Wednesday, June 24, 2015

OR's Adventures Chasing Pirates in the Pool. YARRR

Editor's Note: No Pirates were harmed. In fact, no pirates appear in this story at all.

Well, here we are in the New Forest in Hampshire, UK, and most cares are temporarily melting away.  My mother is being looked after properly 150 miles away, and work is shelved. I didn’t even bring work away with me this time. Well, not that much. It’s the best van we have ever had on this site, with a huge bedroom, huge TV, proper heating, and a fridge full of goodies, as one starts on the second glass of Blossom Hill red. And we have Internet access so can remain in touch with the big wide world. Mrs O is not quite as keen as I am on that, but she’s the Instagram junkie not me.
We have stayed on this site several times before. The scenery is beautiful, the birds tweet in unison, and we have been out photographing deer and wild horses and eating and drinking. And eating and drinking some more.
But then Mrs O decided that we needed to go swimming. Unfortunately there is a sizeable swimming pool at the venue. And swimming is good. Swimming is healthy. Huh. The last time I went swimming was at a holiday village called Centerparcs. They had this great “tropical village” pool, full of fake plants and other people’s children. It had flumes and horrendous waterfalls that only the foolhardy would consider going over. My daughter yelled “You can do it” – so bad impersonation of macho Dad, I did. But I wished I hadn’t.
This time the pool was full of professional masochists doing their one mile constitutional before work, threatening to mow down any amateurs in their way. But after years of neglect, I managed to swim a length and a half. Actually, I ran out of steam at that point, but the depth of the water brought to mind the words of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a Changing – as one’s whole life flashed before the eyes – “and you’d better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone...” – and I made it to the side. Just.
Now she wants us to sign on and use the gym. Use the gym? Running on a treadmill, or cycling in a fixed position? Not my idea of fun. I used to like real running. I did three marathons including the first London one, although never quite beat the three hour mark. And I loved jogging. In those pre-iPod and earphones days, you could just run and think semi-profound thoughts as your brain bounced around inside your head. The craze of jogging was “invented” by an American athlete named Jim Fixx. He was found dead on the side of the road. That’s not very funny I know, but I went through that phase and it contributed to a feeling of well-being at the time. And cycling too. Mrs O and used to ride a tandem – we were well-known locally as people came to their front doors and jeered as we thundered past. When the daughter came along we had a kiddie seat on the back, until she grew too big, and we joined the human race and got a car. I even rode tandem 250 miles from Cardiff to Fishguard and back in one night as a club ride. For some strange reason, Mrs O declined on that occasion, and a friend named M joined me. He was extremely tall, so we had to use an old gas pipe to make a longer seat post so he could see over me at the back. It was freezing cold that night, and I can still see the thick layer of hoar frost attached to his beard.
Memories, memories. But pedalling in a gym or running on a treadmill is not my idea of fun. I am trying to get out of the gym. I have a bad back coming on. Yes, I think that might do it.
This weekend we join daughter and son in law at a little folk festival we have attended annually for several years. Last year we came back from America for it, but I had been bitten by something in Manhattan that my UK immune system couldn’t cope with – so all I could do was look plaintive and croak. This year they are not going to be spared, and I may just sing Wimoweh one more time. Not all the family are convinced. Some feel I should learn to grow old gracefully. But I can dig my heels in just as well as Mrs O can. And the beauty of these events is that no matter how bad you are, there is always someone there who is considerably worse. But they usually don’t know it. For me, that is all part of the fun.

So, how to end another post on vacationeering? I rather like the poem by Oscar Wilde:

Too much work and no vacation,
Deserves at least a small libation.
So hail my friends, and raise your glasses,
Work’s the curse of the drinking classes.


  1. Yarrr Matey. Tis a fine tale ye tell. Time to line up on the main deck and have orderly dram o' rum.

  2. I am getting tired of autocorrect. 'orderly' is supposed to be 'our daily'.

  3. Sharzie6:22 PM

    Lol.. Sounds like fun!

  4. An occasional reader10:33 PM

    Oh yes, the joys of autocorrect.

    I remember when Coolio's rap song Gangsta's Paradise came out as Hamster's Paradise...

    It’s a bit like automated subtitles for foreign TV programs...

    The trouble is, the best examples, are usually too rude for a family audience.

  5. OR's comments about being the macho brave Dad makes me think of a occasion my Dad came ice-skating with me and a group of friends. Now most people who aren't expert skaters stick close to the rail that runs around the edge of the rink... not my hero Dad! I was standing on the edge of the ice talking to some friends the other side of the barrier when they suddenly starting pointing behind me. I turned to see my Dad coming towards us at some speed from the middle of the rink. Ashen faced, arms flailing and with knees at an angle that looked uncomfortable to say the least.
    My long-suffering Dad was also the one that got dragged along to the travelling fair and onto all the rides with me. That brings me onto my lovely husband. Growing up in Wales going to the travelling fair was more or less an annual event but in Portsmouth they hardly ever come, maybe the age of the travelling fair is all but over. A few years ago though a travelling fair did come to nearby town. It was called a travelling theme park and charged once to get in and then the rides were free! Excellent! I persuaded hubby to take me. Turns out however that he's not built for fairground rides. We went on a few rides and then tried out the chairoplanes. He didn't look quite the right colour when we got off. I asked if he was ok and he shook his head and immediately threw up over the side of the ride. Some teenagers hanging around near the entrance were watching and laughed and pointed. The evening ended with me driving hubby home and pausing once for more throwing up out of the car window. He sure knows how to show a girl a good time!

  6. An occasional reader9:23 AM

    Amy G's Dad sounds a bit like someone I know!