Sunday, 29 September 2013

Number 20 - In Which We Get A Year Older.

Mine and Husband's birthdays are twelve days apart. It is convenient as it means that our families only have to visit us once, usually somewhere in between the two dates, resulting in Husband's cards and presents often being a bit late, and mine a bit early. It's no big deal - as we get older, it seems our birthdays matter less, and all my energy tends to go towards making Teenager's birthdays the best they can be.

I cannot recall many childhood birthdays. I have a vague recollection of my 5th, supported by a few photographs that still exist despite many house moves and carelessness. I also dimly recall my 13th which was supposed to be a surprise, but was ruined by a kid called Paul in my music class at school. He was invited, though I refused to dance with him. We had hot dogs and a disco at the local community centre, and I remember the awkwardness at discovering the girls who relentlessly bullied me throughout school being there. My mother had blissfully invited my entire form, assisted by my best friend at the time, who had invited the bullies because she was scared to exclude them, should she incur their wrath later. They mocked the piss out of me for months afterwards because my relatives were at the party too, and my aunts had the nerve to DANCE with us to the Birdy Song. Like, how totally lame. Yet, they had the most hot dogs, cola and cake, so my lame party at least fed the bitches.

I don't remember what I did when I turned 16, but my 18th was a Pernod-and-black fuelled VomFest, which started in a nightclub and finished on the pale blue flowery carpet that my mother had just had fitted in the hall and on the stairs. My mother said later that the stain never really came out. I haven't been able to look at a bottle of Pernod since.

My 21st involved another nightclub, the name of which I cannot remember, but ended with me going back to a house with a cute chap called Lee. This night was not one of the highlights of my life, as the sex was disappointing and the photographs in the living room that I properly clocked the next morning were of his long-term girlfriend and child, who were away that weekend. He dropped me off home the next morning (which involved some sneaking out of the house to the car in case his neighbours saw) and I took extra special care never to run into him, or his girlfriend ever, ever again.

I dislike parties now. Being the centre of attention scares me. I'd rather be the one behind the scenes, keeping things going like a well-oiled machine. So this year for my birthday, I just asked for a small outing to a pub for lunch. No fuss. No fanfare. Which we did, and I am eternally grateful for. But during lunch, talk turned to our 40th birthdays, which are approaching like a Japanese Bullet train. Husband is 40 next year, I follow suit the year after. It seems inevitable that either Him or me will get a party. Neither of us wants one. And neither of us wants to acknowledge being 40 either. But our families are persistent, so watch this space. The post-40th-party blog will be angst filled and full of swears.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Number 19 - In Which Exploration Leads To Lost.

For a while now the Dog has been suffering from a distinct lack of exercise due to the rest of the household being busy doing things such as work, homework, more work and recovering from injuries. Today we decided to go on an Adventure; something we did a lot when Teenager was a pre-teen and we lived in the middle of nowhere, much nearer the sea, than we do now.

A quick study of the relevant OS map and I had a route in mind. I have long held a fascination for disused railways and there is one near where we live. Something about the idea of making footsteps in the shadow of a desolate stretch of countryside that once carried dirty, loud trains. The one near our house has only been out of use for forty or fifty years, yet nature has already taken back what once was the domain of industry. In parts, trees and shrubs have grown so dense, the route is impassable. And in other parts, there is a stillness so unnerving that you can almost hear the whistle of the steam train as it barrels along the track.

As we walk, Teenager talks. She talks all the time. Sometimes she creates stories as she walks along; often tales of other worlds reached by magical portals. Sometimes the tales are of ghosts, inspired by the vast wild stretches of wild hills and fells that surround our little town.

Husband is usually silent.

The route seemed simple; a quick hike across the field at the back of our house should lead onto the Moor and from there, the disused railway cuts across which would lead us almost back home. There was a green dotted line on the map, so with map in hand, we departed.

An hour later, Husband declared we were in the wrong place. Not trusting my sense of direction, he commandeered the map and led us off in a different direction. He had us almost doubling back before I decided to challenge his orienteering skills. "This is not the right way," I declared.

He huffed and he puffed and he threw the map at me. After some careful studying of the green dots, I led the way once again. We walked over and under hills, around an old quarry, and through grass as high as Dog (which was amusing as it was like something out of a movie - the grass was moving but the monster was as yet unseen!) and after another hour or so, Lo!, the railway appeared.

The delight at being right was overshadowed by Husband being wrong. He sulked for the rest of the way which was a shame as the old railway was really quite atmospheric. We walked under an old bridge that featured brick work in an amazing tessellated pattern and bent sound around our heads that made no logical sense. How could a whisper by my daughter, three metres in front of me, sound like it was shouted from behind me? Truly creepy but exhilarating at the same time.

We arrived home about two hours later than planned so we got pizza and fizzy drinks from the supermarket. Husband still isn't speaking to me. I sense that there is more to this than just being wrong with the map. I expect it will come to a head very soon.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Number 18 - In Which I Walk For Alzheimers.

I walked twenty-six miles today. From Beadnell to Lindisfarne - a Brobdingnagian trek to raise money for Alzheimers UK.

My feet are blistered, my lower back feels like it has a knife embedded in it and I am so hungry I could eat a cow.

I am lucky enough to live in this area so the sights were not unknown to me, but it was nice to catch the comments of others who are not locals. Most were positive, but the woman in front of me who complained all the way from St Cuthbert's Cave to Fenwick about the amount of nettles and thorns there were on the paths deserved to fall off a cliff. The fact that the silly cow was wearing Daisy Dukes and wedge trainers didn't factor in to her whiny rants. I overtook her near a particularly boggy bit in Kyloe Woods and laughed my ass off (quietly) as she slipped in it and was covered in bog from her ankles to her hips. Retribution. Her companions carried on slagging off the area as they helped her up. Apparently Alzheimers UK should have put straw down on all the stretches of the twenty-six miles that were slippy. I didn't see her again for the rest of the walk.

At about 9pm I had a glass of whisky and I was ready for bed. All my joints are achy, especially my hips. Husband said, "I suppose a shag's out of the question?" He supposed right.