I’ve always loathed Karaoke. In fact I’d go so far as to say that the only thing I hate more in the world is mushrooms. And maybe the Daily Mail. But in the great scheme of things it’s pretty loathsome. Why on earth anyone would want to spend an evening listening to people who think they can sing wail along to a selection of dull power ballads and 80s ‘classics’ is beyond me. Actually choosing to be one of those people is even more incomprehensible.
So I’ve managed to get away with doing it twice in my life so far, both times under duress, and when I found out that my friend had hired a karaoke booth for his birthday I was of course filled with horror and vowed not to join in. Until the beer intervened…
The international sign of rock
I’d like to point out that contrary to appearances I am not enjoying myself. Karaoke is the work of the devil.
Still, the weekend wasn’t all traumatic, and the unexpected choice of accommodation was a highlight.
The problem with Brighton being every Londoner’s favourite seaside escape is that it’s always impossible to get a hotel (well, if you’re me that is: other people are organised enough to actually plan these things a bit further in advance), and even if you do you have to book them for at least two nights. So I was left with two options: for out £300 for a posh hotel, or camp.
Now camping is something I always associate with the countryside, not cities. In fact, I’ve never even considered the idea of camping in a city, and only ended up doing it this time because I’d run out of options. Turned out to be a fantastic option – £18 for the pitch, in a quiet park in the East of the city, only a short walk from Kemptown (the nicest bit of Brighton, in my opinion). It was so nice waking up in the morning to fresh air and a beautiful view out over the sea (well, when it wasn’t raining that is), and so I definitely think I’ll do it again – I’ve spent a fortune on hotels in some cities in the past, and then end up spending no time in them as I’m out sightseeing and partying.
* Never try and climb a mountain when walking with huskies. Their preferred pace is just a little faster than is comfortable for a not-entirely-fit Londoner.
* Head torches are remarkably good at channeling flies into your mouth at night.
* Trying to find the right turn off from a Motorway that didn’t exist when your roadmap was published is a little tricky.
* People look at you funny when you explain you arrived late due to an old road map. Apparently I am the last person in the world not to have satnav.
* Don’t think that ridge up ahead is the top of the mountain. It won’t be.
* Cheap camping stoves without a windbreak are a bit pointless.
* Supernoodles are best left for students, regardless of how easy they are to carry and cook.
* It always rains in Wales.
I get so excited about overseas travel I never really think much about spending time doing the same here in the UK.
One of the biggest bars is the lack of foreignness – one of my favourite bits of travel is seeing how even the most mundane things are different in other countries, which makes just walking up and down the street a new experience. Whereas I know if I go anywhere in England I’ll get the same shops, the same signs, people dressed in the same familiar way.
And then there’s the landscape – I’ve spent most of my time living in the South & East of England, where the hills, even at their hilliest, are best described as ‘gentle’ or ‘rolling’. All very pretty, and enough to move some people to poetry, but not for me – I much prefer a more dramatic landscape.
My weekend in Wales has made me think I’ve perhaps been a little harsh on my homeland: the mountains of Snowdonia may be piffling by global standards (Snowdon itself is just over 1000m) but they are still suitably bleak and imposing, and the gale-force winds and horizontal rain made getting to the summit feel like more of an expedition too.
There’s even a bit of foreignness – all the signs are of course in Welsh, which I think can easily give any Eastern European tongue a run for its money in terms of unpronounceability and vowellessness.
So I think I need to spend more time exploring the UK before I go away. Next stop Scotland?
Woo! My new tent arrived today, and it’s even better than I hoped. I just hope it’s easy to put in the dark and rain…
Up until now I’ve been using a tent that I bought for £40 at Glastonbury in 2004. Great bargain, but boy is it heavy lugging it about (which is particularly painful after five days of partying).
Now I’m planning a long distance walking holiday this summer I knew I needed to get a proper lightweight one. I may be turning into more of a fitness nutter in my old age, but I’d have to be seriously masochistic to lug my old beast of a thing up and down the Pyrenees for a week. The new one fits two people comfortably and is just over 1.5kg, which is perfect. Just need to find a walking partner now – I’m normally happy travelling solo, but for my first long hiking trip I know I’ll appreciate the company.
In the meantime though, I’ll get to roadtest it this weekend in the Snowdonia national park. I’ve only ever been to South Wales before, so I’m really excited about it. Although sod’s law says it’ll piss it down with rain the entire time, especially after the last bank holiday was so nice.
AND if all that travel-related excitement wasn’t enough, Paul & I finally settled on Istanbul as our July holiday destination. There’s no better feeling than having trips to look forward to, and now I have Wales, Glastonbury, Istanbul, the Pyrenees and my big trip to look forward to.
This is going to be a good year.