Monday, 20 February 2017

A Gym Wanker.

A gym account by a non gym person.

This is what you can expect to happen when you go to a (busy) town gym.

1. You'll turn into Frank Spencer. You literally trip over everything. It's as if you don a clumsy guise as soon you you walk in the door. No object or contour is out of bounds. The purpose of this shift in gravity is to make you look like an incumbent oaf in front of slender shiny people. This evening, I tripped over a single piece of stray gaffer tape.
2. The worst bit of tripping on something, of course, is that 48 people pretends not to have seen you.
3. Picture this. You are on a cardio machine that moves your limbs around in a propelled flailing motion. It is actually going much faster than you feel comfortable with and the reps per minute (or whatever) are actually quicker than your brain can process.  I don't mean that conceptually - I mean that my brain can't keep up with the machine. This brings problems when you have to do something else in the middle of this workout, like for example, take a swig of water or adjust the speed; as soon as you take your hand off the handlebars, you lose balance and one of your legs stops moving altogether. This looks a bit funny on a cross trainer/ski machine thing when both of your feet end up in one foot rest.
4. Picture this. Same cardio machine. Got a degree of motion and fluidity. It's going ok. But this guy on the machine next to you keeps looking at you. He is trying to make eye contact. I obviously cannot possibly look at him so I look straight ahead.  Now, there is not a single activity in which a human being partakes which involves them looking dead ahead for 30-mins. Suffice to say, this felt very unnatural and a touch unsociable.
5. I listened to some music during the workout. I haven't done this in ages so it made for a good time. However, being surrounded by people, vigorous activity and having one of your vital senses (hearing) blocked out by 90's thrash metal has its disadvantages. Particularly when you feel that there's a chance that you might need to blow off. You simply cannot do this. You don't know how loud it will be, there are people in close proximity, they aren't wearing headphones and the impact of your feet on the stepping machine may maximise the noise of the trump.
6. That's it for now. I might even have a shower there next time. That will make for some meaty obs.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Today's observations - wildlife extravaganza!

It was a Wildlife Extravaganza! On the telly on Wednesday night. Nothing unusual about that, one might say, but Wednesday’s animaux offering was so richly studded with broadcasted bullshit and hyperbole that it is certainly worthy of a mention. 

I know exactly how we came to watch River Monsters. I wanted to watch a film, he didn’t (in fact, this will be inscribed on both our gravestones) and after an angry flick-through the channels and a bit of huff-puffing from both us the spinning arrow landed on this programme. I admit I was initially intrigued. Despite it sounding like it was about fishing (Cue Robson Greene, elocutioned Teesside and pissed off South Africans), the word Monster pricked my interest with the hope that it could have some river-dwelling sharks in. I like shark stuff. The kids do too. We could potentially record it therefore and replay any cool shark attack scenes and gore before they go to school in the morning. 

River Monsters is hosted by extreme angler Jeremy Wade -a rugged looking sea fella – who travels the world looking for fishy legends and sea creatures of particular gore and interest. This week we were in Alaska investigating the disappearance of several locals and fishermen around a river. Nobody knew what happened to them and Wade reckoned he could offer some enlightenment by proposing that fish in the river had killed these townsfolk. 

Wade didn’t know which fish though – so the very basis of the programme was investigating the species of fish which lived in this cold river to see if any of them could be scapegoats for these missing folk. It’s worth mentioning at this point that these missing people may have just strayed from the beaten track and become lost in Alaska’s unforgiving forests and starved or perhaps fell in the water and drowned without being attacked by a fish. However, that makes for boring viewing so Wade and the fisherman of this Alaskan town looked for the finned guilty culprit in the river. 

We started with salmon. Not as in a “starter of salmon” as we know it, but as in the first in the firing line for blame was a King Salmon. This is a large fish (about the size of a pre-schooler) which is extremely ugly and has a hardened beak like mouth. Although pretty unappealing to look at, it didn’t look very dangerous and Wade’s prying open of its mouth to reveal some fairly mediocre teeth almost produced a collective “uh” on the riverbank. This fish could not have attacked or eaten a person. This fact was fairly evident so Wade concluded – obviously with a lot of careful thought – that perhaps the Salmon had hit the human with its tail which had caused the human to fall in the river and drown. The locals look at him with sympathy and one of them snorted. 

