Thursday, 19 March 2009

Wot I done on holiday

Hurrah! Back at last. I only brought home 8 of the books I took with me, thus freeing up suitcase space for red/green curry paste, cheap fags, a bottle of Maekhong whisky (which, like Metaxa, ouzo, Fernet Branca, slivovitz and the totally indefensible Vanna Tallinn, is nice on holiday but not at home - but do we ever remember this?). Imagine my surprise when there didn't seem as much space as I was anticipating. I can only assume that my clothes expand and thicken mysteriously over the course of a fortnight. Something to do with humidity I expect. Or large amounts of curry paste.

You'd think at my advanced age (ahem) I'd have learnt a few things about holidays, but here are some I seem to have forgotten. Maybe the advanced age has, in fact, something to do with it.

1) When your accommodation is next to a "lagoon" (landscaped, hence the inverted commas, or not), you can bet your bottom dollar there will be mosquitoes. Therefore, when stepping outside to admire the sunset or have a fag, you should really consider use of repellent spray, or not be surprised when you get relentlessly bitten.

2) Just because you haven't ever had a stomach ailment on holiday before, there is no reason to get complacent. God made Imodium for a purpose. That freshly-grated green papaya salad may have seemed a good idea at the time, but its reappearance will be more rapid than you can predict. Mostly unchanged due to speedy transit. On the plus side, it was delicious, at least the first time round.

3) If the management of your hotel deems it necessary to inform all guests, on a more or less daily basis, that IT IS NOT HOTEL POLICY TO ALLOW GUESTS TO PRE-RESERVE SUNLOUNGERS, then you probably have a pretty fair idea of the predominating nationality in the resort.

4) Never underestimate the fun you can have with a badly-translated menu. Classic comedy menu items I failed to order included Caption Morgan rum, cream de mont, fritted ice cream, and pork fitter (presumably what you put under "Occupation" on your passport if you are in fact a porn star). Once in France I was tempted to order "Small Chirttling Savage", but since it was a starter portion of andouillette I gave it a miss.

On a lighter note (I actually had a lovely time!) I have never seen as much wildlife in one go as I did on this holiday. Part of the charm of being further away from built-up areas is the sudden appearance on your verandah (oh yes) of things like kingfishers, mynah birds, black swans, giant snails (5 inches across, damn, I didn't have any garlic butter), a monitor lizard 2 feet long, and on one memorable evening outside a bar, an aptly named Slow Loris taking half an hour to cross 10 feet of telephone wire.

Photograph courtesy of the National Geographic as my camera is appalling. Apparently they are an endangered species, so look your last on all things lovely every hour.

Tune in later for a further instalment, in which I unravel the mysteries of unseemly holiday clothing, how to be completely British on holiday without resorting to tattoos, sunburn and bad behaviour, and unfortunate names for Thai kickboxing champions.

28 comments:

Brother Tobias said...

It sounds wonderful. I feel sorry for the slow loris; I bet the phone always stops ringing before it gets there.

French Fancy said...

Oh I've missed you Luce. The holiday sounds so much fun. Shame about the bad tum, the mozzies (they love me too), the drink you can't drink now you are home and all the rest.

Details please

How was the diving? - and not with your head down the toilet bowl.

Lucy Fishwife said...

It was great! I have to say the slow loris is the only living creature with a genuine excuse to wear one of those infuriating Bluetooth headsets. One of my favourite kids' books ("Slow Loris" by Alexis Deacon) had the theory that the reason they're so slow is because they spend all night secretly partying in funny hats. I recommend the book principally because you're otherwise unlikely to see a meerkat in a fez.

Lucy Fishwife said...

FF - Thanks pet! We crossed over which is why I replied to BT before noticing you'd commented.. Well, I am now officially the poster girl for Assuming You Know It All And Finding Out You Don't. And proof that if your holiday icecubes DON'T taste of chlorine you should be avoiding them... Mr F loved the diving and came back as giddy as a toddler after seeing a 12-foot manta ray swoop majestically over his head. My contribution to diving was into a bucket of Mai Tais most evenings but I was told, in my defence, that alcohol is good protection against gastro-intestinal ailments. Nah, just kidding, I was on holiday...

JDM said...

I just discovered your blog and you are far more entertaining than the dross that currently gets served up on the average London street - anyway hope young Chris didn't scare you too much when he came in today, he was working out the optimum route through SW London back to Isleworth (long story) - thx for bringing a smile to my face 2day! J

Lucy Fishwife said...

Why thank you! The blog or the bookshop? I am in a bit of a post-stomach-upset state of euphoria today so may have been gazing serenely if blankly at everyone who came in... Next time I'll say hello properly!

Cassandra said...

HURRAH!!! Am DELIGHTED to have you back, my fish-tastic friend. I have missed you yet WE'VE NEVER MET. How odd/cool/creepy is the blogosphere?! Cx

French Fancy said...

Oh ta for the thumbnail reviews of the holiday books (or whatever posh lit crit phrase one should use for potted detail about a book).

Steve said...

Pork fitter? What a marvellous misnomer. I can just imagine the guy at the abbatoir telling Percy The Pig not to worry that in a minute or too he'll look fabulous and all the girls will love him... onion gravy is the "in" fashion accessory for this year.

Immodium is evil. Got gypy tummy in Cairo once and thought I was clever taking Immodium. It bound me up for weeks and thus I carried the virus around with me - trapped in my colon with no way out - for about a month. Much better to let it flow and take dialarite. Trust me.

