A Bit Of A Do (Part Four)

The wedding breakfast had been laid on in the grand ballroom of an impressive old manor house hotel. After reception drinks, we all took our seats and I was relieved that Serial Shagger had been seated at the opposite end of the table to me; which spared me from the temptation of wanting to stab him with a fork and having to spend the rest of my life in a six-foot cell.

The meal was sumptuous and the wine flowed, the speeches came and went along with the champagne. Unsurprisingly, Serial Shagger managed to embarrass the groom with a few lewd stories at his expense followed by a slide show and ever raunchier jokes during his speech.

After the meal and speeches had finished I somehow ended up sitting alongside Sid & Ernie, my Dad’s allotment buddies, who were providing the entertainment that evening with their mobile disco “The Village People”; clearly not to be confused with the male singing group of the 70s. Frankly, the prospect of seeing them both scantily clad in leather chaps was enough to scar me for the rest of my natural-born, however, common sense had prevailed and their trademark stage costumes consisted of matching midnight blue Lurex tuxedos.

Whilst sat alongside me canvassing requests and dedications, Sid randomly remarked “Cake were nice; not as good as yours though but they had a better do”

“That’s ‘cos we didn’t have one in the end, remember?”.

It still smarted that my mother had frozen all the buffet items when my wedding had been cancelled at the last-minute and we had lived on them for weeks afterwards. In hindsight the three-tiered wedding cake, which had proved popular with all house guests had probably lasted longer than our engagement which in itself should have told me something.

On the way to the ladies’ cloakroom to touch up my make-up having busted out some moves to the Macarena, Cha Cha Slide and not forgetting the obligatory YMCA, I discovered Simon sitting outside on the balcony on his own nursing his pint. I thought he hadn’t noticed me so I just carried on walking but Simon was ahead of me and pulled a chair up alongside him. “Cracking day, wasn’t it?” indicating that I should sit and I agreed that it has been the very best of days.

“What am I going to do, Dall? I’ve got one kid with a girl I don’t even like and another on the way. I feel my life’s over”!

I sat quietly just listening to him wail about the injustices of his life oblivious to the irony of the situation. It was hard to feel sorry for this spoiled Peter Pan who had no concept of the hurt he continued to inflict on those around him. The saddest thing of all was that I no longer felt any real animosity towards him, in fact, I didn’t feel anything for him at all and in many ways that was much more heartbreaking.

I recognised that Simon had been indulged all his life first by his parents and then by me and in loving him too much we had created a self-absorbed disloyal narcissist with the emotional capacity of a toddler. No doubt we’d have still been together making each other miserable if circumstances hadn’t forced our hand. The truth of the matter was we started out dating each other when we were teenagers and had simply outgrown each other. Whilst Simon hadn’t really changed at all and I seriously doubt if he ever would, I had and now I realised that I wanted a good deal more out of life than he was capable of giving to anyone.

As I got up to leave he whispered “It wasn’t all bad, was it?”

Smiling wistfully I said “No Simon, not all bad just on the days ending in “Y”.”

“A wisecrack for every occasion”

“That’s me; a regular Dawn French” and excusing myself I went in search of the cloakrooms.

After some major restoration work with the help of Estee Lauder, I felt a little more presentable and returned to the party. On the way I couldn’t help but notice a couple locked in an embrace on the balcony and a second look confirmed that it was Simon and one of the other bridesmaids indulging in a little Summer Night lovin’. I sighed to myself and genuinely hoped that at some point in his life for the sake of his family he managed to curb his self-destructive streak.

However, I had a more pressing appointment with a gentleman who had signed my dance card earlier in the evening and as I strolled determinedly into the ballroom to the sound of Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable, I smiled at the kindest man in the world as he took my hand and swept me around the dance floor. And there in that ballroom, this fairy princess danced with the man who would always be her hero; my Dad.

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A Bit Of A Do (Part Three)

“Fanbloodytastic! I can’t tell Jen, she’s going to think this marriage is jinxed”.

I had wisely asked Jen’s mum to bring along a handbag for me containing my essentials and mobile phone so Sid retrieved that for me on some pretext not wishing to alarm everyone at this stage.

The ushers and I, stood in the graveyard, dialling everybody we knew to see whether we could locate the errant bridegroom. Just as I thought I was going to have to share the heart-breaking news with Jen, one of the ushers shouted “we’ve found him”!

Apparently Serial Shagger and the groom had spent the night at a pub in the next village and as they were so worse for wear the landlord had taken pity on them and allowed them to sleep it off in the bar.

I went inside to let the vicar know we were going to be starting this party a little late and asked whether he would mind making an announcement to the guests. Many upon discovering that the nuptials wouldn’t be starting for some time went outside for a cigarette break and to stretch their legs, as church pews aren’t the most comfortable form of seating.

