Monday, 27 February 2012

Trips and Travails, Wales and Wassails!

This weekend just gone saw two birthdays of great import to me. My father has long celebrated his at this time of year, and more recently my friend, Kev, decided to cash in on this, and be born on the same day. It being the former's sixty-second and the latter's thirtieth, the former kindly allowed me to visit the latter. I'll stop using former and latter now. Sorry. Kev lives in Wales. Oh, that's insultingly simplistic. I don't mean to talk down to my readers. See Spot run. Actually, we have a rabbit of that n- "SHUT! UP! PETE!" Erm, yeah, ok. Right, so I set off for Wales at half twelve on Friday. En route to Kev's I was to drop in on the mysterious Grey Wolf, a chap I've known for some years. I had misapprehended a communication from him, and so was laden with all the fresh vegetables I had been able to pluck from my fridge. Top Tip: if someone jokes that they're being forced to eat dog food, explore the possibility that they are actually joking that X, who was supposed to give them nosh, carelessly directed them to a cupboard, bidding them eat its contents, only for them to discover that all therein was dog biscuits.

Anyway, having given GW (don't get confused, wargamerinos) a spot of fresh nosh, I set about securing some windows. I think a rubber seal had never been installed, so I have filled the gap with some Tetrion powder I mixed into a paste. I also inspected the wall of the shower. Some kindly workmen had been the day before and applied tiles to the wall of Grey Wolf's bathroom. The plumber had thereafter arrived, and attempted to fit a shower . . . but there wasn't a gap for the water to come through. Impressive. I hear this has already been dealt with, though. We two (GW and I, not the mysterious plumber and workmen) had a chat for a bit, and then it was on to Port Talbot, City of Light! Someone might have called it that at some point. Maybe.

At Kev's I was reunited with Martyn, whom I knew at uni, his young lady, Vickie, the eponymous owner of the dwelling, dear Peter, and Mark - whom I have not seen in a month of Sundays! - and met his affianced, the delightful Amanda. The sense of humour of our group may be gauged to a degree from the sort of gibberish I come out with on here, so her sliding easily into dealing with it all is a credit to her and the future Mr Amanda. We then proceeded to drink. Amanda and Mark had recently discovered a delightful new recipe: tear some mint leaves, add rum, ginger ale and ice, and imbibe the resultant diluted inebriant. Martyn and Vickie departed first, having drunk little, as he, poor fellow, had a shift beginning at 6am the next day. Amanda and Mark sensibly sidled upstairs around midnight, and Peter, Kev and I were up till gone 2am consuming the concoction.

The following morning I was surprised to learn that over the course of the evening we had gone through three bottles of rum (two of Mount Gay bought for the cocktail, and one of Captain Morgan, which I had brought with me). It rather explains our (or at least my!) somewhat delicate state the next morning! We trundled out for a brief walk with Kev's dear dog, Jess, then pottered back to see Ireland defeat Italy at rugby. Well, we saw about a third of the match at Kev's, then strolled into town and caught the last third. We had set out in (not quite) good (enough) time to get enough seats for the England-Wales game that followed on its heels. I have to say that team sports have never done anything for me. I dig (but do not seek out) martial arts (boxing, fencing, Judo, &c), and will equitably (see what I punned there?) watch showjumping (though horse racing does nothing for me).

Despite that, and the resultant staring at a screen of muscular chaps
running hither and thither, I rather enjoyed the end of the game. Wales and England seemed evenly matched (to my admittedly unaccustomed eye) for the greater part of the game, but toward the end Wales leapt forward and then in a separate incident, prevented England's attempt to claw back her way to victory. The pub in which we sat erupted with cheers. I recall as a teenager being thoroughly startled when a classmate erupted with a scream of joy at England beating someone (Germany?) in a football match we were watching in 1997 or 1998 or 1999. I'm older now, and I burst out laughing, which was an excellent reaction to have. Everyone was grinning from ear to ear at having defeated the villainous English, and so I fit right in. :-D There then followed a traditional Welsh song. I couldn't follow the words, so remarked to Kev that I would imitate his practice of thumping my palms on the table. He told me I'd soon know the words, and it was true that "As long as we beat the English!" are pretty easy to recall!

