The French

6 – Champagne Scaffolding

Champagne Scaffolding call 04567 865712. That’s the sign I can see from my window. They’re rebuilding some flats opposite and that’s the company they’re using. It’s Sunday afternoon; the day I least like out of the seven offered to us each week. But the name has cheered me up. Champagne scaffolding. What would it be back home: Mike’s Scaffolding. Guaranteed erections in any weather!

The rain has set in and if it wasn’t for the Champagne Scaffolding sign I could be England. Damp, greasy and cold. It’s been a glorious first five weeks so far but now it’s turned. As I always knew it would. I thought that perhaps it would be a Club Med climate throughout the winter, strolling out on an evening for a quiet beer among the palm trees. Alas, now it  feels like those days you get at the end of November. Looking up at the thick, ash grey cloud, wondering whether the sun will ever shine again. Or the few days after Bonfire Night when all the sulphur, smoke and euphoria has been blown away leaving you staring down the barrel of four or five months of cold, rain and darkness.

It’s a shame because Thursday was a roaster. Amazing how it’s gone from Med weather to UK weather in the space of two days. Like flying home from the Caribbean in February. Not that I ever have, but that must be depressing. So depressing in fact, that if I ever had the money to propose such a trip, I wouldn’t go, simply to avoid the nightmare of returning. A week’s walking in the Welsh mountains in the pelting rain would suffice. At least you’d want to come back.

Holidays should be nothing more than reminders that your life back home isn’t actually that bad. These so-called holidays of a lifetime where you save up for five years, only serve to remind you just what a struggle life is. If you were really that successful, that clever, that  important, you could simply fly out whenever you wanted. To hell with the cost.

And in any case, the Welsh mountains are great in February. A crisp, cold day striding up Cader Idris alone and free. Thermals, bag of sandwich, nip of whiskey, cold meal waiting for you at the B&B, comfy single bed. Arriving back at work the next week wind-blown and rosy. Everybody comments on how good you look: where have you been? India, Israel, Mexico, Cuba? No, North Wales. Two hours drive from Bristol. Little B&B for the week. Cost me 200 quid! Holiday of a lifetime. Why, where did you go? The Caribbean, they reply. Yes, we won’t be able to go or do anything for the next five years because we’re already saving up for the next one. To Vegas. Holiday of a Lifetime.

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