Celtic Illumination, part 350, Newton’s first law of Pretendability
I was thinking about what to write today when I realised that what I might write could put me in the same ‘shooting in foot’ category as my pretendable passengers. Yes it is a real word, I’ve just made it up, so there. Pretendable, because my passengers would pretend to be all posh because they bought their toilet rolls in a different shop to me. If I let you know my views on my little Lugga Bus you lot might believe that I wasn’t always windswept and interesting, that I might not be regal material. Of course if my passengers were any way posh at all they would have their staff buy their toilet roll for them. I know I’ve always said that when it comes to motorcars I’m a Jaguar man. I like power, I hate the fact that the most popular colour is ‘British’ racing green, and generally they are pretty well made, but so are most motor cars these days.
My little Lugga Bus was a Ford Transit van, capable of carrying eight passengers and I have to admit one of the best family vehicles I have ever experienced. In fact I fantasised that if I ever came in to possession of enough money I would buy myself a brand new, long wheeled base, Ford Transit and then have it customised. I wanted a muscle van but I wanted a soft top version with a stereo where the volume knob went all the way up to eleven. So there you all are now thinking good ol boy, rather than Master Candle Maker, High Chief of the Clan O Neil and the true king of Ireland. The first ‘boys’ trip I can remember was at Christmas time. The two oldest boys ripped open their Christmas presents and looked strangely at all the fishing equipment they had received. There were no rivers, or lakes, or even canals close by. The only known use for fishing rods in Skelmersdale was to hoik them through letter boxes to steal car keys. Next day I loaded the oldest two boys into the van announcing that we were off to Holyhead in North Welsh Wales for some fishing.
The children were excited, as was I, who always loved getting back over to North Welsh Wales. I had been planning this trip for some time. The weather had been rotten and I had kept my eyes on all the forecasts. It was Boxing Day and the weather forecast said that the weather would be fine. It was which was great, as it had been snowing heavily for the previous two weeks. Being such a genius I hadn’t thought about the snow that had already fallen and endured a two hour drive, across rough, rutted, compacted snow all the way across the North Welsh coast, wondering if the fillings in my teeth would remain there. We had a grand day fishing and caught absolutely nothing. We didn’t spend all day fishing; we spent some at the local Bangor hospital. This wasn’t for old time sake but because my line had become snagged. I stood applying tension to the line hoping my hook and weight would break free, and it eventually did.
I stood there watching the weight, initially a tiny little dot, zoom across the ocean, then smack me in the head. So apart from a bonding exercise and a bit of craic fishing, I was able to introduce the boys to practical first aid. I didn’t have a mirror with me so that I could check the wound, but from the amount of red stuff on my hand, when I took it away from the place that hurt on my head, I was able to deduce that I might need some help patching this up. The resulting discomfort and headache didn’t help with my concentration as we rumbled our way back across North Welsh Wales and home. Irene couldn’t stop laughing as she declared I was the only fellow who could go fishing and end up beating myself up. Don’t you just love a supportive spouse?
And yes I did support Irene, in fact the duty of taking the mother in law out for Sunday lunch fell to us. One of our favourite haunts was at a place called Rivington. Rivington was a small Lancashire village which was surrounded by reservoirs. We discovered that each of these reservoirs had a footpath around them and it allowed the adults to enjoy a very pleasant stroll around the water while the children went berserk in and around the trees. One reservoir, Anglezarke I think was the name, had various lumps of forest sculpture dotted around and made the experience much more magical. Initially we did the usual Sunday taking mother in law out thing and found a restaurant or pub for lunch but realised that this restricted us. We couldn’t really visit any establishment after our walk for most of us would have been covered from head to toe in mud, so we ended up as the sandwich and soup brigade.
It didn’t matter what the season was we were out and about and having a laugh. One day I decided to tale the children up into North Wales, to Ogwen Cottage. Up behind Ogwen cottage is Llyn Idwal and I knew a spot there where you could find natural crystals. Of course to the children these would be diamonds but that would just add to the magic. Again it was a winters day, thankfully we had a clear drive to and from Ogwen. We took it easy with the mother in law as the trek up can be a little arduous. The wind was like a scalpel slicing across any area of exposed skin, however when you are hunting for diamonds a little discomfort doesn’t matter. We got to Llyn Idwal which was frozen over. The children, as children do, had to lob stones and rocks out on to the ice to try and smash though it.
