Single Girl Seeks +0 for Family Wedding

This post features images of taxidermy. To understand why visit the Powell-Cotton Museum website. “The past is a foreign country” – L.P. Hartley.

**

Sometimes on those rare moments of peace and tranquillity I take a step back and think to myself, “where does my creativity come from? My ability to construct a half decent sentence together that delves deep into an experience, item or concept while also being able to pull out some humour that keeps people coming back time after time to this humble website of mine?” It’s on such occasions I naturally turn to my family to find the source of my flowing words…

…and realise I really must have been adopted.

Despite the fact my normal dress sense makes me a walking advert for the French rom com Popularie (and something I’m completely fine with, even if it is set in 1958)

…the Cotswold Bennett clan were in fact dressed up to the nines in the Powell-Cotton Museum at Quex Park for a family wedding. The union of my lovely cousin Stella with her Welsh husband-to-be Alun. Because if there was one thing our family needed, its more Welsh (given I’m only 25% of the rugby-mad stuff this marriage couldn’t come soon enough, our family is becoming far too English).

The day started in the same way most my weekday mornings do, wondering why the hell I was awake and why wasn’t I drinking coffee. Not that it got in the way of me catching up on the zzz’s, I woke up some 2.5 hours down the M25 to find a blob of saliva on my dress and a chicken roll having appeared on my lap. I think India might have thrown it at my face. If my bodily fluids didn’t ruin my make up before then the massive size-of-your-face chicken roll did. Again, I took a bite of the roll to be very concerned over the amount of red behind (thankfully my lipstick, not thankfully an expensive brand of the stuff).

Once we’d arrived at Birchington (where Mumma Bennett had booked the apartment for the extended weekend) there was a delightful scene where the postcode wrongly took us to the wrong spot, causing us to drive up and down the street multiple times. When people in mobility scooters and shorts start giving you looks you know you’re looking like class A muppets. A particular highlight was when Papa Bennett proposed us three women get changed at the wedding venue seeing as it was apparently so close to where we’d be staying. The response?

As if we’d even be dared seen by other guests before we’d got into our wedding gear. I only had one of my normal 50s outfits on! Men.

Flash forward a few hours once we’d finally found the apartment, got bags, got changed, went to the loo, changed shoes, updated make up, went to the loo again and hopped in the car for all of the two minute journey and were at the venue. One of the first people we saw when arriving at the venue was Aunt Shiona, mother of the Bride.

“What are you doing all here so early?! We had bets on you!” She said as she gave us all hugs and chatted briefly before dashing of to more important matters.

“What a funny thing to say about having bets on us.”

“I can believe it.” Mumma B said.

“I think she was joking.”

“We’re a whole forty minutes early Dad,” I interjected, “that’s not like us at all.”

And then we were chatting and chilling with relatives and I was complaining that I couldn’t be the little toddler who got to wear a pretty dress and roll around in the dirt on a wedding day.

“I mean you could,” Uncle Martin said.

“Don’t worry, on Alice’s wedding it’ll be all mud pies and S Club 7 songs” Mumma B said. While everyone laughed I muttered to India “do you think we can get Aqua live?”

And then the wedding happened. Sorry Stella and Alun, I know you guys love my blog but I honestly can’t think of much to say – I wish I could write something wonderfully romantic but unlike your friends I stuffed up my poetry module at A Level. Urm…

The ceremony was wonderful // Stella’s dress was anything but colourful.

(I think I’ll stick to the writing.)

Here is a very small sample of some of the photos taken of Stella and Alun on the day.

And here is one of the child I want to be when I grow up.

IMG_5638

And here are a selection of all the many selfies I did whilst we were waiting for the drinks reception.

And then things ground to a temporary halt while we tried to fix the selfie stick/camera.

62197723_10205724292702336_1867739577469370368_n

But luckily Aunt Yvonne was on hand to capture me at my most beautiful.

62382068_10205724296222424_2232828419152805888_n

I never met the guy stood behind me in that photo but I think he liked me, that or he felt pity (very easy to get the two mixed up in my world).

And lets take a moment to admire how amazingly my bun held up, despite the four hour drive/sleeping/undressing-dressing/just being me.

62099332_10205724301302551_2012085585677647872_n

You know, with some of the pictures I’m seeing here you’d think the official photographer could have taken the day off. Anyway moving on and back, the venue was lovely. I mean a wedding in a mother flipping museum is always going to get me excited. Don’t forget this…

MMAO5010

…This was taken before the consumption of any alcohol. So I was living the dream being able to drink prosecco and wonder exhibitions with suited and other smart type people.

XKSO460961955380_602617316912374_4582580867603365888_n.jpg

Even if it made me look like a horned beast.

