Archive for August, 2012

The bits of London you won’t find in a guide book

The other day, I had a day off and didn’t quite know what to do with myself. I decided to go swimming but wanted something a little more exciting than my local pool. A few people had suggested the lido in Tooting, an area I’m unfamiliar with. So I took the plunge and decided to get myself acquainted with Balham and Tooting. 

Each part of London is kind of like a little world of it’s own. There’s a distinctly different feel to Brixton than there is to Kensington, or from Richmond (where the bus I was on starts) than there is to Tooting (where the bus route ends). As soon as I got off the bus, I was in the teeming, bustling crowds of Tooting High Street. As opposed to the gentle quietness of Highgate, this was the busy, noisy sounds of life being lived in a small space. The shops immediately in front of me were an Indian greengrocers, a South Asian restaurant and (strangely enough) a ‘Caribbean and Bagel takeaway’!
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Getting into the spirit of things, I grabbed some fruit at the greengrocers and was persuaded by the man at the till to buy some freshly baked naan breads. They were still warm so instead of waiting for a Naan Stop later, I got one out and munched as I walked. 

I got to Balham train station before long, where frightened locals hid on the platforms during the war. Some were killed and I was guessing that the big pictures outside were some kind of memorial to them, although I couldn’t find anything to confirm this. 

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I was on Tooting Common before long, a lovely open space where children played rounders and mums/nannies with buggies looked glamorous and bored. On one section of the path which leads across the Common to the lido, there is an old by-law which says that one must hop. Just this section, mind you. As the law has not been repealed, and I didn’t want to be arrested, I got hopping. I mistakenly thought it would be a funny thing to do for ten seconds or so, but the section of path was quite lengthy. I guess now is the time to admit that I still had slightly sore calves from my vigorous dance mat session in Bognor Regis so my leg was pretty upset with me after quite some time of hopping. I checked for policemen and, as there were none about, risked my luck and walked the final section. 

I crossed over a road and plunged into thick trees and bushes. There is an unkempt attractiveness to Tooting Common. Like once a year, someone comes and has a quick tidy-up, just makes sure the paths are still walkable, then leaves it alone again.
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It gives you the impression that you’re first discovering something unseen for centuries, just a small pathway to prove that people once walked here. It is mostly unpopulated too, so I spent the majority of my walk on the Common without seeing other people.

 All of a sudden, noises and splashes invaded my solitude. Through a fence I could see the blue of the lido. After finally working out the way in, I paid my £6 and picked one of the many colourful changing room doors to put my stuff in. This lido is pretty well renowned for being one of the largest open air pools in Europe. It is 100 yards long and 30 yards wide. There is a million gallons of (cold) water in it! When lots of outdoor pools were closed down, this one clung on, thanks in large part to the South London Swimming Club, who’s home is at the lido. They swim every morning of the year, even Christmas Day! 

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Despite there being a lot of people there, only about half were in the water and all at the shallow end. I had the deep end mostly to myself apart from a few who were doing lengths. Lots of people were sitting around the pool on the benches or playing on the grassy area by the shallow kids’ pool. I approached a set of stairs and gingerly put a foot in, inhaling sharply when the cold hit me. The other foot went in. Down a step, up to my knees. More inhaling and telling myself to breathe slowly. Down again, thighs in. Cold! I paused here. I realised that if I didn’t want to spent two hours getting in, there was only one thing for it. I got out, walked to the side of the pool, and jumped! And it wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was cold, of course, but did not induce the heart attack I had feared it would. I got moving straight away, to warm up. 

I’ll do ten lengths, just a quick one. Maybe twenty if I feel energetic after just ten. I had forgot…. ‘just ten’ in my local pool took about ten minutes, maybe fifteen. Ten lengths in this pool was going to take waaaaay longer. By the time I’d done one length, I was panting a bit. I had forgotten about the 100 yards thing. But I had paid £6 so was determined to get my money’s worth. I powered up and down, doing backstroke to go faster at the top end, and breaststroke at the bottom, to avoid knocking out any children. Ten lengths later, I was a lot more breathless than I’d expected to be and went off to the showers, congratulating myself on ‘getting my money’s worth’ but hoping the rest of my walk wouldn’t be too energetic. 

