THE MENORCA REPORT

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Welcome to the Menorca Tour report 2016. It’s long.. This is my take on the weekend’s proceedings – please feel free to post your own tour memories in the comments section below!

Friday

Laden with tour virgins the Go Cotswolds minibus eased out of Waitrose car park bright and breezy on the morning of the 30th of September for Birmingham airport and Temple Grafton’s 10th tour to the island of Menorca.

A tour that turned into another vintage; shaped throughout by the eclectic mix of 22 tourists (12 virgins, 10 veterans, 3 ladies [for the first time in 12 years] and a spanner) and laced with a potent dose of that indefinable Grafton tour spirit.

That Grafton tour spirit was far from my own personal thoughts on that Friday morning though as, through blind rage caused by Harvey’s lie-in, I nearly killed everyone on board within the first 90 seconds of the journey by crashing the minibus into Mrs. Bilbrough.

What a great weekend that would have been for everyone. You can imagine the conversations in the office on Tuesday morning:

Colleague: How was your tour?
You: Great thanks. We made it as far as the Roman museum in Alcester before I spent the weekend in a coma.

But alas – and mainly thanks to Kim’s emergency stop – there was no crash and we proceeded briskly to the airport. Had there been a crash I’d have pointed the finger of blame firmly at Harvey for putting me into what must now be regarded as my obligatory pre-flight tour rage by failing to get out of bed in time for the pick-up. I could literally have copied and pasted the 2014 tour report but put his name instead of Howard’s.

o-charliesleepSo on we pottered through check-in, security, Wetherspoons – picking up Jonny Holt (no squits this year), Radders and O on the way – and onto the flight where Radburn set about the Monarch Magners cupboard with the ferocious enthusiasm of a man on tour debut.

After the early incident with Harvey the hobo we were thankful to arrive on the marvellous island of Menorca without, thankfully, any further incident.

No incident at all was there Sarah. Nothing whatsoever. Nothing could have possibly occurred at security involving a hidden spanner in hand luggage. Nowt. Ah, maybe I got that wrong. Maybe Ladders did accidentally try and smuggle a spanner through security. Remarkable. It could be argued that we’ve had plenty of spanners on tour before but this was the first actual one. Welcome to the TGCC tour environs Sarah – fined within the first hour.

As well as Tim & Nick we were also greeted by this loose box on arrival at Menorca Airport. TT's. Fine.

As well as Tim & Nick we were also greeted by this loose box on arrival at Menorca Airport. TT’s. Fine.

Greeting us on arrival at Menorca airport was new father Timmy Moore and his old university chum Nick Fay who’d both arrived separately earlier in the morning.

With that meeting of minds the TGCC tour unit was complete and we made the short journey to Cala’n Porter arriving before noon.

Yes, you read that correctly: before noon. What could possibly go wrong with 22 giddy and excitable people with no agenda and a whole day to fill..

Fridays on tour are superb and follow a bit of a routine. We’re from the Shire remember: we don’t like change. If it ain’t broke why fix it? So we didn’t. Although should it have been broken we could always have asked Sarah if we could borrow a spanner.

groupWe had a great afternoon with everyone getting to know who everyone was (yes Helen, I am the younger Benjamin). Initially swilling beers in the hotel bar whilst a thunderous rain storm passed through we then headed down to enjoy some wonderful tapas served by the bloke who, let’s be honest, wouldn’t look out of place on an episode of Benefits Street.

At this point a few people were kicking into gear.

Kizza – Tigger. The most amount of energy a man has ever had. Just seeing his face on tour made me smile every time I saw it which, due to his propensity to stay up later than anyone else, turned out to be quite a lot over the course of the weekend.

Ashfield – the human chipirones dustbin. It’s official, there is now no baby squid left in the Mediterranean sea.

Tour conker comp in full swing.

Tour conker comp in full swing.

Howard – chief conkers organiser and distributor.

