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.

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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:

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Totnes

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

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

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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:

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(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.

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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.

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“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?

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

I found this guy very relatable:

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

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(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:

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

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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:

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And this ferry sign:

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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:

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

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

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“Sorted!”

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

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

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

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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:

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How did that make you feel Mr. Seagull?

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“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:

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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:

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

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(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.

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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…

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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:

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(An alien, before you ask)

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

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(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)

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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

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With snow

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At winter birthdays…

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…Or in summer selfies

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In the Disney store with friends

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Or with fancy dress

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Every so often there’s a mask…

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

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But then we return to the safety of hats

10849885_10152430434651050_823509812820915638_nTeam hat selfie!

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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:

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Yep, I used to be blonde

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Keenly eyed readers will notice I match the curtains almost perfectly

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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)

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

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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?”

“Of course Alice enjoys pottery, it’s making mud pies but socially acceptable” India, lil-bub, Bennett

Hang on a mo, is that gas I can smell? No?….Ok the smell has passed now, I think it might have been someone stoking up the BBQ on this lovely Summer’s evening. Now that has passed I can begin on this.

India Bennett, my little sister three years my junior, is, well, she’s urm, well let’s stick at her being my little sister. Like all siblings it is a near impossible task to define her or our relationship in a few words. Take the the featured image of this blog post…

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…This picture was taken in Suffolk when India decided to put Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’ on for no reason. I was incredibly hyper (I was dancing with salad servers) and India had had a sip of wine. We were crazy! This photo sums up the next three and a half minutes very well, just pure dementedness.

Welcome to my relationship with India. A world where these photos are a frequent occurrence:

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A relationship where photo in-jokes are frequent, but rarely understood by the outside world:

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(The above, shot in the New Forest, being one of the very few people get)

And where mum has to accept that for every 10 normal photos we demand one light-hearted one.

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A pub called Beerwolf! Did I also tell you it sells Books? We had to have a photo with it. (Bennett sister’s top place to visit in Falmouth).

Can you role your eyes? Good, then you can define our relationship. Mumma B does it all the time so it must be a good, endearing, way to sum us up.

Nicknames

Over the years I’ve assigned many nicknames to my beloved little sister. These include (deep breath):

Lil bub

Bub

Bubbakins

Sister of the Sea

My little crustation

Squidly

Lobster (used when quoting Friends)

(Can you see some patterns emerging here?)

India

Ind

Innnndddddiiiiiaaaaaa

Indiana Jones

Sis

Chick

Chick-a-dee

Smelly

Turnip (in the context of ‘oh you little turnip’)

Turd/poop (as the above, but in stronger circumstances)

Mum and dad bonus names: Pumpkin, pickle pants

Basically any noun or random noise I assign her. There are interchangeable, e.g.:

‘Sister of the Sea, dinner is ready!’

5 minutes later… ‘can you pass me the salt bubbakins?’

‘Please stop calling me bubbakins, you’re making me feel like a little fat kid’

‘What was that lil bub? I was too busy eating my fruits de la mer’

‘It’s fish and chips’

‘Fruits de la mer!’

In short, whether she likes them or not, India has many ‘Alice-given’ nicknames.

Miss Congeniality

As well as goodness knows how many in-jokes and giggling fits we have over nothing at all (“Barry! There’s a frog in the shower!” – guarantee she’ll be laughing now), we both have a special place in our hearts for the Sandra Bullock classic that is Miss Congeniality. Why I hear you ask? Well as well as it being a classic chick flick, we particularly admire the legend that is Michael Caine. The amazing actor that has performed in some amazing films over the years found himself in 2001 playing a pageant coach. Surprisingly the Oscar nominations didn’t pour in.

From the film we took two life lessons: 1) Our favourite date is April 25th (because it’s not too hot or too cold) and 2) we are the crown:

At one point in the film Bullock realises (spoilers) that the pageant crown is a bomb. She tries to tell Caine this while being pushed on stage. Misinterpreting her warning as her showing determination to win, Caine says “that’s right, you wear the crown, be the crown, you are the crown.”

Ever since India and myself have used this as our inspirational quote. If ever in doubt, or you need perking up, just utter the above quote and you’re bound to find the strength to continue. At the very least you can think to yourself “if Michael Caine can bring himself to say that on film then I can do anything”.

If you want to be accepted by the pair of us you need to watch this film and appreciate the pure 00’s cheesiness of it (without wine).