Post-swim extreme hunger set in and I grabbed another naan bread, while sitting at the side of the pool, drying my feet and putting my shoes on. A man with a Spanish accent, pranced about on the edge of the pool, jumped (belly-flopped) in, looking to me for approval as soon as his head came back up. He then came over and attempted small talk. Given his unimpressive jumping style, I smiled politely but finished putting on my shoes and left. Back on to Tooting Common I went, and headed for a duck pond I knew was around here somewhere. 

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One winter day, about five years ago, my friend Joe and I came to Tooting to look round and explore the Common. We found this duck pond, frozen over. I was checking how thick the ice was by pressing my foot on the surface. Of course it took my weight so I pressed a little harder, leaned more heavily with my shoe. Of course it then cracked and in went the foot, right up to the ankle. I was wearing mid-calf length boots and this little ‘dip’ left me with a freezing cold, wet foot, for the rest of the day. One of my less clever moments in life…!

There was also a little cafe, where Joe and I had sat, taking in the view. I forget what we ate/drank then, but to commemorate being back after so long, I got an ice cream. It seemed like the right thing to do. My ice cream and I then left the Common and walked back toward Balham train station. On the way there, I passed a massive apartment building called Du Cane Court.
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According to legend, this was a landmark for German bombers during the war, leading to rumours about German spies living on the top floor and the building looking like the shape of the swastika from above. I walked around it to check the rumour and it seems to be a giant E shape. I’m not sure whether the rumour-spreaders ever went to the trouble of doing this because it honestly took me about ten minutes to figure out that it was not a swastika shape. Anyway, maybe they know something I don’t. 

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Inside the foyer, there is an old-school glamour to everything. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d learned that it had been used in films. 

 

Shortly after this apartment block, I wound my way around some side streets to Wandsworth Common, the far side of which was Oscar Wilde’s one-time residence, the ominous-looking prison behind the high walls. More bored, glamorous mums/nannies were gathered in a huge circle, chitchatting. An ice-cream van played tunes loudly and there was a bowling green hidden away in a far corner. Around the edge of the Common, where I stopped to wait for the bus, was a restaurant called Chez Bruce, where Marco Pierre White first made his name in London. This is Bellevue Road, a total step out of what the rest of my walk has been like. Bellevue Road is fashionable, trendy and littered with young professionals, supping their lattes outside high-end delis and expensive bistros. A flower shop had spilled some of its goodies out onto the pavement and, in the spirit of summer and my walk, I bought a potted sunflower, which is currently enjoying its new home in a bigger pot, on my patio.

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The bus journey of memories

I get on, beep my Oyster card and sit down. I have a magazine with me, intending to read it, but I know deep down I won’t actually read it. Because this bus journey is one which runs through the memories I have made since coming to London. I’m always drawn to look out of the window.