Radburn – this year’s one to watch and on full skin toting unruly irksome mode already. My roomy. And, it appeared by early Friday afternoon, also his play thing.

Bilbo and Rupe – roomies. Finesman. Love birds. They’d already distributed the tour rules (see appendix A below) and seemed to be constantly plotting stuff.

After the intense preparations of beer, fried food and conkers it was time for some catching practice in the sea. Isn’t it strange how thought processes work when you’re on a cricket tour?

Diving to catch a Kwik Kricket ball hurled at you by Nails and his massive hands in shallow waters in close proximity of approximately 10-12 other inebriated men and the pastiest of exposed posteriors was perhaps the least logical of decisions.

But, despite the odd bump and bruise – and to my great surprise – nobody died or ended up in A&E. It also kept us entertained for a good 90 minutes or so. Simple things.

sunsetSo onto the caves and due to tour lag our giddy little brains had completely missed the fact that it was still only about 4.45pm. It wasn’t even open when some of us arrived. Fortunately it soon was and a throng of Grafton’s finest were slurping their sundowners in the best pub on earth. What. A. Sunset.

jjAs the sun sloped off towards Morocco it became evident that the early start (aka extra drinking time) was catching up with a few.

JJ. The human photo bomb. For a period of about 2 hours it was practically impossible to take a picture without him appearing at the last moment grinning from ear to ear.

Geordie. His high quality stint of supply chain logistics with our luggage – scooping up Badger en-route – was long over and he was now hoovering up pomadas like a Dyson of the drinking world. Keeping him away from the balcony was the challenge for his minders – Moore T, Fay, Bowsher – but he did go on to provide one of the highlights of the weekend whilst in the Caves. Seeing no use for his sunglasses once the sun had gone down Geordie nonchalantly tossed them into the sea.

cavesThe tourists then scatter gunned their way back to the town centre stopping at various establishments en route to fill their tumtums. Each bar looking increasingly like a Temple Grafton CC drop-in centre as bemused Cala’n Porter waiting staff fed the salivating hungry mess the tour party had become.

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Tour hipster and lexicographer Rupe.

Inevitably the squad reconvened at Seagram’s where tour lexicographer Rupe Daffern was eruditely coming up with this year’s tour phrase. I’m not quite sure where it originated from exactly but it certainly stuck as hearing this particular pair of sweary words became the norm for the remainder of the weekend.

A bit of pool and a raft of drinks later TT and Kirky emerged. They (and O) had been MIA since long before we visited the caves and proceeded to procure 4 bottles of wine for the remaining tourists. At least 3 bottles remained undrunk as the mere site of them (the wine I assume, not TT & Kirky) sent a considerable amount of the remaining tourists into a tailspin of tiredness with most toddling swiftly off to bediboes. But, fresh from their afternoon of man time and replete with Grafton tour shirts buttoned up to the top, the most unlikely of combinations – Kirky, TT and, apparently, some Norwegians soldiered on until some ungodly hour. Lads. Lads. Lads.

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Saturday

Exquisite handling skills.

Exquisite handling skills.

“A SPENT TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTEEE FUCKIN’ EUROS IN THE CEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVES”

Geordie was up. Both JJ and Ladders were AWOL though – one dreaming, I imagine, of the pint he kept magnificently up right despite being fast asleep in Seagram’s the night before and the other dreaming of Snap-on spanners – and thus missed the early morning appointment with dive master Bilbo and their diving trip. Fined.

I don’t often make breakfast on tour so to find myself with all limbs intact and trotting down to breakfast sans headache on the first morning filled me with a sense of pride. My satisfaction at this landmark moment was tempered somewhat by the sight of Badger eating his vegetarian breakfast. His wispy tash flapping about whilst he sunk his slobbery gob into a massive hunk of melon was like watching a hungry bloodhound eating hot chips. Cue genuine nausea.