I could sense the natives getting restless so I asked one of our friends, who was an accomplished musician, if he would mind banging out a few tunes on the church organ, the one donated by my Dad. Who would have thought that the current custodian of those hallowed walls, the vicar, would be rocking Oasis’ “Wonderwall” on a slow Saturday afternoon in July.

Jen was taking the situation rather well and stood quietly talking with her Dad, whilst I was wishing I’d tucked a hip flask into my handbag along with the mobile phone.

Having made our way through the entire Oasis repertoire in the church karaoke session, fortunately we received word that the dynamic duo were on their way to the church and a short while later were seen sprinting across the churchyard.

As they raced past me straightening their cravats, Serial Shagger winked and said “Pleased to see me are you angel, bet you thought I’d stood you up again?”

“The fact that you are here is living proof that the assassins failed yet again and actually for the record, I dumped you and whilst you may think of it as a break up, I like to think of it as dodging a bullet”.

Before he was unable to respond he was promptly escorted away by the Vicar who was keen to get the wedding underway before any further incident dogged the event.

The ceremony went without a hitch although I could tell Jen and Josh were holding their breath when the congregation were asked if “anyone knew any reason…”. Serial Shagger remembered the rings and all the young bridesmaids and page-boy behaved impeccably. Even the sun managed to shine for the photographs.

Simon whispered to me as I was climbing into my Dad’s car to drive to the Hotel for the reception “Well I got him here in the end”.

“Simon, although I’m no cactus expert even I know a prick when I see one”

“Don’t forget to save a dance for me later, babe” he said blowing me a kiss before heading off in the direction of his motor.

Yeah, that wasn’t going to be happening as long as my backside pointed downwards!

Catch A Bit of A Do (Part Four) to see whether it’s a happily ever after or whether it will all end in tears.

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A Bit Of A Do (Part Two)

We awoke to brilliant sunshine on the morning of the wedding day but it quickly changed to torrential downpours. As I was on a tight schedule I got dressed quickly and headed ‘round to Jen’s house where the hairdresser was already waiting to work her magic. When I got there Jen and her mother were less than serene on account of one of the small bridesmaids looking remarkably like she had the onset of chicken pox. Jen was near to hysterical as she had never contracted the virus either and her mother was trying to calm her nerves by getting her to drink a glass of brandy

“I can’t get sick, I can’t! We’ve dreamed about going to Thailand for so long and worked all the overtime we could to pay for this honeymoon” Jen wailed “We’re supposed to be catching a flight tomorrow!”

The hairdresser was doing her best to carry on as normal but no amount of sympathy could console Jen. I, for my part, did what Maids of Honour do best by ensuring everyone had a large refill. Whilst it was still breakfast time, I was comforted by the thought that somewhere in the world the sun was over the yardarm making it perfectly acceptable to be drinking alcohol at such an ungodly hour.

Sometime later when Jen had cried it all out, we both sat on her Mum’s patio in our heated rollers sipping champagne where I tendered my viewpoint on the chicken pox dilemma.

“Well as I see it cupcake, you have two choices; you can either fly off on honeymoon and start your married life as you intend to, by continuing to enjoy every precious second that you’re given or you can stay at home stocking up on shedloads of calamine lotion to apply to your itchy bits. So suck it up buttercup!”

After another glass of champagne and somehow, the world seemed a brighter happier place where chicken pox didn’t seem to be the worst fate in the world.

“Little Pizza Face”, the small bridesmaid plagued with chicken pox was despatched to the comfort of her own home with the promise of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice-cream whilst Jen and I surrendered to the ministrations of the hairdresser.

Finally we were ready and the cars arrived to take us to the church, me with the younger bridesmaids and Jen in a cloud of organza with her teary-eyed and very proud father. I have to admit that I did feel a tad wistful as I watched them arm in arm and wondered if I would ever share a moment like this with my own Dad.

We all jumped into the cars for the short trip to the church during which time I had to referee a couple of spats amongst the young bridesmaids and page-boy. We were late arriving so the photographer was waiting at the kerb as we pulled up and didn’t waste any time in hurrying us away to pose for the obligatory pictures whilst the rain had paused briefly to allow the sun to shine.

Fortunately, just as my face was beginning to ache I was saved from further photographic torture when Jen and her Dad arrived.

As I stood watching the photographer’s assistant re-arrange Jen’s dress for the photographs, Sid, one of my Dad’s allotment buddies and whom my Grandma has always referred to as a “few fries short of a Happy Meal”, uncomfortably attired in top hat & tails as one of the ushers hissed at me “They’ve not come”.

“Who’s not come”?

“Groom and Best man”.

“This is a joke, right?”.

