When I was 10 years old, my parents took me and my brothers away to the Isle of Mull for a week.
The Isle of Mull is a remote island off the coast of Scotland renowned for its wide range of wildlife and breath-taking scenery.
My mum, in particular, was very excited about going to the Isle of Mull, seeing it as an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of civilisation and immerse herself in nature.
So, in the last week of July, my parents bundled us all into the car and we set off for Scotland and, after a day of travelling, we arrived at the cottage where we were staying for the week.
Around ten minutes later, as we were unpacking the car and moving our stuff inside, it started to rain. At the time, my parents shrugged this off, assuming the rain would pass overnight.
Five days later, it was still raining.
My mum had structured the week’s activities under the assumption that we would be outside 90% of the time. However, the torrential rain made this pretty much impossible.
To make things worse, we were in a remote area and there was little to do in the nearby village. As a result, we had no option but to sit inside the cottage and wait for the rain to stop.
Whilst this was boring for us as kids, it was arguably even worse for my parents who were trapped inside with three small humans all under the age of 11.
It wasn’t long until we’d got through the books we had brought with us and were looking for something else to do. Unfortunately, we could find very little to entertain ourselves with.
The only game in the cottage was a tattered old Scrabble set that my brother found under his bed.
Now, considering my brother is dyslexic and I was an insensitive prepubescent Grammar Nazi at the time, this was always going to be a recipe for disaster.
The cottage also had a bulky TV in the corner of the living room. However, there was no satellite disk so we couldn’t get any live channels.
After some searching, we found a grand total of two movies in the cupboard underneath the TV (video cassette tapes of Annie and Alien – apparently, the owner had a niche obsession with films with 5 letter titles beginning with A…)
Our parents immediately confiscated Alien from us on the grounds that it was too scary so we were forced to settle for Annie.
Over the next three days, we watched Annie six times. After the third screening, we were getting seriously bored of the film and begged our parents to let us watch Alien instead.
Eventually, on the fourth evening, they cracked and allowed me and Robert to watch Alien with them after they had put our younger brother to bed.
Now, you might think that this was quite an irresponsible parenting decision. However, if you consider the nature of our predicament, you can’t really blame my parents for not wanting to listen to the song ‘The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow’ for the seventh time.
As the days passed and we became increasingly bored and frustrated, my Scrabble arguments with Robert continued to intensify.
Eventually, my mum confiscated the board, gave us some pens and paper and told us to play Pictionary instead.
However, this backfired when we ended up channeling our scrabble-fueled contempt for each other into artistic expression.
Following this, my mum got my dad to supervise our Pictionary games.
However, perhaps because he too was frustrated with the way the holiday was turning out, he ended up getting drawn into the in-game bickering as well.
Eventually, after days of being cooped up indoors listening to near-constant squabbling, my mum finally cracked.
As far as she was concerned, there was only one option. She had come to the Isle of Mull to be outside and have a good time and she was going to do everything in her power to make that dream a reality.
It soon became apparent that there would be no arguing with my mum so we put on our waterproofs and followed her outside for a walk, regardless of the fact that the intensity of the rain had now reached Biblical Flood levels.
Unsurprisingly, the ground was completely water logged. What had once presumably been a solid footpath, was now a quagmire, filled with mud that slipped beneath our feet and clung onto our shoes.
Fifteen minutes into the walk, Robert had fallen face first into the mud, I had lost a shoe and all five of us were wet through.
My mum, meanwhile, was desperately trying to keep morale up.
Ten minutes later, things took a distinct turn for the worse when Robert found a leech on his leg.
Catching sight of the slug-like worm latched onto my brother’s skin, my mind shot back to the parasitic creature I had watched terrorize the space crew in Alien the previous evening. I immediately assumed the worst.
Naturally, my outburst did little to help the situation.
Eventually, my Dad managed to prise the leech from Robert’s leg (all the while reassuring him that he wasn’t going to suffer the same fate as John Hurt) and threw it back into the bog.
Once the leech had been banished back from whence it came, my mum decided that it probably was best for us to head back and disinfect the bite.
By this point, my younger brother, Will, was getting pretty exhausted so my mum lifted him onto her shoulders as we trudged back towards the cottage.
Due to his extra weight, she walked more slowly and ended up at the back of the group.
After around five minutes of walking, I heard a sudden, sharp yell behind me.
I turned around, searching for the source of the sound.
I could see Will, lying on the ground, looking slightly shocked and tearful. There was, however, no sign of my mum.
I ran up to Will. ‘Where’s Mummy?’ I asked in a state on semi-panic.
Will pointed to his left, eyes wide and sincere. ‘The bog ate her’.
I followed the direction of his finger and screamed.
Something was pulling itself out of the bog, a tall, groaning figure that bore a strong resemblance to the Mud Monster in Scooby Doo.
It took me a few seconds to realise that the bog monster was my mum.
She had fallen into a deep ditch and ended up almost completely submerged in the muddy water that filled it.
At the end of the day, I guess my mum got what she wanted out of the holiday – she achieved her wish to be immersed in nature.
It just didn’t manifest itself in the way she had hoped…