I was just glancing about when I heard a little shriek and saw Irene slid across the ice in front of me. It was quite funny as a gust of wind had caught her and was skittering her across the surface. The mother in law was very quiet, not a bit of wonder as we were within sight of the Devils Kitchen where the witches lived. Then there was this blood curdling scream as eldest boy Gerard is now being blown across the ice, like his mother. Number two son, James, is still lobbing rocks out onto the lake surface and as Newton’s laws of motion state; an object either remains at rest or moves at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force especially when lobbing rocks in windy and icy conditions. I’ll kill that Newton fellow if I ever get a hold of him. James was concentrating on throwing stones out as far as he could and Gerard’s head got in the way, more red stuff. What I can take away from that day is the fact that one day Gerard and James will hopefully turn to their children and ask if they want to go find some diamonds.
You probably have the impression that Skelmersdale is a bit of a dump, and if I’ve have written about it correctly you would be right. But the one thing you cannot take away from Skelmersdale is its location. For short days out you had Rivington, and all the reservoirs, forty minutes away. For fishing and getting in to the mountains, Snowdon and Holyhead were two hours and a bit away, while the waterfalls and Kendal mint cake factory, in the Lake District, were only two hours up the road. By the way, if the weather is good then stay away from the Lake District because every BMW driving sales rep, in the country, takes his mother, or mother in law, to the Lake District for a let’s pretend we are posh Sunday lunch.
I of course cannot be posh, I am working class Irish scum, someone who started at the bottom and liked it, which is why our first hotel Sunday lunch in the Lake District was our last. The hotel had good reviews but I would question the reliability of the reviewer’s taste buds, it was overpriced muck that could have been served more professionally by a blind man with a limp. For us the Lake District became another soup and sandwiches destination, cheese sandwiches and tomato soup if you must know. And if you feel that you need to visit the Lake District make sure that you have a Ford Transit van under your feet because the back roads are very narrow. It is a great problem for BMW drivers, especially when they meet, coming the other way, a good ol boy throwing a Ford Transit van along these lanes, at speed, for what other way can a good old boy drive?
There’s the Beatrix Potter museum, a pencil museum in Keswick even Wordsworth’s house in Grasmere but the most popular destination would be Lake Windermere. It’s surrounded by loads of attractions and shops and activity centres. Our focus for the day had been the Aira Force waterfall where I had been pleasantly surprised. We pulled in to the car park, found a spot and parked. The National Trust were looking after the place so it was well managed. I climbed out of the van and a fellow approached me. “Here,” he said, handing me a parking ticket. “There’s still an hour and a half left on this, you may as well use it.” That really made my day; I should have asked him how Irish he was. We thoroughly enjoyed the waterfall and the getting wet, for children it is brilliant, even big kids. Heading back I decided to catch the ferry across Lake Windermere.
It’s only a small ferry that would carry perhaps between nine and twelve vehicles, open sided, sort of drive on and sit in your vehicle while we cross, affair. It was quite pleasant going for a sail in my little Lugga Bus and I really was quite unaware of all the other drivers and passengers surrounding us. Irene knew that I was up to something as she could see an evil smile begin to stretch across my face. As we neared the centre of Lake Windermere I did the only thing any decent fellow could do, well; that is any decent fellow with his mother in law with him. I leapt out of the van and ran to the front of the vehicle where I began to jump up and down shouting, “Sink you bastard, sinkl!” The only response I was interested in was that of the mother in law, who didn’t disappoint, as she grabbed a hold of the seat in front of her and wondered what to do. I’ll never forget the look of shock on her face. It was only afterwards that I noticed everyone else on the ferry was looking at me as well and some of them didn’t seem to be too pleased as many of them were holding on to the seat in front of them too.