Next on the list was a Salmon Shark. Now this was a contender. It was the same as a Great White Shark, but slightly smaller. Fat, Grey and White, Pointy-nosed and big ole teeth. It looked awful. Google it, honest. This beast frequented this river often in the pursuit of big fish to eat. Wade and some crew took a fishing boat into the river to spot these sharks and before long (honest!) the boat was surrounded by black fins cutting through the water. “Has anyone been bitten by these sharks” asked Wade to a local. “Possibly”, the local replied reluctantly. No then. 
In an attempt to verify the shark’s ferociousness and in a brave plea to make the programme more interesting, Jeremy Wade donned a wetsuit, a bucket of fish guts and jumped into the rover. It was getting interesting. He slapped a few sharks across the chops with a piece of herring to see if he could provoke the shark into an attack.
After an hour or two, it was clear that the shark (which was bigger than Wade himself), was not interested. River Monsters needed a monster. 
They found one. The last suspect on the list. The potential murderer of several unassuming law abiding locals.  

The Pacific Halibut. I was starting to lose interest at this point. The Pacific Halibut is huge – the size of a large living room rug – and is entirely flat with these wobbly eyes that seem to be looking in different directions. It either didn’t have a mouth or it was very small. Wade didn’t bother to try and convince viewers that this useless and cumbersome piece of Plaice ate anyone. He proposed that the size of it capsized a boat which killed the blokes. 

River Monsters- worth watching. Just found out too that Jeremy was born and raised in Suffolk. Perhaps he is better off seeking the Alaskan killers here. A rabid Tench or a Chubb with a chip on its shoulder.  

Next on the box was Fierce by Steve Backshall. We love Steve. I wiki-d him after the programme and saw that he is a super stealthy and fit bloke with a lot of sporting accreditations and martial art expertise. Like Steve Irwin but with an academic education. In this programme he was seeking fierce animals of the world – a job right up Backshall’s street. 

A small and ratty member of the Crocodilian family, the Caiman was investigated first. This animal was not capable of ripping a grown adult to pieces and therefore dull so we will skirt over that one. 

Although the Electric eel could not either, it was a brilliant FIERCE contender. Movie footage showing it electrocuting a crocodile who tried to eat it. Steve and a couple of Guyanese river dudes found one beneath their piece of cardboard (boat) during the programme and one of the brave (or better informed) fisherman swashed the water around with his hand in an attempt to bring the eel closer so Steve could, presumably, pick the bastard up. 
The swishing around made the eel clear off anyway and Steve got to quiz the fisherman about his experience of the eel. “Have you been stung” he asked the bloke. “Yes”, said Paulo, not wanting to elaborate much more to this burly questioning prat from Britain. “What does it feel like, the electric shock” said Steve. “like an err, electric shock” said Paulo. ITV didn’t even bother censoring the eye rolls. 

Next, they captured a big Croc. They taped his jaws together in a rather civil and fair restraining order to allow Backshaw to talk to it up close. Backshaw got the camera to zoom in to the beast’s eyes to show its third eyelid and we got to see the icy glare of the crocodile that would like rip Steve in half. At the end of their taunting, all in the name of research of course, they removed the croc’s jaw tape and the crocodile remained still, jaw wide open and started hissing. I’m no reptile expert, but I know this is hostile behaviour. Stupid Steve got up even closer to it with his gurning face – pointing to the big open jaw and then pointing back at the camera. They must have all survived. There is a second episode next week. 

Monday, 18 April 2016

Today's observations: 17.06.2016. Non smug marathon post. Shit 'n' all.

Funny observations from the marathon: 

1. The Grappler: There are various points along the course where volunteers dish out  cups of water and sachets of energy gel. They held out handfuls of gels so we could take what we wanted and stuff them in our pockets. This is the weird thing. Everyone in front of me would run past the gel guy and grab as much as they could - without stopping. Of course, some fell on the floor and the runner didn't grab the amount he/she wanted, but instead of stopping to rectify this situation, he/she would instead grapple wildly with hands *whilst still running* to try to paw more gels. Obviously, by this time, the runner had ran past the gel guy but still kept his outstretched arm suspended behind him, with grabby flailing fingers - in reach of more gels. Just stop and take the gels man. 

