Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Return

The People* have spoken and they have said "why haven't you updated your blog". The truth is, I have been fighting the impulse to come here and say "Sorry, I am really busy and I shouldn't be here', but that is fatuous and a bit like those women who say "OH I SHOULDN'T" at the weekly office cakes, without being able to take their eyes off the cake table laden with Colin the Caterpillar cakes and fondant fancies and chocolate mini rolls**, then "OH GO ON JUST A TINY PIECE".

I can no longer fight. This is the 'tiny piece', which inevitably turns into four tiny pieces, a "tidying up" slice of sponge and the last 4 "it seems a shame to waste them" fondant fancies.

The holidays were excellent. We slogged our way across inhospitable bogs and up unrewarding hills and down poorly remembered paths that I turned out to be tackling backwards. I brandished a map ineffectually and took lots of pictures of children launching themselves into cold expanses of Yorkshire water. When we were not sinking up to our shins in peat bog, we were in the pub, eating crisps. Sometimes the sun shone and I sat on the warm stone wall outside the house with a book (perhaps a holiday reading post to follow?) and a cup of tea and was perfectly happy. We also enjoyed to various degrees: (i) hitting fish over the head with a wooden stick called a bishop? Is that it? I have bishop in mind. I did not do any hitting and did not enjoy it as a spectator sport either. Nul points, "fun fishing". (ii) Going to visit the herd of ferocious mini-ponies down the road (the tiny stallion in particular was amazingly good value, it neighed like a dog's squeaky toy, kicked up its diminutive heels and bit other equines on the bum, like a hooved Benny Hill). (iii) Riding stolid Highland ponies verrrry verrrrry slowly. (iv) Watching the deathless spectacle of a fox riding a donkey (this, along with L GETTING A BLUE PETER BADGE is universally agreed to have been the highlight of the holidays). All good clean rural fun, but you don't come here for that kind of bollocks, do you?

The dark side of the holidays:

1. Aesthetic

Knowing there is absolutely no risk you will be required to wear a swimming costume makes pre-holiday 'preparation' a breeze. I then spent two weeks in grubby forgiving trousers on a diet of gin and tonic, crisps and Campbells Leyburn minimart sponge cakes. The results are less than stunning. I look fat and seedy, with a freckled farmer's tan around the neck and cleavage, and a very red nose. I was hoping for better after such wholesome Swallows and Amazons style activities. Did any of them have a double chin covered in pimples? No, no they did not.

2. Philosophical

Other fact about the countryside that I had suppressed or veiled in the rosy glow of nostalgia: the sheer volume of DEATH that goes on there. The roads are littered with the corpses of small mammals, the smell of rotting flesh drifts towards you as you stride across idyllic landscapes. The lane that leads to the house had a very fresh dead rabbit whose decomposition the children followed with interest for some days, only to be thwarted by the next door neighbour disposing of the corpse just as it started to get really interesting. Barely a walk went by without us happening on a cadaver or two: rabbits, birds, the occasional sheep that had drowned in 3 cm of water, or simply forgotten to breathe. Not to mention the near-death miximatotic (sp?) rabbits, shivering and disorientated. The country - nature - is a right bastard. With vastly delayed hindsight, I wonder whether part of my deep unease at being in the country as a child and teenager may have had something to do with this STINKING CARNIVAL OF MORTALITY.

3. The return

This bit never gets any more fun, does it? Your house smells of something indefinably nasty you cannot locate, your mobile telephony provider welcomes you lovingly with a €200 bill, your clothes are all dirty and inexplicably too small, all the work that you hoped would just considerately FUCK OFF during your absence hasn't and the brain clouding effects of the holiday mean you are x million euros overdrawn and incapable of forming a coherent thought.

Nevertheless, return one must, so I am back to my usual routine of twitching in front of a screen to the melodic accompaniment of endless Tracey Beaker repeats. I have one child at home, the eldest and least demanding. The youngest has been despatched to a ten day rural Science Gulag since he has more energy than the rest of the family put together and finds us all insufferably boring. We delivered him to a remote location on the Luxembourg frontier some 8 days ago and have heard nothing since. I have, however, just received a link to some photographs. In several of them he is getting a piggy back from a girl with voluminous white dreads (I am sure this was not on my parental consent form) and in several more he is wearing surgical gloves and beaming with pride as he holds up a dissected mouse. I am really not sure what to make of any of it.

I must go back down the copywriting salt mines. I will return with tales of the 360 person family gathering I attended in rural Normandy. In the meantime, a very small selection of holiday snaps, because, well, JUST BECAUSE.

1. Reluctant Owl is reluctant.





That sequence still makes me laugh, 6 weeks later.

2. L has inherited the Beddington family 'looking dejected on a rock' gene.





3. Weepette found the whole experience electrifying and ran himself into a state of psychotic collapse, daily.


He sort of got the hang of running after rabbits, but when he reached them he would stop, and just look a bit embarrassed. Here he is yawning in some bracken.

4. Benny Hill Horse



Have you been on your holidays? Was it lovely? How unspeakable is it to be back? Tell me all.

(*Two people

**Cake is on my mind. I have been trying to eat healthily for the last week or so due to the fat greasy post-holiday aesthetics and it is atrocious, I am perpetually angry and have perfect recall of individual items of confectionery and baked goods I ate in 2001).

