How many times have you heard someone say, “Well I like going away but I hate doing the packing.” To me that is like saying, “Well I like being alive but I hate having to inhale oxygen.” From my experience, and without making sweeping sexist generalisations, it always seems to be women who come out with this statement, probably because a large proportion of our male population don’t know how to pack in the first place.
I would further point out that it is these same women who say, “I don’t like going on holiday because I can’t stand the heat” and then fail to ever open a window in their houses even on a day as hot as today has been. They don’t seem to understand that there are cooler temperate holiday destinations and even at hot locations the hot air is fresh air unlike the hot stuffy body odour and cabbage fart air you find in the front rooms of houses all over North West Wiltshire and Somerset and beyond.
I love my job and I love hot weather but I have decided that I cannot abide having to be involved in both on the same day. In my latex examination gloves my hands get sweaty at the best of times but on a hot summer’s day such as today, in a hot Chippenham woman’s house, as I’m working the sweat collects inside the gloves, runs down my arms and then drips off my elbows. It’s disgusting but it’s not my fault.
Any road, apart from the irksome little things that prompted my rant, I have got to say that I am enjoying the lovely weather at the moment. I was working mostly in the countryside between Corsham and Broughton Gifford today, driving around with the car windows wound down, knocking back orange squash like there's no tomorrow and listening to lovely Fatoumata Diawara, Mali’s finest. Summer had arrived, fish were jumping and the cotton was high.
Click here for Fatoumata
Since last I scribbled on this page I have experienced a number of travel related thingies, including a bit of packing myself for my forthcoming trip to the Hebridean islands of Islay and Jura in search of the finest whisky outside of Erin’s isle and deep fried Mars Bars. I had to update my highly technical, computerised holiday packing trip to include bubble wrap. I've never needed such a thing on holiday before but my mate Lesley and I have devised a plan to get posh whisky home in bulk without contravening the easyJet 'no liquids' rule and to put a few quid the Post Office's way. A plan that would fail without suitable packing materials.
On Saturday night I travelled to Latin America (via Bath) with young Susan me lass. We dined in the Las Iguanas restaurant there which was very good but for the fact that, contrary to the restaurant’s name, there were no iguana based dishes on the menu and rather strangely the non alcoholic drink I had was much nicer than my alcoholic one. I also managed to acquire a plate of cassava which I found a little disappointing, much to the amusement of my fellow diner, until the lush and spicy prawn dish to accompany it turned up about ten minutes later. Susan, whilst tucking into a plate of garlic with just a hint of calamares, enhanced my appetite by telling me the best way to remove the slimy innards of an octopus. All you have to do is turn it inside out and bash it hard on a rock. This, we concluded, could probably be said about any creature needing preparation for the pot and a middle aged couple with a small dog at a nearby table paid up and left the restaurant quite promptly.
Bath city centre on a warm night is a magical place to be. It could almost be Mediterranean. . . but it wasn’t (no octopuses for a start) . . . but we both wished it was.
On Sunday I travelled to Marlborough to have lunch with my West London mate Bugsy of Irish descent who lives in York and who had been coming to see me in Chippenham on his way home from his parents’ house in Surrey but was sick of travelling so we met in the Royal Oak to shorten his trip slightly. We spent a couple of splendid hours talking about the ups and downs of each other’s lives and travelling. I showed him my photographs from Peru. I could see in his eyes that he would like to go there.
Warm weather makes England a much more bearable place to be but it also makes me yearn for a place where it can be hot for more than a few days at a time. I’m sure Scotland will be little short of tropical for me next week.