It starts by the pharmacy where I would come and get Bio Oil every week or so after my operation last year. To try and make my huge hideous scar fade a little. Next I’m at the garage I used to walk to when I was allowed off bedrest, to try and get my energy back. There’s the bike shop where I wheeled my bike in despair one day when I had a puncture while cycling to work. It was a brand new bike and I felt very protective of it. I hung around nervously while they took it in the back to fix, trying to catch a glimpse of it. And there’s the shoe shop where I worked for six weeks before leaving because the manager was awful. And opposite is the Waitrose I don’t like because it’s laid out differently to the one I usually go to. There’s the pub I once went on a date to. One of those dates where you realise that someone is much more likeable from a distance. Moving on to the getting-to-know-you stage had been a mistake. The Oliver Bonas shop is next. I’ve never been in there. I had a friend who worked at one of their other shops. On the left is the running shop which used to be a running and cycling shop. I lost faith in them when they got rid of the cycling part of the shop. I was quite a regular visitor, used to get kitted out in my lycra there. Then here’s the garden centre on my right. I used to cycle down here for compost and seeds etc, when I started keeping an allotment in my final year at uni. Next is the Memories of Mortlake shop. I always look at it from my bike or from a bus window and think it looks lovely but have never been in. Next, we are at the traffic lights and the bus stop on the other side of the road is where I used to wait when I worked at a coffee shop where the shifts started at 5.30am. Once, while waiting for the bus there, an old man started mumbling and shuffling over to me and when I listened to his mumbles, he was asking me what colour my knickers were! I promptly set off walking fast for the next bus stop. Next we come onto a road which is flooded with early London memories. We’re passing my old university on my right and the council estate where I lived for two and a half years having loads of fun but with the worst landlord in the history of the world.

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The university buildings cover the whole right side of the road until it ends at the road I used to cycle down when going into the park. I went through a phase of cycling around Richmond Park twice every morning first thing, before I did anything else. Next is the little cobbled road on my left where my uni friends and I would get a takeaway from Dong Phuong’s at least once a week, minimum. Next, up the road to the motorway and on my right is the other council estate where my friend, Sophie, and I viewed a flat before ending up at the one we passed earlier. We pass by Putney Heath and another council estate where Sophie and I viewed a flat with a girl we didn’t know, who never got back to us about whether she wanted to move in. It was a bit of a walk from uni anyway, so we opted for the one just over the road! Turn left and follow the motorway through Wimbledon Common, which I used to cycle across when the coffee company I worked for, needed me to cover shifts at the Wimbledon branch. I once got very very lost on the common for over an hour. I was quite frantic by the time I found a dog walker and asked him for directions. We’re now in Wimbledon Village and the bar where my friend, Robyn, brought me years ago, when I first came to her house and we had gone out dancing. We danced to Kylie’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head. I had learned the dance moves from the video and we did them, over and over. Down the hill and approaching Wimbledon station, where we dropped Joe off to get the train, before going to the bar I just passed. We turn before the station and it starts to get into unchartered territory. We pass through Southfields, where I thought for years that my friend Jay lived. She would always leave early in the evening to get home on time and I wondered why she was being so over-cautious. After all, she just needed to jump on the one bus…. I think it was Sophie who pointed out that she did not live down the road in Southfields. She lived significantly further away in Southall…. Oops! Well it’s all south, that’s what I say. We go through lots of areas which are unfamiliar until we hit Tooting, and the cafe on my left where I once met Joe so we could go and explore Tooting, to report back to a friend who was soon to move to a campus there from abroad. And the restaurant shortly after where I met an old uni friend for dinner a few months after my operation, still feeling a bit fragile. This is where I get off, to do a bit of exploring and to make some more memories.

A walk with mad dogs and Englishmen….

I’m handing over to the guest blogger today, for his last post about his holiday walks.