NMSZ4955

But they had a kid’s trail (and seemingly unlimited prosecco and canapes) so I was prepared to overlook this.

62339943_2085237388442004_8378750925501628416_n.jpg

We sat down for food and, you’ve guessed it, took more selfies (remind me again why we were there?) Mumma B tried to set the camera up for Bluetooth group photos, but by this point I was on the table wine with a stomach lined with a couple of mini spring rolls. Of course I wasn’t going to be taking anything seriously.

IMG_5675

Stella and Alun then cut their wedding cake. FYI am I the only one thinking Stella was far too happy to be holding such a sharp knife?

XYEM3165.JPG

Alun probably had his eye on it for his tomato addiction. His need to consume £50 worth of the little red things a week got a mention in every one of the speeches to much laughter. Everyone needs a hobby I guess.

After speeches, food and yet more table wine (suddenly the headache I had the next morning makes a lot more sense) people broke off while the function room was set up for evening entertainment.

Papa B, India, Uncle Chris and a few others got excited over a drone and Mumma B grabbed a photo just in time to get my typically Alice reaction.

62005973_2344620125816958_6254120978872270848_n.jpg

Mumma B and I instead spent time wondering around the gardens and discussing flower beds and architecture. Standard. Once the evening portion of the night kicked off it was all dancing and fun way into the night. Have you ever danced to the hit song Nelson Mandela by The Specials at a wedding? Well you have not lived my friend.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m dancing for Mandela India! We’ve got to free him!”

“[Laughs] what the hell?”

“FREEEEEEE NELSON MANDELA! INDIA! IT’S MANDELA!”

(For context, Stella spent a good deal of time in Southern Africa growing up.)

And then eventually the whole night wrapped up with a UB40 song.

“What’s this?” India asked.

“The song played when the DJ wants you to bugger off.”

***

The following days were spent relaxing and enjoying the Kentish sunshine. A particular highlight was when the four of us visited Walmer Castle in Deal. India, with her expert technical knowledge helped restore my confidence that I must be at least related to her.

Further shored up when she got just as excited over a pair of mini Wellington boots as I did.

IMG_5748.JPG

Tell you what, I have a lot of time for a young Wellington. Before I say anything further let me explain a bit of background behind the rationale.

Whilst loving life in Granada recently myself and one of the girls I was staying with developed an heightened interest in olives. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the fact we didn’t know each other and were jumping on the first connection we had but our lust of olives was just off the scale. Our friends would have told us to get a room, if we hadn’t already decided we were going to because of the olives. We bought a massive jar between us and in started taking ‘shots’ of olives and eventually skipped the middle man by carting the whole jar to bed with us at stupid o’clock (don’t ask me to explain why). Anyway, because the jar was so hard to open and because of how much we loved those olives I coined a phrase to subtly describe any man (or woman) that the perciever took a fancy to. I explain this to you now a) for future reference on any subsequent blog posts and b) because seeing a young Wellington in Walmer Castle prompted me to say it.

IMG_5752

“Ooh. He can open my olives.”

“What?”

I related the above story to India.

“Again, what?”

**

I attended my cousin’s wedding with only my immediate family and happily so. It made me wonder why people have this need to put on their dating profiles “seeks +1 to attend weddings”. Why? What’s wrong with going solo? I had just as much fun being a plus zero, if not more so by being able to be classic Alice and wander around a museum late at night after a glass or two, pretending I was living my own version of Night at the Museum. Would I have wanted a plus one to see we twirling about and exclaiming “I love History!”? Goodness no!

The Cotswold Bennett clan left Kent early on Sunday having spent a four days in South East England, a part of the country that none of us had visited in any depth before. We came away feeling very relaxed and India and I with a long list of wedding ideas for that of our own one day (although for the love of God don’t let that be any time soon – Aqua don’t have the availability).

**

Big love to my cousin Stella and her husband Alun, I had a wonderful time at your wedding and wish you all the best now and long into the future. I’m no poet but I hope this, alongside the wire chicken egg holder (memories of hunting cheap eggs in London), I hope they both make you smile.

With love, AEB x

 

Day Two and Still Here: Parental Visit to London (Continued)

(View part one of my parent’s visit to London here.)

***

I met my parents in near the same spot as we’d parted the night before, outside a quaint little Starbucks housed in a building originally built to mark the Queen’s silver Jubilee in 1977. Not that we thought much of the buildings intended significance as we walked over the commemorative plaque in the entranceway. We took our large Americanos and admired the unusually peaceful view of the marina. Yards away Monday morning commute was in full flow, but here we were settled from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It reminded me of how days off should be spent, sunglasses in hair, enjoyable company and a mouthful of guilt-free cake for breakfast.

