After a fun packed summer of deflated air beds, vicious stinging nettle injuries and a very wet bottom sustained while listening to moanie musicians on harps, I’ve got that back to school feeling; keep getting the urge to polish my shoes and cover my books with nasty wallpaper. I’m also scanning the local press for stimulating courses like felt making or bongo for beginners. Of course, it’s vegetable city at my place at the moment. And where there’s a glut, there’s a chutney to be made. What else to do with courgettes the size of truncheons? Of late, there’s been a bit of heat in my back yard (not a euphemism) but evenings are turning a little chilly. In fact, my good friend E tells me his inverted nipple was out for five hours yesterday so I know it’s time to bring out the woollies. Oh, and I’ve heard the ‘C’ word twice already and Asda is selling crackers. Actually, forget the bongo and felt making; I need something more dynamic – maybe Meditation for people who want to kill during Chhrrrrr….. See, can’t even say it.
Archive for the ‘time off’ Category
Summer means camping and camping is great fun, provided you like eating burnt things and don’t mind having a constant dribble of urine down your leg from badly executed al fresco weeing. A friend has very kindly given me her two-man pop-up tent. I have a practice pop-up in my back garden but am sadly unable to pop-down, despite stage by stage instructions. This is Crystal Maze but without the skipping baldie in the Bet Lynch overcoat. After rolling around the garden for an hour or so, and a few useless tips from my window cleaner, who’s popped by to have a dump, I give up. Later on, with the help of a man friend, I manage to coax the pesky thing back into its bag. What I fail to notice until I’ve pitched my tent at the campsite, is that despite this being a two man tent, I seem to take up most of its sparse interior. Plus, I have to sleep diagonally otherwise my feet hang outside. The night is long: three wees, one bad dream (I’m Charles Bronson, struggling to tunnel his way to freedom with only the help of an emery board), a screaming baby and a man with loud, extended wind in the next tent. And then it’s time to get up. Dave, the campsite owner, who tells me he’s spent his night at a very relaxing orgy involving a pond and a bag of grapes, suggests I get a bigger tent. Oh God, have I really got to go to Millets again?
If God was still alive he’d have done a Reggie Perrin yesterday, such was the mayhem of Brighton seafront. I challenge anyone to enjoy a game of volleyball when, a. Concorde 2 is playing host to a thrash metal screamathon involving bats, babies and quite possibly lesbian vampires, b. there’s a hairy bikers’ convention in full throttle, and, c. said hairy bikers’ are all experiencing a simultaneous mid life crisis and think they’re Dennis Hopper, giving the world the finger from the comfort of their own low-arsed, ‘sit up and beg’ motorbike that looks more like a commercial lawn mower. All that, and there was a force 10 gale and intermittent showers causing our ball to go anywhere but inside the court. This meant, every now and again, one of our ultra clean and perfectly manicured Men’s Health readers had to go and retrieve the ball from amidst the melee of greasy ponytails and bandanas, thereby risking being weed on in an act of ritual humiliation. Phew, what a day.
The demi-century is upon many of my compadres and therefore, a big excuse to party and let it all hang out before it all drops off. Last weekend it was Sue’s Big One in Nantes so, I got my party frock out and crossed La Manche ready for some Gallic action. They came from all quarters to celebrate: the Algarve, the Holloway Road and Watchet so it was a bit of a squeeze, plus the bathroom was a building site so we made do with strip washes in the garage. Oh how we laughed (and cried) and reminisced about the good old days (it was a bit like Peter’s Friends but without the bad hair and chunky knit sweaters). Of course, once the French posse joined the party, the talk turned to existentialism and cheese but we just laughed again and had another Ricard. Sue had laid on some fine entertainment; we had a Belle and Sebastian type combo, a one-man band called Pierre-Claude with a pocket ukele, two ten year old hip hoppers, high on Le Tizer and, this being France, a bit of nasal wailing courtesy of Serge Gainsbourg and Edith Piaf. The next day I rose from my lilo and after a great big fry-up, threw myself into the pan-European ping pong championship, obstacle race and penalty shoot-out. The lethal combination of hang-overs and hysteria meant, of course, that the grown-ups weren’t operating on full cylinders although there were a few surprises, eg Nigel, despite wearing a cardigan and having slim fingers, can bend it like Beckham while Eddie is quite handy on a Space Hopper. Sadly, amid all the screams and shouts of ‘zut alors’, the kids made steak tartare of all of us. Happy days.
I swam; I ate; I read Madame Bovary; I watched a chameleon scale a lemon tree while listening to the ex-pat alsatians barking for their Winalot. Well what else is there to do in the Algarve? I wanted to go down to the local bar but couldn’t face the strip lighting and linoleum clad interiors. Ed and I did go off on an adventure to the ambitiously-named ‘Deserted Island’ which, of course, wasn’t deserted at all but had an air of Dungeness about it (without the charm of Derek Jarman’s garden). We wandered up the beach and met a Portuguese Man Friday type with ginger chest hair and a rather too tight pair of Speedos who invited us to shoot the breeze under his beach bivvy. He reminded me of a French man who I once shared a house with when grape picking, who had a suitcase full of tins of sardines, and a nasty habit of weeing in the vines – so I said no. The only other highlight for me that day was, following a lovely swim in the sea, I got dumped on by a set of crashing waves. It left me with a gusset full of shingle – which, I have to say doesn’t look or feel too good – although I suppose you could say my inner thighs got a cheap and rather brisk exfoliation.
