Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Holiday, Part 1

While the world has been spiralling into irrevocable chaos and doom, I have been in the Cotswolds, with my beloved offspring, Lytton Strachey




and, er... James Herriot?

Making his own entertainment

It's ok, global economy. Mummy is back. You can relax now. Yes, I have finally returned to Belgium, and the clammy embrace of masonry dust, official envelopes and an ominous wet black patch on the wall, which has destroyed my limited edition Rob Ryan bird print. I have never been sadder to leave the primitive, dangerous weirdness of the countryside (yes, the Cotswolds. Shut up, it is dangerous. You could get flattened by a pristine Range Rover, or a wheel of artisan cheese at any time). Either:

1. I am getting old; or

2. I am homesick for a place where bagels are (relatively) freely available (if you get to the Co-op early) and milk does not come in long life UHT containers; or

3. Everything here is so chaotic, I would rather take my chances with the badgers (incidentally, Fingers seemed uncharacteristically scared at my father's cheery assurance that his garden was regularly raided by a gang of ASBO badgers. It turned out that Fingers had not realised that the European badger and the Honey Badger are not the same creature. He was expecting cobra head ripping off action every time he left the house).

The countryside was relatively well-behaved (ie. I was allowed several trips to the Co-op in Shipston on Stour and even more trips to the pub). My father refrained from suggesting any trips to see rotting carcasses, being more concerned to put his descendants to work tilling the land and so on (he is a pioneer of the 'Summer Sodium Adventures' residential salt mine camp school of holiday parenting). I think he felt additional corpse action was unnecessary, as a sheep had kindly died just outside the house, presumably for our vacation entertainment (see above). My children came racing to see me the morning after Sheep Carcass Fiesta,as I was skulking behind some marrows trying to avoid detection.

"We kicked the head off!"

"I see".

"It's in the garden now! Fingers held the spine down, and I kicked the skull, then we rolled it up the hill".

"I do hope you didn't use your hands"

"No, we kicked it ALL THE WAY". Proud looks. I glanced at their open toed sandals, mired in the by-products of ovine decay.

"Lovely. I'm delighted for you".

"So can we keep it? It's only got a tiny bit of skin on the scalp. I've already tried to scrape it off with a stick, I reckon we can shift it".

"....."

"Weepette is going mad for it. Maybe he can eat the scalp off? He keeps peeing on it though".

"Awww, he must think he killed it himself" said my sister in law later, laughing, as the dog sat, feebly exhausted in the only comfy chair in the kitchen looking as mournful as ever. "He thinks he's a brilliant hunter". Instinct got the better of Weepette once or twice, and he chased a few rabbits, only to catch them up, hover apologetically around them with an expression of faintly agonised social awkwardness as they went to ground, then trot back, looking defeated.

Otherwise, the danger levels were sadly reduced, since the Tetanus Dreamland Castle was out of bounds due to some dangerous bale stacking. We did not even see any badgers. Any deficiencies in wildlife outside, however, were entirely remedied by the fauna in the shower. My ablutions every morning was like this scene out of Snow White:




... except my companions were a happy band of spiders the size of house cats, giant fighting moths with wings missing, dozy wasps, a selection of no longer attached legs, mandibles and other detritus and on one occasion an astonishingly frisky earwig. They would draw close to listen to my enchanting song, which went something like:

"OH THE FUCK WILL YOU EVER FUCK OFF OUT OF MY SHOWER GEL, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU, EWWWWWWWWW".

Catchy.

Apart from that the holiday was distinguished by:

- an 18 hour power cut. "This is like ALL my holidays when I was little", I kept telling the children, who plainly did not give a shit as long as my iphone battery held out and no one was making them go to bed. "Except then it was FAR COLDER, and granddad locked me and your uncle in an outhouse because we were annoying him" (true).

- An amazing triple village show triumph extravaganza which I will save for another post when I have the photos, which include me trying to sneak a little owl from the "Owls Galore" display away in my pocket, and a woodlouse race.

- Many games of Cluedo, or "Clu├ędo" as my peculiar children called it. Cluedo has gone terribly nouveau, and appears to be set in Champneys, distressingly. There is a "Spa", "Theatre" and "Swimming Pool" now, and the lead piping has been replaced with a dumbbell and a "trophy", which looks like something you might get if you were BBC personality of the year or similar. Sad times.

- Quizzing my stepmother extensively on the neighbours, to check for any stealth celebrities, what with Chipping Norton being revealed to be a sort of Mayfair on the Wold in recent months. The best she could come up with was:

- a man who takes his rabbit to the post office on a lead

- a woman who walks her dogs wearing a scuba mask; and

- a man who enters all twenty classes each year in the village show and turns up on the day with his hair in pigtails and blue eyeshadow, whilst still in his regulation tweed jacket and cord trousers.

- The mortal wounding of the car, leading to many gloomy trips to bring it grapes at a garage in Woodstock while it languished, between life, death and several thousand quid of repairs. Something unspeakable happened to it involving a head gasket, or something equally sordid, with the net result that we have had to leave it in intensive care in Woodstock. The message is clear: I should never be allowed to go on any motorised holiday, ever.

- A trip to Aardman in Bristol to draw germs.