This was my 3rd and last holiday walk. It was overcast. I packed my rain gear. I began by heading north through the village. What I witnessed next seemed somewhat ominous.
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It looked a bit like that scene from the Hitchcock film and I looked behind just in case I was going to turn into Tippi Hedren II. (Tippi, by the way, is Melanie Griffith’s mother.)
However just 15 mins later the sky began to clear a bit and I came across this.
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As I was walking through the next village I saw this little chap
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One of those horses with little legs. I didn’t have my tape measure with me to see if it qualified as a miniature horse but I thought it should be one. Apparently it would have to be 34-38ins (86-97cms) to the last hairs of the mane in order to be called a miniature horse.
A bit further on and I was down another one of those narrow pathways.
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Through the gap in the trees in the distance, across a golf course and a bit further on I came to this
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It was one of those things that there is always a waiting list for here in the UK – a beach hut! This one is about 15ft (4.57m) x 10ft (3.05m). The gentleman told me he’d bought his in the 1960s for a few hundred pounds and that recently one was sold for £22,000 ($34,500). Sounds a big increase but I suppose you have to bear in mind it’s probably a 50 year gap. Had he bought it from the council? No, from the LeStrange Estate which owns the land. The family can trace their ancestry back to around 1100AD when the first LeStrange, a Breton who emigrated from northern France, inherited the land through marriage. The name, not unsurprisingly, means ‘the foreigner’ or ‘the stranger’. There are no service facilities to the huts. Water is available via a tap nearby. When offered a cup of tea I was asked to fill the kettle. “The tap’s behind the hut near the path,” he said. Off I went. Unable to locate the tap I returned and he showed me where it was. Can you see it? It’s near the fence post in the grass!
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A barrier of sand dunes means that this is the view from the hut.
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The sea is over the other side and a long walk out. I didn’t.
I set off continuing my exploration and in a mile or so came to the local lifeboat station. Because of the nature of the coast, the sand dunes and the fact that the water could be a long way out a conventional “launch” down a slipway is not possible. The lifeboat is not really a lifeboat – it’s a “lifehovercraft” – Problem solved! I’ve never seen one of those before.
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After an ice-cream stop it was time to return to the cottage and as with many routes around there it was off across the fields again for another couple of miles. Then through the Downs area and back along the road. As you can see by this pic the day which had begun overcast now had bright sunshine. Time to mop that brow again as the heat really rose. I was the Englishman out with the “mad dogs”!
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Fancy having this as your walk home from the office each day? Summer yes! Winter, maybe not.
Just before arriving back at the cottage I passed the sign I mentioned a couple of weeks ago by the duck pond:
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Songs that remind me of stuff

Mariah Carey – Heartbreaker album
I was big into Mariah when I was younger. I’d sit warbling away to My All or Always Be My Baby, imagining a life where I was christened The Voice and asked to sing for the Queen and made people get a little teary with my beautiful singing. In my late teens, I still listened to anything and everything she sung but kept it a little quiet and pretended I was listening to Destiny’s Child. When I started learning to drive, my instructor was a slightly older gentleman who was a bit of a pushover. I wasn’t supposed to have any music on but knew he would let me, so made a mixtape of all my favourite Mariah hits, mostly from the Heartbreaker album and would listen to it on my driving lessons. There’s an area of Liverpool called Garston, that we drove through a lot so I always think of Garston when I hear that album.

Leaving on a Jet Plane by Peter, Paul and Mary (or Bjork)
When the gap year organisation that I went away with did the training session I was on, there were a few country groups being trained together. Us Namibia volunteers had been put with the two Mozambique volunteers, the two Bolivia volunteers and the really huge China group. There were about thirty of them going to different projects. Two of these volunteers, a boy called Joe and a girl called Robyn became my new favourite people. We were glued together most of the time, finding everything ridiculously funny and just generally having fun. Somehow, a discussion of our favourite songs came up and Joe and I had the sane favourite song – Leaving on a Jet Plane. And we all were about to leave in jet planes for our gap years! I loved the original by Peter, Paul and Mary. He loved the cover by Bjork. So this confirmed it. We were destined to be best friends forever. In case you were wondering, Robyn and Joe and I are still good friends. It must have been the mutual song-love.

Dispatch – The General
When I was on my gap year, my friend Lucy used to listen to this song all the time. This reminds me of foolish nights out when we had first arrived and didn’t quite know what we were doing and had a load of friends over, post-pub, talking nonsense for hours, despite the fact that we would be teaching a few hours later.

Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley – Turn Your Lights Down Low
We were on the longest bus journey in the world, my friend and I, travelling from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh. It was Cambodian New Year so the traffic on the roads was horrendous. Instead of taking six hours, it took twelve. My friend had a combination of things wrong, an ear infection, really bad bites, vomiting. It was really worrying but there was nothing we could do except wait to get to Phnom Penh. Being the non-doctor I am, I had diagnosed possible malaria. It was all quite scary. He was sleepy so I leaned awkwardly and lay his head on my chest and stroked his arm in an attempt to comfort him. After an hour or two, I had extreme backache, sideache, neckache, shoulderache and everything else but couldn’t move as Chennour was finally sleeping. I gingerly leaned around him and got his iPod and plugged myself in, hoping to tune out from the pain for a bit. Somehow, Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley had been set to repeat and I couldn’t figure out how to stop it. So I spent the last few hours of that journey extremely uncomfortable and listening to Turn Your Lights Down Low on repeat. Painful/humorous memories.

Faith Hill
This is another Namibia memory. We were trying to get to Cape Town for our Christmas holidays. We had bought bus tickets and needed to switch buses in a town called Keetmanshoop (pronounced Keet-mans-hoop, not Keet-man-shoop, which we did for an embarrassingly long time until someone corrected us). We got off the first bus and waited for the second bus. And waited. And waited. Two hours late, the bus arrived, everyone else got on, Lucy and I, ever the Brits, queued politely at the edge of the crowd and were last to get on. There was only one seat left, we were told. We got ready to fume, we had been sold tickets, we demanded to be allowed on! Not to worry, we were told, there’s one a few minutes behind. Ok, that’s fine then. We sat down and waited. We looked up and down the road, we took turns falling asleep on our bags, we ate everything we had brought for the journey, shops closed for the night then opened for the morning again, 9pm turned into 7am. We were two 18 years olds, in a town in the middle of nowhere, with bus tickets we couldn’t use and no other mode of transport available. Then a man approached. Your typical prematurely-balding, pale, wide-eyed, plays-the-psychotic-murderer-in-a-film type. And offered us a lift. We jumped at it. Bags were grabbed, common sense was left behind, and we jumped into the car with this potential torturer. He asked if we wanted any music on. The silence was a bit awkward. All I could find was a Faith Hill album, so I put it on and played it all the way through. Then pressed play when it ended, to keep the silence at bay. And pressed play again. And again. For the entire seven hour journey…..

Damien Rice
I’ve forgotten what his first album was called. I got it in first year at Glasgow Uni and would listen to it every night to try and block out the booming noises from the floor above. I don’t know whether the banging upstairs was music, I could only hear extremely loud thuds, like someone bashing the floor with a hammer. Awful. I hated them. Every time I hear a Damien Rice song, I can still feel the annoyance of the bangs from upstairs but also see the view of the park out of my window, which was nice.

Gwen Stefani – Cool. And James Blunt – Goodbye My Lover
These were both out around the time I was in China climbing the Great Wall. When I’d finished, I stayed with my friend Joe (same one as before) in Beijing for a bit. He was living there, studying. These two songs became about the distant nature of our friendship. We’d spent so little time together but still had an amazing time whenever we did see each other. These songs always remind me of those early days of our friendship, when we had to travel the world to see each other. Nowadays we just have to travel across London. Much easier.

Search terms 2

I’ve had a few interesting search terms recently so thought I’d do a second part to my previous Search Terms post. The last search term in this list worries me a bit, although I am pleased that people are stopping here to learn about social etiquette….

baobob
highgate bookshop roof
book maze festival hall lego
my first bikram
wealthymatters
london eye chairoplane
“unspoken rules if social etiquette”
first bikram class
yoga “notify me”
first hot yoga class
i ve made my first wedding cake
cows for brides
evil peppa pig
lasy son resit university
portmanteau words sandwich
gary barlow neighbour
smiking
bikram tickling legs
i can be a worst manager
is big mag cow or pig
all embracing naked photos on olympics
yggdrasil afghan for sale
preschool watermelon temple
renegade squats
sun glasses one direction in eygpt
national estimayed costs bird droppings
the emptiest swimming pool in sf
sexy peppa pig

As a P.S., I’ve tried checking whether big mag is a cow or a pig but the truth is, I may never know….