India’s Spot

In an uncanny resemblance to Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, India will seek out a spot she can call home and set up base there. This tends to be in a corner behind a sofa, where she can sneak in and out of a room without anyone noticing. The frustration really ensues when you’re trying to have a conversation with her, and you’re found trying to work out if she’s there, not listening/aware of the conversation or actually left the room ages ago.

It’s time to play the Bennett family fun game of:

Is India actually in the room?

Question 1: Which of the below is India least likely to engage in or with no matter if she’s in the room or not?

a) Cats

b) Clothing she’s put in the charity bag that actually belongs to someone else

c) Anything related to herself (education, what she’s up to, her friends etc)

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Answer: C (“why do you keep talking about me?” “actually, we thought if we talked about you for long enough and you’d get the hint. That was 15 minutes ago.”

Question 2: How do you know India is definitely in the room?

a) She’ll be laughing like a drain at a youtube video on her phone, while you’re watching a serious documentary on TV

b) She’ll be hitting the keyboard so hard playing Skyrim the noise will drive you insane

c) Silly question, she’ll be sat on the sofa chatting to you!

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Answer: A (“India! Seriously! Someone is dying here!” “What? What? Sorry…….hehehehehe” “INDIA!”)

Question 3: In a dining room setting, how will India get away from conversation?

a) she’ll stand up and walk out

b) she’ll pull out her phone and plug her headphones in, to try and convince us she’s listening

c) she’ll make two trips to the dishwasher and never return

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Answer: C (“I don’t see why some people should do more trips with dirty plates than others. If everyone made two trips to the dishwasher then we’d all have the same amount of work to do and everything would get done quicker. I did my trips, so I went to my room.” First we had Karl Marx, now we have India Bennett. Prepare yourselves for the revolution).

Finally, Question 4: How many times do you say ‘India’ before assuming she’s not in the room?

a) one

b) two

c) three or more until someone checks behind the sofa or she responds

d) She’s never in the room

e) Throw a random comment that would make any normal person react (e.g. “India smells” or “I’m sure India would love to help clear the garage out”)

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(Some of India’s photography, an evolving fish escaping the bathroom. Deep.)

Answer: C (it’s as close as you’ll get to having something in writing should you later require proof she had no opinion on a matter.

So…

Like all of my family, it is very difficult to sum up my sister in one blog post. To sum up my crazy and messed up relationship with her is impossible. That’s something for the Psychologists of the future to discuss over many heated debates and research journals. No, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to decipher why India says and does the things she says and does, but I love her thisssssssss much and I would never replace her. And if anyone says or does anything to upset her, well, may I refer you again to our favourite guilty pleasure:

She’s a nutcase, but she’s my nutcase

“You’ve started a blog. That’s nice, but can you actually earn any money from it?” Mother Bennett

My family are the centre of my world. They have been there through thick and thin, from my first swimming lessons to my move to Swindon. There was the time I baked a fruit loaf (“Alice that’s a brick”), the time I went through my side-fringe phase (“we were so relived when you got rid of that, it never suited you”) and this one time when I was six:

“Mum, India and I were playing builders and plumbers…” (side note, ‘builders and plumbers’? One for the feminists right there) “…and my arm really hurts”

“I’m sure it’s nothing dear, just a sprain.”

[Weeks later]

“Ow! Ow! Mum my arm still really hurts!”

“Fine! we’ll go to a doctor about it.”

[Days later]

“Your daughter has broken her arm.”

“Oh.”

That aside they have supported me more than any daughter could expect. When my secondary school told me I wasn’t ‘academically able’ to even aspire to a Russell group University my family stuck by me and helped me turn statistical predictions of CCC into real grades of AAB. Tears, exhaustion and, finally, joy. Getting into Southampton changed my life and I have my family to thank for it.

Ok, so have you got the point about how key my family is to me? Good, I can stop centring this text now.

So, in homage to them, I will be writing a post on each of my close family. Given their importance to me I guess I should have done these posts sooner, but then explaining my housemates kinda took over in importance due to the blog title. I mean, “My Mother Is a Retired Part Time Teacher” didn’t really spring to mind during the 30 seconds it took to decide on a blog title.

Any who, here goes. Where better to start than with my dear mother, alias Lynn, alias Mumma, Bennett…

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(Mumma Bennett and a Greek waiter. If she’d not been constricted by British values she’d have probably hit him for embarrassing her in the restaurant.)