19 comments:

Ineke said...

Love this!
The owl sequence is adorable and the grin + holding up off dissected mouse is so recognisable. Also,L is turning into a teenager.
also, CAKE.
thanks.
I know want Betty's fancy little cakes. and some more.
Ineke xx

mountainear said...

Fish basher is a 'priest' but bishop will do nicely. I don't like the process either.

Anna Maria said...

As a fellow owl - fancier, I love this post.
As for holiday reads - I must have been the last person to read Gone Girl, but when I did read it last week, i couldn't put it down (sorry to use such a cliche). But you've probably read it?

What Possessed Me said...

I blacked out after "mini-ponies."

Patience_Crabstick said...

I think the owl is bigger than the pony!

Margaret said...

I find myself confused by this post. I read "fox riding a donkey" and yet...no accompanying photograph. Is the fox riding a donkey or not? I have no way of confirming.

David Oliver said...

I come here because I love you. Yes I do. It is purely platonic but love is love. Why? Because you tickle me. Yes indeedy. You tickle me with your words.

On the Aesthetic: Your red nose will get better. For years! Then you will get old and everything will take turns getting red for no good reason other than you're just old.

On the Philosophical: Mortality sucks.

On the The Return: Telephone companies and TV subscription services including dishes are in competition to see which can bankrupt you first. Hopefully these criminals will someday be apprehended.

Your(?) little boy is very cute! He appears properly wary of that beautiful owl so that means he's smart too. He looks thoughtful on a rock. Akin to The Thinker.

It is not possible to look at Weepette panting and think he's not smiling. I'm happy. Please disregard any hate mail you may get from my pharmacist.

Waffle said...

Ineke - Sigh, Betty's cake.

NO PHOTOS ALLOWED Margaret. I'm as disappointed as you are (It was in a very tiny, half-hearted circus mainly full of horses and some angry geese).

mountainear - I love how I have just unconsciously upgraded the priest. I am the social climber of fishbashing.

Anna Maria - I did! It's marvellous! Now let me press Apple Tree Yard on you, which is amazing.

WPM - I didn't even mention the mini pony FOAL with the afro mane.

Patience - It could definitely carry the pony away in its talons. The owl-handler assured us of that.

David - Oh, you are lovely.

Anna Maria said...

Have dutifully bought Apple Tree Yard, will start it as soon as I finish Shining Girls, which so far I'm not into as much as I was into Gone Girl. Can't wait for the David Fincher film, I think Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck are brilliantly cast as Amy and Nick.

Anonymous said...

*=3, because I didn't dare to ask, but I though very hard about NOTHING being posted here for a month...! Not that we're exercing any pressure here.

I missed reading something funny and with 'FUCKING'
written in capitals.

xxx

p.s. Can't read the capcha; help! Am i a robot?

karen said...

Very glad you're back :)

I wasn't expecting much of a holiday this year, but had a last minute invitation to join my parents on a trip to London for nearly four weeks. Lovely to leave chilly Canberra for some sunshine - and London was very obliging. Have been back nearly three weeks, and am still adjusting. Need to find some way of combining frequent travel with an income ...

L. said...

Also disappointed no photos of fox riding a donkey. But, you redeem yourself with the reluctant owl. Although, to be frank, it looks to me more like a pissed off owl.

This summer I did catch my first fish (= mixture of pride and guilt) and then wonder how I should kill a fish if I caught one I wanted to eat. I was told just put it in a cooler and let it slowly suffocate. Maybe I need a bishop, I mean, priest.

Also I got into painting my nails and sticking things on them, like sparkly jewels and bow-shaped stickers, because while I am physically creeping up on 40, I am emotionally 7.

I missed you and your words! Please come back and say more!

cruella said...

I seem to remember hols were awfully nice with lots of sun, swimming in the freezing Baltic Sea (yes, swimming costume and even bikini - not very many people around), wine, cooking, family, teenage sleepovers, toing and froing in loaned cars dispatching and picking up various friends of Daughter's, bargain hunting, flea markets and what not. And this was at the summer house in the south.

The Return was numbing and disorienting at first and also meant a lot of procrastinated stuff finally having to be dealt with - boring horror - but finally I ended up with a couple of perfect days with more sunshine, coffee with friends, late night swimming in nearby lake, outdoor dinners, early morning cayaking etc. I know, insufferably lucky me.

However. All summer has been spent in a low key dread of Getting Things Organised For Move To China And Sorrow Over Leaving Eldest Behind. And now I'm in Guangzhou trying to live for a year with Daughter gasping for breath in elitiste school and Younger Son trying to get his head around distance programme and general anxiety.

Well. Husband and I are together again after four months and more of separation, the climate is subtropical, food is aboundant and delish and the metro is clean and fast. Shouldn't complain really.

Helen said...

Ooh, yay, you're back!

I am glad your holiday was so good, particularly as regards ALL OF THE NATURE, and I love the photos of both boys - F and the owl made me chortle indeed, and L's moody rock posing is excellent. I bet you're looking forward to his teenage years...

The Dutchman and I have just returned from a couple of days in the Mosel Valley, where we drank all of their Riesling, oh yes.

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