“’fraid not. Heard they’d had a few shandies in the Rose & Crown last night”.

If I had a pound for every time Serial Shagger had in some small way managed to ruin my day, I’d have enough cash to buy bullets and it looked suspiciously like today was going to be no exception.

Will he or won’t he? To see whether he does read A Bit Of A Do (Part Three)

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A Bit Of A Do (Part One)

Before the “jilting incident” when I was facing the possibility of lifelong public humiliation and spinsterhood, Serial Shagger and I had promised our friends Jenny and Joshua that we would be both Best Man and Maid of Honour respectively at their nuptials. However, as the situation had changed significantly as their wedding approached, I offered to resign my post to avoid any awkwardness on their special day but Jen had insisted that I carry on; and what the Bride wants the Bride gets! So I reconciled myself to dancing barefoot at the ceremony and braced myself for the wedding rehearsal at the local Parish church.

Subsequently, the following Thursday night after the Bell ringersIMG_0598 had finished practising, Jenny, Joshua and wedding party met in the church to be put through our paces by the Vicar; who did a quick double take from me to Simon before he jokingly quipped that he hadn’t ever expected to see the pair of us together again at the altar. I gritted my teeth and smiled whilst contemplating slipping a little “sumthin sumthin” into the communion wine ahead of the next Sunday service.

Simon didn’t appear to be as apprehensive as I about the situation and smarmed his way through the entire proceedings whilst I just secretly visualised him being pursued by a horde of starving cannibals but remembering I was in church tried my best to focus on purer thoughts. Although I did think that as the son of Satan, he was being reckless stepping onto holy ground but then again my Grandma always used to say that “the Devil looks after his own”.

The vicar ran through all the formalities with us and told us what to expect at the ceremony and invited us to ask questions. Once he was satisfied that everyone was familiar with the roles they had to play on the big day he brought the proceedings to an end.

“That wasn’t so bad” Simon beamed at me whilst giving me one of his shit-eating grins; which at one time I would have found irresistible but now just made me cringe.

“Agreed; today I have only imagined killing you three times in my head, whilst a few months ago I would have wanted to have shaved your eyebrows, firebombed your car and shredded your wardrobe, so in that respect Simon, we have indeed moved forward”.

“Do you ever think about us?” Ignoring my horrified expression, he pressed on “No really, we’d have been celebrating our first wedding anniversary so you must wonder where we’d be right now”

“Probably in a solicitor’s office negotiating custody of Hobo and the Panasonic 50″ smart TV”.IMG_0583

Fortuitously, at that moment, Jen and Josh invited us all to join them at the local pub for a drink so we wandered across the road to the Rose & Crown where we sat in the beer garden enjoying the beautiful summer’s evening.

I excused myself after an hour as I had work the next day and Simon followed behind me.

“See you in Church, Angel” he said winking at me as he jumped into his sports car and sped away.

I managed to refrain from waving back at him with a solitary digit whilst thinking that Saturday just might be the longest day of my life.

And if you want to know if they made it to the church on time read what happens next in A Bit Of A Do (Part Two)

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The Ugly Duckling

Today it’s the turn of the fabulous Wivi over at myguiltypleasures whose little swan family inspired one of my stories. Wivi and I share a love of food and music – although she’s a much better cook than me! So thank you to Wivi and thanks to all of you for reading!

Her hand trembled as she applied another coat of mascara; she wasn’t sure if that was because of the excitement or just nerves getting the better of her, but one thing was certain she was going to surprise a lot of people tonight. No one believed her when she had announced her plans. They’d all scoffed when she started and pointed out her shortcomings and the more they doubted her, the more determined she had become. Admittedly, she had in the past started projects and become disillusioned very quickly; like when she became an Avon Lady which lasted all of four weeks when she realised it would require working weekends and evenings. So you couldn’t really blame folk for not having faith in her.

She’d never really been what you would call pretty although her old Dad used to say that what she lacked in the appearance department, the little oneshe made up for in personality. And whilst she had always been overlooked at school discos when her more attractive friends were asked to dance, she had smiled good-naturedly and ignored the hurt.

For years she’d run around after her sisters and their offspring; babysitting, driving her young nieces and nephews to various after school activities, attending endless school plays and never once forgetting a birthday. At family gatherings she had laughed off the jibes about always being the bridesmaid and never the bride; she’d been maid of honour to all three of her siblings so maybe there was something in the old wives tale after all. qutieIt had been taken for granted that she was content with being the family stalwart and “go to” girl but deep down her heart ached for more and besides she knew that there was a swan inside her just dying to get out.

