We thought this day would never come....
I dusted off my car last Friday afternoon, removed the cobwebs from the dashboard and took to the open road. Luckily, I remembered how to drive and found my way to Pip’s front door somewhere in deepest, darkest middle England. She stood, arms folded across her ample bosom, standing purposefully on her doorstep with her trusty wolf dog, Dude aka Knob standing protectively at her side.
We threw caution to the wind and hugged like long lost friends because that’s what we were. No tongues were involved so in a way we were being careful and respecting whatever rules had come into force that nano second. Quite frankly, the authorities lost me at it being ok to see your Gran’s cousin on a Thursday, but not your dad’s uncle on the third Wednesday in June so long as it was a leap year and since then I’ve paid no notice to anything they’ve said.
Pip’s Lovely Neighbour popped over to pick up her parcel and we chatted on the doorstep, exchanging stories about staycations, dogs and artisan brownies. Pip pointing out to her Lovely Neighbour that I was a bit of an artisan fanatic and the pair of them laughed at the prospect of me consuming coffee which had been made from coffee beans pooped out of the backside of a chimp in the Amazon Rain Forest. “What’s wrong this that?” I wondered to myself, ”sounds lovely.”
Our Friday evening was spent catching up on all the things that women of a certain age need to catch up on when they finally meet in person after five months - most of it is unrepeatable in polite society, suffice to say Pip’s ‘The Boyfriend Thing’ was verbally abused for being a total twat, cunt, shit face bastard and whilst I refrained from building a bonfire and burning an effigy of him, the sentiment was there. He’s now an ex-TBT. Thank fuck for that. We shan’t be wasting air time on him again.
As the evening drew to a close Pip suggested we watch one of her favourite programmes on Netflix. I am open minded and have watched all kinds of TV programmes from Louis Theroux’s ‘Weird Weekend’ about Swingers to a programme about gay men who dress up as dogs and attend actual dog shows with their ‘owner’s’. So, I was prepared for something fairly risqué.
Reader, I’m going to let you into a little secret about Pip: Pip’s favourite TV programme is an American show about ‘ghosts’. It features a clueless, barely articulate twerp who wears a baseball cap and mysterious dark glasses who trots around London pretending to see apparitions and sensing ‘a presence’.
”Pip!“. I exclaimed. “This is utter bollocks and not even historically accurate.”
”I know.” She replied. “I love it.”
”Do you watch it to make yourself feel intellectually superior?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
”Yes.” She confirmed.
”That’s what I watch Gems TV and QVC for.” I mused and then took myself off to bed before my brain turned to mush.
After a morning spent packing a suitably large picnic and gallons of water, Pip and I eventually (Gertie’s sat nav failed again and we had a small, but pointless detour through the attractive market town of Ashby de la Zoush) found our way to the correct car park at the start of our walk, somewhere in the heart of Leicestershire. I believe it was called the Leicestershire Ring. Snigger.
Since we’re a bit crap at this walking lark, we’d left it rather late in leaving the house and it was already lunchtime, so we sat by the canal in the British summer sunshine and ate our bread, cheese and funny pasta stuff that Pip had made.
The Mad Max camper van in the car park did not escape our attention. Why? Just why? Neither did the tall, well built bald man wearing a camouflage kilt. As regular readers of the blog will know, I live in Scotland and am indeed married to a Scotsman (it’s true, they don’t wear anything under their kilts) so have seen many kilts in my time. I have, however never seen a camouflage kilt.
Where does one buy such an item from and more to the point, why would one buy one at all? At what stage in that man’s thought processes did he
a. Decide a camouflage kilt was a good idea
b. Actually give someone money to own one
He spoke with a broad Midlands accent so he wasn’t even Scottish for fuck’s sake!
Undeterred by this bizarre site, we began our epic walk on the hottest day of the year so far.
Mad Max Camper Van in car park
Inexplicable camouflage kilt wearing man
Since it was Pip’s turn to host the walk, I left her in charge of directions to guide us through the Leicestershire Ring, or at least the most interesting parts of it. Snigger.
This allowed me to daydream whilst she endlessly took her glasses off and put them on again, each time removing her phone from her rucksack and squinting at it whilst she read the instructions out to me. It took her a good hour or so to realise that I wasn’t listening to a word she said and that she really was on her own with this one. Plus, my brain can only deal with one instruction at a time during weekends and holidays, so the moment she uttered ‘down the lane, turn right, go through fields and then left at a crossroads’ all I registered was ‘down the lane’ and the rest sounded like ‘blah, blah, blah, blah’.
”Are you listening to me?” She enquired hopefully.
”No. Not really.” I said absent mindedly.
She got her own back for my lack of input by filming me on one of my now, infamous ascents and descents up and over a classic five bar gate. Pip tells me I look like a baby gnu in this particular video. I’ll leave it up to you to judge, as I know you will judge and quite rightly so, for anyone who decides trekking in a remote region of Nepal for their fiftieth birthday is a good idea deserves to be judged.
In the delirium of the heat, I vaguely remember stopping at a pub half way through our walk and watching a ludicrously fluffy chicken peck about my feet whilst Pip waited grumpily for her lager shandy (lager or beer as our American readers would call it, topped off with lemonade).
We mounted Ambion Hill where we lay, very sweaty and quite spent under a classic English oak tree surveying the scene where the Battle of Bosworth took place back in 14 hundred and something or other. Pip is a mine of information when it comes to Richard III for some reason and so I sat attentively and listened to a brief history lesson. I was actually listening because I love a bit of history.
”Are we nearly there yet?” I asked hopefully.
”Yes, it’s literally ten minutes that way.” Came the joyous reply.
And our chief pathfinder for the weekend was correct. We made it back to Gertie whose interior was hot enough to fry an egg on and drove home very pleased with our achievements. A quick look at our phones informed us that we’d walked eight and a half miles. This explained the throbbing in my thighs and Pip’s sore feet.
Pip’s Lovely Neighbour had left us both a small present on the doorstep.
Two neat little boxes, each containing a homemade brownie. Wisely, Pip gave me the one that said “Artisan” on the box and was over three times the price of her very ordinary brownie.
“Yum. That was delicious.” I exclaimed after I devoured my ‘expensive’ brownie. “Much better than yours.” I added.
”You know its the same fucking brownie in each box don’ you? My Lovely Neighbour has made these herself.” Said Pip rather sarcastically.
”She is a Lovely Neighbour.” I agreed. “And, yes. Of course I know they’re the same. But mine says “artisan” on the box which makes it taste nicer.” I replied. And then added, for good measure, “you’re just not getting this artisan thing are you?”