2. Poo Queue:  Most chaps went to the toilet in hedges/grass verges etc. There weren't many toilets  on the course so it made sense. Therefore, if you had the misfortune to need to use the Portaloo whilst running and you had the double misfortune to be queuing behind a male then you could be sure that you had the triple misfortune of knowing he would be having a poo and you will be in the right after him. 

3. Gel Hell: There is a theory that energy gels add crucial sugars and carbohydrates to your system in a concentrated vital dose so that you may benefit from quick energy over a long distance run. This is one of these theories that I believe to be, not only true, but abused by the majority. We all know the rules about the timings, the "brand" trials in your training runs and the quantities which one should consume. The funny thing about race day is that everyone is in a panic and over eggs their energy reserves by slurping down vast quantities of this gruesome citrus drool as to avoid flagging by Mile 4. I did this. My Mile 13 I had consumed 6 gels. By Mile 14, I noticed.  See below. 

4. Spew-Spot: At halfway, my stomach felt odd. Like, painful. I'd eaten too many of these rotten gels. I'd only ever had 2 in any training run. I felt like a walking pick 'n' mix. Unfortunately for me, I was located in the busiest part of the race for spectators.    I scanned the street for a secluded intimate spot for a hurl. I knew that it would come if I wanted it to or not and I rather fancied making myself do it in a location of my choice rather than it arriving at its own free will, in projectile form, at an undesired point of the race (in front of the photo guy, the water boy, or a child bearing Haribo). I couldn't find a vomit point anyway so I decided to slow down, have some water and not have any gels for a while.  

5. Cruddy Buddy: I get that running with a pal is cool and chewing the fat whilst pursuing your running dream is awesome. But it's really hard to get past you guys if I am running a tad quicker than you and you are taking up all the fucking space. 

6. Not you, him!: It's one of the ultimate faux-pax. The support around the route is brill. People are shouting your name (except for Zoe Ball, who shouted "Go On Jeff" at me) and their children are giving me some skin for a high-5. The crowd are rooting for you and your sore feet, your aspirations, your plight. It's so charitable - I'm a complete stranger and they want me to succeed. One lady and her little one was waving so madly at me, camera poised, leaning over to pat me on the back, a beaming smile on her face. She was so very encouraging. I reciprocated the goodwill and held my arms aloft, mouthing "thank you, thank you!" at her whilst making mock-grimaces about the amount of pain I was in. Anyway, she wasn't even doing this for me, she was doing it for her husband behind me. I felt like a right dick.

7. I can't get no sleep:  It's no laughing matter, not sleeping. Especially when you are so freakin' tired but cannot drop off. There are lots of tried and tested methods of falling sound asleep - some more orthodox than others - and when you have exhausted (ha!) all possibilities your race is in 7 hours, then it truly is a sad situation indeed. Such was my scenario on Saturday night that I even considered suffocating myself with a blanket with the aim that when I eventually passed out, some air would have filtered into my mouth so I would not die but would be instead be asleep. I didn't do this on the basis that if it went wrong, it would put a bit of a dampener on my room mate's weekend. 

8. "So take a look at me noooww...: here's a slither of positivity. The marathon run was an Against All  Odds achievement. There was no way I should have been able to do that based on how poorly and knackered I was that day. I'm afraid of sounding all dicky and brazen, but if you, reader, are ever in a right jam and don't think you can make it- think of this. The human body can pull the impossible out of the bag. Even for 5-and-a-half hours. 

9. I want to break free: One of the biggest fears about running long distance is needing a poo which, when your stomach has been bounced up and down for 2hours, resembles a poisonous vat of boiling acid pebbledash and you still feel ropey after having done it. Like it stained your tummy.

10. "I just met you, and this is crazy":Imagine one of these old black and white movies where 2 loved ones are romantically reunited on a train station platform. They run to each other in a love-fuelled ecstasy and sweep each other up in their arms in a beautiful embrace. That's what happens when you spot someone in a race who you have met twice before and only know their first name.  

11. Dead-man walking: When you take your trainers off after a marathon, your feet look the trotters of a dead person. My feet were grey and wet. I just needed a little white label hanging off my little toe with J.BALDRY typed on it. 

