Monday, December 18, 2006

DSC_0017 - Babble onI'm doing well, aren't I?

The pre-disappearing act post never got posted and then came tiredness, general out-of-the-habit-ness and trying to tie in blogging with uploading images to Flickr, which given I've only just put Sunday night up, and I came back on some distant Wednesday, well, it's not quite running to plan. And we don't even mention the more recent images yet to leave the camera.

So, long, long ago in a galaxy not entirely far, far away, a little blogger named Anyhoo met up with a friend, who we shall call Omega because we've forgotten his other myriad blognames (this blog grew out of emails written to him, and to some extent has usurped those emails, despite his refusal to read the blog, probably because I was worried about I'd written about him, even though I'm not sure what there is, and not being able to remember the blognames I can't search for entries) and because the multiple personas make it look like I have more friends than I do.

Or rather a little blogger named Anyhoo spent a large chunk of the morning wondering where the hell Omega was, as Omega got up a little bit late, grossly underestimated cross London transit time (did he not think I was serious when I moaned of everything being an hour away?), missed the train, then was so good at killing time he missed the next one, rang - thus breaking the never having spoken thing (yes, that type of friends*) with something utterly mundane - to ask whether he gets the earlier train but would need collecting from a different station, getting that train, and eventually meeting in the entrance hall of a suitably uninspired station (not quite Brief Encounter). Like an inverse Cheshire cat, I saw the grin coming first.

* But I find 'penpal' to be one of the most loathsome words going.

So out, into town and up the hill, all important first words lost in clashing accents succumbing to the roar of the one way system. Then quite of lot of "where now?" and failed attempts at tourguide-ism. So I did the traditional thing of suddenly taking him up some random passage, up some stairs inspired by Slough, and out, onto the top of a multistorey (why are the words 'car park' unnecessary after that word?) to view the town in its full glory (or as glorious as a damp, early December Tuesday can be).

Glossing over Omega asking if the Jacobean hospital was a mosque (I suppose there is a geometric similarity, though I've yet to see a mosque with a sundial on the front), not much of interest happened while we were there; there was much walking with intermittent hunts for postcards (Omega is fool enough to encourage competition between friends and relatives over who gets the most postcards; I summed it up in an email to someone as the world is spinning on a slightly different axis now due to the weight of card shipped between hemispheres and that [Omega]'s tongue must be more glue than flesh by now), great excitement over the discovery of a holly bush beneath the castle (not because it was beneath the castle, but simply because unlike gorse, holly has not reached Australia), a slight lack of wonderment at the canal (not surprising apart from Omega's previous near constant amazement at the concept).

And then because there really isn't that much to do (and because I had to move the car), we head down and up, back to the car, with a slight detour to discuss not being able to see London on most days, a film I've never seen, the endlessly treey plain, the disappearance of Heathrow in its own smog, and the passing cold front shunting all the gunk up and out of the way. So down the hill in the car, hoping I don't have to brake as mashed wet leaves won't leave me much option, a bit of insh'allah driving (you can't see so you assume it's fine). And suddenly I'm realising the flaw in delaying the write up: I know we did things, I can remember being there with him, but I can't remember if it was night or day at the time. Not that it matters really.

So, um, eventually we head off towards far hills, through endless villages, the Chessington* road enforcing more periods of gear change than not. And so to Wetporth.

* Or Alton Towers. But I refuse to admit Thorpe Park can ever be more than very dull teacups.

Or rather, so to Wetporth Wark, in through the wide entrance and narrow gate, scrambling up the hill behind, lost without other cars to avoid. Dumping it in the corner nearest park, I'm all for bounding off, when I notice the sign demanding that all cars bear the National Trust sticker. I don't have one. I've got an old one for the sailing club, will that do? How about a security pass from ex-work? I'm fairly sure I haven't had an NT sticker. But I can't go and ask as there's no one to ask, and I can't go and check any other car as we're the only people here. Dumping my membership card on the dashboard, we head off, sticking the motorway bit because this is Wetporth and it's been raining and the well-trodden path is treacherous enough without attempting to forge our own.

Highlights for me: playing with my new camera, walking in fresh-air-winter-sun-ery, talking to a guy I've known for ages, trust implicitly and like considerably (even if I don't always understand him, and I don't just mean the accent).

Highlights for him: yet more pheasants (so I told him why my car has no aerial), molehills (Australians may make mountains out of molehills, but they also think molehills are bigger than they are), deer (even if I haven't the foggiest which type), realising customs will have to scrub his boots for him when he flies back (presumably the more considerate equivalent of the French insisting we had to dip our deck shoes in disinfectant when we sailed across during the foot and mouth thing; obviously the French haven't figured out that cows don't tend to live on salt laden teak and GRP) and then flapjack in the car while we think of where next (he'd never had it, and had only heard of it through me, and wasn't quite tempted by my description of it, though I think he's now a convert to the one true way (well, that and Kendal Mint Cake)).

