I’ve just come back from skiing in Switzerland. It was amazing. And by ‘it’ I refer to Switzerland and the postcard-like prettiness of the snow-clad chalets, and the breath-taking wonder of the mountains. But my skiing? Ah. Well. Let me put it in really bad poetry for you:
you’d never guess but i became
a speed demon on twin instruments of pain
it was hard to turn so i did not
and skied straight down ’till i stopped
i might have bumped my noggin
i might have bruised my hip
i might have lost a camara
when on those slopes i slipped
it didn’t happen all at once
and i thought i wasn’t bad
but down the red i did speed
and on the blue i flew
soon, anon, i’d find myself
spread-eagled on the ground
and all my dignity and all my pride
were nowhere to be found
i’d be left with laughter
and a little bit of pain
but i’d say it was worth it
and was jolly glad i’d came
Forgive me for this butchering of poetry; I’m sure Poe would groan and invoke a raven.
I brought forty-six books home with me. And a pair of glorious heels and five packs of sweets, but … forty-six books … I feel like a proper bookworm.
The check-in luggage weight limit was 23kg. I made it 22.8kg. I high-fived the check-in bloke and did not gush about Travel Panic, The Lift My Friends Gave Me and how so very thankful and relieved I was that the bag and my carry-on case had scraped by their weight limits.
I would never do something that undignified.
So incredibly tired and rambling a mile a minute, I arrived home at the obscene hour of eight in the morning without a wink of sleep from the night before. (I don’t sleep on planes. I do, however, talk to Grandfatherly Russians and accidently slap seatmates in the face with my jacket.)
It was an amazing six weeks across the pond, but don’t worry – I shan’t bore you with stories, though I am rather proud of fist-bumping Mickey Mouse and singing (magnificently off key, of course) ‘Country Roads’ as we went through the Blue Ridge Mountains and West Virginia.
Oh! And I visited my happiest place on earth, and no – that’s not Disneyworld (which was fun but my word did the queues never end, did the heat never cease, and was Tinker Bell always so. astoundingly. perky?). It masquerades as ‘The Book Barn’. It is both a graveyard of trees and a magical world of endless stories. Also, it has free donuts.
It’s been an epic second trip across the pond; apart from mammal riding (donkey, camel, horse, whale) I think I’ve used every form of transport there is. Oh, and guess what? My cab driver wasn’t a killer robot. And yes, I caught that first train. But the second one? To go the airport? To come home?
It’s partially the fault of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and my liking of magnetic earrings as a youngling, but recently I decided to have my ears pierced.
I mean – lots of people have had their ears pierced, haven’t they? It’s no big deal, right?
You see, though I like dangling earrings, I cannot bear piercings. I cannot compute. What if someone yanks your ear and the hole tears?!!!
Sometimes I was very happy at the idea. Self, I’d say, it would look so good. That bit of jaw would be made to look SO elegant. But then I’d look at pictures of piercings and feel ill. Self, I’d say, maybe another time.
And thus it would go on. Until, of course, one day when I took the plunge. ‘It’s a just a prick’ they said. ‘It will hardly hurt at all’ they said.
It felt as if it had started as a prick and ended up as a hole punch. My ear was brutally hole-punched. THERE WERE ALIEN OBJECTS IN MY EARS!
According to those present (sister, niece, and bearer of torture device), I was rather pale. I felt ill. Faint. Everything grew distant. I told the lady who did the brutal deed that though I was sure she was nice, I didn’t like her very much at that moment.
I hung my head like an ashamed dog and tried not to think about ears. Or piercings. Or MY SKIN – MY OWN FLESH, THE FLESH THAT WAS MY OWN AND PURE AND WHOLE – BREACHED BY CALLOUS METAL.
The Beautician – a lovely lady who did a splendid job (though I wasn’t inclined to think so at the time) – brought me cold water, a cold pack for my neck and turned the air conditioning on. I didn’t faint, but by golly, I wasn’t at my finest.
So far there’s been no infection, I don’t feel so ill when I have clean (or worse – turn) the foreign objects in my ear lobes, and I will have the experience of Ear Piercing for any future writing projects.
