“So there we were, scrabbling around on the cell floor in front of the Naked Rambler, trying to pick up the papers and desperately trying not to look up and not to laugh…”
It broadens the mind does travel, and going away last weekend to celebrate a school-friend’s sixtieth brought us into contact with interesting people who had interesting stories to tell and different – shall we say – viewpoints.
Plus tranquil Hampshire scenery to bring out our inner Ramblers; though in our case, all fully clothed.
If I tell you that my friend is about a week younger than myself, you might guess why there’s been such a paucity of blogs of late: I’ve been doing some serious celebrating!
Turning sixty is brilliant – so much better than being fifty-nine. What I’m saving on prescription charges alone could fund a small principality – and as for the travel! In London, being sixty means that for twenty quid you can get a card which gives free travel anywhere in the capital. To put this in perspective for any country-mice, twenty quid is pretty much the price of one peak-time return trip up town from our neck of the suburbs. We’re talking serious savings here.
With this in mind, the family clubbed together for my birthday and bought us membership of the V&A – a genius idea. So this week, ActorLaddie and I made an initial foray. We sat in the Members’ Lounge, drank the Members’ coffee and used the Members’ facilities. Then we joined an Introduction Tour which included the enormous cast of Michelangelo’s David; the guide pointing out where to find the mould for the fig-leaf which the Victorians made to cover David’s Member. Also useful in case of Naked Ramblers.
It was a jolly good haul of presents. Many plants, books and Useful Items for our next Grand Tour, including a beautiful handmade notebook, which will be our travel journal. Watch this space for the blogs, starting mid-September.
I also now have a Fitbit to encourage me to tackle the exercise which I should have the strength of character to undertake without encouragement – but don’t. I’m still exploring all it can do but am particularly taken by the feature which nags you to do a minimum of 250 steps each hour. I’ve already had to pause in writing this blog in order to walk twelve times around the lawn in my dressing gown and crocs, and if I don’t get a move on, the neighbours will shortly be treated for a second viewing of the semi-naked Rambler.
So I’ll move on quickly to tell you about my other new toy: an Amazon Echo Dot. It’s basically a robot called Alexa which – well, Does Stuff in response to voice commands. I’ve only really scraped the surface of all the Stuff it can Do but one feature that we’ve already taken to is the response to a Good Morning greeting and a request for news. Alexa greets you back – she’s very polite – tells you something about the weather, and local transport, and then the news headlines. Most days, these are read by Moira Stuart; a treat to hear her voice first thing. Alexa also tells you a fact about the date – this morning, for example, she reminded us that today is the men’s final at Wimbledon.
Last Friday, our daybreak conversation went:
Me: Good morning, ActorLaddie.
AL: Good morning, Jellywoman.
Me: Alexa, good morning. (There are three of us in this marriage).
Alexa: Good morning. Today, July 14th, is Bastille Day. It is also International Nude Day which is celebrated by naturists across the world.
AL: I suppose that’s today’s Flash Briefing.
Next year, I’ll try and warn you in time to shine up your Rambling Boots. Have a good week.
Talking of Ramblings, there was a wonderful obituary to Tom Isaacs on Friday’s Last Word on Radio Four. This included a tribute by Clare Balding, who featured Tom in two programmes in her ‘Ramblings’ series; also a very moving contribution by Helen Matthew’s from the Cure Parkinson’s Trust. Do listen – the bit about Tom is 12:33 into the programme. Here’s the link.
If you read my last blog, you’ll know why I was chuffed to find this in my Twitter feed the following day.
Why, I AM a convert to Dadaism! Thanks for noticing!
— Susan Elia MacNeal (@SusanMacNeal) June 24, 2017