400 for the week. Even more ridiculous, airport transport was included in the price. It was shown to G and booked immediately and the madness that had lead them dangerously close to Benidorm was over.

Now they were comfortably seated on the mini bus transfer with three civilised Dutch ladies wending their way up the motorway knowing it was the right choice. If nothing else, the flight had confirmed it. Birmingham Airport had presented itself as half term hell. They’d paid the £5 extra each to fast track customs and the mass of noisy Northern humanity which had traumatised Grimble. Even as they parked the car, in sub zero UK temperatures, there was a nutter from Blackburn (his Blackburn T-shirt and intonation gave him away), travelling to some resort in Egypt, already attired in shorts and sandals. He was shivering so dramatically that, in a desperate attempt to ward off hypothermia, his family had wrapped him in a lurid tartan patterned beach towel. He now looked like he was sporting a velour kilt and even more ridiculous than before. G, who thought he’d seen most things, having family in Essex, was lost for words. Grimble just felt an overwhelming urge to apologise to him for the North.

The plane was rammed and they wiled away the twenty minutes of boarding playing Benidorm: Torrevieja: Calpe, and identified who was heading where. They based their judgements on: attire, noise levels and inebriation. It didn’t surprise them that they were now sat on a minibus with three Dutch ladies with no one English in sight. In fact, Jet2 politely, but clearly, announced that getting pissed on board was not tolerated and the only alcohol to be consumed was their own sales. Given the cost of a drink, that effectively sobered up the whole plane.

Calpe and the promise of a luxury hotel was drawing near. They’d passed the high rises of Benidorm and they could just see the rock that marked their chosen resort jutting into an azure Mediterranean Sea. They were back, they were here, and they were happy.

Published by

Annette Juniper Grimble

Follow us as we blunder through our lives. When should we put up the Christmas tree? Should we move to Spain or just go on holiday? Will we ever clear out the cupboard of doom? Is it a prosecco night or a red? Have I really got anxiety or do I just need to toughen up a bit? Here I am, getting closer to a very significant birthday. Not one with a zero in it but one which will allow me to feasibly remove the shackles of sensible employment with some cash in my back pocket and a song in my heart. As that point draws nearer, G and I face our mid life with apprehension and joy.

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