I’ve had a few weekends away recently that have caused me to feel more tired by the end of them than the beginning. This trend started back in early December when my brother Pete, my cousin Stewart and I went out to visit another cousin, Rob.*
We were off for an exciting adventure in the countryside. Pete and I only missed a couple of trains in the bar at Waterloo getting up the Dutch courage that is required when us city types venture outside of Zone 6.**
Eventually we set off with a couple of beers for the train. We hadn’t seen each other for a bit so we were the kind of annoying people on trains who are loud just when you’re trying to go home / sleep / slip into a coma. Luckily several others decided to join in with our conversation. We offered them beers but none of them decided to accept. This may have been to do with my continued insistence that they weren’t poisoned.
Anyway, eventually we arrived and were picked up at the station by Stew. And soon we were resting in front of Rob’s fire and eating pizza as they did in days of yore.***
The next day we needed to get a bit more serious about the whole weekend business and so we walked to the pub. Before we went we decided to get some wood for the fire. Rob showed us where we could get some nice sustainable wood sources and off we went.
After an afternoon in the pub playing pool it was time to go back home for a couple of bottles of wine and some roast dinner.
We decided to quickly divide into teams. Rob and I would be in the kitchen. Pete and Stew would go and get some wood.
I declared myself Rob’s Native American chef**** and off the others went. Rob was explaining how much he enjoyed being out in the countryside – the connection with nature, the way that the wood in the fire was found rather than farmed. And he said, “You have to tread lightly on the Earth”.
Just as these words were hanging in the air, Stew came storming back into the kitchen.
“I’ve hurt my leg”, he said.
“How did you do that?” Rob and I chorused.
“I fell out of a tree.”
“What were you doing in a tree?”, asked Rob.
“I was sawing off some wood”.
He slapped his leg better and headed back outside. “Don’t be too much longer,” I shouted.
I decided to lay the table. I even managed to fashion some napkins from some toilet paper that was available (don’t worry, it hadn’t ever been near the toilet). And soon everyone was sitting down to Rob’s lovely roast beef. As we sat down we were joined by the house cat Gizmo. Giz was not, it must be said, the kind of cat that waits for you to do something for him. He’s an off-on-his -own-and-doing kind of cat. So as we all sat down for dinner Giz knew what to do. Other cats I have met would have tried to jump up on the table or tried to move in and wait for a scrap to be thrown to them like a dog. Gizmo had other ideas. A few minutes later we heard a crunching cracking noise. We looked down and we could see the hind legs and tail of a mouse hanging out of Gizmo’s mouth. As we all looked at him he looked back with an expression which seemed to say, “What are you looking at? Oh, you’re so much better than I am, are you?”. It was a look that was hard to disagree with.
After dinner, we decided to return to the pub where a band was performing some live music. Folk music out here isn’t a concept; it is what music is. The pub was rammed with people all enjoying a great set by a band whose name escapes me. The characters were all out in force. Everyone knew everyone, except us London types who stood out like a sore thumb. There were conversations like this going on:
“Sorry I puked on your sofa.”
“That’s okay fella, but next time try and clean it up okay?”
“What happened to that sofa, by the way?”
“I had to throw it away, it was ruined”
“I could have sold it for you, you should have called me.”
The walk home seemed a lot shorter than the walk there which was handy as it was several degrees below freezing. And when we got back we stayed up in front of the fire and talked the night away.
It was a great weekend.
* Stew and Rob are cousins too, not brothers. Everyone in this story is a cousin, except me and my brother, who are brothers, and the cat, who is no relation.
** I know Zone C is technically the zone furthest out, but that isn’t really London anymore.
*** Italian yore but yore nevertheless.
**** Soux chef. Do try and keep up!