Smoothing the satin lines of her expensive cocktail dress, she took a deep breath and hearing the compere announce her, she walked onto the stage into the spotlight to cheers and applause. Proudly she grinned as last year’s winner placed the silk sash over her head proclaiming her “Slimmer of the Year”. She blew kisses to her family who were standing in the front row cheering her on along with her new man who she’d met at fat club. Who’d have thought that there would have been romance across the weigh-ins, shared tips and recipes. As he winked back at her,her heart somersaulted and she knew that every agonising gym session and every bar of chocolate she had gone without had been worth it. There was no doubt about it, her future now held promise and hope; it was no longer filled with nights spent babysitting and watching TV soaps in front of the telly. This was her time and she didn’t intend wasting another precious moment.

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The Other Woman

Today it’s the turn of Team Gunta. Gunta over at Movin’ On and I have been following each other since I started blogging and living in a fishing community I was naturally drawn to her wild seas pictures & stormy skies with the briefest suggestion of smugglers on the beach. She’s provided me with some great advice and laughs over the past twelve months or so and I loved the pictures she selected for this post but the last one I think is pretty amazing. Let us know what you think!

She’d lived in the small fishing port all her life and had never spent more than a couple of nights away from home when she’d broken her arm as a small child and had to stay at the local hospital. Her father and brother were fishermen as were her uncles, grandfather and their ancestors.DallasX-1240Their daily routines revolved around tides and weather forecasts strongly interwoven with old wives tales and superstitions. One of her earliest memories was running down to the harbour to welcome her father and his crew home, when her father would pick her up and swing her onto his shoulders to carry her home. If she closed her eyes she could still smell the sea and engine oil from his old jersey.

Unlike many of her contemporaries she had never yearned for far shores, big cities and bright lights. She was content living in their small cottage with her parents and brother and waking up every morning watching the boats in the harbour from her bedroom window. It was always a good day in their small village when one of the trawlers appeared on the horizon surrounded by swooping gulls and then sailed into the quay to unload their catch. An abundant haul could mean the difference between paying the rent and having to seek work for the winter with a road construction gang.

Her childhood sweetheart, Jan, lived a few cottages behind them and he had skippered his own boat ever since his father was tragically lost at sea. As children they had played kiss chase and the pigtail tweaking had progressed into stolen kisses under the apple tree followed by moonlight walks along the beach as they became older and shared their hopes and dreams under a starlit sky.

She had always known, in the way that women do, that he had a first love that she would never be able to competeDallasX-4823 with and as her love continued to blossom and soar so did his obsession with his mistress. The intoxicating rush of adrenalin that he felt when he was alone with his lover was addictive and he failed to heed the many warnings. He became reckless in a way that young men could, without giving any thought to the consequences.

It was fate that his mistress had taken him in the end leaving her with just empty promises and broken dreams. She was bitter no doubt about that; he had been dismissive of her heartfelt pleas in the cruellest of ways. They’d never found his body although the broken hull of the trawler had been retrieved from a nearby cove. Dallas-0917The storm the night he was taken was one of the worst that their region had seen but he insisted on taking the boat out despite the weather forecast of impending squalls. The magnetic pull of the sea had been irresistible and the desire to fight destiny too seductive.

Of course, that was many years ago now and her parents were long gone along with most of their neighbours and friends. There had been many changes in the village; restaurants and cafes teeming with tourists now line the quay where once the trawling fleet used to line up waiting for their crew to fire up the engines and cast off.DallasX-008 Hard to imagine looking at the crowds of visitors that this had once been a thriving fishing community; well, that had been another time. The only remnant of the village’s history remained in the small museum on the quay next to the church where the book of remembrance documented all the lives lost at sea.

She didn’t need any cheap trinket or memento to remind her of Jan; he was always in her heart and there wasn’t a day when she didn’t think about him and what might have been. As she sat on the bench with sunshine warming her face, she smiled secretly to herself. She knew that he was waiting for her as she had waited to join him and it wouldn’t be long now before they were reunited. She’d lived a good life albeit a lonely one but she knew that she could no longer fight this debilitating disease and she was ready now. As she sat there dozing she felt a calloused hand in hers; he’d come for her, just as she knew he would.

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The Nanny

This is the second of my collaborations and my second with the lovely Rhonda over at Fifty Shades of Gray Hair and I think she’s possibly outdone herself this time! It has been a joy working with her on both projects and I have loved how each time I have given her a story she just creates these amazing pictures. So thank you Rhonda, you’re an inspiration!

