Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wales and Paul Anka

Now, I know I've not been writing very much. And I keep making excuses for it, so I may as open with a few more:
- I'm a lazy bugger
- I've been busy/going out nigh on every night/watching a LOT of television on a varying scale from awesome (The Wire) to oh-god-why-do-I-watch-this-again? (Smallville).
- Lastly, and most importantly, I'm been finding myself disappointingly devoid of inspiration.

It happens, and so easily and smoothly if you let it. You pass up plans due to work exhaustion. You depart from a party because you have work the next day. All too simply, work and 'life' (that which we live to earn money: that most fickle of mistresses) get in the way. For this reason, sometimes it's nice to get away, even if it is just for a weekend; to have that time with your friends in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but time, alcohol and companionship; with bracing fresh air and a night sky refreshingly devoid of pollution and instead sprinkled with a thousand twinkling stars. A weekend away in Wales a couple of weeks back could not have come at a better time for me. Work was beginning to pile on, making me ever more jaded and lethargic on a daily basis. Quite simply I needed the time away. No reports, no spreadsheets, no e-mail.

Now this isn't to say that Wales is a back-end country with nothing going for it. Cardiff and Swansea are amazing cities with a fair degree of urban life. But we rented out a 14-man cottage near Cwmyoy, basically in the middle of nowhere. An epic cottage with a sound system that could select any or all of the rooms in the house, a massive kitchen with a long rustic wooden table and an Aga oven. And we loved it. As a city boy born and bred, when I take a holiday or short break, I have only a limited amount of appreciation and awe for buildings, especially those similar to ones I have previously seen.

Rather I take greater pleasure in seeing mountains, lakes, wildlife. In other words, everything one doesn't habitually see when working within London's 'Square Mile'. We heard no sirens, we had no internet (both a blessing and a curse given my addiction to it, and the dependence on it) and even very little mobile phone reception. Instead under the circumstances we had little else to do but just sit, talk, drink and enjoy each other's company: it was great. We did take a couple of mini hikes up the hills (we WERE near the Brecon Beacons after all) and a road trip to Brecon proper which basically ended up being a pub lunch and a quick walk around, but this didn't bother any of use too deeply.

Instead we drank, we played poker, we listened to a variety random CDs including this beauty which I bought immediately I returned to London: "Rock Swings" by Paul Anka. It blew my tiny mind! A dozen or so pop and rock songs covered by this retro crooner (and favourite of the Gilmore Girls, ahem), and maybe it was the Captain Morgan talking, but I really got a kick out of it!
I also got a kick out of the highly indecent and boundary-crossing banter with which I shall not besmirch your gentle eyes :)

When I was dropped off back home on the drizzly Monday evening, physically drained despite having guiltily slept in the car ride back (so much for being good road trip company!) I felt for the first time in several days the unfamiliar sensation of solitude. However the lingering undertone was one of having broken free of the 9-5 box. The reminder of possibility was enough for me. All it takes is a couple of hours' drive, a trunk full of alcohol and a handful of thoroughly decent people.

Play me out, Paul.

"Frank said it / I did it my way"

5 Response to Wales and Paul Anka

29 June 2010 at 00:32

Those pictures are incredibly beautiful! I'm sure it felt awesome to get away from the 9-5 blahs and recharge for a weekend.

29 June 2010 at 15:20

Having a new Stephen post in my reader this morning made my day. I missed your wonderful writing and your reflections!! Sounds like the PERFECT getaway - glad you broke free of the 9-5 for a little while; I know how much it was getting to you. And I fully empathise with the whole life getting in the way of living, thing - breaks like this can do wonders though. :)

30 June 2010 at 03:13

I can't believe Smallville is STILL on. Is it in it's 9th season or something ridiculous like that? By the way, your pictures are lovely.

30 June 2010 at 08:24

Those are beautiful pictures! And I'm glad you had a wonderful time getting away from the drudgery of life. The blissful feeling of the perfect-at-the-time vacation almost makes the work worth it. (Almost.)

My mom watches Smallville still, and I always wonder why.

20 July 2010 at 03:08

Wow, how beautiful! I want to go there! Sounds like the perfect holiday :)