Menorca’s Biniparrel cricket ground must be one of the finest cricketing oases outside of England and with facilities improving year on year it’s a club going from strength to strength on and off the field. It really is a privilege to play there and awesome to think that our club of misfits and inbreds have been a small part of their history for coming up to 20 years now.

teamWe generally get given an absolute rogering by our hosts irrespective of the quality of their team so we arrived at the ground with a sense of trepidation as we’d heard on the grapevine (Facebook) that they were now in possession of some seriously good cricketers.

And so it turned out as we were handed a true fisting of the early 2000s vintage. It actually turned out to be a perfect microcosm of Grafton’s season – early promise followed by utter ineptitude coupled with competent opposition leading to a thoroughly good beating. Nails’ fine TGCC debut 79 rescuing some kind of respectability after six simple catches were shelled in the field. Read Matt Harvey’s full match report when he writes it.

With the full throng of Grafton tourists now present – including those who’d spent, by all accounts, a magnificent morning diving in S’Algar – the match was soon forgotten in the setting sun as we were entertained by the Grafton Virgin Tourist Olypmics.

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TT doing the box-put

Ringmasters Bilbo and Rupe summoned all 12 virgins to the outfield for the most unusual of sporting spectacles – sock wrestling, box-putt, pad discus and the blind pairs steeplechase. A thoroughly entertaining hour which culminated in a victory for Charlie Bowsher and raucous rendition of the national anthem. And TT in a crumpled heap on the floor. How he couldn’t foresee this outcome as he clambered onto Nails’ shoulders is credit to the amount of post-match drinking he had done.

Before we toddled off back to Calan Porter there was one final order of service from Saturday’s cricketing proceedings – the ball-in-the-jug-game rematch. Menorca were victorious in 2014 in an epic tussle but they reluctantly accepted our challenge of a rematch knowing that they could relinquish their crown for (at least) two years. And that they did (despite Kieran scoring an own-jug for the opposition) as Grafton cruised to victory. 1-1 – roll on the rematch in 3 years’ time.

vegetablegameArriving back in Calan Porter the tourists split into two in a divide reminiscent of the way the Gentleman vs. Players teams went their separate ways on an evening during their first class matches of the 1800s. One group repairing to a refined dining establishment to eat quality food and drink fine wines, the other heading in the opposite direction to eat slabs of meat and fried food in the town square.

Despite the uncouth nature of the Players in the 1800s I can’t quite imagine they ever spent their dinners calling out the names of vegetables with their lips covering their teeth. Vegetables that is Howard, not fruit, you kumquat addict.

After two differing but, so I understand, wonderfully ­­enjoyable meals it goes without saying that the night swiftly degenerated into chaos once the two groups resumed acquaintances in a bar aptly named Rehab.

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O & his Julian.

What prompted the bar keep to think we were out celebrating Adam’s 18th birthday I’m not quite sure but we were (at the time) very grateful of the free shots we were fed. This led to some baffling occurrences including one of our tour party claiming to be “red raw down there”, a slut dropping contest and O adopting a man called Julian.

I’m sure large parts of the evening’s events have been missed out here as my memories are a little hazy. I’ve relied heavily on information gleaned from the  Menorca Tour WhattsApp Group to piece things together as I’m led to believe I drifted off midway through the evening to feed my pet ants.

Sunday

In my wild optimism before departing for tour I had visions of my old chum Radburn and I enjoying a relaxed Bohemian style Sunday as we weren’t required at the cricket. I pictured us arising at a respectable hour and heading off for a day exploring Menorca; winding through the island’s narrow lanes listening to Dire Straits, stopping for a croissant and a cappuccino in a sleepy village square before a leisurely walk along Mahon quayside and a light lunch accompanied by a frozen yoghurt.

Ashfield & Nails having the Bohemian day that Radburn and I didn't have.

Ashfield and Nails enjoying the Sunday that Radburn and I didn’t manage to do.