Jen smiled indulgently across the breakfast table, over the heads of 6-year-old Jake and his sister 4-year-old Emily, at a bemused Richard, and mouthed “I love you”. Their secret smile that they saved for one another, and said that all was right with the world. Jen quickly set about clearing up the breakfast debris when Anna joined them – no matter how hard Jen tried, she just couldn’t warm to this woman. There was an air of detachment and aloofness about her that appeared to be impenetrable. Jen thought it strange that Anne had chosen a career in childcare when she appeared so uncomfortable around them. No Anna, was definitely not what you would call a natural with children. So why then had Jen chosen her, the answer was simple really, she felt that Anne had needed her and coming from a large noisy Irish family, Jen relished being needed. It was as essential to her as breathing, Richard had understood this when they first met and maybe it was the cornerstone of their relationship.

Jen started to load the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher whilst Richard departed for work. Anna sat down at the breakfast table and refereed a squabble between Jake & Emily whilst sipping coffee. Jen sighed thinking it was another morning when conversation would be minimal. Not that she minded the uncomfortable silences but once in a while it would have been nice to start the day with a few pleasantries. Jen didn’t dwell on this too long as it was her morning to take the children to school and she enjoyed the brief stroll and spending time alone with them.

Wrapped up against the chilly morning they set out pausing only to exchange words with their regular friendly lollipop lady. Once the children had been taken inside the school by their respective teachers, Jen started out for the local supermarket where she needed to collect some essentials. Anna had a day to herself today so Jen wasn’t sure whether she would be at home when she returned to start the washing.seagulls 2 Another glamorous fun-filled day Jen thought to herself. She wondered when she and Richard would manage to grab sometime alone again. It was strange but even after these years, their mutual passion still surprised her. With thoughts of their previous night’s lovemaking, Jen decided to treat Richard to his favourite meal and set about picking up the ingredients from the supermarket shelves.

Jen was pleased, when she got home overloaded with shopping bags, to discover that Anna had gone out. After putting all the shopping away, Jen sat down at the kitchen table over a coffee – she smiled, there was nothing quite like freshly brewed coffee to raise the spirits. Five more minutes, she thought, before tackling the rest of the household chores for the day. Whilst savouring the last sips of her coffee, she contemplated where Anna had gone. Anna wasn’t the type of person Jen would choose to spend an evening with, but she had taken a couple of calls for her from friends. Maybe, Anna was the type of person who loosened up after a couple of drinks and lost that cold reserve of hers. She had appeared pretty secretive this morning and one might say even a little pleased with herself. Afterall, she had even worn a cheeky little dress suit in a bright fuchsia colour and splashed on a little channel – totally unlike her. Could there be a man? Jen chuckled and thought that highly unlikely.

Still Jen pondered over Anna’s liaison whilst she unloaded the dishwasher, sorted out the remainder of the washing and prepared the evening meal. Before she knew it, it was time to collect the kids from school.

Although it was a really wintry afternoon, Jen and the children spent some time in the park on the way home and finally arrived breathless and red-cheeked. rhonda 3 That was strange; Richard’s car was in the drive. Still it was nice to have him home early and maybe they could catch five minutes together whilst she deposited the children in front of the television with some hot chocolate.

Once inside the house, the children called out to Richard and it was a few minutes before he ambled into the kitchen. Smiling Jen handed him a mug of hot chocolate whilst ushering the children into the lounge. The smile must have frozen on her face when she noticed Anna stealing down the stairs. Gone was the fuchsia suite and in its place was her usual trademark bland casual wear. Jen secretly thought that Dash would go bankrupt overnight if Anna stopped shopping there.

Jen returned to the kitchen to find that Anna was loading her pre-prepared meal into the oven whilst Richard was sat at the kitchen table, listening intently to something she was saying. At some point, Anna must have said something really amusing as Richard threw back his head and laughed wholeheartedly. For some reason this made Jen very uncomfortable and she felt that she was an intruder in this intimate scenario.

Jen bustled into the kitchen and started to fold the washing which she had taken out of the tumble drier earlier. Anna stopped in mid-sentence and the bonhomie moment she was enjoying with Richard, evaporated. Anna busied herself preparing a salad and Richard joined the children in the lounge and judging from the whoops of delight, Jen guessed that they were playing some rough and tumble game. What with the noise from the children and the blender, Jen was happy not to have to engage in conversation with Anna. Although she had to admit she was curious about what she had been discussing with Richard earlier and if honest, she felt a little jealous that he had sat there mesmerised as if she was the most intriguing woman in the world. Did he still look at Jen like that – the truth of the matter was that Richard had the knack for making every woman feel like they were a priceless piece of porcelain. Even his eighty year old spinster aunt with an aversion to all things masculine was not immune to his charms.

Richard suggesting bathing the children early and putting them to bed before the adults sat down to eat. So whilst Jen mopped up a semi flooded bathroom and picked up a trail of wet towels, Anna started to serve the meal. By the time Jen returned to the kitchen, Richard had uncorked the wine and was pouring out three glasses, whilst in deep in conversation with Anna. Again Jen felt like the intruder when the conversation stopped abruptly. She laughed nervously and went to help Anna, making a mental note to ask Richard later what they had been discussing.

