Authors: Liz Tipping
Glamping Check list
Double check best Instagram filter
Avoid thinking about work/Connor/five year plan!!
A four day break from her hectic life to relax in the countryside and hang out at a local festival (for free!) is just what Fiona Delaney needs. With her best friends, great tunes and a cool looking hat her Instagram shots are going to look A-Mazing!
Until suddenly glamping starts to feel a lot more like
and Fiona’s in desperate search of a comfy chair, wi-fi and a chilled glass of wine. But when she finally makes it to the local pub she discovers this trip could be more than just a holiday, it might just change her life forever…
Five Go Glamping
is a writer of romantic comedies. As well as reading and writing novels, Liz enjoys John Hughes films, science fiction box sets, reality television, Irish sausages and ginger beer. She lives in Birmingham and has a degree in Communication where she specialised in Film Studies and Photography.
Huge thanks to my superstar editor, Victoria and all of the team at Carina for their enthusiasm and hard work. Special thanks to my agent, the incredible Juliet Mushens, for all her help and support. Thank you to all my wonderful friends, twitter pals and the incredible 100 day writing gang for cheerleading and encouragement. Thank you to Paul who supported and encouraged me the whole way through with love and humour (and almost, nearly, learned to cook.)
Thanks to Mum and Dad for encouraging my love of reading and for taking me into town to spend my pocket money on Enid Blyton books. That’s how this whole book thing started. Thank you to all my family, old and new, Mullallys, Keatings and Hills, especially Cecilia who loved her romance books. I wonder would she like this one?
It was Saturday. It was bad enough having to work on a Saturday in the first place but even worse that it was going to be the hottest day of the year. Worse still because Ayesha had called in sick – this time saying she had gastroenteritis. I suspected it had more to do with the fact she’d gone straight out after work last night. I didn’t have any hard evidence, of course, but I’d seen her Facebook status which read:
‘WTF is KEBab KIngdom shut for!! Nevr shut. Alwys open. Noooooooo.’
The last ever recorded incident of Kebab Kingdom being closed before five a.m. is believed to be in 1993 so all of this suggested she’d had a great night. Apart from Kebab Kingdom being shut, of course. That must have been disappointing.
But not nearly as disappointing as my own Friday night. I had been looking forward to it all week and had managed to escape the office on time for once so I could go home and spend the evening cooking a romantic anniversary meal for my boyfriend. Connor, who had been absolutely convinced he would be there around nine, had failed to turn up at all. He had always worked at the weekends as a club promoter, putting on bands and DJs and that kind of thing, but this summer he’d been even busier with outdoor events and festivals. It was hard to even remember the last time he’d had a day off and I was getting really fed up of it.
I had waited roughly half an hour – keeping the food warm on the stove before delivering it to the table –, and a further twenty minutes sat at the table on my own, looking at the clock, willing him to get there. I eventually started on the now cold stroganoff myself, but simply didn’t have the stomach for it any more. The food I had spent hours on was completely ruined but it still looked okay so I took a photograph and uploaded it to Instagram. It instantly received a flurry of likes and that made me feel worse because nobody was going to eat it no matter how good it looked.
I’d blown the tea light candles out and retired to the sofa, having lots of conversations with myself about what time to go to bed or whether to stay up late and wait for Connor with another glass of wine.
I’d chosen wine and now I also had the makings of a hangover. Not the hangover of epic proportions like I imagined Ayesha was experiencing. Ayesha’s would be monumental. I only had a dull headache with excessive carb cravings and slight dehydration from three glasses of Pinot Grigio. Three big glasses, but not quite a whole bottle.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have a social life at all, it just wasn’t epic like Ayesha’s.
I often went to the pub with Steph and Sinead and Kirk, but I was trying desperately to save some cash for our own place. This meant I would only ever stay for one or two drinks, taking advantage of ‘buy two glasses of wine, get the bottle free’ offers and switching to tap water to hang onto the pennies.
But it would be worth it when Connor and I got the keys to our own place. Besides, I didn’t have Ayesha’s stamina for partying these days.
I wondered whether I would even have the energy to go to the pub with Steph and Sinead later and thought I should probably stay in anyway as I had gone slightly over my budget for the week, splashing out on all the fancy ingredients for last night’s disastrous meal.
And so whilst Ayesha would be at home enjoying her wonderful hangover, I was stuck at work all day with Doris. Ayesha had once said that you had to have four cats to go Full Mad Cat Lady. Doris had three. She was retiring in a couple of weeks and I was pleased she was going because a) I wouldn’t have to listen to her any more and b) I could apply for Doris’s job. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do but when I had Doris’s job I would be even closer to owning the home of my dreams. I had even begun filling out an application for her role, which asked me to match my skills with those in the job description. I don’t think anybody knew what Doris actually did, but I knew she thought she was important and I assumed from that it meant she earned significantly more money than me.
