Monday, December 1, 2008

Battle Abbey School Cross-Country Run

So we just got back from a week in Blighty and we got back to find snow. The house was cold, only 2.5 degrees and the loo had frozen over. These 2’ thick walls take 3 or 4 days to cool down but 2 or 3 days to heat up again too. The dog had broken in and slept on the rug so that is now full of dog hair. The cats, taking advantage of the dog’s work had taken up residence on the howler’s bed and half of the rooms had a discreet quantity of leaves and chestnut husks in them. Apparently there had been some wind. Wind here is always excessive. If fact the place looks like those old photos of the Tungusca meteorite strike with all the trees laying in the same direction. Most of the stuff that was lying about in the courtyard has disappeared, tables, chairs, tools all sorts of things. The large rubbish bin, which was full when we left was lying against a fence several yards away and the rubbish content, including bottles has gone. To compensate, worryingly, half an oil drum has arrived just outside the kitchen door and another whole one is propped in the branches of a tree behind the house. Our neighbour lost part of his roof and that is mostly 5 inch thick, yard square stone flags. A lot of plant damage too. Some of you will know that plants hate me. They tend to commit suicide by staying out in the sun and refusing to drink. This time though, having spent a year nurturing two dying jasmines and a nandina back to full health I am not responsible if they die. The wind took care of it for me and the snow too. I may be able to save them but it looks unlikely. But then thinking about it, I should have brought them in I suppose. Perhaps I should come with a heath warning.

So the trip to England went off alright. I have a lot to say but I am in too good a mood to write it today so it’ll have to wait until I am in a bad mood. Perhaps I should explain the title of this blog entry. When we were in England we went to do the tourist bit around some castles and see a few quaint villages and to do a steam railway run and a few other things - all closed except the villages (a pox on the NT) and one thing and another we ended up in Rye and then in Battle (in Kent). We were surprised at how many nice places there are about and evidently there are still places about where people take a pride in their surroundings. Anyway, we went out for a walk by Battle Abbey along a footpath through a field and there was a school cross country run in progress. I imagine though I am not sure, Battle Abbey School. One of the runners, as we were occupying the path with the pushchair and being a bit bogged down couldn’t move fast to let him past, dodged us ably and shouted back an entirely unnecessary ‘oops! Sorry! good afternoon!’ as he sprinted off. I was stunned. Then. Like visitors to Bilbo Baggins’ door others started to arrive in twos all saying good afternoon or hello or sorry and all smiling. It was quite amazing after the gloom, doom and bad manners of the previous days (see future blog) to finally come across some people, and there were dozens of them, who were so good mannered, well turned out and who actually spoke properly (by golly I’m beginning to sound like my father). This struck me so much as something unusual that I put it as a title to the blog so that when I read the title in the blog list I will feel inspired. Even as we turned to go back a young guy, presumably a prefect, held the gate for us to pass through and even chivvied along the runners to get out of the way and let us pass. I nearly swooned with surprise and it has restored a little faith in humanity… a little.

The trip across France went well, we drove and if anyone is thinking of doing it, go on Saturday night. It is lovely. No bloody lorries. The trip out was on a Friday and it was hell. So many lorries with so many bloody useless lights all lit up like cruise liners it got quite tiring after 8 hours of it and why is it they always try to overtake each other on a hill? But the return was fantastic. I swore not at all and felt nothing but goodwill to all truckers wishing them a peaceful goodnight as I raced unimpeded towards the alps. At one point a whole episode of vinyl café went by, 24 minutes, without me seeing another car in either direction. On the way out we had a narrow escape as the driver of the lorry in front of me fell asleep and swerved to hit and bounce off the guard rail but by that time I had braked and was well back. On the way back a herd of boar ran across the motorway but I passed without a scratch between two waves of them. Other than that mostly uneventful. The new MP3 player worked well and I had about 12 hours of vinyl café to listen to without having to change disc. So now it’s back to lovely, blissful normality until tomorrow when I start to put the Christmas decorations up.

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