Settling down to enjoy her meal, Jen was shocked when Anna started talking about a wonderful job opportunity that she had in a town about fifty miles away. “Well the thing is Jen; Richard and I have been discussing this” as she grasped Richard’s hand “and we have decided to relocate and as it’s so close to my parents we won’t need a nanny anymore I’m afraid. Richard and I will give you an excellent reference; you do understand don’t you?”

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Coming up next a Turkish themed collaboration with Suzanne over at the travelbunny

In The Beginning (Part Four)

After waving goodbye to the rowdy hens, we made our way to the exit and pushed our trolleys through the crowds of awaiting transfer drivers all holding name signs for their passengers. We eventually found our designated courier, a young handsome and cheery Turk, who introduced himself as Erhan. He suggested we sit at the outside café whilst we waited for his “friend” who was driving the transfer bus which unfortunately had broken down. He assured us that we shouldn’t be concerned, as his friend was already en route to the depot to collect the luxury vehicle with a well-stocked mini bar and would be with us shortly. It was fair to say that now we were concerned!

Having travelled all night, fatigue was beginning to set in and to bolster our spirits we purchased some coffees and water from the kiosk attendant. When I handed over the lira, I realised that I could have financed an entire spa weekend based on the price I had been charged for the refreshments. We passed the time talking with Erhan, asking him about Turkey and in particular, Altinkum, where we would be staying.

An hour and a half later, the “luxury” transfer bus arrived. The transfer driver was a scruffy toothless elderly gentleman who his friend explained, didn’t speak any English but frankly we were so tired that we would have accepted a lift from Attila the Hun. All too soon we realised that vehicle was roughly in the same condition as it’s driver. The upholstery was stained, the ashtrays overflowing and the well-stocked rusty mini bar was padlocked. The stereo blared Turkish music and prayer beads swung from the rear-view mirror; we were left wondering whether the standard transfer vehicle would have in fact, been a donkey and cart. Leaflets advertising the local bars in Altinkum were strewn across the back seat, detailing “cockytails for half price”; oh yeah we would definitely be needing some of those bad boys sometime in the very near future.

We’d barely said our goodbyes to Erhan, when the minibus took off at breakneck speed. In addition to other basic comforts, it appeared that the luxury vehicle also lacked seatbelts. As we were tossed around in the back seats like a salad, I couldn’t help but wonder where were those cockytails when you needed one?

The surrounding countryside flashed past us, as we hurtled towards our destination at seventy miles per hour. As we were travelling so fast, it was difficult to appreciate the numerous roadside stalls selling fresh fruits and the migrant farm workers harvesting the olive trees which covered most of the passing landscape for as far as the eye could see. We also noticed that all Turkish drivers seemed to drive with reckless abandon and have a flagrant disregard for road safety and other road users. Our driver constantly smoked and answered his mobile phone whilst driving, pausing only to curse in Turkish at other drivers.

It was already beginning to get hot and the minibus was stuffy and smoky, and unfortunately, the luxury air conditioning didn’t appear to be working and neither did the electric windows.

As we rocketed around the winding roads, I wondered whether I would in fact, live to see my family again or in an ironic twist, I had unintentionally taken Serial Shagger’s advice literally and fallen off a cliff.

However, a short while later it seemed I was redeemed as the driver decided to put us out of our misery when he pulled up roadside and got out and opened our door. The fresh air and slight breeze was a welcome relief. Nodding and grinning, he gestured for us to step out. He had stopped the van at a shaded area overlooking a vast lake – Baffa Lake as I was later to discover. The views were breath-taking and it was beginning to get hot even though the day was still early.

As I was about to climb out, my friend grabbed hold of me and pulled me back into the van. “No you don’t! He’s going to steal our money and abandon us or worse still, kill us”. It seemed that I was going to be making Serial Shagger’s day after all. The driver seemed confused by our reluctance to leave the vehicle and after shrugging his shoulders grudgingly got back into the minibus to continue on with the white knuckle ride.

Thirty minutes later we drove into the bustling seaside resort of Altinkum where we were going to be staying for the next couple of weeks. I visibly relaxed as I knew then that our nightmare journey was coming to an end. However, once again fate seemed to have other ideas and as we drove around the town stopping to ask for directions, it was apparent that we were lost. So after a further forty-five minutes, tiredness had dictated that I take command of the situation and gesturing for the driver to stop, I got out and asked at a local café. An English couple were able to help along with a Turkish waiter who translated the directions to the driver. Confident that we were now headed in the right direction, I jumped back into the minibus.

Ten minutes later we arrived at our destination and the driver kindly assisted us to the apartment and even helped unlock the door with keys that had been left at the local estate agency office or Emlak offis as they said in Turkey.

