Not an Occupation, Merely on Holiday.

The ghastly Romanian left a few days before I went on holiday. Landlady and I had a few chats about the changed situation in the days after. The atmosphere in our little flat improved beyond measure. It is cleaner and quieter. Our moods have been elevated to heights higher than had seemed possible for months. On my final day my students all rose from their desks and shook hands after I gave my last lesson. The day slipped quickly away. A last minute cancellation – no worries, I still get paid; a final work-out before a quick chat with landlady’s son to let him know that I was taking my leave. Never counting on airline service I popped in to my favourite Bolivian coffee shop for a light supper before going to airport.

Spain had to prove that it’s a bloody nuisance one last time. When I went to designated Luxembourg Airlines counter the airport employee was being a bloody bother. There was only one queue and two counters – one for all passengers, one for business passengers. I made my way to the correct location and waited to drop off my luggage. He wouldn’t leave me be and demanded that I show him my boarding pass. This isn’t possible at Barajas. Other than Iberia, one must go to airline desk to pick up boarding passes. After giving him a rather stern lecture in German I stormed off and demanded any explanation from airport information. They made a quick telephone call and instructed me to return to the relevant desks to check in. I could do so without a problem that time!  I gave another strongly-worded lecture to a security officer who gave me incorrect instructions which resulted in my having to be searched. He nearly cried. I had a near-success. I’m sure CO will give me at least a silver star for my effort.

My flight to Luxembourg was quiet and pleasant. Luxembourg Airlines is arguably Europe’s best regional carrier. Service is invariably pleasant and efficient, as is Luxembourg Findel Airport. I had a row to myself and could relax in complete peace. We arrived in Luxembourg on the minute with the only annoyance being a bus ride from aeroplane to terminal. Still, my luggage arrived within a minute of my arrival and I could meet older uncle and go to Germany.

The next nearly two weeks were quiet, idyllic even. I nearly went into shock when I could sleep peacefully and uninterrupted through the night. I was able to drink tea in peace and quiet in the evenings. The weather, no warmer than the upper 70s, was gorgeous. The occasional rainy day kept the air fresh and grass green. Well, I quite like listening to the sound of falling rain so that made it even better!

I spent the largest part of that time in Germany hiking in the woods foraging for berries, eating them by the handful until my teeth smarted because of the acid. My grandmother was happy to see me again and is looking forward to seeing me again at the end of the month. I didn’t travel much in Germany, visiting Trier only once. After the brutal heat of Spain, well over 100 for weeks at a time the coolness of Germany was refreshing. After months of exhaustion and routine sleep deprivation – I’m unable to sleep properly due to the horrid racket that those in the neighbourhood make. The ghastly miscreants think that partying until the wee small hours of the morning or cooking supper past midnight is perfectly acceptable. In Germany I could sleep again and have regained much of my former vigour.

On the 10th of this month I departed Luxembourg on a British Airways flight to London. This was the first time I’ve actually flown to the United Kingdom in donkey’s years through Heathrow. Generally, I prefer flying into London City Airport as it is far more civilised and easier to use. Terminal 3 is large enough for me, thank you very much! Still, I managed. In a surprising turn of events we were allowed to depart Luxembourg 15 minutes early and allowed to land without delay at Heathrow. Heathrow’s passport control machines made clearing passport control even quicker. Well, it would have if the daft cow in front of me hadn’t held up the queue with her inability to follow simple instructions despite receiving clarification from an airport employee! After a miles-long trek to the proper baggage carousel I was absolutely gobsmacked to find my luggage already delivered and waiting for me.

There is one thing I prefer about flying into Heathrow – it’s far easier to get to Waterloo Station. City is a bit further out to the east and requires changing from the Docklands Light Rail to the Underground. I’ve had fare complications as a result of this in the past and received a rather stern lecture from a Transport for London employee about the need to buy two tickets for said journey despite having purchased an LCY-Waterloo fare! Once again I found myself with hours to spare and went walkies around the Palace of Westminster. I was chuffed to see that one of the major hotels; I forget the name, removed that ghastly blue dish rag with those hideous, discordant 12 stars marring it and replaced it with a second Union Flag. Long may it fly and may the fragrant harridan Jimmie Krankie pickle in Satan’s chamber pot.

I passed an uneventful train ride to Dorchester South. My somewhat reduced financial situation obliged me to take the journey in the Revolting Peasant section rather than my customary first class. There really wasn’t that much a difference, though. The seat is somewhat smaller and I had to sit next to someone for two hours but that wasn’t too onerous. I found my B&B quickly this time. Being the thicko I am I stowed my mobile in with my computer which I stowed in my luggage as to reduce the number of pieces I had to drag along. When I finally managed to recover my mobile the door swung open and the owner called me by name. I fear I may have scarred the poor man the last time I was here. I was given a comfortably large room with a garden view and a large bathtub. Positively lovely.