12. The beer afterwards doesn't taste as nice as you would think it does. And all the signs telling you that you can have cake at the end aren't that motivating. Nobody thinks of cake when their stomach is a pile of grated cheese in their abdomen. 

13. Fair weather friend: Even the hardest of atheists must surely mutter a holy plea at Mile 21. There's nothing like a long race that kickstarts my usually sporadic faith in the Big Man.

14. Are you there?: Similarly, you can also have a nice chat to love ones who are not  alive anymore. I felt very close to my Nan that day.

15. Star signs: Amongst the good and bad of Motivational Signs. Good: Hit this to power up! We are so proud of you! Thank you for running Brighton! Bad: You are nearly there! (Fuck off you fuck. No I'm not), You are making it look easy! (I'm going to punch you in the face) and the ever-insulting Well Done! (I'm going to punch you too you dickwad). 

16: Royal wave: the best thing I saw was a man/woman dressed as the Queen and waving people on with the Royal wave. It was brilliant. 

17. The best bit by far wasn't actually crossing the finishing line. That was a bit of an anti-climax. There were 2 best bits actually. The first was heavenly technology alerting your loved ones of your progress and knowing they were following you with tears in their eyes. The second was when one of your running buddies sends you some photos the next day that you didn't know he had taken. And they are good ones. And you realise that what you did was really clever and you didn't dream it. 

Sent from my iPhoneP

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Jess observes 24.04.15

1. I went for a massage today; I had a voucher for a local day spa that I have been meaning to cash in. I was really looking forward to it - it's like an acceptable grope fest and they make me feel wanted. 
2. I'm not great at relaxing. It makes me on edge. I checked in to the "day spa" (does this imply that some spas house you for longer periods? Like a month spa or year spa? Sounds lazy) and had the usual therapist conversation where we both pretend to have higher-than-average pitched voices and no local accent. She took my vouchers and told me to wait upstairs for someone called Lauren (masseuses are usually called Lauren or Jo). Cool beans. I sauntered through the building to the beauty bit and passed some rich folk who were spending the day lounging around in towels doing fuck all. 
3. Arrived at the beauty bit. It was called Experience d' Gino di Campo or something. It was empty, so I took this opportunity to mentally check-in with my bladder/bowels o verify that they were happy with being prodded for an hour. They were fine. I gasped at the array of beauty products and skin creams that were displayed in the beauty bit; they were very glossy and very expensive. I wondered if they worked. I'm always sceptical on high-end ranges; the packaging themselves looked costly and I'm unsure on the merits of a face cream (Whip de Visage) that was made with dirt (Nutri-Mud from the Homosapian Earth Fjord). 
4. Lauren rocked up and she also had a squeaky mouse voice. She was nice and told me to take all my clothes off. No foreplay or anything; she cut right to the chase. She told me that she would leave the room and I was to lay on this bed on my front with a towel pulled over the top of me. This is quite hard to do. I think I re-positioned several vital organs and a rib trying to do it. 
5. Lauren came back in and I said "I got a voucher for my birthday" before she had chance to ask the inevitable. The music came on - all Ching-Ching and wallows. She squirted something void into her hand and started feeling me up. It was nice. I said something wanky through a mouthful of tissue (my head was stuck through a paper-punched hole) like "Cor, that smells noice" (my regional dialect had returned with my emerged nakedness) and she said "Mmmmm". I shut up after that. 
6. She kept moving my shoulderblades to varying foreign parts of my body; I know some people dig that but it was a bit unpleasant. I felt like ping like a bin-lid slamming. 
7. I then remembered my pants. I had some really crap knickers on. All holey and grey and elastic fraying. I mentally chastised myself for not wearing those posh ones that Kevin bought me that actually only look nice when I am laying down. 
8. After about 15mins, I opened my eyes, still head-through-hole and started to make shape formations with the stuff that I can see on the floor. If I squinted my eyes a bit, the couch leg, a wire flex and the edge of the towel that was draped over me formed half a face. When squinting a bit more, the eye of the face closed and then opened again. I started a little mental game with this face to see, on opening my eyes suddenly, if face had eyes closed or open. This game got a bit boring after 30-secs or so, which was just as well, as Lauren started jigging the towel around and it felt like she has exposed one of my legs to earth. 
9. "wow!, said Lauren, you are *obviously*  very active and sporty. Your legs have total muscle definition. You must be an athlete of sorts! You are truly amazing!" Thankfully, I did actually anticipate this reaction to my Adonis stature so battered off her lesbian advances with grace and modesty.
10. that bit ^^ didn't happen. It was clearly not evident that I did any exercise at all and all that racing about has actually made no difference to my physique. 
11. This massage was making me feel guilty. This lady was working very hard to make me feel relaxed. It didn't feel right, like, a bit immoral and a piss-take. 
12. I left the day spa light-headed. It was a nice experience and she did a great job. I loved it. I passed the rich couple again in the reception, still mincing around in their towels. I might book the fella and I in. I might even wear my nice knickers.     