The driver departed with a wave, a toothless smile and a generous tip; having mistaken good old-fashioned Turkish courtesy for something a little more sinister, we had felt duty bound to over compensate for our mean-spirited thoughts.

After struggling with the lock, we eventually gained access into what was going to be our home for the next couple of weeks. The apartment was fairly amazing, however, there was one thing troubling me. There was a trail of wet towels leading along the corridor to the bathroom. On closer inspection all of the beds were unmade and the wardrobes were opened; in fact it looked very much like the apartment had been burgled!

Leaving my friend guarding our luggage, I marched back to the emlak office and insisted that the man who had given us the keys some fifteen minutes earlier, return with me to the apartment. In the Turkish laid back manner, that we had become accustomed to since arriving, he climbed into his Fiat Doblo and gestured for me to do the same. He drove erratically the short distance to the apartment, chain-smoking the entire journey, narrowly missing another vehicle then jumped out of the car, gesturing for me to do the same. As we mounted the stairs to the apartment, he appeared fairly unconcerned about potentially confronting a burglar.

My friend was stood outside the door surrounded by all our luggage, whilst the man from an emlak office flashed her his whitest smile as he pushed past into the apartment. After a brief tour, he said “s’okay housekeeper holiday no come today”.

“Sorry?”

“No problem housekeeper coming tomorrow”.

Irritable from the lack of sleep, my friend asked where we would sleep tonight and the man from the emlak office sauntered into the apartment and selecting some linens from a chest of drawers passed them to us and indicated in the direction of the bedrooms.

As I was just too tired to argue, I took the proffered bed linen and selecting the large double room, stripped and remade the bed into which I fell almost immediately into a deep slumber. The rest could just wait until later!

didim beach

Buy Me A Shot I’m Tying The Knot (Part Three)

It hadn’t taken me long to find someone who wanted to share two weeks of sun, sea and sand. One of the girls from work, who’d recently divorced was only too happy to lock up her lonely bachelor flat for a couple of weeks and accompany me to sunny Altinkum.

So a week later we were transported to Bristol Airport via a National Express coach, bursting with excitement and anticipation. We checked our luggage in and sailed through security without disappointingly requiring a body search; leaving us free to do a spot of shopping.

An hour or so later with our wallets considerably lighter, we sat in the café bar outlet in the departures lounge waiting for our flight to be called. My friend and I couldn’t help but laugh at the antics of our fellow passengers. A large hen party from South Wales, dressed in skin-tight pink neon tee-shirts sporting the words “Mine’s the Barman”, matching feather boas and Stetsons danced around the bar. You gotta love class.

My friend and I had made our duty-free purchases and were now sat alongside the boisterous ladies; who were now indulging in tequila shots whilst cheering each other. That was one hangover I was glad that I wasn’t going to be having.

Their laughter was infectious and I nearly joined them in singing along to the old Wurlitzer jukebox; although the acappella version of “I will survive” left a lot to be desired but what they lacked in tone, they made up for in volume and enthusiasm.

Our flight was called and we all grabbed our hand luggage and boarding cards making our way to the boarding desk. In true Thomas Cook style we boarded the plane fairly quickly and took our assigned seats. We discovered that we were sat next to the Hen Party who all introduced themselves as they were going to be staying in the same resort. A few of them had been to Altinkum before and knew the area well and were able to recommend some bars & restaurants. We got chatting and shared the confidences that you do with holiday friends that you think you may exchange the occasional Christmas card with or request as a friend on Facebook.

Never!” the bride said after I had shared my sorry jilted story with the girls. Nothing like a shedload of alcohol and a group of liquored up girls for a self-indulgent pity party.

“Was he a munter?” one of them asked of Simon. “Or was she?”

Another butted in “I know the type, bloody BOBFOC” as I was looking puzzled she continued “you know body off Baywatch, face off Crimewatch”. Well actually I didn’t but if the red swimsuit fit….

When they suggested that I indulge in some Turkish lovin’ to help me move on, I couldn’t help but point out that I needed another man about as much as I needed another wedding. Fortunately, before we were able to continue that conversation, the ever efficient cabin crew dressed in their ill-fitting polyester uniforms, started to dispense duty-free and the hen party became distracted with making purchases.

My friend took the opportunity to rummage through her possessions in the overhead locker dragging out a best-selling paperback and her iPod. “Are you not going to stretch your legs; you don’t want Kankles” she informed me.
Kankles?”

“It’s when your ankles swell up to the size of your knees”. Attractive visual I thought; not only jilted but jilted with the ankles of a rugby player; I’m going to be beating off men with a stick at this rate. Not wishing to add to my catalogue of less attractive features, I decided to take the scenic route to the Loo; where I had to queue for ten minutes. Once inside having completed my ablutions, I just couldn’t resist uttering the immortal words “to infinity and beyond” before flushing.

