I saw a few people had noted my absence from blogging: I thought I owed the massed ranks of sluggerites who actually have no real interest an explanation.
I was on holiday: after the twelfth of course. We went to Ballyronan for the 12th itself and as ever had a good time. Most of our band members went down to the lough shore and as such we missed the speeches and even worse Dr. McCrea’s gospel meeting: I just about survived.
Anyhow after the twelfth we went on holiday to Wales: we have been to Wales a lot. Clearly as an appalling bigoted narrow minded nutter I cannot go anywhere foreign: those places contain foreigners some of whom are not even British (imagine). Wales on the other hand is very like Ulster. Well no it is not: the minority language is spoken by lots of people and is not quite as much a political football; they use the term Celtic without it annoying / pleasing practically everyone; they have coal mines (well they did); despite having more than double the population it has less than half the assembly members. So apart from all that it is like Ulster (the weather is a bit better) and as such we crossed the Ulster Sea (clearly I will not admit it is called the Irish Sea) and went to Wales. My boys always earnestly pray that the boat will not sink which is a bit disconcerting: a bit too interested in the Titanic I think.
In Wales I took part in typical man on holiday activities: failed to help with cooking; watched Top Gear repeats on Dave; complained about spending money; slept in and watched a bit more Top Gear.
We did manage to go to the Morgan Car manufacturers where you can get a tour. For the uninitiated Morgans are new cars which look like old cars because, essentially they are, being made out of wood. The tour contained a large number of tweed jacket wearing people who were themselves the age of trees: I felt grossly underdressed in a T shirt. Oddly despite it being my understanding that Morgan was a Welsh name (like Thomas, Williams, Evans, Jones et al) the Morgan factory was in England. Clearly the original Mr. Morgan had got a bit lost, a bit like the Welsh nationalists who once decided to “liberate” Hereford before remembering that the town was home to the SAS and instead going to the pub.
Anyhow to take a break from watching Dave and other useful jobs we decided to climb a mountain. Before I was married I was a bit into hill walking: it is essentially marching without the drum. Elenwe was even more into hill walking. My suspicion is that this interest, on her part, was essentially an extension of her shoe interest. After all being into such activities allowed her to have summer boots, winter boots, approach shoes, climbing shoes and most amusingly / worryingly a bizarre pair of Alpine boots with completely rigid soles, massive linings and attachments for spiky crampons. She still has all these things and an ice axe in the attic. It may surprise few that I do as I am told in our marriage. The year after we were married we went with a walking group composed mostly of police officers to the Alps. There the assorted fit police types dragged us up mountains. My plan was to sing the Sash on top of Mount Blanc: unfortunately I was too tired / felt too sick (from the altitude); ate a largely frozen Marathon bar (you can hardly expect me to use new fangled terms like Snickers) and then got dragged back down again.
So it was decided to climb Snowdon: it being a biggish mountain in Wales. Unfortunately we were so disorganised that by the time we got there the car park was full. Hence, I dropped Elenwe and the boys and was rerouted down the mountain to find somewhere (free obviously) to park. I rationalised this rerouting by deciding that in actual fact I was taking part in my own feeder parade.
So eventually we all began the parade proper (I feel it important to refer to the Blackman’s Dream at this point). A pack was placed on my back and thus we on did march. We were advised to go up the Pyg track to where it meets the Miners’ track and then we could go back down the latter. The children were convinced that the Pyg track had something to do with trotters possessing animals but I explained that I thought it was probably Welsh for something.
The boys made reasonable progress with only moderate whinging until we got to near the join of these tracks where we intended to go down. There unfortunately I was seized by thran-ness: a common problem for the Ulster Prod. A Muslim gentleman about my age (well actually younger but I will not admit it: and unlike me capable of growing a proper beard) was walking down from the top with his two boys. I chatted briefly to him and asked what age his children were: they were the same age as mine. Hence, total thran-ness resulted. The children of Ulster cannot be second best to anyone: not that I have anything against Muslims but no one can be allowed to be better than the children of the Cruthin, the lost tribe of Dan, the successors of the defenders of Enniskillen. Up with this I could not put.
Fortunately the younger (and thran-er) child wanted to go on. As such I deceived Elenwe into continuing for a bit longer whilst the older child complained loudly. Using the age old tactic of divide and conquer, we, like the invading Normans, tricked the children into going on a bit further. Then the younger one got cross (when this happens we call him Ethelbert). In the Ethelbert manifestation he tried to push his mother down the mountain. I was well ahead with the older one by this stage. However, we were saved by some other people coming down the mountain who told Ethelbert that at the top there was a cafe which sold pasta. Worryingly despite being a child of Ulster my youngest son prefers pasta to potatoes. This is I know a major problem and indeed occasionally I wonder if Elenwe was unfaithful with an Italian: that would be less humiliating than to think that an Ulster child just did not like potatoes; if that were the case the union would be lost. I am of course not going to quiz her on this issue: she does have an ice axe. Anyhow the prospect of pasta spurred the child on to new heights of marching (well obviously in actual fact walking). The ridge near the summit beckoned: then even better, we heard the Snowdon mountain train; my boys are obsessed with steam trains. As such they rushed to the top to see the train and then on to the summit. There I intended singing the Sash but the large number of normal people prevented me from so doing: I do have a bit of wit. Instead we went to the very nice cafe and were rewarded with the impressed congratulations of the people who had passed us, that our small boys had made it to the top.
Then we marched down again stopping at the loughs (okay actually lakes) on the way down. Then I paraded back along my feeder parade to get the car and we went home. Essentially then it was simply another twelfth only with a mountain and no bands, and in Wales: so nothing like the twelfth actually. Anyhow I am back now and can resume my real passion of blogging and try to gain my conveted prize of saddest person in Ulster.