Welcome to Blognor Regis

I spent quite a while thinking up the witty title to this post, which is going to be about my day at the seaside, in a little town called Bognor Regis…. Writing about Bognor…. In my blog…. Blog… Bognor…. BLOGNOR! Blognor Regis. I was quite impressed with myself for thinking this up so just humour me, ok?

Spending a day in Bognor Regis was rather a spare of the moment thing. Had I forward-planned, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to go there. It doesn’t sound particularly attractive, does it? Bognor. I’d heard good things though so took the plunge and decided to go for the first time.

The first thing I did was marvel at this cutesy little food stall.

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Cockles and whelks! Amazing! I doubled checked that I was still in 2012 and had not accidentally stepped back in time to the 1950s. I was indeed still in the present but the town itself was pleasantly somewhere back in the 1900s.

The next thing I reached was crazy golf. I obviously had to have a go. Obviously. I love a bit of crazy golf. It’s one of those things that I’m very rubbish at but insist on playing anyway (same with table tennis).

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The euphoria of a round of crazy golf reached new heights when I spotted the amusements on the other side of the road. Omygoodness! 2p machines! I hadn’t played on a 2p machine in years. I was VERY excited. If you’re not sure what a 2p machine is, I will explain briefly. There are slots for you to put your 2p into. They slide down onto a drawer full of coins, which is moving back and forth. If you’re lucky, your 2p will push a coin or two off the drawer and onto the section below which has loads more coins on it and, should any coins fall from this section, they come out into a little tray and are your winnings.

Clutching my pound coin, I found a change machine and got me fifty 2 pence coins. Inevitably, I pumped all the coins into one machine, the logic being that the more I put in, the more would come out. This logic failed me, as it always had. My pound disappeared rapidly, plus any winnings, which I put straight back in.

While leaving, though, I heard a sound that made the coolness factor of my day increase by 200%. I heard the unmistakable song of a dance mat machine! Now I don’t mean to boast, but I have dancematted in Asia against a local dancematting expert and won. Considering Asia is the part of the world which is thought of as the dancematting home, I’m still quite proud of this fact. I spent most of my first year at university with blisters on my toes and legs that were constantly sore in my mission to be good at dance mat.

So of course, when I heard the dance mat machine, I was right there, pound coin in hand, selecting my favourite tune. I started out by getting an A on my first go. Of course I got an A. Second song, another A. Last song, I made a foolish choice and came out with a miserable E. I had chosen one which was much too fast.

Defeated, I left the amusements and went and sat on the beach. I had a really great magazine with me full of really great facts about stuff and sat marvelling. For example, Christopher Columbus was a Knight of Christ, an organisation which was the reincarnation of the Knights Templar after they were destroyed and a few escaped to Portugal. Also, dragonflies can see 175 images per second (humans can see 16).

After my being-amazed session, the sea was calling…

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…so I had me a little (freezing cold) swim. I could hear loud splashes every so often and couldn’t work out what it was. It was like the sound of people hitting water at speed. Intrigued, I went exploring and found a group of teenagers hurling themselves off the end of the pier!

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One girl had a cut on one foot and after jumping they would all climb up the rusty poles underneath to get back on top and jump again and it all seemed a little bit dangerous. They were having fun though and it was nice to see proof that young people still know how to have fun outside. I’ve never doubted it but there are a lot of grumpy people, who like moaning, who talk about how ‘kids these days’ don’t know how to have fun anymore and they just stay inside on Facebook all the time.

