Perhaps Pip and I ought to be out walking every weekend. I am aware of other women of a certain age who have embarked on a trekking trip to Nepal and taken their training very seriously indeed. Bagging Munros (it’s a thing people do in Scotland, it means walking up a big hill slash small mountain, Scottish lawyers like to put ‘Munro Bagging’ on their CV’s for some unknown reason), going to the top of Ben Nevis etc all featured on this particular ladies itinerary prior to her trip.
As a business owner and mother of three, owner of a dog and an Ever Patient Husband I find myself with a nano second of time to bag the shopping, never mind a Munro.
Finding time to write this blog can be challenging as the household uses my writing time to come up to me and ask inane questions like ‘where are my shorts?’ and ‘how do you complete this passport application?’ My favourite one being ‘why is the hallway so dirty?’ Which was one of Ever Patient Husband’s comments earlier this week. I muttered under my breath ‘because we own a dog and its raining. Darling.’ the darling bit was spoken through firmly gritted teeth. N.B. He didn’t clean the hall, he just mentioned it.
Keen to support my mid-life crisis jaunt to Nepal, Ever Patient Husband suggested we go on a nice family walk to Peebles on Sunday morning. The lure of a brunch style breakfast at an independently run cafe was too much for me to refuse and I agreed that a pleasant wander along the banks of the Tweed would indeed be lovely. After all, what could possibly occur with Eddie the dog, Youngest Daughter and Ever Patient Husband?
My mood could easily be described as ‘difficult’ that morning. Since the onset of peri menopausal symptoms, the desire to stab people for breathing has crossed my mind on more that one occasion. Ever Patient Husband bears the brunt of these feelings and gets very short shrift when he has the audacity to breathe.
After reviewing the menu of the very pleasant looking independently owned cafe, Youngest Daughter announced there was nothing on it she could eat. I took a quick look and even I was struggling to find avocado, fried Spanish sausage and poached eggs appetising at 10am on a Sunday.
”There’s a Gregg’s at the top of the high street.” Suggested Ever Patient Husband helpfully.
He said this to wind me up because I’m not keen on Greggs or McDonalds or TGI Fridays or Nando’s (it’s just chicken with chilli sauce and you have to serve yourself - there is nothing to like in that combination). In fact I hate them all with a passion. My family won’t go into a McDonald’s with me anymore after the ‘incident’. We found ourselves short of time and very hungry one day which happened to occur whilst close to a McDonald’s. I was out voted and in we went.
I get confused in these places and the young woman serving us asked for my order,
”A fillet of fish and a cup of tea please. I don’t suppose you do Earl Grey?” I enquired pleasantly.
”No.” She said. And then she asked me, “Is that a meal?”
I said, “Yes, its my lunch.” Wondering why she’d asked me such a silly question.
”Mum!!!!!!!” Came the cries of embarrassment from my children.
”What? It is my lunch.” I retorted, slightly more confused than usual.
”She means do you want fries with that?” My Eldest Daughter had taken pity on me by this time and had stopped laughing at me and was trying to help. I think she felt more sorry for the poor woman trying her best to serve me.
”Well, why didn’t she just ask me that?” I was growing less confused and more intolerant by this stage.
The poor woman at the till was staring at us as this unfolded, probably having seen all kinds of nonsense in McDonald’s, but never anything quite like this scene that had unfolded before her eyes.
I took back the reigns. “No fries, thank you, just a fillet o fish and a cup of ordinary tea please.” On the rare occasions I’ve been back to McDonald’s I make Ever Patient Husband order things for me. You can see why I shy away from the national chains, they are particularly hard to navigate and often result in my purchasing unwanted food and a large queue of angry regulars forming behind me.
We abandoned the independently owned cafe and headed towards the top of the high street and the inevitable coffee and bacon roll for £2.20 from Greggs (nothing wrong with it by the way, it’s actually quite good coffee - you just can’t sit down in pleasant surroundings).
Happily for all concerned, including the dog, there was a small cafe serving splendidly normal bacon rolls and decent coffee which had seating outside complete with knee blankets.
Sufficiently full, we embarked upon our walk. Having been used to adult conversation which includes silence and thoughtfulness, the constant chatter of Youngest Daughter and running commentary on the size of the river was wearing my already thin patience thinner. Ever Patient Husband is a fisherman and loves nothing more than describing the stages of a river, the flow of the river, the size of the river compared to summertime levels, complete with graph on his phone app thing called “Rivers and shit” and how ‘cloudy’ the river is. He angrily described some ducks on the water with cute fluffy heads which apparently eat all the tiny fishes. I prayed for five seconds of silence.
Youngest Daughter is eleven, so that was never going to happen. I contented myself with moodily forging ahead and making encouraging noises to both companions at the appropriate moment hoping they wouldn’t check if I’d been listening.
Part of this walk features an old railway bridge across the river and a very old and very spooky tunnel. We approached the tunnel cautiously as it’s pitch black and gapes like the mouth of a sub-terranian toothless monster. Youngest Daughter and I ventured into the dripping wet tunnel and immediately caught sight of a bright light, the type you have on phones. It disappeared quickly and we looked at each other, slightly aghast.
I found the torch function on my phone after much fumbling and shone it into the tunnel, revealing nothing. We lingered and then stopped dead in our tracks. There was a rustling noise emanating from deep within the belly of the tunnel. It got louder and louder so we knew something was coming towards us.
”Let’s head back on the path now sweetheart.” I said confidently to my Youngest trying to stay calm.
”Why?” Came the endlessly predictable reply.
”Let’s just go shall we?” Not wanting to alarm her, but the noise was getting louder and closer.
Ever Patient Husband was by this time as far away from the mouth of the tunnel as possible without seeming to be avoiding the situation. As we walked away, a black and white dog emerged from the gloom with a harness on. It wasn’t rabid, which was a bonus and it looked quite well kept, also a bonus. Then it’s owner appeared. A man, confidently walking his dog through a pitch black tunnel using only the light from his phone momentarily to guide him and freak us out.
Weird, so weird in fact we had to buy really posh cakes from the artisan handmade chocolate shop in Peebles which is famous for having been opened by a Royal person some years ago.
We got home, I still felt like stabbing people so took myself off to bed to cry and sleep, which seemed to help because when I woke up Ever Patient Husband had returned from his trip to the barbours and I didn’t want to stab him anymore. There was a full moon that night and it could well have contributed to my strangeness. Mother Nature redeemed herself and produced a rather splendid double rainbow and balance was restored. I associate rainbows with the phrase ’everything is going to be alright’ after a three year period in my life which ended in a brutal divorce, divergence from a boyfriend thing that had been going on for far too long to be healthy (not too dissimilar to TBT style as it happens). I was driving through Holyrood Park on my way to a Snow Patrol gig, listening to “Chasing Cars’ and saw a rainbow ahead. It was at that point I knew everything was going to be alright. Interestingly, Ever Patient Husband appeared on the scene only four weeks after that moment. There go those unicorns again.....
I’m not sure it can explain why Middle Child shaved all his hair off however. I was away on a business trip to Manchester towards the end of the week and returned to find him sitting in our living room sporting a number two. My first reaction was to cry, then stop myself crying, then ask what the fuck, then stop myself from asking what the fuck so I asked him if he was having a mental breakdown like Brittany Spears which seemed like the most appropriate thing to say under the circumstances. He said ’no, I’ve just always wanted to do it.’ I wanted to cry again, but didn’t and held it together long enough to say ‘that’s nice dear’ a phrase I’m learning to repeat often in the presence of Middle Child these days. Pass me the gin.