‘Doris, what’s your job description?’ I asked.
‘Oh really, Fiona. For heaven’s sake.’ I knew I wouldn’t get an answer out of her.
She actually didn’t need to reply to me anyway. I already knew what her job description was:
1. At random intervals exclaim defensively ‘Well, we didn’t have computers in my day’ and phone the IT people all the time.
2. Accuse people of stealing yoghurts/biscuits/cakes/pasta salads from the fridge and insist everyone labels their own food.
3. Steal other people’s food.
4. Suddenly become incapable of telling the time shortly after half past one every afternoon. Say ‘Does that clock say twenty to two or twenty to three? I can never tell.’ Do this every day, without bloody fail.
5. Say ‘I’ve been here for forty years’ to anyone who will listen.
6. Never, ever make Fiona and Ayesha a cup of tea and when they very kindly make you one complain about some or every aspect of it.
7. Embrace burning martyrdom by saying ‘I have to do everything’ and ‘I suppose I shall have to do it myself’.
8. You may be required to work Saturdays paid at time and a half, even though you don’t need to as the mortgage on your massive five bed house was paid off long ago.
‘So do you know what my job description is then?’ I asked, knowing I was pushing it with interrupting Doris.
‘You ought to know what your job is after nearly fifteen years,’ she said.
Perhaps I should know, as I had indeed been here for almost fifteen years, ever since I’d left school in fact. I rifled through my drawers to find the brown folder with all my personnel stuff in it and pulled out my original contract. The pages had yellowed a little bit and I noticed how it had been put together on a typewriter so it looked like an ancient document. I held my breath as I read the contract, hoping it would tell me that I did something exciting.
‘I’m an office bloody junior?’
‘Language, Fiona.’ said Doris.
Surely I couldn’t still be an office junior, could I?
But there it was, written at the top of the page.
‘I thought I was one of those customer services thingy people. Isn’t Ayesha the office junior now? Can you be an office junior when you are thirty? Is that even legal?’
I shoved the contract back into the drawer and folded my arms.
This wasn’t how I thought my life would turn out. I was fairly sure I was meant to have achieved something by now and at the least I shouldn’t be an officer junior. The career officer at school had advised me to apply for this job at Dynamic Food Processing when I’d said I wanted to cook. At the job interview I’d talked about how I loved Home Economics, and that I’d quite like to work with food, perhaps in the development centre where they developed the recipes. They’d said I would need more qualifications for that, but that there was a role in the distribution centre and I could start off there. They said I may be able to side step. But it had been nearly fifteen years now and I hadn’t stepped anywhere. I hadn’t even moved desks. I also hadn’t seen anything resembling food since I started here. By the time the food arrived for distribution, it had already been processed to within an inch of its life, dolloped into plastic containers, covered in cardboard sleeves, and packed into trucks ready to be sent off to the supermarkets.
As well as days spent moving figures from one spreadsheet to another, I also spent time manning the customer service lines. This usually involved people ringing up and shouting at me. Doris said I spent too long on each call, but I felt it was important to listen and I had learned over the years that most people weren’t really upset with their gone off food or the microwaving instructions leaving them with a frozen lump of chicken in the middle of their meals. Most of the time they just wanted to let off steam. A burnt lasagne was the final straw for some people, the thing that tipped them over the edge. I always had the impression all they wanted was for someone to listen to. So I listened.
I still hoped that one day I’d be moved to the food development centre where I’d spend my days inventing wonderful creations. Sadly, the only time I saw any food now was when I was manning the company’s social media accounts and people sent pictures of foreign bodies they had found in their ready meals while they shouted at me in caps lock.
I still cooked all the time at home. Mainly because if you’d seen some of the pictures I had, you’d never eat a ready meal again.
On Saturdays, less people wanted to complain and the phones were fairly quiet so the topic of conversation was always Doris’s cats. I knew all their names and which cat food each of them preferred. If me and Ayesha talked about anything, Doris told us off, but talking about her cats was fine, so we talked about cats a lot to avoid doing work. Today’s hot cat topic had been mange.
As Saturday working was voluntary overtime, we were allowed to clock out when we wanted, but because I was saving I felt I had no choice but to stay and Doris knew this. I was bored out of my brain (which apparently shrinks when you are hungover) and the afternoon seemed even longer as I had taken my lunch break at eleven-thirty. I was daydreaming about what I would cook for my tea and I hoped Connor would be back to share it with me. I was starving again, so I tore open the emergency Jaffa cakes when Doris got her time blindness.