So last week I attended a local writing group for the first time, and part of the meeting involves a fifteen minute writing exercise, writing from a specific prompt. The prompt in this case was simply the word ‘Spanish’. This sparked me to write about my first holiday abroad with my family some 18-ish years ago (Peacock is my last name, hence the title), as certain parts…did not go entirely according to plan, but are quite amusing to look back and laugh on now. So I hope you enjoy this little piece about our misadventures in Gran Canaria…and look forward to seeing what I come up with in future group meetings!
‘Peacocks in Spain’
My first experience of Spain (and indeed, any holiday abroad at all) had not been an entirely pleasant one; not exactly the sunny paradise escape that I had hoped for. Well, it was, but it the Peacock family’s lack of experience in these warmer climes that tripped us up. We were already irritable upon arriving at our lodgings, having been steered around aimlessly for the past few hours. We had been getting hot and bothered in a stuffy coach as the driver cruised around precarious cliff-edge roads with no idea where he was actually going; by the time he figured it out, it was 4 o’clock in the morning.
We attempted to sleep, but the sweltering heat and loud, relentless nightlife proved this to be a fruitless endeavour. But we powered through regardless over the next two weeks, with small moments of relaxation and pleasure between our touristy mishaps. What sort of mishaps, you may ask? Well take me, an innocent young thing who had grown up in Clacton-on-Sea, (a decidedly less tropical seaside locale than this one), and had never experienced heat quite like this in his thirteen or so years on the planet. I had suffered from sunburn before, of course, but never to the point where my shoulders started inexplicably peeling. No amount of sun cream could hope to fix that in a hurry. And then, in some cruel twist of fate, I managed to inherit an ear infection as well. So not only were pieces of my skin falling off in red, flaming shreds onto the floor, I had an unbearable and relentless itchy sensation in my right ear to contend with as well. Essentially, this meant the act of swimming to keeping both my shirt on, and my head above water. Sort of takes the fun out of it when you’re just bobbing around, standing up perfectly straight in the shallow end, doesn’t it? My little brother, irritatingly, came through the holiday mostly unscathed. He was in no way above rubbing my face in that fact either.
I say mostly unscathed, as we both made the same rookie tourist error upon visiting the local water park. (I believe this had been before the aforementioned shoulder peeling and ear infection, mercifully) Not counting on how hot a stone floor could be with the midday sun beating down on it, we had both neglected to bring sandals with us. This meant getting to each pool, and trying each thrilling slide involved a skittish little traipse across what may as well have been hot coals, the relief upon setting our feet down into the cool water like a gift from heaven. Our reddened and crispy soles were a small price to pay for experiencing one of Europe’s largest waterparks; just a pity we had to look like complete plonkers in the process.
My supposedly responsible parents, meanwhile, hardly fared much better. On one particularly memorable night, both may have overdone it slightly with the sangria, and proceeded to make complete spectacles of themselves while walking back to our lodgings. My mother complained that the floor was spinning, and upon our return decided it was perfectly acceptable to vomit profusely into the toilet, while my father was standing over it in the process of urinating (we don’t speak of it, but they didn’t say anything about writing about it…)
Add that to the embarrassment of my father loudly declaring “GRACIAS” after ordering a meal in the local Burger King (and looking very impressed with himself while the rest of us had our faces in our palms), and accidentally stumbling onto a nudist beach while out exploring sandy dunes (Oh, the flab! Oh, the arses!) and it proved to be a…memorable trip.
But what sort of holiday abroad would it be without bringing along that trademark British blundering of ours, anyway?
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Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335