A Summer Of Some Fun Not In London

Sometimes I know how to start a blog. Most times I do, actually. Yet I find myself in this weird linguistic limbo right now – I’m writing about the fun I’ve had and the places I’ve been since restrictions were removed, yet I’m also feeling a reluctance to plan more fun.

I wonder if it is partly to do with covid and the lockdowns, perhaps the rising cases have subliminally put a break on me – though I think more likely I’ve just run out of steam from my “I MUST DO STUFF” post-lockdown phase.

Besides, I’m done with having fun. My body needs a rest, ie my liver really, really needs a rest. Plus I’ve put on some of the weight I had lost and I just don’t feel that I am being as productive at work – all the midweek hangovers from England’s march to the final are not helping.

But for now, I’m going to concentrate on reflecting on the freedom and fun that I somehow managed to have during the summer.

Euro 2020 Final Weekend

I’m kind of going in backwards order here, describing 3 of my favourite weekends of recent very, very good times.

The first one I’d booked a trip to go see my very good friend, Martin, and his scarily tidy cutlery drawer, in a town named after slithering creatures.

Well, I didn’t take any other photographs that weekend so there isn’t much else I can show you. We only had a short time in Ely itself, enough for a beer and some lunch – a cracking fishcake – before we went to Martin’s, however it was enough to see that it is a very pleasant river-side town. Guess we’ll have to go back to do some proper research.

Other than that we just drank overpriced hipster beer, ate M&S food and sat outside chatting in the perennially cloudy skies of summer 2021 – and then we stayed up far too late discussing Github branching strategies.

The next day was THE BIG DAY and we headed back to London, along with various elements of riff-raff singing “football’s coming home”. I remember saying to my sister that we would see the worst side of England during the day. I wasn’t wrong.

We’d somehow managed to book a table at Megan’s in High Street Kensington to watch the football – a true girly brunch spot, and there was pleasingly a fair scattering of posh totty (and wannabe’s too). Not quite Boxpark for atmosphere, there were some lads that tried to get an atmosphere going but they gave up before the game started – or maybe everyone was just super nervous. I know I was. Somehow I remember the time before the game so clearly.

At least nobody threw beer at me – and we had actually glasses to drink from.

Losing

Of course, you know the outcome. I remember the atmosphere so well before and after the game. Before (away from the riff-raff on public transport) was really fun, lots of people on the street singing the usual football songs and cheering to other fellow football fans on the other side of the street, people passing by honking their horns in the joy of England actually getting to the final of a tournament. It really was a joyous few hours.

And on the way home, almost everyone just looked flat and deflated – I was certainly deflated. By time I got on my 3rd tube train, the one that should have got me home, it was nice and empty – though things changed as we got to Wembley Park, and elements were banging on the tube train windows as it arrived and the train was suddenly busy – and edgy.

And then…

Ahhh just like the old days, with unnecessary Met Line sardines. With super high covid cases. Yes I did get told to self-isolate. The shock.

But still, we made it to a final. Heartbroken and deflated, even now a few weeks later as I write this – but it was a great journey to be on, wasn’t it?

Actual journey

The weekend before I went to Somerset on the train – complete with mask which was my longest journey wearing one (bar toilet breaks because nobody can see me in the enclosed space without a mask on) – but I coped.

I was attending the non-wedding of my dear friend, Ben, which was totally in the middle of nowhere. I had planned to stay in Taunton which was the nearest town, with a 45 minute bus journey, but by time the non-wedding was confirmed (good old lockdown extension) the hotels were stupidly expensive. The next town along was Bridgwater which was affordable…but further away.

Adding to the complications was the England football team being a total pain in the arse and actually beating Germany, so I had to find somewhere to watch the quarter-final.

But my problems found a solution when another dear friend or two, John & Lisa, suggested that I stay in their spare room in the living quarters of their hotel – Dunster Castle Hotel. In Dunster.

Dunster is a stunning village with a castle (you’ve probably guessed that) and some gorgeous countryside around.

Thankfully I had enough time to do a little exploring, including a stupidly steep uphill route through a forest, complete with hangover, that just kept on going up – every time I thought I was just about at the top, a new uphill section appeared. I gave up once there was no more tree cover to escape the warm morning sunshine in my already dehydrated state.

Myself and John had also sufficient time to get into several in-depth and respectful political discussions – the type that cannot happen on social media without resorting to “you Marxist/you Hitler”. We find ourselves on opposite sides of the culture war so there was plenty to discuss – though we are both on the same (losing) side of the economic argument now that even the Tories push left-wing economics…and I think we both tend to gravitate towards discussing areas of disagreement, as that is more intellectually stimulating than just talking about what you agree on.

Plus he made me a banging Eggs Royale.

Not a wedding

In the afternoon myself and John went to the wedding. My plan was to get there super early so that I could feasibly excuse myself in time for the football, but also the theme was heavy metal and I wasn’t sure I’d cope for more than 5 minutes of such ear brutality.

I went dressed for the occasion with my Metal Fest t-shirt, though was out-dressed by the majority of the metal-loving crowd, especially Ben himself, but also memorably the guy with a jacket with all the patches sown of of various metal bands – and a patch of a Margaret Thatcher quote.

The ceremony was very sweet and touching, I think performed by the Church Of Dude, which tickled me though perhaps I misheard.

By time our taxi arrived, my patience with the cacophony of angry shouting that is apparently music had just about worn off – though I think I coped admirably. I have to say, I do prefer Atomic Kitten to Slipknot.

It’s Christmas!

So back at the beginning of that long, miserable, difficult winter, when Boris Johnson (gosh that was so hard to write without putting “lying bastard” in the middle of his name) cancelled Christmas, I insisted that it was just a postponement.

I didn’t quite expect it to take until the end of May until we could don our sequin Christmas hats and drive to Hull – but it was to be Christmas in the warm sunshine for the first time in my life.

We tried to keep it faithful to what would have happened in December – there was some form of Christmas tree, replete with an exceptionally overpriced glittery hand sanitizer decoration that I sneaked onto the tree when my mum wasn’t looking.

We had mince pies. We had Christmas dinner. The sprouts were inedible. The village even put the Christmas lights up for us. Oh and my Grandma used the n word at the dinner table. So everything you would expect at Christmas.

And I got some useful presents too – a baking tray, some dishcloths and some Elite Gentleman shower gel.

It was, of course, important to stick to our word that the original Christmas cancellation was just a postponement, and it was in its weird way a very special weekend.

And the rest of summer…

So as I alluded to when I opened, I’m feeling the need for some chilled time. I think the high level of cases is having a drag effect on me to discourage me from initiating further social events, but I have enough friends to arrange things for me and I rarely turn down a social invite.

Plus I do need to revert to being healthy and getting back on my losing weight thing at some point – this feels like a good point, well last weekend was the good point and I had absolutely zero social life on purpose last weekend, no alcohol, no chocolate, no pies, no sausage rolls – and ended up losing my lockdown weight in 10 days.

I think I’ve made the most of summer so far – I’ve been away 5 times since lockdown ended, watched all the England games in pubs, had a roast dinner most Sundays, an amazing steak night…and probably various other things that I’ve forgotten.

Another chilled weekend this weekend, albeit with beer this time, and then I’ll be back to celebrate life once more. Though I really do need an extended chill time. I have other priorities that I need to see to. And I might need to blog about them.

See you soon?

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