Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Things that I discovered during my weekend in Cambridge with Taffa, Gareth and The Builder:

Significant and Important:

If you are out on a muddy, muddy walk through a muddy, muddy field, along muddy, muddy lanes during November, you are bound to run across thistles. If you are wearing a thick, woolly jumper, those thistles will inevitable attach themselves in the form of large seed balls to your jumper. Do not, under any circumstances, when you call into a pub for a pint after the walk, amuse yourself while having a wee by plucking the thistle balls off your jumper. All that will happen is that the balls will explode and you will end up with loads of thistle seeds in your knickers and down your trouser legs. No matter how hard you try, you will never brush absolutely all of them from your clothes and will without fail be scratched when you pull your trousers back up.

If you should feel inclined to ignore this excellent advice, you will at the very least end up with a hand full of thistle balls. Do not succumb to the temptation, no matter how strong, to toss the balls into the toilet when you flush it. All that will happen is that the thistle balls will bob merrily and cheerily in the maelstrom and refuse to disappear, thus leaving the next person to surmise that you exist on a Very Nasty Diet indeed (loads of toilet paper eventually drowned the buggers!!)

Important But Not Quite So Significant:

If you are walking along the Cam during a rowing regatta of sorts, you are in deep, dire danger of being knocked into the river by mad men on bikes riding up and down the path yelling at the rowing people to “concentrate” or “Row harder” or (unlikely in the extreme this one) “Keep trying – you’re catching them” (this to a boat which was rowing into the strong, Easterly wind and was about 3 weeks behind their opponents) and not watching where they are going. The only option during the actual races is to stand still, back off the path and watch the race. Or learn to swim


Before visiting Taffa and Gaz in November ensure that you have a plentiful supply of thick woolly jumpers, ugg boots and dressing gowns for the temperatures plummet at night and the wind is brave. Plus – MAKE SURE YOU REPLACE YOUR WALKING BOOTS IN THE CAR BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME!!!!! After a couple of days of walking on the flat and in the mud and over fields and over cobbles in my work shoes, my feet were knackered, my shoes were buggered and I’ve been stiff and unable to move all day today. The backs of my knees are locked solid!

Pubs we visited for supping purposes:

The Plough in Fen Ditton, for a pint (or a glass of wine in my case) on our way to the lock on the way out. Tempting to call back for lunch during December; the Festive menu looks fantastic. Supping enlivened by a sudden cry for help from the far side of the bar. I think a radiator had erupted or something.

The Green Dragon back in Cambridge, where we had several pints to celebrate the successful completion of our walk and where we read the sad story of Alf (Alfie? Somebody) who during the late 1800s or early 1900s was fond of tippling in the Dragon and then rowing his boat back across the river and who one evening perhaps had a tipple or six too many and was never seen again. All that was ever found was his hat, his wicker basket and (I think) an oar. Occasionally people (who may also have over tippled) late in the evening think they see a misty figure searching along the river for something but it vanishes as they approach. Could it be Alf (or Alfie, or whoever he was?) If so, his belongings are now on the wall in the pub. So is his photo. And that of his missus.

Another pub, whose name escapes me which sold disgusting dry white wine which I didn’t drink. I shall not dwell on it, though Taffa and Gaz may be able to provide further details should you require them.

Places we ate:

Taffa and Gaz's lounge room, where we had fantastic souvlaki from the take away Greek place in town, washed down with wine or beer.

Don Pasquale for their fantastic, wonderful, amazing seafood pizzas. Also washed down with wine. Though I think they overcharged us. I’m not convinced that what we had really came to the total they charged us

The Eagle, for Sunday lunch, leaving poor Gaz alone and paling loitering at home, sighing and lamenting over his exam marking. Wine (and beer) quite possibly figured!

Other things we did:

The Sunday Market (again, leaving Gareth sobbing over the marking), where we bought fishy things and apples and bread and cake and Taffa bought our bathroom a present of a print of little beach huts.

Played in Lakeland looking for a cutlery drainer for Taffa. Found one, but it was £15 so we left it.

Trawl in the supermarket for suppery things; lose Taffa in the crush. Find her again outside.

What else did we do? Can't think. The four of us ate, drank, made merry, caroused and cavorted very satisfactorily all weekend. Was good.

And finally - eBay adventures:

The Builder has been watching some oak doors on eBay for some days now. They were sitting on £50 for 6. I amused myself on Saturday morning, listening to the election rout in Australia on the ABC and watching these doors. They were trundling along. Suddenly, about 5 minutes before they finished, the bidding exploded. It was clear very quickly that they were going to go for more than we wanted to pay, beautiful though they were. So we watched as the price galloped up and up and up and up - and everyone was pipped at the post by a brand new bidder who put in a bit of at least £235 with 2 seconds to go. Was very exciting. So was the election commentary!

Meanwhile, back at The Sidings, we were watching very intently two external doors which had no bids at all. Five minutes before they finished, we put in a bid of £10. A minute before, someone trumped us. I put in a more serious bid. Watched and watched and watched and watched. The other person kept trying to outbid us but I had put a serious bid in. Suddenly, with six seconds to go, somebody new put a serious bid in too. Fortunately, it was under ours and they didn't have time (or the inclination, but I think time more likely) to raise it. So now we have sticks and bigger sticks and doors for the planned porch. Well, we will have when someone goes to Lincoln to collect the doors
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