First Person - with Gordon Holmes

Gordon Holmes
Gordon Holmes
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DID you miss me?

Yes, I somehow managed to sneak out the back door of FFP Towers without being noticed and spent a fortnight on the run before being tracked down and dragged back kicking and screaming this week. Okay, so I had two weeks holiday but I like to make it sound a bit more exciting for you guys.

It was in fact, due to various circumstances, my ‘summer’ holiday, having not been off since the end of April, and for the first week of the break, we had decided on a change of scenery so rented a house in a small town on the north east coast of England, mainly because we didn’t want to spend too long travelling with two young children in tow.

Of course, as anyone who has kids will attest, when you have a two-and-a-half-year-old and a five-month-old, it doesn’t matter where you are going, the planning and preparation needed to actually get on the road in the first place is akin to the Normandy landings.

But with S’s organisational skills at full throttle (as she would say, she has three kids to try and sort out...), we made our destination on schedule, an old Edwardian-style house which had been recently modernised and very nice it was too - and huge! In fact, the hallway was so long that if I was in the kitchen I had to text S just to ask if she wanted a cup of tea.

Kitchen utensils

Of course, this was just right up Holmes Jnr’s street - I don’t think he has sat still for more than 10 seconds at a time unless securely strapped into something - and he had great fun charging up and down the wooden floors, normally accompanied by a varying selection of kitchen utensils which he purloined from the kitchen cupboards. Never has so much fun been had with a whisk...

The first morning brought another challenge as Holmes Jnr had managed to escape from an ill-fitting stair gate on his room and was found running around downstairs in his jammies - there followed much gnashing of teeth and trial and error (including trying to fix the gate to the top of the stairs, which proved unwise when Jnr simply pushed it and it crashed down the steps, taking a bit plaster out of the wall as it went), until S found the gate fitted better on a different bedroom and he was decanted there.

We spent that morning taking a stroll along the sea front, and discovered we had come to town the same time as a group of rejects from ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’, who were offering bareback horse rides to unsuspecting visitors and bemused locals.

I have to say at this point, without naming the town, it had seen better days and there were more boarded up buildings and closed down shops than even Kirkcaldy High Street can boast - so you know how bad it was.

Storms

Still, the house was lovely and it was only a base for exploring the area - which for the next two days was hit by the worst storms in 30 years...

I’m an east coaster so I’m used to wind but even I was impressed by the gales and rain that caused major flooding and damage to a number of places quite close to where we were and meant finding indoor activities to keep Holmes Jnr amused.

By the Wednesday the weather had improved so we decided to visit a farm centre which had lots of animals and plenty of play areas for Jnr to tire himself out in. It was quite remote but we found it okay, only to discover it had been forced to close that day due to the aforementioned storms - the only day it hadn’t been open since last Christmas, the day we chose to go.

Fortunately, it re-opened the next day, so back we went and had a lovely time, though there was one moment of panic when Jnr ran off as he does and I couldn’t find him anywhere - until I went into the animal barn and found the wee devil in the hen coop surrounded by confused chickens after managing to undo the bolt on the door and clearly deciding to have a closer look. I’m just glad it wasn’t the skunk pen...

Before we headed home again, S did a last minute bit of DIY by sticking a different piece of plaster that had come off the wall back in place with a spot of marmalade, a use they don’t tell you about on the jar.

So road trip over, thoughts have already turned to next year’s destination and we might venture a bit further - if we can find somewhere that’s three-year-old proof.

And has a large supply of break-free kitchen utensils...