253 Day 12: Show me the way to go home / “To travel is to live.”
Or “What I have learnt today.”
1. That if you pay £32 for a room, you should not be surprised if said room is pretty much wall-to-wall bed with paper thin sheets and smells of student.
249. Days 7 and 8: Dutch Courage.
We’ve been to Amsterdam once before, just for a daytrip when the children were children. We did a canal tour, we visited Anne Frank’s house and we wondered at the bicycles. I particularly remember being awestruck by someone carrying a double bass on a bike.
In my memory, Amsterdam was a charming place and I was looking forward to exploring it at a more leisurely pace.
246. Day 4: The Hague
I do realise that this is akin to saying that Italians like pasta or that German trains run on time but I can no longer resist stating the bleeding obvious. Blooming heck- the bikes!
244 Day 2: Jobs for the Boys?
Should you be looking for careers advice, Benedict is your man. Not only is he weaving our boat under the low bridges, around the dumped bicycles and past other boats but he is also telling us about Ghent and its history. In the course of which he has mentioned a few occupations readily available to anyone with a time machine.
241. Day -1: Ignition, sequence, start …
So much to do tomorrow… really must sleep now… all my bags are packed, I’m ready to go; standing here outside your door… no, no, no – go to sleep… all my bags are packed, I’m ready to go… must print out the map… need to check the tension on that knitting, or I might take the wrong needles… standing here outside your door … can you buy knitting needles in Denmark?… must be able to – all those jumpers – or is that Sweden? All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…
“The thing is, before I retired, I used to rush around on a Sunday trying to get everything done. But I’m finding now that I say ‘I’ll do this, that and the other tomorrow’ and do something else instead. Then whatever it was never gets done. Do you find that?”
202. Day 6: to boldly go…
“I’ve just found a blog about this old couple who went interrailing,” I say.
“Can you go inter- railing if you’re old? I thought it was just for students.”
” Apparently you can and it doesn’t look that expensive. And if you’re really really old – like you are – then there’s a concessionary rate. Look, come and read it.”
“I can’t,” says ActorLaddie, “I need to stir the soup. Tell me about it.”
193. Rumble thy bellyful…
Your Honour, I can certainly attest that there was cake. Much much cake.
What’s that? Attest? Yes, good word isn’t it? Truth is, since coming home early from camp on Wednesday, on account of a vicious bout of tonsillitis, I’ve been basically living in St Mary Mead or thereabouts, binge-watching Miss Marple. There are few things more soothing than Joan Hickson: head slightly tilting, hands still knitting, blue eyes kindly twinkling as she explains whodunnit. And, of course, there are people attesting to things left, right and centre. Attesting is the new black.
168. What I did in my summer holidays…
1. This summer, I wittered on a bit…
“I’ve got this clear memory of being at school – it must have been more than 65 years ago – and our teacher said something about Parkinson’s. I went home and asked my mum what it was. She frowned a little, then told me it was a brand of cigarettes. So when the teacher asked the next day what we remembered about Parkinson’s…”
There is a chortle across the room from the thirty-odd Rotarians who are listening to Colin thanking me for my first ‘after-lunch’ speech. They seem an affable bunch of chaps – they are all chaps, so just me and the waitress holding up the distaff side of things. Which is a slightly strange experience, vaguely reminiscent of taking Physics A Level.
167. Blue, blue, my Elsan’s blue…
“Is Mrs Vestibule coming to camp?” asks an Elfin, over the washing-up.
I’m at the other end of the trestle tables, in arm to arm combat with a hefty pan which is coated with industrial quantities of baked bean sauce. So the question is picked up by Brian’s mate, Graham, who has taken a week’s leave from pen-pushing at the Civic Centre to be here, washing dishes in a cold, wet field with the Woodcraft Folk.
“No, she’s afraid of camping.” The entire rota group stops to gawp at this news. As does Sheila.