It’s Sunday; let’s ramble. I limbered up with some star jumps courtesy of Carmen the Unintelligible and her Cardio Funk class. I stretched, I bounced, I quivered, I perspired and then I was ready to get down and dirty on my country walk. Yesterday’s ramble was a fabulous five miler just outside Brighton. Polly needed a wee right at the beginning of the walk but said she could hold it until we passed by a toilet (she ought to slash and go in a bush, thought I but not everyone likes to pull their pants down in a rural setting so I held my tongue). En route we passed through a very dirty farm which used to be home to some black, hairy pigs; not the most attractive individuals but who cares what you look like when you’re on your way to sausage city! Polly stroked a quarantined calf but then Malcolm, who is a man and very good at diy, noticed diarrhoea and there was a bit of talk about foot and mouth at which point Polly made a dash for the tap. We passed through the village of Rodmell where Virginia Woolf had lived at Monk House until she killed herself in the River Ouse. Malcolm had a fancy for a pint at the village pub but unfortunately, ‘due to circumstances beyond our control’ it had shut down. So, with no pint, no nibbles and no relief for Polly and her poor bladder in sight, we had no choice but to continue the ramble, back over the Downs and home. I believe Polly has now been. �
It’s been a while since I’ve done the spotty dog or the grapevine but at Saturday’s party I felt myself invaded by the spirit of Jane Fonda. The evening had started out all cheese and wine and small talk about fridge freezers. Then, before you could say Smeg, I was in a twizzling frenzy with a boy from Brazil. Unlike parties of yore, there was no prospect of a rummage in a downstairs cupboard so I settled for legs akimbo on an Ikea rug . In fact, at one stage I went all Beyonce and got down on my hands and knees and stuck my bottom in the air. Oh what larks!
I read somewhere that rambling is good for the soul as well as the body. It’s something to do with the colour green; it lifts and separates. Or maybe that’s a Platex bra. Whatever. Me and my coterie of ladies had a lovely ramble yesterday. We were a small group but we were fabulous – bonnets, culottes, Alpine tuppaware. We drove up to Devil’s Dyke, parked the car and did a circular walk that took about two hours. The route, which was a bit sticky (lots of mud and dog dirt – nice) followed the dyke itself, down through some woods into Poynings where we paused at the village school to look at some pictures of lost hamsters. Then, we cut across some fields, past a stables and along to a lovely old church. In the graveyard we had a teabreak. Susan had brought along some rather plain biscuits. I, however, had a lovely selection of pastries! Then it was up through the woods and onto the summit of Newtimber Hill where I had once got hot and bothered in a bush. That’s the beauty of living near the countryside; you can pop off for a bit of dogging whenever the fancy takes you.
I had a pasty man at the door today (that’s pale pasty not pastry pasty). This pasty man, think Uriah Heep with winkle pickers wanted me ….well actually, I’m not sure what he wanted. His opening gambit was ‘now don’t be scared’. Now, I don’t know about you, but if someone says ‘don’t be scared’, I’m immediately going to be scared but it was ok. He was one of those phone company sales people. Time wasters more like. In contrast, last week I had a man come to the door whose opening line was ‘do you want to do karate?’. ‘What now’, said I, thinking I quite fancied getting busy with a pile of bricks. But no, he wanted to enrol me in a class. Then today, the phone rang. There it was, the empty pause of the unsolicited sales call – and just as I was expecting Johnny Foreigner to say ‘hello miss, can I speak to the person in charge of your cellotape’, there was what sounded like a large fart. Blimey, this is all a bit Carry On thought I but no, I listened on, only to realise it a was in fact, the sound of a ship’s foghorn. I was being invited on a cruise. Me, on a cruise. I ask you. I get seasick on my garden seat so I don’t think I’ll be joining the Saga set just yet. I’m still thinking about karate though.
I’ve taken many diverse forms of transport in my life – shared a coracle in India with five motorbikes, been towed by a diving boat through the Great Barrier Reef while clinging to a fishing net, flown a microlight over the Channel and back. But my latest escapade beats everything. In Dorset at the weekend, Dirk and I had completed the 7 miles of coast known as the Undercliff Walk. Made famous by Meryl Streep who had her Victorian pants pulled down a bit briskly by Jeremy Irons in ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’, the walk is windy, steep and very hot and steamy owing to its unique microclimate. Having arrived a bit knackered in Lyme Regis, we went about hitching a lift back to where we’d parked the car. While Dirk slunked about in a bush out of sight, I stuck out my thumb and smiled in a coquettish ‘I’ve been a very naughty girl and not adverse to a bit of hard spanking’ look. Our first lift was from a Pole called Conrad. He stank of fish but had lovely thighs. However, he could only take us part of the way. No sooner had he dropped us off than an icecream van pulled around the corner and offered us a lift. We threw ourselves through the serving hatch and sat like pigs in shit amongst the discarded cones and cardboard boxes all the way back to our car. That’s something else to tick off my list of ‘things to do before I’m 50′ (like I’m that sad). Talking about pigs, the day after the Undercliff walk, we went back to the farm where I’d first met Babe. With intrepidation, we approached the sty. Would Babe recognise me? Would he still love me? Or worse, would he have turned to sausage? As soon as he saw me he scurried over, oinking his little oinks of pleasure, wiggling his little piggy derrier, batting his long ginger eyelashes. He cocked his head as if to say ‘have we met before?’, had a long drink from his trough then pissed off again. That’s it, I’m getting a dog.