I’m not a big maker of plans. Plans, as it turns out, are on the long list of things, including winning shit flinging fights with monkeys at the zoo and making lists, that I am not very good at. Not being able to make plans has it’s ups and downs. On the one hand it’s extremely refreshing to live life day by day, to not have a schedule to keep, to not have to remember to feed your cat every… oh shit mittens… how long has it been? about two or three… years? Shit. Mittens is dead. Or living with a neighbor. The little slut. On the other hand it’s hard to build things without plans. I’ve tried to build three sheds by living in the moment and not making plans and so far I have completed precisely three bonfires.
You may think it would be difficult to achieve things when you don’t make plans. Like most things in life though, all you need is a friend stupid enough to join you.
So last year me and my best mate Rhys went on a few adventures to Cornwall. Now kids, when you get older you’ll find commitments like work make it hard to hang out with friends or be a human like you used to, but once or twice a year you’ll find your schedules line up and you can hop in a car and drive two hundred miles away without packing so much as a roll of toilet paper. Turns out that’s another downside to not making plans.
Anyone who has had friends for a long time will know that you can just make life work with certain people. You know what makes people happy and chilled out, so you make sure you do that. And you know what really pisses people off, so you have to fit that in somewhere as well. The real beauty is, when you’ve had a friend for thirteen odd years, everything just works. Even when everything that can go wrong does, It’s all just kinda fine. Now to the part of the story where we take two people who don’t like to throw caution to the wind as much, and put them in a van with the first two people for about four days. Do I smell a terrible sitcom? No. I should just really buy that roll of toilet paper.
When Rhys mentioned he had four days off of work at the end of March I knew I’d be able to get it off as well as I’d once overslept and missed three days of work and no one seemed to notice. The first big trip of 2015 was born.
We thought it would make a nice change to invite a few more friends on this trip, and with the batting of some eyelids, Steve and Sam were on board. I won’t refer to us as the wolf pack because that movie reference has been well and truly milked dry to the point that the hangover cows teets have friction burn.
The prancing gazelle pack had a date, and that was all we needed. For some strange reason however, Steve and Sam felt the need to book a campsite. Rhys and I assured them there was no worry, that we knew of literally two campsites we could stay at. With that reassurance it was time to fill in our holiday forms and wait two months for the leaving date to arrive.
I’ll simulate that time with three yards of empty blog.
I gave up after an inch.
On one cloudy Friday at the end of march we decided it would be a top notch idea to stay at one persons house so we could all get up at the crack of dawn the next day, analyse the nights spooning then head off to Cornwall for a weekend of sun, surf, and a third good thing that begins with the letter s. I completed an hour long shift at work first thing then headed off to Steve’s house with the intention of working on his van for a bit, picking up Rhys and Sam and then eating lots of food before slipping into a food coma for the night. What actually happened differs slightly. On the way to Steve I saw a nice new car I wanted (for three hundred quid but it was new to me), so we did a minimal amount of work to his new van, brought the car, and then spent most of the day trying to insure and tax it. Thanks to a fairly useless government this task is now harder than electing a fairly useful government. Plans. I’m not good at them.
Several hours and newly created swear words later we had accomplished literally half of the two tasks needed to have a car on the road. Since I would be two hundred miles away for four days, we decided it probably wasn’t that important. Having given up on one task I started packing at half seven at night the day before we were due to leave at five in the morning. Because I can occasionally be a real man, I was done at about five past half past seven. Seven thirty five. With one success we threw my bags in the new car, strapped a surf board on the roof and drove to Rhys. We got to him at about eight and he started packing. At five past eight his worldly possessions were thrown in the car and his surfboard was strapped right on top of mine, at which point all three of us drove into the moonlight listening to gangster rap like three of the whitest people you have ever seen. Seriously, you would have needed a welding mask to look at that.
We arrived at Steve’s and started packing, and with not a moment to lose got a call from Sam and drove back to where we had just been to pick him up. We traveled to Steve’s once more, finished packing the van, then headed inside for a nice cup of tea.
It was around this time we decided to head to bed so we would be revitalized for our long journey in the morning.
Just kidding. We actually finished the tea and started our two hundred mile journey at midnight. Plans. Not getting any better at them.
The good thing about travelling in a van is that there’s a bed in the back that I could have a nap on. The bad thing about my friends is instead of napping I laid on the bed completely awake listening to Eminem as loud as they could play it. Now I’m not a big Eminem fan, but that guy either get’s paid to talk a lot of shit over music, or he has sustained a serious head injury at some point in his life and people have just kinda done nothing about it.
Half way into the drive and Steve was just about ready to fall asleep and drive us into the afterlife which definitely doesn’t exist. So we stopped off to let Steve have a nap (apparently he’s allowed to do this without Eminem screaming him a lullaby about salsa.) and to let Rhys and Sam spend some time exploring our surroundings. This actually consisted of them standing a foot away from the van smoking while drawing large cocks on the windows.
Many hours and pit stops later we arrived in beautiful Cornwall. Two hours early. Without hesitation we journeyed into a nice little harbor town by the name of Padstow. We all agreed this would be a good time for a sleep. Turns out it was a good time to fart in the back of Steve’s van and laugh at me because I had the sheer audacity to actually fall asleep. There’s no hyperbole in saying I was actually impressed when we opened the van doors to walk around a bit and still came back to a rancid stench many minutes later.
