Wednesday, 21 May 2008

A Bag of Allsorts

Undressing for bed the other night, I glanced down and was horrified to see a dark, raised mole on my right breast which had apparently sprung up during the day (the mole that is, not my breast. That’s been there for some time). Had I survived Death by Jacuzzi just to face a new challenge? Collapsing on the bed in a heap, I was taken aback when my mole fell off and landed in my lap. Closer inspection revealed it to be the last remnants of a bar of chocolate I’d been scoffing on the sofa whilst lolling around in a slovenly sort of way in front of the telly watching some old nonsense. I nearly ate it – well, it was chocolate, wasn’t it? – but then decided to leave it since I knew where it had been.

Everything at Hotel H is done on a shoestring; that was the choice we made when we left the southeast to start a new life in the country. We’ve been here two years now and it has been the most glorious time so we feel very fortunate. But when my faithful old Siemens phone began to die of old age I decided to fork out £40 on a new Nokia from O2 on a Pay As You Go thingy, something to stick in my handbag and forget about except for the odd ‘We’ll be there in ten minutes’ sort of call.

When I missed a call from one of my daughters and the phone crashed, I immediately assumed it was something to do with me but after struggling with the wretched thing for two months I decided to look on the internet to see if anyone else was having the same trouble. Well, I didn’t have to wait long; the first hit had several complaints from folks all over the world moaning about the same problem with this particular model so I emailed O2 to draw this to their attention. Were they interested? No! Apart from telling me to take it back to the shop where I bought it (Cardiff – 100 miles away. Nearest O2 shop – 30 miles away.) and pointing out that it was too late for me to swap it, their response was akin to watching someone stick their fingers in their ears when you’re talking to them. A second email from me protesting brought the same response and the line ‘Enjoy the rest of your day’!!!

So, until I can get to an O2 shop, I’m stuck with a phone that faints clean away at the shock of an incoming call. Half of me is tempted just to go out and buy another ‘cheap’ phone, but if I could afford to do that I’d have bought one that worked in the first place.

Tom’s been busy on the boat. (Once again, I should point out that this is the shoestring boat, the equivalent of a very old and deeply unfashionable car). He’s also been happily planning a summer cruise which would take us away for most of June. There has been some lively debate, shall we say, about the length of some of these passages. Tom tends to be very optimistic about how far we can get in a day whereas I know what a slog it can be. Tom picks up a pencil which he claims represents a day’s sail on the chart we are staring at. ‘There!’ he says, triumphantly, positioning it carefully. ‘A day!’ Further discussion then ensues when I point out that there is half a pencil’s gap either side of this ‘day’ sail.

As of this morning we’re not going anywhere. Returning from a boat engine check, Tom came in and announced that there’s a problem with head gasket which, I gather, is serious, especially as there is no magic pot of money to pay someone else to fix it. Tom’s been so calm about it, bless him, that’s one of things I love about him. I know if it was me there would be a lot of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth but Tom just gets on with sorting it out. Fingers crossed that his efforts work… even if we do have to go back to arguing about the length of a pencil!

Painting is 'Storm Drain' by Tom Tomos

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Rollin' and Tumblin'

There was so much I was going to do once I’d sent off ‘Fighting The Tide’; books and poetry to read, films to watch, some aimless pottering. Well, I’ve been good at the pottering but I’m beginning to feel quite rudderless without the project that has taken up a good part of the last eighteen months so I’m going to take Zinnia’s advice and try some short story writing whilst I plan the next book.

In the meantime my half-marathon preparation has suffered due to the last lap of FTT, trips to the south and flu. I’ve kept up some cross training and some swimming, thanks to the small hotel nearby, and after my swim I like to bliss out in the Jacuzzi. Alas, last Friday, as Purple Cooers will know, my Jacuzzi experience wasn’t quite so relaxing.

It was all going fine until I tried to get out and lost my footing. Seeing the world go into slow motion and a several hard edges approaching I reached out, grabbed a rail and ended up swinging into said hard surfaces with surprising force. When Tom wandered back to find out what was taking me so long he was surprised to find me huddled in the Jacuzzi surrounded by concerned swimmers. Once we’d establish that nothing was as quite as broken as it felt I tried to get out for a second time only to be greeted by cries of alarm from onlookers which, I can tell you, is not a good feeling. Thinking that perhaps I’d ripped my cossie I didn’t know whether to be relieved, when I glanced down, that my backside was not on view or aghast that my thigh looked as if it had been pounded with a meat tenderiser.

