Sunday, 23 September 2012


No wonder Prince Philip has taken to his bed. I feel as though I could do the same and I haven’t exposed my kidneys to a perilous weather front on the River Thames, nor travelled the length and breadth of the country smiling and being polite to strangers. Nonetheless, a four day bank holiday with the expectation of fun and frivolity throughout has taking its toll on the best of us. It started last weekend when Mags invited us for a BBQ round at hers, I was sporting a badly sun-burned leg, acquired earlier in the week during a full day of sports day spectating. To cover up the smarting redness I wore my new dress, which has a sheer, long floaty bit over a very short underskirt. I felt quite attractive until Mags pointed out that the dress was ‘one buttock short of indecency’. I looked to Hubby for help, but he only shrugged his shoulders in a very cowardy-custard sort of way. Very conscious of said buttocks being too much on display, I tugged away at the underskirt all night after that and the new dress is now back in its department store bag, waiting for its fifteen minutes of fame on eBay. My wardrobe malfunction threw me into a huff, which I overcame by comfort eating. The food on offer was, as always, irresistible, especially to one who has just been told that her fat arse is in danger of being exposed if I should so much as tilt forward, let alone bend. Luckily for everyone then that dinner, whilst having been barbequed, was actually fairly formal and there wasn’t a finger roll nor ketchup bottle in sight. Nor did we have to stand, balancing wine glass in one hand, snorker in the other. In fact, we sat around a dining table groaning under home grown wonders and our plates were piled high with buttery soft lamb that Mags’s Auntie Sheila had provided from her Dartmoor farm. Over coffee, we discussed our Jubilee plans. Mags casually informed us that she was going to do a spot of wine tasting the following day and did we want to come? I almost choked on my espresso. Since when did I have to be asked if I’d like to do a little quaffing? “Where is it?” I asked her. “Near the Eden project”, she replied, “I’ve booked a mini bus. I was taking the whole family, but some can’t make it now, so we have some seats spare. Are you up for it then?” I looked at Hubby. “It’s free”, said Mags, reading his mind. As it transpired, we took the youngest children with us as well as my brother, his daughter and another good friend, Marie. It was in fact exactly like a Sunday School trip of yore. Young and old, off for an outing. An hour later, a mile or so beyond Bugle, we pulled up into a gravelly car park. It looked familiar. I hissed into the gap between two headrests to Hubby who was sitting in front of me, “Where are we exactly?” “Knightor Winery. We came here at the end of last summer, they’d barely opened then”. Well they’ve come a long way since. The kids all ran off to play with hens and pirate ships whilst the adults had an excellent tour of a sample vineyard and our guide showed us how their wine was made. “I’ve seen grapes before”, I whispered to Mags, “When do we get to taste it?” “Shortly”, said the guide, shortly, “All in good time”. All of a sudden I felt like the very naughty Verucca Salt caught out by Willy Wonka. I’d be in one of the vats if I didn’t behave myself, drowning, rather ironically, in what I loved to drink. Our guide led us into the bar and restaurant, where a most delicious and passionate young man spoke with great love about the art of viniculture and implored us to try the fruits of his labours. My brother, more a Whitbread man than a white wine connoisseur, was suitably impressed. “Better try another”, he said, holding out his glass for a top up, “Just in case the first was a fluke”. It wasn’t and both he, Hubby and Marie bought a bottle each of the two white wines and a Gold award rose. I didn’t, I bought honey and jam and chutney, cheese biscuits, posh tea, and even posher chocolate. “Will you come away from there”, demanded Hubby, dragging my arm, “Before you spend all my money. C’mon, it’s time to eat”. Suckling pig, salad, cold meats, the most divine Italian concoctions and homemade focaccia put a big, if weary smile on our faces and most of us dozed and dribbled on the journey home. My alarm went off on the Monday morning far too early. We had a rehearsal to fit in, cupcakes, meringues to cook, a Jubilee party to attend and another barbeque with friends in Plymouth. “I’m flagging”, I said as Hubby as I lolled in the sun at the Lawns that afternoon, surrounded by thousands of our fellow neighbours. It was Torpoint at its finest. My God, people had worked hard. There was three miles of bunting festooned around trees for heaven’s sake. Children danced, choirs sang, bands played. Suddenly, like a blonde mirage, Pia, my long lost Norwegian girl, came sauntering, among the throng of thousands, towards me. I was speechless. “Came to surprise you”, was all she had to say. There was a lot of hugging and kissing and all the while the band played Rule Britannia. It was a surreal moment. So guests have been entertained, requests for mid-week roast dinner have been met and we are girding ourselves for the carnival on Saturday and friends for dinner after it. “I’m rather relieved to be back at work”, said Hubby, “Anymore revelry and I may well have come down with a bladder infection”. 7th June 2012

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