The best way to sum up my mum is to picture Mrs Bennet. No, not my actual mum, but Mrs Bennet from the higher popular (God knows why) novel, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Mrs Bennet by name and nature, mum love to fret over things, especially her two daughters. She dispares that the pair of us will never find boyfriends or, long term, suitable middle-class husbands. Every weekend is spent with her asking me if there is anyone on the scene, and every weekend she’ll let out a little sigh when I say no. I’ll come back from a social evening out and the next day I’ll be asked “were there any nice guys there?” “Mum!!” “What?! I’m just asking!” She may not be as bad as Miranda’s mum from the BBC sitcom who tries any and every attempt to pair off her daughter, but give it a year and I’m sure we’ll be there.

Actually, take that back, having watched that clip I’ve decided she is Miranda’s Mum.

My mum is the head of the household. Dad may like to think that he rules the roost, but if it wasn’t for mum dad would be ruling more of a pig sty than a roost. A pessimist by nature, she is the force that keeps Mr Bennett from undergoing some of his wacky ideas, and believes that if a panoramic view is really worth seeing you won’t have to climb up narrow steps because it’ll be on an interpretation board at ground level. Winding Asian con-callers up is another one of her many skills:

“What can you see on your online banking screen madam?”

“I can see a frog”

“What sorry? A fr-og?”

“Yes, and it’s dancing. A dancing frog!”

“I’m sorry madam, I don’t understand. Can you go back a screen?”

“There’s now a rabbit on the screen. It’s smiling at me.”

“Please click refresh madam.”

“Oops now the screen is black. Oh well, this was fun, bye!”

When she’s not winding me or half of Asia up with her comments she’s running around fretting over something or someone. In Summer 2011 it was four months of “oh I hope you get into Southampton, don’t you?” “Yes mum, this time and the time you mentioned it this morning, half and hour ago and the 500 times before that.”

Spring 2014: “I hope you get this job with English Heritage, don’t you?” “Yes mum, although it’s been over a week now and I’ve still heard nothing.” “Yes, but I still hope you get it. Check you emails again!”

Summer 2014: “I hope India gets into Cardiff, don’t you?” “The weather is lovely today, don’t you think?”

We’re currently in a lull because India and I are happy and stable where we are, which bizarrely frustrates her because there’s nothing to worry about. This is probably why the boyfriend topic is making a come-back. Poor guy, if and when I do find someone she’s going to stalk them to oblivion “Show me a picture. What does he do? What did he study and where?” She does this with my current friends and I doubt she’ll ease off for any partner of mine or India’s.

Photo wise there’s always very few of her. Like me, she believes the camera is her mortal enemy and therefore prefers to act as photographer rather than model. That said, none of the Bennett clan are about to be Britain’s next top model and when forced into it she can put up with the odd photo:

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For all her fretting and pesamism though, mum is one of the key rocks that keep our family strong. If you can tolerate Deal or No Deal and have a special place in your heart for Kirsty Allsop and Phil Spencer (Phil on his own is ok. but anything where Kirsty is on her own is the work of the Devil) then odds are you’ll get on. Do you like tea? If you didn’t before you met mumma Bennett you certainly will after a day with her.

So that’s mum. More on my other family members to follow.

To be continued…

Oh, mum also does this indescribable movement that’s half walk/half run and does it up and down the house. She also randomly jumps up and down in the kitchen from time to time. No one knows when these random actions started or why she does them, but it’s her thing. I wasn’t really sure where I could fit this nugget of information in, but I felt compelled to say it.

Alcohol, Alcohol, Alcohol is Free!

“Look, Paphos is check in desks 24-26”

“Paphos? Where’s Paphos?”

It was 6am in Birmingham Airport and we were all brain dead, but even by my sister’s standards this was unacceptable. Usually a 4am start marks the beginning of the annual Bennett Easter holiday abroad so we usually take such comments as part of sleep deprivation. However on this occasion there was no way I was letting my younger, Geography student, sister get away with this.

“Paphos is where we’re flying to you muppet.”

“I though we were flying to Cyprus?”

Ok Alice, deep breath.

“Yes, we’re going to Cyprus, but Paphos is the airport we’re flying to. Like you fly to Birmingham, not the UK.”

“Oh, I thought Cyprus was a town/city?”

“Why don’t we just head to check in? I think we all need a coffee.”

And thus, our holiday had begun.

