After recovering for a couple of weeks, our next adventure was going to be in Leicestershire.
The run up to a meet between Bec and I is full of gossipy phone calls and random texts about walks, socks and now unfortunately, walking poles.
The pre-cursor to our latest adventure has been a little different as I called Bec at 7:30 one morning howling like a teenage banshee as TBT and I had parted ways. Breaking up doesn’t get easier. Who knew?
Anyway, I sobbed down the phone at her, she sent me a stream of positive thoughts and sayings, helpful memes started to descend on me, pithy little ones about stages of recovery, interspersed with calls checking that I hadn’t done anything stupid. I thought she was referring to suicidal thoughts (no person is worth that), however, it would appear that after some discussion she was expecting me to rush out and shag someone unsuitable. Now it’s not, in fairness, completely unlikely or unheard of, but there I was not eating, not sleeping, sobbing constantly, not showering, doing my hair, shaving my armpits or my fanny, nothing.....three days it took before I calmed down. I was not looking at my perky best. I can’t imagine what sort of weirdo would have thought shagging me would be a good idea.
I did finally pull myself together slightly by day four, went to a business meeting pretending I’d had an allergic reaction to my new make-up to explain away the purple, puffed up eyes (I may have won the business based on sympathy alone) and started to function again, kind of....
Now, as you all have no doubt realised, Bec and I live miles apart. Bec is in cosmopolitan and lovely Edinburgh, myself in a small not very cosmopolitan town in Leicestershire.....it does have a very nice coffee shop called Insomnia, which quite frankly isn’t very helpful at this point in my life since I can achieve that without coffee. Apparently Robert Louis Stephenson has something to do with the town, or maybe that’s just the coal connection, anyway, I digress. I tend to drive up to Scotland as I tie the trip in with work, Bec flies down to me (so jet-set), or she did before Flybe went bust.
Her flight was booked to arrive at Birmingham airport at 8:20 on Friday night - she did check if the time was ok as she knows I do like a glass of wine once the sun is over the yard arm, sometimes that happens around 4:30pm so she did have a point.
”No problem.” I agree, sighing inwardly, but hoping my voice sounded breezy and nonchalant.
It’s only about an hour to the airport from home so off I set at about 7:15pm giving myself loads of time. I have become a touch ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ since my recent brush with death on the M42, plus Gertie is built for tank warfare and not speed. I arrived with plenty of time and managed to cram Gertie into an unfeasibly small parking space in an unfeasibly huge and poorly lit multi-storey car park. I position myself in domestic arrivals, coffee in hand.
I love airports, so impersonal and hectic, it’s people watching paradise!
I find myself standing next to a young woman with a barely post foetus sized child in some sort of bondage sling thingy, waiting for ‘Nana’ apparently. Post foetus treated this interesting snippet of information from it’s mother with complete disdain. Several of the ubiquitous men with boards are loitering in the area - you know, the taxi driver types with a wipe clean board with ‘SMITH’ emblazoned upon it. I have always fancied being met by a driver at an airport arrivals with such a sign. When Bec finally makes her first gazillion pounds and purchases her uber cool super yacht, perhaps I shall splash out and arrive in such style and splendour. I understand SAGA do a pick up and delivery service.
As I‘m standing there, in my little fantasy bubble of taxi driver signs, watching the frenetic activity around me, it suddenly dawns on me that I haven’t given food a thought and that not only might feeding Bec be an issue, but that I can’t remember when I last ate properly. ‘Shite!’ I think to myself, I can’t even remember what’s in the freezer.
I get a text alerting me to the fact that Bec is collecting her bag. It’s nice to be kept in the loop.
And there she is - retina scalding jacket and more importantly minus walking poles, I heave a large internal sigh of relief.
Immediately, we are oblivious to anything except catch up gossipy rubbish. She does, however, in the course of our rather circuitous route home (I think I’ve mentioned Gertie’s sat nav isn’t the most reliable) reveal that Middle Child has applied to appear on Channel Four’s ‘Hunted’ programme and they’re auditioning for it together later in March. Once I stopped laughing hysterically (it is very difficult to cross your legs whilst driving and seepage was imminent), I ask how she’s feeling about that. Even in this blog, the answer is unprintable.
After a couple of drinks, we head for restorative sleep. I’m still not really sleeping well and unsure as to whether it’s menopause related or my recent return to singledom. Nevertheless, I retire clutching a bottle of Jack Daniels, full of sleep related optimism.
We decided to walk around Coton in the Elms, it’s a National Forest walk, which takes in the Best Kept Villages, some of which are very well kept indeed.
The walk starts with our normal frantic randomness; trying to find the car park, Bec taking pictures which she finds amusing, me feeling a rising sense of irritation etc. Gertie lumbers to a halt as we locate the fairly badly signposted parking area and consulting the instructions, we set off through ankle deep gloop.
