Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Cash and Claustrophobia.....

Well, last Saturday saw us off on our foray down to Staffordshire for our weeks holiday culminating in a two day visit to Alton Towers with my BIL, SIL and kiddies. We stayed in a great wee cottage three miles from Alton Towers.  Within twenty four hours I began to think that I hadn't just arrived from Scotland but from the planet Zog. Upon entering shops I found that Scottish notes are not legal tender according to some. I quickly became sorely sick of folk behind counters holding them up to the light, squinting at them as if they were bits of used lavvy roll,or shouting 'Sandra, can we take these purple things?' I kid you not. If I had arrived in a silver suit and pulled out a ray gun I would have got a more welcoming reception. The final straw came when I presented one in Tesco's and the eejit behind the counter announced in a loud voice, 'Oooh, that's foony moony!'  For feck's sake. I was hardly bartering with a crate of chickens. By that point I did not find the situation 'foony' by any extent.  I restrained myself from snarling 'it's pounds sterling you halfwit!' and settled for a glare that made it clear she had better say not another word. She didn't,  I got my stuff and left.  Seriously, we were only 180 miles over the Scottish border.  I had a vision of Mel Gibson complete with blue coupon, astride his nag shouting ,'They can take our lives, but they will never take our twenty pound notes..'  Maybe it's just that us Scot's are so partial to cash that we don't give a monkey's whether its 'foony' looking or not......

Monday saw a trip to the 'Speedwell Cavern' which S's boss had recommended. Sure enough we got there and bought the tickets. £29 to go down a hole. We climbed down 106 steps sporting hard hats,  to board boats to take us along a tunnel to view a large natural cavern, or at least that was the plan. The reality was you got in a five foot wide boat, to go along a six foot wide tunnel, which was two foot above your head if you were lucky. I was not keen to start with and the guide saying, 'If you don't like it now then get off as once we are in we can't go back,' did not go down well. Didn't want to appear a wuss so we set off. We travelled along banging off the tunnel walls in the near darkness. Not pleasant. Two minutes in I started to feel absolute panic and it dawned on me that L was terrified. She hates enclosed spaces but like myself had not realised it was going to be so bad. We reached what was called the 'Halfway House', a small bit of tunnel where the boats could pass. Perversely it wasn't half way, but only one third of the way along the damn tunnel and we had to wait what felt like a lifetime for the boat to come and pass. Every second that went by I tried to keep the panic from over whelming me. I had visions of me losing it completely and shouting 'I want off' like you used to do when you were little and on the shows and hating it. Poor L was terrified and I knew I had to keep calm.  Thank the Lord!  A woman at the back of the boat just happened to feel the same and asked the guide if it was possible to climb into the other boat when it arrived. He said yes. I cannot believe I climbed over the bows of a boat in the virtual pitch dark to another one to get out of that blinking cave. But I did. It just goes to show what you will do when desperate. There was no seat for me and L was sitting on the knee of the other escapee so I had to crouch for an eternity in the bottom of a soggy boat. Small price to pay to get out of the jaws of hell.  I am not ashamed to admit that, curled in the bottom of that boat, I cried into my Cath Kidston handbag with relief. I was crippled with muscle cramps for two days afterwards. S and H went on along the tunnel to see the cave while L and I went to the shop for chocolate (the answer to all things stressful). Never a-bloody-gain.

If you are looking for good self catering accommodation here's the link to our cottage :

http://www.aldersbrookcottage.co.uk/


More holiday stories to follow......