My sister, having been told the news by Ma, and scenting another whiff of me enjoying myself Far Too Much, rang up to tell me what a fitting end to my decadent life it would be if I had managed to finish myself off in a Jacuzzi. Nearly six years younger than me, her suspicion that I am a professional hedonist stems from a lifetime of watching me do all the things she wasn’t allowed to do. Trail blazing, I’d call it. Taking the flak so that, years later, she could slip beneath the parental radar unnoticed. Fanning the flames just a little bit, I told her that my accident was caused by an excess of champagne and the slippery grasp of a tubful of fit and baby-oiled young men. She almost believed me.

The damage so far stands at a purple bruise covering the entire underside of my left arm (yep, the bingo wing that came free with my frozen shoulder), a thoroughly tenderised left thigh and the biggest, blackest bruise I have ever seen all over my hip! I did initially wonder if it was possible to die of a bruise, a suggestion Tom was quick to dismiss with a comment that it was obvious I’d never played rugby. I had rather hoped that he might have had a few clues about my absence of a rugby playing past before now.

Oblivious to his purple wife, Tom is now in boat mode. This means that two days after my fall I was standing at the bottom of a 30-foot ladder whilst Tom fiddled with the top of the mast. Fortunately he managed to fix the problem without adding to anyone’s tally of bruises. ‘Better that it happens now and not in the middle of the Irish Sea,’ he tells me happily. The Irish Sea? Yep, that’s where we’re heading in June. And I thought dry land was risky…

Painting is ‘The Quartering Sea’ by Tomo Tomos,

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Fat Boys and WAGs at Hotel H

Imagine hosting a six-day party/activity holiday and you will have some idea of how I feel today. In short, dear reader, I am absolutely EXHAUSTED. I feel the way babies do when they’re too worn out to sleep and just grizzle but, hey, the sun is shining and apart from Scary Welsh Class tonight (no, Chris, don’t think about it or you’ll start grizzling too) I have nothing to do. Oops, rewind, Tom has just told me that he has boat plans for this afternoon… that means yours truly now has boat plans for this afternoon. I thought the free time was too good to be true.

Anyway, the hectic activity of the last six days has been brought about by the arrival of the Fat Boys and WAGs at Hotel H. The Fat Boys are Tom’s equivalent of my Ace Gang. They’re a bunch of his former colleagues who used to regularly roam ridiculously long stretches of the country in stupidly small amounts of time on mountain bikes. Unlike the lean, Lycra-clad cyclists who do the Tour de France, the Fat Boys are a strapping band of blokes who buy their clothes from shops like ‘High and Mighty’ and ‘Mr Big’. Every time one of them sits down I’m reminded of the exhibit in Ikea designed to show you what a pounding their chairs can take – only in this case I fear that my lovely leather Poang is about to splinter into a pile of matchsticks.

Over the last six days, various combinations of Fat Boys have walked, cycled, climbed hills and sailed. All this exercise has been fuelled by a small mountain of food and a not so small beer and wine lake. A good time has certainly been had by all but I’m quite glad that the prolonged bout of carousing into the wee small hours and constant rounds of ‘Does anyone want another….?’ has stopped for now (she says, looking at the diary and seeing that every weekend for the rest of May is booked up!).

Actually, I did get a couple of hours off yesterday morning when I missed a sailing trip due to a prior engagement at the hairdresser’s. Llinos took one look at my trembling hands and little piggy eyes and sat me down with non-stop tea and a pile of trashy mags. Bliss! In the process I was also surprised to discover I’d gone from gingery/ blonde to rich copper brown. It looks brilliant but, alas, is bound to fade in no time at all.

So, as the last Fat Boy roars off on his big beast of a motorbike, I am left with time on my hands – except, of course, that due to the vagaries of the tide, the boat is twenty miles down the coast and needs to be collected… so I am duly press-ganged into crewing. But, never mind, the sun’s out, the sea’s calm… and I get to miss Scary Welsh Class!

PS. I’m really missing writing! I posted FTT the same day the first of the Fat Boys arrived so haven’t really had a chance to say goodbye to it. Definitely time to get back in the saddle.

PPS. Very disappointed that Clocks single ‘Old Valve Radio’ has failed to chart so far and can’t help but think that the record company issuing three different release dates and then going back to one they first thought of couldn’t have helped the launch much. Ho hum, what do I know? It’s no secret that I love a good old miseryfest musically but Stepson Two’s summery music is perfect for singing along to in the car with the sunroof open so here’s hoping that the album, when it comes out, will bring Clocks the success they deserve.

Painting is 'Tide Out - Tenby' by Tom Tomos