After coffee I led the way over Tower Bridge, stopping briefly to let Mum take photos on her camera phone. Given the frequency I utilise the tourist trap crossing the leisurely tourist stroll pace felt very much at odds with the route march, shopping on shoulder, approach I took every other day. Further along the South Bank I diverted Mum and Dad through Borough Market for an idea of how one of the main city markets looked and worked which in the same manner as St Katherine’s and Tower Bridge, was welcomed more positively for the lack of humans first thing in the morning.

West and West we went, ambling along the Southern promenade of the Thames until we reached the Tate Modern. I’d forewarned my parents about the type and medium of the exhibitions on display at this popular art gallery, but regardless they were keen to experience it for themselves. Who would I be as a local and tour guide if I ignored the requests of my guests?

Given my Father’s occupation in the Horological sphere, a trip to the worldly famous (or a least that’s what the advert said) film screening ‘The Clock’ was a must. A 24 hour film comprised of the artist painstakingly going through footage to get clips of every minute of every hour. The viewership spoke for themselves, at midday on a Monday the film screening room was about a third full, people sat in rows in front of a large cinema screen. I gestured for Mum and Dad to do the same as we walked in but they decided to remain standing on the back wall nearest to the door. We watched clips for 12:35, 12:36 and 12:37 before Dad decided he’d had enough and walked out, myself and Mum following.

“They’re all watching that film so seriously!” Dad said with amazement as we waited for the lift to arrive. “Did you see them in those chairs?”

“But don’t you see how that could be art?” I said in defence. “That someone has spent hours, months or years even trawling through footage to find a clip of that exact minute. There can’t be two 12:35s in place of zero 12:44s. The investment of time is worth something surely?”

Dad mumbled something under his breath which I took to meaning he respected but rejected my view. In a later room he made similar remarks about some lengthy pieces of brown leather that were hung from the ceiling. He defied how anyone could view this as art.

“Well what do you interpret art as being then?” Mum challenged as we moved across into a room covered floor to ceiling in printed mantras.

“Something of meaning, something of value and something I can’t do.” He gestured to the confined room we stood in, his finger ironically coming to point at one statement which read ‘stupid people shouldn’t breed’. “This is not art.”

“Well I quite like it in a weird way” Mum countered. Her acknowledgement in the face of Dad’s strong reservations surprised me, it was as if they were different people with different views. Unnerving.

After the Tate we retraced our steps and stopped off for lunch at a historic pub called The Anchor. Historic in that it’s rich history included visitations from Samuel Pepys and Edward Jenner and owned by The National Trust, modern in that it was being managed by the Greene King pub chain. Meters away from a shrine room dedicated to Jenner, city folk were chinking glasses on the rooftop terrace to celebrate successful business meetings.

“Does anyone do any work around here?” Dad commented as he reflected on the number of people he’d seen in coffee shops earlier in the day.

“It’s how they do things here,” Mum said flippantly. “It was in a copy of The Telegraph a few weeks ago, even interviews take place in coffee bars nowadays.”

For the second time in as many hours I held my tongue and sipped on my pint of cider. Was Mum becoming Londonised?

Before long all three of us were polishing up our plates and having to think of what we’d been trying to ignore all morning; that eventually my parents were going to have to get back to Paddington to catch the last pre-peak train back to the Cotswolds. Before that though there was just enough time to showcase of the City’s most iconic buildings.

“And there is Saint Paul’s Cathedral” said as we began walking across the pedestrian bridge.

“Isn’t this the bridge that wobbled when people walked across it?” Dad asked.

“Well yes, but that was when they opened it originally, it’s long past that time now and perfectly safe to cross.”

“I’m not stopping on this bridge. I don’t like bridges like this.” Mum announced as she started walking across the bridge. At first she clutched the handrail but realising that fellow tourists hogged the bar for selfies she opted instead for the London commuter approach, to storm down the middle without even pausing to look at the view. She waited patiently on the secure concrete bankside for myself and Dad to catch up and end our conversation about something so trivial I cannot remember what it was about.

“And there is Saint Paul’s” I repeated. Dad was, at first, disappointed there wasn’t the time to go in, replaced by disgust when I told him the ticket price.

“The outside is fine enough.”

Briefly stopping on a bench in the cathedral grounds we observed an Asian bride and groom having staged wedding photos done in one of the doorways, Mum and I hissed at Dad when he accidentally-purposely walked through one of their photo set ups, and then we moved on. By the time I’d shown them the restaurant location for the Channel Four reality series First Dates (which oddly got a better reception than the cathedral) we had to head back to Paddington station via the Central and Bakerloo Tube lines.

“You didn’t have to come with us back to the station,” Dad said, “we’d have been fine on our own.”