I imagine this is exactly what a sheep's head looks like when you get close enough. Actually, scratch that, I KNOW that's exactly what my kitchen looks like when you get close enough.

All in all, a full and frank holiday. Tell me how yours are if you have been on any. If you haven't, tell me what it was like in civilisation, before it got broken.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

We just returned from Italy. Beautiful Umbria, empty of tourists and where we regularly ate in empty restaurants. My three children perfected their formation diving into the villa pool and I read a book a day. Now we are back and the children have moved on to holiday part two: a week in a hotel with their grandparents. La di dah - now that's how to do childcare!

MsCaroline said...

Our dog would have rolled in the sheep's carcass, not peed on it, so that's something right there.
We have not had any holiday to speak of, since we have spent our summer moving to Seoul, unpacking and learning to use the subway. It has rained almost every day since we arrived, the city flooded (which they assured us hasn't happened this badly in over 100 years- lucky us )and our car was infiltrated by floodwater and now smells like an evergreen sewer (those air fresheners really do nothing for you.)

Yorkshire Girl said...

We leave for our annual holiday ,a deaux, in 3 days... We have rowed every day this week, slept in separate houses twice and I have shed enough tears for a water cannon. Happy days.

Z said...

I'm shocked to hear about Cluedo, but fortunately I still have my original set from childhood, missing several of the weapons but with carefully-made cardboard replacements.

No holiday here, sadly. I have, however, explained to my husband that, after this weekend, he will not mention Lowestoft china for a fortnight, because his work is his hobby but it isn't mine and I want a break. During that fortnight, or possibly before, our next grandson will be born, which we are looking forward to immensely.

Anonymous said...

I'm in between holidays right now, and am wondering whether Uccle is hopelessly underdeveloped in the area of fresh dairy products or if it's just poetic licence from your side when you keep insisting that there is no fresh milk to be bought in Brussels. In the no-man's-land where I live bordering St Josse, Schaerbeek, Etterbeek and Bruxelles-ville (actually a kind of appendicitis of Bruxelles-ville), there is an abundance of fresh milk at both Delhaize and in the Indian corner shop.

Tilia

c said...

The description of the Weepette attempting to chase rabbits is pure genius...

(Tw of W)

WrathofDawn said...

My 'holidays' featured taking part in a biannual international choral festival (yay!) during which we had the only weather approximating summer so far (boo!) and then my daughter visited from the other side of Canada for the first time in about 18 months and then I went back to work and since then it has done nothing but rain and hover at around 9C with pea soup fog most of the time. The grass hereabouts is very, very green but it's also very long as it's too wet to mow. No one can get any outside painting done. The entire city is poised, paint can and brush in hands, just waiting for the first dry day. There are rumours it's going up to 20 this weekend and that there'll be that yellow thing in the sky, but I don't believe them.

Jane said...

Haven't been on holiday yet, but went on a budget writing retreat in the shed at the bottom of my garden (nothing creative, just a big piece of coursework). Worked well until I realised that my laptop picks up the wireless signal perfectly from there. I may have confirmed my neighbours' opinion of me as a slightly eccentric person.

cruella said...

Was stranded (ie w/o car) in family summer house for the best part of July. A lot of rain and THE SURVIVORS ON DVD! YESS! Thus even I have been on an extensive motoring holiday in the forlorn British Isles, as a matter of speaking.

No don't tell me you never watched it, children. 1977 or so I believe. There must have been reruns.

frau antje said...

Holidays, yes. Taking whatever I have squirreled away in my bag over the past couple of years, having no idea what each white tablet is, but certain that someone gave it to me with good intentions. My frantic quest to 'figure out' death has come to naught so far. My best guess currently is that it may be summed up by Vince Scully asserting that, "It's time for Dodger baseball!."

Grit said...

woodlouse racing! we do that! well, not me, obviously, only the children. they put them in competitions with prizes and everything - rosettes, cups, and certificates - with a little block they have to stand on for the anthem. it's quite exciting, unless the woodlice wander off, which is a bit irksome, but you can prod them back with a stick. so i'm told. and we gamble on the outcome. yes, we do that as well. holidays are worth looking forward to round here.

Alienne said...

We are off to Krakow tomorrow for a family wedding with a few days of sightseeing (or sitting in cafes drinking beer and reading books if it rains) first. The last two holidays have been ruined by massive teenage sulks and fights; if I have to endure any this time then next year I might myself a lot of aggravation (and money) and stay home to drink beer and read instead. At least at home I can get in the car and go somewhere else when they get too much to bear.

Lesley said...

Three nights in a tent, in beautiful Hawkshead with a chatty 2-year-old and a wriggling 4-year-old between me and my husband, who snores like heavy farm equipment without me near to elbow him onto his side.
The English Lakes are beautiful but you can get all weathers and seasons within a couple of days. We arrived in chilly gloom and drizzle by the time the tent was up the sun was shining and we had a pleasant potter round the village. Glorious sun and sailing the following day then 18 hours of rain, glowering clouds and wind. A day spent sheltering in an aquarium and peering through the fogged up windows of the Windermere steamers, coupled with bone-crushing tiredness and returning to a tent where everything felt slightly damp and cold meant that we packed up a night early and sped home to our beds and duvets and warm dry clothes.
We're already planning the next trip.