The Bennett Easter holiday has been something we’ve been doing for years, every year since I was four years old in fact (excluding the one year we went to Florida in the summer when I was 11). In the many holidays we’ve taken we seen and done it all. Ridden camels, seen the pyramids months before it all went to pieces, the Colosseum. All the Euro sites.

We’ve also been through the rubbish. I’ve spent two nights sleeping on an airport floor thanks to Hurricane Charlie (followed by a taxi journey all the way from Edinburgh to the Cotswolds), I’ve been stranded abroad for a week thanks to an ash cloud, and I had the horrible experience at 13 where I thought our Nile cruise ship had left me and papa Bennett behind on the shore. Luxor, place where the only language the locals understood was a girl crying her eyes out (and, respect where it’s due, they did all they could to put me at ease and find someone who spoke English to help).

Apart from India wanting to discuss terrorism checks at security (the girl has the gift of timing) and the pair of us answering the “what do you do if security stop you?” question on the wall with the answer “C. Do the hokey cokey!” the airport was fairly uneventful. On the plane this song kept playing constantly, which made India and I debate how many plays it would take to turn you insane.

After two plays the novelty had definitely worn off on me. The cabin crew were hardly making up a new dance routine to the song either.

Four plus hours later we landed in Paphos, Cyrpus. Bags collected we hoped on our bus with a Thomas Cook representative which sparked a new debate, although this one had to be more hushed for the sake of diplomacy.

“India, why are all holiday reps scouse?”

“What?”

“Seriously, every English rep in Europe is unnaturally orange and scouse. Why do they want to be reps and why would you buy fake tan in a sunny country? Do you think there’s a reason?”

“Why haven’t you eaten your meal deal snack yet? You’re just going to save it up and eat it in front of us with that smug look on your face like you always do!”

Conversation dropped.

Most of the holiday was spent like this, random half conversations picked up and dropped. Without context you would be very confused about what was going on. Examples: we sang Bonnie Tyler down the promenade, I got increasingly old lady aggressive towards a man reading out bingo numbers (“why is this guy wearing a shirt too tight for him? Why are there inflatable banana’s behind him? Why is he saying ‘you whoo’ all the time?!!”), and India and I sang this song many times:

(I mean, when you’re on an all inclusive in Greece it has to happen! Staff definitely gave us a knowing smile and look whenever we sang it)

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Ok, so let’s get some holiday snaps up… (#HolidaySpam)

There are some genuinely nice pictures of us, but you guys didn’t come here for the “for God’s sake Alice, stop pulling faces!” Mumma Bennett photo reel, you came here for the “India, India, photo this tea stain on my trousers that looks like Cyprus!” mobile phone photos. So here we are:

This cat that who was sleeping in a basket…

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We genuinely thought this was one of those awful cat’s in baskets made from hair we do not think about. But no, this was someone’s cat, sleeping in among tourist souvenirs. The shop owners accepted it, so we accepted it.

This Toothless backpack

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It’s impossible to describe the gasp of joy India and I let out when we saw this.

This Toothless window hanging…

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…which is now hanging up on my bedroom window.

A place we visited called Pissouri

Now, we pronounced it Piz-or-ree, however if you were so inclined you could prounce it differently. Before you ask, it actually smelt of flowers (on account of the blossom).

This sign that was grammatically incorrect on every level in Pissouri

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A Choice of 39 DifferenD Crepes, by Andreas ‘The crepe Man”

Now why would you pay the money on two signs without getting someone to check them first? And why offer 39? Why not 35 or 40? Where was Andreas storing all these toppings in that hut?

This sign I want to show all my English-studying friends:

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“Littery is Strictly Prohibited”

Thank goodness I didn’t bring my Shakespeare and Chaucer to read on the beach.

This section in a local Pissouri shop that stocked Tesco value food:

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As a family we didn’t know what to make of this. Either Tesco are big importers to the area (the British base was only a 15 min drive away) or there’s a serious Tesco value smuggling problem. People were clearly buying these products although why there was a demand for Tesco value jam and coffee was a bit confusing. The Greeks produce these products too! We stared at this section for quite some time. Tesco value tomato soup had never looked so interesting.

“Middle Aged Man”…guards the beach

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Sorry dad, but you know every holiday needs a MAM shot.

These biscuits:

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“What’s so special amount those?” I hear you cry. Well, just look at what they look like translated into the European alphabet…

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Papadopoulos

You try saying that with a straight face and no concept of Greek pronunciation.

This sweet food that looked like something else (not like coconut):

IMG_20150410_164412351FOOD PUNS!

