A new year is almost upon us, so what better way to round off 2021 than with a review of my year in travel? I didn’t do much. Thanks for reading. See you next time.
12 months ago the general consensus was that 2021 couldn’t be much worse than 2020. The general consensus wasn’t wrong, granted, but this year wasn’t much better either sadly.
It was a domestic hat-trick of overnight trips for me. People have been going abroad. People are going abroad. My anxiety said, “no. You will get stuck somewhere you don’t know the language, not be able to get home and end up selling you body to the highest bidder on the streets of (insert your own place name, let’s make this an interactive experience).” Anxiety will cast anchor at the least appropriate of times, particularly where travel is involved, something I’ll revisit in more detail over the next few weeks.
Seven months was all it took for Covid restrictions to be relaxed enough to make a trip away worthwhile. In the wake of the pushed back freedom day (remember 21st June anyone?) a group of the lads, lads, lads convened for our friend Lewis’ stag do. The location was Newcastle. The mini-bus journey took considerably longer than it should have thanks to us all being ever so slightly intoxicated and constantly needing to relive ourselves. No, not like that. My first time in the toon didn’t disappoint and will be covered in a blog post in the new year. At least the parts I remember will be.
In October my inner child came out to play during a week in Norfolk with the family. On a dreary weekday deep in the middle of the petrol crisis (of course you remember that one) we investigated a return to coal power as we went to see The Flying Scotsman. The most famous train in the world. Despite what an American teen tried to tell me on Instagram. On Christmas day. What a sad little life Jane. As you can tell I didn’t get involved in a petty squabble. For me it was a real pinch yourself moment. Standing in the cab of The Flying Scotsman, not the argument with a minor. Obligatory photographs next to, on and pretending to drive the train taken we then managed to fill the car up at the local petrol station. Ah what a day. Ironically, the trip to Norfolk was the only adventure I embarked upon during the year that didn’t end up going off the rails.
The Ben express rolled into Minehead in November as a group of us frequented Butlin’s for a weekend of watching darts and getting drunk. This is an annual tradition that usually takes place in March but was robbed from us earlier on this year. The beer drinking, fast food eating extravaganza is usually broken up by seafront walks and trips into the town. On this occasion Darude was blowing a sandstorm along the seafront so we had to batten down the hatches and find a way to fill the extra time. Fast food and beer. On Saturday night, dressed up to the nines, well maybe six-and-a-halves, we generally take ourselves to the local pub with a DJ. That wasn’t happening on this occasion thanks to the aforementioned gales. Not to panic. Butlin’s put on entertainment on site in their own “club.” And who doesn’t love men from the Potteries dressed in lederhosen singing Oompah songs? Me and my friends actually. Luckily we took advantage of the Strawberry slushy machine, lacing the E-numbers with rum. Voila, a Strawberry Daiquiri. Up here for thinking, down there for dancing. Unless the Oompah band are on, then nobody is dancing.
“I paid to listen to Tom Jones, not you two.” “Stop listening to us then.” The year’s adventures closed with this exchange at the Millennium Dome, London. No sponsorship on this platform without payment. Plus I’m on a different phone network. In early December my friend Archie and I revived a tradition of ours that had to fall by the wayside in 2020, going into London on a bender and ending up at a gig. The gig specifically has to be one in which the performer is in, let’s call it the twilight of their career. Ticking great artists off before the chance to see them is no longer there is a great pastime by the way. You should try it. But don’t buy Elton John tickets for next year before I’ve got mine alright? Our day had seen us take in a pub crawl from Liverpool Street to London Bridge, stopping off for food at Borough Market before heading to the Millennium Dome where the gig was held. We revelled in singing along to hits such as Delilah, What’s New Pussycat, It’s Not Unusual (it really isn’t) and Thunderball amongst others. Sadly, Thunderball wasn’t on Sir Tom’s setlist. Undeterred, during every gap in proceedings we would launch in with another part of the James Bond theme song, hoping our admiration would see him play it just for us. Sadly we were left disappointed and scalded by a rude woman sat in the row in front. As the evening closed with a rendition of Run Run Rudolph by Tom, not Archie and Ben, misery guts took her leave. When her party passed our seats she turned to us and stuck her pussycat nose in, calling us [REDACTED]… Let’s just say it began with the letter C.
So there we have 2021’s travel review. 2022 can’t be a worse year to travel, can it?