Tag Archives: wine

At six o’clock I shall be serving wine

Last Saturday I stopped at Scourie, on the North Coast 500.  I had planned to catch up with Nathan Millward’s Garbage Run and camp with them, because surely there could be no problem aiming at a (slowly) moving target heading from Applecross to Durness and rendezvousing somewhere around teatime?

Turns out it’s more difficult than you’d think. And after a slightly traumatic day which included the Lomax suddenly turning into a low rider and scraping along the single track about an inch off the ground, I didn’t fancy adding any extra miles to the trip by retracing the route south to where the C90 boys had stopped. Also my camp site had a restaurant and bar. Double win.

So I pitched my tent, and admired the beautiful view, and the Hugh Grant-a-like in the one-man camper van behind me said “If your friend doesn’t make it, at six o’clock I shall be serving wine.”

How is the solo camping lady to respond to such an invitation?

Is it just wine?

Is it wine with a chaser of ‘would you like to see the inside of my camper van?’

Is it the kind of wine that requires you to have a shower and shave beforehand?

I decided to take no chances. A shower it would be. Just in case.  But as I trotted off to the cubicles I overheard Hugh inviting the other solo lady camper on the site to join us. Maybe he was hedging his bets. Maybe the camper van was a lot bigger on the inside than it looked.

Or maybe it really was just a six-o-clock chat among like-minded middle-aged travellers.


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Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake

IMG_0062While my house is being rewired I’m back staying with longsuffering friends in England’s Second City. They kindly allowed me over the threshold to clean up my borrowed motorhome at the beginning of the year, and now, like a vampire, they can’t get rid of me!

I would normally earn my keep in such circumstances by buying wine, but these friends are Very Serious Wine People, and I felt that my usual tactic of going into the Co-Op and seeing what had been reduced from a tenner to a fiver would fall short. So I went to a Very Nice Wine Shop in the posh bit of Coventry (yes, it does have one) in the hope that I would be able to ask advice from the shopkeeper.

Sadly the shopkeeper(s) turned out to be a posse of young lads who were very knowledgeable about the equipment at the gym, how their friend might have come by a questionable mark on his neck, and the best ways of mitigating it. I may be doing them a disservice, but I felt their knowledge of wine might have been slightly less encyclopedic. So I fell back on my other buying strategy – comedy names – and emerged with a bottle of Innocent Bystander and a bottle of Evolution.

The red was very good but the white was excellent, apparently.


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“It’s not the despair… I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.”

10688102_1507735742804961_2806663445944654780_oSelling a house turns out to be very stressful. I’ve bought three, but never sold one before.

Sadly this doesn’t mean I own several properties – just that I was married when we sold the first one, and ex-hub did the money stuff; and then we were separated when we sold the second one (to a member of a minor Brit-Pop band, who made it slightly more traumatic than it needed to be); and now I’m selling my third home, but the first I’ve owned in my own right.

So this is new territory for me.

People often say that moving is one of the top ten most stressful life events – but that’s a big fat urban myth! The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale puts it right down at number 32, with a measly 20 life change units – that’s not even twice as stressful as Christmas (12 units, but that might just be the number you need to consume over breakfast to get through the festivities).

If you are a control freak, like me, then the passivity of the whole process is difficult to handle. You take the engine parts out of the kitchen, you polish the bathroom, you hide the junk in the attic, and then you sit back and wait.

Some days you get a call that someone wants to view…and you hoover up the dog hair and cut the grass…and they don’t like it because the stairs start in the living room, or because they wanted something “more modern,” or worst of all, “it smells of oil.”

And then you wait for the next call. And wonder how you can make a 1980s house look more modern without spending any money.

So I did what any sensible person does in these circumstances. I packed my tipi, and my stove, and my dog, and the copy of Mondo Enduro which BiviBag Adventure has loaned to me, and a bottle of wine, and went to somewhere with no mobile phone reception and no internet.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow.

You already know that I blame Arthur Ransome for my belief that camping is the most fun anyone can have, next to motorcycling. So where else would I go in my hour of need than to Ransome Field, on the shores of Lake Windermere, at the Low Wray National Trust campsite.

And when they say lake shore, they aren’t kidding. Shakey was most disturbed to find himself nose-to-beak with the local ducks.

I dipped my hands in the lake, and wished, and then settled in for three days of doing as little as possible.

We had a lovely walk along the shore, once Shakey had got used to the idea of sheep.

We watched a family of mad Australians swim in the lake. “Do I have to, dad?” “No, son – you don’t have to. We’ll just tease you all night if you don’t.”

We listened to the swans, whose take-off and landing tracks look like audio waves. Someone should try playing them.

We watched the stars come out and the lights come on across the water.

We watched the rain fall.

And on the day I packed up to come home the estate agents called to say someone wanted to buy my house, so my wish must have been granted.

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