I don’t know, it’s a silly title, I couldn’t think of something better or relevant. I have been away for a while, I know. I have spent the week manically touring the UK. Firstly there was H’s chinese and films night, which was a late one with a lot of whisky and two very good films and a few good giggles and a hideously early start (apparently these days I am incapable of sleeping past seven unless I go to bed so tired I can hardly see, so I only actually got three horus sleep in the end). From there I was given a lift to a city part way to my next destination, but ended up going back to T’s for a cuppa after missing the train due to a herd of cows on the road (well, this is the New Forest we’re talking about) and a very slow vehicle of some kind somewhere in Dorset. So I eventually got on my train two hours late and got into a lot of trouble with H and as usual my next few trains were all delayed firstly because one broke down, and then because someone was arrested on board the next train.
Still, I landed up in Devon as planned and had a beautiful two nights there, in a stunning villa beside a river. We went for a bit of a walk on my full day there and I got drunk with H’s parents in the evening, which was a bit of a new one on me because I was by no means the most drunk out of the gathering (which also included some family friends). There was a lot of stupid dancing and laughing and a few very embarassing videos were recorded which will hopefully never see the light of day.
Then onto my aunt’s new house in Somerset where I met up with my parents. Again, good walking, good meals, relaxing conversation, and no internet. A room called a snug which was all fire and sofas and rich red walls and the perfect place to while away a few hours with a good book (shame about the lack of cats). A castle which has been turned into a beautiful holiday cottage with ruins in the garden (if I was a child I couldn’t imagine anything more fun).
Birmingham, to see my grandmother, and a walk with ice-creams and no frog spawn and a conga fronted by my gran in her wheelchair (it was a very steep hill and hard work pushing the wheelchair alone so I pushed the chair, my mother pushed me, and my sister…tagged along at the back? Pushed too? Hard to tell).
Finally three nights in Newcastle with my grandfather and aunt, uncle, and second-youngest cousin. I also saw the cousin closest to me in age and we had a long and lovely chat, and I was introduced to that most Geordie of things, Boddington’s beer, in tinnies. I taught my youngest cousin to climb rocks and stroke anenomes in rock pools on the beach, brought him out of his shell a bit, and ran races with him in which (despite my best efforts, seriously) he beat me fair and square. We went to a fantastic museum where I could perhaps have spent hours longer, we went to a planetarium, and on Monday night we went to a football match.
Yup, that’s right. I’ve been to the football once before, to see Southampton play Middlesborough (I think) when I was about ten, because a friend’s family had season tickets and her brother wasn’t going to that game so she took me instead. I don’t really remember that one. Monday night, though, was exciting. Newcastle were relegated last season and this season the fight has been on to get back into the Premiership. It mainly hung on the game I saw, and also the result in a game that was happening earlier that day – Nottingham Forest being the main condenders for promotion (or something?) and therefore if they lost their game Newcastle would be promoted after all. Or perhaps Notts Forest were heading down and their getting relegated meant Newcastle would definitely be up. I’m afraid I just don’t know. So we knew when we arrived that Newcastle were definitely going to be promoted, which I guess made the players on the pitch relax just a little bit too much. Their defence was a bit shambolic and Sheffield got their first goal in and panicked everyone. There is such a great atmosphere at a game like that, where your a home fan and you’re surrounded by all these Geordie men singing things like the Blaydon Races and all sorts, most of which are set to familiar tunes and their lyrics basically consist of words like ‘Newcastle’ and ‘going up’. My dad, normally a sensible, quiet academic, with only a trace of a northern accent in words like ‘laugh’ and ‘grass’, started to sound very Geordie and was constantly calling out abuse and encouragement. I got very into the whole game and was soon yelling at the lads like the best of them, we were in and out of our seats like jacks-in-boxes (no, I can’t think of a more sensible plural, can you?), and when I went home my voice was hoarse. Thankfully by the end of the first half we had equalised and by the end of the game we were up 2-1 but it was tense, at least for me. Dad tells me it was actually quite a boring match, there’s usually more to play for and each goal is harder work, this was quite low-key. But it was exciting enough for me!
And then, on Wednesday morning, I got on a megabus, stupidly early, and sat on it for what felt like a few centuries, until I finally reached London, where, after a couple of trains, I reached Twickenham where M and H, and P, met me, and we drove back down south for a cocktail party at which I wore a beautiful dress, didn’t drink too much, got bullied mercilessly for one or two things, and got almost no sleep. A beautiful morning, long and tired and with bacon sandwiches and proper sunny sunlight, a very late lunch, tea and hot cross buns, and off to C’s for a lovely if tearfully tired evening with Doctor Who and Thai green curry.
And as I write, I am hosting a party tonight. Just a small one, mind. So I had better get out of bed and do something about the state of this house, find mattresses, set up futons, buy eggs and bread and bacon, all of that. Hopefully we can even have our first few drinks in the garden if the weather continues as it is. Hopefully I’ll get the time to do a few hours work before the first few people arrive.