Steve said...

By the way - lovely to see you back! Glad you had a wonderful time! ;-)

Titian red said...

I have now had to go and look up slow lori (?) and discovered that Loris is dutch for "clown" and the have poisonous spit which they lick onto themselves as protection. OMG - stomach upset now explained - you've been licking the Loris ?

Great to see you back, the book reviews have been hugely useful for putting my birthday list together. Thank you

Lucy Fishwife said...

Cassandra - This is going to sound so perverse (and equally odd/creepy) but I secretly missed the blogworld. Although not enough to pay £6 for 10 minutes Internet time in the hotel's "business centre". Good to be back though!

FF - If I've mentioned any that you like the sound of I can expand the review - but I strongly urge you to avoid the last one on the list. Slightly embarrassed I even bought it...

Lucy Fishwife said...

Steve - I know, sometimes you just have to let it all flow. I feel oddly euphoric today though. Maybe it's the pharmaceuticals. I loved "pork fitter" but in Percy's place I'd be more worried about the apple sauce.

TR - I will put my hand on my heart and say "Sunnyside" is the best thing I've read this year so far. I wish Glen David Gold would push out more than a book every 9 years but it was worth waiting for!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back!

Deirdre said...

I'm not anonymous! the wine just made my finger slip....oh crikey that sounds like a horrible tacky joke...anyhoo..welcome back!

Lucy Fishwife said...

Friends don't let friends blog drunk, Deirdre... hurrah for wine as under the influence of a few swift Thursday night glasses I've just spent the last half hour playing Derek and Clive clips on youtube. Will not attach any to my blog as my mother reads it...

Titian red said...

http://theblogonthebookshelf.blogspot.com/

enjoy !

Iheartfashion said...

One of my kids' favorite books is "Slow Loris"; otherwise I never would have recognized that creature. I love the permanently startled expression, and can't help picturing it in a lampshade hat.
A 5 inch snail, on the other hand, would frighten me!
Still laughing over "pork fitter."

Lucy Fishwife said...

TR - I LOVE it. I want one. it's a lot of wall space to allocate to a few artfully-placed books though, speaking as one whose piled books are almost room-dividers by now...

IHF - Alexis Deacon is a genius - "Beegu" is equally lovely. I got quite fond of Brain the giant snail but the giant black bees frightened me more!

lakeviewer said...

I just popped in from French Fancy and am ready to sit for a while and catch up with the rest of the tales you've been saving. You don't mind if I return, do you? I'll sit quietly by the window...

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I don't travel well myself but the wildlife sounds wonderful.

Like your definition of 'Pork Fitter' too!

I popped into Barnes Bookshop to say hello the other week (since I was in the area for another reason) but I should have remembered you were still away. I bought a book you'll be glad to hear! I do think that shop needs a little brightening up with some imaginative lighting and a decent website though, loyal though you say that Barnes' denizens are.

Steerforth said...

Yes I love foreign menus and Thai ones are always a source of delight. I've never had the nerve to ask for a Phat Prik (is it the Thai version of coq au vin, I wonder?).

Reluctant Blogger said...

Well fuck this. I wrote a really long comment and blogger said "server error" and gobbled it up. I need a drink now!

What did I say? Nothing interesting probably. I'll just have the drink and leave shall I.

Oh yes Pork Fitter is excellent. They once put "lion steak" on the school menu but I think it was meant to be "loin"

Reluctant Blogger said...

Thank God for that - it posted my comment this time. I need another drink now to celebrate.

Chop, chop .. .

Lucy Fishwife said...

Lakeviewer - Hello and welcome! Next instalment coming probably Monday. There are some biscuits in that tin on top of the fridge.

Laura - I'm so sorry I missed you! We are actually launching a website sometime this year but our website designer has just had a baby (well, not HIM, obviously) and is a little preoccupied. I will tell you when it's up and running. Yes, the lighting sucks but it's bad wiring, honest...

Steerforth - Khao Pad Prik Moo was a personal fave especially as Moo means pork. Also when at Air France, spent some time corresponding with my opposite number at Bangkok airport, whose name was Supaporn. Jaunty!

RB - God I hate it when that happens. A stiff drink always helps. Maybe they wrote "lion" on purpose because "loin" is too inflammatory a word to use in a school canteen...

Tessa said...

Your holiday sounds wonderful - especially all the reading you managed to do. The First Husband insists on us doing stuff when we're on holiday, so I don't read half the books I bring with me each time. Hope on, hope ever.

I saw Gut Soup on menus while in Poland a few years ago. Hadn't the heart (or stomach) to order it, but I'm guessing it was tripe. Bleurgh.

So glad you're back.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Tessa - Wow, Gut Soup. It's almost worth ordering because you KNOW it can't be as vile as it sounds. I once ordered "Cooked rice with complex food" which turned out to be plain old stir fry.

Perfumeshrine said...

The holiday sounds wonderful; well apart from the toilet bowl moments I assume.
Glad you're back though for the very selfish reason of making me laugh! :-))

I am a bug-magnet myself (in the literal, not the metaphorical sense, LOL!!) so I have learned that if I expose unguarded flesh there will be a strike, most definitely, therefore...I put those citronella stickers (they work on the inside of clothes too) and they seem quite harmless and mildly effective.


(and God, I love Metaxa, ouzo, Fernet Branca, slivovitz)