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Today's observations 09.04.2015

It's been a while friends.
1. Half Term. It's my first real long one; I'm new to being a mum to a pre-schooler. Anyway, I was a little miffed to see that, on the last day of going to school, Annie didn't bring home a leaflet from the teachers telling us what we have to do during the school holidays. *I* don't know what to do. I can't remember what we did before. Our chunk of  school run and class time routines have been quashed for a fortnight and I'm all mixed up. The teachers didn't tell us what to do and I am all confused. Teachers: in future kindly use some of your spare time - perhaps in your own evening time - to create unimaginative parents like me a "Fun Things to-do whilst Teachers are not babysitting for you" list. Feel free to substitute "Fun" with "Cheap", "Indoors", "Dangerous" or "Pub-friendly". Many thanks. 
2. I'm still not used to the qualification of "term-time"; predominately "in-term", "out of term" and "half term". I don't get it. Let's just call it "2-weeks off", shall we?
3. I note that kids are not going back to school until Tuesday. It doesn't escape my attention that teachers will be getting communally squiffy on this Monday free day. I'll find you out. 
4. Went to a big local farm place today where lots of middle-class people go. You know the one. It has a pride-clothes shop and expensive placebo sausages. The delightful combination of it being cheap, kids being on the hols, it being situated on the edge of a large Ipswich housing estate and the sun being out meant just one thing; There were a fucking lot of kids there. Hugo, Popsy, Buffy and Maude were in abundance and so were their clueless shrill parents. 
5. I'm pretty clueless too. I spent most of the time aimlessly shouting at my kids to stay with me (I have lake phobia at that place) when I could have helped the situation by dressing them in dissimilar clothes to what all the other rodents were wearing. Like a gimp suit or nazi attire or something. Not only would I have been able to locate them instantly, they'd pretty much have the play area to themselves.
6. I know this is a common gripe. I know it's been done before. I'm sorry to harp on. But get your fucking teenager off the play area. My "slap-hand" was itching. A lot. 
7. One teenager actually let me smallest down the slide ahead of him and I was so impressed and temporarily aghast that I actually squeezed his hand and smiled. 
8. So now I am the weirdo mum who poaches middle-class teenagers at local family establishments. 
9. Picnic etiquette. I like to see what everyone else has got. The family next to us had a bowl - like a proper big salad bowl- full of leaves, pomegranate and olives. They'd also brought a really rustic looking baguette too. They were well showing off. Their kids didn't eat it either, the wankers.  You can tell I got really close to look into their bowl of delicatessen wonder. I tried to avoid eye contact for fear that they felt social fulfilment in their ridiculous picnic choice. 
10. Kids just got onto sofa and a ton of fucking sand fell out. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Today's observations 20.09.14