As Radders spent the morning clearing sick up from the edges of the chod bin I expect he was wishing that was the case – or at the very least – wishing he wasn’t rooming with the moustachioed p1sshead f(_)ckwit that was still fast asleep at 11am. Alas, our Bohemian day was on the backburner as simply surviving was now on the agenda.

On past tours arising at this hour you generally find the hotel to be a post apocalyptic nightmare – none of the tour party in sight, no food and elderly people shuffling around in a zombie like daze. Despite the late hour we fortunately had allies in Rupe and Bilbo who were on hand to fend off the SAGA droids and provide us a lifeline of positive enthusiasm, downs syndrome breakfasts and a thirst for tapas.

A most pleasant morning/early afternoon ensued firstly at the Benefits Street bar (highlight being Bilbo ordering his food: “Can I just have one of everything please?”) and then at the beach as we re-calibrated our brains into something resembling normality.

After an arduous trip to the supermarket so Bilbo could complete his weekly big shop and a 45 minute dump we found ourselves back at Binniparrel where all hell had broken loose – Grafton once again being shat out of the Menorca CC juggernaut and heading for another hefty rogering. Read Matt Harvey’s match report when he finally pulls his finger out of his anus and writes it.

wineAfter bidding fond farewells to our friends at Menorca CC until 2019 we returned to Cala’n Porter for the last supper at Seagram’s. Adorned in increasingly musty smelling tour shirts the full tour party lined up on a huge table and tucked into hearty American fayre and TT’s leftover plonk from Friday.

Musing upon another great weekend that had gone by far too quickly fines were duly administered by Grafton’s Morecambe and Wise with the highlights being (and I have the tour fines book to hand while a type this):

Ruth – pretending to like Martin
Jonny Holt – camel toe hipster trainers
Nails – Exhall
Lewis – being like a son to me
Howard – grinding against chairman’s wife
Charlie Bowsher – too nice
Rupert – ball spanking video
O – unnatural contact with a club minor
Badger – duck hissy fit
JJ – pretending to be a nice polite person
JJ – pronouncing Cala’n Porter, Cala an Porterrr
JJ – naming a hipster vegetable in the vegetable game: kohlrabi

Zippy and Bungle administering the fines

Zippy and Bungle administering the fines

Suffice to say that some tourists were fined more than others and the above is but a fraction of the long list of hilarious fines administered over the weekend with 340 Euros raised for the Grafton war chest.

With it being the final night the beer pong table at Seagram’s soon made an appearance in a vets vs. virgins contest.

This year’s contest was a lengthy affair with the neat Jagermeister on the virigin’s team being consumed by the unfortunate Lewis Bilbrough who had struggled with a bout of the Eartha Kitts throughout the entire weekend. After manfully consuming his drink, the remaining colour that was left in his face soon drained away. Spotting that Bilbo Junior’s state was deteriorating, Ruth, ever the humanitarian, sidled up to him and whispered in his ear in her dulcet Yorkshire lilt: “there’s ‘owt wrong with a tactical chunder love”. Needless to say Bilbo junior felt a lot better after heeding her advice.

howardIn preparation for the final day of tour most of the touring party toddled off at relatively sensible hours but a few clung bitterly onto the weekend, holding back the tears and hoping it would never end.

Seagram’s landlord Dave (Seagram) was hoping it would end and he tried differing tactics to get rid of us. Firstly by sending his bar staff home he then resulted to charging 10 Euros for a round – irrespective of what was ordered – in an effort to get us that drunk we’d just go away.

This worked on TT who swiftly slumped into a coma on the terrace but for the others he was not so lucky. In fact, by this point, Badger and Radburn, fuelled by White Russians, had turned into financial advisers spending a good half hour offering financial advice to a pair of pensioners. If only there was a camera crew on hand to record that conversation.

Now let loose on the music and Dave giving up all hope of an early night the hardy Grafton mob deteriorated into a blithering mess long into the early hours before finally repairing to the Playa Azul sometime shortly before dawn. In hindsight, not a sensible choice on the final night.

