Sunday, August 16, 2009

Staying home, playing out

We spent our holidays at home this year, primarily for financial reasons (roof replacement, window renovation, lodger shortfall) but also because, after a stressful interlude, we have the house back to ourselves for a while, and we wanted to reclaim it. There was a fair amount of reclaiming to do, so we decided to spend the first week dealing with house stuff and the second week resolutely not dealing with anything.

It went pretty well, though we discovered that it takes more time and effort than you would ever think possible to change the colour of a front door from faded, chipped, rattling-paned blue to zingy, glossy, freshly puttied green. It's greener than either of us expected*. But I think it will be fine when we've offset it with some chartreuse foliage. Mmm, chartreuse.

And then I cut down most of the ceanothus - beautiful in May, but a big fat bully the rest of the time - and took it to the tip. And then we cleaned the bathroom to within an inch of its life, and the kitchen to within several inches. Or maybe a couple of feet: the oven was not approached. And then we lay down for a while, rising only for a splendid boozy lunch at Fishers. Boozy lunch! We don't do enough boozy lunch.

And *then*, as I hope the displacement of Ani DiFranco by Mika in my playlist might indicate, we had visitors. The Finnfans came to stay and we cranked the Oxford-as-pleasure-garden engine up a gear.

It was like a Proper Holiday. We harvested lettuce and gherkins**. We ate lasagne and stewed fruits. We did an epic trek which took in parks South, Headington Hill and University-via-Mesopotamia, the Turf, the Covered Market (for the purchasing of pies and radishes), the towpath, Port Meadow (for the eating of pies and radishes), and the Perch. We called a massive taxi to take us all home because we could walk no further. We went out for pizza and Sambuca. We played late night Jim Steinman**. We applied clay mud masks and sat in deckchairs with slices of cucumber over our eyes while they dried***. Or, if we did not do that, we watched Brazil. We went for afternoon tea in the Old Kitchens at Magdalen College, having first tried to explain to a polite Japanese lady why we were playing Poohsticks on Addisons Walk. We explored the bounties of the Eau de Cologne range carried by Boswells**. Or, if we did not do that, we explored the bounties of the Norrington Room. We went for an early evening swim in Hinksey Pool and made like Putin with the butterfly stroke, only possibly not quite as good. We had a massive fish pie Friday feast, followed by crème brûlée, which M persuaded me to brule with my blowtorch.

Remarkably, we got up early the next day and undertook a joint road trip to Slimbridge Wetland Centre, where we fed geese, admired flamingoes (best done from a distance, they really stink) and fell in love with the rare things with green beaks that honk like pigs. The Finnfans took their leave after lunch, and we wandered a little further, out past hide after hide all the way to the Severn Estuary. On the way we gathered fallen damsons, which are now steeping in gin.

I also got another 80-odd pages of Infinite Jest under my belt, though found that while lying on a blanket by the river, it serves better as a pillow than as a book.


* The colour is called Indian Ivy 5. There will be photos, but it's still not finished and consequently looks a bit shit.
** Appreciate these list items are minority interest. Tho' the rest of you are missing out.
*** I see now the instructions say you should not let them dry out, but that would spoil the fun.



Blogger Spine said...

... and all without even once using the word "staycation". Congratulations.

8:24 am  
Blogger Jo said...

Thank you. It was an effort. It's probably in the OED by now.

We missed you.

1:14 pm  
Blogger Spine said...

Thank you. It does sound very Antin Rantary and made me feel nostaligic. I still haven't had a holiday yet this year.

2:13 pm  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I am weak with desire for your holiday... camping in the New Forest with shooting starry skies and bimbling toddler led walks was marvellous but sleep free!

12:24 pm  

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