In Spring 2020, tired of the usual holiday destinations, it was decided for us that all holidays abroad and domestic destinations were to be cancelled. The wife, kids and dog were thrilled by the prospect as we showed them the cancelled emails from the holiday homes, MBW’s parents could barely conceal their delight at not trekking halfway around the world business class to see their only daughter and grandchildren, my Dad could happily spend some more time alone with his grief at losing my Mum at the tail end of last year.
We decided to go to El Cnutadoria as just the immediate family, as a priority!
On our day of departure, I took off my usual uniform of smart grey dressing gown wear and put on some actual clothes. We could pack light and didn’t need to remember our passports, which was a great relief.
We got to the airport, spent absolutely no time doing security theatre with scowling daytime pyjama people going through our stuff with an eye for larceny, and settled down on the plane for a short, uneventful flight. FisherPrice Airlines are the only credible airline still operating at present; their prices are very reasonable and you don’t get loud sales pitches for lottery cards, applause for landing the fucking plane, nor snooty disinterested “service” from superannuated trolley supervisors coasting on a reputation no longer deserved as with other airlines.
On arrival, we had no luggage to stand around waiting for so we simply boarded a bus to our final destination. The bus is fuelled by FBPE tears and is environmentally friendly; FBPE tears are seemingly renewable in perpetuity.
Check-in was a very friendly affair, the receptionist was overjoyed to see us and even came out of his booth to greet us fulsomely. It would appear he is something of a jack of all trades as he also brought victuals with him to show us. It’s the personal touches that you get with smaller, independent venues that really count.
We retired to our rooms which seemed strangely familiar to us all, which truly is the mark of a great venue for holidaying. It really was a home from home!
Fully refreshed by a good night’s rest, it turns out that we also had to feed the receptionist and accompany him to check the perimeter of the grounds. The gardens were truly lush and well maintained by expert hands, the lawn carefully manicured to perfection.
Then – to breakfast! The venue has a small centre of worship, the Church of the Bacon Sarnie. It is characterised by a black granite altar and stunning stained glass windows, handmade by the faithful sometime in 2019 AD. The workmanship is of good order and the choice of shape and colour is sublime, catching the morning sun to cast a welcoming glow over the chapel.
After a hearty bacon sanga each, with brown sauce only as God intended, it took us no time at all to unpack. The venue seemed to have anticipated our every need. While waiting for our tour guide to arrive we took stock of the activity list available.
Everyone agreed that the best activity this morning would be the Unblocking of the Toilet. Due to the intimate nature of the venue there was only one slot, we were to draw lots to see who got to actually do it. Before we got to the draw, my lovely family insisted that I be the one to go on this several-times-in-a-lifetime experience. How blessed was I as I scrubbed bogroll and faecal matter from my arm, beaming fondly as the miracle of flushing unfolded before me. They even provided complementary bleach so I could disinfect my arm, too.
Time seems to stand still when you are resting in an idyll, and this was borne out by a highly entertaining period I spent watching this clock.
I lost track of how long I was there keenly observing it, but the retro single hand did not move even once. The mark of a true holiday – you neither know the time nor care that you don’t.
The tour guide was yet to arrive but there was fresh bread for a light lunch and some locally sourced eggs from “Milk and More”. Quite where they keep the chickens in this part of London is a mystery but part of the charm. The tour guide arrived just as we were finished eating, and we trotted off to the local beauty hotspot.
On arrival, the tour guide (who bore a striking resemblance to the receptionist – is this Norwich?) became agitated and insisted that we detach the safety rope from him. He quickly ran off and returned shortly after with some manky yellow sphere he had found in the grass. We tried throwing it away, but he just kept bringing it back time and time again until we were too tired to try and get rid of it.
It must have some special significance to him as he refused to let it go once we had put his safety rope back on. In uncertain woodlands, it is best to keep your local knowledge close by. A brisk walk up a hill revealed some kind of Illuminati inspired themes in the scenery:
We resolved to return to our lockdown abode as the Illuminati symbols around us were threatening. They seemed to affect the few local populace that we met, too, people went out of their way to remain about 2m or 6 feet away from us. Perhaps it was the Illuminati, or perhaps the locals are just unfriendly. Uncharacteristically, we had all showered that morning and were wearing clothes that had few food stains on them so it can’t have been that.
On our return, the tour guide excused himself and the receptionist returned. My son noted the similarity between him and the tourguide, and that we had never seen them in the same room together at which the receptionist gave us a knowing look, and returned to his booth. Ah well, travel certainly broadens the mind and small mysteries are part of the magic of holidays.
Tired from our walk we settled down on the comfy sofa to have a little rest. We thought we had done something wrong when the receptionist came barrelling out of his booth. But no, it turns out he just wanted to sit on the sofa with us, perhaps he liked watching Planet Earth too.
Soon, delicious smells were coming from the chapel, and dinner was served! A local dish whose name in the local language I cannot remember but it translates into “Which retard bought the really fatty mince and not enough bloody soffrito for this meatloaf”. It was covered in a fine tomato jus which had just began to brown to perfection, I am sure that the tomato sauce afficianados on here would have approved. With such culinary diversity before us we truly did feel enriched. The dish was served with a delicious coleslaw from an organic supplier, two local business men Marks, and Spencer, with lashings of roasted new potatoes.
After the delicious repast, with bellies full of the meatloaf and heads full of virtue at eating the local foodstuffs, we repaired to the luxurious grounds to check out the designer fire pit to toast some marshmallows as the home made pudding cooled down. My daughter uncharitably suggested that the firepit looked more like an old satellite dish on top of a big earthenware flowerpot than high end designer goods, but she is young and cannot appreciate true art, design and beauty as yet. I would hope that these travels will help her and her brother to fully understand the joy of creativity.
We returned to the dining table to find the appetising aroma of “Chocolate banana bumbread” cooling nicely on a rack. This was promptly devoured and then it was time to climb the wooden hill to the land of Nod in the county of Bedfordshire.
Our return home was uneventful and pleasant, only to find that while we were away, someone had trashed our kitchen, raided our fridge and built some kind of fire contraption built out of parts scavenged from skips in the garden. It was nice to be home however, a gentle reminder that the most important things are not always those you can hold in your hands, it is the memories of the family togetherness, a bit of daftness here and there and making the best of what you have that a short break can bring that are priceless.
Where are you going to on your lockdown breakaway?
All pictures and text © El Cnutador, Going Postal 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file