Dorchester has been an absolute joy since then. I took the ghost walk, now in its 20th year! Yesterday evening and became the star of the show – and butt of most jokes. I haven’t laughed that much in ages. I’m a great believer that being invited to take part in the joke is a profound symbol of acceptance. I toured the Keep Museum, the regimental museum of the Dorset and Devonshire Regiment. Their star attraction, so to say, is Hitler’s desk from his personal office at the Reich Chancellery. I much preferred their imperial memorabilia which includes a lock of John André’s hair.

Araminta and I spent much of today wreaking havoc on Dorset’s unsuspecting county town. With some luck it might recover in time.

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

31 thoughts on “Not an Occupation, Merely on Holiday.”

  1. Oh definitely a gold star for reducing apparatchiks to tears!
    Enjoy your stay in the UK.

  2. CO: So far it’s been a roaring success. I am, however, looking at the calendar with an ever-growing sense of trepidation, doom, gloom and general anxiety. On Wednesday I will be secreted away to deepest, darkest Scotland. I cannot be held liable for retching if I have to see Wee Nippy’s hideous visage.

  3. Delightful day, so thank you for your company, Christopher and a delicious cream tea! And what perfect weather too, I hope it lasts.

    We shall see what havoc we can create on the Jurassic coast. We could throw rocks from cliffs onto unsuspecting grockles below.

  4. Minty: Thank you for coming to Dorchester! The weather should, in theory, largely be pleasant for the next few days. Some suggest that temperatures might reach the low 80s F!

    Yes, one must throw rocks onto grockles. Or, perhaps, copious amounts of itching powder.

  5. Grockles. Hm. That’s a new one. 🙂

    Btw there’s another, also very pleasant Dorchester – on the Thames, at its confluence with the (cough) Thame. Confused?

  6. Janus: There’s the Dorchester of Casterbridge fame and there is the Dorchester of Three Men in a Boat, not to Mention the Dog fame. I agree that both are perfectly lovely.

  7. I was born in Dorchester (1945 if you must know) and spent a bit of time there and Weymouth in the late sixties early seventies. Your post reminded me that Dorchester had two railway stations, and still has. Dorchester West and Dorchester South.

  8. Jazz: Dorchester South lies on the Weymouth-London Line, Dorchester West lies on the Weymouth-Bristol Line. I’ve travelled from both. Dorchester West, incidentally, was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. I will go to Weymouth tomorrow.

  9. At one time you could change at Upwey Junction for Portesham. Sadly the branch fell victim to Beeching.

  10. Janus: no, not specifically.

    Some reform of the rail network was necessary. Traffic patterns had changed, some lines were no longer viable even with state subsidy, etc. However, as with so many other poorly-conceived government actions undue damage was caused and a generations-long way of life was lost for short-term goals.

  11. All Britain’s nationalised industries which were rescued after WWII were in need of rationalisation. Inevitably the baby amd bathwater syndrome was triggered too often. It was the ’80s before Maggie could clean up the mines.

  12. Maggie was the only post war PM that was worth a damn. I have some hopes for Mrs May let’s hope she doesn’t disappoint us.

  13. Haw, Christopher, Counting the days.

    And checking the weather for when you slip the cloying charms of England (tame and domestic) and sleep your way north to the joys of Caledonia (stern and wild).

    You seem to have cracked it. Light cloud and about 20C in Fort William and points peripheral. Chucking it down in Weegiestan on one of your days there but why would you want to wander around there for too long anyway?

    Your Embra-time would seem to involve light cloud and no rain throughout, which means I can now firm up on a Tattoo ticket for you. I was going to suggest Monday 22nd as that is the night when I am off to enjoy Mrs M belting out Bernstein’s ‘Chichester Psalms’, accompanied by the Sao Paolo Symphony Orchestra. They are also supporting her in Villa Lobos ‘Choros Number 10’ before striking out on their own with a rendition of Shostakovich’s Number 5.

    If you would like a ticket for that, I could probably source one and we could sort out a Tattoo night when you arrive? We could, of course, slip away before the Shostakovich and go for a drink, unless he happens to be your thing. He is not really mine.

    For your away day, there is the obvious loop of Perth (including the Poppy tribute) followed by a trip through Dundee to marvel at that armpit of the Universe on our way to St Andrews. Then, a leisurely drive back to Embra through the East Neuk of Fife. Apart from the Monday, I am free for that trip any day.

    Please pass on my best wishes to Ara, Bilby and the hound.

    And, I think that you might not have to worry about chancing across Nippy. She seems to be spending all of her time rushing around the Chanceries of Europe, explaining the need for them to re-inflate her sagging balloon of credibility. They are, thankfully, not offering their breath to that project.

  14. Arrers, re your grockles, the Sun today reports that you have inspired some hooligans to hurl rocks at them, as you suggested! 😳

  15. Oh hell, Janus, how embarrassing that my exploits have hit the tabloids already and I have just arrived home from my terror campaign in Swanage. Well frankly it could do with livening up. It was all too civilised for words and hardly any grockles. Well, a few, but you run into a better class of grockle in Swanage. The weather was just perfect. It was a splendid day out.

  16. Thank you, John for your best wishes, which are of course reciprocated. I’ve just said goodbye to Christopher for this visit, and he will soon be in your capable hands. I do think he’s not really been too tested in Dorset, so a bit of excitement would not go amiss. We don’t want him to become too complacent!