Mum looked at me from the seat almost directly opposite. She shook her head subtly so Dad wouldn’t notice and mouthed “no”. As well as seeing them off safe I had no issues with staying with them that bit longer. After all, on my day off I hardly had any other pressing engagements to attend.

I waited with my parents at the station until their platform was announced and then walked them up to the train doors where their seats were ready and reserved for them.

“Thank you so much for showing us round London these past couple of days,” Mum said. “I don’t think we’d have managed without you.”

“We’d have been fine with my map reading skills!” Dad quipped from behind.

“Thank you anyway. We’ll definitely have to visit you again.”

“Definitely do.”

“We are really proud of you, you know?” Dad said as he stepped forward. “What you’ve achieved and what you’re doing, you don’t know how much it means to your Mother and I to see you doing so well for yourself here. And Wapping is such a nice place to be living. We’re just very happy for you.”

“Thanks Dad” I said, trying to not dwell too long on the sentiment for fear of breaking a tear or two. Instead I gave each of them a big hug and told them I loved them both and that I’d text as soon as I got back to the flat and that I’d visit home very soon.

They hopped onto their carriage and I turned on my heel back down the lengthy marble platform. The old-fashioned door slammed and, in just as cold and brutal a manner, our physical connection was cut.

Half an hour later I arrived at my eastward flat as they were speeding in a westerly direction outside Slough. I was wondering what to do with myself when my phone lit up with a familiar notification. A half smile on my lips, I reignited the familiar bond once again.

IMG_2807

Sangria, Selfies and Flamencos: Mallorca (Spain) 2018

There are two options as to when the Mallorca (English spelling Majorca) holiday began. The first possibility is when I caught India eating salsa at 3am as we finished loading the cars up with the suitcases, the scrambled logic being the dip was due to go past its sell-by whilst we were away. I looked at her in disbelief as she continued to eat table spoons of the stuff.

That was when I thought the holiday had began.

The other potential opener occurred in the check-in queue of East Midlands airport. After waiting for approximately 45 minutes the elderly gentleman in front of me started spontaneously vomiting. Someone further down the queue rushed to hand over a napkin seconds before the same passenger began throwing up again. Everyone started shouting at the man to stand still but the baffled passenger continued to wheel his vomit-coated case through the mess and around the tape barriers. Forget human consideration, people were terrified that this solo passenger was going to be on their flight. Dad meanwhile was running around the terminal and having no luck in finding someone to help and the cleaning crew were standing around the mess as if it would evaporate by itself. Then another woman collapsed, and another. It was 4:30am, I was stood in an irritable queue next to a pool of someone else’s vomit. The whole plane had to board in 15 minutes and I had not a drop of caffeine to run on. Miracles bloody well do exist.

IMG_1744
Airport chaos

The Bennett holiday had begun. 

This year it was an all-inclusive trip to the sunny island of Mallorca, Spain. For the benefit of the jury, here is a balcony photo.

IMG_1754
Despite the larger hotel in the background, Hotel Garden Village is a small complex for 16+, made up entirely of separate two storey blocks positioned around central entertainment (pool, bar etc.)

Compulsory scenic surrounding location shots (nature reserve and Alcudia)

While I knew we were in Spain over the course of the week I did have a few questions I wanted to take up with the local trade of commerce. For instance, I’m quite sure this is factually inaccurate:

IMG_1912
…That or we don’t ask questions

I don’t think the feminists were consulted on this, the upcoming sequel to ‘The Land Before Time‘:

IMG_1793
And this man is very misguided and/or up for disappointment

And then I realised the tourist board were in on the con too.

IMG_1965

To take this back a little, we were holidaying in the north, less developed, area of the island and just up the road from several historic towns including Alcudia.

majorca-map.jpg

There are two sides to Alcudia, the newer part of the town that formed around the busy port and is now home to a number of tourist tat shops commercial outlets and bars. The historic town is located several miles inland and a short hop away on public buses (which run every 15 minutes during the main season). Because we’re suckers for culture and architecture we spent more days roaming the streets here than we did anywhere else during our stay. To say the place has charm would be a vast understatement, the main town has so few cars going through it the place is practically pedestrianised (and not a yellow line in sight!) as demonstrated by this reckless selfie.

IMG_1998

We went in on day for the market on Tuesday and were amazed by the range of products one could buy be you a local or a tourist.

Even India thought I was being weird for photoing underwear. Even India.

The main tourist square great for people watching…

IMG_1984

…And had great light for selfies (because I’m pretty sure that’s how the early settlers designed the place).

IMG_1980

After a few bevvies and a scoop or two (or three) of ice cream it was time for a wander around. Going in and out of shops I discovered some awesome tunes but due to data allowance I chose to record the clip. Common practice for me when abroad and also a weird thing to play back.

It looks like hidden camera footage from Watch Dog.

There was also a very nice old church in the centre.

