I’ve travelled about a fair bit in the last week and a bit but just not had time to write about it due to the demands of work and my uncomfortably snotty nose. The latter wasn’t a major issue but it made me feel a bit shit and lethargic and the fact that it was my third cold since January made me wonder if I am the carrier of some sort of super germ, of if I am that super germ myself.
Last Saturday night, after work, I travelled to Preston in Lancashire (but please don't tell anyone). A 210 mile trip made almost entirely on motorways. Not a very exciting journey really. It wasn’t even possible to up the excitement factor by getting lost as the motorways I drove along were in numeric order . . . M4 then M5 then M6. I wondered where the M7 goes to. Hopefully it joins onto the top end of the M6 and then wings its way seawards leading all the selfish gits who hogged the centre lane on the previous three motorways into the huge quagmire of Morecambe Bay while the tide is out and then the tide comes in quickly making them wish they’d used their rear view mirrors for something a bit more constructive than squeezing their spots.
I was in Preston to bring home our Seán, my secondborn child, who was returning to the family home after completing his three year university course in style. But I didn’t get there until 10.30 p.m. which was a bit late in the day to be moving someone and all their possessions the length of England. So, tired and hungry, I stayed in the Ibis Hotel for the night but I didn’t get there until 10.30 p.m. which was a bit late to go shopping for food so I just bought a Kitkat from the reception desk to eat with the complimentary sachet of Nescafé that would no doubt adorn my room. Now it was late and there were no other choices as far as food was concerned and the hotel was situated in a remote backwater of Preston, so it didn’t surprise me that my four fingers of joy cost a bit more than normal but £1.50, in my opinion, was absolutely scandalous. That works out at nearly 40p per finger or, by my reckoning, £33 per kilogram which would give the biscuit tin of Freda, my dear old friend and customer who struggles with a bit of a Kitkat habit, a street value of almost £1million.
I worried that the Ibis Hotel in Preston would only have Kitkats for breakfast and that I would have to sell my soul to the devil and my toenail clipping collection to David Dickinson (is there a difference?) to finance my early morning sustenance. So I stuck two fingers (of Kitkat) up at the restaurateur, collected young Seán with all his chattels and sped southwards to Knutsford Services on the M6 for a hearty serving of mostly sausages.
We had opted for a fat boy Full English Breakfast but they had run out of bacon so we were offered an extra sausage each instead. But also they had run out of black pudding and mushrooms so we went for the quid off the price option rather than further extra sausages. As Seán pointed out, as the day progressed and more and more Half English Breakfasts were ordered, the likelihood existed of all of the individual ingredients of such selling out to the extent that a late morning Full English would comprise entirely of extra sausages. Monty Python’s Spam Song stayed in my mind for most of the rest of the day.
Seán marked his return to Chippenham by promptly going out to see his mate Alex’s band playing in a Battle of the Bands competition in Bristol. He said it was a most enjoyable evening, though it didn’t sound like much of a battle to me as there were no tanks or guns involved, despite it being in Bristol. This meant that I could sit at home in peace to watch Ireland get destroyed 3-1 by Croatia in the first of their group games in the Euro 2012 tournament of association football taking place in Poland and Ukraine for the remainder of June and a hint of July. The hopes of a repeat of the previous displays of rugged determination and hard earned success in major football competitions of the past quickly evaporated as the Irish defence fell to bits as early as the third minute.
The best thing about supporting Ireland, apart from it providing justification to drink copious amounts of Guinness, is that there is no pressure to achieve any significant success which is just as well because, on this occasion, they didn’t really apply any pressure and didn’t really achieve anything other than a boom in Guinness sales which will no doubt have brought a temporary boost to the Irish economy and given poor old Angela Merkel a night off from her worrying about the other Euro crisis. I’d like to think she put her feet up to watch the match with a pint of Guinness and a Kitkat.
But Ireland traditionally do best when they are playing with their backs to the wall and consequently my expectations were high when they came away from the Croatia game knowing that all they had to do to qualify for the next round was to beat the current world champions and the previous world champions. Four days later Spain gave them a right dicking (4-0) and the next round for Ireland could only be one of pints of Guinness.
I didn’t manage to cut my grass on Sunday afternoon, partly due to a spot of post motorway weariness but more because of the continued deluge of rain that continues to blight our flaming June. I spent all winter yearning for the summer weather and I may as well not have bothered. Thank you very much to everyone at the Met Office . . . I hope your next shit is a hedgehog. However, not being able to get out meant that I didn’t feel so bad staying in and spending countless hours uploading my Machu Picchu pictures onto my Flickr account.
Go and have a look at them if you like. They're at:
Machu Picchu Pictures
So all I need to do to finally put the Peru trip to bed is to keep rubbing the cream on and to get my blog typed up and posted on here for all to peruse.
I feel like I'm under the cosh a bit though because I’ve not really started yet and I've got to get it done before I go away on my Scottish trip in six weeks time which will generate further demand for blog writing. Oh such pressure! Now I know how Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni must feel.
I didn’t see either of the England games in the Euros during the week due to my demanding work schedule and a most pleasant evening out with my good friend Susan, both very valid reasons. I’ve never bothered to look for a valid reason to miss an England match before though . . . just not being bothered about them has usually been sufficient.
So I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last wittered inanely on here and I’m sorry that my wittering on this occasion isn’t entirely as travel related as it is supposed to be. Hopefully the dust has settled on a busy few weeks in my world and normal service should be resumed toot sweet. In fact yesterday it was.
Yesterday I travelled to Codford on the south western slopes of Salisbury Plain. I went there with the usual suspects, Simon, Ray and Chris and we met up with the Salisbury Chapter of the Ramblers. This was the first time I had worn walking boots in anger since collapsing in an exhausted heap at Aguas Calientes in darkest Peru over three weeks earlier. My Codford walking companions were all worried about the ascent of a place called Great Ridge about half way along our route. The Inca Trail has spoilt walking in Wiltshire for me for I found Great Ridge to be neither great nor a ridge. Pathetic Hummock, I decided, might be a more appropriate name for it. But some bits were alright and I’d even go as far as to say that the village of Sherrington, with it’s huge mill pond, was quite nice. Going for a splash of beer in the pub afterwards with a few of the more sociable and hilariously funny than expected members of our sister group was probably the best bit of the trip. Peru was breathtaking but Codford had Guinness.
The quite nice village of Sherrington
on the shores of Lake Titicaca in Wiltshire.
How apt that all three of my lovely children were home yesterday for Fathers’ Day and how unfortunate that I wasn’t. I was home in the evening though to spend quality time with them watching football and discussing the abject misery that the intermittently malfunctioning dishwasher door brings to the Mullan family. Firstborn Sophie drove down from Manchester yesterday for a few days and thirdborn Rose had flown in from the Nether Regions on Tuesday evening for a few months. I went to meet Rose off her plane at Bristol airport. I kept my sunglasses on to go there despite the fall of darkness. It was an accident. It wasn’t because I was hoping someone would abduct me and take me somewhere sunny . . . or was it?