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(Sweet memories from Cyrpus)

And you thought only the Brits worked the commercial pun (http://wp.me/p5kuli-45)

This baby who chills out in a giant sandal

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This requirement is a must for me. I will not buy a pair of shoes unless I can go to bed knowing that a baby could chill out in them.

As with any tourist destination there was plenty of tourist tat about, if I stopped and took a photo of everything I wouldn’t be enjoying my holiday to the fullest. This is just a sample.

This tea stain I made on my cut offs that I swear looks like Cyprus

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If you look really hard you might be able to see it…

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Close enough.

I was so happy at this. A little too happy…

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Photobombing the Photobomb

IMG_7069Me discovering that the sun sets in the evening

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THE GODS ARE EATING THE SUUUNN!!!

This man who serenaded us all – with mixed reactions

This guy sang at our hotel one night and came round people while they ate. We thought we’d avoid him but as people left and the evening wore on we became sitting ducks to his charms.

India smiled politely

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Dad had a good old sing along

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I personally would have been up for marrying the guy right then and there

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But mum on the other hand…

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But then in the end she decided this was the best photo of her from the whole holiday

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So really we all won that evening.

India got a new hair style…

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…And I got my first ever fish pedicure

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I paid a massive eight euros for a foot massage and 10 minutes with the fish. For the first five minutes I was laughing constantly. My feet are the most ticklish part of me and far from nibbling, it felt like tens of tiny fish sucking at every part of my feet. It was an experience to say the least. Would I do it again for the soft feet? No. Would I do it again with friends? For eight euros, yeah, I probably would.

All joking aside…

…It was a great holiday. We’d been to Cyprus before, but it was on this holiday that the four of us went to the North of the island for the first time. It was the first time we had really experienced the awkward underlying tension between the Turkish Muslims and the Greek Orthodox Christians. No one says anything, but you sense it. From the stubborn border control (India and I unexpectedly became cigarette mules for one man who bought four packs instead of the two per person limit the Turks impose), to the massive North Cyprus flag painted on the mountain side to overlook the Greek half of Nicosia:

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Since the fall of the Berlin wall, Nicosia is now the last divided capital in Europe. Check points everywhere and it just feels weird. I suppose this is what many people felt in Berlin a generation ago. At least now people can cross over the boarder (with a passport). Until 2003 even that wasn’t possible. But there’s no escaping the elephant in the room, although the Greeks don’t hide away from it. This cafe positioned on a check-point border I thought summed up the situation well.

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(Berlin No. 2)

Anger mixed with grumbling acceptance. As generations have grown up with the dividing line it has become harder to explain to younger generations what life was like before 1974 and as time goes on it seems more and more likely a peaceful solution will never come about. People were forced of their homes and live from both sides of the border, foreigners have bought and sold land, built houses etc. As our tour guide said, ‘it’s like a divorce, if you do something quickly about it you may be able to come to a resolution. However if you keep leaving it you’re only going to make things worse.”

Don’t get me wrong, the north of the island was lovely. I genuinely could have sat with a book and a coffee and chilled out at Bellapais village/abbey all day.

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(I can’t really think of anything like it in England, other than the love child of Hailes Abbey, Gloucestershire, and Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire)

Kyrenia also had a very pretty harbour and various doors (too many photos were taken of doors this holiday to include them all in this post but this will do):

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And then there was the odd road trip where we were reminded that Cyprus has a lot of history to offer:

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This was part of a big area of temples for worshipping various Greek Gods, converted over the years to dormitories, baths, houses etc. It’s existence today has certainly been aided by Cyprus not having the shortage of land for development which exists in this country.

However it did mean there was the odd spooky development that had been abandoned to let time and nature do with it as it wished.

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That said, as a holiday overall it was brilliant. Just what we all needed. Fun, laughter, cocktails and all the humus and Cypriot (not Turkish) delight a girl could ask for. And as I stood on a bridge over the pool one evening, two cocktails in hand I felt as ease. While mum, dad and India argued over the camera flash I thought, ‘this was as good as family holidays get’.

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“See! No flash!”

“Give me the camera. You’re pressing the wrong button. Press that one! No, the other one! The one with the lightning bolt”

“India I’m pressing that one! Oh, now I’ve set the timer on!”

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“Still not coming out right. Your father and his silly ideas for taking a decent photo at night.”

“It was just a suggestion…”

“Mum, just give me the camera already!”

Yep, life certainly does not get any better than this.