1. I went out for dinner with a large crowd of friends last night. There were around 6 couples and we opted for an all-you-can eat type Chinese banquet. It was a really good restaurant and the food quality was amazing. The service, however, was the pivotal part of the experience as it was notably very good, especially for a group of our size that a. Recounted old stories and faux-pas, loudly, at any given opportunity b. Laughed with so much gusto that it likely cheesed off the other romancing diners c. Arrived a bit late d. Insisted on calling the waiters "John" e. Continued to try, with considerable effort, to talk in Chinese to each other f. Sang Happy Birthday several times, again loudly, with a poor attempt at a Mandarin accent. Additionally, the staff calculated our relative incompetence at ordering food and alcohol-catalysed declining IQ levels and took the executive decision to order a massivo plate of starters on our behalf. Which, naturally, worked out because we eat anything.
2. Foot burn in high heels is no laughing matter. The sneaky devil sneaks up on you at impromptu moments. Don't *even think* about taking off your shoe for momentary comfort; you will not be able to put the shoe back on.
3. It happens often. The champ of the night has booked us all into a great restaurant and we are really looking forward to it. We meet in a neighbouring pub beforehand (not a great pub, but I will come onto this shortly). This casual rendezvous is fun; folk haven't seen each other for, in some cases, several years and there was naturally some features up for discussion: kids had, pregnancies pending, new partners, new jobs, growing fatness etc. This is when the inevitable happens and track of time is lost. It's already 10mins passed the time of the table being booked and half of the crowd are outside smoking, the others have just ordered fresh pints, most are engaged in a meaty debate (probably about fatness) and one is shuffling from foot to foot - it's clear that he will want to urinate before we leave the pub. In a nutshell, the rendezvous is a hit but you will *always* be late to the restaurant.
4. This particular rendezvous pub wasn't a classy affair. It did the job, to be fair, in so much that there was a reasonably intact roof, a semi-functioning lavatory and some beer in the fridge. What if didn't have (I've streamlined the list considerably to provide a suitably snippy blog entry) were wine glasses. Not one. Apparently "they were all in the dishwasher". I was given a glass of dry white in a brandy glass that caused me to swish it around in palm of my hand and talk like 007. Actually, in their defence, they popped a little more wine in to compensate the fact that my classy outfit was thwarted by my drinking out of a bucket.
5. I learned last night that a male pastime of yester-year was to wear black socks over trainers in order to gain entry into the nightclub. I'll elaborate; back in the day, one was not allowed to participate in the prestigious nightclubbing experience of Ipswich if you were not suitably attired. One failing in particular was to wear trainers and expect to be granted entry into the nightclub - a bouncer would cuff your ear and tell you to get lost. This, naturally, brought your fun-packed evening to a standstill and also upset the dynamic of your group somewhat. So, the nifty idea created by the boy-men of Ipswich was to cover your white trainers over with a black sock; either your own or your pal's. This swift and stealth like operation would no doubt be implemented around the corner from the nightclub to optimise the facade. Most bouncers would not notice this, apparently. This mesmerised me. It mesmerised me for a couple of reasons: 1. A bouncer does not notice that a man's feet are covered in black Slazenger fleece 2. I didn't realise that any club in Ipswich was worthy of this effort 3. The casualness with which the gents at our table last night recounted the story (and mutually nodded with agreement) as if it was a totally normal thing to do.  What a neat trick and certainly one to tell our offspring one day.
6. A nice part about going out with long-term friends is that they remember stuff about your past and the people in it. If this case, my OH's old school friends recounted some really nice stories about OH's parents. It was lovely to hear. If you are reading Tel, the Marathon Medal in Assembly talk was well recalled and favoured. It bought a little tear to my eye to be honest.
7. In a not very proud moment of self-indulgence, I walked (supposedly to my Corona-fuelled brain) in a rather sultry manner through a packed pub to the ladies room. I'm such a dickhead. I don't know why I do this and who the hell I think I am. Anyway, karma had her wicked way and I walked straight into the corner of a fruit machine and looked a prat in front of everyone. Plank.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Today's observations 26.08.14