As we walk, we put the world to rights, the sun is out and we are talking and laughing, all is good with the world. Bec strides onwards muttering something about the universe, oblivious to the huge, ominous, black clouds looming above our heads.
”Bec.” I distract her momentarily from her latest theory regarding intelligent yoghurt.
”I think it’s going to......” I couldn’t get the rest of the words out of my mouth as a torrent of hail hit us sideways on with the full force of an angry omnipotent being with comic timing.
As we trudged through the biggest most wide open, agrophobia-inducing field in the universe, I am cursing and freezing cold. My maniac mate is striding on, shouting about how fucking bracing and healing nature is. She did tell me a long story about some weird retreat she went on two years ago, that as far as I can gather was all about becoming one with nature. She waffled on about nature mending your circadian rhythms, but I didn’t catch most of it due to sound of sharp hail on my hood.
The sun returned within moments and we followed the directions, heading through a farmyard full of cow shit, passing a small area of fly tipping and over a stile into someone’s back garden, which in truth, did seem a bit odd. Nice garden though.
As we pass as inconspicuously as possible through the rather nice shrubbery, we reminisce about Bec’s flirtation with lasering her fanny hair. This was in preparation for the weird back to nature retreat as she was determined to arrive with her nails done, makeup on and various body parts lasered. ‘I maybe going back to bloody nature, eating vegan food all week and fucking collaging, but I’m not going to be the one getting to know my vagina without it being appropriately trimmed.’ Were her musings as I recall. She hadn’t gone for the full Brazillian, just a modest bikini line apparently, but as she caught sight of herself in the mirror one morning, she realised with horror that her muff landing strip was wonky. I had to stop to laugh, legs crossed, in the middle of someone else’s huge, posh garden.
After what did seem like a considerable length of time - it was an enormous garden - it became apparent that we were standing, slightly bewildered on someone’s patio, which to me, didn’t feel quite right.
”I think we should hop over the fence.” I suggested as I ran off.
I heard Bec mumble something because I had already jumped over the fence and found myself in a small field.
Bec stared around vacantly and then followed. Now, Bec is wonderfully tall and elegant, but has the agility of a gnu. She teetered, half on, half off the fence, balancing herself precariously whilst I doubled up with laughter, listening to the creak of the fence, hoping above hope it breaks for comic effect, trying not to wee myself (not 100% successful, I admit). We beat a hasty retreat, me still chuckling and examining the photo I’d attempted to take, but I had been laughing so hard, all I got was a moody shot of the grass.
Shortly afterwards we happen upon a small village that should have been home to some ducks, happily for them they had decamped for warmer climes, or were otherwise conspicuous by their absence. We indulged in our outdoor wee in a wood beside a cricket ground, which has now become a feature of our walks.
Our next instructions were to wander through a wood keeping a large lake, which we should, according to the instructions be able to ‘catch a glimpse of through the trees’ on our right. However, our way was blocked, Mother Nature had grown a hedge inconveniently in our path. I circled the hedge for a while and decided to launch myself optimistically through a gap. Never fearless, I quickly get entangled in sleeping beauty type brambles, where I dangle, limbs firmly caught. There is a choking noise behind me as Bec is standing helpfully in the road snorting with laughter and pointing at my arse,
”I can see your pants through your spandex walking trews!” She cried.
Bec had grown up ‘wineberry’ coloured waterproof proper trousers on. I have whatever I throw on that morning. Perhaps, in hindsight, spandex was a poor choice. What can I say, I was sleep deprived and slightly malnourished.
The sun emerged from behind the hailstone and grew quite warm and we found ourselves strolling through what is rather a lovely wood and very picturesque lake on our right (we were so proud of ourselves for not being lost at this point) and as usual, we are putting the world to rights. We analysed T ex BT bastardy behaviour, rather wishing our water bottles contained gin.
More fields, much more mud and we get the village where we started out. Bec then started whining about food and country pubs in a hopeful manner. I ignore this, her wailing about bistro/gastro/whatever pubs as well as her increasingly bizarre walking technique which apparently eases the pressure on her knees. It is reminiscent of John Cleese and his ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’ and march back to the ever patient Gertie. More strange stretching type behaviour ensues, much to my and the random dog walker’s consternation.
We head off home, steak, champagne and gossip to end the day wonderfully and oh joy, sleep!
Bec did mention during the course of our mini walk the next morning (oh,yes, we’re building up that stamina) that I had told her she was right the night before during our champagne infused chat. Neither of us can remember what I said she was right about. It doesn’t sound like something I would say, although Bec seemed quite pleased with herself.......