The villainous Saxons and Angles having been defeated, we retired to a lovely local eatery for a spot of nourishment. Mm, curry. Thus restored we returned to town, where we stood on a very sticky floor with lots of people bumping into us. We circled the wagons around Amanda, as she was more susceptible to buffeting than were we. It was an odd Wetherspoon's, resembling rather a club in Newcastle-under-Lyme than any Wetherspoon's I've ever been in before. After one drink we headed over the road. The volume of music was about the same, the floor slightly less sticky, and there were fewer people. Er, result! Then we pottered home, temporarily collecting a young couple. The feminine half of which was very happy about the rugby result, so I tactfully (and pointlessly - what would she have done? Stabbed me with a grin?) covered my Englishness by laughing in agreement rather than speaking.

Right, er, so we got back, collapsed into our beds (settee in my case), and woke up the next day. On the Saturday Jess the dog had kindly woken me at half six in the morning to see if I wanted to play. I misapprehended this, and tried to let her out into the garden and then into the kitchen. Happily, on the Sunday morning she was asleep upstairs, so I didn't wake until a little after ten, and dragged myself out of bed about twenty minutes thereafter to bid good morning and bye to Mark and Amanda. Poor Martyn, having had to get up for a shift starting at 6am the day before, was today bound to start a shift at 2pm. I'd never be a nurse. My uncle was tried to persuade me to become something in the City, which involved several years of sleeping for perhaps as much as six hours each night. That at least had the benefit of being ordered sleep, albeit insufficient. Looking after people seems to involve neither regimentation nor enough!

Peter, Kev and I thus drove into Swansea. I hoped that a small Hare Krishna restaurant would be pen, while suspecting this would not be the case. We arrived, checked, and ended up at Pizza Express. Lovely pizza, and oilier than normal.! We trundled over to Watserstone's - or whatever they're calling it these days - and I picked up a Richard Morgan book, Market Forces, on Peter's say-so. Then I decided we would treat Kev by watching this new Muppets film. He had been unable to justify it to himself, assuming it to be a kids' film. It is not. Or it is at least enjoyable by all ages. We three enjoyed it greatly!

I quickly dropped Kev and Peter off at Kev's, collected my accoutrements, and darted off to visit my friend, Mark. He's very kindly asked me to be his Best Man at his wedding in May, but owing to my erratic visits to Wales, I've never met his wife-to-be, Marie. I had intended for this to be a chance to say hi, but their wee Lily, who is only some weeks old, was poorly, and their dog, a somewhat less wee hound, was a bit shouty, so Mark and I adjourned upstairs instead. I hope to remedy that omission next time I'm in Wales! I then fixed a dead headlight, as I happily chanced to have a spare in my glove compartment, and set off home again.

On my way down I had stopped the car. It seemed that my Tom-tom was directing me a way that differed from that which the AA's internet service had suggested. This turned out to be so. But on stopping the car beeped and pinged at me, flashing that there was a problem with the oil. I checked the oil. There wasn't a problem. I continued my journey down. On the way back it pinged and beeped and flashed at me again. I checked the oil. It was fine. I very, very cautiously checked the radiator's adulterated water, not being desirous of covering myself with hot steam or boiling water. It was fine. I decided that the car was lying to me and drove back without any trouble. Bonza!

On the way back I saw a bunny sat on a verge, somewhwere on the road between here and J17 of the M6, and got home after 01:00, which meant I was a bit tired. I was driving up the M5, and kept seeing warnings that the M5/M6 interchange was shut. That is in Birmingham, but there is an alternative route! So I turned onto the M42. I pulled over to use the facilities, and the traffic monitor they have told me that the M42 was shut from the next junction. I don't know whether to curse the halfwits who decided to close both of the motorway routes around one of England's major cities simultaneously or to condemn the idiot who decided to pretend that this had happened and hack computer systems to support his amusing lie. Either way, give me an axe, somebody! So I got home around one in the morning when I would otherwise have been home around midnight. I had some stuff to do online, so was then up until gone four (my brother was up for ages).

In short, I am worn out by a wonderful weekend and by two ridiculously implausible evenings of driving! Happy late Birthday, Kev and Dad! Amanda, Vickie and Lily, it was lovely to meet you all! Peter, Martyn, Mark and everyone else I had already met, it was a delight to see you all again. I love you all! :-)

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