1. We've just returned from a camping trip with the kids. It was our first time in the tent. It was fairly endearing in the sense that you only realise the meaning of family when you are all together as one little unit. The true meaning is stress and hassle. That's the true meaning.
2. We camped in Norfolk. Norfolk is a funny one. It has some good qualities: cheap housing, fine countryside, seals and lots of camp sites to choose from. It has other attributes that have made me want to weep recently that I will come onto very shortly. We camped in a small site next to Banham Zoo. It should have worked. We have a massive tent, all the cooking gear, fairly rough and ready children and ourselves, who are not afraid of getting hands dirty. We had two factors against us; a. Norfolk rules - this is my fault and I take full responsibility for taking our holiday to East Anglia's inferior county and b. The Great British Weather- this upset me the most. The weather is supposed to be sporadic in the UK - we expect it to taunt and tease us with a will-she, won't-she and dangle the BBQ/excursion/wedding day carrot with impish glee. I did expect some cloudy rain teasers. I didn't expect it to piss down for 3days. This upset me most greatly.
3. I can't bring myself to talk about Norfolk yet. That will come later.
4. There was a pub near the camp site. As the camp site offered just two facilities (toilet and adjacent zoo), we had to go to the pub lots to get dry, try to be happy, make it feel like a holiday and palm children onto someone else. This pub was excellent: it was clearly built in someone's living room and it resembled an intoxicated elderly home. It had a pub cat called Sep (someone else's problem- how witty!!) who provided the kids with the only entertainment possible (apart from the coin-operated-turn-cog-thing Minstrels machine which was rather dated if the colour of the Minstrels were anything to go by). The inevitable point came when the cat went to get his dinner which upset my children most profusely: the Balderdash! didn't look too appealing and the poor stinky moggy was the only means of solice for my toddlers.
5. For the first time, my son put his finger up an animal anus. On purpose. Sep pivoted around to get some sugar from my daughter and Tom spotted the cat's arsehole, into which he stabbed with his finger, made entry, then withdrew with such fright that I doubt he will do it again. Sep remained nonplussed (pussed) about the assault.
6. When you are in a tent with no electricity or anything very fun and it's raining outside you become really entertainment-reliant on the radio. It was on for the duration of the trip. We tuned into a local station called Radio Partridge or something. It was alright, but the requests bit was worth a mention. People in Norfolk only know the first few words of any given song. Rod (& Angie; Rod's sister-wife) from Wymondham requested "I wanna Dance" by Whitney Houston, Mick wanted "I'm Walking" by Katrina and The Waves (as a witty attribute to the relentless rain...arf arf) and Maureen quite fancied "Give me all" by ZZ Top. This was fun, like Guess the Song in the Field.
7. I has to chuck away my shoes when I returned home. They are pretend Birkenstock type sandals and they remained cold and wet for the whole weekend.
8. We did the same thing as we did every time we take the kids away. I pack totally inappropriate clothes and we have to go and buy lots more. Tescos in Diss robbed us of new fleeces, trousers and wooly socks; as I had the brazen audacity to only pack summer clothes.
9. The "how strong is your bladder" challenge continues. This time, the 3:12am wake in the freezing tent and your Shiraz wants to make an entrance. There's not a chance in (Norfolk) hell that it can wait until you get up (5:45am) so you have to brave it. I can never get out of the tent in the dark and one of the kids has hidden the torch. I'm not bloody happy. My hair gets caught in the zip on exiting the tent and my frigging shoes are wet and cold.
10. A neighbouring tent stayed up til around 11pm on the first night to talk rather flatly, about bacteria and chopping boards. They weren't local: from Colchester or Chelmsford or *saink*.
11. Calculate the time, in years or months, that you have been frequenting pubs on a regular basis. Now, try to gauge what time they usually open. That's fairly simple, now chuck in a couple of variable factors: it's Bank Holiday Monday and most people aren't at work. Right. Now add the location of "Norfolk" into the mix. That causes some uncertainty, but nonetheless, should still provide the majority with a rough idea of when a pub will open.
The second part: take your age and divide it by the number of wheely bins on your drive. Add the amount of times you've lost your keys and subtract the number of TVs you have in your house. The remaining number is what time Norfolk pubs open for trade.
12. Our tent pitch was located 18metres from the perimeter fence of Banham Zoo. It directly faced the "Australian Maned Wolf" enclosure. This meant that the foxy menace woke us each morning with a grunty snorty howl. This had some novelty value; both Diego and Luna were very close to where we slept our soft sleepy heads. In fact, on visiting the zoo on day 2, we could see our tent through the trees at the back of the wolves den. This added another gripe: we tolerate our shitting weather because the Northern Hemisphere is reliably unpredictable and crap in climate but relatively light in wildlife that will kill you. So now, not only were we camping in a soupy bog but also ran the risk of being chewed by an Ozzie predator who jumped the fence in attempt to escape their Norfolk nausea.
13. It was really nice, on the first day, sitting outside whilst OH cooked us tea on the stove and watching the kids eat tinned hotdogs on the picnic mat. That's the bit I'll remember.
14. Pillows always feel *wet* in a tent, eh!!
15. The camp site did have a "function room" that was closed; because August bank holiday weekend is not expected to be busy. Humph.
16. It also had a reception which didn't open much either so we were unable to collect some leaflets on what to do in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.