Monday

calagaldanaMuch like tour Fridays, tour Mondays follow a set routine as we check out and head to the beautiful Cala Galgaldana beach for a final tour love-in where we while away the hours until having to fly home.

Ashfield has his final chipirones fix, we all pay our respects to the Winna tree and everyone wallows in the sea reminiscing over the weekend that was. But for the hangovers, heartburn and pledges of sea poos it’s a blissful way to end the weekend.

I’ve never been late for or missed a flight – and I certainly had no intention of doing so on this particular tour – but as the minutes ticked down towards our departure time that possibility was fast becoming a reality as Badger had identified this as his moment to add one final sea-salty log of a memory to his weekend’s work. He headed out to sea, back turned to the beach, and we waited. And waited. And waited.

Fortunately we didn’t have to suffer the ignominy of a sea poo being the reason for missing a flight (we made it with minutes to spare) as our man got stage fright and to our eternal relief (and the people snorkelling around him) splashdown was not completed and we were on our way. That “bucket list” item will have to wait for another day son.

By 10pm the tourists were back in blighty – it was cold and dark but fuelled by Grafton tour spirit a hearty sing song ensued on the minibus on the way home. JJ Moore, Rupe and Bilbo the orchestrators for a most entertaining journey back to Alcester. The journey also notable for Helen finally succumbing to our demands to state the tour phrase. And by golly we weren’t disappointed.

ruthcharlieThere’s something quite unique about a Grafton tour. Forgive me for coming across all sensitive and misty eyed here but I always come back with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. And I’m not talking about the heartburn.

It’s indefinable but those that have been on a Grafton tour will, I think, understand what I mean. It seems that the association we have with a cricket team from Temple Grafton, however tenuous it might be, binds the party together and brings out the very best in everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are – or where you’re from – if you’re on a Grafton tour you’re one of the same and you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a good time. Despite the inevitable post tour comedown over the days that followed, I know I certainly did.  Roll on the next one. You sh*t c*nts.

Appendix A – Finesmaster’s Tour rules

Tour fines/rules – may be amended as tour party sees fit. Tourists please keep a copy with you.

Appeals will be considered by the tour dignitaries: finesmaster Andrew Bilbrough, court deputies Tom Thompson, Rupe Daffern and Howard Benjamin and chief snitches Martin Ashfield and Jonny Holt.

  1. No whining, complaining, bitching or whingeing.
  2. Benji’s Tash – if any persons (male or female) can be identified as having a tash considered superior in design size or appeal they can be brought hence forth and a tash off inspection by the fines master and assistants shall be undertaken.
  3. Tour pet – our tour pet will be (a) Badger, each and every tour member will cuddle and caress the tour pet at least once a day. Proffering a bowl of water and fresh worms is optional
  4. No Hipsters.
  5. Tour Virgins:
    1. Shall be available at the request of the tour sponsors (Tommy & Geordie) to generally serve and assist them in have a relaxing and enjoyable time.
    2. Virgins are expected to undertake duties graciously and always with a winning smile. Examples of duties considered appropriate, carrying bags, going to the bar, fisting, collecting a morning newspaper.
    3. Shall mark the inside of their palm with the letter V in marker pen so they can be easily identified.
    4. No misuse of virgins by tourists.
  6. Decorum – all tourists shall maintain the level of respectability and etiquette that is in keeping with TGCC tradition.
  7. International Drinking Rules:
    1. Double parking – if you are in possession of two drinks at any time for any reason you must immediately finish one/pay the fine.
    2. Spillage – loss of beverage will result in fine and drinking 2 fingers.
    3. Hand – right hand drinking down the hour i.e o’clock to half past, left hand drinking back up. Fine applies.
    4. Dead Soldier If a person who bought the round, finishes his/her beverage and places the empty glass on its side calling “Dead Soldier”, everybody who was included in that round must honour the soldiers who died in battle by finishing their entire beverage accordingly.
    5. No pointing. Fine applies.
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