This is most likely the point where you’re wondering why we drove two hundred miles to sit in the back of Steve’s van farting so viciously that someone’s eyebrows were on the brink of falling off. The answer to that question is a small café called Cherry Tree’s that make the best strawberry pancakes you have ever tasted. And they’re the size of your face which is a bonus. Over the coming days when life went from ‘I just stuck a toothpick under my toenail and kicked a wall’ rough to ‘doctor I just slipped up and a ketchup bottle went inside me’ rough, these dreamy breakfasts would be the one thing that would stop us killing each other.
Once we had demolished out first breakfast we traveled to our campsite to witness the first day of our holiday progress flawlessly. Yeah, not really. What actually happened involved the receptionists at the campsite asking us to leave because they didn’t allow groups at their site, only families and couples. With our tails between our legs we hopped in the van and made way to our plan B campsite, wondering why none of us had thought to just say we were two gay couples, and also realizing that the last time me and Rhys stayed there this must have been what they thought. We arrived at our next campsite to receive some slightly alarming news, our plan B wasn’t open. Even if we had a plan C it wouldn’t have been much use because it turns out not many people go on summer holidays in March, so campsites had this daft idea not to open in that time.
After a good hour of what I would call sightseeing but what Steve would call me giving him the wrong directions, we found a campsite. Rhys and I immediately got to work setting up our tent and complaining about how annoying it is to camp, while Steve and Sam sat in a nice dry van.
Ever the optimists we made for the beach to admire the reason we came to Cornwall, Flawless surf. Yeah, again not really. The waves were messier than our pants after that mornings flatulence fights, and the wind was strong enough to blow off what was left of our eyebrows. We were all engulfed in crushing disappointment as it dawned on us that we probably wouldn’t be able to do any surfing. For the second time in one day we all had our tails between our legs. The main activity of this day would be shopping in Tesco and sitting in the back of Steve’s van drawing on new eyebrows.
The following morning was a fresh new day that brought a crisp morning dew, a fresh bout of optimism, and the realization that Rhys and I aren’t the young men we once were, and that sleeping in a tent is borderline torture. Of course, it would take more than aching bones to ruin this day. We enjoyed our second holiday breakfast and headed to the beach to enjoy an epic surf. That’s a hat-rick, not really. The surf was worse than the day before. With heavy hearts, we all went about making a suicide pact. For some daft reason Sam opted out of the suicide pact and suggested a wonder around the beaches instead. With that we put down our shotguns and put on our coats.
In Sams defense it turns out there are some pretty good places to explore in Cornwall. The rubbish weather may have made surfing less desirable, but it made the scenery absolutely incredible.Over Saturday and Sunday we explored the beaches of Constantine and Booby’s bay, and embarked on a fairly windy cliff walk. I’ll tell you now, you haven’t seen wind until you’ve seen a waterfall flowing the wrong way. Cliff walking gave us the chance to admire nature at it’s feistiest, as well as give Rhys a heart attack by standing on the edge of a cliff. You can be freezing cold, you can run around like loons, but nothing puts an extra beat in your heart like standing on the edge.
Fighting against the wind can get pretty exhausting, so our evenings were spent huddled up in the back of a van drinking the cheapest drinks money can buy and playing cards. It may not sound that extraordinary but trust me, Cards against humanity and Bullshit can get pretty spectacular when you haven’t slept properly for three days, have been running around cliff tops for a few hours, and have the brain processing power of a baked potato. On a good day.On the last day we took ourselves to the beach for one last attempt at surfing. You would have thought after three days of failure we’d lose our optimism, but no. We parked up at the beach and looked out at the messy waves. This just wasn’t our week. Despite this, something stopped us leaving. This was the last chance to leap into the freezing waves, so we waited a while. Slowly but surely the waves grew and the wind let up. After a while of waiting in the van, we squeezed into our wet suits. With our boards chained to our ankles we charged at the sea. It was exactly as cold as we’d all knew it would be. As we fought our way into the depths we were battered by the relentless waves. We watched in awe as the real surfers out back caught wave after wave. Clinging on to our last shreds of optimism, we started pulling ourselves through the water to tackle whatever waves we could. Now I won’t pretend that we were magically riding waves like a pack of dolphins, but those few seconds when you get picked up by a wave. Those few seconds when you hop up onto your board and immediately get thrown off. They may not look like much but, for a couple of kooks like us, it’s a feeling that will make you forget everything else in the world.
With our hearts in the sea and our balls in our stomachs, we called it a day. After four days of uncertainty it was time to head back home.
As we pushed through that weekend it seemed like one disaster after another. It seemed like nothing was going right. Like nothing was going to plan. But since when do we deal in plans? You look back at all the things that have gone wrong and you realize that some pretty amazing things have come from those disasters. Your best achievements can be born from your biggest failures. If it weren’t for the surf being rubbish, we wouldn’t have ended up on that cliff top, and we would have missed out on an amazing day. It get’s you thinking what else you might have missed out on if every part of your life went to plan.
When I was a kid I had my whole life planned out. Comparing the life I have now to the life I wanted then, I’m so glad I failed so much when I was younger. Because I wouldn’t change a single thing about this life.
The best friends, the best adventures, and the best future, because I don’t have a clue what it’s going to bring next.