Barbecue time. Again !
9th August 2015
It hardly seemed any time at all before I was heading back across the water for Deb’s weekend get together. Between strikes at Calais Port against DFDS, migrants throwing themselves at Eurotunnel trains and farmers getting upset about the price of milk (both sides of the sheugh) I was forced to opt to travel with P&O out of Calais. They appeared to be the only people who actually looked as though they were going to be able to operate without too many difficulties — apart from always being late.
Shopping orders were sent and things were gathered together including a couple of water melons. Can’t you scoop them out and fill them with punch Anton asked ? No idea, sounds feasible but there is only one way to find out. So I bought a third melon sliced the top off, scooped a bit out and poured in some rum. I was sort of expecting it to just soak away but a couple of hours it was just sitting there in its wee well looking all sad with drink me eyes.
Never one to be cruel to alcohol (though the relationship is far from mutual) I drank it. Not bad but needed watering down with orange juice and chunks of melon dropped back in. Thus for a couple of evenings I had to drink rum/melon punch and eat slices of melon with everything, all in the name of research.
The car loaded up I set out for Calais giving myself enough time to do a wee bit of shopping on the way. Arriving at the port these days is akin to entering a prison. Double rows of fencing topped with razor wire line the approach roads. All that is missing are the watch towers and we could be along the old East German border.
True to form the boat was late, but true to form I had remembered to pick up food. The trip across was pretty calm and the roads in Kent were happily congestion free after the lifting of Op Stack a few days beforehand.
A quiet evening before setting off on Friday to see my friends Andrew and Julie who now reside in Harrow. Luckily I didn’t want to go on the Thursday because London Underground was on strike.
Off I went, missing my train at Rochester because the three people in front of me at the ticket office wanted to go on world tours or something very complicated that took lots of time. No matter there are frequent trains up to Victoria and mine was packed — standing room only. Not a problem until we reached Bromley South. Three buggies were heaved onto the train by three young ladies accompanied by about a dozen youngsters.
Those in the 1st Class section adjacent to the door were visibly thrilled to have their extra leg-room instantly evaporate by excited kiddies. The lassie standing next to me was a Big girl, certainly twice the man that I could ever hope to be. She was wearing quite a pretty top but if it had been accompanied by ammo boots I would not have been surprised.
The remainder of the trip into London was probably loud enough to rival Slipknot on stage. “You need to f******* keep quiet, there are people trying to f***** read.” “Stop that ! Hold her hand. I said hold her f****** hand. It’s f****** dangerous when we get off. NO ! hold his f******* hand”. “I’m goin’ to come over there and give you such a f***** hiding I will. Well I can’t because the buggy’s in the way but hypothetically I’m going to come over there and give you a f***** hiding”.
You would probably have to pay for such entertainment on the Paris Metro.
My ear specialist would have thought that I was faking my hearing loss. Have you stood near any bombs recently ? What about drive past shooting incidents ? Do you use noisy machinery ? I’m not certain that getting a f****** hypothetical f***** kicking for not holding his f***** hand counts as a f***** work related f****** injury.
I reached my destination really easily and walked round to Andrew’s. A tale of two cities by the look of it. The high street at Kenton has its share of dossers lying on the ground, whilst a few hundred metres away rather fancy houses have BM’s and Jaguars parked out front.
Julie was in midst cake preparation and not very mobile following a recent illness, so whilst she looked after her creations Andrew marched me up Harrow Hill so that we could walk down the other side to a bar where we had lunch. Just like old times despite not having seen each other in about eight years. Lots of catching up to do and the really excellent thing was that when he suggested a third pint I was actually able to say : “Yes”. Trains may be late and noisy but I don’t have to drive them.
Sunday was the big day and the weather once again proved kind. In fact it turned out to be so hot that I needed to dilute the punch. It was certainly nice and cold because we had put the scooped out melon into a box and put it into the freezer which was on its lowest setting. Despite that it was well frozen and I had a fun time straining the pips out.
People began to arrive and the cooking began. Anton and Debs are learning, the amount that goes out has diminished recently but nobody goes home hungry (even those who don’t do Red or Green or foreign).
We sipped, sweltered, nibbled and sipped some more as the afternoon progressed. Debs had lots of presents to open and a few caused some amusement, especially the little duck holding a brolly and a rain measure. He was put to good use within a few days.
The following morning it was back to Dover and the drive home. Cleaned the car out and prepared myself for a few days on the Battlefields with some Canadians.