I cam away with a lot of questions to put to religious leaders, chiefly how come Mary’s been dead for several millennia but still has amazing hair whereas all the Herbal Essence products in the world do stuff all for me.

IMG_1969

And why do us Brits keep jet-setting around the world when clearly in Mallorca the place to go on holiday is Bournemouth as demonstrated in this local tourist agent window.

IMG_1989

Speaking of culture, India on art everyone.

IMG_1796IMG_1797.JPG

Moving on…

Speaking of unculture, back at the hotel I was giggling over squiffy mini croissants and eating gummy sweets with large glasses of wine.

IMG_1785

IMG_1826
I felt like a classy lady that night I can tell you

Also much to my amusement came the ‘lost in translation’ moments, including the night we ate a local child’s pet.

IMG_1913

And the dumping of random ingredients in water to infuse it including cinnamon sticks, carrots and potatoes.

The use of potatoes in water was followed by a ten minute lecture where we had to remind Dad that you can’t eat raw potatoes, even if you’re certain you ate them as a child.

On the night of the England vs Columbia game us three got the night off. We stuck him in a chair with a whiskey and he was content all night long (well…ish – we all remember that game).

Tell you what, the Spanish commentators don’t half get passionate about their football World Cup

On another night we played mini golf.

IMG_2060

And if all else failed we just sat about the pool with our sangria and watching the resident duck fly in for a swim. That or laugh at my failing to grasp the English language when I go the words flamingo and flamenco mixed up “flamenco shorts AND t shirts, that is a bold move.” “Well it would be if it actually were flamenco dancers…”

The facilities and entertainment at the hotel was pretty good actually even when the entire complex had a power cut one night.

IMG_1862
In case you don’t know what a blackout looks like…

It was in the evenings I was also reminded of how classy we all are as a unit when we want to be. For instance I still don’t understand why Mum hasn’t been called back to present on Gardener’s World

Dad also started doing reckless things like turning the Jacuzzi on in the evenings and keeping it running when performances were taking place yards away.

Next thing you know the selfie stick is being waved about like nobody’s business and we all start adopting weird signature poses.

IMG_2034

India with arms, Dad with scary smiles, Mum looking very chilled and me…well me reminding myself why I’m single.

The next morning we ventured further along the coast to Port de Pollenca with it’s scenic docks and it’s random home wares which were also rather pricey.

And because we hadn’t taken a family selfie for five minutes naturally my stick was out again.

At the end of the week we left knowing that the 32C temperatures were little above what was being experienced in Britain (i.e. no smug points to be had there) but we returned having had an enjoyable and chilled week away from our varying stresses of real life. I have racked up a mega awesome playlist of Spanish songs on my Spotify playlist, discovered cream of coconut liqueur (which is the best) and saw a Spanish version of Poldark from the coach as we headed back to Palma airport. Based on all three I’ve decided that I need to move to Mallorca and join Alcudia’s local police force (in the words of mum “you don’t get Aiden Turner working as a special police constable in the UK”).

That said before all of that came a two more pressing tasks:

A) How do we get Dad on the plane?

IMG_2065

And B) how do we stop ourselves having so much fun on the free bar?

IMG_2058

The answer to both? Kicking and screaming.

Nobody Puts AB in the Corner

Alice Bennett. A fabulous personality and brilliant writer but certainly someone who wouldn’t stoop to cheap and forced puns (less wordplay, more wordforce). She only writes on the most topical and important of subjects and lets the title of posts come to her rather than chase after them.

Oh who am I kidding? I saw this clip and felt the need to write something about my hair.

 

We’re half way through the year now and that, alongside my hair being due for a home-done touch up, I thought I’d give a new shade a go. After all YOLO is still a thing somewhere in this universe (right?) and if not, at work we have a new initiative called Have-A-Goness so I can always say my CEO told me to do it. There are millions of brunettes in the world so how can I make myself stand out in comparison? Do something crazy and impulsive, that’s what. I’m done with sitting in the corner so in line with this post I did a few months ago: I’m Ruddy Awesome I’ve decided that seeing as Patrick isn’t going to help me out anytime soon I need to start making myself more visible and recognised for my own talents. The colour of my hair is a quick win way to help towards that.

I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking “what on Earth has happened to Alice? She’s off the mother-flipping chain.” Well London. London’s herds of people and a hefty quantity of exhaust fumes, that’s what.

Anyway I very recently applied a temporary dye to my hair (one which lasts so long before it entirely washes out) so I could see if longer term it was a colour I wanted to work on a more permanent basis.

This was my hair before…

Alumi Photo AB

This is it now…

IMG_1722
For the love of God don’t ask me for another photo

 

 

So yeah, I’m a cross between a brunette, red head and a 50s dress up (I say that in a nice way). At the risk of sounding like a diva the second photo was taken in my ensuite (play your cards right boys and you too may end up staring blankly at this internal door). In natural light it is a lot redder. Muchos more.

