- The sauna was actually great, well, apart from the entirely open, mixed communal changing rooms where you could study the baggy greying underwear of half of Belgium (I include my own, regretfully) if you were so inclined. There were all manner of delights: a peculiar subterranean pool as hot as a bath, several jacuzzis where you could eavesdrop on conversations about colleagues who are too stupid to work the till, a giant person-sized barrel filled with glowing red elements on both sides so you felt you were sitting in a toaster, and a peculiar witchcraft 'sauna' which was not remotely hot but apparently healed you with magic rays. We stuck to the clothed side of things, although a woman in the toaster made a most persuasive argument for going to the late night ... something session in the hottest naked sauna:
"So, a man comes and whirls a towel around so all the hot air goes in your face. Then afterwards everyone just spills out onto the lawns completely naked and unembarrassed". ("à poil, sans complèxes")
Yes. I see. Have you ever met a British person?
I was being a bit unfair for comic (debatable) effect on the last post since I actually have a long-term obsessive habit for hammams and turkish baths and weird, cheap municipal thalassotherapy pools. I love them. It was just the mixed, communal, nudity aspect that was new. Give me a couple of months and I will totally be getting the towel whirled in my face late at night. That sounds obscurely unsavoury already, which is a good start.
- At around two this afternoon IT STOPPED RAINING for the first time in well over 72 hours. Honestly, it has been torrential. The chicken favela is knee deep in filth and the chickens bedraggled to the point where they appear to have lost half their bodyweight. The tortoises are caked in mud, like relics from an archeological dig of a Viking latrine. I lit a fire yesterday. Anyway, this is supposed to be the 'up' section. There was a brief break in the clouds. I appreciated it. Chickens roamed, tortoises grazed, I managed to get to the Post Office and remain dry.
- Excellent discussions with my friends (for whom I am even more grateful than usual on a bit of a shit day) on the following subjects:
(i) How to craft a Visit Scotland slogan around a picture of a squirrel eating a Tunnock's teacake; and
(ii) What to do if an elephant is drinking out of your plunge pool.
- After talking for several days about my intense need for a bath full of Aromatherapy Associates oils and a gin and tonic (not in the bath, down my throat), I finally got it together to have said bath and it was as good as I anticipated.
- I have recorded the impenetrably confusing The Honourable Woman so I can watch it at my leisure tomorrow, listening for chinks in Maggie Gyllenhaal's accent, which is unnervingly perfect.
- "Mon ami Dave et moi nous avons cuit son oie en 2011"
- By sheer dint of pathetic internet pleading I engineered a swap of Marcolini chocolate for the new Tana French book. Best swap EVER.
- As of 5pm, the rain returned. It is never going to stop again, it is the Fludde, and my current earworm is "Eternal Father Strong to Save", the hymn for those in peril on the sea (or other expanse of water, surely, by extension). I cursed summer by saying I didn't like it and now Uccle has become a watery wasteland populated only by me, a handful of angry damp cats and the violently shouting old lady, who is not put off by so small a thing as weather. It is all my fault. Also, I have become a person who talks endlessly about the weather.
- Today was just generally awful, I have no words and no ideas and no faith in my ability to generate any ever again. NO IDEAS AT ALL, not a single spark of a neurone, my brain is empty empty empty. I listlessly wrote about 500 dreadful words, which, if you were to read them, you would assume to be written by someone who has only a sketchy grasp of the English language and it was like slogging through a treacle distilled from my own stupidity (yes, that makes absolutely no sense, SEE? I TOLD YOU. NO WORDS.) Then I sat and stared at them for a while with the intimate conviction that I had completely failed at life. Then I went to the Post Office which has never helped anyone feel better about anything. Then, thankfully, my lovely friends cheered me up by sharing their own despair and poking fun at mine. I'm not sure despair shared is halved, exactly, but it's magically transmuted into something quite - temporarily - funny. Oh look, that ended as an 'up'.
I have no money. Again.
The builders are returning next week. They have already taken all the doors away, leaving the house reminiscent of the apartment where my friend Kate and I stayed in Florence when we were 19, which also had no doors. Lying in bed horribly hungover of a morning, we could hear the lady of the house coaxing her precocious faecally retentive toddler (his catchphrase, aged 2, was "Mama is being ironic") to perform. On one occasion, we also heard the immortal words "Oh, Ambrogio, that's a terrible place to be sick" followed a fraction of a second later by the door slamming as they left. We never discovered where Ambrogio* had been sick, but were haunted for the remainder of our stay.
I am slightly saddened that this, in a shop nearby, is not in the sale.
20% have now watched and read everything on the Internet, help me, or at least reassure me that I will have some ideas again one day, please?
20% glad I am not in that apartment any more trying to eat baked radicchio that looked (and possibly tasted, who knows) like a stewed mouse.
3% Essie Clambake (ie. 2 little fingernails only, painted as ever more desperate displacement activity)
*Ambrogio was the cat. I can't decide if that helps.