As most of you will know, I moved late last year, into a wonderful three storey town house....
it had been let prior to me moving in and was in truth a bit disgusting.
My first job was to get rid of the smell, caused by what can only have been a herd of incontinent hippos living in the house for 15 years.
This involved ripping all the carpets up, especially the stair carpets, which left me with horrid modern MDF stairs.
I momentarily considered asking Bec's Ever Patient Husband if he could provide a quote to replace said stairs and then realised that my champagne taste was once again over reaching my lemonade budget, so painted them - thus ensuring that both the dog and I would slip down them continually. Especially, in my case when carrying things I don't want to spill or break!
Why, I hear you ask is this woman rambling on about stairs? Isn't this supposed to be a blog about hiking, travel and other wonderful things?
Well dear reader, bear with me here.....
A couple of weeks ago, I was planning my birthday trip away, yes, it was my birthday recently, yes I am now well over 50 (I only feel about 18...)
I had been on the phone to my Best Mate in Essex (hereafter known as BME) we face time frequently, and always end up a bit wankered...he drinks prosecco from buckets, and defeats even my legendary alcohol ingesting skills... Anyway we had been having one of our 'facetime catch ups' and I was mullered.
'Bedtime' I mumble incoherently at the dog
Dude who is a dog of many talents, drunken mumbling interpretation being one of them, took this as meaning he needed to go downstairs for a night time wee wee, off he tapped (his paw nails sound like high heels on the stairs) collecting my fags, now disappointingly empty JD glass and other random things, I head after him, he heads back up to see why I am taking so long, curves his body around me on the second step from the top, causes me to slip and I career down the stairs arms flailing whilst trying not to drop my favorite JD glass. I reach the bottom of the stairs still clutching ashtrays and glasses, landing on my arse, feeling slightly more sober than previously, glaring at the Dude, who just said,
Back to the mammoth birthday road trip!
I head off to the Aged Parentals to deliver their GrandDog for the weekend, stay overnight, bask in their attention - there is something very comforting about your Dad pouring you booze and your Mum cooking you dinner!
Fairly early the following morning I set off up the A1 to Beautiful Daughter's house. It was a lovely day, with the sun shining in a wonderful blue sky, Gertie and I enjoyed the drive, arriving at Beautiful Daughter's house a couple of hours late due to a hold up at Scotch Corner involving a wagon with a static caravan on the back, a tractor and a motor home, I dealt with all of this with Zen like calm which worried my Beautiful Daughter somewhat.
I was greeted by Incredible Grandson staring quizzically at me until he realised I was the funny lady from the phone and bestowing upon me the hugest gummy grin in the world!
It is, as I think I have said before, an amazing spot, with a quiet so completely devoid of the sort of background noise we normally endure that it heals your soul, even if you didn't realise that your soul was broken!
After IG had spat his lunch all over the place - he is just starting solid (well almost kind of solid) food, and is frankly having trouble with the mechanics of it not being milk - Beautiful Daughter announced that we were going off down to the farm.
'Ever been in a combine Mam?' she asked enquiringly
'er? no....' I respond somewhat hesitantly.
I am not one of life's natural country girls, you know, can't walk without my wellies flapping, am not conversant with the differences between a stoat and a ferret, don't get a twinge in my (stupid) fucking ovaries when the barley/wheaty/oaty stuff is ready to cut....
Nothing loathe, off we troop to a thankfully very close but very large field, containing Giant Husband in his Giant Green Combine, accompanied by an equally Huge Green Tractor and trailer.
Turns out getting into a combine is slightly tricky when carrying a small wriggly child under one arm ( Beautiful Daughter did this...) or alternatively when you are 52 and rock your short arse status.
After Beautiful Daughter, Giant Husband and Giant Husband's Brother (in charge of the huge green Tractor) had recovered from the raucous laughter that the sight of either end of me struggling up the Everest height step ladder engendered, and we had all slotted ourselves into the precarious combine cab, off we set!
Combine Harvesters make really shite get away vehicles.
They are not swift, this however is quite handy (unless you are fleeing the scene of a robbery) as it gives the wildlife time to escape the huge big cutty things on the front of said vehicle.
We lumber up the hill/field at a fast walking pace, causing animals of all sorts to flee for their lives ahead of us.
'BUNNY' I should excitedly.
We stop the combine whilst everyone has a jolly good laugh at the fact that it is 'obviously' a hare....
When Giant Husband, Beautiful Daughter etc have all finished laughing at my idiocy off we set again...we reach the top of the field and GH effects a swing around in this immense vehicle - I'm very impressed until I realise that we are now pointing down hill and ask with a degree, it has to be admitted, of fear in my voice,
'Are we going down there?' I point at the what now looks like a 90 degree incline.
'Wye Aye' responds GH possibly a touch confused by my question.
Until he realises that I have a death grip on the reassuringly large handle thing that I have found.
'I'll no cowp!' he states comfortingly (Note Cowp is Northumbrian for tip over...)
'Fuck!' I think.
'Do combines randomly cowp?' I squeak in mild panic.
'Aye sometimes' is the less than reassuring response I received.
I masterfully control the now almost overwhelming fear that is causing me to need a wee.
We toodle off back down the field, there is all sorts of Northumbrian brogue chat going on over the CB, none of which I can decipher at all. Beautiful Daughter translates all sorts of stuff about moisture content and yield. I'm still in the dark, but, having relaxed somewhat, am now enjoying the utterly amazing views and Incredible Grandson's running commentary. IG knows no fear and is rather enjoying being in the combine.......
Suddenly, frightening the living shite out of me, an enormous arm thingy swings out from the side of the combine, looking like some sort of Science Fiction alien egg laying apparatus, Huge Green Tractor pulls up alongside, said big arm thingy splurts tons of Wheaty Barley stuff into the trailer - lots of discussion about 'awns' and whether the stuff is running freely enough. I'm out of my depth in this conversation so wisely shut the fuck up.
We do several runs up and down the field in very impressive straight lines - apparently this makes the subsequent 'bailing' easier. Brother in charge of Huge Green Tractor manages the bailing...the last two runs however display a sibling based sense of humour that made me giggle....
When we finally rumble to a halt and are disgorged from the towering combine I reflect that not only has my arse gone numb and I still need a wee but that all things considered I quite like the country.
As I write this, Bec is busily preparing our ridiculously large picnic ready for the first walk since February. You'll have to wait until next week to get that the lowdown on that.