Going to sea in large vegetables is a bad idea – first published 28 October 2013

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October 28 2013 and the world outside my morning window was a scary looking affair, trees blowing all over the show, rain hammering down. The news was full of it, the worst storms in decades had finally hit the south of England with ninety mile an hour winds, torrential rain and flooding. I say finally because the weatherman had been warning us about it for days and I was beginning to think it was a bit like all those barbecue summers they promise us, not going to come to anything.

October 28 2013

It was a bit wet and windy over the weekend but nothing out of the ordinary for the end of October. Yesterday afternoon there was even a little sun when we nipped into town in the car on a mission to get more wool for the cushion covers I’m knitting. The rain began later when we were tucked up indoors and my knitting needles were clicking away.

There’s something quite comforting about knitting when it’s cold and wet outside, although, to be honest, I didn’t feel up to much else. My throat was a little sore on Friday afternoon. By the evening my head felt all bunged up too and it was obvious a cold was coming. Things were helped slightly by a nice big mug of homemade poncha, lemon juice, honey, hot water and rum. Poncha is something I was introduced to in Madeira many years ago when I arrived to lead an educational group with a stinking cold and feeling pretty rubbish. At every hotel or restaurant we visited someone thrust another hot mug into my hands and, after the third one, I stopped caring about the sore throat, the cough or the headache.

This morning all the poncha had worn off and it was even worse. My head hurt, my throat felt like someone had shoved some razor wire down there while I was asleep and the coughing and sneezing had reached new levels of nastiness. Poncha on a work day is probably not advisable. With the storm raging outside and warnings on the news to stay indoors there was a great temptation to do just that. Unfortunately I had a musician crisis to deal with though so I had to wrap up warm and brave it.

The walk through the parks was a bit blustery but at least the rain had stopped and the sun was out. The enchanted park was littered with twigs and fallen leaves. As I walked further it became a bit of an obstacle course of stepping over fallen branches and, close to the road, half a tree was spread out on the grass.

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The musician problem didn’t take long to get under control, or as under control as possible until I hear back from them. The rest of the morning was mostly spent trying to pretend I wasn’t thinking about Friday’s interview or the possibility of hearing from them today whilst simultaneously thinking of nothing else. In my mind I’d turned the interview into yet another shambles and the more I did think about it the more convinced I became that any news would be bad news. As they hadn’t said whether they would phone or email I became rather obsessive about checking my emails both on my phone and my computer and every time the phone rang I jumped. This really is not good in an office where the phone rings on average every two minutes and I was beginning to wear myself out.

Eventually I managed to distract myself with the passenger questionnaires. These are always quite engrossing and a bit of a roller coaster of emotions too. One comment can leave you fuming at how unreasonable some passenger expectations are and how rude they can be, the next have you laughing out loud at a turn of phrase or smiling at a lovely compliment. When my mobile did ring I was actually in fits of giggles after reading the comment, ‘two single beds with gap between not double, would prefer two electric sockets to use.’ There was a picture in my head of a couple of elderly passengers shunning the twin beds, standing in the corner and plugging themselves into the mains for the night. Despite all my misgivings about the interview, it turns out they want to see me again! Now, either I did something right or they hate me and want to torture me. Either way I will have to dust off the black jacket and find a different top to wear. Oh yes, and the Skechers are in for another polish.

Because of the gusty winds and scattered showers I didn’t go for a walk at lunchtime, although I did pop out to the corner shop and buy a jar of honey and a bottle of lemon juice in a vain attempt to keep the throat and the coughing under control. While I drank my hot honey and lemon I had a quick peruse of the online news, mostly to check out the storm damage. Predictably it was fairly depressing, floods, power lines and trees down all over the place, a young girl and a man killed by falling trees and a teenage boy swept out to sea on the Isle of Wight.

Seeing as I felt so bunged up and horrid I decided to stop adding to my misery with storm stories and had a quick look at the happy, end of news bulletin, items to try to cheer myself up. This turned out to be a brilliant idea and made me feel much better. The story in question was one Lottie told me about a while ago. At the time I thought she was pulling my leg but it turns out to be true. On Thursday a completely bonkers man called Dimitri Galitzine, who describes himself as a ‘vegetable artist,’ crossed the Solent from Gosport to the Isle of Wight, a distance of more than three miles, in a giant pumpkin. Seriously, he actually fitted an outboard motor to the eight hundred pound pumpkin and, despite having zero sailing experience, crossed one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes! Then, because it all went so well, he went back again. The part that had me laughing out loud was the pumpkin grower’s quote, ‘going to sea in large vegetables is not a good idea.’ You don’t say! There I was thinking about buying a pumpkin to cross the Itchen to work every morning. Seriously! I found this on http://www.bbc.co.uk – check out the BBC link if you don’t believe me

The rain came back this afternoon gusty showers rather than a torrential downpour. When I went to the kitchen to make yet another hot honey and lemon some very strange cloud formations caught my eye, an arc of sunshine below the black clouds. Of course, I went back to my desk and picked up my camera. The next time I looked out the black clouds had disappeared and the sun was beginning to go down. I am going to miss those views.

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Marie

Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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