Upon my return, the party girls were giving their numerous drinks orders to the cabin crew who were struggling to keep up with all the requests. There was a good deal of banter exchanged by both parties and abundant amounts of alcohol purchased and consumed. I was encouraged to try all sorts of various concoctions to choruses of “one for sorrow, two for joy, three and you’ll never sleep with an ugly boy”. As that ship had already sailed, I focused on the drinking task in hand. However, it was after the raspberry Sambuca, when my lips became numb that I realised I was never going to be a real Lambrini girl; particularly, when the feeling only returned in my facial muscles, some two hours later.

Full of cocktails and well-intentioned advice, I slept for the rest of the flight and was only awoken by the cabin staff reminding me to fasten my seatbelt as we were preparing to land. With big sleep hair and a face full of drool, I tried to rouse myself and realised that it was only in movies that the heroine woke looking daisy fresh and airbrushed to within an inch of her life. Real life was a totally different matter judging by the startled expression on the face of the woman sat next to me. As we were coming in to land, I would have to wait until later to freshen up but even then there was only so much restoration work that Estee Lauder could do.

As we disembarked, we thanked the perma-tanned cabin crew and filed slowly off the plane to passport control, with the required visa fee, a crisp ten pound note tucked safely into our passports. At the desks the clerks quickly scanned our passports before stamping them with that all important visa; and then it was on to baggage collection.

Although tired, we joined rest of the passengers in the usual scramble for luggage; and as the hen party loaded their bags onto the trollies, the bride turned to me and said with a wink “Now remember angel cakes, what happens in Tinky Town, stays in Tinky Town. Gotta go love, got a coach to catch” she yelled over her shoulder whilst rushing off in the direction of a clipboard waving holiday rep.

And if you’d like to read the rest of the Honeymoon Stories, you’ll find them here & tales about life in a Devon village here

hisoronu

In The Beginning (Part Two)

“Another”? Carla mimed at me across the public bar at the local Taverners Pub. Well! It’d be rude not to!

I’d been dragged along to Karaoke night by my best friend having spent a week moping around the house after calling off my wedding to my fiancée, Simon “I’ve been shagging anything that moves”. My family tiptoeing around me, along with my mother mouthing the word “jilted” to anyone who’d not heard of my misfortune; that would be the ones living on Mars of course. In fact, she’d delighted in the opportunity to showcase her Women’s Institute award-winning baking skills for the constant stream of visitors to the house. I wasn’t sure I could face any more sympathetic looks and insincere condolences but as my well-meaning friend had pointed out, I wasn’t the first to have been shafted in the love department.

As she sauntered across the bar bearing two large G&Ts, I pointed out to her, that if her dress had been any shorter, it would be doing the walk of shame on its own. “It always pays to look your best; you never know when you’re going to meet Mr Right”.

As I’d already that night met Mr Bobby Bullshit, Mr Fred (I can make your bed rock) Flintstone and nearly married Mr Wrong On So Many Levels; I was clearly having a wardrobe malfunction of my own; so who was I to be offering fashion tips.

“Are you having a good time cupcake, cos if so, tell your face will you”! Carla muttered putting her drink firmly down on the table “Look pet, I know what happened was awful but its time you moved on. You were Simon’s equivalent of Gillette; the best the lying cheating barsteward could ever hope to get, but as with most men he didn’t appreciate what he had. He always thought he was God’s gift to women and frankly if that was the case, God has a bitchin’ sense of humour. So instead of wallowing, let’s start with what are you going to do now you’ve got a couple of weeks’ leave from filling shelves? Be a shame to waste it. Get yourself off somewhere for a bit of sun, sea and sangria. I’d come myself but it’s a really busy time for me and it’s a competitive business when you’re a mobile hairdresser”.

As I pointed out I had used every bit of my overtime money to pay for a honeymoon in Turkey, I was now broke; the best I could hope for was a ropey old deck chair at my Dad’s allotment and a glass of his dubious homebrew.

And it was then that a plan started coming together for me; why not go on the honeymoon? I could change the name on one of the flight tickets if I could get someone to go with me and the apartment in Altinkum was already booked and paid for. It would be better than holding my own pity party in my Mum’s imposing lounge whilst trying not to spill any red wine on her shag pile carpet.

As I unveiled my idea to Carla we toasted my holiday plans and continued laughing and joking until I was asked to dance by a heavily tattooed and medallion enhanced individual; who pointing to his head and then his feet, he said “up there for thinking, down there for dancing”.

As appealing as the offer was, I declined and retired home to pack my suitcase.

rain 3