To give you an idea of the scandal my hair has already caused, when I showed it to mumma Bennett the reaction was as follows:

“OH MY GOD!!”

“It’s red, isn’t it?”

*Covers eyes* “Oh my God, it’s so different! INDIA! INDIA! Come here!”

“What is it?”

“Your sister’s hair! Come look at it!”

“Jesus mum, the whole county will hear you. And stop laughing.”

“Oh wow, it is different. Not as bad as I thought though.”

“See, India is fine with it. Calm down mum.”

“It’s purple! What has your father said?”

“He didn’t notice.”

“He didn’t notice?! BEN! BEN!”

“For Christ’s sake mum.”

I’ve decided that while the principle of YOLO and Have-a-Goness are very valid ideas and mantras, if I do anything more scandalous than this I risk being taken out of the will (Patrick Swayze or no Patrick).

This Could Be the Best Homemade Video Since Charlie Bit My Finger…*

(* – no promises made)

What does one get a family member who has everything? More to the point, what does one get a family member when one has no money, no time and has a terrible habit of writing in the ‘one’ tense? That’s right, she makes a truly amazing video featuring Phil Collins (obviously).

It seemed such a good idea to make a video for lil bub Bennett’s birthday, but then in truth I think I may have really just wanted to pay tribute to Phil Collins and feed my middle age condition (the one where people are born liking The Archers and consider staying up to watch the BBC News at 10 to be a ‘crazy’ one. Yeah, that one.) Anyway, I thought the video would be a nice thing to do for her.

20 hours later…

Brain dead, caffeine overdosed and fed up of seeing my sister’s face more than my own, I finally created a masterpiece. “She better love this” I thought, before dashing into Lush the next day to buy a back up present. Safe thing too, when I first presented her with the gift she seemed less than amused at the offering.

“Right. Ok, well that’s a very nice memory stick Ali, thank you.”

“No you donut, it’s what’s on the stick.”

“Oh right!”

“Did you seriously think I’d give you a cheap USB stick for your birthday?”

*Silence*

“Just play the video.”

Luckily, she loved it. And now, for your viewing pleasure, I have added that same video here. Enjoy! (Well as much as you can given you know nothing of my family and it’s in-jokes…if nothing else watch it for Phil.)

 

 

Written in response to the WordPress prompt Dancing

Caves, Cannons and Geriatric Broadband: South Devon 2016

Some of you guys might be getting a little fed up of Alice posting “about me holidays”. Well, with the help of Simon Pegg, I’ve only got one thing to say to you people:

Haters gonna hate.

In true white, middle class style I’ve just got back from a break spent at the family’s holiday cottage (South Devon). The little village of Stoke Gabriel on the River Dart has, for many years, been a destination for the Bennett clan. It’s a location close to my heart, a little chocolate box of a village with plenty of charm and boats.

pontoon-through-flowers

happy-potted-flower-17433480

 

It’s pretty nice, huh? Well, as someone that’s been holidaying there for cracking on fifteen years I can certainly vouch that Stoke Gabriel is a village that keeps giving year after year.

Before we could reach our holiday cottage though we had to make a stop off in the local, equally pretty, town of Totnes. Not that Totnes isn’t a nice place to go:

totnes

Totnes

In fact it prides itself on being a very welcoming place:

img_0189

They even were very supportive and welcoming of national coffee shop chain Costa Coffee.

895487155totnescosta-welcome-to-clone-town

So much that Costa went “you guys are so nice that we just can’t build our coffee shop in your town, you guys use it for a charity shop instead.”)

It’s a nice enough place but it was just that, due to our desire to not spend Saturday parked up on the M5 near Bristol, we’d left the Cotswolds early enough to arrive in Totnes at 8:45am, six hours too early to get into the cottage. Morning spent doing the traditional Bennett activities of “Spotting The New Shops And Working Out If They’ll Last the Year”, losing Papa Bennett to the cheese stand in the farmers’ market, and Mumma Bennett going to Totnes Castle (owned by English Heritage). Not to visit the Norman castle, but purely to raid the English Heritage gift shop of raspberry curd.

Here is a helpful diagram to explain:

101816....jpg
(Not to scale)

Top Paint/design skills there.

Once we’d spent a sufficient amount of time and money on cheese, jam and pies (courtesy of Morrisons’ reduced aisle and the effects on Papa Bennett), we headed back to the cottage to unpack and unwind. Well, three of us unpacked. I took to throwing India’s clothes across the room in a political statement-come-demonstration in a bid to force her to put her socks and swimsuit in a less in-you-face location.

