Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, as the old Noel Coward song goes. Or, in our case, in the midday monsoon …
Do you have any family habits or traditions which you must uphold no matter what? We certainly do.
We have gone on holiday with the same university friends and their kids for the past six summers now, a travelling mob of four adults and six children. Six years is more than long enough for us to develop and hone our shared rituals. Mostly, these involve board games, copious volumes of limoncello and mini-golf. Always mini-golf.
Come rain or shine, we always make the effort to fit in 18 holes at some point. I can remember one sweltering round in La Clusaz in France. We started under a fierce midday sun in 30-plus degree heat at a time when other, more sane people were heading for shade and ice cream. The proprietor watched on, bemused, as we stoically worked our way around, determined to finish. We did. I have no idea who won because I was delirious, had to be airlifted to hospital and spent the rest of the day on a saline drip. On the bright side, I lost about six pounds in sweat. (Okay, okay, I’m employing dramatic licence. I just got a bit thirsty – and it was five pounds.)
This year, we found a tavern with an attached mini-golf course just outside Innsbruck. We arrived at midday in the middle of a torrential rainstorm and immediately laid out our key requirements:
- Yes, we know there’s more water on the course than in an Olympic swimming pool. Can we still play mini-golf?
- Can we also get a table for ten people? (Yes, we still want to play mini-golf afterwards, even if the rain doesn’t ease off.)
With the golf postponed for an hour, we tucked into a huge platter of meats, cheeses and bread. Not content to wait for the golf, we also inaugurated the first Liew-Down Invitational Rock Paper Scissors Championship, won by Heather. Liews 1 Downs 0.
Appetites sated, we remained true to our word, donned our raincoats and headed for the first tee. Our bemused proprietor scratched her head at the folly of these crazy English people but gamely whizzed around the course with a leaf-blower to clear away the worst of the rain. In truth, it was as about effective as trying to stop an onrushing flood with a wall of Lego. In the, ahem, damp conditions, the greens were playing a little heavy. And the fairways were effectively 85% water hazard. The deceptively tricky ‘volcano’ hole shown here was rendered doubly difficult by an impromptu moat. Nonetheless we soldiered on, mad dogs that we are, and completed our round in conditions that, if anything, got even wetter as we went on.
Robin won, making it Liews 1 Downs 1 on the day. An honourable draw. Funnily enough, though, no one was in a hurry to play a sudden-death, tie-breaking hole. I can’t imagine why.
Maybe next time we might see if we can find an indoor mini-golf instead.