This past weekend saw us in York for the annual birthday walk of our best man. Our second date was his birthday walk a couple of years ago. This year was a shorter walk, with a last-minute change of location due to the weather forecast (the place where the picnic was planned was forecast to have 23mm of rain in 9 hours, which doesn’t sound like ideal picnic weather to me!). We did about 5.5-6 miles on the Wolds Way in North Yorkshire, and very nice it was too. The first couple of hours were more or less dry-ish, but the final hour it chucked it down with rain, so despite all being kitted out in waterproofs we all got drenched. Here are some pictures (the last one isn’t black & white, by the way!):
We decamped back to York to have the picnic in the church, which frankly was much more civilised, though as I had only got my cheap non-breathable cagoul in the walk it was as wet inside the coat as outside it, so I was very aware that I didn’t smell very civilised! Apologies to anyone who was there who was too polite to say anything.
After the picnic HD and I had a wander round the shops before heading back to R’s house where we freshened up and prepared for the evening invasion. Some of the walk people, and some other friends who hadn’t been able to walk earlier, pitched up for food and an attempt to reduce R’s collection of random obscure spirits (many of them from eastern Europe, the quality of many of which can be imagined). HD and I and a few others very much got into the spirit of the activity, with a number of simultaneous knockings-back of spirits followed by a collective verdict (which was generally gauged by the extent to which our faces screwed up after swallowing!). For most of us, the worst one – which elicited the most dramatic reaction – was a Latvian offering which included the word ‘balsam’ in its name. Frankly it should have been named ‘creosote’, because that’s what it smelt like – it was revolting! Though rather alarmingly HD didn’t think it was that bad (it reminded me of the wine-tasting a couple of years ago where he rather liked the wine that the rest of us declared reminded us of old ladies’ wee). The other notable one was a Hungarian spirit, in a bottle shaped like a hand-grenade, called Zwack. Even HD didn’t like that one (I think Balsam was worse, but it was a close-run thing!).
Before you think we spent the evening drinking hideous cheap nasty eastern European engine oil, I should add that I spent most of it knocking back some utterly wonderful home-brew sloe gin. I could have drank that all night (to paraphrase Eliza Doolittle). Actually, that probably doesn’t improve the overall impression, does it?
Yesterday morning HD and I drove up to Penrith, where we went to the rather fabulous Potfest in the Pens. HD collects ceramics, and I have picked up a few nice bits and bobs of ceramics over the years too, and so we were both pretty much in heaven. A huge room (I’m guessing from the floor and the ambient smell that it was for many years a livestock market) full of lots and lots of Beautiful Things. It was gorgeous. We spent a couple of hours looking at every stall, then after lunch we went back to make our purchases. When we’d first got there, the very first stall we’d seen in the main hall had a beautiful ceramic lizard which I’d really liked, but I’d thought I’d better not buy something till I’d seen it all. Once I’d gone round the whole thing I still really really wanted it, so after lunch we went back and as we got to the stall I just managed to see the artist removing the lizard from the wall and selling it to someone else. It was almost one of those slow-motion film-like moments, with me leaping towards the stall with a silent “Noooooooooooo!!!” on my lips. Fortunately he said that he had a couple of others in the car so told me to come back in a few minutes, so we went on our way to look for some presents for various family members who have birthdays coming up. When I got back there he had indeed got the lizard from the car, and then I discovered that he didn’t take visa and I didn’t have enough cash! Argh! So I had to phone HD (who was at a stall on the opposite side of the hall) and ask him to lend me a tenner, which was a bit embarrassing. But I have my Beautiful lizard now (definitely worth a capital B), so will just have to think of the best place to put it. It really is Very Beautiful Indeed.
After that I got the train back to Glasgow, and HD headed back down south. I was looking forward to a quiet evening after the weekend’s adventures, but sadly that couldn’t happen as there were horrors lurking behind the bathroom door. In the bath to be precise. Regular readers may remember my adventure last year with Smudgie the Spider – read about it here, here and here. Yesterday’s 8-legged monstrosity was the same size as Smudgie, though was a lot easier to get to as it was in the bath rather than lurking down the crack at the back of the toilet or on the (very high) ceiling. However, the battery in the spider-hoover-upper was a bit wheezy (understatement), so I had to be Incredibly Brave and cover the beastie with a cereal bowl (a BOWL! I wasn’t sure the mugs would have a big enough diameter!). Like last time, this wasn’t just a quick chucking out of the door into the corridor – once again, there was a ceremonial chucking onto the street, where it scuttled off without so much as a by your leave (thankfully!).
I had to have a bit of a lie down after that, I can tell you!