Next, I went to have a look round the town. There was a lovely little market, which consisted of clothes aimed at 60+ ladies, sunglasses stalls and sticks of Bognor Regis rock. Past this market there was a lovely old cinema which has been there for over 50 years. The sign outside let me know that ‘We Ar Emore Than Justa Cinema’ and I wondered if the person proofreading the signs had been there the same amount of time. ‘Yeh, there are loads of mistakes but I’m so bored, I don’t care….’

While walking back to the beach, I saw a bowling green and had to have a game. This is bowls, as opposed to bowling, which is played inside, in a lane, with skittle things that you knock down. Bowls is played on a green and you first roll a little white ball until it stops then try to get as close to it as possible with your four balls. Here’s a picture of me taking the game really seriously and concentrating hard.

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After bowls, evening was setting in and there was only one thing for it – fish and chips on the beach. The sky changed from clear blue, to yellowy orange to pale pink and grey until most of the colour had faded and it was hometime.

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The time we defrosted a freezer

I was 18. I was living in Africa. I wasn’t that good at being a grown up but I was good at convincing myself I was.

One time my friend Lucy and I had noticed that we couldn’t fit stuff in our freezer anymore because it was full of ice. We thought we should defrost it but just made a vague guess about how exactly you did this. We had a fridge freezer thing so left the door open for a while but in the stifling heat of the coast town where we lived, all our milk and butter was having a bad reaction. We sat and puzzled for a bit about how to go about defrosting in a shorter time.

Then Lucy had an idea. Lovely Lucy, one of those people in life who you want to be like, who’s so easy to love. Lovely Lucy. She picked up a hammer and approached the fridge freezer. I stood by, a little uncertain about what she was going to do with it…..

Then Lovely Lucy used the hammer to smash all the ice to bits and get it out off the freezer. Mid-smashing session, me hovering nervously around, there was a noise. A hissing sound. Ssssssssssssssssss….

On. And on. And on. Went the hissing noise. Until, eventually, it stopped.

We didn’t know what it was but I had the distinct impression that my being-an-adult attempt had failed miserably.

There was a funny gas smell and we giggled nervously as I ran off to email my Dad about what we should do. That’s right. I was in Africa, holding my own as a teacher in a classroom, running the local town newspaper, making my living as an editor/journalist, and at the first hint of something electronic that I couldn’t figure out, I was running off to email my Dad.

The return email essentially said, “GET THAT THING OUT OF YOUR HOUSE NOW!”

Obediently, we unplugged it and got it into the garden and consumed everything which had been in the fridge, to save it going off, not because we’re greedy. Honest.

And there it sat for a few days while we pondered what to do. In those few days, the maggots found it. That’s right. The maggots. We opener the door one day to see if it still smelled gassy, and there they were! Whoops! We quickly shut the door, pretended we hadn’t seen anything and called a friend to ask him if we could put the fridge freezer in his car to take it to the repair shop. He said he’d come the next day.

That evening, something happened. Something which only happened three times the entire year we lived there. Something that pretty much never happens in a desert so you wouldn’t even think about it happening (we were basically living on the edge of a desert). Something that when it did happen, was so much worse for only happening a few times a year.

It rained.

The most torrential rain we’d seen since arriving. The wind and rain whipped the fridge door about furiously. It banged and crashed all evening. The rainwater got into every nook and cranny on that fridge. Inside, in the back, into the plug. Everywhere.

The plus side of this rainstorm was that the gassy smell and maggots had disappeared. Yehhhhh!

The down side, however, was that the fridge was SMASHED TO PEICES. Noooooooo…..

Our friend, George, arrived the next day and looked at it in shock. We pretended all was fine and piled it into the car and off we went to the repair shop. He also looked at it in shock and we just smiled a bit and convinced him to try and fix it.

A week or so later, Lovely hammer-wielding Lucy was passing by the repair shop with another teacher from the school and mentioned that they’d had our fridge for a week and we hadn’t heard anything from them.

“O yeh,” said the other teacher, knowingly. “They’ve had my dishwasher for about four years now.”

We spent the rest of the year without a fridge or freezer.