Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"left at the dead badger" // drowned rat

there are few people who can manage to get lost, drowned, sunburnt, bruised, sheep-ed and nearly electrocuted in the space of four hours. i happen to be one of them.

i'm currently in Cheltenham, which is home to the hospital in which i made my grand entrance into this world twenty years ago. staying with Sue, Ian, Ryan & Bethany Kelsall, friends of the family who despite not having seen me since i was four have taken me in for the week. Ian picked me up on his way back from Dublin (via Acton) on Friday. they took me to their local Thai place that night where we had the hottest Green Curry ever. i was hiccoughing. saturday i wandered around (saw the hospital where i was born and where dad worked. looks like all hospitals - inhospitable). yesterday we went to 67 Corinium Gate in Cirencester. my parents (and i, for all of six weeks) used to live there. it was strange. i have no memory of it, obviously, but it means something. i was a bit miffed that there wasn't a small memorial there. perhaps i should leave one - something tasteful in bronze "maddie woz ere".

i woke this morning to grey sky and wet grounds, but i was determined to get to Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe. so i bundled up (i stand out like such a tourist because its cold. all the english think its warm and are wearing hot pants. most of them really shouldn't) got the bus and then managed to lose the castle. found some sheep instead. sheep are not very good at giving directions. "maaa baaa baaa"

when i did finally locate the castle, the sun came out. Sudeley Castle is where Katherine Parr is buried. she was the 6th wife of Henry VIII, and outlived him (unlike 4 of his other wives. i think Anne of Cleves outlived him too) the castle is gorgeous and the grounds are impeccable. there are peacocks wandering about. peacocks, for all that they look lovely do not sound lovely. they sound like disgruntled cows. there were also lots of modern sculptures everywhere, including a giant pink fork that i crashed into and a mirror maze. the chapel where Katherine Parr is buried is freezing but ornate and old and makes one feel quite small. everything in England is either over 400 years old or less that 0.4 seconds old.

once i'd tramped around the castle, i decided to do a walk around Winchcombe and the castle. i had directions! in a book! sadly, i'm an idiot and decided that i would do that walk backwards because it ends at the castle and thats where i was. english bushwalks are not like australian bushwalks. there are no paths. i quote from page 75 of 50 Walks in Gloucstershire "Cross the field to an overgrown stile. Cross another field to a gate. Continue through the following field, go half right to another (possibly overgrown) stile. Go halfway along hedge to find well concealed gap."

the rain was pretty fierce. the grass came up to my armpits (Ryan says that it only comes up to his knees. Ryan is a smartarse.) i don't know what a stile really looks like. i was soaked. and lost. and possibly close to being drowned, either by grass or water. or both. it was pretty pathetic. wind howling, nothing but fields and one maddie who started to wonder what would happen if she never came back from the walk. things couldn't have gotten worse.

and then the thunder started. the lightening hit the field next to me and i flung myself down. there was mud and grass seeds in my bra. "bring it on, god" i thought "why didn't i bring my copper armour?". i stayed there for ten, fifteen minutes, a storm right on top of my head. the pages of my guidebook were soaked and i had no idea where i was. all i knew was that i missed the reliability of Sydney weather. and that there was grass seeds and mud everywhere.

eventually the thunderstorm stopped. but the rain carried on. i picked myself up and tottered along, full of new understanding as to the British peoples love to talk about the weather. my mind has a tendency to let my feet take control of the hard stuff (walking) and drift off to sunnier pastures (pun intended). this is perhaps why what happened next did indeed happen. all i really know is that i came to a plank laid across a river that i had to cross. so i crossed it. but when i went to step off, i misjudged the step because i slipped and flew off the plank.

and landed on a sheep.

a very disgruntled surprised wet sheep. a sheep that went "baa!" which i presume is sheep for "what the fuck!" before scampering off. dazed and pissed off, i sat in the rain for a bit, trying to process what had happened. surely the sheep would have heard me coming? what the fuck was a sheep doing in a field anyway? .....right. sheep don't live in homes. ergh. i smelt like sheep. i picked myself up (again) and staggered off. people do this for fun, yknow. every weekend.

people are mad.

the sun came out again. eventually. didn't really help dry me out that much. i was soaked. a human sponge. queen of the drips. there were momentary fears that the bus driver would not let me on the bus. i could have wrung myself out and the water salvaged could have been used to refill the murray darling basin. human prune.

the bus driver did let me on. when the bus finally turned up. i stood at the bus stop for half an hour. it rained twice. the pub opposite was closed. (that was painful) but by four thirty i was back in Cheltenham. Ryan opened the door and said

"hello! i've been in A&E all day! burnt myself! tea? how are you, bit wet?"
"i met a sheep. no milk, thanks"
"sheep's milk isn't that great really."

Ryan had managed to burn his arm and eye with boiling water. he got to sit in A&E for three hours before they told him he was fine. as he was telling me this, Sue (his mum) asked why my face was all pink. "are you sunburnt?" they asked incredulously.

sunburnt. in the piddling twenty minutes of sun that i had been graced with today, i had managed to get sunburnt. only me.

all in all though, it was a pretty nice day. hysterical moments aside (oh my god, i'm going to be electrocuted and drowned) i had fun. i think today i learned not to freak out, but to laugh and keep plodding. the views are pretty nice, and managing to do a 4 mile (6.4km) walk all on your own is a pretty impressive achievement. even if it does take you longer than a normal person with direction. it's such a pretty area, so quintessentially english. it's also currently a very wet area and due to stay that way until next week. so it looks like cycling might be out, but i'm sure i can get some more walking done.



Jeza said...

hehe it was nice when we went to sudely castle. or so mum tells me.
she's cleaning out your room as we speak. i am going to cairns in 2 days :D bright sunny warm cairns. tho at the mo anywhere would be warmer than our house its bloody freezing i cant feel my toes :( spike is in trouble cause we let him in last night and he peed on the carpet.

on the lovely note
au resivour
(i think i spelt it right)

blanket said...

you are both:
1) amazing
2) my hero!

what you're doing is brilliant.


landing on sheep is also brilliant.

if i had the funding i'd join you FO SHO.

LiZ said...

Make sure not to mention to customs about the mud and grass seeds!!!
We want our Maddie back.