Sunday we went to Kents Cavern, an extensive series of underground caves and tunnels. Much to my surprise, despite the poor lighting my new iPhone (I have an iPhone now, don’t you know?) took half decent pics. img_0199

However, don’t be fooled, the caves were dark at points and even had spooky faces in the walls.

img_0197

Because India studies Human Geography she didn’t know what to make of it all. She felt very lost and confused in the cave systems.

img_0194

“India! Don’t go down there!”

At the end of the caves there was an exhibition, including a reconstruction of human settlers using the caves for protection. I didn’t really understand what the curators were trying to portray – all of my hungover mornings with friends look like this?

img_0206

Bacon, mindless staring into the abyss, a random baby showing up, what’s new there?

I found this guy very relatable:

img_0207

Following on from the beauty of the caves, we progressed onto another natural feature: the tourist gift shop.

img_0209

(David Tennant would have been very happy.)

Outside, India found a new outfit and posed for an attractive series of photos.

Another day we went to the up and coming town of Brixham:

img_0222

As long as you’re not OCD on your hygiene it has a great sweet shop:

img_0236img_0237

And if you’re not OCD on quality, there’s many shops stocking a wide range of products:

On the holiday there was also a family outing to the county capital of Exeter city. During our day out we went on a delightful free tour of the city which took us from the city centre right down to the historic quayside. Whilst we learnt a great deal of many facts and history about the city, highlights for me were posing with this cannon:

img_0289

And this ferry sign:

img_0281

Who said I wasn’t easy to please?

Speaking of education, I also got chance to visit a delightful little zoo in the village of Shaldon and learn all about a range of small animals, notably of the primate variety.

 

I even learnt a new language:

img_0299

“Ah! So that’s why I’m still single! I need to up m seductive face…”

img_0300

“…and learn how to get other females off my man whilst keeping his attention.”

img_0301

“Sorted!”

Shaldon also had some other charming features, such as the local custom of leaving labels on beverage fruits…

img_0321

…A large mermaid (one which puts my housemate to shame)…

…and a very large passive-aggressive sign targeted at dog fouling:

img_0315

It truly is a very wonderful place.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Devonshire holiday without a few technical issues and scraps in the cottage, the main one of this holiday being the internet. The broadband, for whatever reason, decided to be rather temperamental for most of the week. At the lowest point we had two laptops and my mobile phone all desperately trying to look up website information, with no one having any success whatsoever. Amongst the shouting “I’M TRYING TO LOG ONTO THE SITE!” and “try turning it off and on again” and even the classic “oh just give it here! You’re doing it wrong! Huh, it’s not working” I was sat in the middle just laughing. “Great family holiday this is, I come for some relaxation and get lumbered with a geriatric broadband connection! Get the leaflet drawer out, we’d have found out about the Red Coat guides half an hour ago if we’d gone there first.” Inadvertently the broadband issue turned into a family competition every time it went down. Never has Googling cinema times of Jason Bourne been so exciting!

Overall, aided hugely by good (well, half-decent) weather we all had a great time once again in Devon. Now that it’s SEPTEMBER…

(Sorry, not sorry)

…it’s all a go-go on Autumn/Halloween/Christmas. The day we got back from Devon the weather changed instantly. Seems God wants to start buying his tinsel early this year.

But if you think that’s miserable enough, just take a look at this pointlessly long sign for sale in a gift shop n Totnes:

img_0183

How did that make you feel Mr. Seagull?

img_0271

“You know, when I was younger I thought I’d be a lot cooler by now” Miss Alice E. Bennett

“I’ve got this Lynx for women shower gel, but I don’t like it. It makes me smell like a teenage boy on heat.”

“Why don’t you bin it then?”

“Yeah, but I got it as a Christmas present, so it’s free and all…”

Welcome to my world. A world where the golden rule is to always save money by any means possible. You are reading the words of a girl who never ate fancy during her uni days, instead always had a stash of £1.99 McDonalds vouchers to hand, a bottle of 19p water from Savers in her bag and a impressive knowledge of the shops which gave out free food (praise the Lord for the Hotel Chocolat samples!) A person who still cuts cost corners where possible, and if it’s free is all over it. For example, some of you may/may not be familiar with the Galaxy men and women, attractive people hired to give out free bars of chocolate to promote the brand…

Galaxy Gift For You Activity

(I couldn’t find any pictures of the men but trust me, in their Galaxy suits they were looking sweet as chocolate – yes, pun intended)

Right here is a girl that constantly walked past the beautiful men not because they were beautiful men, but because they were giving away free chocolate and vouchers. It was a good Christmas that year, I had enough chocolate to see me though to Easter and enough free vouchers to palm off to my friends in far flung locations in place of actual gifts. One card even went missing en route to my friend studying in Japan. To this day I firmly believe the Japanese stole the voucher inside.