Then through town half debating whether to park, but not and so thanking the tortuous one way system for providing a tour of the place without having the leave the car, then ever southwards to sweeping views under the sweeping rain and sandblasting sun, onto the "oh, a freeway" (I was trying to make him navigate, but Australian maps are apparently different; I remember his amazement years ago at discovering that the entire country has been mapped, and more than once [I think the UK or at least GB is reputedly the most mapped country in the world, and also apparently the most intensely studied geographically or biologically]. He also later admitted that driving in Australia is very different to driving the UK and so his suggestion of a roadtrip might have been quite a lot more work here, especially in my heavy-clutched, no-power-steering car, which incidentally is apparently the same as his, though under a different badge. He also didn't know that in UK, the person, not the car, is usually the thing insured and so he couldn't drive us back if he felt like it).

Thence to Bashom, where my memory failed and so I ended up in the car park which you actually have to pay for. Omega pointed out just how little I was being miserly about, then paid himself, but put midway between the first two increments in because he thought the no-change machine was pro-rata (golly, Australia must take the idea of being fair very seriously). So a tour of the town, with pointed comments trying to draw his attention to the high thresholds and board slots, while not wanting to give it away (No, I didn't mean the roses still in bloom or the crack running across their facade. No, just look. No, a bit lower. No, not the name of the house...), and not quite being able to complete the circumnavigation of the town because of the incoming tide, which was so fierce that even the people in what looked like a souped-up hearse turned back (presumably because the seaweed might stain the shiny, all terrain tires). And by fierce I mean the flooded area was a bit too far to jump and it would have been unfair to make Omega cling to the wall to get past. But at least Omega mortified me by going up to the guys in the tank and letting them know they'd be fine going through (and thus were being a bit pathetic in refusing to get the tyres wet). It's not like there's going to be a wave come in and drag them off the road, on the grounds that any decent waves would have to make it up the Channel, bang a left, plough over the top of the Wiggerings (and yes I have been Googlefoxing the names) before coming ashore there, and anyway, the harbour's so shallow it would probably evaporate on a hot day.

Then up into the town, round the church after convincing Omega that the CofE is not like the Catholic church, being quite sure which party is the group doing the deigning, out onto the salt patched green, to admire the house I've always wanted, possibly falsely ascribe the Canute story, and discuss life before heady along the bay round towards the normal parking place, then inland, where we made the mistake of assume a path between houses might go somewhere useful before it gets to Haven't, and then back into town along a suddenly much longed road.

And so home, or so northwards, with the intention for aiming for the pub in a nearby village, though driving rather sedately as the dashboard lights had gone off (and this in the rushhour) and because there were still some fun floods lingering. Get to pub, where I sound less than enthusiastic because I haven't eaten all day and have been driving a car were it feels like one is winching it uphill through the steering wheel, which Omega takes to mean I don't want to go in (it depended on which of the owning family would be around), so instead I drive into the nearest town, only driving off the road once (you know that run-out-of-energy thing? If you've seen me you'll know I don't have reserves and my early warning system is the equivalent to the first splutters of a car running on fumes), where we settle on pizza having walked the length of the town and back again and because I can't be bothered to move anymore (a state I feel similar to right now, hence the unSinned language). This is where the bruising from the last post came in (but the entire class of girls also in the restaurant apparently largely did the same thing).

Then out into the town, killing time before the train, doing tour guidey stuff (fairly easy in a town like this, as there's the X, the Y and the Z, involving not necessarily beneficial technological innovations, fame through failure and rabbits) and having to explain that bellringers need practice (though at least the idea isn't alien to him). Guiding him up to the station (quick plug of another more recent locally filmed movie I haven't seen) then to the right platform (the choices are up and down, and to go up you go down) where the train was still on the screens as expected even though it was past the time it was expected by. We hang round for a while as the sole member of staff locks up and heads off for the night, with me saying wait and Omega refusing to believe that an on-time train can turn up late.

As the next train is in an hour we leave and so get a good view of it cutting across the valley behind us. Omega claims it'll be an express. I point out there are none on this line unless there's engineering works elsewhere, and it's going far too slowly to be just passing through. So instead a tour of different parts of town, cursing the National Trust for their interfering ways (Road before: melted in part in hot sun, but well drained. Road after: sheds gravel everywhere, still melts where bald, but now requires Jesusing to pass, not helped by overzealous lights from the neighbours which ruin any night vision but also cast deep shadows), the arrogance and incompetence of local planners (I've met them and, er, yes and yes) and few other dodgy bits of design (Omega might not have literally been taking notes, but he is originally an urban-cum-transport person, before the politics stuff).

And so bundling him in the car, taking him to the next decent sized station up the line, bailing him out of the door and suddenly realising that's it. It's odd, I don't remember much of what was said or what we did, simply that he was there.

Anyway, I'm tired and my temperature control has gone to pot, so I'd better stop and find some food.


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