This is the eve of family and friends, including many teenagers, getting ready to go camping to a small music and dance holiday lasting just over one week. A motley crew of horse boxes full of double beds, minis, bicycles and a folding caravan, and of course our multi dented estate car. So far loaded into the caravan, against a predictable backdrop of 'do we actually need those dear'. Should I approach with anything looking like a blanket or a salad bowl. 3 concertinas, 5 accordions, 1 full size drum kit, 2 African drums, too many tin whistles to count, 1 electric piano, 1 violin, several mouth organs and a large tangle of wires and some scruffy old amps and of course giant batteries and solar panels.
Dithers is coming which has triggered an enormous amount of fuss in the London area, as some titanic 'where can I borrow camping gear flapping' goes on. A million phone calls to us and her relatives about tents and bedding, and weather. Also some studying of the map of places to swim. I am Actually taking a sleeping bag along, especially for her.
I have been severely told off about teasing her too much about it being a double bag, which I told her I had selected from my vast store of such things, in case some old winking hippie catches her eye, as she cavorts in wisps of tie dyed cheese cloth. The last time I attended the same venue a few years back, a woman who appeared to be wearing a whole assemble of boiled dishrags greeted me at the gate and directed me towards an evening meal, which I was told off for calling 'camp slop'. It was a mainly vegetarian gathering and some naughty old friends of mine turned up and cooked a large wok full of bacon upwind of a packed meditation workshop, full of people temporarily devoid of any form of humour whatsoever. Also as our caravan turned into the field it was making that noise indicative of perhaps there being a secret bar on board, crash, clink tinkle etc.
I shall not be allowing my dear friend to make any tea at camp. Dithers and tea is a bit of a mystery. When either myself or my husband stay with her, finding bog standard tea is an almost impossible feat. There is every type of tea with some dire flavour in it, or some sort of nettle and jasmine, and at times something almost like tea can be found, but then the tin or jar changes for the next time. This time at my house she took it upon upon herself to make me tea several times a day. I did notice particularly on the Sunday, that each cup was worse than the last. I am a fuss budget, warm the pot, then make the fresh tea. She took it stage further and as well as warming the pot, opted to leave the stale tea bags inside, and with each pot, more and more bags accumulated. On her departure I discovered a medium sized tea pot with 12 mushy old bags in it.
She and our other friend caught the train back to London on Sunday evening, but only just, due to a collective failure to look at the clock. We had rather a wild Saturday night beforehand, I am no known for having quiet dinners, they always turn wild by default. She was as usual, once again, London bound, laden with so many tall plants, that two ladies appeared as if on some sort of army maneuvers with camouflage.
Phone calls are now off limits to me for the evening, our telephone lines have been playing up and I have been infuriated beyond measure trying to hear dreadful things estate agents are trying to tell me. They are always at least two weeks behind with information which I extract over a line which sounds as if some squirrels are squeaking, or it adopts an underwater quality to it. One way or another I have been deemed too ferocious currently to answer any of them. The combination of picking up two phones which don't work and being also generally being far too hot, and also having a house full of flies is most temper worthy. The plague of winged beasts, have come about, due to the current manure on the local fields and humid climate. So everything has driven me nuts. I have taken to swooping on the flies with the Dyson cleaner, the pipe outstretched in front of me. On top of this a visitor to the house who called round to tell my husband one thing yesterday evening, then proceeded to stand late at night with the back door wide open drinking wine and caused a biting swarm of mosquitoes to find their way upstairs and eat me alive.
I react very badly to bites, and on holiday in the past I have had whole families cross the road at the sight of me due to how spectacularly I react to being bitten. I was hopping up and down trying to apply aloe vera and find my antihistamines and managed to stub my broken toe again.
The previous week-end was very nice. Dithers came all the way from London to talk about our holiday and brought another old neighbour of mine with her. I cooked all my best dinners and lunches and the weather was fab, very hot with a sea breeze, we had a great time drinking wine in the garden with different types of owls in the background.
Dithers was hilarious as usual, barely do I serve on meal and she is already wanting to know when the next one will be and what it is. I had barely finished my dinner on Saturday before she was rummaging to get my pudding out. Which I know is mean to tell you all about, but I built a large pyramid of fresh chilled strawberries and cherries dipped in several different types of chocolate. Once out on the table, of course it did not touch the sides. Dithers employs a nutritionist to help her tummy go down, bananas and all sorts of things were banned, ie less sugar. She did however receive a phone call out of the blue as her nutritionist had been deciphering her food diaries, and become urgently alarmed at the daily intake of lemon posset and passion fruit roulade. Dithers is probably due a round of fudge meringues once the coast is clear! How being utterly zealous about not eating bananas or similar due to sugar content can be swapped on this regime for vast sugary desserts has not quite sunk in for me yet.. luckily lemon posset acts as aversion therapy for me. I have however been promised a gluten free sticky toffee pudding. So I must collude with the naughtiness for some of the time.
I was kept amused most of the week-end with tales of her current address and the adventures of a very awful burglar alarm, it has to be set with various codes if you go in and out of the house, also a night time code, and an upstairs asleep code, which does not take into account tipsy foreign students lurching in in the small hours after shifts in Tapas Bars, or others wandering off to get glasses of water from the kitchen. Each set of beeps makes Dither's sit bolt upright in bed, usually several times a night, so the promised rest at this address did not amount to that. At times the alarm would wail for long periods or times causing mayhem in the entire street.
Luckily she will be free of burglar alarms soon, and moving back into her own flat, which means I can stay there again.
Camping here we come, there will be so much to write about. I can tell my husband is nearly ready as some very strange clothes have come out of he wardrobe and he is trying to cut his own hair again.
To be continued.