Fads

Like every human being, I’ve had my fair share of fashion fads in my life so far. There was the waist belt phase, where I wore wide waist belts with everything, even though looking back a lot of the time they really didn’t suit me. There were the teen years where I genuinely convinced myself I was incapable of smiling and/or looking good in photos so I just looked forever grumpy:

39888_421660276049_4045715_n

Of course there were the selfie photos, back in the day where a ‘selfie’ was a photo taken with this newfangled ball thing called a webcam:

1935156_144661721049_3614245_n

10401258_51538881049_6000_n

(I thought I was so cool when I took that one)

1897732_10151943915971050_457181012_n

(no make up selfie, accompanied by: By the rules of social media (which you must never break, like the laws of jinx or tag) here is my no make up selfie. I’ve had no make up on all day, but I’ve taken it now fresh out of the shower to show I genuinely have nada on. If you like this you may be interested in checking out many of my other profile pictures or me most days of the week. People should love you, not your face paint. A belief I’ve stuck by for 20 years, and still do.) – sickening, eh? After a few gentle nudges I did actually donate money to charity.

And then there was the ‘rebellious’ year at university when I grew a side fringe.

379356_10150812599336050_164465791_n

486366_10151104623551050_176098888_n

536083_10150639707481050_859300577_n

That was a very questionable style choice. Never again will I take the advice from someone who says after a drink “you know, you’d look really good with a side fringe”. Never. Again.

Thankfully I had my fringe reinstated April 2013 and it made me so much happier…

198376_10150834958386050_1922974681_n

As mumma Bennett is forever reminding me, “when we drove away from Southampton that Easter after you’d had it done, I remember telling your father how much better you looked. I mean it looked ok on occasion, but most of the time that side fringe really didn’t suit you at all.” Thanks mum.

Of course uni also brought the dressing up fad as standard:

581642_10151291086456050_1076034327_n

419880_10150576968706050_698159029_n

(An alien, before you ask)

295864_10150341529496050_250967933_n

536417_10150812602746050_1106452459_n

(Above I’m representing the Italian Mafia for Eurovision. Back then it was fancy dress, nowadays it’s called office wear)

523613_10151082345706050_1728987018_n (1)

(For this one I was so chuffed I fitted into an age 12 gothic bride dress I literally refused to take it off all night. It freaked the hell out of my housemates, who thought Miss Havishman was patrolling the hallways when they saw my darkened figure at 1am)

WP_20150207_16_36_53_Pro

Oh wait, that was a couple of months ago…

Anyway, you get the picture.

Hats, hats and more hats!

A fad I’m currently riding now is hats (although I hope I never look back on these with regret). I mean hats go with everything!

Days out

418169_10150543293776050_1147465471_n

With snow

2285_53057476049_3722_n

At winter birthdays…

69492_10151128743126050_1054907322_n

…Or in summer selfies

935126_10151375223036050_1527396688_n

In the Disney store with friends

531003_10151105898576050_1468899805_n

Or with fancy dress

1456572_10151768954481050_867438078_n

1514592_10152792093396050_1840795513860704668_n

Every so often there’s a mask…

531926_10151161372836050_1558645363_n

…Or we get the lines really blurred with a full on mask

11219378_10152760350856050_4996348051135866966_n

But then we return to the safety of hats

10849885_10152430434651050_823509812820915638_nTeam hat selfie!

576885_10151314115006050_918927746_n (1)

Even though I was in the Parisian sewers I was still happy. You know why? Probably because I was wearing a hat.

In short, hats are cool. End of.

The photos you really want to see – lets bring out the baby pics

Ok, lets get a couple of these out:

securedownload (8)

Yep, I used to be blonde

securedownload (2)

Keenly eyed readers will notice I match the curtains almost perfectly

securedownload (3)

When you don’t have curtains to hand there are always bin bags (in fairness, I used to love dressing up as a witch. My parents should have seen the warning signs then)

1917544_390884461049_3714895_n

Bonus points if you can guess which one is me. Think you’ve spotted me? Here’s a close up:

1917544_390884476049_7409776_n

I was quite literally shaking with excitement at having my photo taken. According to my family I still shake to this day when I’m excited or uber smug.

So…

I think that’s enough about me for now. Enough to give an insight into the warped life and mind of Miss Alice E. Bennett, a taster if you will. If you really want to get to know me you only need only give five minutes of your undivided attention. Within seven I’ll be telling you why Tom Hanks’ character in The Polar Express doesn’t make me comfortable…

“Look, all I’m saying is that when I was watching The Polar Express the only things I kept thinking were a) where is this guy’s CRB check certificate? And b) where are all the other kids on the train?”