Guess who has returned, life and sanity (possibly) intact? Yep! That would be me.
I’ve learned quite a bit – how to survive beneath a boiling sun (lots of water, suncream and shade hopping), catch a foreign bus and a host of other Very Important Things.
Oh, do you want to know how to catch a bus? Let me aid you in this by telling you what not to do.
How To Catch A Bus:
Don’t be polite and wait for the man to clamber down the steps and dismount from the front of the bus.
Don’t stare at the doors as they shut.
Don’t proceed to the middle doors and be extremely puzzled when these close too.
Don’t be astonished when the bus moves off, the last set of doors closing whilst it does so.
Don’t stare in bemused incredibility as you realise that there are people sitting in the bus and you aren’t one of them.
Do listen to the man speaking beside you. Do learn his language before you listen. He’s saying important things – [rough, paraphrased translation, minus hand waving] – “Get in the back of the bus, you dim-witted loon.”
I’ve walked castle walls, roasted my skin, climbed steps (steps are wonderful things in small, manageable doses. A thousand or so in one go is not a small, manageable dose), eaten strange food, made friends and swum in clear waters.
And now I’ve returned home. And home, my dear friends, is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
England may not always have the most blue skies, its weather may not often reach the thirties (for this I am fervently thankful), it may not have clear seas or terribly exotic fauna.
But it is green, I consider it pleasant and it is the land I call home.
For some time, I’ve seen Hay-On-Wye ‘The Town of Books’ lurking around the internet, and being in need of driving experience (and *cough* books) I decided to venture forth to Wales.
Envisioning a land of glorious books with even more glorious prices, I found, well I found a lot of books, tourists and winding village streets.
Oh, and y’know … a castle.
[It must be noted that bookshops and castles are a heady combination that should not be allowed to intermingle for fear of an explosion of excellence.]
Hay-On-Wye has over twenty bookshops.
And also … Hay-On-Wye is twinned with Timbuktu.
All of the above is the truth.
Castles, bookshops and Timbuktu.
Strangely enough, at first I couldn’t find anything. Anything at all. Which is rather strange considering the enormous amount of choice. But I suppose it is possible to be swamped.
More wondering about. Visiting a Deli. Sending a postcard in the Post Office. People watching. Diving into another bookshop and … nothing.
And then, after a reviving snack (driving and book-dipping are hungry work, I have decided) I ventured into the magnificently named ‘Murder and Mayhem’ bookshop.
I found authors – my authors. The ones that I had been looking for. But … some of them weren’t for me just then. Others I’ve already read. (And others were dramatically named ‘Die For Love’ which is almost as bad as ‘He Fell In Love With His Wife’).
Dorothy L Sayers was there and I should have purchased one of her books. I should have. But I didn’t. So there’s that. Instead, I turned to the trusty Agatha Christie and being a penny-pincher and ‘Already-Watched-The-Film-Adaption-Of-That-And-Know-Who-Dunnit’ I only purchased a single volume of her many works.
I visited yet another bookshop. It was then that I resigned myself to having driven many miles for a single book.
‘Ha,’ I thought magnanimously amused with myself, ‘all this way and for only one book? How hilarious. I could write a blog post on that. Make it a feature of my life; a story to tell and chuckle over when sipping a cup of tea with my numerous dear acquaintances.’
(I may be embellishing the above thoughts just a little).
But then, just when I was resigned to the inevitable small-talk fodder, I went into one last bookshop.
This was my small-talk undoing.
You see, it was then that I hit the treasure trove. It was then that I fell in-sync with the bookshops. It was then that I dive-bombed a Brontë and fell like dragon hoarding gold upon the Heyers.
Nine books in all.
And though I only had visited a small portion of the bookshops, it was time to come home.
… and now, after over seven hours of driving in total, I’ve reached home. Books are awaiting placement on shelves, driving experience has been attained and I’m … going to flop onto my bed with a book and the option of blissful sleep and bid this tired and verbose post adieu.