  17. I went to prep school in Swanage 1955 – 59. The school was on the cliffs in Durlston Bay closer to the Durston Head end. The area was subject to land slip so the school is quite possibly now in the sea. Swanage was a great place and I remember Cosens paddle steamers calling at Swanage Pier on their way to and from Bournmouth Poole(?) and Weymouth.

  18. Och, aye, JM! I’ve been having an absolutely brilliant time here in England, tame and mild! I fear that I am developing a healthy glow and might actually stop looking cadaverous if this continues! My jaws are even slowly starting to unclench. If this keeps up I could well crack a smile before the end of the month.

    If it does not rain at least once on my holiday I will be sorely disappointed and insulted. I expect Britain to grim weather at least once so that I may hum “There Are Bad Times Just Around the Corner” without looking entirely mad, just mostly. I’m fond of classical music, thought not Shostakovitch. Far too much clashing and banging for my delicate ears. I hear quite enough of that living with Spaniards! The Tattoo tickets can be sorted after arrival, no need to rush with that. However, those tickets appear to be sold out.

    I agree to your plans — although I’d advise having vomit bags at the ready for Dundee. I might also need to seek immediate counselling after enduring Weegiestan. Or at least the accent… Details for transport between Weegiestan and Embra can be worked out later, new mobile number to be sent via email at a later point.

    Minty: I suffered an hour in Weymouth. Isn’t that being tested enough? Sniff! Sniff!

  19. Hillcrest was the name of the school. Durlston Court as I recall was next door but was a convelescent home for Warwickshire Miners. I remember one day a group of us were swimming in the sea off a flat rock just below the school, a group of miners sitting on a patch of ground above us enjoying the sun and fresh air. They noticed that one of our number had some wheals on one of his thighs, the result of a too enthusiastic caning by the head master, most of us suffered this from time time and thought nothing of it, children are quite tough. Anyhow the miners were quite horrified which surprised me at the time. I thought that coming from tough working class backgrounds they’d be accustomed to such things but apparently not.

  20. Physical punishment went out of fashion in the schools I attended in the ’50s/60s and quite correctly became illegal.

    My numerous g’children and their minders invaded Brownsea Island last year, taking the Sandbanks ferry. Talk about wild life! 😷

  21. The Sandbanks Ferry i used to be chain ferry operating across the entrance to Poole Harbour.

  22. It’s still a chain ferry, Jazz, from Sandbanks to Studland. The ferry to Brownsea is not a chain ferry, from memory, and leaves from Poole Quay. There may be one from Sandbanks but I don’t know.

  23. The ferry I took to Brownsea was just to the right of a chain ferry. We passed’Arry’s ‘Ouse just after we sailed.

  24. Aye weel, Christopher.

    Before we move on, can I just say how much I am enjoying the Sandlands strand of the comments on your post. I am sure that you saw what I did there.

    I am reasonably certain that that part of the Dorset coast will be my favourite place of the world for the rest of my life. For two years of said life, I clamoured to be driven down there from Salisbury on any possible opportunity. To swim at Lulworth Cove, rush down the grassy banks from Corfe Castle or try to be reasonably restrained in Swanage – even then, I had worked out that said, douce town was not up for too much excitement.

    Sandlands was a particular joy. Not for swimming, but for hoisting the windbreak, eating the picnic and then speeding off to the pools in the dunes to look for tadpoles, elvers and anything else natural. I had a book!
    And a slight obsession, to be fair,

    Anyhow and moving on. Struggling for a ‘Sao Paolo’ ticket. The concert is. apparently, a sell-out. Will keep trying.

    Tattoo-wise, there is a strong, local rumour that you can pick up a ticket in ‘Deacon Brodie’s’, at the top of the Mound, on the day. The tale is told that all of the tickets are snapped up asap by the bus tour companies but that they never manage to sell them all. It appears that the bus drivers then cluster in DB’s to flog off the surplus.

  25. Christopher, I think you will not be troubled by Nicola. She has problems of her own just now. Father lost an election to a Labour candidate and mother has resigned as provost of North Ayrshire council since the SNP no longer has a majority there. It may be some comfort to them that they have allegedly made about £300,000 from the taxpayers, but this could be the start of an anti-SNP backlash.

  26. JM: I know many of those places you mentioned and also love them dearly. I was in a muted mood as I watched Dorchester draw further and further away from me on my London-bound train. One day I shall return to my beloved Dorset. It seems to be a popular event, no worries. Something also came up for Monday morning — I have an appointment with the recruiter in Korea to go over the initial draft of my application. It’s very long and very complicated, apparently.

    Sheona: There’s an “Aye to Aye” office on Fort William’s high street. I was not amused in the least by it, especially since it’s all so trite and banal. If London-bashing (one of the UK’s favourite hobbies, apparently) is all they have… The SNP are just as dirty and corrupt as any other narrow, nationalistic party. I’m amused by how many mistakes they’re making and just how much is sticking, at last!

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