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Mr Ow Much and the steam engine

The bodies lay upon the ground in the field. They were dressed colourfully, each kitted out in varieties of neon outfits that shone in the sunshine. "They're very still" I said, by way of summing up the situation. "They all died" said Lisette, who was also taking in the view. Because I'm a slightly gullible fellow (and, well, you just never know) I watched keenly half wondering if it might be true. They were very still. After a surprisingly long period of time, the figures started to move slowly. It turns out that yoga in a field can, temporarily, be indistinguishable from death. Camp Wowo We were staying at a campsite named Camp Wowo in East Sussex, England. It's a campsite I have stayed at many times over the years. Initially just myself and Lisette. More lately, having got past the initial intensity that results from the arrival of children, we've come to taking our boys to camp together as a family. It's never been without incident. The
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Requiem in Crossbush

It was Friday 13th. Gran had never been keen on that date. So it was ironic, or perhaps appropriate, that date came to be the occasion of her funeral. The universe likes a giggle. At 10 o'clock in the morning the family and friends of Averil Bessie Jenkins gathered at the Poor Clare's Convent in Crossbush, near Arundel. Home of Sister Pat; aunt to me, sister to my mother and my aunts, daughter of Gran. Averil had been a Jenkins, a Frame and a Luxford over the course of her life. The building was filled with people who had known all three. I'd travelled down with my sister Kirsty from London that morning by train, where our brother Peter met us at Arundel station. Mum had primed me beforehand and so I found myself clean-shaven, dressed in a black suit, wearing a tie and smart black shoes. It was very unlike me. Mum was delighted. Aunty Frances took a photograph. The chapel at the Convent had high ceilings and was painted white. Windows high up let light stream into th

Glamping and Brewing (edited by Benjamin)

On May 27th 2019 the weather in Peschiera del Garda looked like this: Whilst in Twickenham it was more like this: Since myself, my good lady Lisette and the marvellous, "extreme" (that's right! - Ben) Benjamin and James were camping in the former location, we collectively agreed it was a bummer. To be more accurate, we were not so much camping as glamping (correct! - Ben). Whilst we were living under canvas, we had not erected that canvas with the honest sweat of our mutual brows. Rather, we had opted to show up and occupy a tent which had already been pre-assembled for our living pleasure. Even calling it a tent seems a stretch, given that it featured a 4-ring gas stove, a fridge, a microwave, beds, lights, electricity and was sited upon a raised wooden deck rather than muddy earth. But it didn't have a toilet or running water, so we could still argue that on some level we were still "getting back to basics". This kind of camping also fulfils a

Elvis At Last

The Reillys had set out on their summer holidays. Benjamin, James and the Reilly parents were going to stay with some friends on a working farm in rural Devon. The farm was proudly carbon-neutral; it generated electricity and had its own water supply. This was a holiday that could only be more middle class if they breastfed the livestock hummus. Rather than travel directly from Twickenham to Devon, the family had opted to break up the journey. So it was that on a Wednesday evening the Reillys found themselves outside their Somerset Airbnb and in need of food. Having wheelspun into the driveway, Mr Reilly was driving no further. Instead, the four of them set out on foot to search for dinner. After an initial disappointment, involving a delapidated pub with ashtray and bleach issues, technology was consulted. According to Mrs Reilly's phone, a 50's America style diner could be found just fifteen minutes walk away. Whilst Mrs Reilly had misgivings about the health qualities of

The Gorgon

As I have grown older, I've become aware of a characteristic of mine, which I don't much like. It's not casual racism or a prediliction for keeping a lap dog in a handbag about my person. It's more complicated than that. It's my face. Or at least: that's where it starts. I have a resting facial expression that gives off a vibe. A hostile one. Not intentionally; it's just well... It's a thing. My face at rest looks like Vinnie Jones thinking "you don't get to talk about my mum". I get it from my father, who got it from his father, who in turn... All the way back to Cro-Magnon man. Somehow my family line has managed to maintain the same physical characteristics as the European early modern humans of 15,000 years ago, almost without compromise. I used to joke about this with people. Then one afternoon, in a moment of boredom, I decided to google what Cro-Magnon man looked like. You know you get those artists impressions of long dead spec

Cable Cars and Credit Cards

I proferred the binbag. "All the rubbish; in here please". Conor turned to his right, "Una, will you climb in now?" Una grinned and mimed throwing objects into the sack. "There's my hopes and dreams right there Conor." Conor, Una, Lisette and I have known each other for half our lives. Well; Conor's not quite there - he's the elder statesman of our group. We met when we were working for British Airways as students, and living in Hounslow's finest dodgy digs. Since that time we've been scattered to the four winds; Una to Ireland, Conor to Switzerland. Lisette and I, well, maybe 3 miles tops to Twickenham. In seeking a mutual meeting place we found ourselves reaching for the logistically logical location: Italy. (I know; like a stepladder where you least expect it.) In keeping with how we first got to know one another, luxury accomodation was not our priority. We decided to camp. Can there be a fuller way to challenge your fear of

Sunshine and Kings

The difference between Spanish winter and British is not really temperature. A mild British winter day isn't significantly colder than Spain. The difference is light. Winter or summer, there is a lot more light to go around in Mallorca than in London. Lisette, Benjamin, James and I are staying in Palma visiting family. The day we arrived was not auspicious; it was overcast and stormy. The next day however, well... As I looked around I realised I was squinting. The light was too strong. I haven't squinted in London since October. So it's a shame I distrust sunglasses. For some reason I always have. If the eyes are the windows of the soul then it follows that I regard sunglasses as harbingers of suspicion. If you won't let me look into your eyes then part of my brain is convinced you must be up to no good. Probably only a hop, skip and a jump away from pretensiousness too; that most tragic of attributes. Quite apart from the not-so-nice-judge-y aspect, this is a lamen